Therapy 101: Is Your Stretching Routine Making You Weaker?

Very often in the health and fitness industry; fitness trainers, coaches and therapists will say to clients

“You’re really stiff in your hips/lower back/upper back, you should try to stretch out after sessions”.

The reported benefits of regular flexibility work are widely documented and include the following benefits:

  • Improves Posture
  • Improves Joint range of motion
  • Reduce the severity of muscle soreness after training
  • Decreases the risk of injury

However, what if I told you that you’re stretching routine was actually making you WORSE?!

One of the most frequent phrases I will hear patients say will be:

“I’ve been stretching LOADS but it doesn’t seem to make any difference to my pain/tightness.”

I can recall one patient in clinic who was a Yoga Instructor complaining of hamstring tightness – her flexibility on assessment was so good that I could touch her foot to her ear! It actually turned out that her hip was quite weak and some of the smaller, stabilising muscles in her hip were clinging on for dear life…a few sessions later and she was pain free and the pseudo tightness was totally gone!

Moral of the story – Tightness doesn’t always mean stretching is the best remedy.

scapulae-upward-rotation

The upper fibres of trapezius will upwardly rotate the shoulder blade.

Another common area to see this sort of problem is in the upper traps. I see lots of patients that have “tight” Upper Traps and sometimes shoulder/neck pain to go with it. What a lot of people don’t realise is how important some of these muscles are. In the case of the upper traps they will help with elevation of the scapula (i.e. swoop the shoulder blade out of the way to lift your arm overhead), and to support the head on the neck. To this end if these important muscles don’t do their job properly the body will scream out for more support this will be in the form of:

  • Pain
  • Tightness
  • Stiffness in a region above/below the affected area
  • Incorrect movement patterns

Therefore, when you stretch a painful, tight AND weak muscle. You aren’t addressing the issue, all you are doing is promoting that weak muscle to become inhibited even further. What follows is the start of a vicious cycle, leading to being worse off for your determined efforts to self manage your symptoms.

To remedy this, the best course of action is to promote muscle activity – get someone with weak upper traps to do some form of rowing/shrugging type exercise, or getting someone with weak glutes to perform some form of bridge or clam-shell exercise will no doubt improve their symptoms long term, over getting them to hold a stretch for several minutes.

images

Seated Row with Theraband

 

Having said that – this isn’t to say that someone with reduced flexibility won’t benefit from stretching or foam rolling. There is a good percentage of people that get seriously positive results from flexibility routines such as Yoga. I even promote flexibility work to my patients where it’s required, it’s just what is relevant to that
individual’s symptoms…we’re all unique after all!

So if you have good range of movement, have been stretching for a while and find that tightness you’ve been struggling with just isn’t settling down. Try and strengthen it, you might be surprised with the results! Failing that, talk to your Gym PT, or even get in touch with us here at YST, we are more than happy to help.

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5 Gym Moves You Need to Add to Your Workout!

In the modern era where we all want big muscles, lean physiques, Kim Kardashian’s bum, and to have toned abs – it’s sometimes hard to find the time to get quality over quantity. As such, YST has put together 5 gym moves that you NEED to be doing to get the best results from your hard work in the gym! 

 

  1. Barbell Hang Pulls
    Think of this move like a powerful deadlift row. This will develop some great explosive strength to develop the muscles on the whole backside of your body (calves, hamstrings, glutes, back and traps). This move can easily be adpated for conditioning, or to add size. Start off with the bar just below the knee, drive the knees straight and hips forwards, before rowing the bar up as high as you can to your chin. Do 5 sets of 8 reps and watch your deadlift PB smash into smitherines.hang-pulls
  2. Bulgarian Split Squats
    Very often you will see the average gym goer performing two legged exercises such as the squat, deadlift, swing etc. However, most sporting activities involve single leg strength and control. The split squat is your answer for this – and most people don’t even need any extra weight. Once you’ve done 3 sets of 12-15 reps of these bad boys your legs will turn to jelly, but say good riddance to recurrent knee and hip niggles and faster running times.bulgarian-split-squat
  3. Kettlebell Cleans
    Olympic lifting is becoming ever more popular through the ever growing cult of Crossfit and only having to do a couple of moves for a full body workout…however, flexibility can often hamper progress of going heavier. To combat this, the trusty kettlebell can gives you all the strength benefits of a barbell clean, without the awkward “front rack” position. Choose a weight that’s heavy for 10 reps on each arm, and watch your gains soar through the roof!kb-clean
  4. Swiss Ball Rollouts
    If you haven’t felt your abs after the gym in a while, or you can do 100 sit ups without even thinking about it -this is a “must do” exercise! Assume the plank position with elbows on the swiss ball, then roll the ball out and in whilst keeping your abs tight. Not only will this give you incredible core stability, you may find that your niggly back issues will disappear too. Perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps to begin with and work up to a set of 15.swissball-rollout
  5. Medicine Ball Throws
    Often in strength training, we only ever do moves that will involves going up/down or forwards/backwards. So adding in some rotation movements into the mix really adds balance to a workout. Grab a medicine or slam ball, stand around a foot away from a wall and powerfully chuck the ball back and forth. This will task your heart and lungs more than you think, but who can argue that chucking things at a wall isn’t fun and stress busting?! Do 3 sets of 12 reps each direction.med-ball-throws

