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2016 Holiday Fit Gift Guide

2016 Holiday Gift Guide

By Medi-Dyne Ambassador & Guest Blogger

Jen Haught

Happy Holidays Red

 

The holiday season is once again upon us and if you are like me, you struggle with what to get your loved ones. I always want my gift to be well received, but I look for other details as well; for example, can I get it from a local business? Is it made in the USA? Would it be useful to them? Would they even want it? No wonder people say the holidays are stressful!

 

I picked out ten gifts that I think your favorite athlete would enjoy and secretly won’t return behind your back.

 

 

Five1Five Signs

 

I stumbled on Five1Five Signs medal holders a couple years ago and am a huge fan. Their signs are unique because they are hand painted carved wood signs, not just vinyl letters like most other signs. I have one in my office and I have given out a few as gifts and people really love them. These signs aren’t just for runners, but for swimmers, gymnasts, triathletes and more. Contact Andy and you can have it personalized so your favorite athlete can hang their medals proudly!

 

 

 

 

TigerLady

 

When I was a runner, I would do the majority of my running in the dark by myself, especially when the time changed in November. I was ALWAYS decked out head to toe in reflective gear, lights, and bright colors, but all that gear wouldn’t have saved me from an attacker. Tiger Lady is safety at your fingertips. It is small, light weight, and needs no batteries or charging. I had no issues running with it and it made me feel A LOT safer no matter where I was. I carry it when I’m not running as well so instead of holding onto my phone in my hand, I replaced with a Tiger Lady. No one coming up to attack me would suspect that I had a self defense claw in my hand. To activate the three claws, all you have to do is close your hand and make a fist. The retractable claws protrude between your knuckles ready to meet your attacker. I feel confident and very Wolverine-like when I have my Tiger Lady.

 

 

 

RangeRoller

 

The RangeRoller is no joke. It gives you a a deep massage that you wouldn’t believe! The roller gets in the inner and outer layers of muscles and tissue to help break up and eliminate scar tissue, increase circulation and is effective getting out those nasty knots from just about anywhere. My husband, myself and even our dogs love it!

 

 

Road ID

 

I think Road ID is probably the number one item that every athlete should have because it can save your life. They make these bracelets for adults and children and they make them in a variety of styles and colors. Your personal and medical information can be accessed from medical personnel through their website. They will be able to access your emergency contacts, your doctors, insurance information, medications, allergies, surgeries, and so much more. You can go online and update it anytime you want. If you don’t have one, GET ONE! It will give you and your loved ones piece of mind when you are out on the roads.

 

 

CopyCat Yoga Mat

 

I came across the Copycat Yoga Mat on Etsy and I thought this was such a cool product. I was a disaster at yoga and never knew where to put my hands and feet for poses. I’d feel frustrated and miss instructions on breathing or other information. In class, I felt self conscious and I think this mat will really help adults and children learn yoga with confidence. Not only does the mat show foot and hand placement, but it shows different poses like Triangle and Halfmoon. The mat is non toxic, eco friendly, phthalate and latex free, SGS tested and certified. It is extra thick (1/4″ which is twice as thick than a standard yoga mat), extra long (72″ x 24″ which is 4″ longer than a standard yoga mat) and self adjusts to work with any height.

 

 

 

 

Pro-stretch Plus

 

If your favorite athlete complains of achilles tendonitis, ankle pain, back pain, calf strain and tight calf muscles, arch pain, plantar fasciitis, heel pain, ball of foot pain, tight hamstring pain, IT band syndrome, and/or shin pain, then the Pro-stretch Plus is going to help them. It helps give you an effective and comfortable stretch that will help prevent future injuries. You are going to save them so much pain, aggravation, and frustration, plus YOU won’t have to hear them keep complaining about their pain every time you talk to them. It’s a win-win!

 

 

 Shwings

 

I came across the Shwings a few years ago and immediately fell in love with them. They have over 150 styles in all different colors and will make all your shoes look unique and fun! They have wings, lighting bolts, skulls, butterflies, and even mustaches! They have been featured in magazines such as InStyle, UsWeekly, Parents and more. They are a perfect stocking stuffer for kids and adults of all ages. I have three pairs myself!

 

 

 

 

“The Long Run” by Matt Long

 

I’m constantly talking about Matt Long and his inspiring book, “The Long Run”. While bike riding, Matt was hit by a twenty ton bus making an illegal turn and his bike “sliced him open like a can”. He needed sixty eight units of blood 10 hours after the accident and was in the hospital for five months. Every bone in his left leg was broken, the right side of his pelvis was shattered, as well as his right shoulder and severed multiple arteries. He would endure over forty operations and the doctors weren’t even sure he would walk again, let alone compete. Matt’s book describes his intense and painful recovery and how he was able finish the NYC marathon three years after the accident. This story is incredible and I’m not lying when I say that I read it at least once a year.

 

 

 

 

 2Toms SportsShield Towelette

 

Ah, chafing, every runners nightmare. Since I was bigger runner I had lots of chafing issues and after a particular run while training for the NYC marathon last year, I realized BodyGlide wasn’t going to cut it. As I silently screamed in agony in the shower after a long run, I decided to try some new products. I came across 2Toms SportShield Towelettes during a Runchat, looked at their products and decided to try their towelettes and roll on. Since I’ve tried them, I haven’t had any chafing issues.  NOT ONE. I’m particularly fond of the towelettes because they are small and portable. I had been known to unwrap one and stick it down my bra for long runs just in case I’ve missed a spot.

 

 

 

 

 

BackBeat Fit Bluetooth Headphones

 

I actually won a pair of these BackBeat Fit headphones and I’m a huge fan. When we joined Rex Wellness Center earlier this year, I wanted a pair of wireless headphones because my wires kept getting caught on the machines and weights, it drove me crazy. It was easy hooking them up with my phone so I was happily watching Parks and Rec while on the bike or listening to JT while using the weight machines.  I found they were easy to use, comfortable and the sound is fantastic. It definitely drowns out crying babies and overly talkative adults on airplanes.

