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5 Reasons You Should Stretch In The Morning

5 Reasons why you should stretch in the morning

Woman sitting in bed

Growing up in the dance world stretching was essential for a successful dance career. I got in the habit of stretching every morning when I woke up and over time I noticed significant differences in my flexibility, mood, and concentration. I continued this habit for 7 years but once I stopped dancing my freshman year of college, I also stopped stretching every day. It was only a matter of days until I truly noticed the importance of stretching. I lost my flexibility and I did not have as much energy throughout the day. After prioritizing stretching once again, I was back to my energized self. Seeing these changes in myself, I wanted to share the importance of stretching by pointing out 5 major changes you will experience by setting aside 10-15 minutes every morning:

  1. Say goodbye to back pain and hello to better posture

Stretching reduces tension that has built up in your spine and back muscles. This will eventually help your muscles be more relaxed throughout the day and relaxed back muscles lead to better posture. If you suffer from morning back pains, devote a few minutes to stretching and over time you will see a significant difference. One product that I find extremely effective for stretching out my lower back muscles is the CoreStretch which I found on Medi-Dyne.com. Kiss that achy breaky back goodbye with some easy stretches demonstrated by GMB Fitness.

  1. Jumpstart your brain

After sleeping for hours, it is crucial to help jumpstart the blood flow into your brain. This will sharpen your concentration and cognitive activities throughout the day. Waking up your brain first thing in the morning is a crucial factor to be the best version of yourself and you will see significant changes in your reflexes and memory. You can find several different stretches to get that blood pumping at LiveStrong.

  1. Increase flexibility

Beautiful and flexible. Young beautiful young woman in sportswear doing stretching while sitting in front of window at gym

Stretching lengthens and relaxes your muscles which is more important than you think. Flexibility is crucial for athletes, but it is also important for everyone to be flexible to some degree. Flexibility is one of the first things you’ll lose as you get older, so it is important to stretch every day. My 94 year old great grandma still has her splits and I strive to be like her one day. Increasing flexibility by stretching decreases your risk for injury during your daily activities. If that doesn’t convince you, I have found that stretching lengthens your muscles for a longer/leaner look to your body. Increase your flexibility with a few of my favorite stretches found on Self Fitness. 

  1. Stress no more

A great way to reduce the amount of stress in your body would be to relieve the knots that have built up overtime. Stretching calms your body physically and mentally which helps decrease knots from forming. Waking up your body by a gentle stretch can significantly reduce stress levels by starting your day with an awake and relaxed mind. Use the time spent stretching to clear your mind and focus on your body only, enjoy those few minutes of not having to think about anything but yourself. Some of the best stretches to help reduce stress are found on Healthy Women.

  1. Mood booster

Stretching helps boost the amount of oxygen that enters your brain which ultimately decreases the lethargic feeling that normally occurs half way through the day. By releasing mental tensions first thing in the morning, your overall mood will increase positively. The more blood flow into your muscles, the more energy you will have to start the day. No more waking up on the wrong side of the bed because you’ll stretch out all the bad vibes before you even walk out the door. Try a few stretches from Psychologies.com to boost that mood.

All these benefits will come over time and it’s never too late to start stretching. I believe that to be the best version of yourself, you should devote at least 10-15 minutes in the morning to wake your mind and body up. I notice a difference and I promise you will too! It is a simple habit to get in to that has major benefits. Get your stretch on!

Young woman stretching and relaxing in the city before exercise

 

Medi-Dyne offers a variety of stretching aids to help you make morning stretching a part of your daily routine, such as:

CoreStretch

ProStretch Plus

StretchRite


 

If you would like to read more about stretching, check out these articles:

