Stretches to do while on an Airplane

Extended durations on cramped, uncomfortable seats for hours can cause your body to become stiff and sore. These discrete simple stretches and exercises can help travellers reach their destination pain-free, while encouraging blood circulation throughout the body. 

Seated
Seated Spinal Twists – Sitting tall, grab onto the arm rests of your seat and twist your torso from one side to the other.

Neck Rolls – slowly twist your neck from side to side, and up and down. Then bring your left ear to your left shoulder, and repeat on the other side. Finally, tuck your chin down to your chest and repeat the steps until you feel the tension release from your neck. 

Shoulder Rolls – sit in a relaxed position with your arms by your sides. Roll your shoulders both forward and backwards.

Ankle Circles – lift your feet off the ground and roll your ankles in a circle.

Standing
Calf Raises – stand with your feet a couple inches apart and raise your heels so you’re on your toes. Hold this position for a few seconds before lowering back down. You should focus on stretching out your calves. 

Quad Stretches – In a standing position, bend your knee, grab your ankle and pull it behind your back. 

Pec Stretch – place your hand on a wall with your elbow at chest height. Rotate your body away to stretch out your shoulder. Repeat on the other side. 

In addition to these stretches, don’t forget to take the opportunity to walk around every few hours to get your blood circulating throughout your body. 

If you have any pain during exercises, or are unsure about what you are doing, please consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.

Gluteus Medius Strengthening for Sacro Iliac Joint Injuries: Drop Steps

With nice tall neutral spine posture, engage your core stability muscles below your belly button and keep them engaged the entire time.

Then side step onto the stepper with your left foot, with your hands on your hips. The opposite foot is dropped below the step to start.

Hike that right foot up and level with your left foot that’s on the stepper by pushing through the left heel and squeezing the left gluteus medius muscle. This contraction will cause your right hip to come up level with the left side and allow you to feel that good muscle burn in your left butt.

Let the right foot drop back down and the right hip to follow to return to the start position. Perform 10 repetitions, doing 3 sets daily.

This is a great way to activate and strengthen your pelvic and sacro iliac joint stabilizing muscles after you have injured it. If you experience any pain or have any problems doing this exercise then consult your local Physiotherapist before continuing. 

Benefits of Hiking

As summer begins approaching, hiking can be a great low-impact workout to engage in, offering numerous physical and mental benefits. Walking is one of the lowest impact sports around, but with the increased variability that hiking provides, this adds increased difficulty, hence increased health benefits to the activity. According to the American Hiking Society (2013), and Healthy Families BC (2013), a few of the benefits hiking can provide include: 

  • Increased general fitness levels – one hour of hiking can burn over 500 calories depending on level of incline and weight of your pack!
  • Reduced risk for heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels 
  • Improved control over healthy weight, and lowered body fat
  • Improved bone density and osteoarthritis outcomes
  • Reduced stress, improved mood and enhanced wellbeing 
  • Increased flexibility and coordination 

American Hiking Society (2013). Health benefits of hiking. Retrieved from http://www.americanhiking.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Heath-Benefits-of-Hiking-fact-sheet.pdf

Faktor, M. (2013). The health benefits of hiking. Retrieved from https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/blog/health-benefits-hiking

Hamstring Strains and Tendinopathies: Straight Leg Isometric Bridges

As you move past the initial stages of an acute hamstring muscle strain or acute flare up of your tendinopathy you want to start progressively loading it to rehab it properly.

Start by lying down on the ground with your heels placed on a raised step about half a foot high or so to start. With your core muscles engaged and both knees straight, press your heels onto the step lifting your buttocks off the floor.

Avoid bringing your butt too high up so you can isolate primarily into the hamstrings while also activating your core and gluteus muscles at the same time. Hold this isometric contraction for 45 seconds and repeat 5 reps for one to two times per day.

If you experience any pain or have any problems doing this exercise then consult your local Physiotherapist before continuing. 

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injuries

What is a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain? 

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is the knee ligament on the inner part of your knee. It is one of the four major knee ligaments that help stabilize the knee joint. An injury is caused when the a force is too great for the ligament to resist, thus causing an overstretch of the MCL. This can be caused by sudden movements such as a sharp change in direction, twisting the knee while the foot is planted on the ground, or a blunt force to the knee. 

Injury severity?
Grade I

The knee ligament has a slight stretch, but it doesn’t actually tear. Although the knee joint may not hurt or swell very much, a grade I sprain can increase the risk of a repeat injury. Resting from painful activity and icing the injury can be useful to subside the pain.  

Grade II

The knee ligament tears partially. Swelling and bruising around the injury site are common, and use of the knee joint is usually painful and difficult. Use of a weight-bearing brace, or supportive taping are common treatments of this sprain. A physiotherapist may also help by providing strengthening and joint exercises to guide the healing process. 

Grade III

The knee ligament fully tears. Swelling and bleeding can sometimes be present under the skin. The joint is unstable and it can be difficult to bear weight. You can also feel the knee giving way. With a grade III sprain, surrounding structures, such as the meniscus and/or ACL also become at risk of injury. A grade III sprain should be rehabilitated under the guidance of a physiotherapist and/or knee specialist. 

