Category Archives for "muscle"

What is PNF Stretching?

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, also known as PNF stretching, is a technique employed to improve muscle elasticity and range of motion. PNF is frequently used by therapists to restore functional range of motion and increase strength capabilities in patients who have sustained soft tissue damage or in post-surgery rehabilitation. It is found that consistent performance of PNF stretching and PNF stretching post-exercise may increase athletic performance by increasing range of motion. It is evident in literature that there are two types of techniques that can be utilized under PNF stretching.

The contract-relax method (CR) includes lengthening the targeted muscle and holding it in that position while the targeted muscle is contracted to its maximum isometrically for a period of time. A short period of relaxation and a passive stretch of the targeted muscle follows this initial contraction phase. The contract-relax-antagonist-contract method (CRAC) begins with the same procedure as the CR method. However, it takes a further step by contracting the antagonist muscle to the targeted muscle instead of passively stretching the targeted muscle.

How to Properly Perform a PNF Stretch:

Contract-Relax (CR) Method:

1) Stretch targeted muscle to the limit of normal range of motion. Contract the targeted muscle group for 5 – 10 seconds while a partner or immovable object such as a band applies sufficient resistance to inhibit movement of the muscle group.

2) Relax the targeted muscle group for 3 – 5 seconds.

3) Have your partner passively stretch the targeted muscle group by applying a controlled, deeper stretch for about 20 – 30 seconds into a greater range of motion.

4) Relax the muscle for approximately 30 seconds before repeating the above process 2 or 3 more times.

Contract-Relax-Antagonist-Contract (CRAC) Method:

1) Stretch targeted muscle to the limit of normal range of motion. Contract the targeted muscle group for 5 – 10 seconds while a partner or immovable object such as a band applies sufficient resistance to inhibit movement of the muscle group.

2) Relax the targeted muscle group for 3 – 5 seconds.

3) Contract the antagonist muscle (opposite to targeted muscle group) for 5 – 10 seconds.

4) After brief period of relaxation, have your partner passively stretch the targeted muscle group by applying a controlled, deeper stretch for about 20 – 30 seconds into a greater range of motion.

5) Relax the muscle for approximately 30 seconds before repeating the above process 2 or 3 more times.

Example of PNF Stretching for the Lower Body: 

Begin by lying on your back with one leg on the floor and the other leg extended and stretched into the limit of your normal range of motion. 

Contract the hamstring of the stretched leg and have your partner resist leg movement. 

Relax the hamstrings then have your partner passively stretch the leg past its normal range of movement.
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5 Exercises for Stronger Scapulas

Weak scapular muscles can lead to an array of injuries including shoulder impingement, rotator cuff tears, and other shoulder-related pains. Pain may be followed by a restricted range of motion and may severely worsen if left untreated. Strengthening the scapular muscles can provide long-term benefits for rehabilitation and performance. Try the five following exercises below:

LYING DUMBBELL PRESS:

1. Lie down flat on a bench with a light dumbbell in each hand.

2. Hold the dumbbells on either side of your chest with the palms facing away from your shoulders and your elbow at a 90 degree angle.

3. Push your arms upwards and feel your shoulder blades separate. Remember to keep the dumbbells parallel to each other until the very top of the press.

3. Inhale and slowly bring down both dumbbells to the sides of your chest until you reach the 90 degree angle at the elbow. Breathe out on your next rep. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.

WALL PUSHUP:

1. Stand a few steps away from a wall, then place your hands on the wall so that they are slightly more than shoulder-width apart and arms are locked out.

2. Maintain a neutral back and neck, then slowly lean towards the wall by bending your elbow.

3. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lower yourself and hold this forward position for 2-3 seconds.

4. Slowly straighten your arm and relax your shoulder blades. Repeat 10 times.

BAND PULL APARTS:

1. In a comfortable standing position, hold a light band in between both hands about shoulder-width apart.

2. Pull the band as wide as you can, then slowly bring the arms back to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.

Y-RAISES:

1. Lie on your stomach on a bench or Swiss ball with a light dumbbell in each hand.

2. Straighten your arms so that the dumbbell is in front of your head.

3. Lift the dumbbells up, keeping your arms straight, to make a “Y” shape with your torso.

4. Slowly lower them down. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.

ISOMETRIC DUMBBELL HOLDS:

1. Hold a very light dumbbell straight in front of you at approximately 45 degree angle.

2. Maintain this position for about 10 seconds.

3. Then, slowly lower the dumbbell to the side of your body. Perform 10 holds on each side.

BONUS: Watch this video to learn an extra exercise for the scapula muscles!

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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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How to Squat Properly

Squats are an excellent way to target the full body and to build significant strength. It heavily relies on your thighs, calves, lower back, arms, and abs. Some key benefits include building muscle, burning fat, increasing endurance, and improving proprioception. However, proper form is needed to avoid back or knee pain.  
HOW TO SQUAT WITH A BARBELL:
Starting Position
1.      Stand with feet approximately shoulder-width apart, toes pointing straight ahead, and knees aligned over second and third toes.
         As much as 5-8° of external foot rotation is allowed in the starting position, some consider this normal anatomical position.
2.      To perform the high-bar back squat, rest the barbell on the shoulders, behind the neck, with hands grasping the bar wider than shoulder-width apart.

3.      To perform the low-bar back squat, rest the barbell on the middle trapezius region with hands grasping the bar wider than shoulder-width apart.
         It is important to note adequate shoulder mobility (external rotation) is required to hold the bar securely.
Movement Pattern
1.      Slowly begin to squat down by hinging at the hips and then flexing at the knees.  
2.      Allow glutes to “stick” out behind the body as if sitting into a chair.
3.      Keep the chest up and the cervical spine in a neutral position. Avoid excessive cervical flexion, extension, or anterior translation (jutting the head forward).
4.      Squat to a depth that can be safely controlled with no movement compensations.
         Common movement compensations include knee valgus (knock knees), rounding or arching of the low-back, an excessive forward lean of the torso, and overly externally rotating or pronating the feet.
5.      To rise back up, contract the gluteals and place pressure through the heels as the knees and hips are extended.
6.      Stand up straight until hips and legs are fully extended. Fully contract the gluteals in the standing position for maximal muscle recruitment.

FOR BEGINNERS:

1. Place the big ball up against the wall and have your lower back against the ball
2. Roll up a towel, place it between your knees and shimmy your feet out slightly in front of you.
3. Make sure your knee is in line with your second toe, squeeze the towel and keep your core engaged.
4. Squat down until your knees are at 90 degrees and hold that for 10 seconds.
5. Do 3 sets of 10. Rest for 5 seconds between each rep.

For reference:
http://www.ptonthenet.com/articles/biomechanics-of-the-squat-4016

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