The Benefits of Stretching Before a Workout

Getting a Safe and Effective Tight Calf Stretch

The Benefits of Stretching before a Workout

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE EXERCISING

by Joe Humphries

It’s difficult to argue against the benefits of exercise; several studies have shown a correlation between exercise and life expectancy. According to a cancer.gov article, those who are physically active often live 3.4 years longer than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. That being said, there are a few key principles that you should become familiar with before embarking on your fitness journey. The things that we do leading up to, and after, the gym will dictate how much we benefit from exercise. Good nutrition is essential if you plan on getting through a strenuous workout; so, fuel your body with healthy and nutritious meals. Also, be sure to stretch before you begin your workouts. Why is stretching so important? Well, there are a number of benefits; this is the perfect time to not only warm up your muscles but to also improve your range of motion. Taking a few minutes to warm up will allow you to get the most out of exercise and can help prevent injury.

two runners stretching

THE IMPORTANCE OF STRETCHING

What does stretching entail, exactly? Stretching involves mobilizing your joints. During this process, muscle temperature increases and the body’s nervous system becomes fully engaged. To better contextualize this statement, imagine starting up a car on a very cold day; you would want to make sure that your vehicle is primed and ready to go before embarking on your journey.

HOW STRETCHING HELPS WITH LACTIC ACID

Of course, stretching doesn’t stop simply because you’ve started a few working sets; to maximize your workout, you will want to stretch in between sets and after your workout. This form of stretching is referred to as “static stretching.” The name is derived from the stretching style, whereby you stretch and hold that particular position for a few seconds. Static stretching is great for reducing lactic acid build-up; if you’re unfamiliar with this term, lactic acid is that burning sensation that you feel after fatiguing a particular muscle. This burning sensation can be attributed to a build-up of lactic acid in the muscle, by stretching and holding that stretched position (usually 10-30 seconds) the lactic acid will begin to dissipate. Lastly, a post-workout stretch is great as the body cools down; stretching after a workout improves flexibility and reduces cramping.

THE BEST WAY TO STRETCH

Honestly, there is no one way to stretch; the key is to stretch properly, which could mean incorporating dynamic, passive, or active stretching into your workouts. So, let’s break these concepts down:

Dynamic stretching– this is where you move your body through a series of challenging movements, which will, in turn, increase your range of motion.

Passive stretching– this is where you incorporate equipment like ProStretch Plus, as well as body weight exercises, into your routine.

Active stretching– this is where you contract one muscle while allowing the other muscle to relax.

ProStretch Plus

GETTING STARTED

Although these concepts may sound challenging, they ensure that you get the absolute best out of your workouts. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle, or simply looking to get toned, stretching exercises are critical to your success. So, if you’re not already stretching before, during, and after your workouts, hopefully, this article has encouraged you to start.

 

Joe Humphries is a contributing writer and media specialist for Orangetheory Fitness. He regularly writes for health and fitness blogs with an emphasis on high intensity interval training.

https://www.orangetheoryfitness.com/


 

You may also like:

For additional stretching tips, read Getting a Safe and Effective Tight Calf Stretch.

For tips on how to avoid injury, read Scariest Word for Runners: Injury.

Welcome to the Medi-Dyne Family Cho-Pat

Cho-Pat, a Welcome Addition

At Medi-Dyne we’re excited to be able to offer you a comprehensive selection of pain relief and prevention solutions that deliver relief, support, and performance improvement for the entire length of your body’s interconnective chain of muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments.

MD-Family

We look forward to providing you with innovative, easy-to-use solutions that really work! For more information visit www.medi-dyne.com, or connect with us @MediDyne.

Stay Off the Curb: Stretch with ProStretch Plus

If you’ve been relying on the curb for pre-run stretches, there’s something better. The ProStretch Plus enables you to stretch your tight calves, Achilles tendon, and plantar fascia more efficiently than a curb or wall.

ProStretch Plus reaches tough spots like the Achilles, and provides support for controlled stretching. This increases flexibility, range of motion and performance while helping reduce the risk of injury.

Stretching on a curb has limitations:

  • You must stop your stretch and begin again when adjusting the depth of stretch on a curb or wall.
  • To reach all of the areas of the lower leg, you must position yourself various times, in different stretching positions.
  • The curb does not offer a stretch for the bottom of the foot.