 

 

What is on your wishlist this year? 

jenhaught_biopicAbout Jen Haught: Jen grew up in Manchester, NH and then moved to the Raleigh, NC area in 2003 with her husband and two dogs, Jager and Sammy. She likes reading, make up, coloring, hiking, hockey, working out and being lazy.

Jen has overcome her share of injuries and  health and fitness struggles, but enjoys inspiring others to live their best happy, healthy lives.

You can reach Jen on Instagram @JenHaught or Twitter @JenHaught79. We are honored to have Jen as our November Guest Blogger and a Medi-Dyne Ambassador.

Getting a Safe and Effective Tight Calf Stretch

Tight Calf Stretches

Osgood Schlatter DiseaseOur earlier blog post, Tight Calf Solutions, covered why flexible calves are critical to both performance and preventing lower leg, ankle, Achilles tendon, and foot injuries.  It also outlined Medi-Dyne’s 2Steps™ Solutions for a Strained or Tight Calf which focuses on a regimen to provide both immediate relief and long-term healing with the goal of putting you back on your feet and at peak performance.

An important part of that process is to introduce a regimen of tight calf stretches because the best way to treat tight calf pain is to keep it from happening in the first place.  Many times, an effective tight calf stretch can improve lower extremity strength, balance, and flexibility; and increased muscle flexibility reduces the risk of lower leg injuries caused by tight calf muscles.

An effective way to allow improvement in lower extremity strength, balance and flexibility is to use the ProStretch Plus.  The ProStretch Plus is a unique enhancement tool that was originally designed for physical therapists and delivers a safe, effective solution for performing tight calf stretches.  It has been proven to provide a deep stretch that increases flexibility along the entire inter-connective chain which helps deliver a lasting solution for tight calf muscles.

ProStretchPlusProStretch Plus is perfect for the gradual, controlled stretch needed to increase the flexibility of tight calf muscles and prevent future injuries.  With a proper ProStretch Plus flexibility program, muscles and tendons actually begin to lengthen.  Learn how to best stretch and strengthen your lower leg and prevent tight calf symptoms using the ProStretch Plus by downloading the ProStretch Plus Stretching Guide here.

Watch here how to use the ProStretch Plus to reduce calf pain and achieve an ideal tight calf stretch.

Another Medi-Dyne tool that is ideal for getting a great tight calf stretch is the StretchRite.  The StretchRite’s patented system features a non-elastic strap which makes it easy to perform each stretch properly and effectively.  It is not only ideal for tight calf stretches; it also is good for stretching and conditioning every major muscle group in your body, including your arms, shoulders, torso, and legs.

StretchRite

The StretchRite makes it easy to individualize a stretching program and monitor progress because it features six ergonomically-shaped handgrips that offer a comfortable non-cinching hold and make it simple to adjust tension during the stretch.   As flexibility improves, advance to the next handgrip position to increase the stretch.  Click here to download the instruction manual and view instructional videos for the StretchRite.

 

In addition to using the ProStretch Plus and the StretchRite to help treat and prevent tight calf muscles, there are additional tight calf stretches that can be performed:

Downward Dog – Some yoga poses are ideal for performing tight calf stretches.  Get down on all fours with hands spread flat on the floor under your shoulders.  Walk your hands forward slightly on the floor and spread your fingers apart to allow for a broad base of support.  Push your hips up toward the ceiling and tighten your abdominal muscles.  Try to keep your heels on the ground and gently try and straighten your knees.  This pose should be held for 15-30 seconds.

 

 

 

Baseball Elbow and Shoulder Pain

Elbow TendonitisBaseball Elbow and Shoulder Pain

It’s the week baseball fans look forward to from the minute the World Series is over-Spring Training!  First pitchers and catchers report, then position players and then the spring training games begin.  For millions of parents, however, spring training is more about their children hitting the baseball fields than the pros.

Unfortunately, many of these kids will experience pain and injury while playing baseball.  Children who are pitchers have about a fifty-fifty chance of experiencing elbow or shoulder pain during their baseball careers. A recent study has shown that when a child pitches with a tired arm, they are six times more likely to suffer from elbow pain and four times more likely to experience shoulder pain than a player who did not have a tired arm.  This same study showed that half of the youth pitchers studied reported elbow or shoulder pain at least once during the season and concluded that the overriding factor in the development of arm pain among youth baseball pitchers appears to be overuse.

While youth baseball has traditionally been considered a spring sport, the reality is that more and more children are playing baseball throughout the year.  Because of the extended seasons, youth baseball players are putting more strain on their shoulders and elbows than ever before.  Consider these research findings:

  • Players who pitch more than 100 innings in a calendar year are three times more likely to require elbow or shoulder surgery or to retire due to injury.
  • When a player throws more than 600 pitches per season, the risk of elbow pain was three times greater.
  • Playing catcher can double or triple a pitcher’s risk of serious injury.
  • 26% of youth players and 58% of high school pitchers experience elbow pain.
  • 30% of 9- to 19-year-old boys playing baseball experience shoulder pain.
  • Nearly half (46%) of youth players (average age 15 years) said that at least once they had actually been encouraged to keep playing despite having arm pain.

It is not surprising that a result of the increase in arm injuries suffered by youth baseball pitchers is that the number of shoulder and so-called Tommy John elbow (ulnar) ligament-transplant operations has risen dramatically.  There are three main risk factors for injury to youth baseball pitchers: overuse, poor pitching mechanics, and poor physical conditioning.

