Knee pain can plague your workouts. Whether you are a runner, weightlifter, or athlete, there’s a strong chance that you have dealt with some achey knees at some point. It is a very common issue and it’s also very avoidable.
A lot of times people have limited mobility, which causes excess stress on the knees. Try these simple mobility exercises to work on reducing your knee pain.
1. Couch Stretch
Try this couch stretch for 1-2 minutes on each side and try to work your torso to be more vertical without hyper-extending your low back.
2. Knee Gapping
This knee gapping technique can help to take pressure off your joint.
3. Contract Relax Hamstring Stretch
This is a twist on a typical hamstring stretch. Drive the leg into the doorway or rig for 5 seconds, then relax for 5 seconds. Repeat this about 5 times and try to inch closer to the wall each time.
Don’t continue to struggle with knee pain. At Limitless Performance Physical Therapy, we offer free consultations to help you make the best possible decision about how to eliminate knee pain for good and get back to the things you love, pain free. Click the link below to claim your free consultation now!
We only progress as well as we recover. You can put the work into your training and still not make progress if you aren’t accounting for factors that aid recovery. It’s also important to know the right things to do for proper recovery that will help you make gains and reduce your risk of injury.
Things like foam rolling, stretching, and getting a massage are too heavily weighted when people talk about recovery. Don’t get me wrong, they are all good things to include, but foam rolling your quads for 15 minutes isn’t going to magically heal your knee that’s beat up because your leg day volume is too high.
1. Load Management
The conversation about recovery starts with what your workload looks like in the gym. Are you maxing out every other week? Are you doing way too many sets in a week? Are you doing a lot of other types of training alongside your main workouts?
You have to push the limits a bit to make progress, but you also need to know when to back off. Training should be cyclical, with an increase in intensity and volume over time, followed by a week with a big drop in volume. This, in other words, is a deload week. After that, start a little higher than your previous starting point and work your way back up again.
2. Take Rest Days
This goes along with load management, but I thought it was important enough to include it as its own point. We see too many people on the internet brag about how they haven’t taken a rest day in “X months”. That’s a sure fire way to get burnt out and injured.
Your rest days will help you refresh and hit your next training session with more intensity. Many people make great progress on 3 or 4 day splits.
This is probably the most widely recommended by people that actually know a thing or two about recovery, but that’s exactly why it needs to be on this list. Lack of sleep will hinder recovery and leave you feeling gassed. Also, when we are asleep is when our muscles recover the most. Get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night and let your body do it’s work.
One of the most important things is to make sure you are eating enough protein to support muscle growth and recovery. Also, your nutritional needs and stage of training will coincide. If you are looking to lose weight, then your calories will need to be lower along with your training volume. This will help preserve muscle without getting injured.
If you are looking to gain muscle mass, then your calories will need to be higher along with increasing your training volume. Remember what we mentioned above about cycling your volume though.
There is a lot more information that goes into nutrition for performance, but that is kind of out of our scope of practice. If you want more specific information about nutrition, then find a registered dietician or nutritionist.
Obviously things like stretching and massage are not useless. Depending on your sport, you need to have a certain amount of range of motion that you can tap into. But haphazardly stretching your hamstrings or back muscles are not going to prevent injuries and, in some cases, it can actually leave you more at risk for injury.
If you have a history of getting injured or feel like you're stuck, then give us a call at (607) 425-3369 or send us an email at email@example.com.
In the meantime, try incorporating these tips into your daily life and share this with your training buddies!
You get your shoes on and set out for your run. Everything feels good, but when you get about 10 minutes into the run it happens again...
That nagging pain in your low back.
Low back pain is a frustrating issue that affects many runners. Exercise is one of the best cures for low back pain, but that doesn’t mean that healthy and active individuals aren’t susceptible to injuries. In this article, we will go over a few common reasons for developing back pain from running.
