Simple ways to stay injury free!

Warming up the Body: Static vs Dynamic Stretching

Simple Strategies to Becoming an Injury Free Athlete

As we clear off the winter cobwebs and begin to ramp up into the spring training season, we often forget about the little things that help to keep us injury free.  Most of us simply want to strap on our running shoes or climb on our bikes and head out the door, jumping full speed into the activity ahead.  Whether you are a runner, cyclist or team sport enthusiast, a proper warm-up routine is essential to performance and injury reduction.  If the body is not prepared for the demands placed upon it, injury is more likely to occur and a cold body cannot possibly perform at peak levels.

Most athletes are familiar with idea of stretching prior to activity to warm-up the body.  However, in recent years there has been much debate surrounding the topic of static versus dynamic stretching and which is more effective in preventing injuries during sport.  Static stretches have been the standard for pre exercise warm-up for years.  Static stretches are exercises which emphasize a sustained stretch in a single plane of motion using either body weight or opposing muscle groups to lengthen a specific muscle.  This type of stretch is effective in elongating the muscle and increasing both flexibility and range of motion.  In general, static stretching helps to reduce injury by maximizing flexibility and improving mechanics and range of motion.  However, recent research suggests that static stretching prior to activity may be detrimental to performance and doesn’t necessarily reduce injury rates during exercise.  Research shows that static stretching seems to decrease muscle strength and power possibly by impairing muscle elasticity and their ability to return stored energy.

During most exercise, like running, the muscles and soft tissues are stressed across several planes of motion and varying loads.  In order to improve muscle performance, muscles should be stretched across these planes of motion in order to simulate normal movement patterns and to stimulate the muscle and joint receptors to prepare them for load and movement.  Dynamic stretching emphasizes moving your muscles through full, exaggerated motions that mimic the motions of the exercise you are preparing for.  Dynamic flexibility increases core and muscle temperature, allows for short-term gains in flexibility, lubricates the joints and stimulates the nervous system ultimately aiding in the decreased risk of injury.

This is not to suggest that you should never perform static stretching.  Static stretching should remain an important part of your training routine as it is still one of the best ways to gain mobility and maintain flexibility.  What should change in your regimen is your sequence.  The best routine to follow to avoid injury is to perform dynamic stretches prior to your activity as part of your warm-up and then follow-up your exercise with static stretching to cool down and maintain flexibility.

Try the exercises listed in this downloadable document in your pre-activity or sport warm-up.  These exercises will help to prepare your muscle system for the demands of activity, assist in performance and reduce the risk of injury.

 

 

Fundraising Tips

You are registered to Walk or Ride the WAVE in September. Great! 

And you’re already thinking about getting in shape and ready for the event, right?

But are you ready to begin fundraising?

Start by making a plan! Set goals and deadlines–add them to your calendar with reminders so you don’t forget. Once you have an idea of what you want to achieve, take some time to brainstorm a list of people or businesses who might donate to your efforts this year. 
 
Friends, family, co-workers and neighbors, but don’t forget your social media connections! Even those that don’t live nearby may want to support you!
 
Once you have your list, then use the letter template on your Personal Fundraising Page. Send it ‘as is’ or update it to let everyone know why you decided to participate and support The WAVE Foundation. For other ideas, click here.

 

 

Core Strength Matters

Core! Such a loaded word, we hear about it daily – get your core strong! I’m working on my core! Core Power! Core strength is the key to life!

First of all, what is core? According to Dictionary.com, core is ‘the central or most important part of something’. I like to consider the core as the combination of muscles surrounding and supporting our trunk, pelvis and hips. Combined it works to keep us upright and moving forward day in and day out, whether walking, running or cycling (and everything between).

I like to break down the Core into an inner core and an outer core. The inner core works all the time. It is comprised of the diaphragm (take a deep breath…you just used your diaphragm), the transversus abdominus (lower ab muscle), the multifidus (spinal stabilizers) and the pelvic floor (the muscles down there). The outer core muscles are pretty much all the rest of the muscles around your trunk, pelvis and hips/legs. They are our primary movers. When I take a step, when I pedal my bike, when I run, these muscles should work in an efficient manner so that we don’t cause added stress or wear and tear to our bodies.

Great, now I have an idea of what the core is. How do I know if I’m efficient in my core? Simply, can you stand on one leg for 30 secs without your pelvis dropping and without feeling any quivering muscles in your body? Can you lie on your back, lift a leg and not feel your back arch up or pelvis shift around? If these activities are challenging, you more likely than not need to work on your core and more specifically, your inner core – those lesser known, small muscles that help stabilize the trunk, pelvis and hips. This will only help you in cross the finish line as a walker, runner or cyclist.

