You may have a robust fitness plan in place and have previously seen huge progress in both your endurance and your strength but have now hit a plateau. If this is you, you may need to add some mobility sessions to your weekly training.
Often overlooked, but key for long-term fitness success, we take a look at what mobility is and how it can improve your overall progress.
What is Mobility?
Simply, mobility is strength and range of motion in the muscles and joints. It can sometimes cause confusion with flexibility, but the two are different.
There are two types of mobility, the first being mobility of the muscle or isolated body part – this is where some muscle groups have good mobility but others are more restricted. Particularly common in those that train one muscle group more than others, take a boxer for example, or those that sit down a lot during the day.
The issue with this type of mobility is that it doesn’t encourage a good level of mobility in all muscles, which is why the second type of mobility is just as, if not more, important: structural balance.
Structural balance, as the name suggests, impacts how balanced your entire body is, as well as its mobility. For injury prevention, structural balance is an imperative part of your training.
Why is Mobility Important?
Mobility training, particularly structural balance work has huge benefits. The biggest being perhaps how it helps with posture, joint alignment and other chronic injuries that are growing ever more common – we see this a lot with people who have desk jobs.
Having the correct balance in your body alleviates unnecessary strain on joints and therefore restrict the range of movements in your body. This is particularly important if you’re suffer from long-term joint, as well as muscle aches and pains.
If you have poor mobility and balance, and therefore the onset of discomfort and pain, you need to be adding mobility training to your arsenal.
How Often Should I be Working on my Mobility?
You should ideally be adding a session in weekly. If you do regular sessions, consistently, you will see an improvement in your overall mobility as well as a reduction in every day aches and pains.
Slowing your exercises down and taking time to really focus on rehabilitation training will help you get more in touch with your body, too.
If you don’t want to dedicated time to specific mobility training, we recommend doing some mobility movements either at the beginning of a workout or at the end. If you begin your workout with mobility training, you’ll warm the muscles up which will also allow for deeper moves – so you should see an improvement in your overall training, too.
How to Improve Mobility
There are a range of movements that will help improve your mobility:
Isolating certain muscles or body parts will help your target particularly weak areas. We often see that the main muscle groups get used regularly – whether this is because these just happen to be used every day or people are miss-informed about the exercises they think they need to do. For example, gym-goers may go and work on biceps and triceps in the gym, completely overworking these well-known, larger muscles and causing weakness and poor mobility to other arm muscles and ligaments.
Compound movements are also good to add to your mobility training roster. These are multi-joint exercises and will give you a good range of motion to add power to the move and build strength, though it’s important to combine these moves with the isolating moves above – then you’re firing from all cylinders, so to speak.
As well as isolated and compound exercises, you can focus some time on balancing; start by standing on one foot and holding, or, invest in a balance board or bosu ball to really challenge yourself.
In any instance, you need to be performing these moves slowly and controlled – otherwise you’ll risk injury.
If you’re looking to book in for regular sports therapy massages to help with your mobility, then book in today with our expert therapists who are on hand to help you back to being your best.
Constant pain can take over your life, making it hard to concentrate on anything else but the dull ache, soreness, discomfort or other pain in your body. Chronic pain can test even the most positive of people, but there are ways to manage it.
As massage therapists, we are obviously big advocates of using deep tissues massages as a way to help manage pain and reduce symptoms, but there are some additional things you can be doing at home to help.
If you’re prone to sore joints and constant aches and pains, you may find solace in powerful natural remedies that can be found in your local supermarket.
Here are the foods you should be putting on your shopping list to help reduce inflammation in the body:
There’s a great enzyme found in the exotic fruit pineapple, known as Bromelain, that boasts wonderful anti-inflammatory benefits. Bromelain gets absorbed into our bodies in the digestive tract, where other enzymes don’t absorb – instead they break down – meaning where other nutrients are passing through the digestive tract, the body sees a difference from Bromelain.
Ginger is a fantastic addition to your day-to-day life, whether you’re adding it to your tea, sprinkling it over your meals or taking it as a health-kick shot, you should really be getting your ginger fix.
It boasts huge benefits and protecting your immune system and reducing inflammation are the main two.
Strong in flavour and packing a punch in the health stakes, try adding ginger to your meals to reap the rewards.
As with ginger, you can add this to your meals, drink it as tea or take capsules, turmeric has a whole host of benefits when it comes to reducing inflammation in the body. This healthy root is hugely popular and it’s easy to see why:
Turmeric can dramatically increase the antioxidant capacity in the body and fight the mechanisms behind many diseases.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Rich in anti-inflammatory flavonoids, leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, are packed with antioxidants that can help your body fight inflammation. One cup includes vitamin A, C and K as well as iron.
Love it or hate it, celery is extremely good for us. With properties that help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as prevent against heart disease, celery is great for fighting inflammation and bacterial infections.
Boasting a range of vitamins, such as K, A, C as well as potassium, celery should be a regular ingredient in your cooking.
Beautiful beets get their renowned colour from the antioxidant Betalain – an incredible anti-inflammatory. The compounds found in these popular vegetables block the cyclo-oxygenase enzymes, which can trigger inflammation.
