Posts Tagged ‘Stretching’

The Achilles’: Your Weakest Link

by G. John Mullen, DPT 2011 | mullen@myhousecallmd.com

Achilles’ tendon injuries have been present since the time of the Greek Gods and Goddesses, (remember Achilles from Greek Mythology?).  Achilles’ is the burly, handsome warrior from the Trojan War legends who could only be harmed by a lethal blow to his Achilles tendon…and the name was born.  Contrary to popular belief, this warrior’s surname was not Pitt.  What we really want to know, however, is how does the Achilles tendon affect us today?

We all witnessed the devastating loss Michigan State suffered to underdog, Butler University, in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. The Spartans put in a valiant effort despite the season-ending loss of Kalin Lucas, a pivotal player averaging 12.3 points per game.  Lucas tore his Achilles’ tendon during the game against Maryland (tragic, we know). Achilles’ tendon tears are not unique to the collegiate super-athlete; weekend warriors are just as susceptible to Achilles’ tendon tears as the pros.  An Achilles’ tear is debilitating, requiring surgery and extensive rehabilitation in most cases.  Successful surgery and rehabilitation of a torn Achilles’ tendon requires a thorough understanding of the anatomy, cause of the injury, patient’s unique health condition & lifestyle and patient’s athletic activities.  These factors are essential to preventing a re-repture of the tendon.

Stat Fact: Most Achilles’ tears occur 2-6 cm above the Achilles’ insertion into the calcaneus, the heel bone in the foot (3).

Anatomy

The Achilles’ is a complex tendon whose rarity is secondary to the fact that the tendon crosses two joints.  Multi-joint crossing places increased stress on the Achilles’, resulting in the tendon’s high injury rate.  Everyday activities like walking place repeated stress on the tendon.  The tendon is the composite of two muscles in the calf: the gastrocnemius (the medial and lateral heads which cross the back of the knee) and the soleus (the bulk of the calf). The tendon is surrounded by two sheaths (which are called “paratendon” and “mesotenon”).  The mesotenon is responsible for the nourishing blood flow to the tendon.  Diminished blood flow is seen at the bottom of the Achilles’ tendon and is responsible for the high rate of tears in this region. The majority of the tendon is made of Type 1 collagen (4).

Stat Fact: The Achilles’ tendon twists in a spiral motion as it wraps around the foot and inserts into the calcaneous.

Types of Achilles’ Tears and Risk Factors

Athletic Achilles’ tears are typically acute injuries caused by a “high rate of loading” associated with specific movements which include landing, pivoting or sweet juke moves on the field…talk about all-time backfires! Acute injuries commonly occur at the distal portion (i.e. the point farthest towards your heel) of the tendon where blood flow is diminished. Out-of-shape athletes returning to high-impact sports make up the largest portion of these injuries.  Trauma from a foreign object is another common cause of an acute Achilles’ tear (i.e. Tonya Harding action to the back of your ankle).  These injuries are not pretty, but if you’ve seen the movie, Saw, you may remember one of the hostages having their Achilles’ sliced to prevent escape.  Uncommon but horrific to say the least.  Tears during motor vehicle crashes are more typical and can be equally debilitating.  Chronic Achilles’ tendon injuries can also eventually lead to tears. Nagging Achilles’ tendonosis (chronic inflammation of the Achilles’ tendon) transforms the molecular properties of the tendinous collagen making the tendon soft and pliable.  Pliability is the Achilles’ kryptonite (not arrows as Hollywood would have you believe)!  As we age, we are more prone to tendon tears.  Two factors lead to increased Achilles’ tears as we age: 1) the transformation that takes place in your tendon’s cartilage and 2) hypovascularity (impaired blood flow) making previously injured, older athletes more prone to Achilles’ tears.

Stat Fact: The Achilles’ tendon is the strongest tendon in the body, absorbing up to 8x our body weight in force during athletic movements (2).

