Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Gluteal Muscles Workout

The gluteal or buttocks muscles are a muscle group that can be neglected during daily life because we spend so much time sitting these days. This sometimes means that when we do go to complete a workout, the gluteal muscles are a bit lazy at first. The glutes are a super important group both during standing and keeping balanced and have also been referred to as the "engine of the athlete." An enormous amount of power can come from the gluteal muscles during running and jumping (e.g. did anyone see Simone Biles' phenomenal height reached during her tumbling passes?!). So, since gluteal muscles sometimes get lazy, try adding a few of these activation exercises in as warm-up before a run or before bigger lifts or jumping drills to get the most out of your engine.

1. Glute Bridge/Hip Thrust: basic, safe to learn and a physio favourite. Start by laying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Before you thrust your hips to the ceiling, create tension in your torso by activating your abdominal muscles, then push through your heels to bring hips towars the ceiling. For an added challenge, try doing this with one leg up at a time. By using single leg, you'll notice how much you shift from side to side or how one hip tends to drop. Work on trying to keep hips even, stable and centred.


2. Hip Hinge: an excellent precursor to the deadlift. Knowing the technical aspects of the hip hinge can help you in so many ways. Start standing in a neutral position, focusing on good posture. You can hold a broom stick or dowel along your spine as an external cue. Make sure the stick is always connected to the back of your head, your upper back and your sacrum (the lowest part of your spine that sits between your hip bones or pelvis). Create tension by activating your abdominal muscles. As you bend forward, stick your butt out and lower your chest, thinking about keeping that neutral spinal alignment. As you return to standing, dig your heels into the ground and squeeze your buttocks to thrust hips forward.

3. Clamshell: another physio favourite. Clamshells end up in a lot of physio programs; they're simple and effective. For less challenge, first try it without any resistance. As you improve, add a theraband tied just above your knees, or add a side plank to your clamshell for a superset. When performing your clamshell, make sure your hips stay stacked on top of each other (do not roll backwards! - this is the most common way to cheat the clamshell). 

4. One-legged squats: This is a challenging exercise, but is also one that is very difficult to cheat. Watch yourself in the mirror to see if one of your hips drops lower than the other - this is what we're trying to avoid! When you first start, rest your fingertips on a wall or table to help you keep your balance. Don't worry about depth at first! Just try to focus on mini squats with good technique. As you get better, then think about doing a deeper squat.

5. Glute and Hamstrings Slides: this is similar to the glute bridge but adds another component. Set yourself as you would for your glute bridge, but place a towel under your heels between your feet and your ground. Activate your abdominals, thrust your hips to the ceiling and slide your feet out very slowly. As you slide, keep pushing your hips to the ceiling.

This is just a small sampling of glute exercises to try. If you're interested in learning more, please come see us at the clinic and our brilliant clinicans can put together a personalized program for you!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Part 4 Ultimate Frisbee Core Strength Training: Disc Throwing Functional Core

Start by placing a resistance band loop that is just above waist height in length securely in your pivot shoe. Then wrap another band that’s shoulder width long around your ankles. Place the longer loop and the disc in your throwing hand. Next, begin to side step and initiate the flick throw and return to the start position. You can vary the side step to make it lower and deeper; Making sure you keep your form intact. Repeat 10-15 times. Next you will engage your core stability muscles to work in practicing your back hand throws. As you step forward and across the body to follow through make sure you keep your core engaged. Repeat this 10-15 times. Then engage your shoulder and core stability strength with your hammer throws. Also repeating this 10-15 times. Do 3 sets of each. Disc Throwing Functional core strengthening helps you to fully rehabilitate from shoulder sprains, rotator cuffs injuries, elbow strains, hip, knee, ankle, back or neck strains. This is great for taking that next step to increasing your functional shoulder strength because it trains the upper extremity to work in conjunction with your core stability muscles.

Thursday, 18 August 2016


Sciatica is not actually a specific diagnosis, but actually a symptom of another underlying cause. Sciatica refers to the pain that is produced in response to pressure on the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back (or lumbar spine) down to your buttocks, hip and lower limb.