Here are 3 basic exercises to get you started:

  1. Dead bug
  2. Single leg isometric for tonic spread
  3. Bridge

For each of these and depending on your strength you can vary the duration/reps. If you feel you are weaker, opt for the easier method and start with sets of 10. If you feel you are stronger and 10 isn’t enough, do sets of 20 or 1 min. Repeat 2-3 times. As always, with exercises given over the internet, if you have trouble with these exercises or experience any pain, please contact your physical therapist for an individualized home program engineered for you

A bike can be comfortable!

Are you considering training for and participating in The Cycle the WAVE ride this September? The first thought that crosses your mind may be that the last time you rode your bike it was so uncomfortable you thought, ‘I don’t want to touch that thing again!’ Or maybe, you suffer from numb hands or toes, knee pain, lower back pain, neck aches or shoulder stiffness when riding your bike and shrug it off as ‘normal’ for cycling. These are not ‘normal’!

Most of these issues can likely be fixed with a detailed bike fit. Yes, we know that when you bought your bike the bike shop likely did a quick fit asking you, ‘How does that feel?’ after riding maybe 5 or 10 minutes. Of course, it felt great! It’s new! But, get out for a 60+ minute ride and things change. There are many touch points that this quick fit likely skipped.

At Real Rehab Sports and Physical Therapy, we understand that every cyclist is unique. We understand that each body is different with regard to flexibility, dimensions, strength and general health, all of which can affect how you sit on your saddle, rest your feet on the pedals and/or grab a hold of the handlebars. How you are positioned on a bike can mean the difference between experiencing your full cycling potential or fighting inefficiency or discomfort and risking painful injuries.

What should a bike fit consist of that’s different from ‘How does that feel’? Great question!

At Real Rehab Sports and Physical Therapy we offer 2 types of bike fits: The Performance Bike Fit and  the Biomechanical Bike Fit (click the links for further details). Whichever fit service you choose – Performance or Biomechanical, your physical therapist, trained in the science and art of bike fitting will take the time to assess your movements and alignment both off the bike and on the bike in order to match your bike to your body in a way that makes you smile rather than grimace.

The Performance Bike Fit is perfect for the rider who has no acute musculoskeletal injuries and is seeking improvements in efficiency and performance. This is a cash-based service ($280) and is scheduled as a one-time 2-hour session. A great choice if your goal is to finish with a smile on the Fierce or Mighty Sister rides!

The Biomechanical Bike Fit is for the cyclist who is experiencing pain while cycling for health and wellness benefits. This service maybe covered by your health insurance in accordance with an appropriate physical therapy diagnosis.

In addition to our regular services, we are offering a special for Cycle the WAVE participants: a one hour ‘Comfort’ fit ($125). This fit session is perfect for the rider who uses flat pedals and who are looking to complete the Brave and Strong Sister rides.

Real Rehab supports The WAVE Foundation

Real Rehab + Physical Therapy is proud to be a lead sponsor of the 2018 Cycle and Walk the WAVE, The WAVE Foundation’s signature event.

We, at Real Rehab, support and believe in the objective of the Wave Foundation. As their educational program assists individuals to “Discover their Power” against violence, our mission at Real Rehab is to empower our clients to reach their full potential. That is why we are joining forces with the Wave Foundation to promote their primary fundraising event, the Cycle/Walk the Wave on Sunday, September 16, 2018.

The WAVE Foundation is working to increase awareness of the societal impact of sexual assault and domestic violence through their educational and empowerment program, Discover Your Power.  Although primarily focused on the youth and young adult populations, the program serves to educate and empower all members of the community on recognizing the warning signs of violence and how to prevent its occurrence.

Real Rehab will be providing WAVE participants with monthly biking, walking and general wellness tips in order to keep you moving forward in meeting your training goals and completing the event of your choice. If you are a cyclist and sign up on or before March 31st you will receive a 15% discount off a 2-hour Bike Fit performed by a physical therapist at Real Rehab. Participants (or just cyclists?) who registered after March 31st will receive a 10% discount on all Wellness and Performance services offered by Real Rehab.  Look for updates in the months to come about WAVE/Real Rehab events and activities and how you can participate!

For more information checkout our website at www.realrehab.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.