Category Archives for "performance"

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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Strain vs Sprain? How To Recover Optimally

Acute sprains and strains may impede performance and delay return to a sport. Proper management, treatment, and prevention is essential to recovering effectively. An athlete must first understand the definition and recognize the differences between a “sprain” and a “strain.” A sprain is defined as a violent overstretching of one or more ligaments in a joint. A sprain can result in pain, tenderness, swelling or bruising at the joint. A strain is defined as a stress or direct injury to the muscle or tendon. A strain may also cause pain when moving or stretching the injured muscle, but can also cause muscle spasms.

Grades of Strain:

1) Grade I – Mild Strain: slightly pulled muscle with no muscle or tendon tears and no loss of strength and low levels of pain
2) Grade II – Moderate Strain: partial tearing of the muscle or tendon at the bone attachment with reduced strength, moderate pain levels
3) Grade III – Severe Strain: complete rupture of muscle-tendon-bone attachment with separation, substantial loss in strength and high levels of pain

Grades of Sprain:

1) Grade I – Mild Sprain: minor tearing of some ligament, no loss of function
2) Grade II – Moderate Sprain: partial rupture of portion of ligament, moderate loss of function
3) Grade III – Severe Sprain: complete rupture of ligament or separation of ligament from bone, substantial loss of function

Proper RICE Treatment:

1) REST: Do not continue to use the affected muscle or ligament immediately after injury. Use crutches for the lower extremities (i.e. leg or ankle) and splints for the upper extremities (i.e. arm or hand)

2) ICE: Sudden cold may help constrict capillaries and blood vessels to slow or restrict internal bleeding. Place an ice pack between a towel or dry cloth. Apply ice every hour for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.

3) COMPRESS: Compression can help reduce swelling post-injury. Wrap the injured part firmly with an elasticized bandage, compression sleeve, or a cloth. Do NOT wrap the cloth too tightly as it may cut off blood circulation and lead to more swelling.

4) ELEVATE: Elevate the injured part about level of the heart to reduce swelling and pain. Place a soft object such as a pillow or piece of clothing to use as a prop below the body part.

Continued Recovery:

Continue to follow the above RICE method for two to three days post-injury. Daily stretching may help loosen the muscle. Key to prevention is to stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak muscles.

Watch the videos below on how to recover from a common ankle sprain or shoulder strain:

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Effects of Energy Deficiency on Performance

What is the “Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) Syndrome?”

The RED-S syndrome refers to impaired physiological functioning caused by relative energy deficiency and may result in impairments in menstrual function, metabolic rate, bone health, immunity, immunity, or cardiovascular health.
Energy availability (EA) is calculated as energy intake (EI) minus the energy cost of exercise (EE) relative to fat-free mass (FFM). In healthy adults, an energy balance is a value of 45 kcal/kg FFM/day.
Low energy availability is where an individual’s dietary energy intake is insuffient to support the energy expenditure required for health and daily living. It may occur in individuals who are required to diet to enhance performance, are pressured to lose weight, go through frequent weight cycling, overtrain, have recurrent and non-healing injuries, or strict regulations.

What happens if I have low energy?

As seen in the figure above, having low energy availability for your body can result in a number of negative consequences on your athletic performance. From decreased muscle strength to increased injury risk, athletes must be aware of the balance between their dietary energy intake and daily energy expenditure when exercising.  Signs of fatigue, irritability, depression, or weakness should be taken note of and addressed immediately.
Low energy availability may be linked to menstrual dysfunction in females or negatively impact bone health in both females and males. A lower bone mineral density may increase the risk of stress fractures which can have serious long-term consequences.


Treatment Strategies:

For individuals who have low energy availability, treatment involves increasing your energy intake and reduce exercise intensity or frequency. Attempt in implement an eating plan that increases current energy intake by approximately 300 to 600 kcal per day. To optimize bone health, include high-impact loading and resistance training at least 2 to 3 days per week. Intake of calcium and vitamin D are especially important for bone health. Having a food diary and/or exercise log is helpful in tracking your meals as well as exercise intensities to estimate what your daily energy availability is.

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