Gym in Waterford

I can’t start this post without thanking Dagmar Khan for her collaboration in the making of the videos and for bringing her vast knowledge of the human body and her contagious enthusiasm for making the human body an easier place to live. Anybody who knows her will understand when I say it’s impossible not to feel inspired when working with her.

I hope you’ve seen the videos we posted every Monday evening over 6-7 weeks and that they have helped you to either improve mobility or decrease pain or discomfort in a joint or soft tissues. If you haven’t seen them (where have you been?) this blog post will feature ALL the videos AND additional information on the injury we hope to relieve or joint we hope to mobilise.

We wanted to offer people watching the videos interventions to help relieve the pain caused by common injuries. To that end, in this series, we posted videos that will focus on foot/ankle pain including Plantar Fasciitis and Shin Splints, knee pain caused by IT Band Syndrome or tight quads and hip flexors. We also look at improving overhead movement at the shoulder joint by releasing tightness in the Latissimus Dorsi. I hope you enjoy watching, or re-watching, the videos again and that the information provided has helped you to, in Dagmar’s words, “live better in your own body”!

PLANTAR FASCIITIS

Inflammation of the fascia (connective tissue) on the sole of the foot is commonly referred to as Plantar Fasciitis. Inflammation can be caused by micro tears from overuse (increase in mileage/distance walked or jogged), poor foot mechanics (pronation, poor ankle mobility) or inappropriate footwear.

Imagine a non-elastic string from the base of your toes to your heel – now flatten your foot – the distance increases from toes to heel as the foot broadens. This stretch causes micro-tears in the fascia resulting in inflammation (the first step in the healing process). The inflammation causes pain as a signal to stop doing what you are doing.

Generally, plantar fasciitis is worse in the morning as the fascia contracts overnight. It’s a good idea to ease onto your feet in the morning by gradually increasing weight on your feet while seated at the bed before standing. Yoga Tune Up therapy balls can also be placed under the sole of the foot (as seen in the video) to relieve tension in the plantar fascia and ease discomfort.

Plantar Fasciitis can be a symptom of a larger issue such as restricted ankle mobility or poor movement mechanics so ensuring full range of motion and adequate mechanics are also essential to long term relief from plantar fasciitis.

SHIN SPLINTS

If injuries could have relations, Plantar Fasciitis and Shin Splints would be cousins! They have very similar causes but very different symptoms – make sense?

Shin splints has cut short many running careers but it doesn’t have to be debilitating. Carrying on from our post on plantar fasciitis, shin splints is a result of poor mechanics (most likely limited ankle mobility), increasing exercise such as jogging too quickly, wearing inappropriate footwear or running on uneven surfaces.

Generally manifested as lateral shin pain (outside of the shin bone from ankle to just below the knee) shin splints treatment has been limited to RICE. Rest, ice, compress and elevate. In other words: STOP running, place ice on the shin and prop the affected limb on a pillow.

Will this decrease your discomfort – YES. Will it fix the problem – NO.

Here’s what you need to do instead……

ANKLE MOBILITY DRILLS

Both Plantar Fasciitis and Shin Splints can have their root causes in poor ankle mobility. Tightness on one side of the ankle will cause the foot arch to collapse which can lead to tightness in the Tibialis Anterior (the front/outside of the shin bone) OR tightness in the Tib Ant can be why the foot collapsed in the first place and either way that’s a red flag for Shin Splints and Plantar Fasciitis.

Try these 2 simple drills, along with the “ball-tastic” techniques in the previous 2 clips before your next workout to improve mobility and reduce the stress on the ankle and foot.

I.T. BAND SYNDROME 

Commonly referred to as “runner’s knee” the pain is felt on the outside of the knee at the top of the shin bone (tibia). The culprit? Tightness in the IT Band, the thick band of connective tissue which runs from the hip to below the knee.

This band of tissue responds to the muscles it is attached to – the Tensor Fascia Lata (TFL) and The Glutes – as it has no contractile properties itself (think of it like a piece of leather, not an elastic band). Therefore, foam rolling or self-massage directly on the IT Band from hip to knee may not provide any lasting relief. However, using YTU Balls in a cross-fibre fashion can release adhesion’s from surrounding tissues and provide short term pain relief to allow you to exercise in a way that will aid recovery.

Ditch the foam roller and try this instead for a much more beneficial IT Band release. Now repeat after me; AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHH

Joking!

It shouldn’t be painful – uncomfortable, maybe – not painful!

RELEASE TIGHT QUADS/HIP FLEXORS

The Quads and Hip Flexors are responsible for extending (straightening the leg), tracking the kneecap (keeping it aligned centrally), flexing the hip (bringing the knee upwards) and play an important role in spinal stability and alignment. Modern life (sitting a lot on computers, driving, watching TV) puts our hip flexors especially, in a shortened position A LOT!

Why is this bad? The hip flexors attach at the front of the spine and when tight can “pull” your lumber spine forward into an exaggerated curve putting additional stress on the ligaments and discs. This can put you at risk of injury and pain.

Releasing the tension created by our lifestyle choices is vital for spine, hip and knee health. Today we will show you how to release “stickiness” in the Quads.

IMPROVE OVERHEAD MOVEMENT

As you read this on your PC/tablet/phone are you hunched over? Shoulders rounded? Yes?

GET. ON. THIS.

Your Latissimus Dorsi are “the Glutes of the upper body”. Just like the glutes, the Lats can be underactive, not providing stability through the shoulders and causing pain or restricted movement (much like underactive Glutes can cause hip instability and subsequent knee or back pain). In the majority of people the Lats are underactive and weak as a result of poor posture and alignment. Ensuring adequate range of motion is essential to ensure you are training through full range. Tight Lats will restrict the ability to lock out overhead without arching your back.

Here’s how to check if you need to improve mobility and how to do it! Mark loses his balls at one stage too……

CONCLUSION

Mobility and strength go hand in hand. Training for strength without adequate mobility is akin to building a house without a foundation.

The ground may be enough to keep the house standing at the beginning. Eventually cracks will appear in plaster. The tell-tale signs of poor structural integrity will show.

The same will occur with your body. You may train for years with no signs of the ill effects of poor mobility. However, a body can only offset the daily workload for so long. Injury and pain will be INEVITABLE without maintaining adequate mobility in your joints.

We hope that these videos have helped you or someone you know overcome their pain or mobility troubles. Please share with anyone you know who may benefit from reading this blog and watching the videos.

Stay mobile!

Mark

Mark Caulfield

Mark Caulfield PT Personal Trainer and Neuromuscular Physical Therapist based in Waterford, Ireland