A player may start by complaining of shoulder pain that is present only when throwing and for a short time afterward; however, the shoulder pain may progress to where it is present before, during, and after activity. The athlete may eventually become unable to throw at all due to the pain in the shoulder. Trouble can also start when an athlete mentions shoulder or elbow stiffness and trouble “getting loose” or arm fatigue.

Chronic shoulder conditions such as tendinitis, bursitis, impingement and subluxation are closely related.  All of these conditions may cause pain in the same area: in the tendon or in a pinched bursa (the small cushion that allows tendons to move over the bone as they contract and relax) next to the tendon.  Rotator cuff tendinitis occurs when the tendon becomes irritated and inflamed as it rubs on the undersurface of the shoulder.  Bursitis results from the repeated pinching of the bursae between the shoulder structures which puts additional pressure on the already-inflamed shoulder area.  The combination of tendinitis and bursitis may result in an impingement in the shoulder. Symptoms include pain and weakness with overhead arm movements.  Subluxation is where the shoulder slips partially out of joint and then returns to its original position.  This causes instability of the shoulder joint and is often related to fatigued shoulder muscles.

The most common elbow injury in young baseball players is medial epicondyle apophysitis, better known as “little league elbow.”  This is caused by overuse and involves injury to one of the growth plates on the inside of the elbow.  This type of injury occurs in young athletes because their growth plates are weaker than the muscles that attach to them.  The stress placed on the growth plates from repetitive throwing can cause them to become inflamed and produce pain and swelling.  If a child continues to throw through pain, there is a risk that the growth plate may even begin to separate from the rest of the bone.

Here are some suggestions for preventing shoulder and elbow injuries in youth baseball players:

  • Develop proper body mechanics. It is important to make sure a young pitcher learns how to properly position his throwing arm during all phases of the pitching motion.
  • Perform a daily regimen of warm up and stretching exercises to decrease muscle tendon imbalances, increase range of motion, promote circulation and improve performance. The StretchRite is an effective tool to use for stretching and strengthening an athlete’s entire arm and shoulder.
  • Age appropriate training and recovery time is necessary. It is recommended that a youth athlete’s overall training increases by no more than 10 percent per week in amount and frequency.
  • Follow recommended pitch count guidelines and get adequate rest in between games to prevent overuse. Little League guidelines call for pitching for no more than 6 innings per week. General guidelines dictate that early adolescent pitchers should not throw more than 80 to 100 pitches per week. As the pitcher matures and builds up strength and endurance, the number of pitches thrown can gradually increase.
  • Limit the amount of throwing that a child does at the start of the season and build up arm strength and endurance gradually.

It is important to never allow players to play through pain and to make sure children understand that persistent pain is a sign of a chronic (i.e. overuse) or acute injury that should sideline a child from playing until it subsides.  If your child gets injured, it is a good idea to consult a professional.

Stretching Safely and Effectively

Stretching Safely and Effectively

(Part 4 of a 4 part series on Stretching Your Way into Better Health

roller 3Our recent blog series, Stretching Your Way into Better Health, has covered how a stretching program can help in maintaining flexibility, improving athletic performance and preventing injury.

For all of its benefits, stretching can also cause adverse effects like sprains and strains if not performed properly.  In order to avoid the dangers of improper stretching, it is important to keep some rules in mind when starting a new stretching program.  While stretching can be done anytime and anywhere, using improper techniques can actually do more harm than good.

Here are some tips for stretching safely and effectively:

  • Focus on having equal flexibility on both sides. In fact, muscle strength imbalances are often the cause of chain reaction injuries. As everyone’s genetics for flexibility are different, striving for symmetry in your own body is more important than striving for the flexibility and range of motion of a gymnast or ballet dancer. This is especially important for those recovering from a previous injury.
  • Focus on major muscle groups along the body’s interconnective chain, such as the calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck, and shoulders. Be sure to stretch the muscles that are routinely used both at work and play. The CoreStretch and StretchRite both provide safe and effective way to stretch most of these muscles.
  • Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds. If there is a particularly tight muscle, it should be held for closer to 60 seconds. It is important to remember to breathe normally while stretching.
  • Do not bounce. Stretch in a smooth movement as bouncing during stretching could potentially cause injury.
  • The goal while stretching should be to feel tension not pain. If a stretch hurts, it is probably too much. Back off to the point where the pain ceases and then hold the stretch in that position. Using a product like the StretchRite can help in getting just the right amount of stretch. The StretchRite’s design allows you to adjust the tension during stretching and makes it easy to safely individualize the amount of stretch required.
  • Be consistent and stretch on a regular basis. Stretching can be time-consuming, but the most benefits can be obtained by stretching at least 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Movement can be part of an effective stretching routine. Gentle movements such as yoga or tai chi can help with flexibility and range of motion in addition to helping to prevent boredom by adding variety to regular routines.
  • Pre-activity warm up can include dynamic stretches. Start slowly with low intensity to warm up the muscles. Once muscles become accustomed to the motion, it is safe to speed up gradually.

Tight HamstringsWhile regular stretching can be a significant contributing factor to a healthy lifestyle, it is important to know when to exercise caution.  People with chronic conditions or injuries may need to adjust their stretching techniques.  It is important to note that stretching an already strained muscle could potentially cause further harm.

Following basic stretching precautions can help ensure that stretching helps, rather than harms, your body.

 

Read the entire Stretching Your Way into Better Health Series:

 

Stretching for Injury Prevention

Stretching for Injury Prevention

(Part 3 of a 4 part series on Stretching Your Way into Better Health)

IT Band SyndromeThere are many good reasons why everyone can benefit from making stretching part of their daily routine.   Our last blog post, Stretching for Improved Performance, focused on how incorporating a regular stretching routine into your training schedule can pay off in improved athletic performance.  While improving athletic performance is a great reason to stretch, another equally important benefit from stretching on a regular basis is injury prevention.