If you’re interested in speaking to YST in more detail about our exercise programmes – use our quick and easy booking system to the right of this page!

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5 Steps to Fitness Success in 2016

Set Goals

Make a long term goal, for example:

“By 2017 I want to beat my personal best/drop two dress sizes/squat my own bodyweight”.

Then break that into shorter term goals for every 6-8 weeks.

“By Easter, I aim to have lost 6lbs/completed two 10K races/achieved a new Personal Best on my barbell squat”

This helps to keep you focused in the early stages to prevent boredom and falling off the wagon before you’ve started making progress. Then towards the end of the year the short term goals are a great way of spurring you on to reach that long term goal.

Don’t do everything in one go!

So many people will change TOO many things at once which inevitably leads to failure. Stop this by introducing things bit by bit.

For example:

January – get to the gym more times in the week.
February – start cutting out the generally rubbish foods in your diet.
March – Drink more water throughout the day

And so on…

Habits are said to be formed over a period 4-6 weeks, so changing little bits at a time will keep you on track to success and not overwhelm your body with change.

Mix it up a little

Don’t fall into the same old workouts, or even dust off your old gym programme from January 2015 (or older!). Mixing up your routine a bit by doing some resistance training, cardio work, low impact forms of exercise such as Yoga and Pilates…or even going to few classes for inspiration. All these things offer great benefits to your body and ultimately stop your body from become stagnant – keep it guessing what you’re going to do next!

Expect it to be tough!

“Rome wasn’t built in a day” cannot be truer here. Modern society dictates that everything needs to happen right away, in that very second for it to be considered beneficial.

Fitness doesn’t work like this – it takes weeks/months sometimes before you’ll really start seeing the results of your hard work. Give it time, patience and perseverance and you’ll feel and look amazing. If you just miss out on your goals, don’t worry too much: channel your focus straight back into your fitness plan and don’t use it as an excuse to chuck all your hard work out of the window.

Rest your way to results

Recovering from your fitness sessions is essential for results. Resting is key to help your body repair if you’ve had a tough week of training, and there is not much worse than training with niggles and injuries! Massages are excellent for tending any niggling problems you have, as well as loosening up any muscles that are sore and stiff. Resting can even be defined as lowering the volume, but maintaining the intensity for a week.

For example instead of doing 3-4 sets of an exercise, only do 2 sets with the same weight. Or instead of running a total of 30 miles a week, only run 15-20 miles. This just gives your body the chance to recover whilst still benefitting from the type of exercise you are doing…and you’ll be surprised how much better you feel for it!

So there you go – YST’s five simple tips for fitness success in 2016. We will be trying to live by these tips this year and hope that this will inspire you to actually achieve your goals for this year. We are also on hand to provide any injury and training advice you may need. Don’t be afraid to get in touch, we are more than happy to help!

 

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Core Training

Core Training: Much More Than Sit Ups

Core training has become increasingly popular for fitness enthusiasts, and for fitness professionals to implement into their fitness programmes. However, there is still a slightly “old school” mentality that sit ups are still a great core exercise. Also, I see more and more gym “newbies” attempting the 30 day “Plank Challenge” – which is a staged challenge whereby you end up holding a plank for FOUR minutes!