Surgery and Rehabilitation

Surgery is always the last option.  Debate surrounds the efficacy of surgery and rehabilitation in Achilles’ tears.  Studies show conflicting evidence in terms of recovery speed and re-rupture rates for individuals with and without surgery (5). There is further debate on the first phase of rehabilitation for both groups. One theory of rehabilitation promotes 6-8 weeks of immobilization via casting.  Casting is typically done in plantar-flexion (with your foot bent at 90 degrees to your calf) or in the neutral position (imagine your foot’s position as your leg hangs over the edge of the bed).  Immobilization is thought to allow collagen repair following surgery increasing stiffness and strength of the tendon. The other accepted method of rehabilitation is the exact opposite of immobilization: early mobilization. Early mobilization is believed to promote revascularization of the injured tendon. Revascularization is believed to enhance strength (4).  More importantly early mobilization is associated with similar functional gains and a low re-rupture rate (5).  These positive attributes make early mobilization an important variable for surgical and non-surgical treatment of Achilles’ tendon tears.

Rehabilitation regimens vary depending on the surgeon’s approach (early mobility vs. early immobilization).  Early mobilization seems to be gaining momentum with recent publications.  A typical early mobility rehabilitation protocol is listed below:

Postoperative Exercise Program (1)

Group 1 (early mobilization)

Time: 0-3 wk

  1. Flexion and extension of the toes in a supine position; 25 × 3 series


  2. Plantar flexion of the ankle and dorsiflexion to neutral in supine position

  3. Extension of the knee in a sitting position (hold 2 s); 10 × 3 series

  4. Flexion of the knee in a prone position; 10 × 3 series, 3 times daily

  5. Extension of the hip in a prone position (hold 2 s); 10 × 3 series

Time: 3-6 wk

Same as week 0-3

Time: 6-9 wk

1. Ankle flexion and extension exercises with manual help

2. Rotation of the ankles in both directions; 30 × 3 series, 3 times daily

3. Standing on the toes and heels alternately; 30 × 3 series, 3 times daily

4. Ankle extension exercises against a rubber strip; 20 × 3 series, 3 times daily

5. Ankle stretching exercises to flexion with the help of a rubber strip; 30 s × 5 series, 3 times daily

6. Stretching of the calf muscle by standing with the leg to be stretched straight behind and the other leg bent in front and leaning the body forward, with support from a wall or chair; 30 s × 5 series, 3 times daily

7. Stretching exercises for the toes and ankle against the hand in a sitting position; 30 s × 5 series, 3 times daily

Time: 9 wk

1. Raising and lowering of the heel, first with both feet at the same time and later with 1 foot; 20 × 5 series, 3 times daily

Exercises against a rubber strip for

Ankle extension 20 × 5 series, 3 times daily

Ankle flexion 20 × 5 series, 3 times daily

Ankle abduction 20 × 5 series, 3 times daily

Ankle adduction 20 × 5 series, 3 times daily

Stretching of the calf muscle against the wall; 30 × 5 series, 3 times daily

Standing with the knee somewhat flexed; 30 × 5 series, 3 times daily

With any surgery, you must take note of the potential complications. At the same time, the re-rupture rates in Achilles’ tendon tears are significant in the conservative non-surgical group.  A notable complication with Achilles’ Tendon surgical repair is sural nerve dissection.  The sural nerve is damaged in approximately 6% of Achilles’ tendon repairs.  Sural nerve damage can lead to impaired sensation to the dorsal (back) aspect of the heel (2).

Stat Fact: Non-surgical Achilles’ Tendon treatment has a re-rupture rate of 12.6%, nearly 4x the 3.5% re-rupture rate seen in the surgical repair group (2).

Prevention

While many people believe that stretching is the key to preventing Achilles’ tendon rupture, this may not actually be the case.  Stretching may reduce the number of tendon injuries, but a more thorough approach is needed to further minimize your risk of injury.  Most Achilles’ tendon tears are caused by high force movements.  As your coach always said, “Practice like your play!”  It only makes sense to practice these high force movements via plyometrics to train your body to adapt to these high levels of strain. Therefore a stretching regimen in combination with a light plyometric routine makes perfect sense.  A simple plyometric routine (for example, ankle hops progressing to higher impact squat jumps and then repeated hops) can be utilized before exercise to minimize your risk of injury.  Who doesn’t want strong enough Achilles’ tendons to dunk like Dwight Howard?

