If You’re a Crossfitter, You Need Sports Therapy
If you’ve spent any length of time in a Crossfit gym (also known as a box), you’ll have either met someone with a Crossfit-related injury or you’ve experienced one yourself.
These are the most irritating things to deal with; not solely because of the physical pain associated with injury, but because of the time spent outside of the gym trying to fix said injury.
I feel you.
It’s not easy admitting that you can’t train, and it’s not easy to figure out when and if you should return to training. There’s no one-size-fits-all length of time to take out for injury; for some it’s only a couple of weeks, for others it can last months.
So what’s to do?
Ideally, if you’re taking your training seriously, you’ll already be working with a physical therapist or sports therapist. This is great, because they can guide you with the types of exercises and stretches that you should be doing to not only rehab the injury, but to prevent it from recurring time and time again (also known as prehab).
Prehab is one of the most underutilized tools by people, and it’s one of the main factors that will set you apart from everyone else (providing you want to do well in the sport or want to train for longevity).
One of the main grievances of my job is trying to emphasize the importance of prehab to new customers, and yet only a minimal number actually listen. Those are the ones who stay with me long-term and reach a stage where they are either 100% pain-free, or only attain injuries rarely, in which cases I am often able to rehab the issue before it becomes serious.
On the other end, the ones that don’t think they should receive regular treatment either:
- Do actually have it figured out and are just amazing and don’t need anybody else’s help ever,
- Have to financially invest a lot when injuries inevitably do happen.
If you are on the latter end, I’m guessing you’ve spent hundreds over the course of a couple of months trying to get said injury ‘fixed’, and are only seeking help now after months of convincing yourself that it will get better on its own.
Now, I’m not saying this to rile you up (although I’m sure it will a few). What I am saying is that there’s a better way.
Rather than spending a lot of money when injuries do occur, consider having what I call a maintenance appointment on a regular basis. The frequency of this maintenance appointment will depend on how often you train and how regularly you can afford to make it happen, but I always recommend a minimum of 1 session every month in order to see tangible results.
Some get treatment every week, others every 3 weeks. If you’re someone who takes Crossfit seriously but you simply can’t afford treatment every week, then you’ll want to take a look at our upcoming series on rehabilitating and preventing specific Crossfit injuries.
This doesn’t negate the need for a sports therapist, but it does allow you to take responsibility for your training regime and the results that you want to get out of the sport.
Incorporating the exercises and mobility methods outlined in our upcoming series should become a weekly routine that you go through habitually. Some of the exercises will be instantly recognisable if your box goes through a thorough warm-up before the workout starts, and others will focus more on building strength in muscles groups that are often neglected or fail to ‘switch on’ effectively.
We have suggested these exercises because the most common reason injuries happen is due to muscular imbalances and improper form. When I speak of muscular imbalances I don’t just mean having one ‘side’ stronger than the other. In fact, I’m mainly referring to having one muscle group taking on more load than the muscle that is supposed to be driving the movement.
Lower back pain is primarily caused by a muscular imbalance.
When you sit down for long periods of time, like working at a desk or driving long distances, the gluteus muscles (aka your buttocks) tend to ‘switch off’ and stop working as hard as they should be.
If this is occurring at a chronic level (day-in day-out), then you’ll find it very hard to activate those muscles when you need them. Unfortunately, you tend to need glute strength in most movements, including standing, walking and lifting.
In particular, popular Crossfit movements like the power clean, deadlift, goblet squat and back squat tend to require strength from the back extensors as well as the glutes and core.
When the back extensors (lower back) are overloaded and working too hard, and the glutes and core muscles aren’t engaging efficiently, injuries tend to crop up in the form of niggles, tweaks or even severe debilitating pain like sciatica.
Therefore, our rehab and prehab techniques focus not only on taking the pressure off overloaded muscle by stretching and relaxing them, but by working on weak areas that need strengthening in order to build a strong foundation. Ultimately, this leads to long-term success in the Crossfit sport without having to taking weeks and months out for injuries to heal.
Combining this with regular treatment such as sports therapy means that you’re less likely to deal with injuries, you’re far more likely to be able to lift more weight with better form, and you’ll find that your recovery is much quicker.
To book yourself in for treatment call 07840074288 today.
Now before you read the title and think, “I don’t do crossfit so this won’t apply to me”, I’d urge caution, because although this post specialises in Crossfit injuries, much of the advice is applicable to powerlifters, bodybuilders and general gym-goers who may have experienced similar injuries before.
