Fort Collins is home to avid runners of all kinds. Whether it’s a Saturday morning jog or an ultramarathon this city is a mecca for those who want to move on two feet. Some folks are happy to take a leisurely run while others are gearing up for competition. No matter what level of runner you are there’s always room to run easier. The feeling of ease in your body equates to a feeling of joy and exhilaration when you run faster or longer than you have before.
We know those of you reading this are probably thinking of how can I feel more free when I run? You have tried all the tricks…hit heel to toe, no midfoot, no forefoot…stand tall, breathe easier…squeeze the glutes…push off with the toes…and some of these things help. But in a couple minutes you forget about the glutes and you are slouching. You just want to run and enjoy it, not think about when your butt should be contracting. Add a few aches and pains to the equation and the run is not so exhilarating anymore.
What if you could run better without thinking about it? What if you could run without discomfort? What would it feel like to run ‘free?’
Low back pain is one of the most common physical complaints from people in our society. It’s a billion -dollar business when accounting for total amount of trips to the doctor, pain medications, injections, surgeries, and loss of work production. At Body Evolution Physical Therapy & Wellness , a majority of our clients come to get help with lower back pain. These clients often ask if yoga would help their pain. We know yoga can be beneficial and research has shown yoga to be positive for low back pain, but we answer our clients with ‘it depends.’
Yoga has been around for centuries. It is a philosophy that is comprised the Eight Limbs. One of those limbs is called asana. Asana are the positions and postures that most people in the West think of as yoga. Most yoga studios are centered around this aspect of the practice. These movements and postures can range from simple to exceedingly difficult to perform. Yoga when performed safely and with guidance can be a great way to improve one’s strength, flexibility, and overall fitness not to mention help with lower back pain.
Autumn is such a beautiful time of the year to lace up the boots and head out into the hills. There is nothing better than breathing in the fresh air, feeling the cool air blowing against your face, and taking in the scenery of all the yellow, orange, and red of the falling leaves. An autumn hike is surreal and magical unless you end up with a sprained ankle or a bummed knee.
There is nothing more aggravating than having to hobble slowly down a mountain trail after spraining an ankle or straining your knee. The autumn magic quickly fades away and your left with pain and the thoughts of an ice pack, anti-inflammatories, and staying at home.
The chances are that injury did not have to happen.
We know how important it is to get out there and enjoy a nice trek on your day off. The last thing we would want is for that hike to be put to a halt because you got hurt doing the thing you love. That’s why we wanted to give you some tips, ideas, and pointers on how to stay safe and prevent injuries when heading out for an autumn hike.
The summer is almost over and we are heading into fall. The air is getting cooler, the leaves are changing colors and beginning to drop off the trees, and the holiday season is approaching. This is one of my favorite times of year. It’s cool and crisp, energizing in its own unique way. But as things cool down and days grow shorter most of us begin to find ourselves indoors. The TV gets turned on, we keep ourselves cozy under the blanket, and we find we take more trips to the refrigerator.
It's easy to get caught up in the cycle of exercising in the summer and hibernating in the winter. We aren’t bears; we are meant to stay active no matter the season. Our ancestors did not have the luxury of central heating, a nice fireplace, or thermal underwear. They kept themselves moving all year-round, rain or shine…or snow. We may not be Neanderthals, but we aren’t that different when it comes to keeping healthy by staying active. There really is no better place to be active than outside.
Whether it be an easy jog around your block, hiking trails in the canyon, biking the road or the hills, or just taking the dogs for a walk, exercise outside is both beneficial and enjoyable.
The last blog was focused on dynamic stretching. This blog we will discuss what most people consider normal stretching (static). This is the type of stretching you will typically find on YouTube videos or most healthcare providers will prescribe to you.
These stretches are focused on effecting the muscles. These stretches are held for a shorter duration than myofascial stretching and longer than most dynamic stretches. Each stretch is held for about 30 seconds and often repeated several times for the same body part. While many believe they are lengthening the muscle what is happening is the muscle simply relaxes. This type of stretching has a short effect on the nervous system causing a relaxation response. Tense muscles are those that do not seem to relax. When you stretch not only do relax the muscles, but also allow improved blood flow and oxygenation. This benefit is found in all types of stretching.
Previously, in the last blog we focused on what we call myofascial stretching. To complete this blog series we will discuss what’s called dynamic stretching. This is a type of stretching you can easily find on YouTube and is often used for warm-ups prior to a workout.
