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.
An Introduction Into How Massage Can Benefit You
Many people know that receiving a good massage can help ease tension and make them feel better. However, very few people know all of the benefits of massage and that massages have many other health benefits that can improve your wellness and make you feel healthier. If you are looking for information on the different types of massaging techniques and how they can benefit your health, this article can help.
There are many types of massage and each has been designed for a different purpose. For example, some are designed to reduce lower and upper back pain, while others have been created for general relaxation.
For people who suffer from regular back pain and more severe issues, such as scoliosis, being massaged can seriously reduce the amount of pain you feel. Additionally, it may even help improve your posture as well as your alignment. This is due to the decrease in muscle tension, which makes it easier for you to stand up straight without experiencing pain.
Patients who suffer from all kinds of back pain, such as low, middle, and upper back pain, can benefit from this type of therapy and some chiropractors include it in their treatment programs. According to many reputable studies, this approach to back pain is one of the most effective methods around and may even help patients decrease their dependencies on pain medication.
When treating back pain, being massaged can help relieve tension, aches, stiffness, spasms, and inflammation. A number of different techniques can be used for back pain sufferers, such as Swedish, deep tissue, myofascial, and shiatsu techniques. Fortunately, these techniques can also be used to ease pain in other parts of the body, such as the legs, arms, and neck.
Lordosis, which is a condition that occurs when the curve of the spine in the lower back becomes exaggerated, can also be treated with proper massaging. A trained masseuse will be able to target the appropriate muscles and help bring the spine back into proper alignment.
According to recent reports and scientific studies, receiving a regular massage can improve many serious health issues. For example, they may be included as a part of your physical therapy program in order to help you recover more quickly from injuries and to reduce your pain. Additionally, they have been proven to reduce stress, which is very important today, since more people than ever before are reporting feeling stressed out on a regular basis.
How Rigorous Does the Massage have to Be?
On a healthy body massage can even be done deeply without a problem. Uninjured tissues and muscles can take this kind of massage quite easily. It is different when there is trauma or injury to the body though. A more gentle massage should be used then especially around the injured areas. Some injuries like we said will have to heal before they can be massaged like broken bones. The rest of the body can be massaged though.
How Many Times a Week?
Most of the time you are sore enough from an injury or accident to need the massage every week or so. Each session of massage does help relieve the pain for this time. You could be temporarily stiff right after the massage, but it will result in more range of motion after the stiffness subsides. This results in you feeling much looser and more relaxed. Over a couple of weeks the number of times may then be tapered off to once every 3-4 weeks.
Massage can increase blood flow throughout the body too. This is good for healing your injuries. It is important to have good circulation to all parts of the body under normal conditions.
The Benefits Of Massage
It is quite common for people to visit with a masseuse in order to feel more relaxed and feel less tense. However, massage is increasingly being used by many people to reduce pain all over the body and to improve their overall sense of wellness. If you’re searching for useful information on how being massaged can benefit your health and reduce your pain, this article may be able to help.
Today, you can receive a variety of different massages from licensed masseuses. Each type has been designed for a specific purpose, such as promoting relaxation or reducing stress. To figure out which type is right for you, you should consult with a masseuse prior to your appointment.
Back pain sufferers are increasingly turning to masseuses for their pain management. This is because massages are very effective at reducing back pain, including upper back pain, lower back pain, and pain that occurs in the middle of the back. The techniques utilized by licensed professional loosen the muscles, decrease tension, and make it easier for your back to maintain its posture.
Many chiropractors and physical therapists also include or recommend regular massaging as a part of their patients’ treatment programs because of the clinical benefits of massage. It is very common nowadays for people who have suffered from injuries to receive this type of therapy in order to improve the speed of their rehabilitation. In some cases, the pain is reduced so greatly that medications are no longer needed.
Some of the issues that back pain sufferers in particular experience include inflammation, stiffness, spams, tension, and aches. Fortunately, massaging techniques, like deep tissue, Swedish, shiatsu, and myofascial methods, have been scientifically proven to aid in relieving those negative symptoms. These types of therapy can also be used for pain relief in other areas, such as the legs, arms, and neck.
Some more serious conditions, like lordosis, which occurs in patients who have an exaggerated curve in the lower part of their spines, can also be helped by a licensed masseuse. A trained professional, for example, will know which muscles need to be manipulated in order to return the spine back to its proper location, thus even further extending the benefits of massage to different type of patient.
