Monday, 20 February 2017

Rolling Out Your Calf Muscles

Put the roller on the ground and bring your calf onto it. Roll up and down onto your calf while supporting yourself with both hands. Find the sweet spots (or the spots that hurt in a good way) and continue to roll over these areas for 3 minutes in total. Do this 2-3 times per day just before you stretch out your calves. This technique is great as a cool down in running, any sports involving running, or after swimming and rock climbing. It’s great for chronic calf strains & tightness associated with knee, ankle injuries or plantar fasciitis.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Rolling Out Your Hamstring Muscles

Put the roller on the ground and bring your hamstring onto it. Roll up and down onto your Hamstring muscle while supporting yourself with both hands. Find the sweet spots (or the areas that hurt in a good way) and continue to roll over these areas for 3-4 minutes in total. Do this 2-3 times a day just before you stretch out the hamstring. This technique is great as a cool down in any sports involving running, or after swimming & rock climbing. It’s great for old chronic hamstring strains & chronic tightness caused by knee, hip, pelvis or back injuries.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

7 Ways to Tell if You Have a Psoas Muscle Imbalance

When you have a tight (or short) psoas muscle, you may experience pain in your lower back or in your hips, especially when lifting your legs. This is caused by the muscle compressing the discs in the lumbar region of your back.

Stretching your muscles and releasing the tension on the psoas is the best way to prevent this from happening. It takes time and daily attention to keep your psoas muscles relaxed, stretched, and strong.

And, while most people with psoas issues have tight psoas muscles, there are some people whose psoas muscles can be overstretched. In this case, if you stretch your psoas and it is already overstretched, you will cause more problems.

Your body will tell you what your psoas ultimately needs. Here are 7 ways to tell if you have a psoas muscle imbalance:

Leg length discrepancy

A tight psoas muscle can cause your pelvis to rotate forward. This in turn can cause an an internal rotation of your leg on the affected side. The opposite leg will rotate externally in an effort to counter-balance.

This will make the affected leg longer so that every time you take a step, it drives your leg up into your hip socket. This can lead to functional leg length discrepancy.

Knee and low back pain

If you experience knee or low back pain with no apparent cause, it may be coming from your psoas muscles. When your femur is in essence locked into your hip socket due to a tight psoas muscle, rotation in the joint can’t occur. This can cause your knee and low back to torque.

Postural problems

When your psoas is too short or tight, it can pull your pelvis into an anterior tilt, compressing the spine and pulling your back into hyperlordosis or “duck butt.”If your psoas is overstretched or weak, it can flatten the natural curve of your lumbar spine creating a “flat butt.” This misalignment is characterized by tight hamstrings pulling down on the sitting bones, which causes the sacrum to lose its natural curve and results in a flattened lumbar spine.

This can lead to low-back injury, especially at the intervertebral discs. You may also feel pain at the front of your hip. Finally, it is possible for your psoas muscles to be both tight and overstretched. In this case, your pelvis is pulled forward in front of your center of gravity, causing your back to curve (swayback) and your head to poke forward.

Difficulty moving your bowels

A tight psoas muscle can contribute to or even cause constipation. A large network of lumbar nerves and blood vessels passes through and around the psoas muscles. Tightness in the psoas muscles can impede blood flow and nerve impulses to the pelvic organs and legs.

In addition, when the psoas is tight your torso shortens decreasing the space for your internal organs. This affects food absorption and elimination. As such it can contribute to constipation, as well as sexual dysfunction.

Menstrual Cramps

An imbalance in your psoas muscles can be partially responsible for menstrual cramps as it puts added pressure in your reproductive organs.

Chest breathing

A tight psoas muscle can create a thrusting forward of the ribcage. This causes shallow, chest breathing, which limits the amount of oxygen taken in and encourages over usage of your neck muscles.

Feeling exhausted

Your psoas muscles create a muscular shelf that your kidneys and adrenals rest on. As you breathe properly your diaphragm moves and your psoas muscles gently massage these organs, stimulating blood circulation. But, when the psoas muscles become imbalanced, so do your kidneys and adrenal glands, causing physical and emotional exhaustion.

9 Tips for Keeping Your Psoas Muscles Happy and Healthy

Exercise, sitting in your favorite chair, wearing shoes, and even unhealed physical and emotional injuries can cause imbalance in your psoas muscles. Getting things back in balance will give you a greater range of motion and relief from pain. Plus, you feel more grounded and relaxed!

Here are some tips for getting things back in balance:

Avoid sitting for extended periods.

If you must sit for work or other reasons, sit with good posture and be sure your hips are level or slightly higher than your knees. Avoid bucket seats and chairs without support for your low back. Try to get up and move around every hour.

Add support to your car seat.

Use a rolled up towel underneath your sit bones and/ or behind your lumbar spine to keep the psoas and hip sockets released. If you are traveling long distances, stop every 3 hours to stretch and walk around for 10 minutes.

Lay off extreme exercise routines.

We don’t mean completely or forever. But, if you are a power walker, distance runner or sprinter, or even if you do a lot of sit-ups, you may want to alternate your workouts.

Try Resistance Flexibility exercises.

Resistance Flexibility exercises can do wonders for your fascia.

To strengthen your psoas, lay on your back with your hips abutting the wall next to a door frame. Raise one leg straight so that it is against the wall. (Your other leg will extend through the door way.) Bend your extended leg and using your hands to slow down the movement and create resistance, bring your bent knee toward your chest.

Do this while also pressing your raised leg into the wall. Then reverse the motion of your bent leg. As you straighten it, continue to create resistance using your hands to push your leg out as your leg resists.

Monday, 6 February 2017

6 Stretches for Sciatica Pain Relief

What is the sciatic nerve?

Sciatic nerve pain can be so excruciating and debilitating that you don’t even want to get off the couch. Common causes of sciatica can include a ruptured disk, a narrowing of the spine canal called spinal stenosis, and injury.

The sciatic nerve runs down the spine and branches off, like a zipper, down the legs. The pain of pressure on the sciatic can feel like sharp shocks running down your leg (generally just one at a time) or nagging lower back pain. Sometimes people experience numbness or tingling in the leg, too.

Sciatica pain can occur for a variety of reasons. Identifying ‘what doesn't move’ is the first step toward solving the problem. Often, the most problematic body parts are the lower back and hips.

The best way to alleviate most sciatica pain is to do “any stretch that can externally rotate the hip to provide some relief.”

Here are six exercises that do just that.

Pigeon pose

Pigeon Pose is a common yoga pose. It works to broadly open the hips. There are multiple versions of this stretch. The first is a starting version of the pigeon pose, known as the reclining pigeon pose. If you are just starting your treatment, you should try the reclining pose first. Once you can do the reclining version without pain, work with your physical therapist on the sitting and forward versions.

Reclining pose

  1. While on the back, bring your right leg up to a right angle and grasp it with both hands behind the thigh, locking your fingers.
  2. Take your left leg and place your ankle against the knee. Hold the position for a moment before changing legs. This helps stretch the tiny piriformis muscle, which sometimes becomes inflamed and presses against the sciatic nerve causing pain.
  3. Repeat by switching sides and doing the same exercise with the other leg.

Sitting pose

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Then bend your right leg, putting your right ankle on top of the left knee.
  2. Lean forward and allow your upper body to lean toward your thigh. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and then switch sides. This stretches the glutes and lower back.

Forward pose

  1. Kneel on the floor on all fours.
  2. Pick up your right leg and move it forward so that your lower leg is on the ground, horizontal to the body. Your right foot should be in front of your right knee while your right knee stays to the right.
  3. Stretch the left leg out all the way behind you on the floor, with the top of the foot on the ground and toes pointing back.
  4. Shift your body weight gradually from your arms to your legs so that your legs are supporting your weight. Sit up straight with your hands on either side of your legs.
  5. Take a deep breath. While exhaling, lean your upper body forward over your lower leg. Support your weight with your arms as much as possible.

Knee to opposite shoulder

This simple stretch helps relieve sciatica pain by loosening your gluteal and piriformis muscles, which can become inflamed and press against the sciatic nerve.

