Category Archives for "core"

Whole-Body Partner Workout

Looking to try something new for your next workout? Try these fun and challenging exercises with a partner at the gym or at home. 

1) Medicine Ball Pass: 

Lie on your back with a mat with your feet planted next to each others. Begin with one person holding the medicine ball, then both sit up by engaging the core, and pass the ball to the other person. Repeat back-and-forth passes by performing simultaneous sit-ups for 20 to 30 repetitions. 
                                                                                                                                  credit: Kami Price

2) Squat Seesaw:

Grab a resistance band with a handle on each end and stand face to face. Begin with one person performing a squat to bring the resistance band downwards, while the other person stands tall and brings the resistance band overhead by extending their arms. Remember to keep an upright body position through out the movement and engage the core. Repeat for 20 repetitions. 
                                                                                                                              credit: Travis McCoy

3) Push-up to Bent-over Row:

Partner #1 will begin in a push-up position by placing both hands on the floor shoulder-width apart while the partner #2 holds the ankles. Partner #1 will perform a push-up by engaging the core and glutes to lower their body towards the floor as Partner #2 holds their ankles by keeping their arms extended and back neutral. After Partner #1 has brought their body back up by pushing up, Partner #2 will then pull their partner’s ankles upwards to chest level to perform a row. Repeat 10 times before switching roles. 

                                                                                             credit: Kami Price

4) Single-Leg Core Rotation:

Stand tall side to side with your partner and hold a medicine ball. Raising the outer leg to a 90 degree angle for each person, engage the core, and rotate to pass the ball back and forth between your partner and yourself. Complete 10-15 passes before switching positions to raise the other leg and complete another set. 
                                                                                                                              credit: Travis McCoy

5) Plank High-Fives

Begin in a plank position facing each other by placing hands directly below your shoulders and body positioned in a straight line. Engage the core and keep the spine neutral, raise one hand while the other partner raises the opposite hand to high-five in the space between you and your partner. 

                                                                                                                            credit: Stephanie Smith
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Mobilizing the Thoracic Spine

A tight upper back may be attributed to stiffness in the shoulder, neck, or back muscles surrounding the thoracic spine. Rounded or slump shoulders, having sway in the lower back, or a forward head position due to weak back extensor muscles, short and tight chest muscles, or weak abdominal muscles may result in an individual having poor posture. Poor posture can place tension in the upper back and may result in irritation or pain. Sports, weightlifting, irregular sleeping positions, or car accidents may also cause tightness in the upper neck and back region. Mobilizing and strengthening the muscles surrounding the thoracic spine may relieve an individual of stiffness or pain, while improving an individual’s range of motion and functioning. Remember to have a balanced, upright posture by standing tall, bringing the shoulders down and back, tuck your chin, and keep a neutral spine to work on better posture.

EXERCISES FOR A TIGHT THORACIC SPINE

1) Thoracic Rotations: 

Lie sideways on a mat or on the floor with both arms extended to one side and hands together. Bend the knee of the top leg to form a 90 degree angle. Place a long foam roller underneath the bent knee if you are unable to touch the ground with this top knee. Keeping your lower body in this position, twist your upper back by bringing the top arm over your body to the other side to touch the floor. Repeat 10-12 times, then lie on the other side and complete the same movement.

2) Cat-Cow: 

Begin in a table-top position with your knees hip-width apart and wrists shoulder-width apart on a mat or on the floor. Keep a neutral spine and head position. Move into the “cow” pose by inhaling as you drop your belly down towards the mat as you lift your chin and chest up to gaze toward the ceiling. Then move into the “cat” pose by exhaling as you draw your belly into your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. Repeat 10-15 times.

3) Seated Lateral Flexion: 

Begin seated in a chair with both feet planted on the floor or seated on the floor. Raise one arm up towards the ceiling. With your arm raised above your head, slowly bend to the opposite side. Return to the start position and lower your arm. Then raise the other arm and slowly bend to the opposite side. Repeat 5-10 times on each side.

4) Thoracic Extension with a Foam Roller: 

Place a long foam roller perpendicular to your spine on a mat or on the floor underneath your shoulder blades. Interlace your fingers and place your hands behind your head to support the weight of your head. Slowly push with your feet to roll the foam roller up and down the thoracic region. Maintain a neutral spine and engage your abs.