In my opinion, excessive sit ups will lead to lower back problems most notably; a prolapsed disc (something we all want to avoid when it comes to lower back injuries!). Also in regards to holding the Plank for four minutes, this shows that this exercise has now become too easy, and there isn’t enough stimulus for the body to react to in order to become stronger. Plus, I would argue that over four minutes your technique will waver during that time.

What is the core?

Before I move on to the main part of this post, I wanted to briefly cover the function of the “The Core”. The core musculature is not just made up of your big six pack abs (also known as your rectus abdominus). We also have your Obliques, Gluteal muscles, Erector Spinae group, and a deeper lying abdominal muscle groups known as Transverse Abdominus and Multifidus. All these muscles work in tandem to perform the following functions:

  • Protect and stabilise the spine
  • Control position and movement of the trunk
  • Provide optimum production and transfer of force to the arms and legs.
Core Muscles involve much than a Six Pack!

Core Muscles involve much than a Six Pack!

 

Therefore the approach I like to take with clients who I prescribe “Core” programmes to be one that looks to train the torso to resist a combination of movements which are broken down into:

  • Flexion and Extension (Posterior/Anterior Core Stability)
  • Side Flexion (Lateral Core Stability)
  • Rotation (Rotary Core Stability)

From teaching the core musculature to resist these movement patterns and working on all areas of core musculature, this can then transfer across into improving efficiency of lifts and/or sporting performance by providing a solid base that our limbs can move from – for example, watch any Olympic Sprinter at the start of their 100m sprint, there core will work overtime to resist rotation in order to propel themselves out of the starting blocks.

You can see this sprinter’s core working over time in order to stabilise her torso as she reaches top speed.

So…how do we go about making your core super solid?? Below are just a few moves that will certainly help you on your way to a solid core in 2014

CLICK THIS LINK TO VIEW DEMOS OF THE EXERCISES BELOW

Anti-Flexion and Extension Moves:

Rollouts 3 X 10+ reps

Deadlift 4 X 10 reps

Anti-Side Flexion Moves:

Side Planks 3 X 20-30 sec holds

Offset Walk Lunges 3 X 15 reps

Anti-Rotation:

Palov Press 3 x 15+ reps

Supermans 3 x 15+ reps

By introducing a combination of these exercises into your workout, you will slowly begin to find that you become stronger in the gym, on a rugby pitch, or your back won’t be as achey after a long day in the office!

The Take Home Message:

Overall, core stability training is a complex area that doesn’t have a “one size fits all” approach but by challenging all possible avenues, this creates a balance which will only improve your general lower back health and it may even get you those washboard abs you’ve always wanted!

 

If you would like to have a personalised core programme designed for your 2014 fitness plan, message us now for you FREE consultation.

 

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Exercise Prescription

EXERCISE PRESCRIPTION: WHY DOING 3 X 10 COULD BE WRONG FOR YOU!

This blog is a slight follow on from my last post on the many different answers to the question of “What is the best way to build muscle/burn fat etc?”

If you have ever had a programme written for you at your gym that has been designed for you to lose weight. However it has been copy and pasted with 3 x 10 throughout?? Then the likelihood is that your exercise has been “prescribed” incorrectly and you are actually training for muscle growth!

Before we move onto what sort of sets and reps you should REALLY be doing, you first of all need to ask yourself: “What do I want to achieve from my workouts?”

Once this question has been answered, then you can start working and tailoring your workouts towards THAT goal, as said earlier you don’t want to be purposely trying to promote muscle growth if you are really wanting to improve muscular endurance, or even perform some sort of corrective exercise.

 Therefore, I have put together a small guide of what sets and reps work best for different goals.

STRENGTH/POWER

  • 3-5 SETS PER EXERCISE/MUSCLE GROUP
  • 1-5 REPETITIONS PER SET
  • 80-100% 1 REP MAX (80-100KG)
  • “LIFT WITH MAXIMUM INTENT”

If you’re main goal is to improve strength and power then you need to lift heavy, and with maximum intent – which ultimately means shift the load as quickly as possible! When performed correctly, max strength training can be massively beneficial for anyone as heavy lifts promote more muscle fibre recruitment which can lead to increased performance whilst maintaining efficiency!

However, PT Kevin Whitehead at MovePerform, Northwich says “Although true strength training has its benefits, it is key that you have had a few weeks of lighter weights sessions in order to become familiar with good technique – this is where hiring a Personal Trainer can help structure your training properly and help avoid injury when you lift heavy!”

