Stretching For Runners

Physiotherapy

One of the worst things that can happen to a runner or any athlete/weekend warrior while in the middle of their weekly routine cardio program is an injury that sets them back for potentially days, weeks or even months! This is where the topic of stretching and a proper warming up is brought up to influence and change the terrible pattern of running with cold muscles and tight fascia.

A proper 10min routine before running can prevent any muscle strains or joint related injuries to never occur while enjoying your 5k run or even a marathon. The unfortunate part is that most runners today are unaware of this or are just not placing enough importance on stretching before and after their run! Working in a rehab setting at a physiotherapy clinic for many years has allowed me to come to this conclusion as we have seen way too many runners come in from injuries that could have been avoided.

Running as sport cannot be taken very lightly as its very physically demanding on your body. The repetitive nature of the movements involved to keep the body moving forward require proper muscle recruitment for prolonged endurance without impacting the joints such as the ankle joint, knee and most importantly hips! In today’s world it’s very common to sit for up to 10 hours a day in the office or at home and then jump onto your local gyms treadmill or go for a run outside afterwards.

When we observe the ratio of time spent moving and stretching during the day compared to time spent being inactive at the desk, it is very easy to predict that when you go for that 5k run in the evening your body won’t feel as free to move as it should. Running is a sport that requires a lot of attention and each athlete needs to be diligent and consistent with taking care of their body by properly stretching daily to avoid future injuries. Allowing your fascia and muscles to shorten and tighten up as days go by while sitting at your office without stretching will increase the chances of that happening drastically.

Target These Areas

1. THE GLUTES (BUTT)

One of the most important muscle groups in our body for running are the glutes! After being inactive and used as a cushion for your body while sitting for hours, this muscle group basically shuts down over time and becomes really tight and weak! A proper glute exercises routine and daily stretching is highly recommended in-order to become the best runner that you can be.

2. THE QUADS

Most of the running work will be done by these guys as a high percentage of runners have fairly weak glutes, the quads take over most of the running load and unfortunately put the knees in a very vulnerable position over time. A proper warm up and dynamic stretch for the quads before running is really important.

3. THE HAMSTRINGS, GROIN AND CALVES

These three muscle groups are one of the most common areas that become shortened and tight with prolonged sitting which puts them at risk of injury when making longer strides in your run. A proper dynamic stretch for your hamstrings, groin and calves before running will help prevent this from happening and give your legs more freedom to move without restrictions.

4. THE LOWER BACK

You probably didn’t think I would mentioned this one! The lower back is a really overlooked area for runners but the truth it absorbs a lot of the impact while running. The reason for this is because due to prolonged sitting and weak glutes, the low back muscles have to kick in to help in every stride due to lack of support from the core and glutes. As this happens the low back muscles become really tight over time and need to be stretched out to avoid injuries. Multi-directional movements for stretching the low back a recommended for having the best run. When stretching, we recommend that each stretch is performed by carefully and gently lengthening the muscles and fascia while taking deep breaths through light movements and holds in a pain free action. Tugging and aggressively pulling on each muscle can be very dangerous and useless to gaining more overall flexibility in the body and freedom in the each joint. Videos on how to perform some of these stretches are soon to come! Hope your

3 Tips to Avoid Workplace Tension

Physiotherapy

One of the primary functions of the human skeleton, musculature and tissues is made with the objective of creating movement. The typical worker spends on average 8-9 hours a day not engaged in movement (this does not even include the amount of time we are sleeping). What are we doing with our bodies during this daytime immobility? The majority of our work day is spent sitting at our desks, on our computers, or texting away on our smartphones.

Are you guilty of holding your shoulder up towards your ears, or inching your head forward to get a closer view of your computer screen?

That is why we have assembled a few key tips for keeping as mobile as possible during the day.

Low back pain and discomfort is highly associated with shortening of the hip flexors and inability to have proper muscle support from the core and glutes! Prolonged periods spent sitting and cycling without a consistent well rounded stretching routine may cause the lumbar spine to be in excessive flexion causing stress on surrounding muscle groups, especially the neck. Let your spine move in multi-directional movements through stretching, promoting good range of motion and a healthy neutral lumbar that will not be put you at risk of injury.

Avoid workplace tension

Tip #1:

Set a Reminder/Alarm: Some people find it helpful to place post-it on their computer screens that remind them to stand up every time they see the post-it. Others actually set an alarm that every 30-45 mins that beeps letting them know they need to take a 30-second break to stand up.

