I try to be a bit intuitive when it comes to writing my posts.  So after being asked for the fourth time this week about ankle pain, knee pain, and the benefits of Orthotics; I figured that was my hint to provide you with some sound information so that you can make the decision.

 

Do you have ankle pain, heel pain, or knee pain?  Have you been told that Orthotics was the only solution to your problem?

 

Well I have a surprise for you.

 

The first thing I want to share with you quickly is that the ankle is an unbelievably complex joint.  It can affect everything from having proper posture, to whether or not you experience shoulder pain, believe it or not.

 

Often orthotics are suggested as a way to address ankle issues or poor bio-mechanics in walking or running.  And without a doubt, in many cases the pain issue is addressed -- at least in the short term.

 

You see orthotics are like any other brace, splint or crutch, they provide support to a weak area.  So if certain muscles are not working properly, the orthotics provide the necessary support to relieve the overworked muscles that are creating the pain.  However, like any support mechanism, it is only meant to be used for a short period of time. During this "assistance phase" you should also be working to both strengthen and increase the range of motion (mobility) of the area -- in this case the ankle.

 

Think of it this way.  Let's say your legs are sore and tired. To deal with this issue you decide to use a wheel chair in order to relieve the discomfort.  After several months you get rid of the wheel chair and go back to your normal routine.  Would your legs be any better prepared to deal with your routine?

 

Probably not!

 

You see unless you've done some specific work to strengthen the weak areas that were leaving your legs feeling sore and tired, the problem will just re-surface.  And in some cases even get worse or cause other problems.

 

Now this is not to say that some people do not sincerely need orthotics, for example, those with significant differences in leg length, or other structural issues, etc.  What I am saying is that many times people use orthotics as a quick fix to a much larger problem -- that of weak and stiff ankles and/or hips.

 

Below I've included one excellent article and 3 basic videos that I believe are very helpful when it comes to both alleviating ankle pain, and/or strengthening the area before problems begin. 

 

So before you decide on committing to orthotics indefinitely, give these movements (stretches and exercises) a try.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.


Plantar Fasciitis Exercises (great overall article for ankle health)

 

The Alphabet Exercise for Ankle Pain (video below)

 






 

This is obviously not the last word on improving the function of your ankle or eliminating pain, but these videos should provide you with an excellent start.

 

Remember, don't let your commitment to comfort stop you from being healthy!

Dec
31
2010
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First off, let me apologize for not getting this post to you last week. I had some serious server issues that wouldn't allow me to post any video.  Problem solved.  So let's get down to business.

As previously promised here are two more exercises to get you better prepared to enjoy your winter season of snowboarding, skiing, and ice skating.

Much like any sport or activity, a strong core, stable but flexible hips and strong legs are all just a part of being prepared.  But when it comes to winter sports activities you are also faced with the significant slick and unstable surface of the ice and snow.  So you want to be extra sure that your core, hips and legs are ready for a full day of cutting loose and feeling the rush of the air in your face.

Today's exercises will help you do just that, strengthen your legs and hips as well and improve your overall hip flexibility and functioning.  As with all of the exercises I demonstrate, I would encourage you to warm up properly (rolling and stretching) and then perform them.  As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Next week I will share two more movements to improve your overall hip and leg strength as well as a special little bonus.

Have a Happy and safe New Year's Celebration.




Well here we are again on a Friday.  Two weeks left in the year and it will be time to start with a clean slate. Time to apply all the things we learned about ourselves in 2010.  It will be time to step up to the next level. 

But right now it's time for the next installment on getting you ready for ski season.  An opportunity for me to share with you the process that will keep you healthy for the entire season so you can enjoy what you love doing -- skiing, snowboarding or ice skating.

First we started with the all important self-massage.  You have to get the muscles properly warmed-up, prepared, to work before you can do anything.  Then last week I shared with you some important stretches to make sure you're flexible and your range of motion is improved. Ice, snow and generally unstable surfaces are nothing to play with. So now you should be ready for the next stage in your preparation for a heck of an active winter season.

This week I will share with you the next stage in training properly for a successful winter-fun season.  The all important core/abs. That will be followed by some new movements such as single leg exercises, and a host of lunges to make sure your hips are flexible and stable in various positions.

So let's do a little review first shall we?  Let's make sure the proper core work is being done so that that area is prepared to handle the challenging leg exercises that are to follow.  I know, too many people like to just skip over this part of their preparation, believing that it is really not all that important.  But let me assure you, a strong core is by far one of the most important pieces to being physically fit for any activity. 

Next week let's blast those hips and legs.






Dec
10
2010
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This month I want to make sure to have those of you who enjoy winter sports activities like skiing, snowboarding and ice skating to be prepared to enjoy your season.  I can't tell you how many times I watch "regular" members come in on crutches after a weekend away of enjoying their sport.  If it's something you truly enjoy, then let's make sure you can do and not get injured. The whole idea of working out and keeping healthy is so you can participate and enjoy the activities that make the daily grind all worth it -- right?

Well, last week I shared with you the first part of an effective warm-up -- self-massage.  We all know you cannot effectively stretch a cold rubber band fresh out of the refrigerator (which would represent your muscles).  You have to first warm it up properly, before engaging in stretching.  That way you can avoid injuring yourself during stretching, and definitely decrease the chances of injury while engaged in your favorite activity.

This week I want to share with you the second part of an effective warm up -- stretching.  I want you to do this after you have completed the self-massage.

When considering winter sports we want to be sure we have your body ready to handle the pounding of the slopes.  Balance is a big factor considering the instability of ice and snow.  So ankle, knee, and hip flexibility and stability are very important. We want to prepare your entire body, for sure, but we will give extra attention to the lower body because you will be using it so much more.