To view a video of PT Kev’s max strength 170KG deadlift – *click here*

HYPERTROPHY (MUSCLE GROWTH)

  • 3-4 SETS PER EXERCISE/MUSCLE GROUP
  • 8-12 REPETITIONS PER SET
  • 60-80% 1 REP MAX (60-80KG)
  • “TIME UNDER TENSION” OR “CONTROL THROUGH RANGE”

If you are looking to add more muscle mass, then the above intensity should be performed during your weights sessions. By decreasing the weight slightly and increasing the reps you increase the time in which your muscles are working (time under tension). In essence, there will be more microscopic tears within the muscle from the eccentric portion of an exercise e.g. lowering the bar to your chest during a bench press. Over time, this will lead to an increase in muscle size (general consensus is this is usually 6-8 weeks).

MUSCLE ENDURANCE

  • 3-5 SETS PER EXERCISE/MUSCLE GROUP
  • 15-20 REPETITIONS PER SET
  • 40-60% 1 REP MAX (40-60KG)

For more endurance based work, again we up the repetitions and bring the load down. By performing a large volume of work up to almost 100 reps per exercise/muscle group, the demands on the body changes as your workout soon becomes more testing on the cardiovascular system. This is mainly due to your body now beginning to continuously supply your muscles with fresh oxygen to keep performing a greater number of repetitions before you “feel the burn”. Naturally, as your body adapts, you will increase your Lactate Threshold – meaning you won’t feel the burn as easily.

For a great example of muscular endurance, check out PT Paul Connor’s Kettlebell Video

MOTOR CONTROL (CORRECTIVE EXERCISE)

  • 3-5 SETS PER EXERCISE/MUSCLE GROUP
  • 20-25 REPETITIONS PER SET
  • 30-50% 1 REP MAX (30-50kg)**
  • GOAL SPECIFIC I.E. MAINTAIN A CERTAIN JOINT POSITION THROUGHOUT EXERCISE ETC.
  • MAINLY USED IN REHAB TO CORRECT FAULTY MOVEMENT PATTERNS

**IF INJURED, THIS MAY BE MUCH LOWER TO ACCOUNT FOR PAIN LEVELS ETC.

Finally, we come onto corrective exercise. This is where we go after certain muscle groups – more often the more stabilising muscles in the body such as the rotator cuff, core musculature or muscles that can help improve with posture. The aim of keeping reps high and resistance very low is to encourage more of a “localised endurance” within muscles. By “waking up” certain muscles that might not be firing properly, it encourages them to work during day to day life. Additionally, by improving joint control incorporating some motor control work into your training can help “injury proof” joints which can be extremely beneficial for troublesome areas; especially if you have had previous injuries!

SUMMARY

This blog will probably give you some food for thought going into your next workout  I also hope I have provided a useful guide as to what to be aiming for so that you can begin to “fine tune” the load that you are using for certain moves whether you are a fitness fanatic or a trainer that is looking to update their knowledge.

If the intensity and load of the exercise is correct, you will see the results that you want to achieve!

If you want more regular training tips and injury advice
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N.B. I would like to credit the lectures of Raphael Brandon “Evidence Based Exercise Prescription for Rehabilitation” and Adam Meakins “Strengthening The Overhead Athlete” for the information that this blog contains.

DISCLAIMER: You should seek professional advice from your GP and/or a qualified fitness coach before attempting any of the above exercise intensities.

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Five Move Fitness

Hello and welcome back to another YourSportsTherapist blog.

The most common question I am asked health and fitness professional is:

“What are the most effective moves in the gym to build muscle/burn fat etc??”

This is a question with MANY different answers as many factors are involved with this question. However today I have come up with a list of FIVE “cornerstone” exercises that when tailored to your goals, will provide you with the results you’re looking for!

So here it goes….

1.       THE DEADLIFT

Let me start with one of the best weightlifting, and functional exercises you can do! The deadlift works through the whole posterior chain (from your calves all the way up the tops of your shoulders). As such, this move always features in many of my workouts and builds great strength through your legs and back, not forgetting that your core has to work over-time in order to maintain perfect technique throughout! Additionally, it is one of the few moves you can lift more than your own bodyweight with, and not have to worry about whether you are going to be crushed by the barbell!

All in all, if the deadlift isn’t in your weightlifting programme then it should be! A full body move that can be adjusted to give you huge benefits no matter what your goal may be.

