Rock and Roller

The Foam Roller can be a life saver when it comes to stretching and helping with minor injuries. Rolling your body over foam cylinders can improve flexibility, reduce post-workout soreness, prevent sports injuries and even alleviate chronic pain.The foam roller is a great tool for lengthening and elongating muscles and is especially helpful for runners who often suffer from tight and fatigued muscles. The foam roller will also massage the muscles intensely, similar to what a massage therapist will do without the cost to visit one.

Foam roller therapy is also often called self-myofascial release. It has been shown to improve range of motion in the knee and hip, and to ease muscle soreness after exercise. Myofascial release comes from a theory that pressure from the rollers breaks up tight spots in muscles and the connective tissue that surrounds them, the fascia. In combination with regular stretching, using a foam roller can be more effective in improving flexibility.

The foam roller should not replace proper stretching, warming up and cooling down, but it can be used as a tool to limit soreness and tightness through increased blood flow and flexibility. By using the roller, you can help to also avoid injuries. The iliotibial band (IT band), the band that runs on the outside of the leg from the hip to just below the knee is one of the areas in the body that can be prone to injury. By rolling the foam roller on the side of the leg (slowly back and forth) towards the top of the leg, specifically where the quad where it meets the IT band it will help to increase blood flow and circulation, aiding in healing and preventing injury.

Here are 4 Foam Roller Stretches to try:

Lower Back Pain
Looser hamstrings will help with back pain. Sit on a foam roller with your legs stretched out. Support yourself with your hands on the floor behind you. Position yourself so that the roller is directly under your hamstrings. Slowly roll forwards and back from the base of your glutes to the bend in your knee for approximately 30 seconds.

Runner’s Knee
Roll your iliotibial band (the muscle on the outside of your leg from your hip to your knee). Lie on your side and slip the roller under your thigh. Cross your other foot over and put it on the floor. Roll back and forth for 30 seconds from the bottom of your hip to just above your knee.

Tight quads can tug on your patellar tendons, causing pain around your knees. Lie on your stomach with the roller placed under your thighs. Holding the body straight, roll yourself back and forth from hip to mid-thigh for 30 seconds.

Upper Back Pain
Lie on your back and place the foam roller beneath your neck, near your shoulder blades. Your feet and backside should be on the ground and your hands behind your head. Brace your abs and slowly work the roller for 30 seconds up and down from your shoulder blades to your middle back (not your lower back).

If you add the foam roller in combination with static stretching you will notice results. Massage your own muscles and boost your performance with a foam roller. Have your trainer work it into your warm up and post workout.

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Making a Splash with Underwater Cycling

Underwater cycling or aqua cycling is an underwater workout that is starting to make an appearance in Europe and North America. Underwater cycling brings the stationary bike into the pool. Before making a splash in recreation centers around the world, it was used as a form of physical therapy for injured athletes. Most people know classic cycling from their fitness studio: several stationary bicycles are arranged in a circle. In the front sits the trainer who gives instructions against the background of motivational music. The participants simulate cycling up and down mountains and valleys, and cycle seated or standing. This sport is however not suitable for everyone because it puts a lot of strain on the joints. If you ‘shift’ the bicycle into the water, everything looks quite different. The motion sequences are especially gentle because of the effect of the water and are even more fun. Special water bikes have been developed for this that weigh a little more and don’t rust.

The natural movements in water protect the joints and relieve the spine. Falls, impacts and sudden movements are prevented. This makes underwater cycling highly suitable for rehabilitation and gentle muscle building after injury and for those with spinal disk problems.

Water is the elixir of life, and the underwater massage has a positive effect on the skin, tissue and muscles. The skin is supplied with blood and tightened, and it encourages the purging of the tissue. The water pressure also adds a bit of a massage feeling to the legs that can reach deeper muscles, which is believed to help lose more calories.

The body stays cool even while working out because you are submerged in water. You still get the cardiovascular and fat burning benefits from cycling but it also helps those people with bone or joint ailments and lessen inflammation. Aquacycling improves the performance of your heart and circulation and has an invigorating effect on the spine, core, legs and butt. This is effective endurance training for increasing physical and mental well-being. An underwater cycling workout is challenging but doesn’t feel as hard as a regular cycling class.

Underwater cycling is still very new in many areas (and we’re not aware of any underwater cycling classes in our local San Jose area as of yet), but keep an eye out.  It could be coming to your city soon!

Fire and Ice

If you workout or have played fun sports, you are most likely familiar with icing an injury. While ice is the standard protocol for some injuries, you are probably also common with using heat to ease tense muscles. So when should you be using a cold compress and when must you be using heat? The following article is a basic guide to help you treat your injury effectively.Pain after an injury or overuse of an area of your body is mostly a result of swelling or inflammation of the affected tissue whether it is bone, muscle, ligament or tendon.

This inflammation causes stress on the adjacent sensory nerves which convey information to the brain therefore causing the sensation or feeling of pain. Inflammation also reflexively leads to the soft cells of the affected area to “tighten up” or turn out to be contracted adding to the pressure on these sensory nerves. That is the one of the factors, muscles tend to tighten up and stay tight for an extended period of time after the initial injury or excessive activity. After an injury it is suggested to ice 8-10 minutes per application up to 4-6 times per day until the acute inflammation has subsided and there is no pain with movement of that area. This approach stays in effect as long a there is pain. This is the key element.

The use of ice, just like heat while on a sore muscle mass is reliant upon the stage of the injury. A muscle tissue pain differs and is not created equal. So as to make use of ice you should apply it correctly. Stay away from adding ice directly on your skin layer, rather, wrap the certain ice or ice pack inside a hefty bath towel or even plastic material bag and after that apply.

Chill the injured area for 15 -30 minutes, or right up until the area gets numb (exposing skin to cold for longer than 20 minutes may damage epidermis as well as the sensitivity of the nerves). You could use a timer, and then take it off. As soon as the area gets numb, that is when you know that the healing and therapeutic benefits are taking its impact. The cold ice helps to slow down the blood flow and can also reduce any soreness that happens.

More often than not chronic pain is greatest treated with heat therapy. Chronic injuries have little to no associated inflammation, but rather are characterized by tight, sore muscles. Heat will loosen up stiff muscles and lower spasms. Athletes are encouraged to heat muscles for 15 to 20 minutes before (rather than after) exercising as it can “warm up” the muscle and decrease the likelihood of further injury.

Moist heat therapy is the most beneficial as the moisture penetrates the muscle more deeply. As with cold therapy, never leave a heating device on your body for prolonged periods of time as this may lead to additional injury. Generally 15 to 20 minutes is sufficient, even though longer periods could be suitable.

Be cautious, heat application boosts the blood flow to the affected area and tends to increase existing inflammation. Heat application is one of the most typical errors in treating inflammation and results in prolonged disability and pain. Applying heat to a body part that is still inflamed will enhance the longevity of symptoms arising from the injury specifically pain and stiffness. It is consequently not recommended for acute injuries or injuries that show any signs of pain and inflammation.

Although heat and ice therapy are important therapies to use during muscle recovery it is essential to understand that there are usually further underlying issues that heat and ice can not heal. Heat and ice should be used in conjunction with other alternative modalities such as massage therapy, electric muscle stimulation, ultrasound, chiropractic care, spinal decompression and physical therapy. Nonetheless, heat and ice should be used at the first sign of any pain to minimize your symptoms.

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