Tip #2:

IStretch! A few simple stretches can be done even in a sitting position. You don’t even need to stop typing or working. While typing you can always stretch your neck to either side increasing circulation, preventing stiffness and decreasing pain and immobility.

Tip #3:

Workplace Ergonomics- Adjust your chair, height of keyboard to a level that does not bring your shoulders up to your ears. You should not be shrugging your shoulders throughout the day while typing or mousing.

In a professional environment we forget the benefits of movement. Too busy, too stressed, too many deadlines…just remember that you only have this one body, the best way to avoid pain is to never get it in the first place. Prevention is key! Get up and move!!

 

Stretching For Cyclist

Physiotherapy

Whether you are taking an hour long spin session during your lunch break, riding your bike to and from work, or just simply love cycling on your time off, stretching must be a big part of your weely routine. It’s very simple, think of your body being placed in a bad postural position for an extended period of time while performing repetitive movements.

The result will cause postural dysfunctions leading to aches and pains. Combine this with an 8 – 12 hour work day spent hunched over sitting in a chair, it will only increase the risk of injury and possibly chronic pain.

The main areas of concern for cyclists are the shortening of the hamstring and hip flexor muscles meanwhile developing tight chest muscles from leaning towards the handle bars. Over time these muscle groups become excessively tight from desk sitting and cycling causing a decline in cycling performance and other related physical activities.

Low back pain and discomfort is highly associated with shortening of the hip flexors and inability to have proper muscle support from the core and glutes! Prolonged periods spent sitting and cycling without a consistent well rounded stretching routine may cause the lumbar spine to be in excessive flexion causing stress on surrounding muscle groups, especially the neck. Let your spine move in multi-directional movements through stretching, promoting good range of motion and a healthy neutral lumbar that will not be put you at risk of injury.

WHEN AND WHAT?

Before you start your ride, it is highly recommended that you warm up and stretch first through dynamic movements and not static long stretches. Spend 5 – 10 minutes warming up your body and increasing range of motion through all areas from ankles, knees, hips, back, shoulders and neck.

It will help get blood circulation to the areas along with a proper warm up of the fascia (connective tissue) allowing for better overall movement and flow. Afterwards, once you have finished your cool down period from the bike ride or spin session, proceed to stretch through longer stretches anywhere between 30-60 seconds with very light and controlled movements.

Target These Areas

1. The mid and low back

You probably didn’t think I would mentioned this one! The lower back is a really overlooked area for runners but the truth it absorbs a lot of the impact while running. The reason for this is because due to prolonged sitting and weak glutes, the low back muscles have to kick in to help in every stride due to lack of support from the core and glutes. As this happens the low back muscles become really tight over time and need to be stretched out to avoid injuries. Multi-directional movements for stretching the low back a recommended for having the best run!

2. Hip flexors and quads

Most of the running work will be done by these guys as a high percentage of runners have fairly weak glutes, the quads take over most of the running load and unfortunately put the knees in a very vulnerable position over time. A proper warm up and dynamic stretch for the quads before running is really important.

3. Glutes, hamstrings and calves.

These three muscle groups are one of the most common areas that become shortened and tight with prolonged sitting which puts them at risk of injury when making longer strides in your run. A proper dynamic stretch for your hamstrings, groin and calves before running will help prevent this from happening and give your legs more freedom to move without restrictions.

Deep breathing and a relaxed state of mind is very important to stretching, try to avoid any aggressive bouncing or force to your stretches to avoid possible injury to the area.

Stand Up!

Physiotherapy

One of the primary functions of the human skeleton, musculature and tissues is made with the objective of creating movement. The typical worker spends on average 8-9 hours a day not engaged in movement (this does not even include the amount of time we are sleeping). What are we doing with our bodies during this daytime immobility?

For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking” ~ Martha Grogan, cardiologist, Mayo Clinic.

Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression, and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease.” ~ James Levine, MD, PhD. Prolonged sitting should be considered within occupational health and safety policies and practices just like other elements of posture.” ~ British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Our modern sedentary lifestyle, in all aspects of our life both at home and in the workplace are costly for ourselves and for businesses. As the average hours of sitting both in our home lives + work lives + in our commute = Way too much time seated/inactive.

n a professional environment we forget the benefits of movement. Focussed on the latest deadline, the report that needs to get completed, the constant barrage of emails that need answering. So do your health a favour and take a few minutes out of your day to just stand up… there will always be work to do, your health and wellbeing should be priority.