Improving pelvic control is one the most important things you can do to improve your running performance and reduce the risk of injuries. The most common fault people have is an anterior pelvic tilt. An anterior tilt of the pelvis creates a sharper curve and more compression at the low back. Running by its nature is repetitive, so it will amplify the pain with every step.
The other issue with an anterior pelvic tilt is that the glutes are lengthened which reduces your ability to call upon them. This makes other muscles work harder to bring the leg behind you, like the hamstring or low back muscles. These muscles are not built for this job and can quickly fatigue and become painful or tight.
Fixing this issue can come down to improving core stability to tilt the pelvis into a more neutral position. When we say stability, we mean exercises like planks. Not exercises that require movement of the spine or pelvis, such as crunches or sit ups.
We mentioned how the glutes can be put into a poor position because of the anterior pelvic tilt. If your pelvis is in a good position, but your glutes are just plain weak, then you will run into a similar issue here. The low back or hamstrings will take over the job of extending the hip, causing overuse.
Improve your glute strength with exercises like bridges or single leg deadlifts.
Having tight hip flexors can overlap with the first issue of anterior pelvic tilt. Maybe when you stand still your pelvis is in a good position. But when you bring your leg behind you it dumps forward. This could be because your hip flexors have difficulty lengthening.
Stretching your hip flexors the right way could be the key to improving your back pain. The video below has a great description of how to properly execute one hip flexor stretch.
Don’t Ignore Low Back Pain
The earlier you get it checked out, the more quickly it can be fixed. Take the guesswork out of fixing your back pain. Let us take a look at it and determine what the cause of your back pain is. Click the link below to claim a FREE Discovery Visit!
Bench Pressing can take a toll on your shoulders, but it doesn't have to. Watch the video below for two quick tips that can help you bench pain free!
Disclaimer: This video was recorded in an empty gym.
If shoulder pain holds you back from hitting PRs in the gym or just staying active and healthy, then give us a call at (607) 425-3369 or click the link below to talk to with someone that understands fitness injuries and can get you back to where you want to be!
Low back pain can really interfere with your quality of life. Some people get frustrated when they can’t seem to find anything that will help them get relief. Most of the solutions you find online are extremely basic and generally unhelpful, like “take medication” or “buy a new mattress”. Here are 6 simple remedies that could help you get the relief that you need.
1. Get Enough Sleep
With any injury it is important to get enough sleep. A lot of our recovery occurs when we are sleeping, so the longer we sleep the better our recovery. It also helps to reduce stress, which is a big factor that can amplify back pain. Shoot for 7-9 hours of sleep each night to optimize recovery and stress relief.
2. Just Breathe
Speaking of stress relief, breathing can be extremely helpful in that department. One issue a lot of people have is mouth breathing. Normal and effortless breathing occurs through the nose. When we breathe through our mouth it requires extra effort from other muscles that usually only assist in breathing with high intensity exercise. It also makes most of our air fill the chest cavity instead of the abdominal cavity. Filling the abdominal cavity helps to support our low back through intra-abdominal pressure.
Breathing is also connected to our nervous system. We have our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Mouth/chest breathing is a sure fire way to ramp up your sympathetic nervous which increases stress and can create excess tension in our muscles. We want to increase our parasympathetic tone when we are at rest (since we are not exercising or running away from a bear). We can do this with deep inhales through the nose and long exhales out the mouth. Breathing is one of the first things we usually address with our clients.
3. Avoid Painful Positions
One of the most important things to do when trying to let your back pain heal is to temporarily avoid positions that cause or increase your pain. If you continue to reaggravate it, then it will take much longer to heal. The same as if you were to pick at a scab. Leave it alone and let it heal on its own.
Inventory your movements throughout the day. Does sitting for long periods hurt your back? Does bending over irritate it? Does reaching overhead feel uncomfortable? What about standing for a long time? Back pain typically follows patterns and we can look at these to determine what the cause of your pain is and how to start getting immediate relief.
