Category Archives for "strengthening"

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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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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What is Cuboid Syndrome?

Ever feel pain or swelling on the side of your foot? These symptoms may be due to a condition called Cuboid Syndrome, also known as cuboid subluxation or lateral plantar neuritis. In addition to pain in the lateral mid-foot, redness and a restricted range of motion in the ankle may be present. This syndrome is typically associated with an inversion sprain of the ankle. This is when the foot is forced inwards causing the cuboid bone to sublux, or partially dislocate. The cuboid bone is located near the mid-point of the outer side of the foot and is one of the seven tarsal bones that make up the arch of the foot. It connects the foot and ankle as well as provides stability to the foot.

The peroneus longus muscle is a muscle that runs along the outer side of the lower leg and attaches to the lateral side of the foot. Repetitive strain of this muscle due to activities such as ballet, jumping, or running, may place tension on the cuboid bone. Commonly found in athletes, Cuboid Syndrome may also occur in sports such basketball, football, or soccer. Weight-bearing, uneven pavement, or quick changes in direction that occur in sports may aggravate symptoms. A third cause of this syndrome may be an individual’s altered foot biomechanics. Athletes who have over-pronated feet, also known as flat feet, may be more prone to cuboid subluxation.

Imaging such as x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans can be used to rule out other causes of pain. However, a cuboid subluxation can be difficult to diagnose and therefore, must be carefully assessed by a general physician or other health care professional.

STRENGTHENING

Daily strengthening and mobility exercises should be performed on a pain-free basis to prevent the foot and ankle from becoming weak or stiff. Watch the videos below on how to properly perform strengthening exercises:

Use a resistance band tied to a stable anchor and wrap it around the unaffected leg. With the affected ankle, stand either in front of the band or inside while keeping your posture tall and inner core engaged. Hike the foot with the band wrapped around the leg up off of the ground and slowly push the leg out to the side and then slowly return it back to the middle while keeping the foot off of the ground the entire time. Resist the movement with the standing leg by squeezing the butt muscles. Repeat this 10 times for 3 sets daily.
Start by putting your weight on the side of the affected ankle and hike the opposite foot up off of the ground. Remember to keep your inner core tight below the belly button. Then with the foot that’s off of the ground touch the first point in front of the ground, then to the side and then behind you, and then cross over to the other side of the body. Repeat the 4 points of contact (front, left side, back and right side) for 30 seconds 4 sets 4 times per day. As you get stronger increase it to 60 seconds 4 sets 4 times per day. If you have a fracture as a result of your injury or you are unsure if this is the right exercise for you to do, consult your physiotherapist before starting this exercise.
Starting with tall posture, engage your core muscles below the belly button by drawing the lower abs inwards toward the spine. Avoid arching the low back. With arms in a ready position do a one-legged squat with your body weight distributed equally over the foot. 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 heel 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 ten repetitions daily. 

TREATMENT

Other treatment options include foot support such as padding, taping, or orthotics to help stabilize the bones of the midfoot or correct for over-pronation. Rest from repetitive, weight-bearing actions such as jumping or running may help alleviate pain. Ice affected area for 10 minutes at a time to reduce swelling and inflammation. Consult your family physician, physical therapist, or podiatrist to perform a manipulation if the cuboid bone is suspected to be dislocated.


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Quick Recovery for Finger Sprains

Finger sprains commonly occur in sports and every day activities that involve heavy lifting or repetitive hand motions. Falls or contact sports such as football may even force a finger out of its normal joint position resulting in a dislocation. The force to the finger may cause joints in the finger to hyperextend or move sideways. Sprains of the finger are classified according to the extent of injury or damage.

Classification:

1) Grade I – Mild: A first degree sprained finger is present when the ligaments are only stretched but not ruptured. There may be localized swelling, slight pain, and slight reduction in range of motion, but strength remains unaffected. An individual may continue to engage in an activity. Taping of the injured finger may be more effective. Recovery is immediate.

2) Grade II – Moderate: A second degree sprained finger occurs when there is partial ligament tears, a greater reduction in range of motion and some loss of strength with more swelling and pain. The joint capsule may also be damaged. Recovery will take longer.

3) Grade III – Severe: A third degree sprained finger involves complete rupture of the ligament, complete loss of range of motion and typically dislocation of the finger. Significant pain and swelling is present. X-ray is required for diagnosis and surgery may be indicated.

Treatment:

In the first 48 to 72 hours after the sprain, the individual should protect the finger by taping it to the adjacent finger or by using a finger brace. Apply ice for about 15 min every two hours with a small ice pack wrapped in a dry towel or use a large cup filled with cold water and some ice for immersion.

Once swelling has gone down, the individual may begin light range of motion exercises by placing a soft object such as a tennis ball or rolled sock in the palm of the hand and gently squeezing the object.  Repeat 10 times and stop if any pain arises. Surgery may be indicated for third degree sprains. Consult a physician for the appropriate diagnosis.

Strengthening:

1) Ball Grip: Hold a ball in the palm of the hand with all fingers enclosing the ball and gently squeeze. Hold, then relax.

2) Pinch: Place a ball between the thumb and index finger. Gently squeeze, then relax.

3) Opposition: Hold a ball with the thumb and pinky finger. Gently squeeze the ball using the two fingers, then relax.

4) Side-Squeeze: Place a ball between any two fingers and gently squeeze, then relax.

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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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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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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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3 Key Exercises to Improve Balance

Why is it important to include balance training in your regular exercise program?


Balance is needed for just about everything you do on a daily basis from carrying groceries to putting on your shoes. Balance training involves strengthening exercises that target your entire body, especially the core. This not only reduces the risk of injury, but may improve motor coordination (Oliveira et al., 2017). At least 3 days of balance training per week is recommended for inactive and active older adults (> 65 yr). Activities such as pilates, yoga, tai chi, dance, or brisk walking are suitable for improving one’s balance. Implements such as bosu balls, balance boards, or foam pads can be used to add variety to your exercises. 

Try the Following Exercises Below:

1) Step-ups

a.     Stand in front of a box with a tall posture
b.     Step up with one leg, then bring the other leg up so that both feet are on the box
c.      Step down one leg at a time and repeat 10 times for each leg
d.     Increase the difficulty by using a taller box or increase your step up pace

2)  One Legged Squat

a.     Stand with a tall posture
b.     Bend your right knee and lift your right foot off the floor
c.      Keep your chest upright and arms extended to the front, slowly lower your body to the floor by pushing your hips back and down
d.     Slowly push up to the starting position and switch feet
e.     Remember to keep your knee in line with your second toe as you squat
f.      Repeat 10 times on each leg
3)  Single Leg Dead Lift

a.     Stand on your right foot, enagage the core, and slowly bend forward at the hips
b.     Reach towards the floor with the left hand and lift the left leg straight behind you
c.       Hold for 1-2 seconds and squeeze your butt muscles as your return to the starting position
d.     Switch sides and repeat 10 times on each leg
e.     Optionally: hold a light dumbbell in one hand as you reach toward the floor

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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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