Home Gym Essentials

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By: Carolyn Kierulf-Monaghan

With COVID-19’s impact on gym closures and the constant uncertainty of when gyms will be open again, or how long they will stay open for – many people have adopted home workouts.

But how can you exercise at home without the heavier weights or machines from a gym? (Especially since we all know dumbbells have been very difficult to find throughout the pandemic).

Here are a few pieces of equipment that our clinicians find to be essential components to your home gym:

Yoga/exercise mat

This one is important to provide some cushioning and grip during your workouts. There are many different types on the market – so figure out which one is best for you depending on what type of workouts you’re interested in. A thin/firmer mat may be better for more stability and balance work, but if you’re doing more plyometric and jumping in your workouts, you may want a bit more cushioning.

Foam roller

These can be great tools to help address muscle tension or soreness. Integrate foam rolling into your warm-up or cool downs as it can be a great strategy to improve your flexibility and range of motion. Not only can foam rolling be a recovery tool, they can also be used to level up some of your workouts to challenge core strength and stability.

Check out this video on Foam Rolling low back

Lacrosse ball

Another one you can use for muscle tension and soreness- but to get in those harder to reach areas. Lacrosse balls can be effective to roll out your feet, pecs, rhomboids, neck, and more.

Check out this quick video on using a lacrosse ball for foot pain

Resistance bands

These are a great low-cost, low-space alternative to dumbbells to add resistance into your workouts. Bands often come in a set with a variety of resistance levels (light-medium-heavy-extra heavy) which makes it easy to quickly upgrade your workouts if you need more of a challenge. Minibands are great for lower body workouts, but consider getting open-ended long bands that you can tie into a loop if needed, but also can tie one end onto something for upper body exercises.

Dumbbells/weight alternatives

Weights can be another useful tool to add resistance to your workouts. Be creative – many household items can be perfect to add a bit of resistance to your workouts. 4L water bottles, soup cans, full bottles of laundry detergent, a backpack filled with heavy books, etc can all be used as alternatives to traditional dumbbells to level up your workouts. Remember, if you find the weights to be too light, you can always consider increasing your volume (more reps/sets) or slowing down the tempo of your exercises.

Most of these items can be found at any fitness retailer, or online. If you have any questions about finding the right piece of equipment or if you would like more ideas as to how to use some of these items, don’t hesitate to ask your PhysioDNA therapist to get recommendations on what will be the best fit for you.

 

About the Author: Carolyn Kierulf-Monaghan

Carolyn is a Physiotherapy Resident who graduated from the University of Toronto with a Masters in Physical Therapy (2020) and completed her Bachelor of Science with a specialization in Kinesiology at Queen’s University (2018).

The Foundation of Your Body: The Feet

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By: Keshia King

Your feet…they are the first thing that hits the floor when you wake up in the morning. We underestimate the importance of this small part. You need them to get from point A to B when you walk, run or drive. They support you when you want to lift heavy weights or jump swiftly.

But WHY are the feet known as the foundation of your body?

The feet have to perform many different functions- simultaneously and separately:

  • They carry majority of our body weight
  • They propel us forward to move (aka walking, jogging and running)
  • They provide stability to help us with our balance,
  • They are a sensor and adapt to different terrain (so we don’t fall and injure ourselves) , and
  • They absorb impact from our body weight coming into contact with a surface by acting like a spring.

And that is to just to name a few of the functions of this often forgotten area of the body. This is why it is not only important to treat those tootsies but also to strengthen them so they can keep carrying you on your way.

How to Strengthen & Lengthen The Feet

You cannot have one without the other. We must strengthen the muscles in the foot, in which there are 4 layers of, to help us to power through and endure any movement that the body requires of us. While lengthening and stretching the tissue helps to keep flexibility and range of motion so the feet can adapt more easily and move without pain.

Both together help to decrease the risk of injury, overuse, and pain.

Here are 3 easy ways to lengthen and strengthen:

  1. Rolling out the feet with a tennis ball or lacrosse ball:
    • Think of it like an epic massage for your feet that you can do while you are sitting and watching Netflix or standing and brushing your teeth.
  2. Single Leg Stand:
    • This simple but not so simple move helps to activate the toes, under the foot, ankle and calf. It challenges your strength, stability, and balance in the foot and ankle- as well as the rest of the body too!
  3. Spacing out your Toes:
    • After wearing shoes all day the feet and the toes feel like they have been crammed into a clown car, especially if you wear dress shoes or heels. By interlacing your sock in between your toes (like they do when you get a pedicure) this helps to create space between all your digits. This helps to reduce the occurrence of bunions, plantar fasciitis and sore feet in general.
    • Check out this amazing video on TOE Controlled Articular Rotation

It’s time to give those tootsies some TLC just like you would your neck and lower back because the feet can also help with these areas too! But that is an entire other post 😉

Some common injuries of the feet include: plantar fascitis, mortons neuroma, bunions, heel spurs to name a few! The best way to deal with injuries to the feet are TO PREVENT THEM with the right exercises done early,  To learn more about the services at PhysioDNA with foot issue contact us directly.  Happy to answer any questions you may have.

About the Author:

KESHIA KING, B.H.S. (HON. KINESIOLOGY), FST

REGISTERED KINESIOLOGIST / FASCIAL STRETCH THERAPIST (LEVEL 2) / MOVEMENT SPECIALIST