Whether you are an athlete, active adult or a senior, a regular stretching routine can help your muscles be strong and injury resistant.  When a joint’s range of motion is increased through stretching, there is a decrease in the resistance that muscles experience during daily activities.  Flexible muscles are less likely to become injured from a slightly extensive movement.   Flexibility has two important components:

Static flexibility– This type of flexibility describes range of motion without consideration for speed of movement. This represents the maximum range a muscle can achieve with an external force such as gravity or manual assistance. An example would be holding a hamstring stretch at an end-of-range position.

Elbow TendonitisDynamic flexibility– This term describes the use of the desired range of motion at a desired velocity. Dynamic flexibility is the range athletes can produce themselves. For example, a baseball pitcher needs a lot of shoulder rotational flexibility but also needs to be able to produce it at rapid speeds of movement.

 

For athletes and active adults wanting to properly stretch and warm-up prior to athletic activity, it is an important part of injury prevention to never stretch or begin that activity when your muscles are cold.  It is a good idea to begin with some mild aerobic activity such as walking, cycling or slow jogging for 5-to-10 minutes prior to stretching.  This mild activity increases blood flow to the muscles, increases the muscle temperature and makes the collagen fibers more elastic.  This initial activity will help your stretching routine be more effective, prevent soreness and injury, increase range of motion, and improve performance.

The most effective way to decrease the possibility of injury before athletic activity is to perform dynamic stretching (stretching with movement).  In the past, athletes were told to use static stretching (stationary reach and hold) prior to practice and competition with the thought that static stretching prepared the muscles for activity and helped to prevent injury.  Recent studies are now suggesting that static stretching prior to activity can actually decrease athletic performance and may increase an athlete’s chance of injury.

Dynamic stretching consists of slow, controlled motions which help prepare the body for movement and change of direction. This type of stretching closely mimics movements made during exercise and involves moving many parts of the body by using momentum and active muscular effort to gradually increase reach, range of motion, and speed of movement.  Dynamic stretching helps lengthen muscles, increases balance, improves mobility, coordination and range of motion, and decreases the chance of injury.

FlexibilityAn effective and safe way to perform dynamic stretching is to use the CoreStretch.  The CoreStretch was originally developed for use by physical therapists so it safely provides a stretch that both allows the tissues to relax and elongate and develops the major muscle groups that make up the body’s core.  Online videos can provide instruction on using the CoreStretch.  A downloadable guide is also available.

Static stretching involves stretching as far as possible and holding that stretch for 10-30 seconds with no movement.  Because you simply go as far as you can in static stretching, this kind of stretching does not require much training and is the easiest to do for those who are just adding stretching to their exercise routine.  Static stretches are best used to improve flexibility and cool the body down after exercise.

Back Pain ReliefStretching is also very important for aging adults to maintain good balance and avoid injuries.  When a child falls, he usually shakes it off and keeps moving. But when an older adult falls, there can be serious consequences such as broken bones or head injuries.  These injuries can limit mobility and lead to a downward health spiral.  Every year, thousands of older Americans die as a result of breaking a hip. Broken bones and head injuries can reduce confidence, increase a fear of falling, and threaten independence.

Stretching exercises that improve endurance, muscle strength, and flexibility can help prevent falls and related injuries.  Seniors who stretch regularly can experience benefits such as increase in reaction times, improved coordination, stronger bones, better brain function, and increased muscle mass which can help protect bones and joints.  Seniors can benefit from both static and dynamic stretching exercises.

Regardless of your age or athletic ability, the New Year is a great time to begin a stretching program for injury prevention.  So start stretching today and help your muscles become flexible, strong, and injury free!

Read the entire Stretching Your Way into Better Health Series:

Stretching for Improved Performance

Stretching for Improved Performance
(Part 2 of a 4 series on Stretching Your Way into Better Health)

Medi-Dyne_Stretching_for_Improved_Performance_2Whether you are a hard core athlete or a weekend warrior, your athletic performance can benefit from a regular stretching routine.  While there’s been a lot of talk about dynamic vs static stretching and whether stretching is better before or after activity (or both) most experts agree that a program of consistent, daily stretching improves sport performance by increasing muscle strength and flexibility.

Stretching is so often an after-thought. With busy schedules, its easy to focus on exercising or participating in a sporting event but not on stretching. Sure, you might throw in a quick hamstrings or calf stretch for good measure but then its off to the “real” exercise. Unfortunately, it’s this same “time-saving” behavior that may cost you real time in the end.

Regular stretching can improve joint range of motion and muscle capacity, which can in turn help improve performance and decrease risk of injury.  So, if you’re looking to improve your performance, its important to understand why stretching can help and how to stretch correctly.

Part 1 of this series, Top 10 Reasons Why Stretching Should Be Part of Your New Year, provided general insight on why stretching is important.

For active individuals or athletes looking to improve their performance, stretching is critical. The speed at which a muscle changes length affects the force it can generate. This is called force-velocity relationship.  As muscle stiffness is decreased and flexibility increased, it requires less energy to move or contract the muscle. Some studies have shown that stretch-induced hypertrophy (enlargement) positively impacts this force-velocity relationship by increasing the isometric force production and velocity of muscle contractions. The result? Improved running speed, strength, and jumping distance and height.

Stretching has additional benefits as it relates to performance:

  • Stretching improves flexibility and the range of motion in your joints. Better flexibility improves your performance by helping your joints move through their full range of motion and assists your muscles in working most effectively. Studies have shown that regular stretching improves force, jump height, and speed.
  • Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. The increased blood flow delivers more oxygenated blood to the working muscle allowing it to quickly turn glucose into fuel and maintain output and fend off fatigue.
  • Stretching will reduce your risk of injury and relieve post workout aches and pains as getting oxygenated blood to your muscles plays an important role in the recovery process.
  • Regularly stretching muscles may also serve to alleviate DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) that pain you get when you do some activity that your muscles aren’t used to doing or doing so strenuously.