Characteristics of sciatic pain:
- Pain that radiates from the lower back and down the leg; more common: to the knee; less common: to the foot and toes
- Pain that can be described as tingling or burning (rather than an achey pain) or numbness or weakness with lessened ability to move lower limb or toes
- Pain that is worse with sitting
- Pain that is only present in one leg (generally affects only one side of the body, not both)

Causes of sciatic pain:
As mentioned above, sciatica is the pain that is experienced due to an underlying issue. The most common causes of sciatic pain include: herniated lumbar disc, degenerative disc disease, isthmic spondylolisthesis, lumbar spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome and sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction. Essentially, any of these listed diagnoses create pressure against the sciatic nerve. When the nerve is pushed or pinched by another structure, it causes an irritation of the nerve. Because nerves have pathways within them that send messages from your body to your brain and vice versa, your brain will register this irritated sensation as sciatic nerve pain. 

Other causes of sciatic nerve pain might include things such as pregnancy. With pregnancy, a woman's body can go through many changes and with the additional weight this can cause pressure to build up against the sciatic nerve. Fractures of the lumbar vertebrae due to traumatic injuries from car accidents or a fall or in response to a weakened bone from osteoporosis can also create issues along the sciatic nerve. In rare cases, a spinal tumor or infection might cause sciatic nerve pain.

Treatment of sciatic pain:
In some cases, sciatic pain can be temporarily relieved through the use of a hot or cold compress or with common pain medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), those these options will not treat the underlying cause of sciatic pain. Since the cause of sciatic pain can be any number of things, it is best to make an appointment with your physiotherapist for a full assessment to determine the cause itself. You do not need a doctor's referral to make an appointment with a physiotherapist for sciatic pain in British Columbia. In some cases, you may also need to see a doctor for additional tests, such as diagnostic imaging. In the most severe cases, you may be referred for a surgical consultation. This is generally reserved for those experiencing extreme weakness in the lower limb(s) affected or for those with impaired bladder function due to irritation of the spinal nerves. 

Monday, 15 August 2016

Ultimate Training - Reach Jumps 1-Leg

Helping you Sky the Disc Better: Reach Jumps on 1 Leg. Start by looping a resistance band around your foot securely in your shoe and the other end into the web space of your opposite hand. Start jumping on 1 leg from side to side while reaching as high as you can with the hand for 30 seconds. You can also do 1-leg reach jumps in the forward and backwards, and vertical directions, both with the resistance band for 30 seconds. Do 3 sets of each! This is great for progressing functional strength rehabilitation from injuries like ankle & knee sprains, hamstring and calf strains, shoulder sprains and RTC injuries.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

How To Be More Active Throughout the Day

Let's face it, getting to the gym or going for your run is not always easy. Life can get in the way and mess with your usual schedule, or there may be some days you are just not feeling up to the task. However, we all know that staying active is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We've made a list of ways to stay active throughout the day. These are short tasks and do not take up much time, so for the days you are feeling off or feeling short on time, try these! Or, if you're having a great active day, use these tips and tricks to increase your activity level over the day:

1. Take the stairs (or climb the elevator if stairs are not easily accessible).

2. Park farther away from the store so you'll have a longer walk to the entrance (it's also usually easier to find a parking spot further away from wherever you're going!).

3. Use a shopping basket instead of a cart at the grocery store (provided of course you are purchasing a reasonable number of items).

4. When you clean, clean vigorously. We all need to deep clean our surroundings every so often, so when the time comes, make the most of it and really put in some work (you will burn a surprising amount of calories just by scrubbing the toilet!)

5. Set an alarm. We all run the risk of getting tied up in work, or a good book, or the Netflix marathon. Set an alarm at regular increments to get up and walk around, or do something else active as a break. Bonus = walking around while studying has actually been shown to improve memory retention of the material studied!

6. Take a walk. Sometimes a proper full workout is just not something you're up for. That's okay. Everyone has these days. Instead of a full workout, try going for a walk. It's low impact. It can last for a short or long time, and the fresh air is always a good idea!

7. Exercise while watching tv. If you have exercise equipment at home, use it! If you don't, try stretching while you watch television (this is also a great time to work on your exercises from your physio!). Again, this is a low impact option that can help break up the monotony of just sitting while staring at the screen.

8. If you are needing to pick up only a few items, walk or bike to the store instead of driving.

9. When at the mall or grocery store, take an extra few laps around the store before you start shopping.

10. If you've been considering getting a dog, get one! Taking pets for walks is an excellent way to keep your activity level up, and your four-legged friend will love you for it.

11. Play with your kids. If you have kids, or nieces or nephews, join in on their games. Chances are they'll keep you on your toes and you'll both get some good laughs.

12. Before you shower, do 10 squats, 10 lunges, 10 pushups and hold a plank for 10 seconds. This mini workout will help you wake up in the morning and get your blood flowing for the day ahead.