 

Stretching with ProStretch Plus is simple and more efficient than a curb or wall:

  • To adjust your stretch on the ProStretch Plus, you simply rock backward until you reach the depth of stretch that you desire— never stopping your stretch.
  • You can fluidly move from one stretch to another with ProStretch Plus; starting with an Achilles tendon stretch, to Gastroc and Soleous calf stretches, even to a hamstring stretch, and ending with a shin splint prevention exercise.
  • The added toe piece helps to place the toes at a state of tension, stretching the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot—something that the curb is incapable of doing.

Curbs are for tires, not feet. If you want to run and play with confidence, you want to stretch like a pro. ProStretch Plus “foots” the bill.

10 Minute Back Pain Relief: CoreStretch

10 Minutes of Stretching a Day Can Take Back Pain Away!

3 easy stretches that cover the stretch the entire interconnective chain of the core, including the; Lower Back, Hamstrings, Hips, Glutes, IT Bands, and Lateral Arm Muscles.

For best results, be sure that your arms are fully extended (not bent at the elbow) and your back is straight (not curved). Correct posture will maximize your back elongation and stretch.  If the stretch on your shoulder is too intense, lower the position of the handle by one notch.

LOWER BACK and HAMSTRING STRETCHES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HIPS (Piriformis), UPPER GLUTE and IT BAND (Illiotibial)

 

Advanced Lateral arm stretches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ADVANCED LATERAL

Professionals Use ProStretch for Injury Prevention

Chain Reaction Injuries

Have you ever sprained an ankle only to find a week later you’re suffering from lower back pain? Then you’ve experienced first-hand how weak links put undue stress on stronger ones.

Weak muscles cause tighter (stronger) muscles to be recruited by the central nervous system in order to perform the same movement. The results are muscle imbalances and “chain reaction injuries”.

ProStretch for Calf Stretches

Pictured: The ProStretch Double (Original Wooden) on the pre-season game sidelines of the Dallas Cowboys. The ProStretch Double Wooden is the heavy duty version of Medi-Dyne’s popular ProStretch Plus. This bigger and stronger version is often used by pro teams, fitness clubs and clinics.

One of the most critical muscles to keep flexible are the calf muscles. Calf injuries or even just tightness can move in either direction of the body’s interconnective chain, causing Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, knee pain, tight hamstrings or even lower back pain.

Stretching with ProStretch products strengthens and stretches the calf muscles and ligaments in the calf muscles, plantar fascia and Achilles tendon, keeping the lower leg strong, balanced, and healthy!

To purchase a ProStretch, or for more information on chain reaction injuries and injury prevention techniques and tools, visit medi-dyne.com.

How Flexible Are You?

 Test your flexibility with the StretchRite.

How flexible are you? If you are a Coach, how flexible are your athletes?   What are you doing to increase your or your athlete’s flexibility?   Get the StretchRite advantage!

StretchRite is a device to help ensure that each athlete has the necessary flexibility to stay injury free during intense athletic competition. This device enables the athlete to do the type of stretching that normally requires a second person’s assistance.

Joe Dial, former World and American Record Holder for the Pole Vault, and Head Track Coach at Oral Roberts University says:

“Our Athletes are excited about stretching now that we are using the StretchRite program. Flexibility, strength, and leg turnover are keys to maximum performance.”

Read more reviews of the StretchRite at Running Supplement or medi-dyne.com.

TEAMS CURRENTLY USING StretchRite:

University of Arkansas
University of Arizona
University of Florida
University of Wisconsin
Kansas State University
Louisiana State University
University of Oregon
University of Kansas
Illinois State University
University of Nebraska
Oklahoma State University
University of Louisiana
Oral Roberts University
Texas Tech University
Texas A&M University
University of Texas
University of Wisconsin

Aches and Pains of a Beginner Biker

Craig DiGiovanni. VP of Sales & Marketing, Medi-Dyne Healthcare Products. Avid Runner. Marathoner. Wannabe Triathlete.