Massage can also help a number of other conditions. Recent scientific studies have shown that this type of therapy is quite effective in treating people who have been injured, since it reduces pain and potentially speeds up the recovery process. Additionally, it is a proven stress reliever, since it eases tension and releases endorphins, which make people feel happier. Whatever your situation maybe, massage can help you and I hope you will experience the benefits of massage for yourself in the near future.
Make Yourself More Comfortable
Many of us suffer from pain in the back, usually affecting the lower back. This pain can affect your normal routine and it is essential to get immediate relief from it. It can be very annoying to suffer from this pain constantly. You need to find back pain relief to do the normal routine things that you do everyday.
There are some home remedies for back pain which can give you freedom from the daily discomfort. You absolutely hate it when you feel that dull, aching or stabbing pain in your back. In most cases, people simply take a painkiller when they feel these symptoms. Still, it has been proven that only the strongest oral medications can have some beneficial effect, which is short lasting. You can readily use some natural home remedies for back pain instead. All of them are topical, so you can apply them directly on the spot to get fast and effective relief.
Some of us think that the perfect back pain remedies are in the form of pills. Even if the pain is severe, there are more effective ways to get rid of the pain to prevent and cure this problem. It is important to first understand the cause of the problem. Sometimes the problem occurs if your back muscles have not been stimulated enough. It is thus important to walk and exercise to avoid this possibility.
Nowadays, people find relief from backache through many ways. Many people prefer to go to for massage which can give you great relief. Another method to get relief would be the use of heat pads. This heat compress is sure to give you relief for a short period by relaxing your muscles, however it is not long term.
Home Remedies For Back Pain
- Using medical grade alcohol, available in the drugstores, to treat the painful area is more than beneficial. This substance is usually diluted ethanol and it perfectly safe when applied topically. You need to dip a cotton ball into the alcohol and rub the substance into the skin over the aching spot. Use gentle massaging movements at first and increase the intensity gradually.You will feel an almost immediate relief. The alcohol warms the spot by attracting a greater blood flow to it, so you get to feel better straight away. In addition, this aids for the complete healing of the back pain. Repeat the treatment two to four times a day for as long as necessary. If you do not have a medical grade alcohol around and the pain is really strong, you can readily use any high alcohol drink that you have in your home.
Topically applied garlic is also an effective backache home remedy. You can make a paste by crushing a handful of with a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, you can fry the cloves in around five ounces of oil. Rubbing the paste or oil into the skin of the aching area will produce quick and lasting relief. Treat the painful spot with such a remedy no more than five times a day.
2. Eucalyptus oil is in the super home remedies for back pain category for me. Massaging it into the affected area provides quick relief. Your muscles will also become more relaxed. Eucalyptus is also known for its anti-stress and healing properties, so you will feel better overall and the treatment will be enhanced.
3. Correct body posture: One of the back pain home remedies is that we ensure a proper body posture that will help heal the back problem even before they arise. We all must make sure to adopt the right body posture and movements while walking, sitting or doing any form of activity. Even sleeping in the right manner helps ease back problems. A good and firm mattress also provides the necessary support to the back.
4. Follow a daily exercise schedule: Exercise is important for strengthening of the muscles. Our back is made up of a stack of 26 bones joint together by ligaments, muscles and shock absorbing discs. Likewise, it becomes important that we follow a regular exercise schedule, which will help strengthen the back muscles. Always remember, a healthy and fit body will be more immune to any external strain and would consequently have more resilience capability.
Do regular stretching: Stretching the body at regular intervals is as important as a nutritious diet. Stretching the body makes it flexible and empowers it with a self-defending mechanism making it strong for any external sprain. Therefore, we must intercept work with frequent stretching modules that will help relax the back muscles making them less prone to pain.
Home Remedies For Back Pain – Tools
There are some inexpensive tools that you can invest in and follow them at home:
Exercise Mat- A simple method to follow some exercises at home is with the help of an exercise mat. These exercises will help strengthen your back muscles. Keep your mat covered with a towel and use it regularly to do your stretches and exercises.
Exercise Ball- This is also called as a Physio ball or a Swiss ball. It is easily available in the fitness stores and can also be purchased online. The exercise balls are inexpensive and are good for balance, coordination, flexibility and strengthening. It is a good option for backache sufferers. It not only helps to cure your present pain but also avoids any future occurrence of any low back pain.
