If you wake up with stiff, sore back; these exercises are for you
yourPhysio anatomy lesson first; your hip flexors are the dominant muscle in the ‘knee to chest’ action. Anatomically known as your; Iliacus, Psoas Major and Minor, and your Quadratus Lumborum, these muscles are attached to your hip, to your lower back and your pelvis. Consequently, when overused or tight they can reconfigure your lumbar spine, throw out your hip and back, affect your sacro-iliac joint, and change your biomechanics thoroughly.
Even though stretching is essential for all muscle work, it can actually be damaging if not done properly. When you stretch without warming up your muscles, it increases your likelihood of injury, as you are trying to stretch a cold muscle. So before you stretch, make sure you warm up; walk in place, cross-train, and increase the blood flow into your muscles so you can prevent an injury. As a physiotherapist, I do commonly advise patients to hold a stretch for 20-30 seconds, but why? The reason is because our muscles have a protective reflex to avoid over extension or contraction. When you are stretching your muscle, the muscle spindles, which are the components that produce contraction, activate a reflexive pathway which causes them to shorten in order to compensate for the stretch (called the myotatic reflex). This is what causes your leg to kick out when you tap your knee.
There are two main types of stretching: dynamic and static. Static stretching is what we just talked about, which is a stretching routine that includes holding 30 second stretches for specific muscles. When using static stretching before a sport that requires you to use specific muscles to initiate specific movements, it is hard to relate static stretches to dynamic activity. This is where dynamic stretching comes in. Dynamic stretching is designed to mimic the actions and movements you are expected to perform during a specific sport. For example, this would include kicking around a soccer ball in warm-up before a soccer game, so your body can get accustomed to activating the required muscles. That way, your muscles can make the necessary preparations to prevent injury, as playing a sport requires many specific dynamic and explosive movements.
For your hip flexors, I teach a ‘dynamic lunge’; such that your hip flexors, quadriceps and pelvic muscles are used within the stretch. If you add Kegel exercises to this movement, the pelvic floor muscles are activated more and a greater effort can be applied to this core stretch. Remember those pre-natal classes guys? A patient was recently surprised to know that guys can do Kegels too! Guys are equipped with those same pelvic floor muscles and ladies should appreciate these efforts, as do the men!
Overall, stretching is very beneficial for movements involved in a regular day, and those involved in heavy labor, repetitive activity and sports. Therefore, it should be a priority for everyone to incorporate some sort of stretching into their daily routine (after warming up of course!), in order to maintain optimal functionality. Flexibility is a highly underappreciated component of muscular strength and function, but key to good performance at work, home and recreation.
We’ve all heard physios, chiros, docs and fitness experts claim that core training is important for overall fitness and health. Health clubs offer core training exercise groups and physiotherapists recommend it for those recovering from spinal injury. Your core is the collection of muscles that stabilize the spine, this includes the hips, pelvis, abdominals, lower back, mid-back, and neck regions of the body. These muscles are extremely important in all sports, so why do so many ‘office athletes’ that basically sit for a living overlook core training?
The reason most people skimp on this vital part of their workout is because the benefits are simply overlooked.
Benefits of core training:
- Develop better posture
- Decreases back pain
- Helps injury prevention and rehabilitation
- Increased flexibility
- Greater physical strength
- Improved respiration and lung capacity
- For seniors, it can help to improve balance, reduce injury, and maintain mobility
It’s important to note that performing a few crunches is not proper core training. As a matter of fact, I recommend that these be avoided for much of a lower back stabilization program. We simply just do not need any more ‘flexion’ in our daily routine; you sit most of your day!
Since your core involves many different muscles groups, a variety of exercises are needed to ensure you work them all; some exercises to explore include, but are not limited to, lunges, bridges, planks, and crunches. Every patient learns how to properly stretch their hip flexors, the ‘culprit’ muscle that usually guards when the ligaments are sprained in the lower back.
Pilates and Yoga classes are also excellent for strengthening your core muscles while also improving balance and posture. Check out Pilates Manitoba as they are offering 50% off their introductory classes for first-time participants.
When your core is strong, your whole body works better. Core training isn’t just for athletes, it’s for anyone who would like to have their body working at its greatest potential. For anyone just starting an exercise program, be sure to talk to yourPhysio first.
Winnipeg, by now you know you probably know that sitting down all day is terrible for you. As computer hardware and software accelerate the ‘web 3.0’, we can do more than ever before from a sitting position. Ergonomics is no longer a foreign word, and our ‘core’ exercises need to be performed everyday!
Who needs scientists to tell you that sitting for even one hour causes the production of fat-burning enzymes to decline a whopping 90%, or that more than four hours of desk time each day raises your risk of a heart attack by more than 100%?
You can feel exactly how crappy sitting all day makes you feel at the end of each workday; though you may be shocked to learn that being a regular gym-goer doesn’t protect you from the harmful effects of all that sitting. Standing up more is scientifically proven to have huge health benefits, but in our digital world it’s not as simple as it sounds. Here’s how to make the switch to an upright workday.
Try the latest DIY option, I have had so many patients describe their attempts at raising their work surface by box, crate, home-made devices, etc. I’m sure you could find the latest ‘how-to-video’ on YouTube to get an idea as to how to produce something for your workstation. Ergonomic clients of yourPhysio.com have purchased electronic and hydraulic ‘sit-stand’ workstations to allow their employees the postural variety that may be necessary for back pain, hip strains or knee sprains. These rehabs require movement throughout the day, and consistent changes in posture is a great place to start.