The word beginner in the title is important, because that is what I am.   Of course I have ridden a bicycle almost my entire life, but not for very long stretches of time at a constant speed.   I have recently taken up more serious cycling, both to help improve my running and to allow me to possibly compete in some triathlons.    Quite frankly, I have really enjoyed the process of getting out and riding more.   There is something very therapeutic about riding a bike, in addition to some great exercise.    Based on some research, it also is supposed to enhance my running times.

What I didn’t fully expect when I started biking was that the muscles I used would be quite different than those I used while running or swimming.    After running the OKC Memorial Marathon, my quads were by far the sorest muscles post-race. Cue the need for biking, which helps to build up the quad muscles.  However, my quads weren’t the muscles that ached the most following my first long bike rides.    The muscles that ached the most were in my upper and lower back.  Big surprise?   Not really.   Being bent over handles bars for a couple of hours is sure to put a strain on your lower back and even my upper back, right between my shoulder blades.

The reoccurring back pain and lower back muscle tightness I experienced quickly brought on a need for some back stretches.   The good news here is that I have access to one of the premier back stretching devices available, the CoreStretch. The CoreStretch’s simple but unique design easily targeted the stiff areas including my upper and lower back.   There have been some great reviews from cyclists about the CoreStretch, but now I really get it.   Not only do I see the additional need for core strengthening when it comes to cycling, but also for core stretching as an integral part of biking.

There were a few stretches that really helped me get rid of my post-cycling back pain. These included; the crossed hands stretch and also the lower back/hamstring stretch.   Those two in particular seem to give me the most relief for the areas that take the most stress while I cycle.   My future biking plans will definitely include pre and post ride stretching with the CoreStretch to make sure I get the most out of each ride both physically and mentally!

For more information on the CoreStretch or for instructional videos or brochures visit www.medi-dyne.com.

Transitioning to Minimalist Running

This is the story of how Kabri became a runner, and the tricks and tools she used along the way. Read more about her running story in Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 3: Transitioning to Minimalist Running

Using Medi-Dyne during the transition to minimalist running.

Three years ago, I began training for my very first half marathon. Little did I know that my journey of becoming a “runner” was just beginning.

If you’re just tuning in, I am an advocate of stretching and massage for runners. How do I know all of the benefits of stretching and massage now? And why didn’t I incorporate these great Medi-Dyne products into my recovery and maintenance three years ago?

Well besides the fact that hindsight is always 20-20, I was recently able to put my newly-acquired ProStretch Plus and RangeRoller tools to the test while I was transitioning back to minimalist running. You see, the popular “barefoot” trend requires a runner to build up their foot, ankle and knee muscles. You must build up your muscles and expose them to the shock and stresses that a cushioned sneaker may have absorbed in the past. This transition takes time and patience to avoid injury, and is similar in many ways to the muscle development that takes place while trail running.

After moving to San Francisco over a year ago, I transitioned from running on mostly trails to road running. The city’s hills kept my leg muscles strengthened, but I was quickly losing the strong muscular protection I had built up around my knee and ankle joints.  In order to maintain the muscular support my joints had worked so hard to establish, I decided that I would slowly transition into a pair of popular “barefoot” style shoes. On my first runs I found that first, I absolutely loved being able to feel the road under the soles of my feet—my toes having to grab for the road. Secondly, by landing on the forefront of my feet, my calves were tightening up as quickly and as painfully as when I initially started trail running.

To promote healthy muscle growth and alleviate the soreness, I would do a concentrated stretching routine with my ProStretch Plus after each run, focusing on not only my calves, but also my Achilles tendons. I found that this newly experienced “tightness” would travel down my Achilles and into the bottom of my feet. By simply adjusting the angle and wedge on my ProStretch Plus, I was able to increase the flexibility of not only my calves and hamstrings, but also my arches and toes.

