Category Archives for "leg"

How to Activate Your Glute Muscles

Properly activating your glutes before starting any exercise is important to ensure safety and optimal performance. Complex lifts such as deadlifts or squats not only require a strong and engaged core, but also activation of your large leg and glute muscles to help generate a desired level of power for the movement. 

The glute muscles consist of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medium, and gluteus minimus. The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three muscles and its primary function is to extend and externally rotate the thigh at the hip joint. The gluteus medius, which spans laterally to the side of the hip and thigh, works to abduct the thigh at the hip joint. Lastly, the smallest muscle in the group is the gluteus minimus works in conjunction with the gluteus medium to abduct the thigh and helps prevent the hips or knees to collapse inwards. Engaging all three muscles will help stabilize the hip, pelvis, and trunk. Try these exercises below to engage your glute muscles:

1) Side Stepping with a Band

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a circle band placed just above your knees. Bend at your knees and hips to maintain a squat position. Then step to one side, driving the leading knee outwards and engaging the glute muscles. Bring the trailing leg back to the starting position. Continue stepping for another 10-15 repetitions before stepping in the other direction, driving the opposite knee outwards. 

2) Clamshells

Lie on your side with your hips at 45° and your knees at 90° with a band above your knees. Keep your feet together at all times as you open your top knee up against the resistance of the band. Slowly bring the top knee back to meet the bottom knee. Repeat for 10 repetitions. Then complete on the other side. 

3) Sidelying Leg Holds


Begin by lying on your left side to strengthen your left Gluteus medius “Butt” muscles. Keep your right hip stacked on top of your left and place your right hand on your right hip. Then bring your right foot on the ground in front of your left knee and bend the left knee to 90 degrees. Bring your left foot up, while maintaining the ninety degree bend in your knee. Hold this for 10 seconds; Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

4) Lateral Step-Downs / Runner’s Step-Ups

Stand with one foot on a step box and your hands on your hips. Then bring the other foot down to the side and touch the floor. Engage your glute muscles at all times and repeat for 10 repetitions for 3 sets on each leg. Progress the exercise by beginning in the same starting position with one foot on a step box and the other leg straight out to the side. Then kick back with the side leg to about 45° behind your body. Repeat for 10 repetitions for 3 sets on each leg. The third progression is a step-up. Begin in the same starting position, step down with one foot, then drive the same leg and opposite arm upwards. Repeat for 10 repetitions for 3 sets on each leg.

5) Ball Raises on the Wall


Wrap a resistance band around your inside hip.Lean your inside hip onto the exercise ball against the wall and pull with the band towards the outside hip with your hand. With your inner core engaged and your posture tall flex your inside knee up to your chest. Start by driving your outside hip into the ball to bring the inside hip upwards so it’s level with your other hip. Then release and drop your inside hip back down and repeat. Do 10 repetitions for 3 sets.
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How to Recover from Achilles Tendinopathy

The Achilles tendon is the thickest tendon in the human body. It attaches the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (together known as the triceps surae) as well as the plantaris muscle to the calcaneus bone (heel) of the ankle. These muscles combined allow for plantar flexion at the ankle and flexion of the knee.

Tendinopathy of the Achilles tendon refers to a condition that causes pain, swelling, or stiffness at the tendon connecting the muscles to the bone. Commonly found in athletes such as runners, overuse of the tendon, may result in microtrauma or repeated injuries to the Achilles tendon. Wearing improper footwear, having poor training or exercising techniques, making a sudden change to your training program, or exercising on hard surfaces may also cause minor injuries to this tendon. Pain and stiffness may develop gradually and are typically worse in the morning. Pain is generally worse after exercise, but may potentially arise during training. Overtime, symptoms may be so severe that individuals may be unable to carry out their usual daily activities.

Recovery:

Rehabilitation occurs quickly or over several months depending on the severity of the injury. Although pain may be present, expert clinicians and researchers recommend continuing daily activities within one’s pain tolerance. As complete rest should be avoided as much as possible.

In the early stages of Achilles tendinopathy, a treatment called iontophoresis may be used to reduce soreness and improve function. This treatment involves delivering a medicine (dexamethasone) to the painful area. Ice packs are also effective in reducing swelling. Apply ice pack wrapped in a towel or dry cloth to the affected area for 10 to 30 minutes at a time.

However, researchers have found that Achilles tendinopathy is often successfully treated with strength training guided by a physical therapist. Strength training relies on using one’s body weight with or without additional weight for resistance to load the tendon and associated muscles to strengthen the calf. Do exercises slowly to decrease pain, improve mobility, and return to normal functioning.

Try these exercises below:

1) Heel-raise: Stand with your feet a few inches apart. Raise up on to your tiptoes and lift the heels by using both legs. Then lower yourself down using the affected leg. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions twice per day. This exercise can also be performed seated in a chair.

2) Calf stretch: Stand a few steps away from a wall and place your hands at about eye level. Place the leg you want to stretch about a step behind the other leg and bend the knee of the front leg until you feel a stretch in the back leg. Remember to keep your heels planted. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 to 4 times before switching to the other leg. Repeat twice per day.

3) Towel stretch: Sit with both knees straight on the ground and loop a towel around the affected foot. Gently pull on the towel until a comfortable stretch is felt in the calf. Hold position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 to 4 times before switching to the other leg. Repeat two to three times per day.

Check out these videos:

Strengthen the Calf Muscles with 1-Legged Squats:
Roll Out Stiff Calves:

Reference: J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2018;48(5):427. doi:10.2519/jospt.2018.0506
InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.