Roman Chair- It is a type of hypertension bench. It is found in health clubs or gyms and can be kept at home for some vital exercises. The chair is good for extension exercises which are one of the most effective back pain exercises to strengthen your lower back muscles. Abdominal and back machines are also useful pieces of kit to use.
What you need to know about the posterior chain
The posterior chain is made up of all of the muscles from your lower back to your heels. They include the lower back muscles, glute and hamstrings muscles. To strengthen the posterior chain you should do workouts which extend to the ankle, knee and hip joint. This is commonly referred to as the triple extension.
If you have strong posterior chain, you get an extra protection from lower back injury. There no secret or shortcut to strengthening the posterior chain. One has to get serious about fitness.
This area is so vital to our success in any form of training. Powerful back muscles are important for any athlete and in sports which involve full body movements requiring any kind of strength or power. Power in most cases comes from these groups of muscles. Most people neglect these muscles through the out of sight out of mind theory. We simply forget that these muscles play an important role in our daily lives like jumping, pushing, pulling, as well as sitting and standing up.
To strengthen the posterior chain of the body, you need to do a number of gluteal muscle exercises:
Here’s a really handy video to get you started with exercises to improve this area.
These are the buttock muscles. They help in internal and external hip rotation and form the biggest muscle in the body. It’s one of the toughest areas to tone. Most women have much of the extra body fat in this area. A combination of aerobic fat-burning routine together with toning/firming exercises in the gym can strengthen these muscles. There are a number of routine exercises that can help in achieving the required strength.
Hip extensions/hip flexor
Hips are neglected major muscle group in strength training. Hip extensions are usually done where you lay on your stomach then you to lift a stack of weights using the backs of your thighs. Hip flexor involves the use of multi-hip type machine where one pushes the lower thigh against a padded roller which swings in an arc creating resistance throughout the exercise. This strengthens your glute.
It is an effective method of building muscle mass and increasing strength of the glutes. The trainer should stand with the feet and create some width apart. Using dumbbells or barbell held across your shoulders, squat up and down while keeping your knees over your ankles. Use the power rack to hold the weight when you are not lifting. Lighten the load and go again with 15-20 reps per set. Add resistance so that you are challenged to perform 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
It’s an excellent compound exercise. One stands with his or her feet hip-width apart while bending the knees slightly. Bend hips to lower the weight, drag the bar on front of your legs as you continue to push your hips back. It’s the most powerful weight lifting exercise that you should have in your routine. Before you begin the deadlifts exercise, make sure your entire body is correctly positioned with your hips as high as possible. Pull through heel and meet the bar with your hips for maximum strength.
Lower back exercise
Lower back exercise is some relaxing exercises to settle the spinal column down. The first thing is to maintain a straight back. Tighten your lower back when lifting from the floor. Keep your head and chest up. It gives best results with a barbell rather than dumbbells. It’s advisable not to curl your back forward. You should exercise your lower back while improving your rear muscles as well.
Make sure your toes and hands are in contact with the floor. Maintain a push up position and you hold for as long as possible. Ensure your back is straight, abdominal muscles are tight and pulled in. Maintain stability on your back. If this is too hard drop your elbows slightly and perform the exercise in exact same way.
A hamstring is the group of muscles located at the back of your thighs. It’s the most important muscle group for athletes, rugby players, soccer players and gymnastics. A well strengthened and trained hamstring allows one to strengthen the lower back and decrease risk of injury. Once you have gained the strength, you will be able to pick up heavy items off the ground with ease.
Stiff Leg Deadlifts
The first step is stand with shoulder width on shallow platform with feet flat beneath bar. Bend your knees with the lower back straight. Lift weight to standing position. Bend knees slightly during descent and keep waist straight. Keep repeating until you completely exercise the muscle.
You take total control of the weight. Too much weight can cause injuries. Make sure to concentrate on the hamstring contraction as you make the movements. One should not forget that over training your muscles can be risky. Do an easy exercise between the heavy movements.
It’s a great all around leg exercise. It’s using a barbell to walk while you stay in one place. It really burns the entire muscle group out.
Lying leg curls
It’s a classic bodybuilding movement that isolates the hamstrings from the rest of the posterior chain. A special machine makes the movement easy during peak contraction.
They are highly known for toning the hamstrings. Squats can be done with dumbbells and barbells. One should descend and ensure the upper thighs are parallel with the ground. The truth is though that as long as squats are done correctly the results are great. Squatting actually causes your body to produce more testosterone which in turn helps you build more muscle which in turn burns fat. As you increase the weight on your squats your upper body will adapt to help support the extra weight.