In short, I believe that injury prevention and muscle growth can be facilitated by the proper stretching of overly-tight muscles and by “combing” out the knots that develop in damaged muscle fibers, promoting renewed blood flow and muscle repair. I have found the ProStretch Plus and RangeRoller to be my two key tools for ongoing maintenance in my trail and minimalist road running interests. This year I look forward to setting a new road marathon PR at the Oakland and San Francisco Marathons! Finish strong!

For more information on the ProStretch Plus or RangeRoller visit www.medi-dyne.com.

ProStretch Plus: A True Innovation in Pain Prevention

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

The ProStretch was originally developed by an auto mechanic who was rehabbing a knee injury.  Over time he realized that the brake shoe from a car was the best thing he could find for stretching out his calf muscles, while building flexibility and range of motion back in to his calf muscles and lower leg.   He became passionate about how well it worked, passionate enough to want to share his discovery. From necessity and passion was born The Original ProStretch.

ProStretch Joins the Medi-Dyne Family of Products

In 1998 Medi-Dyne acquired the Tuli’s product line.  In discussions with the original Tuli’s® Classic Heel Cup inventor, San Diego podiatrist Dr. Murray Davidson, we quickly learned how important stretching was to the health of the calf muscles and the prevention of the many injuries associated with the lower leg, including Plantar Fasciitis, Achillies tendonitis, calf strains, and  shin splints.  So we began to look for the most effective solution to provide the long-term relief and stretching that would complement the immediate relief provided by the Tuli’s Heel Cups and other Tuli’s products.  When we found The Original ProStretch in 2003 we knew we had found the best lower leg stretching device available then and for the next 20 years!

Building on Success

As is the case with all Medi-Dyne products, we constantly solicit feedback from medical professionals, professional and amateur athletes, and all users on ways we can improve the product, usage experience, and end results.  While the ProStretch (also known as the StepStretch in some retail outlets) was a great product, it had some shortcomings.

  1. One Size Doesn’t Fit All
    The Original ProStretch is great, but it is a “one-size-fits-all” product.  Unfortunately, people are not one size fits all.
  2. People’s Feet Are Getting Larger
    It’s true. Once, a man’s size 14 would have been considered the footprint of a giant. But what was seen as enormous is apparently becoming quite normal. The average man’s shoe has gone up a full size in the past five years. The Original ProStretch just wasn’t built to accommodate the growing majority.
  3. Room For Improvement
    Many people suffer from Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, tight calves or shin splints. These pain sufferers were in need of a solution that would maximize the stretch felt along the interconnective chain of the lower leg. We realized that we could improve the stretch by elevating the toes during stretch.

We went about re-engineering the ProStretch to be bigger, stronger, lighter, and customizable, while offering a deeper stretch.   When it was all said and done, the ProStretch Plus was born.   For a complete review of all of our ProStretch products visit: www.medi-dyne.com.

Trying is Believing

We have had more people fall in love with the ProStretch and ProStretch Plus than any other product, simply by standing on it.  Just check out these “before and after” user video reviews.

What makes the ProStretch Plus work so well?  A few things. It is biomechanically shaped to put your foot in the optimal stretching position to get the best results.   Combining that with the rocker bottom, you get the best calf stretch, along with progressive and constant pressure that gives you an unsurpassed lower leg stretch.

Nothing works better, not a curb, not a wall, not a slant board, nothing. The ProStretch has been medical proven to stretch the calf better than conventional methods – Please see the following study posted on our website, “Comparison of Two Methods of Stretching the Gastrocnemius and Their Effects on Ankle Range of Motion Karen Maloney Backstrorn, C Forsyth. B. Walden”.   You can also read unsolicited testimonials at www.medi-dyne.com.

For more information on the ProStretch Plus or ProStretch visit http://www.medi-dyne.com/estore/.

Increasing Calf Flexibility During Marathon Training

The Weekly Buzz: Certified Athletic Trainer and Coach, Nick Zaneto, wanted to increase calf flexibility to prevent injuries during his marathon training, so he turned to the ProStretch Plus to reduce his tight calves.
 