5) 4-Point Walk-Out: 

This exercise helps to re-train muscle activation in the shoulder blades and mobilizes the muscles surrounding the thoracic spine for a better functional recovery. Place your hands and knees in a four point or table-top position with a neutral spine. Engage the inner core and start by walking one hand out to one side, then back to the centre, and then to the other side, then back to the centre again. Put full equal weight each time you place your hand down. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise. Repeat for 30 seconds for 3 sets.

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Knee Injury Prevention Guideline

Knee and ACL injuries commonly occur in sports such as soccer, ultimate, and rugby. Athletes may require months to even more than a year to recover and to be able to return to play. There is a vast amount of literature describing a number of ways on how to prevent knee and ACL injuries. However, the most effective prevention strategies are the ones that are based on scientific evidence, a thorough assessment made by the coach and medical team, and the individual’s input.

Strongly suggested by research, programs most beneficial in preventing injuries consist of flexibility drills, running drills, strength training, core strength, and plyometrics. Each session should last approximately 20 minutes with a goal of exercising a minimum of 30 minutes per week. Programs should be implemented through out the year from preseason to regular season. Although most research studies focused on athletes between the ages of 12 and 25 years, these programs may benefit older individuals.

Recommended Exercises

Dynamic Stretches:

1) Toe Taps: Standing tall, kick one leg up and touch your toes to the palm of your hand. Alternate legs. Repeat 10 times on each side.

2) Reverse Lunge & Hop: Step back with one leg until you get into a lunge position. Swing the back leg forward until your knee is bent at a right angle by your chest. Maintain an upright body and repeat on the other side. Perform 10 repetitions on each side.

3) Calf Stretch: Standing tall on one leg, extend the other leg forward with only the heel in contact with the floor. Gently bend forward at the hips and feel a stretch along the front leg. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on other leg. Perform 3 times on each side.

Running Drills: 

Perform running drills such as forward and backward running or bounding. Watch Physiotherapist Claire lead two athletes through a series of running and other dynamic drills below.

Strength Training: 

Two-legged Squat:

Starting with tall posture, engage your core below the belly button by drawing the inner core muscles towards the spine without arching the low back. With arms in a ready position do a two legged squat with your body weight distributed equally over both feet. Don’t go any lower than a ninety degree bend in the knees, keeping your knees in alignment with your second toe and over your heels as much as possible. Hold for a good long second and then straighten back up with your butt muscles to the start. Do three sets of fifteen repetitions daily.

Advanced Superman Deadlifts:

Start by holding on to a 5 pound dumbbell on the same side as the leg that you are going to extend back on. With nice tall posture, engage your core below the belly button. Keeping your spine flat, bend forward at the hips while you extend the leg back and reaching forward with the opposite arm and holding onto the 5 pound dumbbell with the other hand. Remember to keep that hip down on the side you’re extending the leg back on. Do 3 sets, 10 repetitions, holding for 3 seconds.

Split Squat Jumps:

Start with a nice tall posture and your inner core pulled in to keep your low back flat. Engage your back leg into extension by pushing the back forefoot into a solid bench or a chair supported against a wall. With your arms in the ready position bend the knee to 90 degrees by bringing the butt down and then jump back up. Keep your thigh strong by preventing the knee from buckling inwards. Keep your knee over the heel and don’t let it go over your toes. Do 3 sets of 10 on each side.

Core Strength Exercises:

1) Planks: Begin on the floor resting on your forearms and knees. Extend both legs until your whole body forms a straight line from the top of your head to your feet. Engage the core and glute muscles. Begin by holding this position for 30 seconds. Progress to 60 seconds or more to increase difficulty.

2) Glute Bridge: Begin on the floor with your back flat, legs bent at approximately 90 degrees and both feet on the ground. Place both arms to the side then engage your core as you lift your hips up. Hold for a second or two at the top as you squeeze your glute muscles.

Plyometrics

1) Box Jumps: Use a box that is around your knee height or higher. Stand in front of the box with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend slightly downwards, swing your arms back, then swing them forward and explode up off the ground onto the box. Repeat 10 times.

2) Lateral Skater Jumps: Begin by standing on one leg and bend the other leg. Jump sidewards and land on the leg that was bent. Then switch sides. Repeat 10 on each side.

