The Importance of Core Stabilization Exercises

When we move we have to rely on our muscles to keep us steady, and to keep us moving for normal every-day functions. Core stabilization is important because it helps keep the muscles of your trunk effectively supporting your spine and body. This creates balance when you move through your day to day activities. Core stability benefits everyone, from older people to top professional athletes. Exercises used to build up your core muscles can be implemented into every conditioning program, along with flexibility, strength, and aerobic training. 

When your core muscles are strong, the benefits are limitless:

  • Your posture is better.
  • Your body is balanced.
  • Your movement is more efficient and powerful.
  • You are less likely to be injured.

Why is this important?

The spine consists of numerous bones stacked upon one another, with small cushions in between each one. The core of each small disc has a cheese-like texture, and is surrounded by fibrous tissue. Also, to more effectively stabilize the spine, cartilage and ligaments adhere to multiple layers of soft tissue layered over the bones. Muscles are the largest connections surrounding these areas, and when they are strong they work properly, providing a solid foundation for movement and impact absorbtion.

Core strengthening will help you learn to use the inner muscles before you start to move, and will decrease the load your back muscles are taking on by assisting in stabilizing the spine. The main focuses when targeting your core muscles are: promoting better stability, breathing, and proper coordination of movements. 

Focusing on the core of the body as a way to promote strength and good health is an ancient idea. Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi all utilize this concept. Your trunk, where major muscles all tie in together, is the foundation for your posture, balance, and coordinated movement. From building more confidence by gaining strength and good balance, to experiencing the strong, healthy feeling that comes from good posture, the benefits are indeed limitless.

For more information about the techniques we use in house, check out our website at www.edgesportsmed.com. We provide one-on-one personal care to help you achieve your goals, and to get you back to being your best self. Stop by Edge Physical Therapy today to learn more about what we can do for you!

Click on the link to checkout some core stabilizing exercises you can easily do from the comfort of your own home.

Need a deep tissue massage? We've got you covered.

Take your bodybuilding career to the next level. 4 Pro bodybuilders who say deep-tissue massages are a must to be competitive.

 

 

Dennis Wolf, Dexter Jackson, Justin Compton, and Guy Cisternino all agree that chiropractic and deep-tissue massages have given them a competitive edge in their bodybuilding careers. A deep tissue massage focuses on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia. Studies have shown that deep-tissue massages can help reduce muscle stiffness, soreness, tightness and pain. A healthy, pain free body is a body that has the best chance of winning competitions. Both Dennis Wolf and Dexter Jackson schedule massages at least once a week with up to three sessions a week as they get closer to their show. Dexter says in addition to pain treatment there are mental benefits to getting the massages. During a stressful contest prep Dexter says that after the treatment he feels mentally refreshed and can push himself harder. Find out more information and schedule an apportionment with our expert massage therapists for your very own deep-tissue massage at http://www.edgesportsmed.com

 

Don't be a caveman, get outdoors this summer!

Benefits of training outdoors

1. Increased vitamin D

  • Exposure to the sun's beneficial ultraviolet-B radiation will cause a person's skin to create more vitamin D. Vitamin D is a crucial factor in bone health since low levels of vitamin D have been linked to bone wasting diseases such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia.

2. More challenging exercises 

  • Running outdoors requires much more coordination and balance compared to an indoor treadmill. Curbs, pot holes, and changes in running surface will challenge a person's balance. Sudden starts and stops at street lights will force a muscle to work from a complete stop to rapid activation. 

3. Cancer Prevention

  • While prolonged sun exposure can contribute to skin cancer, a moderate amount can actually help prevent it. It was found that individuals who live in areas which receive less sunlight were more likely to develop a number of cancers than those who live in areas with more sunlight. These cancers include: colon cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, and Hodgkin's lymphoma.

How to stay safe outdoors

1. Start slowly and build up

  • During the first few weeks of training keep the training sessions short and low intensity. Since your body is not used to the higher temperatures your body's cooling system and heart will have to work much harder to compensate. Your heart will pump faster and you will sweat much more causing you to become dehydrated much sooner. 

2. Bring the correct gear

  • Light weight and loose clothing are a must in order to ensure you are allowing proper sweat and heat removal. Lighter colored clothing can also help reflect some of the sun's rays helping you stay cool. Sunscreen is a necessity to make sure your body is soaking up the sun's beneficial rays for vitamin D while blocking the harmful rays that lead to cancer. 

3. Stay hydrated

  • While doing physical activity it is crucial to rehydrate in order to allow your muscles to function properly. When training in the sun and heat this need for rehydration becomes even more important. Drinking enough water can help prevent muscle cramps, overheating, and increase performance. 

http://arcphysicaltherapy.com/2013/outdoor-exercise/

http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight#benefits3

 

Think You Need a Prescription to See a Physical Therapist? Think Again!

Do you have an issue you’re putting off treating? An aching back/knee/hip etc. keeping you from doing your favorite activity? Want to begin training for that 5k or triathlon? Think you might be at risk for an injury? Did you know in most states in the US, you can be treated by a physical therapist without a referral from a physician? It’s called Direct Access, and many people don’t even know it exists even through its been around since the early 2000’s! So what is Direct Access and why should you care about it?

Direct access is a law enacted to allow patients to come directly to a physical therapist for evaluation and treatment. The laws differ state to state, but every one has some form of direct access. Click HERE to find your states regulations or call your licensed PT to find out more information. It saves patients time, money, and allows for faster implementation of a unique plan of care for the people we see. That means you can get better faster, and get back to your life sooner!