This week’s contributor is Nick Zaneto, ATC. Nick has been a Certified Athletic Trainer for 11 years, serving a variety of athletes at the high school level. He is currently the Head Wrestling Coach at a New Jersey high school  and a personal trainer for a variety of athletes. An athlete himself, Nick plays Inline Hockey and is training for the New Jersey Marathon this May.

After researching products online Nick found Medi-Dyne.com. Nick quickly realized that he has already been using Medi-Dyne products. As an Athletic Trainer, he often uses the ProStretch and Tuli’s Heel Cups and recently recommended the ProStretch to a client with Achilles tendonitis. Nick told us, I have always been happy with all of my products that Medi-Dyne has produced. I’m excited to test the new ProStretch Plus.”

We caught up with Nick after he’d had the chance to use the ProStretch Plus for a while. His feedback?  “I like the calf stretch capabilities of the ProStretch Plus, it has been good to use right after a long run”.  Because Nick is looking to increase calf flexibility during marathon training he liked the deep gastroc calf stretch he received with the ProStretch Plus; “I do find that the ProStretch Plus has stretched my gastrocnemius muscle much better than just using the wall.”

While Nick was pleased with the gastroc stretch he received with the ProStretch Plus, he had concerns whether the calf stretch could be extended to the soleus calf muscle as well. This is easy to do!  A demonstration of the proper technique to transfer the calf stretch up the muscle from the gastroc to soleus is provided online: “Reduce Calf Pain: Gastroc and Soleus Stretches”.

Nick found that the removable toe lift was a feature he was struggling with properly utilizing. The ProStretch Plus toe lift was designed to assist those suffering from heel pain, plantar fasciitis or foot pain. It’s not always needed. The demonstration video, “Getting Started with Your ProStretch Plus”, takes you step-by-step through the process of adjusting or removing the toe lift. It is generally the best practice to begin using the ProStretch Plus without the toe lift first and then add it as needed.

Thank you Nick for contributing feedback on the ProStretch Plus. You can read some of Nick’s training tips on his blog nzaneto.blogspot.com.

 

How do you use your Medi-Dyne products? Let us know on Facebook today! Visit medi-dyne.com for more information on how to use the ProStretch Plus or Tuli’s Heel Cups. Check back next week for more Buzz on Medi-Dyne products.

Taming Tight Hamstrings

Many athletes suffer from hamstring injuries each year, but tight hamstrings can also occur from daily activities like walking.  Understanding the cause of tight hamstrings is key in determining a prevention plan.

The hamstrings are not one muscle, but actually a group of three muscles that run down the back of your leg from the pelvis to the lower leg bones making up the bulk in back of your thigh. Your hamstrings function to extend the hip and flex the knee joints. The three muscles that make up the hamstrings are the biceps femoris, semi-tendinosus and semi-membranosus.

A hamstring pull is a muscle strain where muscle fibers are torn either partially or completely. If you have a hamstring injury you are likely to know it right away. A sudden, sharp pain in the back of the thigh could be your first indicator. After which it will be hard to straighten your leg out all of the way without pain. CT scans and MRI may be used to define the more serious injuries.Hamstring injuries happen when the muscles are stretched too far causing tearing of the muscle fibers. Sudden sprints or other fast or twisting motions with your legs (e.g. soccer, running, jumping, basketball) are the major causes of hamstring injuries.

 

The primary risk factors for injury include:

  • Age: As you age, your muscles loose flexibility, making it easier to suffer from a hamstring injury.
  • Fitness Level/Flexibility: Your fitness level is based on strength, endurance and flexibility. The less flexible you are, the more likely you are to pull a muscle and depending on what activity you are participating in, the more likely that muscle will be your hamstring.
  • Strength Imbalances: The muscle strength and flexibility imbalance, specifically between the quadriceps and hamstring muscle groups can lead to hamstring injuries. The hamstring muscles of one leg may be much stronger than the other leg, or the quadriceps muscles may overpower the hamstrings leading to injury.
  • Fatigue: When you’ve done too much, too soon or have pushed yourself beyond your limits you lose coordination between muscle groups. This lack of coordination can easily result in a pulled muscle.
  • Improper Warm Up: Muscle fatigue and not warming up properly can contribute to hamstring injuries.