4. Try Heat, Not Ice
Heat can be helpful for some people to loosen up the muscles and reduce some pain. It may be useful for bringing blood flow into the muscles and supporting recovery. This will be temporary though, so don’t assume you can melt your pain away. There is still work to be done for permanent relief.
I never recommend ice because it can be more harmful than helpful. Ice prevents normal inflammatory reactions. Inflammation is not as evil as everyone likes to make it out to be. It is a normal reaction that protects our bodies. However, it is only supposed to go on for a certain period of time and ice can prolong this process. Choose ice over heat, or even better choose activity over heat.
5. Stop Stretching Your Back
Everyone’s reaction to a perception of tightness is to stretch the muscle that feels tight. This is not always the right answer, honestly it is the wrong answer most of the time. We have found that there are two pretty common reasons why the low back muscles tighten up.
One reason is that the hip flexors are tight, or have increased muscle tone. One of the hip flexors, the psoas, attaches to the front side of the lower spine. The psoas pulls forward on the spinal bones, or vertebrae. In reaction to this the low back muscles can tighten up to pull backwards on the bones and balance out the forces. Reducing tone in the hip flexor can eliminate the need for the back muscles to tighten up as well.
The other reason we see is that the core muscles aren’t able to stabilize properly, so the low back muscles tighten up in an attempt to create a strong and stable spine. This is more so when we are lifting heavier weights as opposed to in our everyday life.
Based on the issues above, you could actually make the issue worse if you stretch the low back muscles. They are just trying to find a way to create stability from some other weakness around the spine. Address the root cause of the problem and the low back will relax as a result.
6. Strengthen Your Back and Booty
Exercise in general has been shown to be an extremely effective way to eliminate back pain. We also want to improve the strength around our low back and hips. Strengthening the gluteal muscles will help support your back, since they are supposed to be one of the main drivers when standing up, picking something off the ground, squatting, or deadlifting.
Instead of using the word “strengthening” for the low back, it’s more accurate to say “stabilize”. The difference is that strength is our ability to produce force to move a weight, Stability is being able to resist force and prevent movement. Bird dogs, planks, side planks, and dead bugs are great examples of stability exercises where the goal is to keep your core from moving.
If you want more permanent relief from your low back pain and get it taken care of quickly, so that you can get back to living your best life without limits, then click the button below to request a Free Discovery Visit!
Tight hip flexors can be annoying for lifters and runners. It can limit your ability to squat, run, or even walk. Everyone’s instinct when they feel tightness is to stretch the “tight” muscle, but what if that muscle is not the real problem?
What is “Tightness”?
I will have people tell me that their hamstrings feel tight, yet they can bend over and touch their toes. In most cases, it’s not that the muscle is short. Instead, the nervous system is increasing the “tone” of the muscle which creates the sensation of tightness. The same thing goes for the hip flexor muscles.
Are Your Hip Flexors Short?
The Thomas Test is a classic test for assessing hip flexor tightness. If you do this test and your thigh can touch the table with knee straight and knee bent, then you do NOT have shortened hip flexors.
Why Do Your Hip Flexors Really Feel “Tight”?
The psoas is one of the main hip flexors that is a common culprit of feeling tight. The poas has attachments to the spine and has been shown to be a contributor to spinal stability. When the core muscles are weak, then the body searches for somewhere else to gain stability. So it calls upon the psoas and reflexively tightens it to support the spine.
How to Remedy Tight Hip Flexors
So instead of stretching the hip flexors constantly, work on improving core stability. No, this does not mean do more crunches. Exercises that require you to round your back are fine, but they do nothing in terms of stability. Work on stabilizing in all planes of motion (flexion/extension, lateral bending, and rotation). The McGill Big 3 is a good place to start. The three exercises are the curl up, side plank, and bird dog. Here is a good video explaining them!
Are hip issues preventing you from participating in your favorite sports and activities? Click the link below to request a FREE Discovery Visit! We will get to the bottom of what is causing your pain or tightness and let you know how we will help you fix it.