This is likely because all of these different exercise styles incorporate similar if not the same lifts, such as the main compound movements benchpress, barbell squat and deadlift.
Why Are Shoulder Injuries Rife In Crossfit?
Now, shoulder injuries are one of the primary injuries sustained in the sport of Crossfit due to the volume of gymnastics and heavy lifts involved, especially kipping pullups, benchpress, push-ups and muscle-ups.
Now, there will be no discussion of whether kipping pull-ups are ‘cheating’ or not.
Kipping pull-ups are an aspect of Crossfit whether people like them or not, and to compare them with a strict pull-up is obsolete, because both movements are designed for different outcomes.
In simple terms, strict pull-ups are used for strength, whereas kipping pull-ups are designed to be a test of stamina.
The kipping pull-up tends to engage more muscle groups than the strict pull-up as it uses more hip drive to perform the movement.
Anyway, aside from that, shoulder injuries are the most prevalent Crossfit injury sustained in the sport, with many professional Crossfitters (such as Camille LeBlanc Bazinet) needing to take time out of competition for such issues, and some even having to go as far as getting surgery.
A study performed in 2017 indicated that roughly a third of Crossfit injuries sustained by participants were located in the shoulder region (Mehrab et al., 2017).
Now, when you’re training as rigorously as a professional athlete, it’s highly likely that you will get at least one injury during your career.
But taking precautions to avoid them and limit their impact should mean that you only ever get one or two, as opposed to getting injured every few months.
However, if your programming is not designed to limit injury, or you’re not focusing on mobility and functionality in your own time, then it’s very likely that you’ll stumble upon a shoulder issue at some point.
And because shoulders are quite complex structures, there’s never just one specific problem that can arise as a result of improper form or lack of strength.
Most Common Shoulder Injuries (and what to do about them)
Rather than going into the anatomy of the shoulder, I’ll mention the most common shoulder injuries in Crossfit and why they occur. We’ll also chat a little bit about how we can avoid them and how to rehabilitate them so that the issue doesn’t keep cropping up again and again.
First up, we have the shoulder impingement. This is a problem where a tendon within your rotate cuff becomes inflamed and irritated, often as a result of poor posture, causing the tendon to rub against nearby soft tissue and bone.
When you have poor posture and your shoulders start to roll forwards (think slouching at work, driving for long distances), all of the soft tissue in your shoulder becomes compressed.
If this occurs for too long, you can experience side effects like pins and needles down the arm, or sharp pain in the front of the shoulder, particularly in movements like lifting your arm overhead.
Obviously, this doesn’t transfer well to Crossfit, because many movements in the sport require good mobility and strength in the shoulder, especially the snatch, overhead squat and muscle-up.
So the best way we can combat the shoulder impingement is to either,
Stop working at a desk or driving for long periods;
Improve shoulder mobility and strength, as well as strengthening particular muscles around the rotator cuff, such as the rhomboids and lats.
The unfortunate reality that most of us are faced with is that we can’t just up and quit our jobs in favour of something more ‘active’, and the likelihood is that even if you started working a labour-heavy job, you’d run into other musculo-skeletal problems.
So the more feasible (and easier) solution is to actively and regularly work on improving our upper body posture. We do this by:
Stretching and releasing tight muscles in the chest, like pectoralis major, pectoralis minor and subscapularis. You can do this by static stretching or using a foam roller/massage ball/tennis ball in order to break down scar tissue or release trigger points.
Strengthening the rhomboids and latissimus dorsi in order to pull the shoulder blades back towards the spine, opening up your posture and taking pressure off the rotator cuff muscles. Exercises that strengthen these areas include weighted bent-over rows, lat pulldowns, and pull-ups.
Incorporating proper warmups prior to all Crossfit sessions, paying particular attention to the shoulders when performing movements such as the snatch, front squat, overhead squat, muscle-up, pull-up, push press, split jerk, benchpress, pushups and strict press. Using a PVC pipe to perform ‘dislocations’, as well as doing some basic side and front lateral raises using small plates (1.25-2.5kg) is a good way to warm up, although there are literally hundreds of different shoulder exercises that you can do. Using resistance bands to warm up the shoulders is always a good addition too.
Other shoulder injuries that come into play can include thoracic outlet syndrome, ulnar nerve entrapment, frozen shoulder and rotator cuff tears.
Although many of these injuries differ symptomatically, their treatment method is typically the same, so you can follow the steps above and still see improvement in your condition, aside from frozen shoulders and rotator cuff tears.
Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, really is an unfortunate thing to be on the receiving end of. This is a condition that comes on gradually, and has three main stages: the freezing stage, the frozen stage and the thawing stage. Sometimes, if you receive physical therapy treatment in the freezing stage, range of motion can be improved and sometimes the frozen stage can be avoided.
Unfortunately, if you’re in the midst of the frozen stage, there are light exercises and stretches you can do, but to some degree you will have to wait it out, which can last months.
The somewhat good news is that generally frozen shoulder only effects those over the age of 40 or have pre-existing systemic diseases like diabetes. As a result, it’s unlikely to be the reason why your shoulder hurts when doing Crossfit.
However, rotator cuff tears are more likely to be experienced through Crossfit. This is where the muscles that support the shoulder become damaged and frayed, leading to inflammation and pain around the shoulder. Often this occurs in the supraspinatus muscle, but it can occur in any of the rotator cuff muscles.
With this type of injury, you’ll tend to experience consistent pain throughout your daily activities and at night. You may feel weakness in the shoulder and arm when lifting your arm overhead or rotating the shoulder, and you’ll feel increased pain when lying or leaning on the affected area.
The best thing you can do when you have a rotator cuff tear is to REST. I cannot emphasize this enough. There have been far too many clients, far too many people who try to train through a muscle tear, and they end up making it worse, leading to needing to take even more time out from training than they initially would have needed to.
When I speak about resting the shoulder, I don’t necessarily mean avoid moving it altogether. Ideally you want to keep the shoulder mobile if possible, but you don’t want to be overloading it through resistance training. Seeing a physical therapist like a sports massage therapist or similar will help to improve range of motion in the shoulder, as well as increase local blood flow, which helps to speed up the recovery process
A sports therapist will also be able to prescribe appropriate exercises and stretches for you to do, and the massage techniques that they use will also break down scar tissue that may form from the tear.
Call 07840074288 to book an appointment now.
Please let us know if the information in this article has helped you in any way, and don’t be afraid to get in touch if you’ve got any additional questions.
If not, thanks for reading and we’ll see you next week!
Mehrab, M., de Vos, R., Kraan, G. and Mathijssen, N. (2017). Injury Incidence and Patterns Among Dutch CrossFit Athletes. [online] NCBI. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5753934/ [Accessed 5 Feb. 2020].
When you hear the term Bicipital Tendonitis, you’d be forgiven for questioning what the heck it is!
Much like many conditions in the body, Bicipital Tendonitis sounds like a spell from Harry Potter. But in fact, it’s a common condition that can cause shoulder pain, usually brought on by repetitive motions in the shoulder.
Let’s explore what causes it and how you can treat it if you suffer from shoulder pain.
What is Bicipital Tendonitis?
As you may or may not know, your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that’s made up of your Humerus, Scapula, and Clavicle bones.
You’ve also got the Glenoid, which is lined with soft cartilage and helps the upper arm fit into the shoulder socket; the Rotator Cuff, the muscles and tendons that keep your arm in the socket; then, the Biceps Tendons – this is where Bicipital Tendonitis occurs.
Bicipital Tendonitis, also known as Biceps Tendinitis, is an inflammation of these tendons around the top of the bicep muscle. This strong structure is the important connector between the bicep muscle and the bones of the shoulder.
If you suffer from this condition, you will experience pain in the front of the shoulder when you bring your arm forward or flex the bicep muscle, as well as tenderness in the tendons and muscles and general weakness in the shoulder area.
What Causes Bicipital Tendonitis?
Shoulder conditions are very common as the shoulder is used much more often than you may realise and so they can be overused, particularly if you’re active.
As well as overworking the joint during exercise, the inflammation of the tendon can also occur from degeneration due to the aging process.
If you’re not sure what the pain is in your shoulder, also read our blog ‘What is a Shoulder Impingement and How Do I Treat It?’ to understand your discomfort. If you’re not sure if you’ve got Bicipital Tendonitis or Shoulder Impingement, we can help.
How to Treat Bicipital Tendonitis?
As with any pain in your body, the first thing you should do is rest the area, using the RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method is encouraged. It’s imperative not to overwork the shoulder joints and tendons when you’re suffering from an injury or inflammation because a shoulder can also take a long time to heal if considerable damage has been done.
In extreme circumstances, surgery may be required but a robust physical rehabilitation programme should be your first port of call.