Questions? E-mail G. John Mullen: mullen@myhousecallmd.com

References:

1. Kangas J, Pajala A, Ohtonen P, Leppilahti J. Achilles tendon elongation after rupture repair: a randomized comparison of 2 postoperative regimens. Am J Sports Med. Jan 2007;35(1):59-64.

2. Molloy A, Wood E. Complications of the treatment of Achilles tendon ruptures. Foot Ankle Clin. Dec 2009;14(4):745-759.

3. Park D, Chou L. Stretching for prevention of Achilles tendon injuries: a review of the literature. Foot Ankle Int. Dec 2006;27(12):1086-1095.

4. Strom A, Casillas M. Achilles tendon rehabilitation. Foot Ankle Clin. Dec 2009;14(4):773-782.

5. Twaddle B, Poon P. Early motion for Achilles tendon ruptures: is surgery important? A randomized, prospective study. Am J Sports Med. Dec 2007;35(12):2033-2038.

11

04 2010

What on earth is Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome?


by G. John Mullen, DPT 2011

IT Band SyndromeWho doesn’t want to be in great shape?  Ask around and you’ll be hard pressed to find an individual that is actively trying to be out of shape.  So what is it that we, as a society, do when we decide to get in shape? We go running.  Running is the most popular and simplest form of exercise. The most popular and simplest form of exercise is running.  Running is great cardiovascular exercise, however many injuries stem from running and often arise from doing too much too early.  One of the most common injuries is iliotibial band friction syndrome (ITBFS).  This injury can linger for long periods of time without quick and proper treatment but if assessed and treated soon, the effects can be mitigated.

Stat Fact: Health club memberships typically increase 12% in the month of January (4).

What is ITBFS?

IT Band Friction SyndromeThe iliotibial band is a fibrous band that runs on the outside of your leg from your hip to your knee.  It is generally firm, but as it is irritated it may become extremely tough and sensitive.  Irritation of the iliotibial band can be due to poor biomechanics, anatomical flaws or muscle weakness.  Many of the biomechanical flaws stem from muscle weakness, but the anatomical flaws are a bit trickier.  The main anatomical flaw is flat feet, which causes your knee to internally rotate with each step, subsequently stretching your IT band.  While stretching is typically good, when done repeatedly it can break down the tissue and inflammation and tightness can occur.  The most common biomechanical flaw is too much hip adduction (bringing your thigh bones close to one another) and internal rotation (rotation of the knee inward) of the thigh bone (femur).  This motion is controlled by the gluteus maximus (the upper fibers to be exact…also the sexiest muscle in the body) and if this muscle is weak it can cause repeated stretching of the muscle leading to problems similar to those seen with anatomical flaws.  These are the main causes of ITBFS, but many other anatomical issues may cause ITBFS (leg length discrepancy, bowed legs, previous injury, improper footwear, etc.).  However, simple muscle strengthening is not the solution, especially if you already have ITBFS. Read the rest of this entry →

27

01 2010

Pain in the Neck: Fixing the Problem at its Root

Massage on Demand

by G. John Mullen, DPT 2011

Neck PainNeck pain: We’ve all had suffered through it at least once in our lives as it is one of most common areas of the body to cause pain.  However, it may be hard to diagnose the primary cause of your neck pain.  Let’s pretend you sit at a desk for 40 hours a week for work/school, and then come home and sit at a desk watching Hulu for a few more hours. Just a hunch, but I think the excessive sitting may be causing some of your neck pain.  Sitting this long is not natural for once nomadic humans.  In addition to sitting for these long hours, most people make it worse by maintaining poor posture while sitting (which is not entirely your fault…humans were not designed to sit for the long durations that our modern lifestyles require).  Despite our societal evolution, our anatomy has not adapted.  As a result, we must actively adapt our bodies to the new societal demands.  Lucky for us, we can make these changes to help improve and possibly prevent most unnecessary neck pain.

Stat Fact: It is estimated that 70% of all muscle injuries that occur without a known accident are sprains or strains.

Neck Anatomy:

The cervical spine is composed of many muscles that are contorted, stretched and shortened with poor posture.  These muscular changes can cause pain in various areas of the spine and in other body parts (shoulders, middle back, etc.).  With sustained poor posture, tiny muscles in the back of your head (suboccipital muscles) tighten or shorten.  Unfortunately, the body compensates by shortening, stretching or elongating the muscles in the front of your neck (your deep neck flexors).

Ways to tell if this is causing your pain…

If you are having neck pain and you think it’s from your poor posture, here are some telltale signs your neck pain is due to your posture:

  • Persistent neck or shoulder blade aching

  • Symptoms worsen with sustained poor posture

  • Muscle imbalances (weak deep neck flexors and weak rhomboids)

Some simple tests you can do to test yourself:

1. Deep neck flexor test:

To perform this test lie down on your back and lift your head off the ground by tucking your chin in tight, as if you’re making a double chin (some people have to try harder to achieve this).  While holding your head 1 inch off the ground, keep your chin tucked as long as humanly possible (shaking and the urge to urinate may be present if one has extreme muscle weakness).  If you unable to hold your neck folds for approximately 30 seconds then you have weak deep neck flexors.

Stat Fact: Patients with neck symptoms (pain, for example) produced 15% less pressure than patients without neck symptoms in the deep neck flexor test.  The bottom line: people with neck pain are usually weak in their deep neck flexors.

2. Neck Rotation Test:

Another simple test to be done at home is a neck rotation test.  Rotate your neck to each side slowly and if your symptoms or pain increases as you rotate more, then your neck pain is probably caused by posture problems.

What to do next?

You have a few of the neck symptoms described above and your neck muscles aren’t as strong as Žydrūnas Savickas…don’t be discouraged there is hope for you!  First and foremost, correcting your posture is the number one cure for this ailment.  I know holding good posture is hard, but so is eating 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes and that didn’t stop Joey Chestnut did it?  A few tips for holding proper posture while at a computer or sitting down:

  • Keep your feet on the floor!  You’re not a six year old kid in elementary school.  Put both feet on the floor and keep them there!

  • Keep your back against the chair, especially your upper back.  If your back is not against the chair there is a high chance you are leaning forward.

  • Keep your chin tucked.  You’re not finishing a 100 meter sprint against Usain Bolt.  Keep that chin tucked.

  • Keep your shoulder blades close, don’t round that back!  I know many people dreamed of being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle growing up, but we hope you’ve outgrown that fantasy.  No need to round out your back as an adult.

Stretches:

Next is a routine of stretches we recommend doing in the shower on a daily basis.  All of these stretches should be done twice for 30-45 seconds each.

1. Armpit Sniffer:

The arm pit sniffer is a favorite of ours for numerous reasons.  While standing, look down towards your armpit as if you were checking to see if that Old Spice has kicked in.  If done correctly, you should feel a slight pull on the neck of the opposite side.  This is stretching the levator scapulae, a muscle that is commonly tight with poor posture.   The picture shows the person pulling their head toward their armpit, but if this muscle is really tight, just looking in the direction will provide a proper stretch.

2. Corner Stretch:

Pectoralis StretchThis stretch is used to stretch the pectoralis muscles that are often tight due to extended periods of time sitting or at a computer.  To complete this stretch, find a doorway and put the inside of your bent arm on the surface of the wall at shoulder height.  To feel the stretch turn your body away from the arm, and you should feel the stretch in chest (amazing ponytail as seen in the photo is optional).

3. Scalene Stretch:

To complete this stretch, hold on to something for support because you will be tipping your head backwards and towards the opposite shoulder.  Tip your head slightly back and to the side, the picture shows the person pulling his head back, this should only be done if you do not feel a stretch in the front of your neck with the initial movement.

