Starting a New Exercise Program? Read this First Massage Therapy Newmarket

Oct 2016

There’s no getting around it – exercise is an absolutely essential part of living life at optimal health. Luckily, there is something for everyone these days. The range of programs, techniques, and classes available is wide; from Zumba to Cross Fit, you’re sure to find something that suits your personality and interests.

However, as you begin, maintain, or up-level your personal fitness regime, there are a few things to consider to make sure that your healthy intentions don’t become a painful reality. Putting more on your muscles than they are ready to bear, neglecting to stretch thoroughly, and improper body mechanics can all put you at higher risk for exercise-related injuries. The following prevention techniques can help you avoid muscle strains and tears; they are simple additions to your daily routine that can make a huge impact on your muscular health.

Static Stretches for Tight Hamstrings

Hamstring pulls and tears are a common injury among athletes – especially sprinters – and they can have debilitating effects. Not only are these injuries painful enough to suspend normal movement for weeks, but general tension in this muscle group can affect the low back. As the hamstrings tighten, they pull on the bone structure where they attach. This bone structure happens to be the pelvic girdle, also an attachment point for back muscles, including the quadratus lumborum and erectors. When tight or injured hamstrings pull the pelvic girdle out of proper alignment, this in turn affects the low back muscles, causing further discomfort.

Needless to say, it’s better to prevent this outcome than to be faced with having to heal it. Fortunately, there are several simple static stretches that can help. Although the static stretching has undergone some debate in recent years, there are still several effective techniques that are used by a range of athletes. They include:

  1. Scissor hamstring stretch;
  2. Hurdler stretch; and
  3. Reclined hamstring stretch

*Note that these stretches should be performed on warm muscles to be as safe and effective as possible.

Active Isolated Stretching with a Resistance Band

Using a resistance band is a great way to incorporate Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) into your routine, as it allows you to use this technique without the necessity of a partner to assist. Unlike static stretching, Active Isolated Stretching suggests that you only stretch a given muscle within its current range of motion. In addition to making it a bit more comfortable to perform, this technique is also likely to quickly increase flexibility and reduce the chances of injury.

There are Active Isolated Stretches for every region of the body, and the techniques you choose to incorporate should depend on your exercise program and goals. While the techniques are not difficult, it is advisable to learn them first in-person. A personal trainer, massage therapist, or advanced workout partner can help you determine the proper AIS protocol to fit your fitness routine.

Foam Rolling

Foam rollers are an increasingly popular way to loosen tense muscles, increase range of motion, and prevent athletic injury. Techniques using this basic, cost-effective tool can be performed both before and after workouts. (Pre-workout rolling techniques should focus on targeted muscle groups, while post-workout sessions can be more general, addressing all of the muscles worked that day.)

Foam rolling is found to be particularly effective on the iliotibial (IT) band, the taut connective tissue that runs along the lateral portion of each thigh. Rolling this area can help prevent undue tension, and also protects the knees, which can experience pain if the IT band becomes too tight, inflamed, or otherwise injured.

Healing from an Injury

Of course, if you are already dealing with an injury, there are ways to encourage your body to rehabilitate fully before returning to your full fitness routine. Massage therapy, chiropractic care, acupressure, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), are among several non-invasive methods that can get your body back into top shape, and prevent further injury in the same location. Having a team of quality practitioners to assist in the care and maintenance of your body is always wise, as they will take your recovery as seriously as you do, and help you get back to optimum health as quickly as possible.