You should consult with your physical therapist to determine the source of the pain and work together to compile a recovery programme that can work for you. Physical rehabilitation typically involves stretching and strengthening exercises to restore your shoulder back to its peak. Massaging and manipulating the area can also help.
Physical Therapy and Bicipital Tendonitis
If you recognise these symptoms and are frustrated with feeling a persistent pain in your shoulder, get in touch with our extremely knowledgeable Peak Performance team. We can help create a bespoke treatment plan, so you never have to experience the depressing and demoralizing pain associated with this condition.
We have the skills and know how to help you recover and strengthen the weak muscles and tendons around the shoulder, so get yourself booked in today
So, let’s get the obvious query out of the way first: do you have to be playing tennis in order to get tennis elbow? In short, no, though you can suffer from it if you play tennis, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. There are many other causes of tennis elbow, including decorating, playing an instrument or similar repetitive arm movements, like playing fetch with a dog. Essentially, tennis elbow is extremely common.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis Elbow, known also as Lateral Epicondylitis, is a condition that causes inflammation of the tendons in the elbow, typically brought on by overusing the muscles and tendons in the forearm.
The reason for this is because the elbow joint is surrounded by muscles that allow you to move your elbow, wrist, and fingers; the tendons that are in your elbow join the bones and muscles together and therefore control the muscles in your forearm.
To suffer from tennis elbow means that you’ve likely overused the attached muscles and when these muscles and tendons are strained, tiny tears can develop near the bony lump on the outside of your elbow, causing inflammation.
The ‘bony lump’ being the ‘lateral epicondyle’, which is a small, tuberculated distinction attaching to the ligament of the elbow joint. But, we bet that most of you at this point are feeling your bony lump to know what we mean!
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
If you suffer from tennis elbow, you’ll notice pain or discomfort when using this area of your arm, be that gripping objects – as little as a pen or as large as lifting something – simply bending your arm, or twisting the joint, such as opening a door.
The pain will usually be just below the bend of your elbow, making it difficult to not only bend your arm but to extend, too.
Other symptoms of tennis elbow include:
- Tenderness on the outside of your elbow
- A weak grip
- A stiff or swollen elbow
- The onset of sudden pain in your elbow
How to Treat Tennis Elbow
First things first, if you notice that you are suffering from this type of pain and are regularly partaking in a repetitive activity, you should really avoid this until your symptoms subside.
If the inflammation is persistent and particularly uncomfortable, you can use hot and cold compresses to help with swelling and to ease the pain, but it’s best to avoid using this method for more than 30 minutes a day.
If the pain persists, despite resting and use ice and heat, pay a visit to your doctor or physical therapist. Your GP will likely check for swelling and tenderness around the joint and can, in severe cases, refer you for more tests, ultrasound scans or an MRI scan – though, as we say, this is in extreme cases as they’re looking for nerve damage.
Physiotherapy and sports therapy can also help to alleviate pain; massaging and manipulating the area can help to relieve the pain and stiffness, as well as giving a range of movement to the joint. Your therapist will talk you through exercise you can do to strengthen the area, which can speed up recovery time.
Physical Therapy and Tennis Elbow
If you suffer from Lateral Epicondylitis and want help to regain full health, get in touch with our friendly and expert team. We can help put together a programme to help you recover and strengthen the relevant muscles and tendons around the elbow.
If you follow our programmes and receive regular treatment, you will see improvements in the mobility of your elbow and a reduction in pain.
Book your assessment and treatment today to sort your Tennis Elbow once and for all.
If you’ve got pain in your shoulder that feels like a trapped nerve or a sharp pain that comes on when you try to lift your arm and rotate your shoulder, you could be suffering from shoulder impingement syndrome. We see many patients with this condition and so if you’re wondering what it is, how it impacts you and what to do to improve it, we’ve got the answers for you.
What is Shoulder Impingement?
Shoulder Impingement Syndrome (SIS) is a common condition that affects the shoulder, mainly in adults, occurring when the muscles surrounding the shoulder swell.
These are known as the rotator cuff muscles and as they’re enclosed by bone, they can cause a pressure, ache, and pain when inflamed. As the tension in the muscles increase, blood flow is restricted and this can cause tiny tears in your muscles.
You may be thinking, ‘well that’s normal, that’s how muscles grow’, but in this instance, where the muscle is compressed by bone and nerves, it can cause sharp pain or a continuous ache. A little movement like putting a bra on or reaching overhead can bring the pain on.
What are the Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement?