These stretches are called dynamic because they involve movement. With dynamic stretching we are taking a muscle and putting length into it through movement and then shortening the muscle when moving back into the starting position. This type of stretching allows the muscle to move through its full range of motion. When stretching like this you are even able to strengthen the muscle because it is put under load. Dynamic stretching has been shown through research to be a preferred stretching method prior to a workout versus ‘normal’ stretching. ‘Normal’ stretching can be inhibitory to the muscles making them less reactive which is not something we want before sport or a higher-level activity.
In our last blog post we briefly discussed the use of stretching for reducing pain, increasing flexibility, relaxing the body, and improving the cardiovascular system. We touched upon finding stretches on YouTube and are they the best ones for you? Stretches can be done in different ways and have varying benefits. This blog post will focus on ‘myofascial’ type of stretching.
What is myofascial stretching? Myofascial simply means muscle and fascial stretching. Fascia is the connective tissue of the body that surrounds muscle tissue (and all other tissues and every cell of the body) and under a microscope can look like a spider webbing.
How could a fascia focused stretch be different than a muscle focused one? . That’s a great question.
Stretching is one of the first things people think to do when they are having pain and YouTube provides the answer. Sciatica?...YouTube says stretch the piriformis. Plantar fasciitis?…stretch the calf muscles. We agree that stretching can be a very effective way to reduce pain/discomfort, increase flexibility, and even improve the cardiovascular system. Stretching is a powerful tool to bring the body into better balance. But sometimes stretching the wrong muscle group or performing stretches incorrectly can make things worse. That’s why if your YouTube stretches aren’t working then you should find an expert who can give you the best stretches for what your body needs.
What many people don’t realize is that there are different ways stretching can be performed that have different effects on the body. The majority of people who stretch tend to hold a position for 30 seconds and repeat several times. This is one way to perform a stretch.
At Body Evolution Physical Therapy & Wellness we believe intention is key. When you start a stretching program what is your intention? Why are you stretching? Is it to reduce pain or gain mobility? Do you want to feel more relaxation? Stretching can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle and we want you to find what’s best for meeting your lifestyle goals.
Over the next several posts we will discuss different ways of stretching and why you might choose one over the other.
The first part of the series we will focus on myofascial stretching.
Don't hesitate to comment below or ask one of our therapists a question about stretching. We can help you get back to an active, healthy lifestyle.
It’s not uncommon for those painful areas in our body to feel ‘tight.’ And what better way to decrease tension than by stretching that area.
Butt pain – stretch the piriformis
Knee pain – stretch the quads
Ankle pain – stretch the calves
Low back pain – stretch the hamstrings
Don’t get me wrong…stretching those areas often does feel good. Of course it’s typically only for a few moments until you start moving again.
Stretching induces a relaxation response in the muscle. It is short-lived, but feels good in the moment.
That moment of feeling good can be enough for us to think the stretches are really helping…even though the symptoms never really change.
The Internet. The only place where one can order dinner and have it delivered while allowing time to search for ‘The One Exercise That Will Solve Your Back Pain.’
Let’s be honest. It would be awesome if we could go on a site like WebMD and get a diagnosis then head to YouTube for the video that will give us the right treatment.
The problem is that that’s what a lot of us are doing.
Being in pain is not fun…it’s frustrating. And we will look everywhere for an answer to get rid of our pain.
YouTube is a great place to find exercises, but not answers to our pain…especially if it is chronic.
I get it. You have probably all ready gone to the chiropractor who ‘cracked’ your back and saw a physical therapist who gave you some exercises (probably the same ones you found on YouTube).
Your MRI was fine and all the doctor did was prescribe you medication.
But did anyone really take the time to understand what was going on with you? Did they listen? Perform a thorough assessment and provide care catered to you?
Exercises are great…and it’s awesome you took the initiative to try to find something to help you.
But it’s time you find someone that can provide the care you need, give you specific exercises your body will benefit from, and use their hands to help alleviate your pain.
YouTube is for funny videos…not for replacing healthcare.
If you are looking for one on one individualized care where your therapist will listen and come up with a plan to help get you out of pain…
Then give us a call to see if Body Evolution Physical Therapy & Wellness is the best fit for you!!
I'm just a guy helping active adults and athletes frustrated by nagging aches and pains naturally return to a healthy lifestyle.