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Staying Vertical: Fall Prevention and Trail Running

Posted on: March 11th, 2017 by Movement Sports Clinic No Comments

(originally published on trailrunner.ca)

It is fun to negotiate rocks, roots, narrow pathways and slippery surfaces of the trail until you lose it with a fall. Maintaining focus, wearing trail appropriate shoes and being light on your feet are the main strategies to avoid becoming horizontal while running. From a sports medicine and conditioning perspective there are also a few other things to work on to prevent a crash landing. Optimizing these trainable factors could be the difference between executing a successful corrective maneuver and nursing a sprained ankle (or worse).

Balance
Exercise to improve balanceHaving good balance means that you can maintain equilibrium in more challenging situations. Moving quickly over uneven or twisty terrain and experiencing visual compromise such as going from light to shade can definitely increase the balance challenge. Balance can also be negatively influenced with age, fatigue and prior injury.

Exercises to improve balance are:

  1. Single leg deadlift
  2. Tandem walking (heel to toe) along a balance beam, log, painted line or tape on the floor. More challenge to go backwards.
  3. Hands and knees or kneeling balance on an exercise ball (30-60 seconds)

Proprioception
Proprioception is the position sense that gives feedback about where our body is in space. The mechanism of proprioception helps protect our muscles and joints from injury. For example, when the ankle rolls excessively inward because of uneven terrain our proprioceptive system reflexively causes muscle contraction to protect the lengthened ligament and stabilize the joint. Because soft tissue injury and pain negatively impact proprioception, it is important to retrain this system after sprains and strains.

Exercises to improve proprioceptionExercises to work on proprioception are:

  1. Wobble board circles, both directions, eyes level
  2. Single foot hopping in a quadrant with precision landing important
  3. Single foot hop down from a box with good alignment on landing

Reaction Times
The time it takes for our body to respond to a stimulus, like a wobbling rock under our foot, is our reaction time. The slower our stabilizing reaction takes, the greater the potential for injury. This is an inherent ability but can be improved with practice. Proper rehabilitation after injury, mental alertness, proper warm up and appropriate clothing in cold temperatures are all considerations in improving a reaction interval.

Exercises to improve lower body reaction time are:

  1. Standing on one foot partner ball toss
  2. Sustained balancing on unpredictable surface like wobble boards and BOSU balls
  3. Kicking a ball back and forth with a partner or against a wall; soccer drills

Lower Body Joint Mobility
Lower body joint mobilityStiff knees, hips and ankles can decrease joint resilience, impair balance and impact agility. Ankle and hip mobility are commonly reduced in experienced runners due to the repetitive and generally linear motion of the sport.

Exercises to improve mobility are:

  1. Wobble board circles
  2. Deep squats
  3. Myofascial techniques like rolling to help release tight deep hip rotators and calf muscles

Multidirectional Control
Being physically able to move well in all planes of motion at a moment’s notice can be a handy ability when trying to stay on your feet. Moving sideway to avoid a puddle or root, or hopping diagonally from rock to rock are common maneuvers on the trail.

Exercises to improve this control are:

  1. Basket weave running drills
  2. Sideways and diagonal hops off and on the BOSU ball, more advanced to do on one leg
  3. Pylon drills with directional change

Running is more fun than rehab. Stay on your feet!

— By Louise Taylor

Cross Training and Running

Posted on: January 20th, 2017 by Movement Sports Clinic No Comments

What does cross training mean?

Instead of only participating in a single sport where similar motor patterns and muscle fibres are used repetitively, cross training integrates other activities that complement the primary activity. Common activities for runners are swimming, cycling, weight training and yoga.

Why cross train?

With distance running the main movement is forwards. Using other activities that use muscles differently can help balance the body, maintain better joint mobility and keep the mental aspect fresh. Low impact activities tend to be good pairings. Improving running economy, cardiovascular fitness, strength, and mobility are key goals as well as changing the mental focus. Improving upper body strength and making soft tissues more durable are also good reasons to cross train.

Who should do it?

Every runner at some point in their training cycle.

Runners who don’t tolerate high mileage.

In the off-season for injury prevention, mental rejuvenation, and fun.

Pool running, anti-gravity treadmill, weight training, and bike can be great options when injured.