Three types of stretches to help increase your athletic performance:

Static Stretching

This is the most common form of stretching, and it involves gently taking a muscle to its first point of tension and then holding it in that position. Static sustained stretches are designed to hold a minimally challenging position for a joint or a muscle. The focus is on relaxing the body part being stretched and letting it go further on its own.  Static stretching is effective at helping to lengthen tight muscles. Static stretching is often use post-activity or as part of a daily stretching routine. Research suggests that holding the position for 30–60 seconds will increase flexibility in the tissue.Occasionally static stretching is used to pre-activity to warm-up a particularly tight muscle (calf or hamstring).

Designed as a full body stretching device, the StretchRite  provides comfortable, measurable static stretching exercises for active individuals looking to increase their flexibility.  Online videos provide guidance for effectively performing basic to advanced stretches. Downloadable guide with sport-specific suggestions is also available.

 

Dynamic Stretching

ProStretch Plus preferred world-wide for tight calves and hamstring stretching.Dynamic stretching is now believed to be the best way to warm up as takes muscles through movements similar to the activities you are about to perform.  Dynamic movement stretches take a joint or a muscle through a challenging and repetitive motion, moving a body part further with each repetition.  Dynamic stretching is ideal prior to exercise because it prepares your joints for movement and your muscles for optimal activation.

The ProStretch Plus is a useful tool that athletes and trainers world-wide use for safe and effective dynamic stretching of the lower leg including the hamstrings, calves, Achilles tendon, plantar fasciia and toes.  The ProStretch Plus allows for a safe, gradual, controlled stretch that no slant board or curb can provide.  Online videos provides guidance for effectively performing basic to advanced stretches. Downloadable guides are also available.

 

Self-myofascial Release

RangeRoller_Calf_2-5_100dpiMyofascial release focuses not only on the muscles but also the soft connective tissue that surrounds muscles (fascia).  The pressure that is applied to muscles while when using a therapy roller helps to eliminate tension and reduce the impact of knots or tender spots.  Using a multi-layer therapy roller like the RangeRoller helps the muscles to lengthen and shorten more appropriately, allowing greater ranges of motion to be achieved during exercise and athletic activities.  Watch how to perform self-myofascial release using the RangeRoller.

 

Stretching Guidelines for Athletes and Active Individuals

•Athletes who are very flexible and are playing in ideal conditions will benefit from dynamic stretching before activity.   This will help maximize performance while minimizing risk of injury.

•Less flexible athletes and those with tight muscles should perform static stretching on a regular basis to increase flexibility and lengthen muscles (ideally 20-30 minutes at least 3 days a week).

•For all athletes, long static stretches before athletic activity are not recommended.  Too much static stretching before athletic activity will affect the way muscles fire to produce movement and protect joints.  This could result in a decrease in power and strength and could put the athlete at risk for injury.

So, remember that muscle strength and flexibility is a fundamental building block in sports performance.  Incorporating a regular stretching routine into your training schedule will definitely pay off in improved athletic performance and a reduction in your risk of injury.

Read the entire Stretching Your Way into Better Health series:

Top 10 Reasons Stretching Should Be Part of Your New Year

We have all heard that stretching is important.  Sure, it’s important for athletes but the truth is that everyone should be making stretching part of their daily routine. As we age we may lose lots of things but we don’t have to lose flexibility!

Here are our Top 10 reasons why you should be stretching your way into the New Year:

  1. Reduce Stress – Stretching helps to reduce stress, and it has been proven that stretching provides mental calmness and clarity. When your muscles are well-stretched, they hold less tension and the result is that you feel less stressed.
  2. Decrease Stiffness and Increase Range of Motion – Stretching decreases muscle stiffness and increases your range of motion. This increase in range of motion may also help slow the degeneration of your joints and give you better balance.
  3. Improve Posture – Stretching will improve your posture. Tight muscles lead to bad posture, but stretching the muscles in your lower back, shoulders and chest will keep your back in better alignment and that will result in improved posture.
  4. Reduce Tension -Regular stretching will reduce muscle tension and result in greater relaxation. If your muscles are regularly tense, they will begin to cut off their own circulation which will result in a lack of oxygen and essential nutrients.
  5. Lower the Risk of Injury – Stretching will reduce your risk of injury. Flexible muscles are less likely to become injured from a slightly extensive movement.  When you increase a joint’s range of motion through stretching, you help decrease the resistance on your muscles during daily activities.
  6. Warm Up Muscles – Stretching before you exercise is important because it allows your muscles to loosen up and become resistant to the injury that can result from the impact and stress of vigorous exercise.
  7. Relieve Aches & Pains – Stretching helps relieve aches and pains after you exercise. If you stretch your muscles after a hard workout, you will help keep them loose and be less likely to suffer from the shortening and tightening effect that causes post-workout aches and pains.
  8. Keep Back Pain Away – You will decrease your risk of suffering from lower back pain if you stretch regularly. 8 out of 10 people will be affected by lower back pain during their lives. Stretching increases flexibility in your hamstrings, hips, and glutes which helps keep your back strong and prevent lower back injury.
  9. Improve Circulation – Stretching will help improve circulation by increasing blood supply to your muscles and joints. This improved circulation results in greater nutrient transportation and improves the circulation of blood throughout your entire body which yields a quicker healing time due to all the nutrients in that blood.
  10. Relieve Pain – Stretching can act as a pain reliever. If you are already experiencing lower back pain, stretching the quadriceps and hamstrings, as well as the hip and pelvis muscles, can contribute to pain relief. Stretching can also ease headache pain by improving oxygen flow to your head.

