June 11, 2015
May 28, 2015
If you took a trip to see your favorite doctor this year for knee pain, you were in good company. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, in 2010 10.4 million people reported knee injuries to their doctor. Some knee injuries, such as fractures and ligament tears, require surgery followed by physical rehabilitation. Others, however, need to be managed on a long-term basis. But what does this mean? How do you keep your knee healthy, happy, and ready to run or walk at a moments notice?
Managing your body’s health requires three aspects: strength, stability, and mobility. The knee is dependent on the health of the joints below and above it. Movement and stability in the ankle and strength and stability in the core and hip are the most important aspects to keeping the knee healthy.
Pilates is a fantastic option for addressing these components. It provides a comprehensive approach and a qualified instructor will be able to customize the workout to your personal needs. I grabbed my friend, Dawn Casella, a certified Power Pilates instructor at Mind Body Studios at Total Fitness in Bristol, RI to demonstrate the three best Pilates series for managing knee pain.
Series 1: Leg Circles/Frog – Reformer
This series connects core stability of the Short Box Series with increasingly challenging hip stability. The reformer provides support for the low back which allows the hips to work harder.
1. Non-weight bearing exercises allows individuals to strengthen the hip while avoiding unnecessary strain on the knee
2. Incorporates the bigger hip muscles to improve power and overall strength
3. Coordinates movement between the low back, hip, and knee to improve balance
Series 2: Short Box Series – Reformer
This is series improves core stability and hip strength. The low back is unsupported so your core muscles have to do the work!
1. The first step in healthy knees is healthy core and hips.
2. This series does not put unnecessary strain on the knee
3. Great for beginners, or individuals who are returning after a knee injury. Make sure you have no knee pain with any movement.
4. Added benefit of improving ankle strength
Series 3: Press Down – High Chair
This series challenges foot and ankle stability with hip strength and core stability.
1. Coordinates the foot, ankle, knee, hip, and low back to create strong and stable movements
2. Incorporates the strength built in the Short Box and Leg Circles/Frog exercises with the added challenge of balance
3. Strengthens every muscle around the knee and hip
Your knee health can be very easily managed with just a few simple exercises. You have already committed to exercising. Why not make sure you are getting the most out of your training? Understanding what your body needs is individual and should always be discussed with your doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor. However, strength, stability, and mobility are the fundamentals of every comprehensive fitness plan. Taking control of your knee pain will leave you empowered to live the life you want.
Interested in learning more about how you can turn your everyday exercises into injury preventing exercises? We don’t blame you! Take the first step with our signature exercise. This one is on us!
May 22, 2015
Home myofascial therapy is a fast moving storm. There are countless options on the market and in the flurry of products, the technique of each can be lost. Foam rolling is a general myofascial therapy technique that can be very effective for tackling stubborn tightness and recovering from training. The Rumble Roller is a great option for the more experienced of rollers.
Both products are effective; however, I have found in talking with patients that the technique is unclear. We put together a great little video for you, guest starring Jack the Dog, to take some of the anxiety out of rolling.
May 17, 2015
Foam rolling is catching on as a great home therapeutic tool. It can help break up nagging tightness, improve circulation, and help with recovery. The rumble roller is a version of the foam roller that is a bit more aggressive. It can also be more beneficial. However, the way the rumble roller is used will determine it’s effectiveness. If you are finding that it is ineffective or that it is very painful, chances are you may not be using it in the best way.
We put together a short video to make sure you are using the rumble roller correctly. Good luck!
May 10, 2015
The PreTrain Brace is one of our signature exercises of The PreTrain Fundamentals program. It is a simple concept: an exercise that makes sure you are activating and using your deep core muscles. In practice, it can take a little bit to learn how to do correctly. Our deep core muscles can be largely underutilized in daily life. The diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles are two key components of the deep core muscles that protect our low back and pelvis. Desk work, driving, and daily stress can leave the diaphragm muscle weak. Childbirth and time can leave the pelvic floor muscles weak, leading to complications such as incontinence, low back pain, and overuse injuries.
The PreTrain Brace is important. We put together a troubleshooting video for you to make sure that you can perform The PreTrain Brace correctly, and that you understand how to apply it to your daily life.
April 23, 2015
The other day, I started thinking about this concept of “fixing” ourselves. It seems sometimes that injuries and pain are something we see as a part of us that is “broken” that can therefore be “fixed.”
“Can you fix this?” A patient will ask.
“Absolutely,” I’ll say. I mean this from the bottom of my heart and with the sole purpose to help this person get out of pain. But if I’m really honest, it actually isn’t fair to say because it’s not my body to heal, and there isn’t anything to fix. I also think that this concept of “fixing” what is “broken” is, well, a little harsh.
In reality, our lives and our bodies are both about management and we all have something we are managing. Our relationship with our body is the same as any other relationship. It takes focused attention and an ability to not only listen, but to understand what our body is telling us that it needs. We often think of our body as something outside of ourselves but in reality, it IS us. This shift in perspective is powerful and is step one in learning how to love your body in a way that you love other people: with respect, understanding, and kindness.
If you want to learn how to better treat your injuries, it starts with respecting and understanding your body for what it is. It’s you.
Here’s the short list:
1. Take a breath and refocus. Look at your injury and really begin to understand it. You may need to seek out medical care and the important aspects in any musculoskeletal evaluation are palliative and provocative factors.
- What makes the pain better?
- What makes the pain worse?
- What can you do and what do you need to avoid?