Primary Benefits of Common Cross Training Activities

Walking: Low Impact (LI), good for building endurance, walk/run programs increase volume with less stress on joints

Hiking: LI, upper body workout with poles, elevation gain and descend for strengthening

Swim: LI, upper body conditioning, core strength, lengthening and decompression effect of being in water, hydrostatic pressure helpful for inflammation, kickboard to help hip mobility and strength

Pool Run: LI, good for maintaining aerobic conditioning, belt on or off for less or more challenge, most like running without impact loading, good resistance training for trunk and arms

Bike: LI, 30-60 second power intervals for high-intensity bursts, mountain bike to work on power, road to work on muscular endurance

Triathlon: three sports in one, variable workload and muscle activation patterns, build cardiovascular endurance in all sports, interval workouts, LI options in swim and bike.

Obstacle Course Racing: multisport, includes run fitness with general fitness, upper body strength, fun and challenging

Weight Train: good to work on muscle imbalance and increase shock absorptive strength of lower body, strengthen upper body and core for durability and assist in power production, even one set 8-12 2-3 x/w heavier loads beneficial

Plyometrics: skipping, box jumps, single leg hops strengthen connective tissues, high-intensity workouts to build power

CrossFit: full body workouts, focus on strength and explosive power, good carry over to Obstacle Course Racing, rope climbing, box jumps, deadlift, burpees, variety with Work Outs of the Day and also flexibility with the range of motion workouts

Pilates: good for mobility, stability, body awareness, endurance, posture

Yoga: many types available, good focus of hip openers, calf and hamstring flexibility, trunk strength, meditative, breathing, hot yoga good for acclimatization for hot and humid races, restorative yoga for helping tight overworked muscles, Vinyasa flow classes for more cardio training

Nordic Ski: classic skiing is similar linear motion to running, more upper extremity use, winter break from trail running, skate ski requires higher intensity effort and lateral hip motion

Alpine Ski: power and strength conditioning

Alpine Ski Touring: good aerobic training without LI, work at elevation good for aerobic conditioning

Soccer: aerobic conditioning, agility, interval workout

Rowing: upper body and leg strength, interval train, breath control

Racquet Sports: high-intensity anaerobic workout

Elliptical: similar movement to run without impact

Martial Arts: mobility, strength, mental discipline

Put Your Butt Back to Work

Posted on: July 15th, 2016 by Movement Sports Clinic No Comments

TIME TO REVERSE THE EFFECTS OF GLUTEAL AMNESIA – by LOUISE TAYLOR AND TYSON PLESUK

butt-back-to-workWe all have muscles that tend to be weak or inhibited and those that tend to be tight and overactive. Postural habits and the impact of gravity can be primary reasons for these patterns to occur, but injury, inactivity and pain can also lead to this reflexive turning off or hyper stimulation of muscles by the nervous system. In some cases our muscles, particularly big muscles like the gluteus maximus, forget how to work.

Life is pretty easy on us physically. We have escalators, elevators, cars and comfy chairs. In the hunter-gatherer days of our ancestors, the average male walked 10K a day and females averaged
6K. Squatting was an everyday activity for doing tasks, eating meals and even going to the toilet that most cultures have all but eliminated from daily life. And it’s the deep squat that uses the gluteals more  effectively than any other movement.

Injured runners often test positively for gluteal inhibition or delayed recruitment patterns. Because the body is hardwired to keep us going, the nervous system simply recruits other muscles when the gluteals are not available. is over-activity of some muscles and under-activity of others can contribute to problems such as back pain, iliotibial band (IT) band dysfunction and plantar fasciitis. It is a paradox that pushing muscles to their limits may very well be the key contributor to muscular inhibition patterns that shut them down.

When the gluteals are weak, the hamstrings tend to get tight in compensation.

Commonly with back pain, the gluteals are weakened from reflex spinal inhibition. When the gluteals are weak, the hamstrings tend to get tight in compensation. Stretching often won’t lengthen or relax the hamstrings until the gluteals start doing their job. e hip flexors can also get tight, compensating for weak or inhibited gluteals. It may be a chicken-or-egg scenario. If you sit too much, the gluteals get weak and the hip flexors get shortened or tight. Tight hip flexors mean the hip can’t extend well, which makes it more di cult to get your gluteals  ring. Mix in lumbar  flexion from sitting in a slump and there is neurological inhibition to add to the dysfunction.

Manual muscle testing can assess how well your gluteals are working. Looking at muscular dominance patterns of movements like the hip bridge and single leg squat can give good information on how the body is recruiting muscles and expose compensation patterns.

Getting muscles to turn on again can be as simple as starting to use them again, but in many cases the nervous system requires a stimulus to overcome an ingrained faulty movement pattern. Muscle release techniques, activation and mobility exercises and dry needling or intramuscular stimulation (IMS) can all be used in concert to get the body moving optimally again.

