Are You Stretching Correctly?

Are You Stretching Correctly?

Tight muscles are something many of us deal with on a daily basis.

Muscle tension is controlled by our nervous system but it can be altered in a number of ways. Stretching is the obvious way but so many people I talk to are totally confused about how, when and why they should stretch.

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The Problem of Lower Back Pain

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is one of the most prevalent conditions in society. Billions of dollars in healthcare costs and lost time at work are but two of its negative impacts on people and the economy.

Advances in medicine and surgery have done little to alter the situation, and the evidence from physical therapy departments at Universities worldwide is both ever changing and conflicting. For most of the past two decades, lack of core strength and stability were said to be the reason behind lower back pain.  Current thinking has shifted to a more cognitive approach, in which threatening opinions from medical and allied health professionals – “You’ll have back pain for the rest of your life”, “Keep your back straight when lifting” – are as much to blame, along with diet, sleep and stress levels.

Almost forgotten in the headlong rush to embrace current thinking is the simple fact that for most people who have back pain, it is because they are holding excessive tension in the muscles associated with the spine. There are various reasons for this, but using your spine to move, as opposed to other segments of the body is one. Bending over to pick something up from the floor is perhaps the easiest example.  Most people will keep their knees straight and bend from the spine, instead of bending from the hips or mimicking the way golfers pick the ball out of the hole. 

Lifting your leg while picking something up takes pressure away from your back 

Lifting your leg while picking something up takes pressure away from your back 

Getting up from a chair would appear to be a relatively simple daily task that needs little thought, but nearly everyone will perform the movement incorrectly. You should avoid slumping and 'dragging' your body out of the chair. Instead, stick your chest out, activate your gluts and use your gluts to lift up out of the chair.

Don't slump and drag -                                  instead lift up!

Don't slump and drag -                                  instead lift up!

Poor posture always used to be said to contribute towards back pain, but recent thinking has eroded that idea.  The spine, however, has curves in it for a reason; to help distribute load during ambulation.  Alterations in those curves causes some muscles to become shorter and tighter, and others longer and generally weaker. The way you hold yourself during conversation with friends or at work can affect hip muscle functioning, and concurrently, spinal function.

Correct posture is simply more efficient and requires less effort from muscles. Author Kit Laughlin at stretchtherapy.net who has written several best-selling books on back and neck pain in addition to conducting workshops attended by thousands over the past 20 years, is adamant that tight muscles at the front of the hip that increase the lordotic curve of the spine, is one of the major reasons for most people’s back pain, especially if that tightness is asymmetrical.

Click this picture for more info on tight hip flexors

Click this picture for more info on tight hip flexors

Given that Myotherapy focuses specifically on muscle function, an assessment of muscle length and function in combination with analysis of some basic movement patterns can go a long way to helping resolve even long-standing back problems.

Specific techniques such as dry needling, cupping and deep tissue massage can help reduce excessive tension in the muscles that are either causing pain and/or restricting movement. A client-specific exercise program in conjunction with some basic movement re-patterning is often all that is required to bring you back to pain free living.

Related:  What is Myotherapy and How is it Different to Massage?

Feel better,
Mark Ferguson, Myotherapist – Zimmah Muscle Therapy

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Why You Should Train With Perfect Form: On Biomechanics and Injury Prevention

Why You Should Train With Perfect Form: On Biomechanics and Injury Prevention

Biomechanics is the science field that applies the laws of mechanics and physics to human performance. It is basically how the body moves. What this taught me was how movements I thought were simple were actually really complex. Grabbing a cup and drinking from it for example comprises of 23 different movements involving the fingers, thumb, hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, jaw and neck!

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Don’t Tap Out to Skin Disease

Don’t Tap Out to Skin Disease

Participating in any sport has an inherent risk of injury, but intelligent practitioners mitigate that risk by eating well, warming up properly and using correct form.

For grapplers, there is also the risk of skin disease, which unfortunately often goes unaddressed (particularly in the first few months of training). If the appropriate steps are not taken, the skin to skin contact of BJJ, wrestling and MMA can result in an increased risk contracting: Ringworm, Impetigo, Staph, Herpes and a host of other nasty things that nobody wants anywhere near them.

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Why Fad Diets Won't Work For You

Why Fad Diets Won't Work For You

The problem with idolising celebrities lies in the fact that it is essentially their job to be famous and project their own image. Some even have clauses in their contracts to stay at a certain weight and body. To prepare for a role whether it be required that they’re fit, fat or skinny, actors won’t be using a crash diet/work out. They’ll often times have some of the best nutritionists and personal trainers spend months with them preparing for a role. Which is usually PAID for them by a studio.

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Trigger Point Therapy - Targeted Pain Relief

Trigger Point Therapy - Targeted Pain Relief

Many of the small painful “knots” that people can feel in their muscles are better referred to as trigger points.  Although their true nature is unknown, they can best be described as a small section of muscle that has become stuck in a tightly contracted, often spasming, cycle. They can not only be painful to touch, but they can also refer pain elsewhere in the body, restrict the length of a particular muscle, or affect the ultimate strength of any muscular contraction. 

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Joint Mobilisation for Myotherapy

Joint Mobilisation for Myotherapy

In order for joints to function properly, they must be able to spin, roll and glide with adjacent articulating surfaces.  For varying reasons such as injury, poor movement patterns or limited flexibility, joint surfaces may not be able to function as they should, which results in less range of motion and a stiffer joint, compromising function.

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