4. Upper Trapezius stretch:

This is the simplest of all the stretches.  Without rotating your neck, tip your head, as f you were trying to touch your ear to your shoulder.  If you do not feel a stretch on the  opposite side you can use overpressure with your hand to elicit the desired stretching sensation.

Strengthening:

Strengthening exercises should be performed with high repetitions to help build endurance.  We recommend 5 sets of 10 repetitions, 3 times a week for best results.  These exercises may seem simple, but if used properly they can alleviate your nagging neck pain.

1. Chin Tucks:

Similar to the deep neck flexor test done earlier, lie on your back and tuck your chin, lifting your head 1 inch off the ground.  Make sure you hold the double chins in your neck.  Hold for 30 seconds (or as long as you are able to if you cannot hold for 30 seconds) each set and complete 5 sets 3 times each week.  And, yes, this exercise falls into a category of exercises know as “Not sexy but very effective!”

2. Scapular squeezes:

Begin this exercise sitting down and, just as the name suggests, and squeeze your shoulder blades together.  By pinching your shoulder blades together, your chest will stick out slightly.  Make sure not to lift your shoulders towards your ears while holding this position!  Hold this position for 30 seconds each repetition and complete 5 repetitions per day 3 times a week.

3. Upper Cuts:

Upper Cut Exercise

Begin with your knees bent 15 degrees and as you start the upper cut movement, punch towards your opposite shoulder (your bicep should come towards your mouth) and push through your legs.  You can make the exercise more difficult holding a weight in your hand while punching as seen in the photo.  This exercise is used to strengthen the serratus anterior.

Stat Fact: Neck musculature is estimated to contribute 80% to the stability of the cervical spine.

These are some of the exercises and stretches that can be used to help people minimize neck pain.  Next time you’re sitting at your desk, think twice about leaning forward to read the computer screen.  If your neck pain persist or worsens after doing these exercises for a few weeks, talk to your medical doctor about additional treatment options.

Your Future Muscular Neck

References:

Deyo RA, Weinstein JN. Low back pain. N Engl J Med 2001;344:363–70.

Chiu TT, Law EY, Chiu TH. Performance of the craniocervical flexion test in subjects with and without chronic neck pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2005 Sep;35(9):567-71

Ekstrom et al, Surface Electromyographic Analysis of Exercises for the Trapezius and Serratus Anterior Muscles, J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2003;33:247–258.

Childs J, Cleland J, Elliott J, Deydre T, Wainner R, Whitman J, et al. Neck Pain: Clinical Practice Guidelines Linked to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health From the Orthopaedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2008;38(9):A1-A34.

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01 2010

Winter Training: Preparing for the Slopes

Killer Skiing

by G. John Mullen, DPT 2011

With Thanksgiving behind us and winter weather in full effect, snow has already begun to cap the mountains across America.  With a layer of white powder on the ground, everyone is counting the days until they can escape from work, school or writing anonymous cynical comments on message boards and hit the slopes.  Whether you snowboard, sled, cross-country ski or bare foot ski, with the rush of mountain adrenaline comes the risk for injury.  We’re here to help you train those hard-to-reach, unused muscles for the slopes so that you are prepared for anything the mountain can throw at you.

Stat Fact: Lower extremity injuries were the most common injury in the Utah slopes from 2001-2006 for both snowboarding (~27%) and skiing (~50%).

Little HerculesWhether you’ve looking for exercises to prevent future knee injuries, strengthen your legs for the slopes, or help make that knee pain from that 1960 football injury (quit living in the past) go away, you can utilize the exercises below to strengthen weak muscles and lengthen tight muscles. We’ll discuss some plyometrics and exercises you can use to mimic skiing or snowboarding. Even if you’re as big as Richard Sandrack (see Lil Hercules at left) your bulging biceps and six-pack abs won’t prevent lower extremity injuries…training those targeted muscles will.