 

2.       PRESS UPS 

“What?! No bench press?” I hear you cry. As much as the bench press may be popular, and a great exercise for strength it is interesting to know that when doing full press ups you are lifting approximately 70% of your own bodyweight, yet you still see the average gym goer lifting less than this amount on the bench press in the gym! As such, being able to shift your own bodyweight multiple times should be a bigger boost to the ego as well as your upper body!

 

3.       THE PLANK 

This fantastic core exercise and/or any of its derivatives should be a cornerstone of your workout. The variations of leg lifts, opposite arm/leg holds, swiss balls, medicine balls, side planks, walking planks will always provide any regular gym goer with that new stimulus to carve a rock solid core. Then this can be standardised by holding a static plank for as long as possible and comparing your results every few weeks. Overall, the vast number of progressions to this basic gym move to give you that extra “burn” means that you can constantly prevent boredom…key to keeping you getting into the gym!

4.       INVERTED ROW 

The inverted row is the bodyweight equivalent of a press up…but for your back! In my opinion I think the inverted row is much easier to perform with good technique unlike a bent over row, which in turn becomes very “back friendly” by having to support yourself in a solid line from head to toes whilst still being able to build good strength through your back and arms. Additionally, the inverted row can quickly be adapted to make the exercise both easier and harder depending on your ability. Definitely worthy of making the top five!

 

 

5.       SQUATS

I couldn’t finish off my top 5 without having squats in here. If you are looking for bigger/leaner/toned legs then squats NEED to be in your workout somewhere. Like the plank, there are many derivatives of this exercise which can certainly prevent the boredom of performing repeated back squats (or front squats depending on your preference!). Plus, adding a some weight to your squats will certainly get your heart pumping and balance out the work done through the back on your deadlifts and rows!

 

 

You may have noticed that I haven’t included any exercises such as bicep curls or crunches in this post. It is my belief that if you want big fitness gains in the shortest time possible, performing big multi-joint moves is the way forward be it for getting more muscle mass, or for weight/fat loss. However, this isn’t to say that isolation moves are redundant in the gym…but they should be considered as “bolt ons” to your bigger moves.

Hopefully you have found this blog useful, and will help you think twice before starting your workouts with bicep curls and lateral raises!!

 

For more fitness and training tips
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DISCLAIMER: You should seek professional advice from your GP and/or a qualified fitness instructor before attempting any of the exercises mentioned in this article.

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MPA FITNESS CENTRE: THE BEST GYM IN NORTHWICH!

Hello!

Welcome back to another YourSportsTherapist blog post!

Today I’m dedicating this blog post to the gym I both work out of, and the gym which I use for my workouts: The MPA Fitness Centre, Northwich.

The gym was opened in January 2013 just outside of Northwich Town Centre with one simple goal in mind: That conventional gym training isn’t the only way to train, and that MPA’s methods of training are smarter, get results quicker and ultimately more effective use of your gym time!

THE TRAINERS:

The owners Paul Connor and Kev Whitehead have a combined experience of over 30 years of Personal Training and Fitness experience and are dedicated to getting the results you want! I have had the pleasure of being trained by both of them and they both deliver very effective, challenging and enjoying sessions which often lead you to say “When can I book in for next week!?”.

Paul Connor is Northwich’s own Kettlebell guru and is a Master Trainer in the art of kettlebell training. Paul is very encouraging throughout his sessions with clients and constantly varies exercises and programmes to keep your body guessing. One of the best sessions I have had with Paul involved 3 kettlebell exercises and a variety of pushing and pulling drills with a Prowler (a sled which you can add weights to)…proof that simple, but effective plans are often the best. So if you are looking for a totally new way of challenging your body, get in touch with him!

Kev Whitehead is one of MPA’s lead trainers who specialises in boxing fitness training and body fat reduction training. Kev’s personality shines through in all of his sessions which ultimately gives you that extra push when you begin to tire. Throughout my sessions I have had with Kev, he builds a solid foundation from where you can really see results very quickly as the intensity of his sessions builds. Using his unique style of functional weight training, I saw my body transform within the space of 6 weeks which gave me the “beach ready” physique I set out for. If you want to see effective results, get in touch with him.