Invest in an ‘anti-fatigue’ mat, change your shoes every 6-8 months or try an over-the-counter orthotic to replace those worn insoles. You may require a doctor’s note to have orthotics covered by your insurance plan, but it is an employment benefit; so benefit!
Tweak your ergonomics, hire an ergonomic consultant for an hour and learn the proper way, not only how to sit, but how to perform your job so that it will not cause pain. Ask questions about posture, exercise and equipment available to make any task easier and less painful.
You’re back is Achy, You’re neck may be Sore, and You Have No Idea Why…It feels like muscle pain, but unlike a tight hamstring, hip flexor or shoulder that makes you yelp when you stand up, your ache isn’t triggered by a particular movement, and you can feel it in different places at various times. The culprit could be your fascia, that relative “sheet” of tissue, made up of densely packed protein fibers, weaves throughout the entire body, and it binds and supports your muscles, bones and even your organs.
You know how your muscles feel cramped and stiff when you wake up in the morning? After a night’s sleep (or another long period of inactivity, like a car trip or plane ride), the parts of your fascia that wrap around and through your muscle fibers, which are normally stretchy and flexible, can stick together like previously chewed bubble gum. Stretching like a well rested cat in yoga, is a great way to release those sticky fibers at home.
Just today, I’ve recommended a client to work out those overused sore spots with a foam roller. You’ve probably seen people at the gym using these things, which look like pool noodles, to stretch their back, hamstrings and the notoriously tight IT band on the outside of the hips. To start, take an old pillow from home, fold it in half length wise and duct tape it into a hardened roll. It may not provide the stiff surface of a good foam roll, but you can begin slowly, and graduate to harder surfaces later. Sit or lie upon the roll, and when you get to a sore spot that feels like a bruise, pause for 15 to 20 seconds. The discomfort should melt away as the fascia softens and the muscles release. If you feel intense pain that doesn’t dissipate, stop and consider making an appointment with a physical therapist.
Don’t Let the Tissues Get “Crunchy”
If you’ve ever had a shoulder rub and heard something that sounded like crinkling plastic under your skin, that wasn’t your imagination—it was probably your parched, stiffened fascia. The collagen, protein fibers that make up fascia need to stay supple to work properly, and to slide over and under muscles and other inner-body surfaces. One way to keep the fascia hydrated is obvious: drink lots of fluids, especially water. I have had chronic back pain clients change their coffee to water on a 8x per day basis to gain relief from their fascial pain. Another easy (but easily forgettable) way is to make sure we stand up, stretch and flex regularly throughout the day to keep the fascia from locking up. Those pressure points are warning you for a reason!
If you need some foam roll instruction or relative treatment with myofascial release techniques, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Back pain is still, just too common. Our medical treatments tend to be too reactive and not proactive. Most people know that they should be exercising more, not sitting for greater hours at work and home, and not jumping on n off the latest bandwagon cures or diets.
Today’s new submitted an article on the risks of burns with over-the-counter heat/cold rubs or creams, see link (http://t.co/Cmu5yEDS). Given the ingredients, occasional misuse or combining these ‘patches’ with other forms of heat/cold can cause severe skin reactions.
Physiotherapists have always been the healthcare provider to prescribe exercise, in rehabilitation of an injury or surgery, and in prevention. Don’t hesitate to ask, or come in for an ‘exercise review’, if you’re just not sure on your biomechanics or plan for an activity, like golf, hockey or your next marathon.
‘Core exercises’ should be the eventual focus of a back patient’s exercise plan. The individual may not be able to do a ‘side plank’ the second week, but we as physiotherapists prescribe exercise and breakdown biomechanics based on a person’s ability.
This core exercise example could be done with a small dumbbell, standing, lying on your back or even on an exercise ball. It should be performed with your own restrictions in mind, and not attempted if you are in pain. An excellent exercise for rotational stability for golf, hockey, baseball, etc.
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According to the Orthpedic Society for North America; knee sprains, especially those of the anterior cruciate ligament (or ACL) have risen 400% over the last decade.
We are trying to stay more active; at work, at home and during our ‘play time’. All sport participation rates are up, just try and book something in the Winnipeg Leisure Guide, or a camping spot in one of our Manitoba Provincial Parks. Congrats!
Remember to prep for activities; some form of ‘dynamic warmup’, imitate a biomechanical piece of the movement that you shall be attempting, and repeating. At the gym, prep those muscle groups, learn the correct exercises that will benefit your performance.
Sore afterwards? Don’t put all the ice in that glass, use some cold therapy to cool down those worked areas…Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
We do have a Golf 911 service for those that need to get back quickly, and avoid loosing that ultimate tee time. Enjoy!
Really…too many media driven articles on sitting as a “disease”…since 1995 or there about’s, it’s been a necessary evil of our increasingly computer driven ergonomics at work, rest and play; the desktop, the laptop, the smartphone, the tablet, next?
But then why are exercise plans so quick to add the situp? or bench press? or knee extension? All of these place our biomechanics, our posture into greater flexion! Beware, add more extension exercises now! add those planks!
Give yourself more reasons to stand…even every 12 minutes is ideal. If you cannot figure it out, give me a call…your ergonomics may be your disease…and you are not retiring anytime soon.