Running – Calf Exercises

Prepare to Run with these Calf Exercises

 

Calf tears are arguably the most common running injury. We sit all day, or walk in heels, and the calf muscles get tight. The extra load on the calf in running can lead to a tear. It feels like someone has hit you in the back of the leg, and that’s the end of your running for 4-6 weeks. Faulty foot mechanics can also cause tight calf muscles.

 

Start these simple tips and exercises to run better this season.

 Tips

  1. Start your running slowly and avoid explosive bursts until you are warmed up.
  2. Look up when running hills, and shorten your stride a little.
  3. Increase your running rhythm and don’t overstride to increase your speed.
  4. If you are getting bruised toes or a bunion on your big toe, this is usually a sign that something is wrong. You may be overpronating. We can assist by offering stability exercises and changes to your footwear can correct overpronation. We can also advise if you need to see a Podiatrist.

 

Exercises

Calf Raises114 calf raises2

  1. Start with your knees straight and raise yourself up onto tip toes, maintaining balance and posture. Then, lower your feet back down onto the ground. Don’t grip the floor your toes. Repeat 10-15 times.
  2. Stand on one leg, and repeat this exercises 10-15 times. Repeat on the other leg 10-15 times.
  3. Try this routine with your knees slightly bent.
  4. Once you are confident with these exercises, progress to raising yourself up fast and then lowering back down slowly.115 towel exercise2
  5. Make this exercise more challenging by doing the exercise on the edge of a step or with a rolled up towel under your toes.

 

Stork

  1. Stand in front of a mirror with one foot on the inside of the opposite thigh.78 stork position2
  2. Spread your arms our 90 degrees from your body.
  3. Engage your gluteals to maintain your posture.
  4. Once steady, slowly raise yourself up onto tip toes and then slowly lower back down.
  5. Maintain your balance, and repeat 10-15 times on each leg.

 

 

Stretch

If you have an old chopping board and some large books or bricks, you can make an effective wedge to stretch your calf muscles.Calf stretch - wedge

  1. Angle the wedge down towards a wall. Stand with your back against the wall, and your feet up on the wedge.
  2. Hold this position for 1-3 minutes with your knees straight.
  3. Repeat with your knees bent a little.
  4. Turn your feet in a little to make this stretch a little more challenging.

 

If you’d like to have an assessment of your running biomechanics, improve your stability, speed or strength, please contact us on 02 9399 7399.

 

Alex Sherborne

Physiotherapist

Injury-free Skiing – Exercises

How to Improve your Performance and Have an Injury-free Ski!

 

It took just one hailstorm in Sydney to get me itching to ski this season. Most of us ski just a few times each year, and don’t get ourselves conditioned to ski. Try these easy ski-preparation exercises leading up to your ski holiday!

 

Step 1: Check your Alignment76 sit to stand

Start by preparing how you stand. Draw a mark on the centre of each kneecap and stand in front of a mirror. The mark should be directly above your second toe. Adjust your feet and knees until they are. Do a half squat, keeping the marks above your second toes, then stand back up.

Try lunging forward with one leg, keeping the mark above your second toe, then stand back up and repeat with the other leg.112a standing stability work

Repeat each exercise 30 times, squatting lower and lunging a little further forward each time.

Practice will help you align your legs properly to ski, and get you holding an edge like a pro. If you are having difficulty with these exercises, it may mean you need the canting adjusted on your ski boots.

 

Step 2: How’s your Balance?77b hip extension77a standing knee hug into hip extension

Most skiers put too much weight on the back of the ski. Keeping your weight even from front to back will give you more control and a faster ride. It’s great to practice weight-bearing on a balance board, bosu or duradisc.

Try this exercise on solid ground. Stand on one leg, hugging the other leg into your chest with both hands. Make sure that the centre of your kneecap is over your second toe. Get the weight on your toes the same as the weight on your heels. Once you feel steady, extend the leg and your arms behind you, keeping the weight even on toes and heels, then return to your starting position.

Repeat 10 times on each leg.79 advanced pendulum exercise

Progress to the Arabesque position, extending the leg straight behind you, with one arm extended in front. Then return to the starting position.

 

 

Step 3: Strengthening Glutes & Quads

Gluteus Medius

No sport uses Gluteus Medius as much as skiing. Good control of the hips includes having strong glute meds, and this is essential for your turns.04081502

Stand side on to a wall, with your hands on your hips. Lift the knee closest to the wall. Pushing this knee into the wall will make the glutes contract on your standing leg. Maintain your alignment and balance throughout this exercise.

Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 8-10 times each side.

To progress this exercise further, try turning out the foot you are standing on, against the resistance of the floor.

Quadriceps113 quads step strengthening

Your quads are the workhorses of your skiing. You need strength and endurance in these muscles.

Stand with one leg on a step and the step the other down towards the floor in front of you. Stop before your foot actually hits the floor and return to your starting position.

Repeat 10-15 times and do 3 sets on each leg. Maintain your alignment and balance. Move to a higher step and add weights to progress this exercise when you’re ready.

 

 

Step 4: Endurance

The fitter you are, the longer you will enjoy your day on the slopes. That chair ride up only lets you recover so much!

Running, skipping, cycling or using an elliptical trainer as often as you can – at least every second day – is the easiest way to improve your baseline fitness and endurance.

