March Madness – Stretching for Basketball

March Madness – Stretching for Basketball

March Madness is here, so it’s time to discuss stretching for basketball. The fundamentals of basketball are simple to grasp; dribbling, the jump shot, the chest pass, the rebound.  Competitive-level players have mastered these abilities on a basic level and are always looking to hone their skills to improve their game.  The sport played at such a level requires quickness and agility, as angle, direction, and explosiveness of each movement is constantly changing.  Effectiveness of these movements is minimized in players with limited range of motion. By implementing specific stretch protocols into a basketball player’s daily routine, performance can be enhanced.

The stop-and-go nature of the game requires both agile and explosive movements. Proper extensibility of the quadriceps, adductors, glutes, hamstrings, and calves is necessary for those fast-breaks down the court, or powerful movements to the basket.  Dynamic stretching beforehand increases oxygen and blood flow to those muscles, preparing them for full range of motion through the joints.  It also stimulates the nervous system to increase awareness for performance.  It is this enhanced neuromuscular ability that could give a player that advantage early in the game.

Incorporating stretching into a basketball warmup can also help prevent injury.  Some of the most common basketball injuries include lateral ankle sprains, patellofemoral inflammation, and hamstring strains.  While injuries occurring from trauma to the area are unpredictable, others can be prevented using stretching. By stretching muscles surrounding the hips and knees, the stress of those muscles on the knee joint will decrease.  For example, the pulling sensation felt on the kneecap in those with patellofemoral pain can be lessened by stretching the IT band, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.  Decreasing the amount of stress on a joint can reduce inflammation and bring muscles to their optimal length without overlengthening them.

Although lower limb injuries make up the highest portion of basketball injuries, it is also vital for basketball players to maintain proper flexibility in their trunk and upper body.  Lumbar strains and sprains are the most common after lower limb injuries and are caused by trauma or overuse.  The twisting, pivoting, and bending movements a player must make to create space, combined with a rigorous schedule, predispose the muscles to overuse. Our lower back stretches emphasizing the quadratus laborum, lumbar fascia, and multifidus, will help relieve the tension carried in the lower back, bringing these muscles to their optimal length pre and post-workout.

Keeping a basketball player in good range of motion can only help to keep the body aligned and flexible to optimize performance.

Written by Ariel Scheintaub. Ariel is a Stretch Therapist in our Tribeca studio.
Stretching For Baseball – It’s A Whole Body Approach

Stretching For Baseball – It’s A Whole Body Approach

There isn’t a single muscle that isn’t tested when it comes to the full totality of the sports of baseball and softball. Every aspect of these games is both mentally and physically demanding. The mental aspect demands that players have a wealth of knowledge and strategy about the game i.e. pitch selection, hitting for contact or power, knowing when to steal, etc. However, if their bodies are not flexible, mobile, stable, and strong, then just understanding the game is not going to get them very far. At LYMBR we hope to assist our fellow baseball and softball players by stretching muscles involved in the three movements of the sports: swinging, throwing, and running.

THE SWING

In your swing you use your deltoids, infraspinatus, wrist pronators/supinators, psoas, hip rotators, and lats to complete the swing. However, the function of any and all successful swings begin in the same place: the hips. Bat speed, point of contact, and how far that contact will go is determined by the rotational force of your lower body. It doesn’t matter how strong your upper body is, you will never be able to hit it as far as someone with better lower body rotation. The muscles listed above are consequently lengthened and shortened to complete the motion of the swing. If you’re doing this multiple times a day, every day, for years on end, then those muscles will adapt to the length and motion you’ve made it comfortable with. It’s repetitive action, and it’s one of the most common muscular adaptations we see here at LYMBR. By stretching out the back, shoulders, hips, wrists, and forearms we relax your connective tissues and lengthen your muscles back to its original length. This creates muscle balance. Swinging a bat at a tiny ball moving between 60-100 mph is hard enough without a tight, imbalanced body.

