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.
Is Your Body Ready?

Is Your Body Ready?

Is your body ready for your 2019 fitness goals?

Setting these goals may be simple but keeping them may not always be. Starting or increasing a fitness routine with an ill-prepared body means a greater likelihood of injury and a greater likelihood that the injury will derail you.

Here are a few ways adding stretch protocols into your daily life will allow your body to feel restored and at its best to make sure your goals stick.

REDUCES LIKELIHOOD OF INJURY
Areas that often have more stress placed upon them when starting a new fitness routine include the low back, knees, and hips.  If your starting point is a mostly sedentary lifestyle, sitting and lack of movement for an extended period of time stiffens and shortens the muscles.  When a new fitness regimen is initiated, the involved areas will be going through greater ranges of motion they may not be used to, leaving them more prone to injury.

Our active method of stretching allows the muscles to be properly warmed up and lengthened before starting an activity.  Blood flow and oxygen to the muscles is increased, providing protection to the joints.  Muscle imbalances are lessened when stretching as well, allowing the body to have better mobility and alignment to properly grasp the technique of the activity.  Active stretching combined with a light warm-up prior to exercise will minimize the risk of getting injured when starting a new routine.

IMPROVES POSTURE AND ALIGNMENT
Stretching helps to correct any muscle imbalances in your posture. Soon after starting a new fitness routine, you may notice a shift in your posture.  You may find your posture improving, as you are strengthening muscle groups to help you stand taller and straighter.  On the contrary, new fitness routines may also negatively impact posture. If you are beginning a new routine with less than ideal posture, chances are you will have improper form in your workouts and increase the likelihood of pain and soreness.  For example, if you start with shoulders that are rounded and elevated, your range of motion and body positioning will be unnatural and compromised. Stretching the upper body will help lower the shoulders and lengthen the spine reducing compensations and allowing you to perform your activity properly.  Stretching aims to restore the muscles to their optimal length and position.

Similar to posture, new fitness routines will affect the body’s alignment.  A properly aligned body will have the head, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles all in line. Keeping all of these joints linear will place less stress on the spine to help better your posture.

IMPROVES RANGE OF MOTION
If you are a regularly active person, you will find that incorporating stretching routines into your daily life will enhance your workouts. The increase in range of motion associated with stretching will allow you to perform your best.  For example, stretching the hip flexors and quads will allow more range of motion to help squat deeper and put more power into spinning.  Stretching the upper body, like the pecs and shoulders, will allow greater mobility to be put into those boxing workouts.  The lengthening and lightness felt throughout the body from implementing these stretch routines will aim to increase performance.

REDUCES SORENESS AND PROMOTES RECOVERY
Any soreness post-workout is not problematic: it is your body letting you know it is adapting to the new stresses placed upon it. Excess soreness, however, can leave you feeling tight, fatigued, and unmotivated to keep up with your routine.

Stretching after a workout, whether it be directly after or the following day, will alleviate sore muscles.  Even a few minutes of stretching will increase blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to those tender areas.  This will not only reduce soreness after a workout; it will properly prepare you for your next one.

Whether you are a fitness novice or looking for new ways to maximize those workout gains, prepare your body now. Get a head start now and make 2019 the year you crush your fitness goals.  Incorporating stretching into your daily life before you begin your new fitness routine will leave your body feeling ready to take on any workout you set your mind to. Keeping stretching in your routine will keep you on track way past the time most people drop their new year routine. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and restored body in the new year.

 

Written by Ariel Scheintraub. Ariel is a Stretch Therapist in our Tribeca 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.