Beetroot is full of potassium and magnesium so add to your diet where you can to make a bright plate of food.
These are well known for the antioxidants; blueberries are the go-to for low-sugar and high antioxidants. Not only do they contribute to good skin, good digestion and improved memory and motor function, blueberries are packed with vitamin K and C, boasting great anti-inflammatory properties.
With the spotlight well and truly on bone broth, thanks to its surge in popularity amongst health bloggers, bone broth is jam-packed with nutrients and minerals that your body can easily absorb. Offering calcium and magnesium, amongst others, bone broth also contains compounds that reduce inflammation that cause arthritis and joint pain.
Flavour your meals with bone broth or add hot water and drink to kick-start your digestive system.
Of course, these should be added to your diet in addition to any skeletal or muscular work that you’re doing. If you combine proper rehabilitation with a diet that works for you, you’ll likely see bigger changes in any aches and pains in your body.
For a deep tissue massage to help alleviate pain and soreness, get in touch with one of our friendly experts and get booked in for a massage today!
If you think that all massages are relaxing, you’d be wrong. Sports massages and massage therapy apply a lot of targeted pressure to tension points in your body – wherever you’re feeling pain – to help relieve discomfort, muscle soreness and joint pain.
The benefits of sports massages are vast but if you’re still not sure on whether massages are for you, here are just some of the improvements that you could see from regular massage therapy:
Regular treatment can increase the elasticity of muscles and aid towards improving your flexibility. Whether you’re working out or working at a desk, muscles can seize up and get tight. Loosening up these muscles is a huge benefit of sports massage and so after just one session, you should see an improvement in your flexibility. If you keep up with regular sessions and add mobility into your rehabilitation, you’ll see notable differences.
Reduced Risk of Injury
If you’re an avid gym-goer but skip the all-important warm up and cool down, you may find that you’re more prone to injury. If so, having regular massage therapy treatment can help as the pressure of the stroke releases tension, and therefore inflammation around joints and key muscle groups. This helps the muscles recover after working out faster and helps towards avoiding injury.
Release Muscle Tension
You’ll notice this one almost instantly. As your therapist works through your tight muscles, they’ll be relieving tension and whilst at first this may feel uncomfortable, and you may be sore for a day or so afterwards (much like a workout), sports massages are great for getting movement back into tight and tense muscles.
A huge benefit from regular massage treatment, particularly from your hips up to your neck, is that you will see great improvement in your posture. With that, you’ll feel more confident, look slimmer (from the way you’ll be holding your core), reduce the pressure on your hips and knees and improve your form when working out. If you work at a desk, this one is hugely important for you.
Boosted Circulatory System
As your therapist works through a session with you, they will use a range of techniques and pressure that will encourage the circulation in your body – which will benefit the cardiovascular system. The movements push oxygen around the body, which increases capillarisation – which is what supplies oxygen to the muscles to help remove carbon dioxide. An increase in oxygen means healthier muscles; essentially, massage increases the rate of blood flow back to the heart.
These are just some of the benefits that can be expected from regular treatment. As well as physical benefits, you can expect to see psychological and physiological benefits, ranging from physical pain reduction to decreases in anxiety.
Sports massages can be painful and uncomfortable at times, but no pain, no gain, right?
For more information on sports massage therapy in Hampshire, contact us today at email@example.com
Or call on 07840074288
Deep tissue massages and sports massage therapy has become more popular in recent years but there is still a common misconception that only particular people can benefit from a regular sports massage.
The truth is, massage therapy can help anyone and everyone; from novice gym goers to elite athletes, office workers, stay-at-home parents and everyone in between.
We take a look at how sports massage can help you.
Sports Massage and Elite Athletes
As you can imagine, elite athletes benefit greatly from regular sports massage. Their demanding schedules and rigorous training can put their joints and muscles under extreme pressure.
Having weekly sports massages help to loosen up tight muscles, avoid injury, and help to prepare their body for performance so you’ll find any athlete with a sports massage therapist in their arsenal.
Sports Massage and the Gym
Whilst sports massages were developed to help athletes when they push their body to the limit to help them recover quickly and help their performance, sports massages are not just for the elite sportspersons of the world.
If you’re a regular gym goer and are finding yourself with a niggling knee problem or seized up shoulder, a sports massage is a good choice for you.
Your therapist can free up the tension as well as talk you through moves to improve strength around weakened areas, and moves to avoid causing more damage.
Sports Massage and Office Workers
If you work nine to five and sit at a desk all day, you’ve likely developed poor posture and lazy glutes. Studies have shown that even regular working out doesn’t combat the dangers that come with quite literally sitting down all day.
Short of investing in a stand-up desk, there are other precautions you’ll need to take to prevent you from getting tension in your thoracic spine, curved and tense shoulders and tight hips and lazy glutes – the answer is, as you may have guessed by now, is sports massage therapy.
Your therapist will give your mobility and stability moves to help gain strength in the weak areas of your body, but the sports massage will also ease the muscles that have seized up through sitting in the same spot all day.