Typically, the main symptoms are, as mentioned, pain. However, this is not the only symptom of shoulder impingement. You may find that you also suffer from weakness of the surrounding muscles and arms and/or pins and needles in the corresponding arms, as well as restricted movement in the shoulder, arm, back, and neck. Some sufferers also report headaches
In some cases, if left untreated, shoulder impingement can lead to a rotator cuff tear or a rupture of the muscles.
How do you Treat a Shoulder Impingement?
It’s always best to go to your doctor before undergoing any treatment – they will likely suggest Ibuprofen to treat the inflammation and recommend resting the area. Whilst this is good for pain relief, anti-inflammatory tablets may only mask the problem, not treat the underlying issue, and as such, the symptoms will return when the Ibuprofen wears off.
There is, however, no medicine that completely cures the condition and so physical treatment and rehabilitation is most likely required. This can include taking warm showers or baths to alleviate the pain, as well as daily stretching – though it’s best to start off with light stretching and a programme that a professional creates for you. It’s important not to hold the stretch to the point that it’s painful but breathing through slight discomfort is encouraged for a deep stretch getting to the bulk of the muscle. Try to avoid repetitive injuries, too, as this can aggravate the area.
In addition to resting the area and stretching, you may need to undertake regular sports therapy to relieve the symptoms.
Shoulder Impingement and Sports Therapy
During your sports therapy, your therapist will help you reduce the pain as much as possible while increasing the function of the shoulder. It’s important to work with your sports therapist to get the best results; this could be stretching to aid mobility, particularly movements to improve posture and strengthening exercises to stabilise the area, as well as regular in-clinic treatments to keep you on the path to recovery (and also check your form).
If you are struggling with pain in your shoulder, consult with your doctor and get in touch with our team of sports therapists. We specialise in returning you to your peak with a bespoke rehabilitation programme. Give us a call if you want to improve your health today.
Fibromyalgia is a surprisingly common condition, even more widespread than rheumatoid arthritis, but despite this, it is not well understood even by medical professionals. Also known as Fibro, FMS or fibromyalgia syndrome, the condition affects an estimated 800,000 people in the UK and three to six percent of people worldwide.
Even with the condition being common, it’s still difficult for a sufferer to depict how they are feeling – and this can make it hard to treat – it’s also difficult for someone who isn’t suffering to understand just how bad someone with Fibro may be feeling.
Leading professional fitness training provider, Future Fit Training, have created visuals to demonstrate how it might feel for someone to have Fibro to help raise awareness for the condition and highlight how healthy living may, in some circumstances help towards alleviated symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
The symptoms of Fibromyalgia can vary greatly between different people and can be more severe at some times than others in one person. Probably the most common symptom of the condition is chronic widespread pain affecting most of the body, but this is frequently combined with fatigue, stiffness, difficulty in sleeping and other symptoms.
The pain caused by Fibromyalgia may affect some areas such as the neck or back more severely than other parts of the body and is often continuous, although the severity can vary. It may be a dull ache or take the form of a sharp pain or burning sensation. People with the condition may also be very sensitive to pain, even perceiving a light touch as painful. This sensitivity can also extend to being sensitive to other factors such as bright lights, certain foods or smoke.
Extreme fatigue is another common symptom and can appear very suddenly, leaving the Fibromyalgia sufferer feeling absolutely drained and exhausted so that they are unable to do anything. People with FMS can also suffer from muscle stiffness; this is often worse on waking when the sleeper has not changed position for some time. The muscles may also spasm, which can be painful.
Sleep quality can be affected by the condition, with the sufferer waking up feeling tired because they have not slept deeply enough to refresh themselves properly. A person with FMS may also experience cognitive problems – sometimes referred to as “fibro-fog”. They may have difficulties related to concentration, attention, learning new things and remembering. Sometimes their speech may be confused or slow. Frequent headaches can be another symptom of Fibromyalgia, varying from mild occurrences to severe migraines. Headaches may be accompanied by nausea or other symptoms.
Some people who have FMS also have irritable bowel syndrome, which can cause bloating and abdominal pain, diarrhoea or constipation. Other symptoms that may be experienced by people with FMS include restless leg syndrome, clumsiness, dizziness and problems with temperature regulation. They may also have pins and needles in hands or feet, while some women report very painful periods, and the condition often causes sufferers to feel anxious or depressed.
The severity of all these symptoms can vary according to changes in the weather, the person’s stress levels and how physically active they are. Some symptoms can be alleviated by treatment, such as physiotherapy and sports therapy, so it is worth consulting a doctor about them, particularly for people who are feeling depressed.