If you’ve ever pulled your hamstrings, prevention will clearly be your goal, repeating that injury not only interferes with your everyday activities but puts you at risk for a repeat injury. To prevent future pulls, and for tips on preventing pain before it begins visit Medi-Dyne’s Pain Solution Center.

 

5 Minutes of Stretching that Could Keep You Injury Free

We’ve spent the last few blog posts talking about the interconnective chain of muscles – how they work and how one weak link can result in a domino effect of injuries.  So, how do you prevent that domino effect of injuries?  The best way is to not get injured in the first place.  Easier said than done you might think but with 5  – 10 minutes a day, spent post-exercise or before you turn in for the night you could be well on your way to being injury free.

We’ve highlighted 5 important areas for stretching that could keep you on our feet.
The focus on calf stretching, hamstring stretches, glute stretches, core strengthening, hip flexibility, and groin stretches.  For video demonstration of exercises check out:  http://www.YouTube.com/MediDyne

1.       Calves- Your calves are the muscles that help you to plant your foot and propel you forward. Tight calves are often the root of many lower leg and foot injuries. For optimal calf stretches, focus on relaxing and lengthening your stretch. Also be sure to stretch both the inner and outer calf, as well as the muscles supporting your Achilles tendon. video

2.       Hamstrings– Your hamstrings help with hip extension and knee flexing during running.  Hamstring injuries are tied to excessive stiffness reflecting a lack of flexibility, and are most likely to occur when you are increasing your speed or workload. Stretches for your hamstring are best accomplished sitting or lying down so that your muscles can fully relax. video

3.       Quads– The powerhouse of your legs: quads are comprised of four different muscles that form the strongest muscle group in your body. They are connected to your knee and help extend the leg, so when you use your legs you use your quads. Muscle tears and knee injuries are often a direct result of having tight quads. When stretching your quads, try multiple stretches at different levels so that you are reaching all four muscles. video

4.       Glutes and Core- These areas keep your gait level and aligned, extending you forward when you run.  Most people equate the term “core strength” with ab strength.  But that’s not the case.  The glutes are key supporters of your core stability. Tight glutes can be a main factor behind a change in how you walk or move, contributing to lower back pain or  injury as far down as your knees or even your lower leg and foot. Stretch your core slowly and carefully to avoid straining your surrounding muscles. video

5.       Hip Flexors and Groin– Your hip flexors help with forward leg motion and upward knee drive, while your groin muscle pulls the legs together and help with the movement of your hip. Your hip flexors also help control your hamstrings. Tight hip flexors can restrain the glutes, and cause the pelvis to tilt resulting in lower back pain. Although the hip flexors may seem hard to reach use an extended lunge or butterfly stretch for a good warm up. You should not feel any pain when stretching your groin, just a gentle pull. video

For more video demonstrations of stretching exercises for these 5 key areas check out http://www.YouTube.com/MediDyne

For more information on products that help with muscle stretches,  muscle strengthening or injury rehab check out:  http://www.medi-dyne.com/pain-solution-center.html

Are You Suffering from a Chain Reaction Injury

Chain Reaction Injuries – They’re Not What You Think They Are

You’ve probably heard it all your life…the toe bone connected to the foot bone, and the foot bone connected to the ankle bone, and the ankle bone connected to the leg bone…   So it’s really no great leap of faith to think of your ligaments, muscles, bones, and tendons as an interconnected chain that work together to ensure your ability to stand, sit, walk or run.

So why is it that we so often try to treat the symptoms of our pain rather than look at the chain as a whole?

Case in point:  We recently read an article about TCU athlete Clint Renfro.  This young man is an outstanding athlete.  But Renfro’s first years at TCU were plagued by one minor injury after another. Note the word “minor”.  No one injury, in and of itself, seemed to be enough to force him to the sidelines.  Yet that’s where he remained – on the sideline or more appropriately, with the athletic trainers.