Now is the time to start making stretching part of your daily routine!

Stay tuned for our upcoming series of blog posts on New Year’s Resolution: Stretching Your Way into Better Health.

10 Minutes a Day Keeps Back Pain Away

Back Pain.  Most people have experienced it.  Some live with it every day.  In fact, lower back pain is one of the top 10 reasons patients seek care from a family doctor, and it affects 8 out of 10 people at some point in their lives.

What causes lower back pain? 

Actually, it’s usually not just one event that causes the pain even though it may feel that way.  Mostly, it is a series of “micro injuries” like muscle pulls or overuse during activity that add up over time.  These injuries are more likely to occur if you are experiencing muscle imbalances along your interconnective chain.

Your interconnective chain is made up of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints in your body.  If any one of these links is injured or not functioning properly, the entire chain suffers.  So, if you have a tight or sore muscle, it will recruit other muscles to pick up the slack, and after a while, “chain reaction injuries” can occur.  The muscle imbalances caused by these injuries can often lead to lower back pain.

Since back pain occurs after the imbalances have already developed, it is a good idea to take measures to prevent the pain from even starting in the first place.  The best way to do that is to perform stretching and strengthening exercises that will keep your posterior chain strong and flexible.  Exercises that increase balance, flexibility, and strength can decrease your risk of injuring your back, falling, or breaking bones.

If you are already suffering from back pain, than your immediate goal is to reduce pain and restore mobility.  While your natural tendency may be to rest, exercise may be the most effective way to speed recovery from low back pain.  Exercising, including stretching and strengthening of the muscles along the posterior chain (calves, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back), has been shown to benefit many lower back pain sufferers by restoring muscle balance, strength, and flexibility.

Using the CoreStretch 10 minutes a day is the best way to provide the deepest, most effective way to stretch your posterior chain and restore muscle flexibility.  This will increase your range of motion, reduce pain, speed up recovery and prevent future injuries.  The CoreStretch was developed for use for physical therapists and has been proven in studies to be a very effective way to stretch the hamstrings and contribute to posterior chain flexibility.

Most people find that just a few minutes of stretching each day with the CoreStretch reduces lower back pain and improves their quality of life.  Medi-Dyne has created a 10 Minute Back Pain Relief Routine that uses the CoreStretch to perform a series of back pain stretches on a regular basis to both reduce and prevent lower back pain.

Ready to take the CoreStretch challenge?  We’d love your feedback.

Get started with 20% off CoreStretch*!  Just use code 10BPCS20 at the Medi-Dyne store.

 

**Offer good on any order of a single CoreStretch at MSRP. Cannot be combined with another offer.

Back to School: Children’s Heel Pain Prevention

Prevent children's Heel Pain Heel pain in children is becoming increasingly common — especially in young athletes.  Their bodies are growing and changing more rapidly than their style choices.  This is the time when they need the most protection. One customer recently wrote to us about why Tuli’s Heel Cups are on her back-to-school shopping list:

Back to school means two things in my male dominated household:  it’s time to return to the classroom and more importantly (to my boys-not their mom), it’s time to return to playing sports!

Football, baseball and basketball reign supreme at my house, and my boys love training and playing hard.  While training hard may help them get better at the sports that they love so much, it sometimes can cause injuries to their young and growing bodies.  We have had our share of broken bones, sprains and bruises.  We have learned the hard (and sometimes expensive way) that it’s better to take steps to keep our young athletes injury free than to pay for it later with doctor visits and lost playing time.

One of the biggest issues my boys have experienced is heel pain.  My oldest son suffered greatly with debilitating heel pain during football season when he was 11.  The podiatrist’s diagnosis was Plantar Fasciitis.  Unfortunately, that was not the end of the story for him.  A year later he had more heel pain and was diagnosed with Sever’s Disease.

While I had heard of Plantar Fasciitis, Sever’s disease was a new one to me.  Apparently, it is more common in boys and typically occurs when a child is between 8 and 13 years old.  The podiatrist told us to rest, ice, massage, stretch his calves on daily basis and the use of a quality heel cup in their shoes and cleats. Specifically, the doctor told us to get Tuli’s.

Having learned my lesson with my older son, I was immediately on high alert when the younger child (now 11) mentioned heel pain after basketball practice.  I was determined not to let this child suffer like the older one had!  We immediately purchased Tuli’s heel cups for his basketball shoes and every day tennis shoes.  On top of that, we started a vigorous routine of icing and lower leg stretches using the ProStretch Plus.  These tools had helped his older brother recover from his Severs and now we were using them to prevent Severs from developing for him.

Within a week, my son was experiencing very little heel pain.  Within 2 weeks, we never heard him mention it again.  The heel cups became part of his every day equipment, and the stretching routine continued to keep him symptom free.  We have been able to keep him out of the doctor’s office, on the playing court, and most importantly-pain free!

The minute any of my friends mention their children’s heel pain I tell them to get some Tuli’s Heel Cups and start stretching!  In fact I tell everyone to put it on their back to school shopping list.  It’s the best preseason investment I make!

Julie D.

 

Tight Calves Stretches: Not All Stretches Are Created Equal

ProStretch Plus preferred world-wide for tight calves and hamstring stretching.

ProStretch Plus preferred world-wide for tight calves and hamstring stretching.

Tight calves can cause trouble for any active individual. Stretching tight calves and keeping both the calf and the entire posterior chain (the series of lower body muscles including lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves) strong and flexible are an important part of any conditioning and injury prevention strategy. This series of muscles works in a chain-like manner. Imbalances in flexibility and strength along this chain can often result in knee, lower back or Achilles tendon injuries. This is especially important with active adults and youth athletes.