References:
https://www.ufvcascades.ca/2018/01/cascades-mens-soccer-program-to-host-id-camp/
https://www.jospt.org/doi/full/10.2519/jospt.2018.0509
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How to Warm Up For a Bigger Bench Press

The bench press is one of the key complex exercises to build upper body strength and mass. It involves the pectoralis major, triceps brachii, anterior deltoids, traps, back, and glute muscles. Check out the following blog post on how to properly perform the bench press: https://insyncphysio.com/strength-training-for-dragon-boat-paddlers/


Warm up prior to any exercise is key as it raises the heart rate and circulation of blood to the muscles to prepare for an increase in activity. Complete the following steps before performing light reps on the bench press to warm up effectively for a bigger bench press:

1) Self-Myofascial Release: 

Foam rolling decreases tissue density and muscle viscosity, while increasing blood flow into the muscles. Apply moderate pressure to the chest, lats, and tricep muscles. Do not roll over joints. Pause on any tender spots for several seconds. 

2) Dynamic Warmup:

a. Side Lying Windmills: Lie down with your back on the floor with one leg extended and the other leg crossed over your body with the knee bent at a 90 degree angle. Extend both arms in the same direction as the knee that is pointed to the side. With the top arm, slowly raise it in a circular motion over your chest to reach the opposite side. Then bring the arm back to meet the other arm. Do not move either legs through out the motion. Repeat 10 times on each side.


b. 4-Point Clock Reaches: Loop a closed elastic band with mild resistance around your arms above your wrists. Kneeling on the ground, keep your spine in neutral posture with your inner core muscles engaged. Imagine there is clock face numbered 9 to 3 O’clock on the ground in front of you. Begin by reaching the right hand to 12 O’clock and then back to the start position. Continue to 1 O’clock, 2 O’clock, 3 O’clock and then backwards up to 12 O’clock again. Repeat 5 times on each side.


c. External Rotation: Position your elbow by your side, shoulders relaxed and your posture in spine neutral. Holding on to a resistance band use your other hand to help it out to the end range of external rotation. The opposite hand is doing all the work pushing the band outward that is being held by your other hand. Then let the hand holding the band slowly return to the start position. Repeat 10 times on each side.

d. Push-ups: Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart, then lower your body downwards until your chest nearly touches the floor. Keep your elbows tucked in and engage the core to keep a neutral spine. Bring your body back up by pushing upwards with your arms. Repeat 5-10 times.

3) Central Nervous System (CNS) Activation

a. Chest Throws: Stand perpendicular to a wall with feet shoulder-width apart. Holding a medicine ball level to your chest, use the momentum provided by your upper body, throw the ball, and catch it when it bounces or is tossed back to you. Repeat 10 times. 


b. Ball slams: Stand shoulder-width apart, raise a medicine ball above your head. Using the momentum from your whole body, throw the ball downwards towards the floor. Repeat 10 times. 

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

5 Strengthening Exercises for Dancers

Overuse injuries are commonly found in dancers due to their intense training regimes. Nearly 60 to 90% of dancers experience an injury or multiple injuries during their careers (Steinberg, Siev-Ner, Peleg, et al., 2013). These injuries include chrondromalacia patella (“runner’s knee”), Achilles tendinopathy, and metatarsal (foot) fractures. Some major causes of injury may be due to anatomic structure, genetics, training regime, improper technique, floor surfaces, age, body mass index, muscle imbalance, nutrition, and menstrual function (Steinberg et al., 2013).

Dance typically includes being on the toes and forefoot in a extreme plantar flexion position, known as “en pointe.” Individuals with poor balance and landing techniques will experience higher ground reaction forces which may subsequently strain the back, knees, and ankles. Incorrect form in many non-professional dancers entail a valgus knee position (knees caved inwards) and hip adduction. Conversely, mature, experienced dancers are able to rely on stronger hip and knee joint muscles to stabilize themselves during landing from jumps. Young dancers also experience lower back pain. Causative factors include high preseason training intensity, history of low back pain, low body weight, scoliosis, and stress fracture in the pars articularis of the spine (Steinberg et al., 2013).

Studies have recommended minimal exposure for young dancers to overload exercises, especially those involving the spine and caution with extensive stretching exercises (Steinberg et al., 2013).