THE GYM:

The gym is very unique in its set up as there is LOADS of floor space in order to do your session and not worry about someone breathing down your neck like in most commercial gyms! Also, there is a vast array of equipment ranging from classic dumbbells and barbells to TRX Suspension systems, Tractor Tyres and of course…Kettlebells! The gym has everything you need to get the most out of your fitness programme, and some different bits of kit to give your body that extra stimulus to get stronger, leaner etc.

 

MPA Fitness Centre, Northwich

CLASSES:

The classes that MPA put on during the week see people flock to the gym in their masses to get the best bang for their buck!

MPA classes range from your classic Circuits and Spin classes, to more bespoke classes such as Kettlebells, Sandbag and Box Fit classes. For £5 a class, the quality and variety of classes is excellent. Also, a big strength of the classes is that there is a strong social feel with new comers being welcomed with open arms and encouraged throughout the class to the “regulars” who train hard with their mates for an hour!

Kettlebells Class

VERDICT??

Without doubt, I think that The MPA Fitness Centre offers spectacular value for money. Highly experienced trainers running incredibly effective sessions, in a gym with all the bits of kit you need…with YourSportsTherapist being on hand to handle your niggles as you go along. What more do you need?!

**SPECIAL OFFER AT MPA**

JOIN UP DURING SEPTEMBER AND RECEIVE TWO PT SESSIONS
AND A 30 MINUTE MASSAGE..FOR ABSOLUTELY FREE!!*

*T&C’s apply.

For more information about the gym and/or to get in touch with Paul and Kev visit:

www.moveperform.co.uk

“Like” MPA on Facebook

Subscribe to their fantastic YouTube Channel

 

Or come down to Unit 5, Kingfisher Court, Denton Drive, Northwich, CW9 7TT

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Power Up Your Overhead Squat

HOW TO POWER UP YOUR OVERHEAD SQUAT: PART ONE

The overhead squat is deemed as one of the most technical exercises in the gym: essentially performing a full squat with a barbell (and then some) over your head without falling over and/or being crushed! Some crazy fools even do sets of overhead squats!

I see lots of people wanting to do an overhead squat, however they fall at the first hurdle due to a number of common faults which can be rectified quite easily…enter this blog with a few remedies to common faults to power up this fantastic gym move!

This is how an overhead squat SHOULD be performed

COMMON FAULTS:

1.       Forward Lean/Forward Arms

Forward Lean

 

The ideal overhead squat will see the bar move in an imaginary line: straight down and straight back up again. The first common fault is that someone will go into a forward lean, therefore taking the barbell out of that imaginary vertical line, throwing the individual off balance. This could be due to tight hip flexors/quads which will hinge the hips as you try and squat. The other common fault is the arms are unable to maintain an overhead position; the result is similar in that the weight is shifted out of that vertical line and the squat cannot be held. A common finding on this is weakness around the upper back and stiffness through the thoracic spine (the middle part of your back) and/or lack of shoulder flexibility into Internal Rotation. As a result, the shoulders are unable to reach the ideal overhead position.

 

 

2.       Knee Collapse

Knee Roll

Another fault often seeing in the overhead squat is the knee collapse. This is where the individual cannot control the knee over their toes into the squat position, meaning that they won’t be able to generate the force needed to complete the squat. Whilst in the long term, the individual can end up with horrendous knee problems! The cause of this can be derived from two regions: the hip or the ankle. Poor hip control through the glutes can lead to internal rotation of the hip during squatting meaning that other muscles need to work to compensate! If the knee collapse comes from the ankle, the individual won’t be able to fully dorsiflex (medical term from bringing your toes up to your shin!) meaning that the knee will collapse in, in order to get into a full squat position which again, leads to a lack of power during the squat. To remedy this, strengthening the glutes and improve ankle mobility is key!

 

 

3.       Arching your back at the bottom of the squat

Lumbar Arch

The overhead squat is one of the most underused core exercises in the gym setting by the squat demanding you to maintain an upright torso throughout the whole move; the net result is a rock solid core! However, some people will tend to arch their lower back during the overhead squat; the most common complaint following this is “My back aches when I go heavy on Overhead Squats”. The problem here is that your core musculature is weak in one (or more!) directions. For this problem specifically, the musculature at the front is weak and unable to resist the spine arching. We rectify this by doing what is known as “anti-extension” core work.

 

 

4.       Lack of torque at the shoulder girdle

 

Torque

The last common problem is where the individual performing the overhead squat can do the move correctly, but struggles with heavier weights when trying to progress their training. Where most people struggle is through holding a heavy barbell over their head which is more often than not caused by a lack of “torque” at the shoulder.

In the overhead position, not being efficient enough with your shoulder positioning will lead to a lack of stability through the shoulder joint; so we want to be able to transmit that weight directly through the arm and into the shoulder and not anywhere else. This is done by simple improvements in your technique and create a position where the joint is “packed” together so it can’t be moved as easily by a change in the barbell position. If you want to know more about this, check out Kelly Starrett’s YouTube Channel which covers a variety of issues like this to improve your lifts!

 

Keep an eye on our Blog and Youtube Channel over the next few days on drills
and videos of how to perform the perfect Overhead Squat!

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Pre Season Preparations: 4 Steps to a Pain Free Back

“BACK CRAMPING”

One of the more common problems I find during the Pre-Season period for a lot of teams is the “My back just keeps cramping up and feeling tight whenever I go to run.” This can be frustrating for a lot of people because the “cramping” stops them from pushing on with their training.

The common cause for this can be the fact that the majority of us will sit at a desk from 9am-5pm during the close season without carrying on with any sort of training. As such, your hip flexors (which originate from your lumbar spine) will become used to being in a shortened position. Therefore, when you are stood upright and trying to run/sprint. Your lower back will begin to arch through causing the muscles in your lower back to shorten as well…the end result? Two muscle groups try and have a tug of war with one another leading to that “cramping” sensation!!

So…how to stop this from happening?

1)      Stretch out your hip flexors on a regular basis. Even spending a couple of minutes during your lunch break will make a significant difference over a week. See the photos below for how to get a good stretch through your hips.

2)      Think about going to a Pilates/Yoga class! Pilates and Yoga ultimately is the reason why Ryan Giggs is still able to play for Manchester United at 40 years of age! Also, several Rugby League teams have added “Hot Yoga” to maintain flexibility and stay injury free during their training. Furthermore, Pilates has been proven to be of benefit to anyone with any previous back problems to improve their core strength and increase flexibility.

3)      Warm up properly!! Spending 15-20 minutes on a thorough warm up and preparing your body for the tough session ahead will ultimately pay off. Bursting into some high intensity shuttle runs whilst “cold” will increase your risk of injury. Watch this video of how Manchester United structures their dynamic warm up in Pre-Season in order to get the best from your session!

4)      If your back does begin to become painful. STOP IMMEDIATELY and get in touch with someone who is able to treat different forms of back pain, as you may have an underlying problem other than muscle stiffness and generally being out of condition.

 

If you require specialist advice and treatment for your back problems, contact us at YourSportsTherapist using our contact form to the right of this article!

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Pre Season Preparations: Treat Your Tight Calves

The month of July is here, and for many of you sporting folk this marks the month where the dreaded Pre-Season Training begins!! As such, I thought I would write several posts over the coming weeks on the common problems that I come across during pre-season and provide you with some simple tips on how to “self-treat” yourself.

TIGHT CALVES

Possibly the most common problem to come across as a therapist! Pre-Season for a lot of people involves lots and lots of running: sprints, long runs, intervals and dreaded shuttle runs! All of which needs your calves to help propel yourself forwards. When you’re out of condition, your calves become very tired, very quickly leading to cramping, tightening, or even a calf strain.

To avoid this, try these tips:

  1. Dynamic warm up exercises such as skipping or mini squat jumps to “wake up” your calves before training and thus preparing them for the session ahead. 
  2. Stretch your calves off after training, holding the stretch for 30 seconds or so to help keep them supple over the next 6 weeks.  Check the following two videos for your calf and achilles stretches. 
  3. Invest in a decent Sports Massage in order to help flush out waste products from training and maintain muscle flexibility! You’ll really see the benefits over a few sessions. 
  4. A common cause of tight calves is doing too much, too soon. In this instance, try and build up your running gradually instead of making huge increases too soon which can lead to muscle strains and overuse injuries! 
  5. If you do get a “pull”, DON’T PANIC! Apply ice/frozen peas to your calf for around 15-20 minutes and seek treatment from someone who specialises in Sports Injuries.

If you require specialist advice and/or treatment, YourSportsTherapist can help you be raring to go for the start of the season! Get in touch by filling out our quick contact form!

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