A Strong posterior chain reduces back pain. When strengthened, there are low chances of getting back injury. Limbs are strengthened, posture and grip is enhanced as well as improved metabolism. Dysfunction of one group of muscle affects the function of the others. Whichever the sport you are involved in, to achieve a high level of athletic strength and conditioning, you must be paying attention to the posterior chain of the body.
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The Anatomy Of Knee Pain
Life would be simple if knee joint pain were a thing of the past, with surgeries fondly remembered as an old-fashioned method of treating knee pain. Occurring sooner than we think, more and more individuals who are diagnosed with knee injuries are using an alternative to surgery and strong medication. This alternative method is used to strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint with exercises – much cheaper, less invasive, and just as effective with the patient more in control of their own healing.
The knee consists of several parts – bones, tendons, cartilage, ligaments and muscles. Each part can become damaged and develop into a serious knee injury or the knee pain can results from parts of the knee wearing out. Up until recently, orthopaedic surgeons have been the answer for surgically treating all bones, joints and soft tissues for extensive injuries or knee diseases, when damage is more extensive. But if tears are minor and the pain is limited, muscle strengthening exercises are used, building the hamstring muscles to increase the knee’s strength and flexibility.
Types of knee joint exercises to strengthen the knee muscles
– Before beginning any exercises, warm up by riding a stationary bike. Then straighten the injured leg and raised it slowly a couple of times.
Note: Water is excellent to strengthen supportive muscles of the knee joint
(1) Press the back against the side of the pool while in chest-deep water, raising each leg 90-degrees; (2) do a quick walk while in water that is chest-deep; and (3) hold onto the side of the pool and perform several flutter kicks in the water.
-While sitting on a chair on or on the couch, extend the injured leg with a weight worn on the ankle.
– Lie flat on the stomach on a soft floor mat, raising the injured leg in the air as high as possible.
Using knee exercises to strengthen muscles for knee tendon injuries
Once a person injures the knee tendon (tendinitis), the muscles surrounding the area will become painful due to swelling and inflammation. Initially, the injured knee should be rested and elevated, with ice applied to the knee and compressed wraps used. Aspirin or ibuprofen can be taken to relieve any pain and inflammation during this time.
When the knee tendon is partially or completely torn, knee exercises are used as a primary rehabilitation to restore its ability to bend and straighten the entire knee area. The exercises are also used to strengthen the knee for prevention of further knee injuries. Knee ligament injuries would use similar exercises but are more vigorous in their application. Strengthening the muscles that support the knee joint with knee exercises is an excellent preventive for further injuries, or a way to work out the present painful knee injury. Even after surgery for a seriously damaged knee, knee exercises are needed in order to keep the knee flexible and mobile.
Your knee plays a major role in the chain of weight bearing in the leg. It has to respond to ground forces from below and the load of your body from above. It is a relatively simple joint, but it has to be ready to quickly react to force from the ground while balancing the load of the rest of the body at the same time. Your knee is at the mercy of what’s going on in the joints directly above and below: the hip, pelvis, ankle and foot.
Although there are many reasons for knee pain (arthritis, meniscus and ligament damage for example), long term relief of knee pain has to start with an assessment of your whole structure. This assessment begins with your feet to see how they influence the alignment and forces at the knee. Any joint is only as good as its structure, and poor alignment in the feet and ankles has a negative influence on the knee, creating muscle imbalances and eventually pain and stiffness.
The hip joint also has a similar affect on the knee – poor mechanics and muscle imbalances in the hip creates problems for the knee. And because the socket of the hip joint is formed by the pelvis, it has to be aligned correctly too. In fact, when doing a full assessment of the knee, the whole body must be evaluated, since any structural imbalances in the body can affect the knee’s ability to function.
The good news is that a well balanced Pilates-based Physical Therapy program addresses the whole body. Pilates is a recent addition to many Physical Therapy programs and is rapidly growing in popularity throughout the world. Combining Pilates with Physical Therapy will improve your body awareness, alignment, strength, flexibility and balance. You’ll learn how to move with more efficiency and less pain.
At first, new and balanced movement habits feel weird and unfamiliar because they’re foreign to your nervous system. Working with a skilled Pilates trained Physical Therapist will help you understand your own unique postural and movement habits and help you practice correct patterns effectively.