Prevention?

  • Improve patellofemoral alignment 
  • Improve your proprioception, agility and balance
  • Improve your walking, running, and squatting techniques 
  • Strengthen your knee, especially quadriceps and hamstrings

If you have any pain during exercises, or are unsure about what you are doing, please consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.

Healthwise Staff (2017). Medial collateral ligament injury.
Retrieved from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/abn2411

Chronic Ankle Sprains and Strains: Soleus Calf Muscle Stretch

If you have a history of rolling over on your ankles and spraining them, they may be weak and / or you might have tight calf muscles as well. This is an excellent way to stretch out the Soleus portion of your calf muscles if they are really tight.

To stretch out the left Soleus portion of the calf muscles place the forefoot of your left foot on an incline block or a piece of wood against the baseboard on the wall. The heel is planted on the ground.

Then bend your left knee towards the wall while lowering your body downwards. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, doing 3 sets on each side 2 times per day.

If you have a history of rolling over on your ankles and spraining them, they may be weak and / or you might have tight calf muscles as well. This is an excellent way to stretch out the Soleus portion of your calf muscles if they are really tight.

Many sports involve the use of a mobile calf muscle and doing this stretch can increase your ankle mobility to help you improve performance, especially in running-related sports and activities. 

Core Stability – Why does it matter?

What is the core, and why is it important?
The core is the center of our body, and its function is to stabilize the trunk while the arms and legs move. The core consists of muscles that stabilize the hips, torso, and shoulders, therefore having a strong core can help us prevent major injuries, while improving balance and stability. Building a strong core can make it easier to do most physical activities, whether it just be daily tasks or sport performance. Weak core muscles can lead to poor posture, low back pain, and muscle injuries, therefore it is crucial to build a strong core alongside your daily exercise routine. 

Benefits of core strength/stability include:

  • Injury prevention
  • Low back pain prevention
  • Improved posture
  • Balance and stability doing every day tasks such as housework
  • Improved athletic performance. 

Exercises for core stability strengthening

If you have any pain during exercises, or are unsure about what you are doing, please consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.

Healthwise Staff (2017). Fitness: Increasing Core Stability.
Retrieved from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/zt1226

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

What is a TMJ Disorder?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jawbone to your skull. You have one TMJ on each side of your jaw, and any type of pain in this jaw joint and muscles that control the jaw movement can be a symptom of a TMJ disorder. The exact cause of a TMJ disorder can often be difficulty to determine, therefore visiting a specialist can give you a better diagnosis. The pain can come from a combination of factors such as arthritis, jaw injury, consistent teeth grinding, and genetics. 

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain or tenderness of the jaw
  • Pain in the TMJ’s
  • An aching pain in and around your ear
  • A clicking or popping noise when opening and closing the mouth 

Prevention

  • Improving posture in the neck and upper back muscles 
  • Ice or cold packs to areas of the joint during onset of inflammation
  • Avoid excessive gum chewing 
  • Massages or gentle self-stretching of the jaw and neck muscles 

If you have any pain during exercises, or are unsure about what you are doing, please consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.

Canadian Dental Association (n.d.). Temporomandibular Joint Disorder.
Retrieved from https://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/talk/complications/temporomandibular_disorder/

Chronic Ankle Sprains and Strains: Gastrocnemius Calf Muscle Stretch

This is an excellent way to stretch out the main portion of your calf muscles if they are really tight. Many sports involve the use of a mobile calf muscle and doing this stretch can increase your ankle mobility to help you improve performance, especially in running-related sports and activities.

If you have a history of rolling over on your ankles and spraining them, they may be weak and / or you might have tight calf muscles as well.

To stretch out the left gastrocnemius portion of the calf muscles, start by engaging the inner core muscles below your belly button. Plant your left foot and heel into the ground and keep your low back flat as possible as you maintain a tight core. Then step your opposite foot towards the wall and place your hands at shoulder height onto the wall in front of you. As you bend your right knee, pretend you are pushing the wall down in front of you while keeping your low back flat, core engaged and the left heel planted on the ground.

This is an excellent way to stretch out the main portion of your calf muscles if they are really tight. Many sports involve the use of a mobile calf muscle and doing this stretch can increase your ankle mobility to help you improve performance, especially in running-related sports and activities. 

Chronic Low Back Pain: Rectus Femoris Muscle Stretch

This stretch can help with the chronic low back pain you may consistently have.

Prepare a nice cushion for your left knee to be on and a step stool to place the top of the foot on to have greater knee flexion. This will isolate the muscle stretch.

Keep your posture nice and tall and imagine there’s a string pulling your whole spine upwards from your pelvis, right up your entire back and neck and up to the top of your head. Then engage your inner core muscles tight below your belly button and keep your low back flat and contract your left butt muscles.

Next, bend the right knee forward and keep your posture nice and tall without leaning backwards. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times for each side.

This stretch can help with the chronic low back pain you may consistently have. If you experience pain or have any problems doing this exercise then consult your local Physiotherapist before continuing.