What are the Associated Conditions of Fibromyalgia?
Other conditions that may be associated with Fibromyalgia include lupus, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and temporomandibular disorder (TMD). All these conditions affect muscles, joints or bones.
What are the Causes of Fibromyalgia?
The cause of FMS is unclear, but it is believed to be linked to abnormal levels of some chemicals in the brain and to changes in how pain messages are processed by the central nervous system. Some experts believe that there is a genetic element involved in the development of Fibromyalgia.
The disturbed sleep patterns that are common in Fibromyalgia may actually be a cause of the condition rather than a symptom. Sometimes the condition seems to be triggered by a stressful event such as having an operation, giving birth, sustaining an injury, having an infection, a loved one dying or a relationship breaking down. However, in other cases, there does not appear to have been any specific trigger to cause the condition to develop.
How to Manage Living with Fibromyalgia?
At present, there is no cure for FMS but there are a number of treatments that can reduce the symptoms and improve the quality of life of someone with the condition.
Medication that may be prescribed can include painkillers and antidepressants, and some people benefit from talking therapies such as counselling and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). However, perhaps the most effective treatment for many people with Fibromyalgia is to make changes to their lifestyle.
Healthy eating is important, as is avoiding alcohol. Avoiding caffeine before going to bed can help towards reducing sleeping problems. Exercise has various benefits for people with FMS and should include both aerobic and strengthening exercises. Since people with the condition are frequently fatigued, it is important that any exercise programme is carefully tailored to their needs.
Aerobic exercise may reduce pain and improve quality of life because it increases endurance, and this is thought to help patients to function better. Strengthening exercises should boost muscle power and this, in turn, enables people to function better, feel less fatigued and experience improvements in their general mood.
In addition to eating a healthy diet and exercising, those with Fibromyalgia can also benefit from sports therapy, deep tissue massages and practising relaxation techniques to help them manage troublesome symptoms.
If you suffer from Fibromyalgia and want to talk to a professional about a physical rehabilitation programme, get in touch today with our friendly and knowledgeable advisers.
If you think a six-pack is the most important part of your core, you’d be wrong. The core muscles are one of the most significant muscle groups in your body and weak core muscles can impact a lot more than just giving you a less-than-toned stomach; from holding you up straight, supporting your hips and supporting most movements you and your body make, including balance and stability – the core muscles should not be overlooked.
The muscles in your core – that’s the torso – really do underpin pretty much everything you do. Here’s how they do it:
The Core Muscles Explained
The muscles in your core are a lot more complex than they may first seem. Yes, the ‘six pack’ forms part of them, but they’ve actually got a lot more going on than just washboard abs. There’s the upper abs, the obliques (the sides) and then a deep layer of muscles which are responsible for a lot more than looking good on the beach.
So, their fancy -albeit slight Harry Potter sounding- names are Transverse Abdominis (a muscle layer of the anterior and lateral abdominal wall [front and side]), Internal and External Obliques, Rectus Abdominis and Multifidus. There are others that form the significant make-up of the core but as we said, the core can impact everything so we could be here for a while listing them.
The Transverse Abdominis (TA) is the deepest abdominal muscles and also wraps itself around the spine for stability. These are the hardest to work on but if you can include exercises that tap into the TA muscles, you’ll see huge gains in the core muscles and how effective they can be to your overall structure.
How the Core Muscles Impact the Back
One of the biggest things we come across as physical therapists is back pain and a weak core can be contributing to a bad back. Essentially, the abdominals help to anchor the spine, and if they’re weak other areas (the back) would have to work harder.
As the name suggests, the core muscles are at the core of your muscular network and if either of them are weak, they can be impacting the other. As the muscles fail to do their job properly, for example, if the abdominal muscles fail to hold your core upright, the back will also relax and not stabilise the postural muscles properly. Or, if the back isn’t arched properly, or over arched, it can cause the pelvis to tilt – and as the core muscles connect to the pelvis muscles, this can impact them too. An over-arched back, also known as a sway back, can be the result of weakened core muscles.
The best thing to do is to strengthen the core muscles so they can support the spine properly and positively impact the postural alignment. So, if you invest time in strengthening the core muscles, you’ll also see improvements in your weak back muscles and poor posture.
Physical Therapy and Core Muscles
If you’ve got a weak core and back, we can help get you back to your optimum health. Sit-ups are not going to strengthen the muscles like you need to, you’ll need to invest some time into thorough physical rehabilitation to get these fundamental muscle groups up and working properly.