“These boys’ hamstrings are so tight. They’re growing so fast that their muscles can’t keep up. Keeping their hamstrings and calves flexible is critical to preventing injuries especially to the back and knees and for preventing plantar fasciitis and Sever’s,” says Delano Carneiro, High School Lacrosse Strength & Conditioning Coach and trainer.

Carneiro is always looking for stretches that give his athletes the “biggest bang for the buck”. For tight calves and the posterior chain he, like most coaches, has relied on students’ independent/manual stretching. But not all stretches are created equal. Safety, control, compliance, effectiveness, and efficiency need to be taken into consideration when designing a stretching protocol. It’s easy to ineffectively perform stretches with poor technique, lack of effort or inadequate time.

Maria Hutsick, Athletic Trainer, Medfield High School and former Director of Sports Medicine at Boston University was pleased with the options that the ProStretch Plus provided,

“Many of our runners preferred using the ProStretch Plus. They appreciated the deeper hamstring and calf stretch it provided and their ability to control how they worked into the stretch.” Hutsick also used the ProStretch Plus as an educational tool, “The ProStretch Plus enables the user to stretch the plantar fascia and to isolate the hamstrings, gastrocnemius, and soleus. It provides a great way to teach the difference between the muscles and how to stretch each thoroughly.”

She noted that some of the male athletes preferred the slant board for the passive nature of the stretch and the ability to stretch both legs at once. Carniero recently used the ProStretch Plus with his athletes. “The ProStretch Plus is a versatile tool,” notes Caniero. “I love having it on the sidelines. Players get a much better hamstring and calf stretch than they do with the manual exercises. More importantly they want to use it so I know they’re getting their stretching done effectively.” Carniero finds curb stretching comparatively inconvenient and limiting. “I work with male and female athletes. The curb doesn’t allow those with tight calf muscles to ease into their stretch and requires a lot of repositioning. Some of the manual calf and hamstring stretches just aren’t deep enough for the more flexible athletes. The ProStretch Plus accommodated everyone.” Carniero noted that he personally suffers from tight plantar fascia and says the toe lift provides a great stretch. Evaluating Stretching Options

Even at the highest levels it can be hard to get athletes to take stretching as seriously as strength training. Identifying stretches that are effective, efficient and engaging goes a long way towards fostering compliance and achieving results.

ProStretch_Comparison_Chart
ProStretch Plus: Allows for targeted stretching of all of the major components along the posterior chain including IT band, hamstrings, gastroc, soleus, plantar fascia and toes. The unique design automatically holds the foot in the optimal position for providing a biomechanically accurate and safe stretch. The rocker allows the athlete to ease into and control the stretch at their own pace and encourages a longer, deeper stretch. ProStretch provides a full range of stretching from 8 – 43 degrees. The movable foot rest delivers both foot size and stretching degree options. The optional toe rest provides a maximum stretch of the plantar fascia and toes.

Slant Board: While many slant boards can be adjusted, the options are preset and the change is a manual, disruptive process requiring the user to stop the stretch and reposition. Primary muscles targeted: calves and hamstrings.

Curb: Like the slant board the curb forces the calf into a fixed position. If the stretch is too deep or not deep enough repositioning is required. This often leads to under or over stretching.

Manual Stretching: Manual stretches will work for some better than others and in some cases will not provide a deep or complete enough stretch. A comprehensive routine of individual stretches may prove to be inefficient and difficult to ensure compliance.
For over 20 years trainers, athletes and physical therapists have relied on ProStretch® to safely and effectively stretch tight calves, hamstrings and the posterior chain.
ProStretch Plus®, which accommodates both a wider range of foot sizes and adds a plantar fascia and toe stretch is quickly becoming the new favorite.

ProStretch: The Intelligent Stretching System

ProStretchFor more than two decades, Medi-Dyne’s ProStretch® has been used by physical therapists, athletic trainers and athletes themselves to bring effective pain relief from a wide range of injuries. It is customizable to individual users, thanks to its unique design, and provides a deep, soothing stretch. As a result, users enjoy greater flexibility in their feet, lower legs and knees.

A Wide Range of Choices

The ProStretch® has been rigorously tested and evaluated so that it not only offers the best stretch, but also provides immediate relief to stresses and injuries affecting the lower leg. Here is information on the three different models of the product that are available.

  • The Original ProStretch® Wood Single 0r Double – Both models are available for people who wear shoe sizes from 14-21. The Double allows users to exercise both feet together.
  • The Original – This version comfortably fits shoe sizes up to 13.
  • ProStretch Plus™ – This provides a deeper, more effective stretch. It is fully adjustable, allowing users to become even more flexible by increasing their stretch.

Why You Need it

The ProStretch® is small and lightweight enough so that it can be taken from home to work, in and out of the locker room, or anywhere else you need to use it. It can provide relief to a number of different types of injuries, including:

  • Sever’s Disease
  • Calf Strains
  • Shin Splints
  • Weak Ankles or Knees
  • Tight Hamstrings
  • Plantar Fasciitis

If you would like to learn more information regarding how you can benefit from the ProStretch® from Medi-Dyne, visit our e-store or give us a call at 1-800-810-1740. Or, you can simply check out this video to see how the product is used.

Why Stretching Your Back and Shoulders is So Important

Stretching Your Back and ShouldersThere are a lot of factors – including exercise – that can cause your back and shoulder muscles, (as well as your other muscles) to become shorter over time. However, stretching your back and shoulders before a workout can promote flexibility and help your body better handle the stress that comes with working out. While there is disagreement among experts as to whether stretching before or after physical activity is better, everyone agrees that flexibility provides a great many benefits.