Here are a couple of things you can do right now to find out how your knees stack up:
1. Stand in shorts, barefoot in front of a full length mirror and look at your leg alignment. What do you see? Are there any funny angles between your hips and your knees? What about your feet? Do you have an arch on the inside of your foot? Can you see that your whole leg influences the alignment of your knee? This includes the alignment of your pelvis, since the pelvis is the top of your hip joint. Be aware that when you do any exercise “for your knees”, you must also consider the rest of your body, especially the foot, ankle and hip.
2. While standing, imagine a line going through the centre of your leg from your hip joint, through the centre of your thigh, your knee joint, the centre of your lower leg, ankle and out the 2nd toe. This is the ideal alignment for your leg. A word about your hip joint: did you know that your “hips” are not the wide bones of your pelvis, but the place where you crease when you bend your knee towards your chest? This is where your heel should line up when your foot hits the ground when walking. The hip joint itself is really quite narrow – about the same distance apart as your sits bones in the back.
3. When you stand, walk and exercise, the alignment of your whole leg affects which muscles you use to move. And the way you use your muscles strongly influences your alignment. Be very aware of keeping correct alignment from your pelvis to your foot – hip to 2nd toe – so that you create good balance around your knees. If you do exercises like squats and leg press, do you pay attention to your leg alignment? Your knee program will be far more effective if you do. Remember that pain is your body’s way of telling you that something’s not right, so if you can’t modify your position to relieve the pain, skip the exercise. Remember also that not every “recommended” knee exercise is right for every knee – you need to find out what’s right for your knees.
The point is that your knee pain is usually just a result of the alignment you set up from the ground (you feet and ankles) and the load you put on them from above (your hips, pelvis and trunk). Figure out how to de-stress your knee joints by changing your whole-body alignment and your knee pain and stiffness will resolve.
If you have knee pain and want to find out how to get relief, seeing someone who has a strong knowledge of alignment of the body, like a sports massage therapist or physiotherapist, who will assess your whole body, rather than looking only at your knees is the best thing to do. But equally you could also try a Pilates exercise program. It is a great way to reduce pain and stiffness in your knees and will help you sort out your unique imbalances. Then you’ll know exactly what to do for YOUR knees.
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How To Treat Muscle Spasms And Prevent Them
Motion and force are critical to the life of any living organism. In simple terms, you cannot survive or thrive if you cannot move in search of food, adventure, or safety among other reasons. Your muscles are responsible for motion and force in your body. They help you when it comes to lifting objects, applying pressure, and moving. The normal human body has about 650 skeletal muscles and without them, your body cannot function. In fact, you cannot go on with life as usual at any moment in time even if one of them halts temporarily. Unfortunately, this temporary halt in muscle activity happens quite often. The most common problem is muscle spasm which is the involuntary muscle contraction accompanied by a lot of pain. Here is how to treat muscle spasms.
Stop the activity, rest, and stretch
Many people believe that muscle spasms only happen to athletes and people whose work is physically challenging. That is not the case. It can happen to anyone at any time though it happens most frequently in people who are physically active. Do not feel surprised if it happens to you as you walk down the street or playing a round of golf. Instead, stop whatever you are doing immediately so that you do not make it worse. Gently massage or rub the area affected by the spasm to increase blood flow to the muscle helping it to relax instead of contracting. Take a rest for an hour or two and then reduce your daily activity for the rest of the work so that you do not overwork the muscle. Stretching the muscle slowly and carefully is also a good idea. You should pull it in the opposite direction of the contraction.
Special treatment for back spasms
Back spasms normally occur in a person’s lower part. Apart from being painful, they are quite scary for those who experience them. Dealing with them is also difficult because they affect a sensitive part of the human body. These spasms result from muscle strain. However, they may also be a sign of an unnoticed anatomical problem so seeking your doctor’s advice is a good idea if they persist. First, wait for the spasm to subside then walk around while you keep your back straight. You should also lift your knees high as you walk. Put your hands over your head and raise them high. Then lie on your carpet floor with facing upwards and pull each knee to your chest in turn. You should also use a cold press or heating pad to stop the spasm completely.