Sports Massage and Sedentary Lifestyle
You may think that by leading a sedentary lifestyle, you’d be averse to the need of a sports massage. This isn’t strictly true.
If you’ve ever gone from working out regularly to suddenly stopping, you may find that your body seizes up, or if you have muscle soreness, chronic pain or joint pain, including a restricted range of motion, sports massages can help alleviate your pain and get you back to fighting fit in no time.
Not moving your body enough can cause issues you may never have known before so it’s best to regularly move your body or it can seize up, just like a car.
Sports Massage and Injury
Sports massages are not just for tight or sore muscles, they can also help recover from injury – wherever you got the injury from.
Intense massages help flush lactic acid and waste from your muscles, which can help you recover faster thanks to the influx of oxygen-rich blood.
Sports massages can help prevent injury as well as treat them so don’t wait to book in for a deep-tissue massage, add this treatment to your weekly or monthly habits and you’ll see huge benefits and improvements.
To Get Your First Treatment For £16
Running and jogging is a great exercise. It’s a fantastic way to get the cardio workout you need, lose weight, stay in shape and even relax the mind by getting away from it all for a while. However, there are some risks of injury that come with running so it’s important that you learn about these and how you can avoid them.
Statistics often say that more than 65% of runners will experience some type of injury. This will cause medical bills, lost training time, rehab time and more. It can also cause pain that will affect your ability to run, possibly for the rest of your life. This is why it is very important that you learn how to avoid injury while running and that every time you run, you take the proper steps to be safe.
Preventing an injury is one serious issue especially for those that run regularly, as well as those that are training a particular race. In these cases injury prevention is not only important because it helps the runner to avoid a painful injury and potentially long recovery period but it is also critical because an injury can disrupt the training schedule and result in the runner not being properly prepared for the race or event. This article will provide some basic tips for runners which will help them to prevent injuries.
The best way to avoid injury while running is to make yourself aware of the common problems that can result while
running so you can recognise them and treat them as well as prevent them when possible. For example, a common injury to runners is overuse.
When you overuse your muscles, you can cause serious injury. This often happens from a lack of proper form or when you push yourself without the proper training. When you run with bad form, your body will not function as it is supposed to and this causes it to break down faster, leading to injury. The first step to proper running form is the right pair of running shoes.
Another common problem which leads to injury is weak tendons or muscles. This is caused by running with incorrect form, poor shoes or training only on flat surfaces. These will cause certain muscles to become weak and atrophy and those muscles are needed for balance and stabilisation. They can then become injured during running or cause you to fall and become injured.
You can avoid this by including natural surfaces in your training and making sure you run with proper form and
always stretch to warm up and cool down properly. The next most common cause of injury is accidents. Many accidents are unavoidable but there are some that can be prevented. When you learn the proper techniques to avoid these accidents, it will help prevent running injuries in the long term.
You should also be sure to wear reflective gear when running on the streets, especially at night. Be sure to cross intersections and roads carefully as well. Running is great exercise and good for you but it should be treated like a sport like any other. Take the proper steps and you can avoid injury.
Tips for Preventing Injuries While Running
If you’ve ever run, chances are you’ve thought about your knees, or maybe another part of your body. Am I wrecking them? Am I doing all the right things to take good care of them? Fortunately, there a lot of things you can do to prevent knee injuries while running for fitness. Here are a few tips to follow:
Wear Proper Shoes
First on the list is wearing the right shoes. Whether you’re running for fitness, running for weight loss or
training for your next big event, you need to make sure you’re in the right shoe. I could write a book on shoe selection (and probably have!) but your best bet is to go to a speciality running store and talk to experienced staff.
A running store will have the knowledge and experience to match up your running gait, and training plans with
the proper shoe. Wearing the wrong shoe while running can contribute to all sorts of problems.
Running in the wrong shoe can only be a sign of trouble. Improper running shoes increase the likelihood of serious
running injuries such as shin splints and Achilles tendinitis and other foot problems. Therefore, before going on a run, check first your running shoes and assess if they’re a good match. If they’re not, head to your local sportswear store and pick the right running shoe. Otherwise suffer the dire consequences.
Keeping those shoes run-ready will also help protect your knees. Don’t wear them for anything except running. Let
them have some rest after a run. When I’m training intensely, I buy 2 pairs of shoes and alternate them. The extra days off gives the mid-sole material time to recover so it can be there to protect me on my next run.
The easiest way to hurt yourself is to over train. Over training occurs when you train more than your body can
recover from between training sessions. As that happens, your joints, muscles and connective tissue start to suffer cumulative damage and that’s when injuries occur. Your body needs time to recover from the repetitive stress of
running. Take a day off from running at least 1-2 days per week. If you’re training for a really challenging event, consider the next tip.
Mix it Up
While running for fitness stresses your body in mostly the same way every time you run, cross-training will
challenge your body and develop stronger joints, connective tissues and muscles. Those will not only leave you fitter and stronger, but will actually make you a better runner.