Keeping Limber

Obviously, tight muscles don’t function as they should. That’s why it’s extremely important to maintain a routine of stretching your back and shoulders. Shoulder stretching is vital to keeping your upper body strong and giving you proper posture as well. And the back, of course, is a very injury-prone area of the body. By stretching it on a regular basis you create suppleness in your spinal column, which can go a long way toward helping you avoid injuries during exercise.

The Right Tool for the Job

Medi-Dyne offers the StretchRite®, which is great for not only stretching your back and shoulders but the rest of your body as well. This extremely useful tool is not only comfortable and extremely effective, it’s also fun to use. As you become more flexible, it helps you progressively stretch longer and deeper. It comes equipped with ergonomically shaped handgrips that provide comfort while promoting proper stretching techniques.

These are just some of the benefits of using the StretchRite® in addition to stretching your back and shoulders:

  • It helps relieve pain from conditions such as jumper’s knee, arthritis and osteoporosis
  • It provides a thorough stretch of the biceps, hamstrings, calves and several other areas
  • It provides a substantial increase in flexibility

If you are interested in learning more about how you can benefit from the StretchRite® or you would like to order one for yourself, call Medi-Dyne at 1-800-810-1740 or go to our e-store.

The following video shows how to get a proper stretch of your back and shoulders with StretchRite®.

Protecting Young Pitchers from Elbow Tendonitis and Other Problems

Elbow TendonitisWith Spring Training in full swing throughout Major League Baseball, people are getting excited about the upcoming season. Children and teens who play the game in youth leagues are even more amped up. If you have a young pitcher at home who is champing at the bit to hit the diamond, you want to make sure he doesn’t overdo it and risk developing serious issues down the road. Arm problems such as elbow tendonitis are common among young pitchers, so you need to keep a close eye on any pain your child may be experiencing.

Be Alert to the Signs

One of the most common injuries among Little League pitchers is known as “Little League elbow,” or medial epicondyle apophysitis. This injury occurs due to overuse of the growth plates that are located on the inside of the elbow. Because these growth plates (known formally as apophyses) are not as strong as the muscles that attach to them, stress placed on the plates can result in inflammation, pain and swelling. The child should not be allowed to throw if he is experiencing this problem, because continued throwing could cause the growth plate to separate from the bone.

Typically, this injury also results in pain while batting. The child will probably experience pain while performing everyday activities as well. You may see swelling and a reduction in range of motion. If you notice any of this, have your child checked by a specialist as soon as possible.

Elbow Tendonitis Risks

As a young pitcher moves into his teens and his growth plate closes, he becomes more susceptible to developing elbow tendonitis. Typically, the condition can be treated with rehab and rest. Although it can result in a great deal of pain and tenderness on the outer portion of the joint, it is usually not a very serious problem.

Medi-Dyne offers the Cho-Pat® Elbow Compression Sleeve to combat elbow tendonitis by helping heal the problem through compression and warmth of the joint. It can be used either before, during or after a throwing session. Our StretchRite® is great for providing treatment both before and after activities. If you would like to order these products or learn more, visit our e-store or call us at 800-810-1740.

Stretching for Increased Flexibility and Performance

StretchingA good stretch not only makes you feel great, it can also get you primed for a workout by substantially reducing your chances for suffering an injury. No matter what type of fitness routine you follow, stretching should always be a component of your workout – not only beforehand, but afterward as well. After a particularly intense amount of exercising, it’s understandable that you would want to simply relax and skip the stretches. However, just spending 5-10 minutes afterward can help your muscles recover more quickly. The Medi-Dyne StretchRite® provides a deep stretch for your entire body and help you not only increase your flexibility, but also your performance.

The Benefits of the StretchRite®

The StretchRite® is not only effective, it is also a fun way to take care of your stretching before and after your workout. It features a unique design that adjusts with you as you gain more and more flexibility. No matter what type of muscle group you want to work on, this device can benefit it – it can also provide relief from several common problems affecting the legs, arms and back.

These are just some of the benefits StretchRite® can bring to your stretching routine:

  • It provides maximum results by helping you stretch longer and deeper.
  • The device is also comfortable, since it is constructed with six pairs of handgrips that are ergonomically designed.
  • Because of the way it is constructed, the StretchRite® allows you to individualize your stretching program and monitor the progress of your efforts to increase your flexibility.

To learn more about how the StretchRite® works, watch this video:

At Medi-Dyne, we have several different types of products that help you not only improve your performance, but also bring relief from many common injuries associated with physical activity. Contact us online or call us at 800-810-1740 to find out more.

 

Why Stretching is So Important for World-Class Athletes

StretchingThe world-class athletes competing in Russia the next few weeks know how vital stretching is to helping them perform at their best. Anyone who works out on any sort of regular basis – whether training for an elite competition or simply getting ready for a morning run – should take the time to properly stretch beforehand. But did you ever wonder why? Medi-Dyne has information that will show you just how important a good stretching regimen is to an effective workout.

The Many Benefits of Stretching

By stretching before your workout, you’ll be less at risk for injury because your body will be more pliable. When stretching, you should focus mainly on the muscle groups that you’ll be using during your exercise session. For instance, if you’re working on the lower body, make sure you stretch your glutes, hamstrings, calves and quadriceps. But it’s just as important – if not more important – to make sure you also stretch after your workout. This will help reduce soreness and also get your muscles get back to their normal length.

Stretching helps your body in many ways, including:

  • Reducing tension in your muscles
  • Increasing your flexibility
  • Preventing strains by increasing your muscles’ resistance to stress
  • Reducing the risk for back issues
  • Improving circulation

The ProStretch®

For more than two decades, athletes alike have chosen Medi-Dyne’s ProStretch® line of products to get ready for their strenuous workouts. In addition, physical therapists and trainers have recommended this stretching device for pain relief. These products are small enough to be easily transportable, and durable enough to last through a great many stretching sessions. Check out our e-store to order one or call 800-810-1740 to learn more.