Way back in august I started a “case study” on my running. Realistically I should have known better. Yes, I have slacked off a bit. I was having right shin splints, right ankle pain and blisters on my left foot. It was hot, I was busy and then all too quickly it was December.
I had been doing some of my exercises to help strengthen my glutes:
But unfortunately a regular routine of running and working out just wasn’t in the picture. Since then I now have GOALS! This past weekend I ran my first 10k and in April I will be running my first half marathon. I will be keeping a regular log and hopefully do more run analysis to compare.
This was taken at the Joe Davis Run 10k Two of my patients also ran. We all competed the run “pain free”.
The abdominal sit up or crunch fundamentally contradicts the body’s biomechanics. That is a fancy way of saying “sit ups are really bad for your back”.
Quick Biomechanics Lesson :)
Your spine is divided into 3 regions: Lumbar (low back), Thoracic (mid back) and Cervical (neck).
To keep things simple lets think of each of these regions as part of a tree. The cervical spine is similar to the ends of branches. They can move a lot and are very flexible. The thoracic spine is more like the top of the tree where the branches connect. This part can sway and move but is not nearly as flexible as the branches.. Lastly, you have the tree trunk or lumbar spine. The trunk barely moves at all.
From a biomechanics perspective the lumbar spine should not flex or rotate much at all. It is you stable foundation, your tree trunk.
The problem with sit ups and crunches is that they over flex the lumbar spine.
What’s the problem with that?
Quick Anatomy Lesson :)
The lumbar spine is made up of 5 bones (vertebrae) that are stacked on top of each other. In between each is a disk. This is disk is like a jelly donut; hard cartilage on the outside with a gel like substance on the inside. These disks provide shock absorption and allow the vertebrae to move without grinding on each other.
As we said earlier the lumbar spine is made to move very little. It is your stable base or tree trunk. When we do a sit up we flex the lumbar spine beyond the range our bodies are designed to move.
The picture on the right shows 2 of your lumbar vertebrae with a disk between them. Below that image, it shows what happens to your disk when you do a sit up. See how the gel in the disk gets pushed backwards?
Overtime this gel can actually burst through the back of the disk. This is called a herniated disk which I’m sure you or someone you know has experienced. They can be very painful and I see them all the time.
Similar stresses are applied to the low back when you extend too far or flex side-to-side too far.
Stuart McGill PhD is widely considered the foremost expert on low back biomechanics and I try to get my patients to live by his saying,
‘Your low back only has so many numbers of bends before it becomes damaged.'
So how do we get a six pack without doing a sit up or a crunch? I will put together a series to show you some of the best exercises to get awesome abs without doing a single sit up! Stay tuned!
Being too focused on work can cause you to neglect your own fitness. I'm guilty of this myself.
Lately in my runs I have noticed right shin splints, right ankle pain and blisters on my left foot. The blisters came after a relatively short run and on running shoes that were well broken in but with plenty of life still in them. I knew something was up.
So I decided to do a gait analysis of myself. It was pretty evident what the problem was, I had weak gluteus medius muscles on both sides. I briefly touched on what happens during running when these muscles are weak in this active release post.
During the single leg stance in your run, your hips should be straight across (green line), held in place by the gluteus medius. You can see in the photo, my pelvis tilts (red line). I have about 5 degrees of tilt when standing on the right and as much as 10 degrees when standing on the left. This needs to be corrected.
The gluteus medius is a strong muscle that stabilize the hips and align the knees when running. If this muscle is not functioning properly you can have issues from the low back down to the feet.
I thought this might be a perfect opportunity to do a case study. Over the next month I will be updating you with my progress as well as the exercises I'm doing and Active Release I'm receiving.
You can follow me on Facebook or Instagram for updates as well as this blog post.
Golfer’s and Tennis elbow are caused by stress to the ligaments and tendons at the elbow. Golfer’s elbow refers to stress at the medial epicondyle (side of your elbow closest to your body) and Tennis Elbow refers to stress at the lateral epicondyle (outside of your elbow).
Even though Golfer’s Elbow is far more common among the general public, Tennis Elbow is more common among golfer’s as funny as that may sound.
The reason we see Tennis Elbow so much in golf has to do with impact zone of the swing. When a golfer hits the ball “fat” or hits the ground before the ball it puts a lot of stress on the outside of the elbow, straining the ligaments and tendons there.
This type of impact is usually seen with amateurs and beginners, which is why Tennis Elbow is far more common with these same golfers. A second factor is that beginners have yet to develop the strength in the wrist, forearm and upper arm to prevent injury at the elbow when they hit it fat.
I have found Active Release Technique to be really effective in treating Tennis Elbow in golfers. Breaking up scar tissue in wrist extensor muscles and forearm extensors such as the triceps is key in rehabbing the elbow. Combining Active Release with simple strengthening and stretching exercises can help to see a quick turn around and get you back on the course.
I use Active Release Technique to treat a lot of runners and one of the most common complaints is knee pain. Most patients are surprised to find out that the source of the pain is rarely due to a true problem at the knee.
More often that not, I find that the patients hips or ankles are the problem. The knee is meant to a very stable joint while the ankle and hips are meant to be very mobile. For a number of reasons the hip and the ankle have a tendency to lose flexibility. This forces the knee to become more mobile and usually unstable, leading to pain.
This is why my active release treatments primarily focus on the muscles surrounding the hips and the ankles. A functional movement screen will help to determine exactly what joint is the true culprit and we will focus on rehabbing that joint.
When the ankle is the cause of the problem, it is usually do to a lack of dorsiflexion (the ability to bring the ankle upwards, towards to shin). When running dorsiflexion allows the knee to travel forward over the foot when it plants on the ground. If someone lacks dorsiflexion, often times you will see their toes point outward, causing the knee to cave inward leading to increased stress on the inside area of the knee.
Active release treatment for the ankle primary focuses on the posterior muscles of calf as these tend to be very tight and lack dorsiflexion.
The hip can be more complex than the ankle. One of the most common problems at the hip is a lack of strength in the outside muscles of the hip. This lack of strength at the hip leads to a lack of knee stabilization, causing the knee to cave inward exactly like the ankle problem we discussed earlier. Again, putting stress on the inside of the knee.
Active release treatment sites for the hip are usually at the lateral hip and thigh.
The most important thing to take away from this article is that where you feel pain may not actually be the cause of your pain and it is important to see a trained specialist to determine where your problem is actually occurring. It is also important to remember that Active Release is not a cure all. It will help begin the rehab process and usually reduce pain, but without proper rehab, strength and flexibility training to key areas, the problem with continue to present itself.
The following Cubi-cise routine is designed to provide people with simple exercises to counter the stress and strain put on our bodies by a sedentary work environment.
Yes, sitting all day is extremely stressful on specific joints and muscles in your body!
In today’s set of exercises we are focusing on some simple stretches you can do at your desk to help lengthen some of those muscles that always in a tight and contracted position when we sit at our desk.
The following stretches are great for everyone who works at a desk, but they can be especially useful for people who suffer from chronic neck, shoulder and lateral hip pain.
Each of these exercise should be repeated 3-5 times throughout the day.
As with all exercise please proceed with caution when performing these exercises and if you experience any prolonged discomfort stop and please schedule a consult with your physician.
I hope you enjoyed these 6 fast stretches. In the next series I will demonstrate some mobility exercises you can do at the desk followed by a strength training series.
Keep yourself healthy and well adjusted.