STRENGTHENING:

There are hundreds of exercises that can be used to train for the slopes.  We are going to talk about the main muscle groups that will prevent injuries and go over our favorite exercises to strengthen these muscle groups.  Unless you’re like hip hop video girl Vida Guerrera, you, like most Americans, may already experience knee or hip pain (or at least feel a little weak when it comes to these joints), due to weak gluteal muscles,.  As stated, there are hundreds of exercises to strengthen these muscles…so we’ve boiled it down to some key moves to get you started:

Overview of Strengthening:

When you first begin these exercises, start with the beginner exercises in your training of  those gluteal muscles.  At the beginning start with 3 sets of 20 repetitions and after two weeks add weight and try 3 sets of 10 repetitions.  After two more weeks add more weight and go 5 sets of 5 repetitions.  After this progressive process, advance to the intermediate exercises and repeat the same amount of repetitions and sets.

Beginner:

1. Clams:

ClamsLie on your side and bend you knees to 90 degrees and your hips at 30 degree with your legs one on top of the other.  Now just lift your top leg open like a clam, brilliant!

Stat Fact: By increasing the amount that your hips are flexed during this exercise (by bringing your knees towards your chest thus changing the angle from 30 degrees to 60 degrees) you change the gluteal muscle you are working, from gluteus medius to gluteus maximus.

2. Bridges:

BridgesLie on your back with your heels on the ground, but your toes in the air (lifting your toes makes sure you don’t use your calves and helps you to better isolate those gluteal muscles!).  Next, lift your lower back and butt off the ground by pushing through your heels.  At this point only your upper back and feet should be on the ground.  Note: a band can be used just above your knees to keep your legs from coming together, but is not necessary.  However, keep your knees apart!

After you’ve mastered double leg bridges, you can advance to single leg bridges or double leg bridges with weights on your hips.

3. Side-lying Leg Raise:

Leg RaiseLie on one side with one leg on top of the other, keep both legs straight and raise your top leg towards the ceiling.  Make sure your leg doesn’t creep forward.  To do so, keep it aligned with your hip or back (you should form a straight line from your shoulder to your hip to your knee to your ankle).

Stat Fact: If done properly, with your leg in correct alignment, this exercise requires the most gluteus medius activation of the exercises without weight.

Intermediate:

Lunges:

We’re not talking about your run-of-the-mill forward lunges.  We need to use exercises that are as close to skiing as possible, thus the use of multi-directional lunges.

Transverse Lunge1. Transverse Lunge:

Start with your hands on your hips and both feet facing forward like your feet are facing 12 on a clock.  Now, with one leg take a large step towards 2 o’clock.  Make sure your back foot rises on its toes and you don’t allow your front leg’s knee to come in front of your toes!

2. Lateral Lunge:

Once again, start with your hands on your hips and both feet facing forward like your feet are facing 12 on a clock.  With one leg take a large step towards 3 o’clock.  Lateral LungeMake sure your back foot rises on its toes and you don’t allow your front leg’s knee to come in front of your toes!

To advance the lunges, you can hold weights (or anything that will add extra weight) in your hands or if you’re at a gym you can put a bar on your back.

Advanced:

1. Single Leg Squat:

Single Leg SquatStand on one leg and slowly lower yourself bending at your hip, knee and ankle until you can touch the floor with your middle finger without reaching your shoulder.  Remember to stick your butt out as you come down and try not to let your knee come in front of your toes.  To advance this exercise, you can hold weights in either hand.

2. Single Leg Deadlift:

This exercise is similar to the single leg squat.  Single Leg DeadliftTo begin bend your knee slightly (~10 degrees).  Now bend at your hip and bring your chest towards the floor, reaching with your hand to touch the ground.  To advance the exercise, you can add dumbbell weights in each hand.

Stat Fact: Single leg squats and single leg deadlifts have been shown to have the highest gluteus maximus activation of any non-weighted exercise…buns of steel, here we come!