If you do, you’ll see reduced back pain, improved posture, increased mobility and flexibility and significant improvements in your overall structure.
Book your session now to start your journey to a fully functioning body.
If you are chained to a desk all day and then hunched over your phone or tablet in the evening, it’s likely that – unless you’re making a big effort to sit correctly – your posture is pretty poor. Enter: posture belts.
We see countless clients that have structural issues that all stem from bad posture, or at least aren’t helped by their posture. So if you too find yourself with back, neck or chest pain, a curved spine, painful hips and much more then you may benefit from a postural belt.
What is a Posture Belt?
Posture belts or posture braces, as they are sometimes known, are a device designed to be worn for a few hours a day to help sufferers with bad posture.
These braces can hold your frame in place of its correct posture, keeping your shoulders, neck, and body upright. You’d be forgiven for thinking that they are an intrusive device but they can be subtly worn under your clothes.
Offering support to the weak areas of your body that are causing poor posture, a posture brace’s primary function is to hold you in the correct position, which in turn can alleviate tension in the muscles and can help you work towards good posture.
At first, you’ll see a big difference when you put the brace on or remove it; your shoulders and upper back will be pulled back or drop down retrospectively – you should see a huge difference over time, though. Your muscle memory will kick in, plus your muscles will be stronger (from additional exercises, not the brace) and this combined should keep your posture as it should be.
Why Do I Need a Posture Belt?
As mentioned, if you’ve got poor posture that you’re struggling to correct, a posture belt can be a supportive item in your physical rehabilitation or constant fight against posture.
A posture brace is good for you if you spend a lot of time hunched over a laptop; perhaps you curl up with a good book or are suffering from ‘text next’ – these are all valid reasons to get a posture support belt.
If you’re unsure on whether to invest in a posture belt, consult your physical therapist for more information. If you do think that you need a little extra support, there are a variety of prices, sizes and styles available to you and so you will be able to find one that works for you.
Do Posture Belts Work?
There are arguments for and against postural correction belts but as long as you use them as an addition to a treatment or rehabilitation plan. If your posture is bad and causing other issues in your body then you should absolutely be doing some exercises to strengthen your back and core muscles and help to prevent the spine curving and shoulders rolling forward.
It is a long fight against bad posture but it’s definitely one that will have long-lasting benefits for your body if you stick it out but it’s one of those situations where it won’t work if you don’t use it – same with any physical therapy, if you don’t invest the time and effort into making positive changes, you’re not going to improve.
If you do invest in a posture brace, be sure not to rely on it. Wear it for a few hours a day and include regular movements, stretches and strength exercises so the benefits will all work concurrently.
If you suffer from bad posture and are looking for ways to improve, get in touch with our friendly team for a consultation or check out our other helpful blogs for top tips on how to manage your posture and strengthen the supporting muscles.
Foam rolling isn’t exactly a new technique but as the gym becomes ever more popular, we’ve seen a rise in the use of foam rollers, but what exactly is a foam roller and how does it benefit you? We explore…
What is Foam Rolling?
To look at, they’re a simple cylinder made of foam that is either smooth or covered in ridges – they’re also available in a range of sizes, too – but foam rollers are actually a lot more painful than you’d first think.
These exercise devices are used for self-massage and to alleviate tight and sore muscles. You simply lie on or push against the roller and apply pressure as you ‘roll’ along it. This process will speed up muscle recovery and aid myofascial release (also known as muscle tension).
What are the Benefits of Foam Rolling?
When you’ve overworked your muscles in the gym, of there’s a build-up of lactic acid from endurance training, the body is unable to excrete the waste that builds in the muscles and tissue. When this happens, you’ll likely experience some sore muscles, or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
These areas can lead to a reduction in performance, including a shortening of the muscle and reduced flexibility but foam rolling can help with this. In fact, there’s a variety of benefits to foam rolling:
- You can pinpoint the foam roller to your pain
- Foam rolling stimulates blood flow to the area
- Loosens off tight muscles for faster recovery
- Improved circulation
- Increased muscle flexibility
- Prevent injury
Should I Foam Roll?
Yes and no. We’d recommend discussing with your physical therapist before undertaking a foam rolling regime to ensure that it’s right for you.