  1. Lie on your back with your legs extended outward and your feet flexed upward.
  2. Clasp your hands around your knee and gently pull your right leg across your body toward your left shoulder. Hold it there for 30 seconds and then push your knee so your leg returns to its starting position.
  3. Repeat for a total of 3 reps, and then switch legs. Remember to only pull your knee as far as it will comfortably go. You should feel a relieving stretch in your muscle, not pain.

Standing hamstring stretch

This stretch can help ease pain and tightness in the hamstring caused by sciatica.

  1. Place your right foot on an elevated surface at or below your hip level. This could be a chair, ottoman, or step on a staircase. Flex your foot so your toes and leg are straight. If your knee tends to hyperextend, keep a slight bend in it.
  2. Bend your body forward slightly toward your foot. The further you go, the deeper the stretch. Do not push so far that you feel pain.
  3. Release the hip of your raised leg downward as opposed to it lifting up. If you need help easing your hip down, loop a yoga strap or long exercise band over your right thigh and under your left foot. Hold for at least 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

Rolling Out the Ilio-Tibial Band (IT-Band)

Place the roller on the ground or your yoga mat and put your lateral thigh onto the roller. Gently roll up and down onto your IT-Band controlling the amount of pressure onto it with your hands. Find the sweet spot and continue to roll over onto this area for up to 3-4 minutes total. Do this 2 to 3 times per day. This self release technique is great for IT-Band syndrome caused by knee sprains, tight lateral quads, lateral tracking of the knee cap or any other acute or chronic knee pain. 

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Rolling Out the Latissimus Dorsi / Teres Mj

Place the roller on the ground or your yoga mat and lie on your side below your arm pit. Roll back and forth releasing your latissimus dorsi muscle for up to 2-3 minutes doing 2 sets. Stretching this area with the 1-arm prayer stretch after rolling it out is great for stiff shoulders where the latissimus dorsi muscle can pull down the scapula contributing to shoulder impingement syndrome. Rock climbers, volleyball players, weight lifters and swimmers would benefit greatly with rolling out this muscle!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

3 Reasons You Might Be Feeling The 'Pinch' After Training

Ever find yourself getting an odd pinchy feeling in the front of your hip at the bottom of a squat? That 'can' be caused by the tensor fascia latae (TFL). This muscle runs from the top of your ASIS hipbone, across the hip joint via the iliotibial band. The TFL is primarily a trunk stabilizer; it tries to prevent your torso from moving as the lower body moves. However, the TFL also flexes and abducts the hip, and internally rotates the femur. This is where our problems lie.

Inability to activate the glutes can cause overactivity through the hip flexors, quadriceps and especially our friend TFL. Inability to activate the gluteal muscles can stem from a number of possible causes:

Inactivity

In terms of muscle, the saying “if you don’t use it you lose it” applies. If we don’t create a demand on or stimulate the muscle, it will become smaller and harder to engage. If you’re sitting on your gluts now, squeeze them together. If you can’t get strong, even activation on both sides, good luck getting activation in the gym.

Asymmetry

Though we are biologically symmetrical, the demands we put on our body are rarely so. Our body’s response to these demands is to make specific adaptions increasing our ability to survive future stressors, thereby making the body asymmetrical. Aysmmetry can be a massive issue when it comes to the demands of training. Whether it be Sport, CrossFit, Powerlifting or Olympic Weightlifting, 90% of injuries both chronic and acute happen on an athlete’s non dominant side. Ie if you’re right handed the issues will mostly happen on your left side. This is because we put the same amount of load and weight during training through both sides, with one side normally lacking the stability, muscle bulk and overall neuro muscular development.

Pain/previous injury

Pain is one of the major inhibitors of our glutes (in particular gluteus maximus). This is primarily a survival mechanism to help prevent further injury, as our glutes are major propulsion muscles.

If you’ve had a previous injury on one side of your body, your body will subconsciously move in a way to unload that area of the body. Unless you physically focus on strengthening the issue. Seeing a Physiotherapist is a great way to get that previous issue addressed and to optimize your performance in the gym.

If you are unable to activate our glutes, more specifically the gluteus medius, the TFL can begin to take over as a primary hip stabilizer. This manifests as pain in the front region of the hip and leads to slow movement throughout the squat or an inability to reach the bottom of the squat.