By taking a deeper look you will begin to listen to your body, and by talking with a health care professional, you’ll be able to understand what the symptoms mean. Education is empowering and you’ll find that you are able to make better decisions about your body and your health
2. Be kind to your body. This may take a few different forms.
- Seek help and advice when needed. Call your doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor or other trusted health care provider.
- Rest and heal if it is necessary. Resting is taking off the load by temporarily removing the aggravating activity from your life. Healing is a much more complex concept and includes proper nutrition, treatment (home or professional), exercises, and rest.
3. Don’t be a jerk to your body.
- Don’t “push through” the injury. You’re probably not a professional athlete and the cost/benefit analysis of causing more harm by constantly re-injuring yourself will not include a multimillion-dollar contract. Don’t do it.
- Do something, not nothing. The opposite of pounding on an injury can be just as costly. Seek help if you don’t improve with some time off as it may be something more serious.
- Use medication as it is intended. A physician or pharmacist, even if it is over-the-counter, should always approve regular use of medication for an extended period of time.
Read, listen, learn, question. There is some great information out there and some really bad information out there. Your responsibility is to question it all. My goal with PreTrain is to provide an open environment where the information is conservative when necessary and a little more assertive when appropriate. Ultimately, your body is only going to be as strong, stable, and flexible as you allow it to be.
April 16, 2015
I get a lot of questions regarding different exercise programs, home gym equipment, training methods, injury-prevention tips, treatment programs. To answer these questions and more I’m dedicating at least one blog post a month to reviews. Got something you want answered? Just let us know and we’ll get on it!
As we move along with our “Exercise with Intention” theme, our reviews will take an educational approach. There is not one way for everyone and our goal will be to help you to understanding each product and it’s purpose so you can decide which product is best for you.
So what is our inaugural product? Foam rollers! This is a common source of confusion and I know so many people have questions. First, let’s understand the concept behind foam rolling and then we’ll look at some of the different options on the market.
Myofascial adhesions, commonly known as “scar tissue,” develop over time and are a direct contributor to overuse injuries. As muscles are used, they are constantly being damaged and healed. This is why there is such a market for “recovery supplements” which we can definitely talk about later. If muscles do not have adequate time to heal or are not provided with appropriate nutrition, formation of myofascial adhesions reach a point over time where they can weaken the muscle as a whole. This weakness can lead to injury.
Soft tissue techniques such as Active Release Technique, Graston Technique, and general myofascial release, work to break up this scar tissue and allow the muscle to heal properly. Foam rolling provides a self-guided version of these manual techniques that can target superficial parts of muscles. Foam rollers create friction and tension on a muscle and will break up superficial scar tissue while bringing vital blood and oxygen into the area. In this manner, it can help with healing as well. The different foam rollers on the market provide varying degrees of intensity and can reach different levels of muscle. This variation in purpose also leads to variation in technique.
- Foam roller without texture.
This is a great option for beginners to get both a feel for the compression and for the technique to roll. Foam rolling takes a bit of grace! You’ll notice that this version has a smooth surface that will provide a larger surface area on which to roll. Different colors correspond to different levels of density. White has less density, followed by red, followed by black with the most. In general, the higher the density, the more intense the treatment. That being said, it is important to keep in mind the purpose of foam rolling is to break up scar tissue and also to help muscle relax. It is tough to relax if it is too painful, so shoot for a “good hurt” with foam rolling. This is not a “no pain, no gain” situation
Who it’s best for: All levels including beginners
Where it shines: Great for legs and shoulders
When to move on: If you have a stubborn muscle tightness, move onto a textured foam roller.
- Triggerpoint foam roller.
This option is great for someone who is just beginning with foam rolling, or someone who needs a little more oomph to their roll. I have to say, I do like the educational feel that this company portrays. The orange triggerpoint foam roller was the first one I tried and the texture provides a slight therapeutic effect. The material does tend to compress a little more than it seems like it should; however, if you have some DOMS or need more mobilization through the mid back and hips this is perfect. It is more comfortable for mobilization of the mid back that we incorporate into our Module 2.1.1 than the general foam roller. The small one looks so cool but functionally, I like the big one!
Who it’s best for: Athletes after training, mobilization of joints in mid back and hips
Where it shines: It provides texture without overly compressing the tissues. It’s great for recovery after training and can help bring blood into the area if you are sore following activity.
When to move on: Significant restrictions in muscles that will not respond to stretching and foam rolling without texture
- The Rumble Roller.
I have to admit, after working through a stubborn hip issue, I became a fan. However, the challenge with the rumble roller lies in technique. The best way I have found to use the Rumble Roller is to treat it as a trigger point therapy rather than a foam rolling therapy. This means rolling at a painfully slow rate and allowing the knobs on the Rumble Roller relax into the deeper layers of the muscle. If you just roll quickly along your muscles, it will be really uncomfortable a less effective. In our Module 2.1.1, we talk about foam rolling along the quad/IT junction for IT band syndrome. The rumble roller used along this same line should take a good 2-4 minutes to roll from hip to quad one time and back. Slow and intentional is the way to make the Rumber Roller work for you.
Who it’s best for: Individuals who need intense and deep muscle work
Where it shines: Best for the legs and hips. It’s a bit much for the shoulder and back area.
When to move on: Give it a good week of daily work to loosen up the muscle and other soft tissues. If you still feel a lot of restriction, along with any pain, consult a soft tissue specialist.
The key to tackling any treatment begins with a clear understanding of injuries and where they begin. Our fantastic ebook, “Where Do Injuries Come From?” is a great starting point to making great decisions about your health.