PITCHING AND THROWING

If the old adage “the best offense is a good defense” holds true, then pitching and throwing create the trebuchet that defends the castle of victory from total onslaught. At its most base, you’re just playing catch, but pitching and throwing at its heart is primal, ruthless, and steeped in strategy. You must understand pitch variance, changing your delivery times, hitting your cut-off man from the outfield, whether or not to risk the far throw to home. What sets great arms apart from good arms is the overall comprehension of the throw itself. This is another motion dictated by the force production of your lower body translated to your upper body. We are using similar muscles to swing such as the hip flexors, hip rotators, rotator cuff musculature, deltoids, lats, and wrist pronators but now with more engagement from the pectoral muscles, the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and the muscles responsible for flexion in your back. If these muscles are tight or out of place, then they have a higher chance of misfiring along with a much higher chance of injury. By loosening these muscles, we improve the range of motion of the joint, which allows the joint to move in it’s normal range, rather than a limited range created by repetitive movement or overuse. This will reduce tissue trauma which could lead to inflammation or spasm and by increasing range we allow for proper motion which will reduce injury prevalence. When it comes to pitching, whether it be baseball or softball, efficiency is the name of the game.

RUNNING

Running is often undervalued in softball and baseball. Often for a good reason. This sport is highly technical and extremely strategic. If you are a power hitter with a cannon for an arm and a very high baseball IQ, then running and speed is not a prerequisite for you. However, a decent majority of baseball and softball players are not that and use speed as a way to get on base, make tough plays in the gap, and allow for more ground to be covered in the infield. Most of the athletes we see at LYMBR are not solely athletes. They’re students, they’re kids, they’re hunched over A LOT, and very rarely do we find they have proper posture. Improper posture will lead to a pelvic tilt either anterior or posterior. When our pelvis is not aligned with the rest of the body, force production from the legs will be drastically cut. By realigning the pelvis, we are putting our legs in proper position for power and force. This could be the difference between a stolen base and an out, a double play and an error, or a diving catch and a face plant. Baseball is not an endurance sport so to speak. The games can be grueling and tiresome, but the movements are usually Quick and explosive, followed by periods of rest. These quick movements can become problematic if the muscles responsible are tight or unconditioned. It will increase your chance of injury, and your central nervous systems response to the play will be slower. By stretching out the muscles responsible for running like the psoas, IT band, calf, glute, hamstring, and ankle muscles we can improve flexibility which will increase blood flow, energy levels, and provide more oxygenated blood and nutrients to your body. Stretching also primes the central nervous system for movement, so the quickness at which you respond during activity will subsequently increase.

The winter months were long with the lingering cold, the biting wind, and the decreased access to outdoor activities. But spring is here, which means that sports like softball and baseball are in full swing. A sport that combines physical activities such as swinging, throwing, and running. Activities, that without optimal flexibility, mobility, stability, and strength could cause season ending, or career ending injuries. If you’re ready to start your season now, if you’re ready to create the most efficient version of yourself, if you’re ready to reduce injury and increase performance, then please join us at one of our LYMBR studios.

A Note from an injured ball player: Listen to your body, if something doesn’t feel right, please get yourself checked. Take one game, or one season off, rather than dealing with an injury for the rest of your life. It takes 4-6 minutes to stretch your shoulder, and rotator cuff muscles to prevent injury and inflammation. Inversely, it could take up to 4-6 months,often longer, for a full rotator cuff recovery. Do the math, take the time, talk to experts, and take care of yourself. There is nothing more demoralizing than hurting yourself on the field, and never being able to come back from it.

Written by Conner Fritchley. Conner is a Stretch Therapist in our Darien studio and played High School Baseball.

Stretch Therapy for Yoga Practitioners

Stretch Therapy for Yoga Practitioners

Yoga is a wonderful discipline where the mind and body interact together to take the practitioner to different levels of self-awareness. One aspect not well understood is that Yoga is not only about stretching but also about strengthening, conditioning, proper breathing and balance. The demands of a 60 to 90-minute yoga class can leave the practitioner feeling sore, tight and tired.

How can LYMBR help to improve your yoga practice?

I’ve been practicing yoga for almost ten years and have been an instructor for half that time. Even though I’ve always been very flexible, there were always postures that were more challenging to me after years of practice. The work we do at LYMBR has helped me to understand better where my restrictions are and how to address them properly. Not only do I have a better understanding of how the postures work in my body, but also how to properly stretch those restricted areas and how to strengthen unstable areas so my body is more balanced. It is very important to understand that for every tight muscle in your body there’s another muscle somewhere else (antagonist muscle) that is not working properly.

Isolation is key when it comes to LYMBR stretches. When a yoga pose is done, there are multiple muscles being stretched. Let’s take a forward bend for example: calves, back of the thighs, hips, and lower back are under elongation forces, so it can be very difficult to decipher where the restrictions are happening along the connective chains.

It is very common for yoga practitioners to be unable to fully extend the knees when doing a forward bend. Usually this is blamed on the distal hamstrings, but the calves are also responsible for lack of full range of motion in the knee.  Another very common issue when dealing with forward bends is back discomfort, which is usually related to proximal hamstring tightness.

The more complex the muscle, the more stretches we must perform.

The stretches we do at LYMBR are very targeted and very specific. The more complex the muscle, the more stretches we must perform in that muscle to make sure we cover all the different aspects of those tissues: origin, insertion and diverse fiber orientations.

Let’s take the hamstrings for example: this group consists of three muscles (semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris); with the work we do in our studios we target each one of them individually.  By isolating the muscles in that way, we undo the restrictions from the areas that otherwise are inaccessible through regular stretches. The hamstrings are not only responsible for hip extension and knee flexion, but key in knee rotation, thus the health of all three hamstring muscles are key for proper knee stability when performing a warrior pose and hip mobility when doing a downward dog.

Whether you want to get your body ready to start practicing yoga, or you are a seasoned practitioner who wants to take the practice to the next level, targeted personalized stretching will help you reach your goals.

Written by Adrian Garcia. Adrian is a Manager and Stretch Therapist in our Newton Studio, as well as one of our Therapist Trainers and a Yoga Instructor.

 

Overcoming Setbacks, Accomplishing Physical Feats With Personalized Stretching.

Overcoming Setbacks, Accomplishing Physical Feats With Personalized Stretching.

Written by Todd Miskell, Certified Personal Trainer, LYMBR client.

As a personal trainer, I highly recommend LYMBR Personalized Stretching as an additional tool to your fitness arsenal.  No matter who you are – novice amateur, advanced or professional athletes (or even former college athletes who still “attempt” to compete, like myself…) – the limitations of improper stretching can make a difference between winning or losing, as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“The ability of LYMBR to resurrect
my athletic career is something I will forever be grateful for.”

Most individuals aren’t willing to take the necessary steps to avoid the nagging pains and lingering discomfort they routinely experience in their daily lives. The amount of times I’ve heard someone tell me that they simply “can’t do that exercise or motion,” but haven’t made any attempts to improve their current situation… I swear, it’s enough to drive you insane!  I can honestly tell you of the first 5 people I suggested to try LYMBR, within a couple weeks, were able to do exercises or athletic feats that up until then, seemed impossible.  Everyone has limitations that hold them back from reaching their goals – the question is, how do you overcome these obstacles?  With proper, personalized stretching and education, I believe everyone would be much more likely to attain the fitness goals they’ve set out to accomplish.

Now from a personal standpoint, I purchased my first LYMBR package about 9 months ago, and since then, I’ve seen it change my own personal fitness goals immensely.  After suffering a gruesome knee injury over 8 years ago (Ruptured Patella Tendon and Torn ACL, MCL, and PCL), I originally thought that my chances for regaining my previous form was no longer in the cards.  However, I discovered that not only have I overcome this setback, but I’ve also accomplished physical feats that I never dreamed of even before the injury.   The ability of Rick and his team (special THANK YOU to Adrian, Andrew, Lauren, Nick, Noah, and Shannon!) to resurrect my athletic career is something I will forever be grateful for, and it’s the motivator I use to get more people to understand the benefits of their help!

So if there are things you have been looking to accomplish, but feel like you’ve been limited in any way, I highly recommend you utilize the LYMBR staff to help you address your own personal needs – you can still achieve anything, but it takes a little help along the way!

Be LYMBR This Ski Season

Be LYMBR This Ski Season

Skiing is a full-body, high impact sport which places demands on your knees, hips, shoulders and wrists. We encourage our clients who are ski enthusiasts to maintain good strength, mobility and flexibility before and throughout the season so they can enjoy every run and stay healthy. Stretching for skiing is just as important as stretching for any other sport.

Skiing comes with so many opportunities for muscles to tighten around the knee and hip joints. When you think about what your lower body goes through during a ski trip, it should be no surprise why injuries like ACL, MCL, meniscus tears, and hip tightness become so common. You drive to the mountain seated in a flexed position that tightens the muscles around the knees and hips, such as your anterior tibialis, glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Factor in the ski lift, the moguls, the impact of jumps and the quick twists and turns and cold temperatures – there are so many opportunities for one’s lower body to tense up. By stretching muscles around the knees and hips like the IT band, the adductors, the quads, and hip flexors, that tension can be lessened and prevented. By releasing the tension, you are putting your muscles in a more optimal state to perform better and reduce your risk of injury.

The high speed and performance demands of skiing creates a level of unpredictability in your body, especially in an area as sensitive as your knees. The reason for this is because of the complex genetic engineering that goes into the makeup of the lower body. The knee, for example, has an extremely large threshold for impact absorption that allows people to run and jump at unprecedented levels of competition despite moving in a simple hinge motion. However simple the motion, the amount of muscles used to perform the hinge itself is actually quite drastic. If these muscles like the quadriceps and the calves are underused or have weak function there will be drastic increase of injury, and therefore decrease in performance. In order to aid the knee in performance we move these muscles through their normal range of motion and try to increase the degree of range each time. By stretching and progressing the musculature around the knee we help promote proper movement and elasticity from the largest movement contributors to the smallest. Prepping each muscle allows the knee to perform at its best, as it works as one cohesive machine made to perform rather than a crucible of tension waiting to implode.

Stretching can also help you recover from inefficient movement patterns in your knees. If you have orthopedic deformities in your knees, then the proper structure and alignment of your lower body is compromised which can be dangerous in a high impact sport like skiing. It is similar to being in a building with compromised foundation during hurricane season. If the structure of the house is not solid, then it will not support the impending impact and the house will be compromised. Consider LYMBR as hurricane-proofing for your body. We realign the structure, strengthen the foundation, bolster the formation for maximum absorption of impact, and facilitate the overall strength of the construction.

While the tendency is to focus solely on the lower body, it should be stressed that the upper body should not be overlooked.

Your upper body is impacted from the twisting of your torso while changing direction, planting your poles to create momentum, and bracing when falling. Fractured wrists and shoulder dislocations are just as common in skiing as lower body injuries and can be treated with the same methodology. Our shoulder protocol focuses on stretching the shoulder and it’s many attachments like our triceps, biceps, pectoral muscles, deltoids, rotator cuffs – moving them through full range of motion. Our wrist protocols will stretch the muscles in your wrist and forearm like your proximal wrist flexors and your brachio radialius to loosen up the wrist and bring the muscles to their appropriate length. Both of which will increase awareness during performance through stimulation of the nervous system which can make a significant difference in a quick sport like skiing.

The ski season is short, and most ski trips are taken on the weekend after a long busy week. That, coupled with the cold weather, means your body deserves the proper preparation before heading up to the mountain, and the proper recovery when you get home.

Written by Conner Fritchley. Conner is a Stretch Therapist in our Darien studio.
Simple Stretches While Traveling

Simple Stretches While Traveling

Get the most out of every day when you travel over Memorial Day weekend!

Memorial Day weekend is a time to honor those who served, and for many, a chance to take some well-deserved time off. Whether you escape to the beach or the city, don’t let the effects on your body from your travels, impact your ability to dive right in to your long weekend. Learn what happens to your body while you travel and a few simple stretches and posture changes to help avoid and relieve common aches and pains during your journey.

What does travel do to our body?

LOW BACK
When we travel, we are likely sitting for hours on end, whether driving in a car or traveling by plane.  You’re posture may start out fine, but over time, we become more prone to slouching, causing the lumbar spine to be unsupported.  If this pattern of slouching continues, we start to form a new posture, causing different alignment in our bodies and putting stress on the joints and muscles around it.  Tension will be increased in the low back muscles.  Stretching these muscles will help increase mobility in the lower back, lessening any acute or chronic pain an individual may have there.

If you have to lift a heavy bag, keep it close to your body to protect your back and keep your core tight while you are lifting. If you are flying, practice proper sitting posture in the airport while waiting for your flight. Sit up tall, lengthen your spine, and pinch your shoulder blades back. Wherever you are traveling to, it is a good idea to support your low back by placing a rolled-up towel or small travel pillow between you and the seat. Practicing good posture will enforce good posture, preventing your low back muscles from stiffening beyond comfort.

SCIATICA
We will see clients in the studio complain of a tingling or shooting pain from their back down their leg after getting back from a trip.  Oftentimes this may be a case of sciatica.  Sciatica can be a symptom of other back issues, in which pressure is put on the sciatic nerve.  Such pressure may cause pain radiating from the back and glute muscles down the leg.  The muscles most heavily affected by sciatica are the piriformis, glute, and hamstring muscles.

Stretching the piriformis and hamstrings as in the video below, will reduce the tension of those muscles, lessening compression on the sciatic nerve.  This can be done before or after travel, using any flat surface or a chair.

HIP FLEXORS
Hip flexors connect our pelvis and thighs, and when that angle is decreased when sitting, the muscles will tighten up.  When your seated for hours during travel, that tightness increases greatly. Tight hip flexors will overstretch the glutes and hamstrings, making them harder to utilize once you reach your destination.  Having hips that are too anteriorly or posteriorly tilted will also cause a pulling of the hip flexors, which may lead to discomfort in the knees and low back.

It is important to maintain proper posture while sitting, as slouching or sitting with the knees up toward the chest will cause added tension in the hip flexors.  Try to get up and walk around during your travel, so that the muscles are not flexed the entire time. When you stop for food or bio break, take 5 extra minutes to walk around and stretch. Stretching the hip flexors, especially after a long flight or car ride, will alleviate the tension and restore the muscles to their proper range of motion.

SHOULDERS
Carrying bags are obviously necessary for travel. Heavy backpacks will place stress on the shoulders and low back.  When carrying a single shoulder bag, our bodies will favor one side.  Favoring one side causes the other to compensate in movement and posture.  Muscle imbalances that are not corrected will often cause discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and back. Although we may assume a shoulder bag only affects the muscles of the upper body, lower extremity muscles, like the hips, will also become imbalanced due to this shift in posture.

Using a rolling bag for luggage will lessen the stress of carrying bags.  If you do use a two-strap backpack, make sure not to overstuff it, and adjust the straps so the load does not lie to high or too low on your back.

NECK AND SPINE
Sitting upright for long periods of time when traveling will affect the neck and spine.  Usually neither area will be properly supported while in this seated position.  The head and neck will shift to get comfortable, or while trying to sleep.  If the back or neck is leaning to one side, that side will be shortened and should be stretched.  Looking down at any phone, tablet, or book during travel will cause the front neck muscles to tighten, while the muscles in the back of the neck and back lengthen.

Use a travel pillow to support the neck while traveling.  Stretching all of the neck and upper back muscles will allow for proper alignment of the neck and spine and reduce any soreness in the areas that may have been slept on improperly.  These stretches can be done from your seat or once you reach your destination.

As you head out this weekend, make sure your body is travel-ready and be mindful of your posture and mobility as you make your way from home to your final destination. Safe travels.

Written by Ariel Scheintaub. Ariel is a Stretch Therapist in our Tribeca studio.
Stretching For Paddle Tennis Players

Stretching For Paddle Tennis Players

Stretching, a concept that is vitally important to the health and wellness of any competitor, is frequently forgotten in the racquet sport community – including paddle tennis players.

Paddle tennis is a fast moving sport that is popular with tennis players looking to extend their outdoor racquet season, and most often played by weekend warriors. Cold temperatures, fast movements and bodies that are not fully prepared to play have given this sport the designation of having one of the highest injury rates at 66%.

The rough, hard surface of the paddle court is a contributor to these injuries. It can be dangerous and harmful to the ankle and knees if the proper movements are not mastered and the body is not prepared. The surface does not give, and a wrong step can roll an ankle, tear an achilles or produce strain from the constant pounding.

Paddle is a game of constant movement, swift court-to-court pivots, as well as back and forth motions. This can be very draining on your lower body and can lead to tears or strains. Just like all court sports, footwork is very important. The largest impact falls on the knees. The knees take a lot of pressure from the swift pivots, lunges, side steps and jumps. These movements impact the lower body from the calves to push off and stop, the hips for multi-directional movements, and the hamstrings during lunging.

The rotator cuff sees a lot of action in the game as well. The constant swinging motion puts a lot of strain on this area so keeping it healthy is extremely important for the future of the athlete’s career.

In the studio we spend a lot of time working on the forearms, rotator cuffs, calves, quads and hamstrings of our paddle clients to help them stay dominant on the court. We also focus on the hip flexors as they are the point of agility and power as well as the lower back as it takes quite a beating and tends to be a common area of injury.

The LYMBR method we apply in our studio is an active stretching technique that keeps your muscles actively working, open and stretched to their full potential.

Some clients visit our studio prior to their match as their pre-game warmup. It can be utilized as a type of dynamic exercise, by actively assisting in the movements and creating the blood flow throughout the body.

Colder temperatures make a proper warm up even more important for lubricating the joints and muscles. The knee and elbow flexion and shoulder tension caused by overuse can be devastating to the weekend play. Stretching and working on the lower extremities; calves, shins, and hip flexors and the upper extremities; shoulders, back, and wrists are vital to performing at an optimal rate of play.

Racquet sports can be played by all ages both competitively and recreationally. But for the weekend warriors, a tendency to overlook stretching is common and with a few additional minutes, they can avoid very serious injury.

At LYMBR, we have protocols specifically designed for these types of sports, as well as for injuries if they occur. We encourage players to be proactive and approach the sport ready to play at maximum health level for their next match.

Written by Noah Deutsch. Noah is a Stretch Therapist and Assistant Studio Manager of our Newton studio, as well a nationally ranked badminton player
Stretching + Dance

Stretching + Dance

Maintaining flexibility through stretching is one of the most vital components of dance. Without full and even extreme flexibility, movements do not look complete and the artistry is weakened. Flexibility is prized in the dance industry and allows for striking shapes and lines to be made by the body. Two common movements across several different styles of dance include the grand battement (kick) and grand jeté (leap). These both require the legs to move through a great range of motion using power and momentum, achieving a specific stretched end point. General muscles that regularly need to be stretched by dancers include the hamstrings, hip rotators, hip flexors, and back extensors. Having the capability to be mobile within an extended range of motion is what makes dance exceptional and appealing to watch.

Aside from large, explosive kicks and leaps, there is also a very specific technique of fine movements and placements of which dancing is built upon. For example, exaggerated plantar flexion is a main mechanic of dance technique. This strong “pointed” position of the ankle and foot demands long and lengthened muscles which cross on the front side of the foot and shin; examples include the extensor digitorum longus, which runs from the knee joint to the toes, the tibialis anterior, which runs along the shin to the big toe, and the extensor hallucis longus, which runs from the outside of the middle of the shin to the far end of the big toe. On the contrary, consistent plantar flexion means actively contracted calves (the gastrocnemius and soleus), along with the muscles that cover the underside of the foot. These muscles undergo repetitive stress and must be thoroughly stretched to reduce the risk of Achilles tendon damage and plantar fasciitis (pain to the bottom of the foot from inflammation).

Overall, stretching before performing dance movements is critical to injury prevention since muscular range of motion is pushed beyond limits. A pre-stretch will elicit blood flow and loosen up the fascia, preparing the muscles for the activity to come. Fortunately, many of the movements of dance will continue to stretch the body throughout the activity, leading to increased ranges of motion over continued practice. Stretching post-dancing also allows for recovery and cool-down while promoting lengthening of the muscles. A common concern of dancers is looking too “bulky,” which stretching combats by relieving muscle shortening from the repetitive contractions. Any dancer will attest to the benefits of having extraordinary flexibility; however, it takes a persistent regimen and an informed, safe approach to achieve it long-term.

Written by Lauren Daniska. Lauren is a Stretch Therapist in our Newton studio, as well as a professional dancer.
Low Back Pain + Your IT Band

Low Back Pain + Your IT Band

One of the most common reasons clients come to our studio is to find relief from lower back pain. We see this in clients who sit at desks all day, as well as clients who are very active either training for a race or maintaining a rigorous workout schedule. The origin of this pain often stems from the IT Band and the glutes. The IT Band, also known as the iliotibial band, runs lateral to the quads (the outside of the thigh). This band runs from the iliac crest, which is part of the pelvic-hip complex (as shown below) and around the outside of the knee. The knee is the most common place people think of when they hear the words “tight IT Band” – but the low back is just as common an area to be affected.

If you take a look at the study of movement, muscles work in conjunction in order to facilitate movement by pulling on the bone; everything within the body is somehow connected. Therefore, anything that is misaligned or tight may cause an improper movement pattern somewhere else in the body, altering proper function.

If there is tension in the IT Band or gluteus, they begin to pull on adjacent muscles within the complex of the hips, notably the Quadratus Lumborum (QL’s). The QL muscle is technically an abdominal muscle but it has tremendous impact on the lumbar region of your lower back.

The IT band provides stability at the hip during lateral movements. Other muscles that stabilize the hip includes the gluteus medius and the quadratus lumborum (QL). As the IT Band tightens due to injury or overuse, friction will cause a downwards pull of the gluteus medius and the QL, causing the upper body to laterally bend a few degrees to the right. Even a slight pull on the lumbar spine could potentially compress the nerves and lead to pain and even greater neuromuscular problems later in life.

How do we approach this in the studio? We begin with an assessment by performing various stretches on the client. First, we test the hip flexors and the muscles of the quads to determine whether these muscles contribute to the lower back pain. From this point on, we turn to the IT Band and test its range of motion. Often times the IT Band contributes to tightness in the gluteus medius. Tightness in this muscle creates tension within the rest of the gluteus muscles. After stretching the gluteus muscles, we make sure to check in with the client to see how they are feeling after the series of stretches. The last piece within this series is to target the Quadratus Lumborum. Since the QL has several attachments into the spine, we make sure to perform a light and smooth stretch in order to allow the client to relax on the table and prevent the nervous system from protecting the muscle. Once the nervous system has relaxed, we see incredible results from the stretch,relieving a great amount of tension within our client’s lower back. We then re-asses by testing the range of motion of the IT Band and see how the client feels when they get off the table. As they start walking around the studio, they experience notable relief in their lower back and improvement in their gait.

Lower back pain affects so many people – yet every body is different. Treating the whole body is key to finding the source of the pain and finding the path to relief and recovery.

Written by Noah Moore. Noah is a Stretch Therapist in our Darien, CT studio.
Sitting Is The New Bad Word

Sitting Is The New Bad Word

Sitting has become the new bad word. A long day at work means a long day of sitting – both at work and commuting to and from the office. The problem lies in not only how long we sit but how long we stay in that position, without moving around and engaging other muscles. We tend to stay seated for long periods of time which can change muscular tension and cause that tension to accumulate in certain areas. When these unprepared areas are held in one position for too long,  your body starts to adapt toward that position causing reduced range of motion, stiffness and often pain.

When we sit, the back side of the hip gets longer while the front side gets shorter, just as your elbow has one side that shortens and once side that lengthens when it bends. The muscle that gets talked about most often with the topic of sitting is the hamstring, more specifically the hamstring’s upper attachment to the pelvic bone. But it is also important to note that when you sit, generally that upper hamstring / pelvis attachment is actually longer while the hamstring’s other attachment behind your bent knee is shorter. The real culprit to hamstring “tightness” due to sitting is the lower hamstring portion, the portion that connects to the back of your knee. When standing, a straight leg extends behind the body about 15 degrees, while a knee bends 150-170 degrees. That’s a big range of motion difference and potential.

The area that moves the most, in this case the area where the lower hamstring attaches to the knee, has the most to lose or the most to gain! Proper stretching and keeping this important muscle limber will keep some of the aches of long work days at bay. If you leave out this important connection in your body, you will have a hard time finding true relief from those hours of sitting.