If you’re good to go then foam rolling is certainly a good skill to have in your recovery-arsenal. Stretching alone cannot guarantee a release in muscle tightness and foam rolling can get to those sweet spots and release the pain trapped in certain trigger points. Stretching can elongate the muscle, aid recovery and improve flexibility but it doesn’t help to break up muscle knots – foam rolling can, however.
If you’ve never done foam rolling before, it can be tricky to get in to. You’re likely to fall off the foam roller, be uncomfortable, find yourself in a variety of positions and lacking in technique at the beginning. And let’s not forget the most important part of foam rolling: it hurts and it is uncomfortable. Though when you find your rhythm, you’ll be all good. Just remember to roll slowly and breath through the pain points.
How to Know if You’re Foam Rolling Correctly
It can be easy to grab a tube and roll every muscle along it but, as with everything, there’s a right and a wrong way to foam roll.
As mentioned, foam rolling can be uncomfortable and in usual circumstances if something feels wrong and painful, you’d stop, but that’s not the case with foam rolling as it can be the good kind of pain when you’re rolling over a muscle knot, and this can make it a grey area when knowing if you’re rolling right or causing injury.
A good rule of thumb for foam rolling is this:
- Avoid foam rolling your lower back
- Refrain from rolling your iliotibial band (IT band)
- Roll slowly
- Breath into the tightest area of your muscle
Always remember, foam rolling can increase recovery in the muscles and help with a range of movements, but it’s not going to fix any long-term or underlying issues that you may have. For that, you’re better off booking in with a professional to talk through your concerns and find a suitable recovery plan for you.
For sports therapy you can rely on, book a treatment with our expert team today.
Meditation has been around for centuries but as it becomes more mainstream, even more of us are turning to meditation and mindfulness as a way of coping with every day stresses and pressures.
In a world where we are addicted to technology and always being busy, meditation comes as a welcome relief. Most know it as a way to stop, slow down and think, but studies have shown that as well as having heaps of psychological benefits, meditation can also have a physical impact on us, too.
As meditation and mindfulness grows in popularity, we take a look at how meditation can help with physical pain relief.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice where a person gets a sense of perspective and awareness. It’s a technique that encourages the unconscious mind and helps you find a deep concentration, calmness and clarity; it’s the ability to be present and engaged.
How Can Meditation Help with Chronic Pain?
Meditation can help your overall mood and make your pain less noticeable. Because of this, as you continue to meditate, the way you handle your discomfort and tolerate the pain will change. Meditation can also help relax muscles, which can alleviate further discomfort in the joints and muscle groups.
The more you practice, the more you’ll rely on meditation as a coping mechanism for your pain; you’ll also notice improvements in your sleep (which can also help you manage pain), concentration and memory – not directly impacting your pain management, but certainly a bonus. What’s most important to note is that those that participate in regular meditation have cited that they became happier and saw an increase in their quality of life. So it’s worth trying it, if that’s the potential outcome!
It’s thought that meditation specifically helps with pain by increasing the compound nitric oxide from increased relaxation. This is what causes the blood vessels to open up and subsequently encourages blood flow, which therefore reduces blood pressure. In fact, studies have shown that mindfulness can reduce chronic pain by 57%. Studies also found that meditation soothes brain patterns which can impact underlying pain.
A big part of meditation practice is about acknowledging discomfort in the body, be that physical or emotional, and observing the sensations to allow you to breathe through and deal with the uneasiness – and this is what also plays a big part in managing your pain with meditation. You simply learn to breath through it to the point that you no longer notice it. And if you don’t notice it, is it even there?
So, it’s time to get rid of the painkillers and focus on some healthy alternatives to managing your pain that has longevity, rather than long-lasting detriments to your health like pills.
Benefits of Meditation
The benefits of meditation are vast and it can not only calm your mind, ground you, help you deal with day-to-day pressures and alleviate stress, it can also help you identify physical pain and help you manage it.
The main benefits include:
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Improved immunity
- Improved ageing
- Improved concentration
- Increased happiness
- Improved quality of life
- Increased self-awareness and acceptance
How to Meditate
Meditation is unique to you and is not as easy as it sounds on paper. However, if you’re looking to give it a go, here are some tips to get you started.
- Find a quiet space
- Close your eyes
- Slow, deep breathing
- Notice the sounds around you
- Focus on your breath
- Slow body stretching
- Body scan
If you’re struggling to do this alone, there are loads of guided meditations available online. If you search specifically for pain relief meditation, you can find videos more targeted to your needs.
For more top tips, help and advice. Visit our blog, we chat about everything from sports massage to fitness.