If you have the right space and equipment, in-line skating uses many of the same muscles and techniques as skiing. Jumping exercises get the heart pumpin04081501g and help prepare for those moguls. Find a sturdy, low box that you can stand on, and give yourself lots of room. (Step aerobic steps are great for this.)

Start by standing feet together on the box, and stepping one leg sideways until it touches the ground, then return to both feet together on the box. Step to the other side. Repeat 30 times to each side, and keep your alignment and balance as you go.

Once you’ve mastered this exercise, keep your feet together and jump both feet to the floor on one side, then back onto the box, then both feet to the other side. Repeat 30 times on each side.

Increase the height of the box, and try jumping forward and back when you can.

 

 

Step 5: Improve your Flexibility

Flexibility is particularly important when you are doing tricks or racing, and it is vital that you stretch any muscle that feels tight before andCalf stretch - wedge after your day on the slopes, especially as fatigue and the cold will make your muscles tighten up.

A good stretch for your calf muscles can be achieved by using a low wedge (an old cutting board against a brick or similar will do the job.) Angle the wedge down towards a wall, and stand with your back against the wall. Hold this position for 1-3 minutes with your legs straight (gastrocnemius), and then repeat with your legs a little bent to reach you61 hip flexor stretchr deeper calf muscles (soleus).

 

Your hip flexors will also need a good stretch after skiing. On your knees, lunge on leg forward with your pelvis tucked under, and then stretch the arm on that side over. Hold for 20 seconds, and repeat on both sides.

A simple quad stretch will also assist your muscle recovery after skiing. You can use a wall or table to support you. Stand up tall on one leg.

107 standing quads stretch

Bend the other leg and reach the foot up behind you. Hold onto your foot and try to keep your knees together. Hold for 20 seconds, and repeat on both sides.

 

 

If you follow these 5 guidelines, your performance will improve on the slopes this season, and you are much less likely to suffer injuries. Prevention is always better than cure! If you have any trouble with these exercises, or would like to improve your performance further, speak to your Physiotherapist.

 

At PPFC, our resident Skiing Physio is Alex Sherborne. Call to make an appointment with him on 02 9399 7399.

Back Pain and the Pelvic Floor

Back Pain & the Pelvic Floor

Spine and pelvisby Clare Dingle, Physiotherapist – Women’s Health

 

Almost 50 percent of people who have back pain have weak pelvic floor muscles.  The Pelvic Floor is a deep, internal sling of muscles running between your pubic bone at the front of your pelvis, and your coccyx at the back. These muscles may be weak for a number of reasons including childbirth, if you have had surgery (eg. prostatectomy or gynaecological surgery), if you are overweight, or if you perform maximal load strength training without first engaging these muscles.

Having back pain can also lead to weakness of the pelvic floor muscles – some of the nerves from the lower vertebrae and the sacral levels of our spine supply the pelvic floor muscles. Urinary urge, stress incontinence or internal pelvic pain can be an indication that your pelvic muscles are not working well. It is important to consult a physiotherapist who specialises in women’s or men’s health to find out how to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to eliminate this as a factor contributing to your back pain.

 

How do I know if I have weak pelvic floor muscles?

The following factors may indicate you have weak pelvic floor muscles:

  • If you have had a baby either recently or many years ago or when you have had more than three children there is a high correlation between back pain and weakened pelvic floor muscles.
  • If you experience episodes of ‘leaking’ when you cough or sneeze, which is called stress incontinence.
  • Urge incontinence; when your bladder is full you have to empty it immediately – you cannot “hold on”.
  • If you have had some form of gynaecological surgery.
  • If you are overweight.
  • If you experience respiratory problems, eg a persistent cough.

 

Helpful cues for engaging your pelvic floor muscles

Different cues will work for each person. The main thing to know is that your pelvic floor muscles may be weak at the front, middle or back. In fact they may be weak on one side and not the other but it is still helpful to retrain both sides together. If you have recently given birth, the muscles in the middle and at the front of the pelvic floor tend to be weak. The simplest way to start connecting with your pelvic floor muscles is to contract or tighten these muscles. You will feel a deep internal squeeze and lift of the whole muscle (as if stopping your urine mid stream). You should do this contraction without bracing your tummy, squeezing your glutes or holding your breath.

 

water droplet

Try this analogy:

Imagine a pebble dropping into a pool of water – pebble drops, ripples go out…

Now imagine it in reverse… ripples come in, pebble lifts.  (This is a Pelvic Floor contraction)

 

There are many other helpful cues, but if you are unsure  if you are contracting your pelvic floor muscles correctly, I highly recommend you consult a physiotherapist who can assess your pelvic floor muscles using Real time Ultrasound Imaging. For females it may also be necessary to do an internal assessment to be totally sure you are engaging your pelvic floor muscles correctly.

 

Caution: It is important not to continue to practise stopping your urine flow too frequently as this can start to over-train your pelvic floor muscles in an incorrect manner and make them tight. Tight pelvic floor muscles can create an entirely different set of symptoms. If you are uncertain of how to do a pelvic floor contraction consult a physiotherapist who specialises in pelvic floor problems.

 

 

If you are interested in reading more on this and other conditions, Francine St George’s book New Bodyworks offers further explanations and exercises for daily aches and pains.