Prevention

Here are a few essential tips to reduce the risk of injury:

  • Wear proper footwear and clothing
  • Drink fluids regularly
  • Do not dance through pain as it will exacerbate the damage
  • Practice correct dance technique 
  • Take adequate breaks during and between dance sessions
  • Ensure proper warm-up and cool-down (approximately 5-10 minutes)
  • Use preventative taping and/or braces if necessary

Strengthening

1) Woodchops – hold a light dumbbell or single cable in the highest pulley position with both hands and bring the weight downwards diagonally to the side of the leg opposite to the starting position. Remember to keep a flat back and tight core through out the motion. Repeat 8 to 12 reps on each side.
2) Lateral Step Downs – stand beside a step or a box, then place one foot on the step. Lift the other leg upwards by bending the knee to 90 degrees. Then bring the foot back down to the ground. Repeat 8 to 12 reps before switching sides. 
3) Core Stability – place your stomach onto a ball and keep the spine in a neutral position. Keep the inner core muscles engaged and reach one arm up in front with the opposite leg extended back. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds before switching sides. Repeat 10 times on each side.
4) Superman Deadlifts – hold a light dumbbell to the same side as the leg that will be extended back on. With a nice tall posture, engage the core and bend forward at the hips while you extend the leg back and reach forward with the opposite arm. Repeat 10 times on each side.
5) Squat Jumps – start with a tall posture, engage the core muscles by drawing the lower ab muscles inward toward the spine. Avoid arching the low back, with arms in a ready position, do a one-legged squat with the body weight equally distributed over the foot. Lower the body downwards by bending at the knees, then jump straight back upwards by engaging your glute and thigh muscles. Repeat 10 to 15 times for 3 sets.

Steinberg, N., Siev-Ner, I., Peleg, S., Dar, G., Masharawi, Y., Zeev, A., & Hershkovitz, I. (2013). Injuries in Female Dancers Aged 8 to 16 Years. Journal of Athletic Training48(1), 118–123. http://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-48.1.06
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Building a Stronger Core to Prevent Low Back Pain

Up to 80% of individuals will experience some lower back pain at least once in their lifetime. Lower back pain (LBP) results in high costs and places a burden on society. These costs include diagnostic, treatment, and indirect costs associated with work disability. A number of conditions can lead to low back pain such as infections, tumours, fractures or dislocations of the spine. However, lifting heavy loads is generally thought to be a key predictor of LBP. An important element in prevention of LBP is to correctly stabilize the trunk during lifting by pre-activating the abdominal wall muscles. By doing so, the spine will increase in stiffness to reduce the effect of undesired spinal perturbations. Exercises aimed at bracing the abdominal muscles may reduce the risk of LBP.

There are two ways of stabilizing the abdominal muscles: an abdominal hollow or abdominal brace. An abdominal hollow begins by drawing in the lower abdomen (transversus abdominus) while maintaining relaxation of the other surrounding abdominal muscles such as the obliques. At the same time, small muscles of the lower back (close to the spine) such as the multifidus are contracted while the larger back muscles are relaxed. With contraction of the lower abdomen and small back muscles, intra-abdominal pressure is increased and the fascia surrounding the spine increases in tension. Combined, these contribute to provide intersegmental stability.

An abdominal brace is performed by activating all of the abdominal and lower back muscles, rather than specific muscle recruitment. By tensing the entire trunk without drawing the muscles in or pushing them out, global activation of the ab and back muscles may provide increased stability in all directions in various movement patterns.

Both the abdominal hollow and brace can help increase the stiffness of the spine to minimize lower back pain. The use of either one will depend on the desired movement pattern and the goals of the individuals in stabilizing their core. Strengthening the core muscles is also essential in reducing the amount of loading on the lower back muscles. Watch these videos below:

Back Pain, Lower Back Treatment “Building Core Strength”:

Back, Sacro-Iliac-Joint Pain & Dysfunction: Core Stability Foam Roller:

Strengthening Hips, Pelvis and Low Back For Ultimate Frisbee: “Psoas March”:

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5 Conditioning Exercises for Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is a fun, but challenging activity that requires strength, endurance, and skill. It is important to strengthen your arms and legs to move up near-vertical or overhanging rock. Having a strong core and torso will help keep the body balanced and up against the wall during the climb. Check out the following exercises below that to help condition your body before you tackle your next mountain or rock climbing wall.