“But is my PT trained to handle direct referrals?” The answer is YES! We are trained to recognize “red flag” issues which are out of our scope of practice. In the event of these we are required by law to refer out to your physician for further evaluation. In addition, in NJ if we fail to see progress in a patient after 30 days of treatment, we are required by law to ask that you consult your physician.

“But will my insurance still cover it?” In most cases yes, but as with everything insurance related it’s best to find out your particular plans guidelines. Some insurances require a prescription (Medicare for example) for pre-approval for care and these will all be investigated prior to your first visit.

Direct Access has opened up the opportunity for PTs to treat sooner, and work on preventative care to decrease risk of injury. So if you’ve got an issue you’ve been putting off, want help training for your next big event, or just want peace of mind you aren’t at risk for a potentially devastating injury, come see us at Edge Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine and find out what we can do to keep you ahead of the competition!

 

Dr. Konstantinos Mavropoulos PT, DPT, TPI

Edge Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine 

 

The Top Reasons Why Your Hamstrings are Tight

You've likely been there one time or another, dealing with stiffness, pain, trouble walking, wondering what you can do to loosen up those pesky tight hamstrings. Fear not, as you are not alone in the struggle of hamstring tightness, and Edge Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine are here to help! So why are your hamstrings endlessly tight? Read on and find out why it occurs and what you can do to help.

The hamstrings are a powerful and large group of muscles, working during many of our daily activities. They run from the bottom of the pelvis and attach across the back of the knee, helping to both extend the hip and flex the knee joint. There are many reasons why hamstring “tightness” (you'll see why I use quotes) occurs but there are some simple things you can do to help alleviate the issue.

For some, true, decreased flexibility through the hamstrings is the culprit. However, this may not occur simply by not stretching enough, as improper positioning/tightness of your hip/back, occupational hazards (prolonged sitting/driving, prior injury, etc.), or muscle imbalance can all contribute to tightness. If you sit or drive a lot, your hips and knees are often in positions which shorten the hamstrings. Over time, this can lead to a chronic decrease in the muscle length.

An anteriorly tilted pelvis (forward rotation) of the hips is common in many and puts increased arching/stress on the lower back . As a protective mechanism, the hamstrings contract to try and reverse this, leading to over-activation and eventual restriction. Muscle imbalances such as weakness/tightness in the gluteals, abdominals, and hip flexors can all cause the hamstrings to be used in ways the body didn't intend.

For others, hamstring “tightness” may actually be tension of one or more of the many nerve chains which run down the legs, the largest being the Sciatic bundle. This neural tension can mask as tightness which won't improve just by stretching alone. You may feel intense pulling/burning, often near the back of the knee ( a common entrapment point) which doesn't alleviate with repeated stretching to the muscles.

Now that you know some reasons the hamstrings get tight, let's discuss some ways to help the problem! I'd be remised if I didn't first suggest seeking a skilled healthcare professional to properly evaluate the reason for your restrictions. Improper stretching/exercise can lead to further injury and more problems! Furthermore, you may be wasting your time stretching a muscle that isn't tight and I know your time is valuable!

For truly tight hamstrings, the answer is fairly easy, a good stretching program combined with changes to daily patterns such as more frequent positional changes can lead to improvements in flexibility. Stretching to the hip flexors, piriformis and hamstrings, combined with good core and gluteal strengthening can restore proper lower chain balance leading to less stress to the hamstrings themselves.

There are many ways to stretch, Static, Dynamic, and variations of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF for short). Static stretching (toe touches or a long sitting hamstring stretch) should be completed at least 3 times a week. A study by Cipriani et al from the journal of strength and conditioning research, found that those stretching at least 6x/week total (daily or 3x/week) gained more flexibility than those who stretched less frequently.

Dynamic Stretching (leg swings, lunge stretch, single leg forward lean, etc) involves movement while you stretch which will warm the muscle up, and may improve flexibility over time. These are best done prior to activity as they won't compromise muscle power but will help guard against injury.

Finally, PNF stretching involves various techniques to elicit changes in the neuromuscular system such as a contract/relax or hold/relax technique. For the hold relax technique, place your heel on a step or chair and lean forward into a static hamstring stretch keeping the back and leg straight. After holding for 10-15 seconds, press your heel into the step or chair and hold for 5-6 seconds. Immediately after, move into a further stretch and you should feel you can move more comfortably. Complete 2-3 repetitions for added benefit.

For neural tension, there are a few ways we can glide or floss the nerves involved to relieve stress to the system. To stretch the Sciatic Nerve, lie on your back with your hips and knees bent to approximately 90 degrees. Place your hands behind your knee and slowly straighten towards the ceiling. Then pull your toes/foot up towards you and hold the position for a few seconds. Finally, return to the starting position and repeat 15-20 times. You can also do this exercise in a sitting position. Sit in a chair in a good upright position (No slouching!) with your feet on the ground. Straighten your knee and bring your toes up towards you, holding for a few seconds. Repeat 15-20 times. This is a great exercise to complete while at work as many of us can't find a place to lie down at our jobs.

Like anything dealing with the human body, the answer to hamstring tightness is multi-factorial. It doesn't have to hold you back and the above tips combined with proper analysis by a skilled professional can help! Come see the difference Edge PT can make and we'll help improve your flexibility, strength and performance to keep you ahead of the competition! Check out the video below to see how we at Edge treat hamstring tightness/neural tension! 

https://www.facebook.com/edgeparamusphysicaltherapybergen/videos/vb.424585941082087/603452646528748/?type=2&theater

Dr. Konstantinos Mavropoulos PT, DPT, TPI

Edge Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine