Monday, 28 November 2016

The Great Ice vs. Heat Confusion Debacle

What ice and heat are for:

Ice is for injuries, and heat is for muscles. Roughly.

Ice is for injuries — calming down damaged superficial tissues that are inflamed, red, hot and swollen. The inflammatory process is a healthy, normal, natural process that also happens to be incredibly painful and more biologically stubborn than it needs to be. Icing is mostly just a mild, drugless way of dulling the pain of inflammation. Examples: a freshly pulled muscle or a new case of IT band syndrome (which is more likely to respond than the other kind of runner’s knee, patellofemoral pain, because ITBS is superficial and PFPS is often a problem with deeper tissues).

Heat is for muscles, chronic pain, and stress — taking the edge off the pain of whole muscle spasms and trigger points, or conditions that are often dominated by them, like back pain and neck pain), for soothing the nervous system and the mind (stress and fear are major factors in many chronic pain problems, of course).

What ice and heat are not for:

Heat can make inflammation worse, and ice can make muscle tension and spasms worse, so they have the potential to do some mild harm when mixed up.

Both ice and heat are pointless or worse when unwanted: icing when you’re already shivering, or heating when you’re already sweating. The brain may interpret an excess of either one as a threat — and when brains think there’s a threat, they may also amp up the pain.

But heat and inflammation are a particularly bad combination. If you add heat to an fresh injury, watch out: it’s going to get worse! If you heat a freshly injured knee, it can swell up like a balloon, and three times more painful. (That is a rare example of a particularly severe negative reaction to heat. Most cases are not going to be that bad!)

The lesser known threat is from icing at the wrong time, or when it’s unwanted.

If you ice painful muscles, be careful: it might get worse! Ice can aggravate sensations of muscle pain and stiffness, which are often present in low back and neck pain. Trigger points (painfully sensitive spots) can be surprisingly intense and easily mistaken for "iceable" injury and inflammation. But if you ice trigger points, they may burn and ache even more acutely. This mistake is made particularly often with low back pain and neck pain — the very condition people often try to treat with ice.

What about injured muscle?

If you’re supposed to ice injuries, but not muscle pain, what do you with injured muscles (a muscle tear or muscle strain)? That can be a tough call, but ice usually wins — but only for the first few days at most, and only if it really is a true muscle injury. A true muscle injury usually involves obvious trauma during intense effort, causing severe pain suddenly. If the muscle is truly torn, then use ice to take the edge off the inflammation at first. Once the worst is over, switch to heat.

Which is better?

Ice packs and heating pads are not especially powerful medicine: some experiments have shown that both have only mild benefits, and those benefits are roughly equal in treating back pain.

The bottom line

The bottom line is: use whatever feels best to you! Your own preference is the tie-breaker and probably the most important consideration. For instance, heat cannot help if you already feel unpleasantly flushed and don’t want to be heated. And ice is unlikely to be effective if you have a chill and hate the idea of being iced!

If you start to use one and you don’t like the feel of it... just switch to the other.

Hip Arthritis - Segment 2

This exercise is good to increase active hip mobility into abduction due to arthritis or total hip replacement surgery. Start by engaging your inner core and keeping your posture tall. Then hike the left foot off the ground and bring the leg with the knee straight out to the side into abduction. Imagine that the pivot point is at the front of the hip and rotate through here. Do this for 1 minute 6-8 times per day. 

Monday, 21 November 2016

How to Prevent Common Cycling Injuries

It’s not uncommon for cyclists to encounter nagging injuries. The good news is that most of the common cycling injuries are preventable. You’ll soon discover themes among preventing many of the injuries:
  • Make sure your bike fits you.
  • Train wisely.
  • Increase your strength off the bike.
  • Stretch.
Not only will these things make you a stronger cyclist, they will greatly reduce your risk of injury. 
Here we go with some of the more common cycling injuries:

How To Prevent Foot Pain
What may cause you to get foot pain:
  • Poor fitting shoes.
  • Worn down shoes.
Prevention tips:
  • Buy bike shoes that are the right fit.
  • Make sure your shoes are loose enough and aren’t too tight for your feet.
  • Do the insole test: Take the insole out from your shoe, and put it against the bottom of your foot. No part of your foot should be outside the insole frame. If it is, get a bigger or wider shoe.
  • Over time your shoes will lose their support. If you don’t feel the time is right to go out and buy new shoes, or you otherwise believe your shoes are in fine shape, you can add supportive insoles to alleviate the issue.
  • Switch to a wider pedal to distribute the pressure across more of your foot.

How To Prevent Ankle Pain

Many times when cyclists feel a nagging pain around their ankle, it’s the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon attaches your calf to your heel.
What may cause you to get ankle pain:
  • Cleat position on your pedal.
  • Riding too much too soon, especially hills.
  • Tension in your lower leg muscles.
Prevention tips:
  • Try changing the cleat position on your pedal. Make sure your shoes aren’t too far forward. Cleats that are too far forward can strain the Achilles tendon as it forces it to pedal on your toes. You can reduce the tension on your Achilles tendon by having your toes pointed up during the bottom portion of the stroke, thereby taking care not to overwork it.
  • Build your mileage over time, especially when it comes to biking hills.
  • Stretch your calf muscles. When you are out riding, your calf muscles are in a near constant position so it’s important to counteract it.

How To Prevent Knee Pain

What may cause you to get knee pain:
  • Height of your bike seat.
  • Cleat position on your pedal.
  • Weakness or imbalance of your butt muscles.
  • Riding too much too soon, especially in a big gear.
Prevention tips:
  • Get a proper bike fit, including making sure you adjust your bike seat to the correct height. If the front of your knee hurts, try raising your seat height. If the back of your knee hurts, try lowering your seat height.
  • Include strength training as a part of your cycling routine. Focus on strengthening your outer gluteal muscles.
  • Reduce the amount of time you spend in big gears.
  • Ride at a higher cadence in an easier gear to reduce tension on your knees.
  • Increase your training gradually.

How To Prevent Hip Pain

What may cause you to get hip pain:
  • Riding too much too soon, especially in big gears.
  • Tight hip muscles.
Prevention tips:
  • Avoid riding too much in big gears.
  • Ride at a higher cadence in easier gears to reduce the pressure on your hips. A generally accepted cadence is 90+ rpm. If you’re unsure of what this feels like, and your odometer doesn’t tell you (or you don’t have an odometer!), try to find a stationary bike to test it out on. Stationary bikes generally provide the cadence at which you are pedaling.
  • Work on core strength so your core muscles can help your hip muscles when cycling to reduce the load off your hips.
  • Do stretches focusing on your hips.

How To Prevent Neck Pain

What may cause you to get neck pain:
  • Improper bike fit.
  • Riding in a tense position.
Prevention tips:
  • Keep your shoulders down and relaxed as you’re riding so you will avoid tension in your neck muscles.
  • Avoid over-reaching to your handlebars. If you find yourself doing this, some adjustments should be made to your bike fit.
  • Do gentle neck rolls and shoulder rolls. This is something you can do when you are stopped at an intersection or even while you are riding.

How To Prevent Wrist Pain And Numb Hands

What may cause you to get hand pain:
  • Too much pressure on the handlebars.
  • Improper positioning of your hands.
  • Poor positioning of handlebars.
Prevention tips:
  • Avoid putting too much pressure on the handlebars.
  • Hold the handlebars in neutral position, so your wrists are not angled at a position that is too high or too low.
  • Every now and then release a hand from the handlebar as you are riding and shake your hand out.
  • Wear padded gloves to minimize the direct pressure placed on the handlebars.
  • Adjust your handlebars to avoid putting unnecessary weight from your upper body on them.

Tips To Stay Healthy And Injury-free

You may have noticed some common themes among preventing these cycling injuries!
  • Have a bike that is properly fitted for you! This is one of the best ways to avoid many common cycling injuries.
  • Ramp up your mileage strategically. Record your rides so you can track your progress and you can tell whether you are riding too much too soon.
  • Increase your overall strength. Sure, riding a bike will build those leg muscles, but you also want to complement that, as well as work towards any problems with muscle imbalance. Also don’t forget about your core. Your core muscles are your foundation and assist your other muscles, including legs, in cycling. Your core also contributes to good posture on your bike, and you know good posture is also key in keeping injuries at bay!
  • When you’re riding, you can be in a sustained position for awhile, leading to tight muscles. It’s important to counteract that through working on your flexibility. There are some great yoga poses that can help in off-setting that tension.

Hip Arthritis Segment 1

This exercise is good to increase hip mobility due to arthritis or post total hip replacement surgery. Begin by stepping up onto a 2-3 inch stepper with the unaffected leg. In neutral tall posture, engage your inner core below the belly button by pulling the muscles in towards the spine. Next, with a straight knee bring the thigh into flexion and extension in a controlled pendulum movement. Repeat for 1 minute 6-8 times per day.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Upper Trapezius Retraining

Hold light dumb-bell weights in each hand & keep your core stability muscles engaged below the belly button the entire time. Take a step forward with one foot. Bring your arms out into abduction to about 45 degrees. Keeping the arms up at 45 degrees, shrug the shoulders to the ears and bring them back down again. Repeat 10 to 15 repetitions for 3 sets. This exercise is great for strengthening and retraining the neuromuscular control of the Upper fibres trapezius muscles after neck related whiplash injuries, chronic neck dysfunction or shoulder complex & rotator cuff dysfunctions. They attach onto the scapula up to every vertebrae of the neck and base of the skull.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

5 Ways to Stretch Your Calves (a Must For Runners and Heel-Wearers!)

The calves are one of the most overused and overlooked muscles in the body, and if you wear heels, run regularly, or both, stretching your calves is a must, since tight, shortened calves can lead to injury. These five calf stretches can be done almost anywhere, so click through to learn how to do them and then add these stretches to your daily routine!


Wall Calf Stretch

This is a classic calf stretch that you can do just about anywhere.
  • Stand a little less than arm's distance from the wall.
  • Step your left leg forward and your right leg back, keeping your feet parallel.
  • Bend your left knee and press through your right heel.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and switch legs.

Wall or Curb Stretch

This is one of the easiest stretches to do as soon as you finish a run. If you have weak Achilles tendons, do the variation using a wall instead of a ledge.
  • Find a wall and stand a few inches away. With one foot, put your toes on the wall, keeping your heel on the floor, and flex.
  • Hold for about 10-15 seconds, then alternate with your other foot.
  • You can also do this stretch using a curb or step and hanging your heels off the ledge.

Seated Calf Stretch

This is a simple way to stretch your calves while sitting.
  • Sit comfortably on the floor. If the backs of your legs are really tight and you find yourself slumping, sit on a pillow so you can keep your spine straight.
  • Fold your right leg in and reach your left leg long.
  • Wrap a yoga strap or Theraband (or an old tie or belt from your bathrobe) around the ball of your left foot.
  • Use the strap to pull your toes toward your head.
  • Do not jam your knee into the floor and keep your left heel on the ground.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and then repeat of the other side.

Downward Facing Dog

This basic yoga pose is a great calf stretch.
  • Begin in a plank pose with your hands under your shoulders then lift your pelvis up making a "V" with your body. Spread your fingers wide.
  • Work on bringing your heels toward the ground.
  • Allow your heels to flare out slightly wider than your toes.
  • Reach your sits bones, on the bottom of your pelvis, high to the ceiling to increase the stretch.
  • To deepen the stretch in your calves, try treading lightly by pressing down on one foot while bending your other leg (as shown). Hold a few seconds per leg and then switch.
  • Hold or alternate your feet for a total of 30 seconds.
  • You can increase your stretch even more by lifting up one leg into Three-Legged Dog.

Calf and Shoulder Stretch at the Wall

This stretch is a great multitasking stretch that opens the shoulders as well as the calves.
  • Stand in front of a wall with your feet together. Place your hands on the wall shoulder-width apart.
  • Rock your weight back on your heels without locking your knees, so your toes get pulled off the ground. Reach your bum out as far as you can by lengthening through your spine. Tuck your chin to feel a deep stretch in the back of your neck.
  • Stay here for thirty seconds and then shift your weight forward, placing your toes back on the ground.

Monday, 7 November 2016

5 Really Great Reasons Why Good Posture Is Super Important

So it turns out, your mother was right after all: Good posture really matters ― even in your older years.

Here are five reasons why good posture matters.

1. Bad posture can adversely impact your sex life.

Research shows that slouching ― the opposite of “power posing,” meaning standing up tall and straight ― results in low energy and low self-esteem. Standing straight up with your shoulders back and neck aligned with the rest of your spine is considered a “power pose” that can boost your energy and confidence levels. By regularly practicing good posture, you’ll feel more confident and energized in and out of the bedroom.

2.  Slouching makes you look older. 

If you’ve spent years sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer, you may be more likely to develop that unnatural hump in your neck or back resulting from “text neck.” For women, the forward slouching motion and rounding of the shoulders can cause breast sagging. To avoid your slouching from developing into skeletal or spinal issues, stay mindful of your posture in any position you’re in, whether you’re seated, standing, or walking, said Wang.

3. Bad posture can damage your back.

Yes, of course you knew that. Did you know that back pain is the second most common reason people visit the doctor every year, and poor posture is directly correlated to the increase in back pain in people who spend a great deal of their time sitting. Research found that during an average workday, people spend as much as 38 minutes per hour slouching.  

4. Poor posture can cause irregular bowel movements. 

We kid you not. It’s not just your back that will feel the affects of your slouching ― your intestines will take a hit, too. Having good posture means your stomach and intestines can easily push food through ― but poor posture can cause your gastrointestinal system to lock up or function poorly. Research has also shown that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome who suffer from bloating and gas can ease their symptoms by standing up straight. 

5. Bad posture makes you more selfish.

Research shows that sitting upright helps reduce self-focus, allowing you to tune in more on the needs and emotions of the people around you.