The gym is a place to get stronger and better yourself. Lifting weights is actually very safe contrary to what some people may say. While it does carry a lower risk of injury than most sports, there is still some risk involved. But if you avoid making these 5 mistakes, you can mitigate the risk of injury even more!
1. Skipping a Warm Up
A proper warm up will accomplish a few things: loosen up the joints and muscles, get the heart rate up, and prepare the nervous system for whatever movements you will perform for the day.
Your warm up does not need to be 30 minutes, but it should be around 10 minutes of a few specific movements. Choose from some mobility work, stability exercises, and a few lower sets of whatever your first movement is.
A good example of why you should warm up is if you plan to squat and immediately get under the bar with limited hip rotation, then your knees will not be able to get in a good alignment. This could not only put extra stress on certain muscles or joints. It will also make the lift harder and limit your potential to build muscle or strength.
2. Improper Footwear
In general, we do not want to wear running shoes to lift weights because a lot of them are built to cushion impact. When doing exercises like squats, lunges, and deadlifts it is important to have a stable foot. Shoes with a flatter base and minimal cushioning are better (converse, vans, etc).
Runners can obviously wear running shoes. Crossfitters may want to look into cross training shoes that have a blend of stability and cushioning.
Making sure that your shoes fit properly is also important. This will prevent blisters and allow you to maintain proper function of the foot. Your local running store or shoe store should be able to help you get the best shoe and fit for you.
3. No Pain, No Gain Mentality
Pain is a signal from our body that we need to slow down. Doing too much is one of the biggest factors in overuse injuries sustained when working out. Not taking days off will also be a detriment to your progress because it will result in a buildup of fatigue and decreased performance.
Take active rest days where you do some kind of activity, but not your normal workout. Hiking, biking, swimming, or yoga are all good options.
4. Not Ramping Up
Ramping up the intensity and volume of your training properly is what will help your body adapt and get stronger. Doing too much, too quickly will not allow your muscles to adapt fast enough. This, again, can lead to overuse issues.
A good rule of thumb is to slowly increase one factor (i.e. sets, reps, time) at a time by 10-20% a week. When running, you will want to shoot for the lower end for increasing mileage.
5. Ignoring an Injury
Do not ignore an injury because it will likely only get worse if you keep pushing through it. Making the recovery process much longer than if you were to just take care of it right away.
With that being said, staying active is important. When working with us we always give options for our clients to exercise around the pain without aggravating it.
There you have it, 5 common mistakes that people make in the gym and some tips to fix them. If you are dealing with an injury that is preventing you from making progress, then give us a call at (607) 425-3369 or click the link below to request a Free Discovery Visit. At this visit we will sit down and talk about how long you have been struggling, what does/doesn’t help, and lay out a plan to fix it!
Gymnastics can be a very demanding sport, especially for young athletes. Unfortunately injuries can be common, but we have some tips to keep your gymnast healthy and able to perform at the highest level possible.
Low Back Pain
This is one of the most common injuries in gymnastics because the sport involves a lot of backward bending. Flexibility is important, but being flexible in the right places is the key to staying injury free.
Most injuries appear when the athlete has limited flexibility at the shoulder and/or hips. When this happens the low back has to pick up the slack and you will see a “hinge point” in the low back. This “hinge point” is a sharp bend in one spot in the low back, instead of having a smooth curve along the entire spine.
Gymnasts have to bear weight on their hands and wrist with movements like handstands. They also put a lot of stress on the wrists when on the bars. Limited wrist mobility or strength is a possibility and we definitely work on it with our clients. Another possibility is poor shoulder flexibility because it can put extra strain on the wrist joint and muscles
Hard landings, especially with stiff legs, can put a lot of stress on the knee joints. When pain is focused in the front of the knee, it could be from poor knee position when landing or just doing too much high impact landing. This can be addressed by reducing the amount of repetitions in practice.