13. If you're not feeling the gym, try doing an exercise video at home. You'll save time staying at home and there are many fitness apps and videos with varying lengths of time, so you can find one for exactly how much time you have.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Ultimate Training - Starfish Jacks

Welcome to part 2, Ultimate Training to better mark the disc. This exercise is called the Starfish Jacks. Have a resistance band tied around the legs above the ankles. Then secure a longer one inside your shoe at shoulder height and into the web spaces of your hands. Begin hopping to one side jacking the same side arm up and out and then switching to the other side like you were actually marking the disc. Throw in a foot block too! Do for 30 seconds 5 sets 2 times per day. This is great for progressive functional strength rehabilitation recovery in shoulder, upper extremity, Spinal, hip and lower extremity injuries. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Exercises to Improve Shoulder Mechanics

As you can see from the image above, the shoulder joint is a very complex joint. In fact, each shoulder blade has 19 different muscles that attach to it in some way. And that's just muscles! That does not include all the ligaments, nerves, blood vessels and bursa that also inhabit the area. Your shoulder has the capacity for many degrees of freedom, and since it can move in all sorts of directions and ways, it can also be pretty unstable, and is susceptible to poor mechanical habits.

Mobility exercises:
First we'll look at mobility exercises. The muscles in front of the shoulder tend to get tight, but the rotator cuff is also a likely culprit for over-active and unbalanced muscles activity. When we consider mobility, we want to think about freeing up the more tense or over active muscles that may be causing a restriction in the range of motion of the shoulder.

1. Self release of pectoralis minor and major with lacrosse ball, tennis ball or acupressure ball:
Standing near a wall, place a ball between you and the wall (just inside of the point of the shoulder joint). Push into the ball and move it around a bit, focusing on tender areas. This can help to release tension in the front of (or anterior) shoulder.

2. Self release latissimus dorsi/subscapularis:
Using the same technique as above, roll the ball between you and the wall on the side of your body (just below your armpit). If you are using a foam roller, lay on your side on the ground, arm above your head and roller at about the armpit level.

3. Self release rhomboids/trapezius:
Again, using that same ball, place ball between you and the wall, but this time on your upper back in the space between the shoulder blade and the spine. Focus on tight areas. You may wish to bring ball higher on your back to get into the upper trapezius muscle fibers.

4. Chest opening stretches:
These focus on opening the chest, and in particular, the pectoralis muscles. This can be done against a wall or doorway, or on a foam roller (as below).

5. Roll the ball up the wall:
Exactly what it sounds like, grab an exercise ball and roll it up the wall as far as you can. You can do this on one side at a time or both arms together.

Stability and Motor Control Exercises
The other piece to our shoulder puzzle involves stability of the joint as well as motor control of the surrounding muscle tissue.

1. ITYW:
Resting your hips/abdomen on a stability ball, raise your arms in an I pattern (arms above shoulders), a T (arms level with shoulders), Y (similar to I, but arms slightly outspread from head) and W (with elbows bent and hands around shoulder level). Move slowly and use gravity as your resistance.

2. Supine Arm Bar:
This may not look like much at first, but it challenges all the small muscles around the shoulder joint to work together to stabilize the shoulder joint. Laying your back, lift a somewhat heavy for you (you want it to be challenging, but not feel like your arm will buckle under its weight) dumbell or kettlebell straight up  to the ceiling. Try not to lock your elbow in place too hard. Hold this position and try to keep the weight right over the shoulder joint. Not as easy as it looks hey?

3. Down Dog:
Yogis are all too familiar with this one. Done properly and with good technique, the downward dog yoga pose can be an excellent means to build shoulder stability. This will require that you already have adequate mobility in the shoulder joint. In this position, keep fingers wide and do not lock your elbows. Think about sliding shoulder blades down your back, but not sinking into the shoulders (you should feel like you're pushing the ground away). Hold this position.

4. Plank:
Oh yes. I've said it once and I'll say it again - physios love planks! They challenge so many muscles at once; they are an excellent tool. In your plank, make sure your spine and head are in natural alignment (do not collapse in your head or low back). Do not collapse into your shoulders. You want to feel like you are pushing the ground away. Then push it all the way away (this is the plus position). The plus position pushes your shoulders blades away from one another and engages your serratus muscles which help hold the shoulder blade (or scapula) in place. For an added challenge, try alternating bringing a hand to touch the opposite shoulder.

These are of course just a small selection of available exercises. For more ideas and for an individualized shoulder performance plan, please see your physio!