Cross training activities include things like swimming, biking, hiking, weight training or anything physical that
elevates your heart rate and challenges your muscles. Pick your favourite non-running activity and add it to your training program.
There is evidence to suggest that runners who stretch regularly are less likely to have injuries than those who
stretch only occasionally. You do need to be careful however that you follow good practices such as only stretch warm muscles. That means post-run stretching is good. Pre-run stretching can be good, but you need to warm up first or be very careful that you don’t overstretch and injure yourself.
Find or develop a good stretching routine and follow it. You can always book an appointment with us and we can work together to develop a tailored stretching routine for your needs. Your joints will thank you..
Watch Your Form
Every runner has a unique running form. I’ve always been able to recognise runners I know even from hundreds of
meters away; their running gait gives them away every time. While it’s nice to know that we’re all unique as runners, you don’t want a unique running style that leads to injury.
If you’re having knee or other joint problems, seek some help. A running coach can analyse your running gait and
make suggestions for improvements. If coaching isn’t in your budget, perhaps consider having a friend videotape your running (outside or on the treadmill) so you can analyse it yourself. Some minor adjustments to foot placement and leg swing can help to keep you away from knee issues.
Start With the Warm-Up
Pushing your running pace from the get go is an invitation to premature fatigue, discomfort and injury. Instead,
make sure you’re well warmed up before you pick up your running pace. A decent warm-up consists of a 5-10 minutes jog at slow pace, some light stretches and taking deep breaths. This well get your body well prepped for the hard task ahead, thus help improve your performance.
Pick Your Pace
When it comes to picking the right pace, you need to find yours and build on it. Many runners try to run in the
shoes of more advanced athletes only to face exhaustion and injury later on. This is no good. As a result, next time you’re running, make sure to do it within a comfortable pace. One way you can make sure to do that is to run at a
conversational pace, meaning that you can carry on a conversation and run at the same time without much trouble. If you find it hard to do so, then you may need to scale the intensity down a bit.
Choose the Right Running Surface
Opting for the wrong running surface can be spell disaster on your running program. Usually sidewalks and paved
roads are not the best running routes. These surfaces add to the high impact nature of running, thus increasing the likelihood of overuse injuries such as bone fractures and runners knee. As a result, make sure to do the bulk of your
training on softer terrains such grass roots or dirt trails.
Work On Good Form
When it comes to running, developing good form mechanics is critical for performance and injury-free training. Sadly enough, most runners, beginners or not, make the assumption that proper form should only concern competitive runners. This is wrong. Opting for a bad form is the recipe for disaster. Expect discomfort, pain, premature tiredness as well as a number of injuries such runner’s knee as well as Achilles tendinitis if you opt for this approach.
End With a Cool-down
Ending the training session with a proper cool down is the ideal strategy for speeding up recovery and warding off
soreness and injuries afterwards. A decent cool-down helps you to get your breathing and heart rate under control. Stopping on the spot will leave you feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or woozy.
Therefore, make sure to end your workouts with a decent cool-down. Reduce your running pace into an effortless
jog, breathe deeply and stretch gently.
Make sure to stretch your lower back, groin area, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Hold every stretch for at least 30-seconds as a minimum and breathe in deeply into each pose to release any build-up tension.
Take Ample Recovery
Taking enough recover between each running session is critical for staying injury-free and getting the most out of your training program. Recovery helps your body to adapt properly to the training load, so the body can get stronger on future workouts.
Here are few recovery guidelines:
– Keep relaxing your body throughout the training session. Tension only causes discomfort and energy waste.
– Instead of landing on the heels or the toes, aim to land more on the fore-foot. Heel striking is form flaw which
lead to inefficient running and serious injuries such as runners knee and back
– Keep the head slightly tilted forward, eyes gazing 20 feet ahead.
– Keep your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Don’t hold your hands way up to the chest, instead keep them at waist level.
– Keep posture erect, straight and relaxed every time.
– Space out your training days with a recovery day-especially after a hard workout
– Get your sleep needs met. Aim for at least 8 hours of high quality sleep.
– Eat for recovery; Make sure to replenish you energy tanks immediately following a workout. Aim for a healthy
combination of carbs, lean protein and the good fats.
These prevention’s tips will help you achieve staggering consistency with your running program while
steering clear of injuries and setbacks.
Nonetheless, you need to take action now and put into practice what you’ve just learnt, otherwise your progress will be limited.
Finally, runners can help to prevent injuries by taking care to avoid doing too much mileage too quickly. An individual who has not been running at all and attempts to immediately start running 5-7 miles per day is likely to experience a number of different injuries.
Those who have not been running regularly are advised to start out with only a couple of miles a day. Even experienced runners can cause injuries by attempting to increase their mileage too quickly.
You should aim to make mileage increases as gradual as possible and try to limit yourself to increase of no more than 10% per week to avoid injuries commonly associated with over training such as shin splints and stress fractures.
If you are currently working on improving your health and fitness, it’s also a good idea to take some steps to improve your posture. A lot of people tend to overlook their posture unaware that a good posture can help them prevent back and neck pain. It can also improve your self-confidence and your health in general. Below are 17 easy ways on how you can improve your posture.