STRETCHING:

It is hard to predict what muscles will be tight on each individual, but if we were to grab 10 people off the Red Line subway in Los Angeles and test their muscle flexibility I would bet a liter of cola that 9 of those people have tight hamstrings, piriformis (a muscle in your butt… that’s all you need to know), calves and hip flexors.  What do you say we try and loosen those bad boys up.

Overview of Stretching:

As you move through the stretches outlined below, remember to stretch both legs, completing each stretch twice for 30 seconds or more.  It is hard to overstretch these tight muscles, so the more you do the better.

Hamstring Stretch:

Hamstring StretchLie on your back, grab the back of your thigh of one leg and begin to pull that leg towards the ceiling.  If done correctly, you should feel a stretch in the back of your leg and possibly in your calf.

Stat Fact: It is estimated that 80% of persons suffering from low back pain have tight hamstrings.

Piriformis Stretch:

Piriformis StretchOnce again, lie on your back but this time bend one leg over the other.  Now push your bent leg towards the ground, without lifting your back off the ground.  If done properly, you should feel a stretch in your butt.   You have now officially located your piriformis muscle.

Calf Stretch:

Calf StretchBeing by standing facing a wall with one leg in front of the other. with the leg to be stretched extended behind you.  With your hands on the wall at the level of your head lean forward.  You should feel a stretch in your calf.  The more you lean forward, the more stretch you will feel.  Repeat these same steps on the other side as well.

Hip Flexor Stretch:

Hip Flexor StretchPlace one knee on the ground and lunge forward with the other leg, keeping your back straight.  If done correctly, you should feel a stretch in the front of your leg around your hip on the kneeling leg.  As you push forward with your pelvis, you should feel the stretching increase in this area.

Plyometrics:

Plyometrics are activities that enable a muscle to reach maximal force in the shortest possible time.  These exercises are meant to be explosive, but need to done carefully and under proper conditions (outlined below):

  • Good landing surface (grass field, suspended floor, rubber mats)

  • Plenty of space

  • Proper footwear (no flip flops)

  • Supervision, it is highly advised to do plyometrics with a training professional (personal trainer, physical therapist)if you are new to the exercises

Since this is a high intensity exercise we will start with one basic exercise as well as some strategies for plyometric training.  First, it is important to complete a proper low intensity warm-up.  Begin with skipping, marching, or jogging. The total amount of time you spend on these activities needs to be strictly monitored.  It is recommended that beginners do a maximum of 80 contacts.  80 contacts simply means each foot should only hit the ground 80 times including the skipping and jogging warm-up.  Anyone doing plyometrics should also include the appropriate amount of rest between exercises (at least a minute per exercise).  Below are a few examples of beginner plyometric exercises that mimic skiing and snowboarding.  We highly recommend doing these beginner exercises with an exercise professional (at least when you’re first starting off…the only thing worse that hurting yourself on the slopes is hurting yourself while training for the slopes).

Forward/Lateral/Diagonal Jumps:

Just as they sound, these jumps are performed with both feet together and you jump either straight forward, to your side or diagonally.  To begin start by jumping, landing and then jumping again.  As you progress you can begin performing multiple jumps in a row.

Now that you know what strengthening, stretching and plyometric exercises to perform, make sure you always warm-up first (at least fifteen minutes of cardiovascular work to get your heart rate elevated and muscles warm).  Perform these stretches exercises every day and the strengthening/plyometrics no more than three times a week.  When you hit the slopes tell Shaun White hello for us.

Shaun White

References:

Distefano, L., Blackburn, J., Marshall, S., Padua, D. Gluteal Muscle Activation During Common Therapeutic Exercises. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy.  2009 Jul; 39 (7): 532-540.

Torjussen J, Bahr R. Injuries among competitive snowboarders at the national elite level. Am J Sports Med. 2005 Mar;33(3):370-7.

Wasden CC, McIntosh SE, Keith DS, McCowan C. An analysis of skiing and snowboarding injuries on Utah slopes. J Trauma. 2009 Nov;67(5):1022-6.

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12 2009

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