Although he initially suffered from hamstring pulls and lower back pain.  Then he began to experience increasing foot pain (which was later diagnosed as Achilles tendonitis).  When we think back to the interconnective chain we really shouldn’t be surprised by this domino effect.

When one of the links in your body’s interconnective chain is broken (pulled, sprained, inflamed) other areas in your body suffer. In an attempt to maintain your performance levels, other parts of your body compensate for the ‘kink or break’ in your chain. What may have started out as a simple muscle imbalance or slight injury can ultimately lead to increased injury, pain, and potentially a significant breakdown of your body’s interconnective chain.

A breakdown within your interconnective chain can cause you to alter your focus. Instead of solving the actual problem, you are drawn towards the area surrounding it; those muscles forced to bear the burden of compensating for the weakness of the real problem.

Whether you are a weekend warrior, a competitive athlete, athletic trainer, physical therapist or just someone who’d like to live without pain, we challenge you to do a true evaluation of muscle strength and compensation.  Look for the real problem.  See which muscles are compensating for others.  Realize that next time you suffer an injury the breakdown in your chain is not always what it seems, start from the bottom (your feet) and move towards finding a solution that ensures long-term healing.

So, what happened to Renfro?  When his injuries continued and his healing did not, Renfro sought the specialists. After dozens of consultations and increasing personal frustration, Renfro was finally diagnosed with the real problem.  A previously undetected dislocation in his right foot was determined to be the spark that lit the fuse leading to four years of fire to Renfro’s health.  Renfro suffered a simple ankle sprain, but the damage caused a chain reaction that manifested into years of injury and frustration.

You can read more on Renfro at the link below (originally printed in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram): http://texasjournalofchiropractic.eznuz.com/printFriendly.cfm?articleID=23079

Your body’s only as strong as your weakest link?  What’s yours?

Your Back Pain May Be All in Your…Legs?

A misalignment of your body no matter how small, can wreak havoc from your head to your toes. Because the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints in your body act as links in an interconnective chain it takes these links working together to allow you to accomplish basic motions like sitting, walking, and running. If any one of these links is injured or not functioning properly the entire chain suffers. For millions of people each year that breakdown occurs first in their legs and feet.

The Weak Recruit the Strong

Lower body muscle imbalances put the back and lower extremities at high risk of injury. Weak muscles cause tighter, stronger muscles to be recruited by the central nervous system in order to perform the same movement, doing jobs they were never intended to do. Often time weak legs or misaligned lower body extremities cause tighter core muscles to be recruited in order to support the back. Over time this can cause pain in the joints, muscle strains, and/or injuries. Most people don’t realize they have these imbalances until it’s too late.

Make Your Legs Work for You

You can realize both short-term relief and long-term healing by making sure your feet and legs are doing their jobs properly. Building stability, flexibility, and strength in your lower body, helps ensure the lower body is functionally supporting your back.

A simple step that leads to short-term relief is promoting stability and proper alignment. Walking, training or stretching with your legs and feet parallel, hip-distance-apart, with your toes pointed forward and your hips balanced over your knees will promote basic alignment. Also using supportive foot care products, such as Tuli’s reinforcing insoles or heel cups, will help to prevent misalignment caused by the feet or ankles. Maintaining correct structure is only possible if the muscles and fascia are balanced and operating correctly.

The next steps that will help to heal and alleviate pain from your back include stretching and strengthening your lower body muscles.  Although the skeletal system aligns our body, it is our soft tissues (muscles) that pull our alignment out of place.  Focus on stretching your hamstrings to recover correct posture, your piriforms which run from your thigh bone to the base of the spine, and your gluteus muscles for hip flexibility and pelvis support. The CoreStretch helps to provide an extended stretch for your hamstrings, hips and back.  Squats, lunges, or even lateral leg lifts will also increase strength and flexibility of tight, lower-body muscles. Such self-care solutions can help take you toward reducing and preventing back pain.

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