Since we all know time is of the essence please find below the stretches I've found most important in preparing for a safe and fun winter season of activities on the slopes or ice.

Be sure to check back next week as I will share with you the important exercises that will get your body strong and help you avoid injury.

This is Stretch#1 (1/3).
This stretch is often called Child's Pose. From a kneeling position, toes pointed straight back, sit backwards so that you are sitting on the heels of your shoes. Reach forward with both arms, far enough to feel a stretch in the lower back and shoulders. 
Hold for 7-10 seconds


This is Stretch #1 (2/3)

Keeping your legs where they are at, engage your abs and move both arms to the right until a stretch is felt on the left side of the body. Think of making your body into a half circle. Be sure to remain seated on your heels.  Hold for 7-10 seconds.


 
This is Stretch #1 (3/3).
Now do the same process you did for the above picture for the left side. 
Hold for 7-10 seconds
 

This is Stretch #2
From a seated position place your hands behind you, approximately shoulder width, with your fingers pointing away from your body. Slowly slide your body forward, away from your hands, until a stretch is felt. Be sure to keep your chest up and gently squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift your chest. Hold this position for 7-10 seconds.  Repeat 2-3 times.


 

This is Stretch#3.

(face down image) Position your body with your right leg bent at a 45 degree angle. Straighten your back leg with the toe facing the floor. Position your upper body so that your knee is in line with your sternum (chest bone). Hips should be parallel to the floor.  You should feel no pain in the knee. If you do stop immediately. This pose is also know as Pigeon.  Hold position for 7 breaths.



(face up image)

This is a slightly less aggressive form of pigeon from the lying position. Lay flat on your back.  Bring your right leg towards your chest. Grasping your knee and ankle gently, pulling the leg towards the left side of your chest (so you are moving the leg across the body) until you feel a stretch in your glutes. You will create a very gentle stretch in the hip. You should feel no pain in the knee. Repeat this process 3-7 times on both sides.



 

This is Stretch #4

Begin on your knees, with your knees out wide, resting on forearms. Then straighten one leg out to the side. Be sure that the toe of the straight leg is in line with the knee of the kneeling leg. If possible, reach out to touch toe of straight leg with same side hand.  Repeat movement 3 times on both sides.



This is Stretch #5.
I call this Windshield Wipers. Lay flat on your back, arms out wide, knees bent 45-90 degrees, feet flat on the ground. Take your left ankle and place it on your right knee. Drop both legs to the left side to feel a stretch in the right hip. The goal is for the stretch to come from the hip and NOT the lower back.
Hold for 5-7 breaths. Repeat on other side.


This is Stretch #6.
With your calves against the supporting surface take a medium to large step forward. Place one foot, shoe strings down, on the stable support surface behind you. Kneeling down bring the back leg knee to the floor. Now if you're just beginning you may need to place a pillow under your knee for cushion and to decrease the intensity of the stretch. Be sure that the front leg knee is bent at a 90 degree angle and the shin is perpendicular to the floor.


Well there you go.  So self massage first, followed by the stretches above and you'll be ready to tackle the exercises I will show you next week.  Remember, each part of the warm-up is important.  Do not skip steps, you'll only pay for it in the long run. 

Let's be sure this season you can enjoy your chosen winter activity for all it's worth.  See you next week.



Welcome to December! Not only are we in the midst of the holiday rush season for Christmas, it also happens to be ski season, or snow boarding as the case may be.

For many of my clients it's the time of year they've been looking forward to all year long.  We've ramped up their training over the past few months to make sure they are in proper condition (think climbing a long flight of stairs and not being out of breath), have great balance and a strong, stable core.  Remember, when it comes to winter sports or activities you are dealing with the added factor of instability because of the ice and snow.  So your program has to be well rounded to avoid possible injury.

You'd be surprised how many times I've watch gym regulars come in on crutches from late December to early February talking about a fall they've taken; some on the slopes, and some actually in the parking lot on the way to the slopes. 

I don't want that for you.  So this month I want to make sure that each of you is ready for your winter activities, whether it's skiing, snow boarding or ice skating.  Each of these activities deals with significant balance issues, having a strong and stable core, as well has having strong, yet flexible hips.  So each week of the month I will share with you warm-up techniques,  stretches, and exercises to make this season your best yet.

Funny thing about me, while I do largely focus on getting people out of pain through the use of self-massage and exercises, I happen to have also gotten really good at helping people avoid pain.  Once you've figured out how to fix a certain problem, it's not long before it becomes clear on what to do to avoid that painful experience all together.

 


For those of you that have been following my posts for any length of time, you know I believe in a proper warm-up.  And a proper warm-up is comprised of two specific elements: 1) self-massage of all the important areas, and 2) a flexibility routine to get your body fully warmed up.


I want to make an important note here regarding warming up.  I know how much I despised it when I first started over 20 years ago.  I really didn't see the value in it and quite honestly felt it was a waste of time.  Well now after years in the business of helping people get out of pain and doing research, I can tell you warming up is worth every minute.  In fact, in most cases injuries occur (minus of course impact injuries like being tackled or falling) due to a poor warm-up routine or no warm-up routine at all.  The muscles have not been adequately prepared for activity (think of trying to stretch a rubber band you've had in the refrigerator all night and then pull it out of the refrigerator and start stretching it vigorously).


So today I will share with you some techniques you may or may not be familiar with regarding self-massage.  Next week I will share with you some stretches to complete your warm-up phase. The following week will move into various exercises to make sure you are seriously ready to tackle the winter festivities.