The hip controls the knee, so weakness in the overall hip muscles can be something that is causing inefficient landing technique. This would be the root cause of the problem: poor hip stability putting stress on the knees and producing knee pain.
As far as treatment goes, some gentle range of motion and strengthening exercises will be important early on to promote healing and pain reduction.
Ankle sprains are common in a lot of sports. There are ligaments that support the ankle, but the outside ligaments are not as strong as the inside ones. That is why most people roll their ankle inward and hurt the outer part of the ankle. The ankle muscles have to react to the ground with every step or landing to help prevent the ankle from rolling.
There are two important factors for ankle injuries: the strength and stability of the ankle muscles and hip control. Like I said the muscles need to turn on at the right times to support the joint and react. Also, hip control is just as important for the ankle as it is for the knee. If the foot lands too far underneath the middle of the body, then the ankle could be more prone to rolling.
Early treatment for a sprained ankle is gentle range of motion and isometrics. Regaining full range of motion will be very important, especially early on. Eventually we will need to improve balance reactions in the ankle because it is one of the biggest things affected with ankle sprains
The shoulder is meant to be very mobile which is good because gymnastics requires a lot of flexibility. The problem is that there is not a lot of structural (bony) stability at the shoulder, it requires the muscles for support. If the shoulder muscles aren’t strong enough, then the joint can become unstable and create pain or discomfort.
Treatment is mainly focused on strengthening the muscles and stabilizing the joint, so that they can have plenty of flexibility and keep the shoulder joint from becoming irritated or injured.
If you have a young gymnast that has been struggling with an injury or just wants to get better at their skills, then click the link below and we will determine if we are the right fit for you!
For most parents, the most important thing about their child playing sports is their safety. The last thing that a parent wants for their kid is to suffer an injury, but they want their kids to participate in the activities that they love. Obviously there is a risk for injuries when you play sports, but we can always take steps to reduce the risk. Here are a few steps that you can take to ensure that your child stays as healthy as possible.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Most sources recommend getting anywhere between 7-10 hours of sleep, many of them leaning more toward the higher end of the spectrum. Not getting enough sleep can reduce reaction time, reduce tolerance to exercise, and reduce their ability to properly recover from exercise.
2. Maintain a Good Diet
The two biggest things we focus on with nutrition in young athletes is their calorie intake and how much protein they are eating. They need to be eating enough to fuel their bodies and aid in recovery, but the ratio of macronutrients is also important to consider. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle and will aid in recovery.
3. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water is important for optimizing recovery and preventing heat-related illness. The general rule of thumb for the amount of water to drink per day is 0.5 oz of water per pound of body weight. Have your child carry a water bottle that has the ounces clearly marked with them to ensure they are staying hydrated.
4. Take Proper Rest Days
The no “pain no gain” and “no days off” mentality puts athletes at larger risk for injury. Their bodies need some days off to recover from the rigorous routine they put themselves through at practice and any extra things they do outside of that. Rest days are when the real recovery happens, so make sure they take at least 1 or 2 days off a week from whatever sport they play.
5. Improve Any Weaknesses
Every athlete can benefit from strength training. Many aches and pains “pop up” because of weaknesses in certain areas that aren’t worked in the specific movements of their sport. Or certain muscles will try to compensate if one muscle isn’t doing it’s job. For example, the glutes are supposed to bring the leg behind us when we are walking or running. If the glutes are weak and aren’t doing their job, then the low back muscles may compensate to bring the leg behind us and lead to a low back strain.
6. See a Physical Therapist
A physical therapist is trained to evaluate and treat any sports related injuries. They can also assess for any weakness or imbalances that could increase the risk of injuries (even if you don’t have a current injury). They can look at how your athlete moves, determine what is wrong, and develop a plan of action to resolve any issues. Getting help as soon as you notice something is wrong can prevent a more serious injury. Here at Limitless Performance Physical Therapy, we work with injured athletes, athletes that want to prevent injuries, and athletes that want to improve their performance!
When To See a PT for a Sports Related Injury