EXERCISES:

1) Pull-ups 

These are an upper body, compound exercise that targets the biceps, latissimus dorsi, and upper back muscles. Use banded pull-ups if body-weight pull-ups are too difficult. Then progress to weighted pull-ups for 4 sets of 10 reps.

a. Hang from a pull-up bar and grasp the bar about shoulder-width apart with palms facing away from your face
b. Retract and adduct the scapula
c. Pull yourself up while bringing your elbows down to the floor until your chin passes the bar
d. Lower yourself all the way down, breathe, and repeat the pull-up

2) Staggered pushups

These engage your entire core as well as target your shoulder and chest muscles. Begin with regular pushups with hands side by side and slowly increase the difficulty by extending your one hand a few inches away from the other in various directions

a. Assume a prone position with your body straight, supported by your extended arms and your toes. Your hands should be outside of shoulder width but staggered, with one being higher than the other. This will be your starting position.
b. Initiate the movement by flexing the elbows, lowering your torso to the ground. Do not allow your hips to rise or to sag
c. Pause at the bottom of the motion, and then extend at the elbows to return to the starting position
d. At the completion of this set, reverse your hand position for the next round.

3) Finger hangs 

Can be performed on a door frame, rock rings, or pull-up bar simulate finger gripping on a rock climbing wall and helps to build hand and arm strength. Hang for five seconds, then rest for another five seconds. Repeat for a full minute. 


4) Weighted step ups 

These help condition your legs for power during a climb. Do 10 – 20 repetitions on each leg. Use a light to moderately heavy barbell or a dumbbell in each hand.


a. Stand facing a bench, step or plyometric box and place the ball of one foot up on the bench
b. Push up into full extension and then jump back to the floor, landing as softly as possible, returning to a squat position.

5) Cable rotations 

These target core strengthening and mobility that can help stabilize the body while moving the body in various positions across a rock wall.

a. Adjust the pulley handle to chest height. Step out and away from the weight. Feet are shoulder-width. Stand with a tight core and flat back. Push the handle out in front of you. Keep elbows slightly bent
b. Twist from the hips. Move arms across the body, achieving a full extension
c. Return to starting position
d. Once complete, do the same amount of sets/reps on the other side.

BONUS: Watch Claire (PT) from INSYNC PHYSIO demonstrate the “Ultimate Workout for Agility and Core” 
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Step Up Your Beach Volleyball Game

Beach volleyball is an intense sport that requires good stamina and strength. Training various muscles of the body (core, lower body, upper body) to become stronger will allow you to hit harder and jump higher. Easily train on the sand using medicine balls, sand bags, kettle bells, or resistance bands with these specific exercises below.

CORE:

1)      Scissor kick: Lie down flat on your back with your arms extended straight out to the side, palms faced down. Raise one leg from the ground and then back down. Switch to the other leg. Do 16 reps for 3 sets with 1 minute rest in between each set. Variation: increase the difficulty of this move by placing a resistance band over your thigh area.
2)      Extended plank: start in a plank position withour elbows a few inches in front of your shoulders. Straighten your trunk and legs so that they are in line. Hold your abs tightly for 45 seconds to 1 minute. One set.


3)      Medicine ball slam: Hold a medicine ball with both hands and stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Lift the ball above your head, extending your whole body and slam the ball into the ground directly in front of you. Do 10 reps for 3 sets with 1 minute rest in between each set.

LOWER BODY:

1)      Squat jump twist: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and squat down until your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Stand upwards and jump up in the air. Rotate 90 degrees as you jump up and land on both feet back to the starting position. Do 10 reps for 3 sets with 1 minute rest in between each set.

2)      Glute bridge walkout: Lie down flat on your back with your knees bent at a 90 degree angles and feet flat on the ground. Drive your hips up to end range, careful not to over flare your ribs. Slowly walk your feet out, one heel at a time and then return to the starting bridge position. Do 10 reps for 3 sets with 1 minute rest in between each set. Variation: increase the difficulty of this move by placing a resistance band over your thigh area.

UPPER BODY:


1)      Push press: Use a sandbag, medicine ball, or kettle bell and hold firmly with both hands in front of the chest. Push your sandbag or kettle bell straight up to the sky over your head. Do 10 reps for 3 set with 1 minute rest in between each set.

2)      Push ups: Starting in the plank position, place your palms onto the ground under your shoulders and lock out your elbows. Dig your toes into the ground and keep the feet close together. Slowly lower your body down until you are a few inches off the ground. Then push your body up to the starting position. Do 10 reps for 3 sets with 1 minute rest in between each set.

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