Medication is available for muscle spasms
Before taking any medication, simply try to drink some water and electrolytes. These electrolytes include energy drinks and juices. If that does not help, then you can go for anti-inflammatory medication. This type of medication will limit any type of swelling on the affected muscle. If the spasms persist over time, then you should consider asking your doctor to advice you on the best muscle relaxers. Do not use muscle relaxers without the advice of your doctor because they can be addictive. Remember, you can prevent muscle spasms by drinking enough fluids regularly, eating well, stretching your body, and exercising. I do not personally recommend medication usually, it should only really be considered as a LAST resort.
I hope with this information you now know exactly how to treat muscle spasms. I know how painful it can be!
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The Best Flexibility Exercises
In this day and age, we’re supposed to work smarter, not harder; we’re supposed to minimize excessive effort that could, in turn, be used effectively elsewhere. For those of you new to the exercise routine, or even those familiar gym bunnies, here’s why you need to add my best flexibility exercises into your routine!
I’m a firm believer in incorporating stretches into my fitness regimen. I am the unfortunate victim of super tight shoulders and hamstrings that cause me endless amounts of pain on a regular basis, believe me when I stress the importance of using tried and tested methods to relax the body and soul – I’d be absolutely crazy if I didn’t have a way of de-stressing.
If you’re going to stretch, let’s not do half a job (and I know many of us skip stretching because it can be boring), use my tips below for a better, more flexible version of you:
● Figure out your needs: Most of us have a problem area, by identifying our “sore” spots, we can effectively target these areas without specific stretches. While there is no such thing as spot targeting re: exercise, with stretching it’s the complete opposite.
● Dynamic Warm up before the Work-out: The Jane Fonda workout videos, while fun to watch, are not my idea of proper or effective stretching when it comes to preparing the body for a workout. Before you start your cardio or weight session, perform a series of bodyweight movements like push-ups, squats, lunges, jumping rope or maybe a stair mill. These exercises warm up the entire body in an active manner where you don’t run the risk of injury.
● So no Static Stretches ? Actually, we’re going to keep these for after the workout. Depending on which muscle groups we worked on, we’re going to focus on those but give ourselves a complete cool down. It’s important to realise that your muscles bunch up / tighten after exercise and we need to stretch them out / lengthen them in order to relax.
● Commonly tight muscles need extra help: Work, home, kids, debt – all these bring some type of stress to one’s life and certain muscles are normally hit harder than others, including lats (under the shoulder blades), chest, hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings. If you’re on your feet a good deal of the day or wear heels for work, you may find your calves tighten up / cramp.
Try these major muscle group stretches and hold each for 60 seconds a pop for a basic, full body all round relaxer. The best flexibility exercises always encompass the biggest muscle groups:
1. Hamstring Stretch – 2 ways to do this. The first is to sit on the floor, split legs in as wide a V stretch as you can and reach forward. The second, for those of you who aren’t as flexible, fold one leg in at the knee and reach with both hands towards the opposite leg/foot. Do the opposite side –
2. Lying Hip Flexor & piriformis Stretch – Lay on your back, one knee (A) off the ground and bent at 90 degrees, the opposite ankle sits on knee A, use both hands and pull the 90 degree knee towards you while trying to keep the other knee parallel to the floor. Do the opposite side –
3. Quad stretch – While there are a number of quad stretches on the market, I favour this one because it stretches all 4, especially around the knee where it can get pretty tight.
Get into a long lunge position and drop the opposite knee onto the ground so that foot points towards the ceiling, keep your balance and stabilize yourself. Using the same side, take that hand and reach behind, pulling your foot towards your bottom. Do the opposite side –
4. Calf Stretch – While you can do this against a wall / chair or basically any surface that gives you a decent angle, I like doing mine on the floor in the horizontal position. Get into a low downward dog position (basically a pyramid shape with your bottom as the highest point. Put on top on top of the other, making sure the bottom leg is slightly bent. Add pressure on the bottom foot, you should feel it stretching. Do the opposite side –
5. Tricep Stretch – This feel excellent when you’re really tight and I find it also eases my shoulders somewhat. Ensure you stretch towards your full range of motion, extend one hand down the centre of your back, take the other hand and place it on your elbow pulling down gently behind the head. Do the opposite side –
6. Shoulder Stretch – You can do this seated or standing, extend one arm (A) across your chest and gently press the opposite hand (B) on the elbow of arm A. Do the opposite side –
While these may seem pretty basic, the best flexibility exercises are basic and are the best foundation to return to, especially when you have tight muscle groups. Remember to hold each position for 60 seconds and alternate each side. Happy stretching!