1. Avoid High Heels – This is definitely for ladies. If you want to improve your posture, it’s recommended that you avoid high heels as much as possible. Well, you could wear them when necessary, but not always. Heels can change your body’s COG or centre of gravity and throw off its normal alignment. If you must wear heels, consider wearing the smaller types if you mind your posture.
2. Hold your phone or Tablet Correctly –Bending your neck while using your phone or tablet could affect your posture. The right way to do it is to hold it straight in front of you to avoid bending your head down. If you are reading from a tablet placed on a table, prop it up perpendicularly to the table.
3. Work on Your Core Strength – Doing exercises that can strengthen your core can not only help you stand taller but can also go a long way in improving your posture. Yoga is one of best core strengthening exercises as it also helps improve your balance. Another exercise to try is Pilates.
4. Learn How to Breathe Properly – Do you know that your posture can be affected by how you breathe? Yes, this is true. To improve your posture, breathe using your diaphragm and do other breathing exercises that can lengthen your spine, engage your waist and lower core muscles.
5. Don’t Slouch – If you work on a desk, it’s good to correct your posture regularly. You can do this by straightening your back and making sure that your feet are flat on the floor. Ensure that your weight is well distributed on your both hips. You should also stretch and move around your chair about every 30 minutes.
6. Learn to adjust your posture in every situation – We should not think about our posture only when we are at our desks. When driving, you need to sit up straight. Also in the kitchen adjust the counters to avoid hunching over.
7. Get Ergonomic Chairs With Enough Lumbar Support – This is a good tip to improve posture at the workplace. You should consider chairs with a natural curve that fits in your lower back hollow. The chair should allow your spine to be in contact with the chair’s backrest right from your upper back to your tailbone.
8. Eating Healthy – Yes, bad eating habits could affect your posture. We know that calcium helps to strengthen our bones and if have low levels of this mineral, your posture could be at stake. Make sure that you take foods that are in rich in calcium and seek your doctor’s approval before taking calcium supplements. Another nutrient to add to your diet is vitamin D as it helps strengthen our bones as well. You can also get vitamin D from sunlight.
9. Fix Your Work Station – Whether you are a disk jockey or work on a desk, you should have your workstation set up properly. Ensure the desk and chairs have the right height for you. The height of your chair should allow your feet to stay flat on the floor.
10. Test your posture and learn to stand properly – You can test your neck and back posture by standing against a wall. Check the areas you need to work on. While standing, ensure your weight is well distributed on your both feet.
11. Use Apps that Help Improve Posture – It can be difficult to remember to sit or stand properly, but thankfully, there are now apps that can help us with that. For instance, if you have a Mac, you could download Nekoze app that utilises the device’s camera to monitor your posture. When you slouch, a cat-like icon will warn you. There are also other good apps for iOS and Android that you can download and install to help you monitor your posture.
12. Keep Your Ears, Shoulders and Hips Aligned – Whether you’re sitting or standing, keeping your ears, shoulders, and hips in alignment can significantly improve your posture. You should resist the temptation to move your head forward. When you learn how to do it correctly, maintain that and you will see a big change in your posture.
13. Stand up and Move – If your school life or job involves a lot of sitting, you can find it hard to resist from slouching. Your muscles can slump down when they tire due to prolonged sitting. You need to get up and move around as much as you can. As mentioned above, moving once for every 30 minutes is okay.
14. Develop an Awareness of Your Posture – Even when you have started your posture improvement program, you may go for long hours in the wrong posture. Yes, you might start it well in the morning, but after getting busy at work or school, you will likely forget. You can curb this bad habit by setting up some reminders such as an alarm on your phone or by placing Post-it notes on your PC monitor to help you remember to sit up straight.
15. Fix Your Bad Sleeping Habits – While sleep is important to relax your body after a long day at work or school, it should be done properly otherwise it may affect your posture and cause neck pain. You should invest in a pillow or mattress that can support your body with the correct amount of softness and firmness. Also, avoid sleeping on your back to avoid straining your spine.
16. Visit a sports therapist – Visiting a sports therapist on a regular basis can significantly improve your posture if you combine with the above tactics. Sports therapy is great at relieving tightness in the muscles and allowing for optimum range of movement in all of your joints.
17. Perform Regular Stretching Exercises – lastly, stretching exercises can also improve your posture as they help to loosen up all the ligaments and tendons deep within your back. This prevents them from tightening up and affecting your posture.
There are many ways on how you can improve your posture and the above are some of them. By learning how to sit and stand properly, you can greatly improve your posture and prevent back problems.
Nothing is more frustrating than getting into the groove with your fitness schedule only to run into an injury and have to take a break in order to build yourself back up from scratch.
If you’ve found yourself needing to improve the strength of your ankles, then we’ve got some quick and easy moves that will help get you back on the road to recovery.
