There is a common myth that when muscles are flexible around a joint, you will get injured and that tight muscles perform better. A tight muscle does not make a strong muscle. You may be very strong through a specific range however true strength means maintaining that strength and position through the full range of motion of each muscle and joint.
In order for muscles to perform at their best and protect a joint, they must not only be strong, they must be mobile. It doesn’t matter how strong your muscles are around a joint, if they do not possess the requisite amount of mobility needed to maintain and progress through position, you put yourself at a very high risk of imbalance and injury.
A strong muscle has the ability to lengthen and shorten while acclimating to the forces placed on it. When muscles and tissues are tight, they are unable to maintain tension and stability through their full range. This leads to improper engagement of muscles, which further leads to compensation and imbalance. Compensatory movement is a breeding ground for injury, and the only way to fix it is by first addressing mobility restrictions. In all sports and activities, proper form is imperative for maximum results and to prevent injury. Proper form can only be achieved if all the muscles that are involved in the movement are healthy, mobile, and able to meet the demands being placed on them.
A tennis player came to see us complaining of recurring elbow bursitis. After evaluation, we found that her bursitis was a result of tight muscles surrounding her elbow joint. This tightness caused a friction force to be applied to the bursa, inflaming it. We stretched the muscles that surround her shoulder and elbow in order to increase blood flow and decrease pressure in the joint. After two sessions with our stretch therapist, the client reported that her pain was 100% relieved. Now that her elbow joint is more mobile, and the muscles are able to fire properly, she is able to play multiple sets without the added stress on her bursa.
Continued sessions with us have helped her to decrease tension forces in her elbow, increase mobility, enhance her posture and improve her tennis form and performance. She is now able to play longer and stronger without pain. Regular stretching sessions have taken her game to another level.
Whether it’s tennis, hiking or your favorite fitness studio workout, chances are you have imbalances and mobility issues. We always recommend focusing on building strength, but it’s equally as important to build on your flexibility and mobility to keep you healthy and able to get the most out of what keeps you moving.
After a long day of sitting in your chair, staring at a computer, do your neck and spine feel stuck? Whether you are still working from home at a less-than-ideal setup, or back at your office, chances are your posture is suffering from long hours at a desk. Are your shoulders rounded forward, leaving you wondering why your neck hurts?
We know that poor posture can lead to neck and back discomfort, but coupled with incorrect equipment and workplace stress, this is a recipe for pain. Straining your body all day during work will decrease productivity and minimize your capacity for mental concentration. Both physical and mental stressors increase activation of the upper trapezius more than any other neck muscle. According to The Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, studies suggest that the upper trapezius muscles are activated by psychosocial stress independent of changes in concentration or posture.The Journal explains studies done by University of Colorado’s Physical Therapy Program comparing the effects of mentally challenging computer work performed with and without exposure to a psychosocial stressor on neck muscle activity and posture. The cervical flexor and extensor muscles however, do not experience a change in activity when adding workplace stress. It is important that we know the specific area that is being overworked in response to stress so that we can stretch that muscle and keep it relaxed throughout our day. Taking breaks in between work may be hard for you, so these practical tips will alleviate neck and back pain WHILE you work.
1. Keep your neck from straining forward for prolonged periods of time
Raise your screen to eye level
Change your font to your eye’s preferred text size
Lead movements with your eyes more than your whole head and slouching with your shoulders and neck
20/20/20 rule: look at something about 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds at a time
2. Reset your postural habits
Lean back in your chair, rest your shoulders directly over your hips, keep your chest open and feet flat on the ground
Adjust your screen and chair to an appropriate distance apart without compromising your new seated position
Avoid pinning your phone between your shoulder and head while multitasking
3. Break up the stiffness from staying still all day
Incorporate movement during work (i.e. walking during calls, our CEO is famous for doing this!)
Stretch! Take 6-8 seconds in every rep. Perform 3-5 reps on each muscle. After a brief break (up to 10 seconds) you can perform a second set!
*As you stretch, remember to exhale during the stretch and inhale as you come out of the stretch. This will help you see the most progress in your range of motion with each repetition.
Move as far as your body will allow by itself before using assistance. This will allow for a more functional and impactful session.
Below are some stretches you can perform to improve your posture and relieve pain:
Bring your chin down toward your chest and release back to neutral position. Try with your hands behind your head, adding light assistance.
Start leaning forward to disengage the muscles that hold your head up, resting your elbows on your knees. Leading with your eyes, look up towards the ceiling. Keeping your mouth closed and teeth together will allow for a deeper stretch.
Try taking your elbows off your knees and use either your fingers or palms to assist at the end of your range of motion on your forehead.
Sitting upright with your head facing forward, gently bring your ear down to the shoulder. Try bringing your hand to the top of the head to provide light assistance towards the end range of motion. Keep your opposite shoulder down.
Turn your head 45 degrees away from the stretching side (or until your chin is slightly outside the knees). Bring only your chin and head forward toward your chest. Bringing your hand to the back of your head, perform the stretch and provide light assistance at the end of the range of motion.
Turn your head 45 degrees towards the stretching side. Bring your ear forward and down toward your chest. Perform the same stretch with your hand on the top of your head, bringing your elbow down toward the floor.
Sitting toward the front of your chair, tuck your chin toward your chest and reach your hands in between your knees, down to the floor. If you can, reach your hands towards the back legs of the chair or pull on your own legs to add assistance.
Place your hands on your knees for balance. Extend your back, lifting your breast bone, head, and eyes to the ceiling. Try to arch your spine during this movement, be careful to not just lean back in the chair
Start by placing one arm against a wall edge or door frame. Keep your elbow straight and palm against the wall with the arm at shoulder height. Pinch the shoulder blades together. Engaging the back muscles inhibits (turns off) the pec muscle. Turn your shoulders away from the wall.
Written by Cierra Chamberlain, LYMBR Stretch Therapist.
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If life did not bless you with the best knees or hips in the world, don’t stress! Sometimes the sports we play or jobs we do have a negative impact on our body. We all know someone who has suffered from knee problems. It might even be you. One muscle that can impact your knees is a muscle you may not have considered. If you’re seated and reading this then you are using this muscle right now because you are sitting on it! This muscle, technically known as the Gluteus Maximus, is our biggest muscle in our body. This muscle helps to cushion us when we fall on our backside and propel us as we walk. Sometimes this muscle can actually be the cause of your knee pain.
This may seem weird to some, because the knee is so far from the hip. The truth is that the Gluteus Maximus attaches to the top of your hip bone, right on the side. The muscle doesn’t stop there, it actually becomes a tendon and continues down to the outside of the knee. So if someone stands on one leg, juts their hip out or even sits with their knees touching they could develop a knee issue.
We see a lot of runners who come to the studio for knee pain, but also people that sit for hours at work without taking any meaningful breaks to move around and relieve some tension.
Focusing on the Glute Max region releases muscular tension that can be influencing the hips and knees, giving you the best chance to crush your next run, ride or whatever gets you moving! It can even make those long work days a little more pleasant.