An easy one to start your day that you can do while you brush your teeth in the morning: stand with your feet shoulder width apart and slowly go up on to your tip toes, and slowly lower. Repeat these 10 times and after a few weeks you can move to doing one leg at a time – moves that encourage you to work on your balance also help to strengthen weak ankles.
Most of the rehabilitation moves are pretty straight forward but require you to complete them in a controlled manner. With that in mind, stand up straight and roll up on to your heels then slowly walk forward for a few steps (on your heels) and return.
Stretching is also a good way to improve the strength of your ankles. Simply extend your legs in front of you and slowly point your toes away from the knee, repeat a few even times on each foot.
Next, keep the same position as the plantar flexion but this time, pull your toes off the ground and towards the knee in the exact opposite move to what you’ve previously done. This is to get full movement in the ankle joint. Repeat a few even times on each foot.
Point your toes inward, towards each other, and hold for a few seconds before releasing and repeating. As with the dorsi and plantar flexion, these moves will help with mobility in your ankles and help towards strengthening any weak areas.
To finish the circuit of ankle flexions, point your toes away from each other and hold, then repeat.
Other moves that may help include:
- Standing on one foot and holding the position for as long as you can. For added complexity, try it with your eyes closed; something that will make it harder to balance. Repeat for both legs but be very aware of your surroundings if your ankles are weak in case you lose your balance.
- Stand on the edge of the stairs with your heels hanging off the edge and slowly lower your heel. You’ll also feel this stretch in your calf but it will help the surrounding muscles of the ankle.
- Finish off with some ankle rolls. Stand on one leg and slowly move the ankle of the raised leg in a circular motion, repeat in the opposite direction and on both legs.
- You can modify this move by sitting down and having your legs hang off the edge of a chair.
Weak Ankles and Exercise
If you’re prone to a sprained ankle or you’ve got weak ankles, then it’s important to take care when it comes to any type of exercise but particularly those that put the ankles under a lot of strain. If you do any plyometric moves (jumping moves) then be very careful when you land, aiming to land softly so your ankles don’t roll over. It’s better to slow your moves down as you return to exercise and in order to build the strength back up.
Above all, ensure your warm up properly and stretch after exercise and always wear proper footwear. If you’re in need of new trainers, go and get a gait analysis so you buy the right trainers for you.
If you need any extra advice with rehabilitation for weak ankles or any other areas of muscle pain, weakness or soreness, contact our friendly team today and we’ll help.
The Seven Best Hip Flexor Moves
Chances are, you’ve heard of the term ‘hip flexors’; they’re an area of the body that is often overlooked, especially when working out or stretching, yet have been the source of pain and anguish for many, regardless of age. The hips, and more specifically the hip flexors, are fundamental to your body’s strength and health, not to mention pretty troublesome if not look after properly.
What are Hip Flexors?
As the name suggests, this muscle group help to flex the hip and take responsibility for a lot of the mobility in your hips to your lower back and legs because they attach to the lumbar spine, pelvis and femur.
Their attachment on the spine makes them crucial to the development of the core muscles and spinal stabilisers; if they’re not looked after correctly, you’ll find yourself in a whole world of discomfort from this complex area.
Made up of three muscles, the Ilopsoas, Sartorius and Rectus Femoris, the hip flexors are a pretty big deal, and it’s vital that you look after them.
In short, if your hip flexors are overdeveloped, tight, stiff or short, it’s likely you suffer from lower back pain and hip pain, along with restricted movement in the hips, legs and lower back. This can be brought on by a multitude of reasons – some we will explore in this post…
What Do the Hip Flexors Do?
Before we begin look at the world of discomfort they can cause, let’s take a look at exactly what the hip flexors do…
Their main function is to give the hip joints full range in movement; they are essentially active with every step we take. Where the hip flexors connect your legs to your lower body and they’re also vital in allowing your legs to move with your torso.
These multi-functional muscles also help stabilise your hips and lower body, which keeps your pelvis, lumbar spine and knees strong.
If you sit at a desk all day, chances are you’ve got short and tight hip flexors, as sitting for prolonged periods of time can weaken the hip flexors. It’s important to spend some time strengthening them and you could add power to your workouts, increase flexibility and reduce back pain.
It’s important to improve mobility in this area, so now you’ve got a good understanding of what the hip flexors are and what they do, you now need a range of movements to really open up the hip flexors.
The Best Exercises for Hip Flexors
So if your hips are tight and you’re worried that the damage can’t be undone and you’re left with hips that feel and act years older than you do, fear not, all is not lost. We have plenty of helpful stretches and exercises for you to do that will slowly, but surely make a big difference to your hip health.
Where to Begin
The first step to building better hip flexors is to spend some uncomfortable (and painful) time foam rolling.
Think a foam roller is something you put in your hair? Then you could be missing out on one of the most effective ways to release muscle tension.
There are a variety of foam rollers available so your best bet is to get hold of a few different types as some work better in certain areas than others.
Dynamic stretching (stretching while in motion), is the most efficient way to lengthen and strengthen the hip flexor muscles so here are a few to add into your stretching routine:
Top 7 Hip Flexor Stretches and Exercises
Split Squat Stretch
Put one leg in front of the other keeping your knee and ankles inline, and place your other foot on a bench behind you. Keep your back straight and shoulders back and slowly lower into the bent, raised leg to feel the stretch in the front of your hips. Hold for approximately 20 seconds and repeat for both sides.
Side Lateral Stretch
Take a kneeling position, make sure your knees and ankles are in line and not over your feet – so your bent knee is at a 90-degree angle. Take your opposite arm and stretch up and over your head leaning into the stretch. Hold for 20 seconds or so, and repeat.
Come on to all fours and slowly take one leg back so it’s extended behind you. Bring your other leg in front of you and put it in a 45-degree position down on the floor. Sink into the hips to feel the stretch. Repeat on both sides.
Simply pop on all fours with your knees extended wider than shoulder width. You should feel this stretch in your hips but as it eases sink more into the stretch. Hold for a good few minutes to reap the benefit of this stretch.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Bend one knee in front of you at a 90-degree angle and slightly extend your other bent leg behind you. This is an exaggerated kneeling position, more akin to a lunge, and you should feel this stretch working your hip flexor.
Spider Man Stretch
This dynamic stretch is great for stretching out the hip flexors. Simply take a lunge position then twist your torso into your knee then rotate through the upper back and reach up to the ceiling with the same side as your forward leg. Hold for 20 seconds or so and repeat.
Hip Flexor Mobilisation
Grab a bar bell and slowly roll over the top of your quads into your hips , this will slowly loosen up tight muscles.
We’d recommend making hip mobility and flexibility a priority in your stretch sessions or as part of your general rehabilitation as you’ll really benefit, including less back pain – and who doesn’t want that?
As they say, it’s all in the hip action.
Get in Touch
If you want more information on the hip flexors or think you’ve damaged yours and would benefit from some treatment, get in touch today and one of our friendly team will happily help.
Top Stretches for the Morning
You’ve been curled up in a ball all night and getting up to face the world just seems like the last thing you want to be doing. When you eventually drag your body out of bed, sometimes it can feel like you’re decades older than are. Seriously, when was the last time you bounded out of bed with endless energy?
The answer may lay in the habits you have as soon as you wake up. How you sleep can have a huge impact on your body so if you can take just 10 minutes first thing in the morning you can dramatically improve your flexibility, mobility, posture and mood. What’s not to love about that?
We’ve put together some of our top stretches for the morning to help you on your way. Here’s how to perfect your morning stretch routine:
We’re not going to lie, waking up and getting out of bed is hard. Whilst this may seem like a first world problem to most, the only way to get up and going is to dig deep and find your energy. Time for a big old-fashioned cat stretch. The perk to this one is that it can be done from the comfort of your bed.
Simply stretch out your arms and legs and reach as far as you can, stretching out your entire body from the tip of your fingers to the tip of your toes. A great way to shake the cobwebs and give you a burst of energy to get out of bed.
Cat and Cow
Next up, these popular cat and cow pose – great for stretching your lower back and abdominals.
Begin on your hands and knees in what’s known as the table pose, your hips should be directly over your knees and your shoulders, elbow and wrists should be in line. Don’t forget to keep your spin in a neutral position and your shoulder blades stabilised to maximise the effect.
Take a big inhale and press your chest forward and dip your stomach towards the floor whilst lifting your head to face upwards. As you exhale, slowly move into the cat position: round your spin outward and tuck your tailbone in, releasing your head toward to floor. Try not to force your chin to your chest, the aim of the game is to be relaxed.
As you inhale again move back to the cow position. Move through the poses a few times whilst remembering to breathe deeply.
Your neck has been in the same position all night, or – if you toss and turn in your sleep – it’s been flopped around the bed without proper support so spending a few minutes in the morning to rectify any stiffness will help you throughout the day.
For this you can be sitting or standing.
Relax your body, take a deep inhale and gently drop your head so your chin is resting on your chest, or for as far as you can comfortably reach. Hold for a few seconds and exhale as your slowly raise your head to the upright position. Repeat this move a few more times.
Next, repeat the same breathing and technique but this time you’re going to tilt your head bringing your ear to your shoulder. It’s important not to bring your shoulder to your ear – you’re looking to stretch the neck not contract your shoulder muscles.
Repeat on both sides for a few times then finish by turn your head to its side, so you’re looking to your left or right and hold for a few seconds before repeating on the other side.
To finish the neck stretches, slowly lower your head backwards so you’re looking upwards and hold for a few moments.
If any of these stretches are uncomfortable, stop.
Shoulder circular shrug
An easy one to add to your morning routine and one that really helps to wake the body up and get you ready for the day.
Simply stand with your feet shoulder width apart, spine relaxed, arms down and comfortable by your side: slowly raise both of your shoulders at the same time, release and repeat. After a few reps of this movement, change to a rolling movement; this is where you’ll roll your shoulders backwards for a few reps and then change direction rolling forward.
Kneeling Hip flexor stretch
Oh the hip flexors. They go through hell and back for you and you don’t even know it. Time to show them some love. If you sleep with your legs over the other and your pelvis tilted, for example, the foetal position, chances are you need a good stretch to open up your hip flexors.
Our favourite is really simple to do but effective the same time.
With one knee bent in front of you and the other knee to the ground (a kneeling position), sink into the stretch, which is similar to a lunge. The deeper you sink in, the more you’ll feel the stretch.
Change your legs over to stretch both sides and repeat for a few reps. The hip flexors can take a while to warm up so the longer you hold it, the more beneficial it will be.
There are a few ways to do this one, if you’re loving the laying down vibes then good news is that you can do this one lying down. Grab a foam roller and have it in-line with your spine. Lay over it so your head is resting on the top of the foam roller and extend your arms out to your side, palm up. If you relax and sink into this, you’ll feel your pectoral muscles open up.
However, if you’re already up and raring to get out of the door, you can stretch this area while brushing your teeth. Multi-tasking at its finest.
With your spare arm, simply bend to a 45-degree angle with your palms open and facing forward and hold against the door frame, then slowly turn away from your arm that is still held in position and you’ll feel the stretch across your pectoral. Repeat on both arms. If you do this for the duration of brushing your teeth, that’s a solid 2-minute stretch you’ve fitted into your morning that’s really beneficial to open up your chest.
All stretches complete?! Time for coffee…
If you do all of these top stretches for the morning EVERY morning you will definitely see a difference in your overall mobility. So if you do give these a go, let us know over on Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to know how you get on. Always remember, take deep breaths as you lean into the stretches. This will help keep you calm for whatever your day has ahead.
For more information, check out our blog for handy help and advice to get your body back to fighting fit.
So Why Do My Joints Crack And Should I worry?
Have you been experiencing those clicking noise coming from your joint? Sometimes the noise may be accompanied by pain, swelling, or numbness when lifting weight at the gym, or when reaching over your head or as one is walking down the street. The questions is, where is the sound coming from, and why do my joints crack and are there reason to be worried? This article tries to answer these questions and more that you might have concerning joint cracking.
Two main reasons why your Joint is cracking
Early in the 1970’s, research published showed that the sound you experience on your joint when cracked, is brought about by the popping of bubbles in the fluid between your joints, however, in the recent studies, there is a slightly contrasting theory. In a recent study to determine why the joint makes the cracking sound, researchers have come to conclude that the sound comes from gas-filled cavity forming. Typically, the basis of this theory is that all the joints in your body have some form of water balloon called the joint capsules. These capsules are filled with synovial fluid, which when combined with the nutrients for the joint help reduce friction in joint by lubricating them. Whenever, the joints are stretched beyond their normal range of movement, for example when lifting weights, the pressure inside the capsules will change, creating a vacuum effect, forming bubbles. When there is a change in pressure, the bubble collapse, and gas is released producing the cracking sound you experience in your joints.
Another similar theory suggests that when there is a movement of two bones, the attached tendons of the joint between the two bones can cause joint cracking and the feeling you experience when you crack a knuckle. Since, the tendons are in constant motion and their position changes every other minute, there are chances that the tendon may temporally snap back and drag across the bone. When they return to their original position, they will make a cracking sound. You may have experienced this when your knee rise from a sitting position or your neck when you happen to turn your head instantly. Loss of muscle mass, especially from aging, can hasten this effect since there are basically more bones exposed. Some scientists believe that some of the cracking sounds can be as a result of bone rubbing against each other where cartilage have been torn away.
People with osteoarthritis may experience more joint cracking when lifting weights or when exposed to intense exercise than individuals with no underlying medical conditions. It is worth noting that joint cracking is harmless, and has not been proven to exacerbate arthritis or lead to minor soft tissue problems contrary to popular beliefs. However, some research has shown that joint cracking can result in minor hand swelling on the hand hence weakening your grip when on a gym.
Is there a reason to be worried?
All these reasons may sound like joint cracking is potentially harmful, but scientists believe that joint cracking is not potentially harmful. This is basically a common problem and isn’t too much concern, especially when there is no pain attached. However, if cracking is accompanied by swelling, pain and numbness, then there are much reason for concern. If the joint get locked or kind of stuck, when it cracks, this may be an indication of a joint problem and should be evaluated immediately. If there is also a decreased motion in your joint, or there is a loss of joint function, then it’s highly recommended that you seek medical attention.
Taking care of your Joints
Some experts believe that when you crack your joint, there is a stimulation effect to your nervous system, which can lead to a relaxation response in the surrounding muscles. Other believe that cracking can help keep your joints from stiffening up, but that does not in any way imply that you should force a crack. Doing so very often can lead to long term damage to your joint tissue and can easily destabilize lower back and other areas that support your body. It is fine when the joint crack on their own, but it would be best if you leave forces cracking to the osteopath or an experienced chiropractor.
It is also important that you maintain or achieve an appropriate body weight to lessen the pressure to the joint. This can only be achieved when you observe proper or healthy eating habits as you involve yourself with regular but low impact exercises. Such exercise will not only minimise chances of joint injury but will also strengthen muscles that support the joint.