Once a muscle starts to function again, repetition is needed to retrain the brain and nervous system’s motor pathways. Exercises such as bridges, squats and clamshells need to be done frequently under low to moderate loads to help retrain the movements.

Depending on sport and lifestyle goals, once muscles are being properly recruited they may need to be challenged through progressive functional movements with variable loads and speeds.Weighted squats, deadlifts, box jumps and kettlebell swings can all be progressive exercises for gluteal dysfunction, once muscles are actually recruiting normally and not using compensatory muscle patterns

Weighted squats, deadlifts, box jumps and kettlebell swings can all be progressive exercises for gluteal dysfunction, once muscles are actually recruiting normally and not using compensatory muscle patterns

— originally published in IMPACT Magazine, July/August 2016

Physiotherapy Running Assessment

Posted on: June 3rd, 2016 by Movement Sports Clinic No Comments

Find out what to expect during a Physiotherapy Running Assessment

Physiotherapy Running Assessment

For a physiotherapist, the primary objective in performing a running assessment is to address injury issues. Sometimes, despite appropriate rest and good treatment, running injuries can be quite persistent. It is our goal to determine causative factors, create an intervention strategy and formulate a return to run plan. Injury prevention can also be a key aspect of assessing a runner. As we are not running coaches, it is not our role to provide comprehensive training programs, but we can certainly address programming as part of injury management. 

It is important to know that there is not only one way to run. Our bodies are all different and movement patterns differ because of this individuality. There are some factors that have been researched and shown to impact joint loading forces, injury risk and running efficiency. We will examine these factors in relation to how you can run most effectively, efficiently and without pain.

When you come to Movement Sports Clinic for a running evaluation you can expect the following components: subjective history; physical evaluation; treadmill running video analysis and recommendations. These components are explained in more detail below. The process takes about an hour. You will need to bring runners and be prepared to run for a few minutes on a treadmill. Tighter fitting clothes are best for observation. Women should wear a tank or jog top. Men can wear a singlet type shirt or be shirtless.

Subjective History

When determining the cause of an injury, particularly persistent or recurrent ones, we need to know a lot about you. Many questions may not seem relevant but all add up to what is unique about your body, how it responds to training stress and what makes you vulnerable to injury. Here are some of the things we will ask about so you can help prepare your answers:

Youth Activity Levels: Sports you did as a youth will influence your body as an adult. Bone density, flexibility, agility and muscle fibre type can be altered through active childhood and adolescence.

Injury History: This is a big one as it speaks to the durability of your body and toughness of your connective tissue. Also, once injured, there is a higher likelihood of re-injury.

Stress and Sleep: High stress and poor quality sleep make us more likely to get injured and less likely to recover quickly.

Medical History: Cardiac issues, bone density, medications, history of cancer, surgeries and pregnancies can all influence how the body deals with training, impact stress and tissue healing.

Current Injury: What is going on with you now and when did it develop. What treatments have you had or what have you done to self-manage. What treatments, diagnostic imaging, and type of practitioners have you been working with. What has helped and what has not. Were there any big changes in training (frequency, duration and intensity) leading up to the injury.

Running History: Information such as age you started, what types of races you have done, personal best times, quality and frequency of training and whether you have a coach will all influence injury likelihood.

Running and Racing Goals: Are you competitive, do you just want to run for fun and fitness, are you tackling a new distance or an ultra?  All these factors need to be considered to formulate the best plan.

Shoes and Orthotics: Your shoe choices, experiences and use of orthotics can all provide more information about what has influenced you and your body as a runner.

Training: How often you run, weekly mileage, speed work sessions, days off and cross training are important factors. Whether you weight train, go to yoga or Pilates, or do triathlons is also important to know.

Goals: What is it you want to accomplish? Just get running again, run 10km, tackle a marathon or ultra? Goals and motivation are helpful in building a timeline, managing expectations and formulating a plan.Physical Assessment

Physical Assessment

Physiotherapy Running Assessment - Physical  Assessment

This section includes a movement screen where you are asked to do some basic movements to help assess mobility, balance, strength and stability. We also examine

This section includes a movement screen where you are asked to do some basic movements to help assess mobility, balance, strength and stability. We also examine joint range of motion, muscle activation patterns and tissue extensibility. Muscle strength is also tested. Palpation for taut muscle bands and tender points can help us localize sensitized areas in the body. Remember that just because an area is sore doesn’t mean it is the cause of the injury. Stiff hips can cause knee pain, poor trunk control can make hips weak, a sore ankle can cause gluteal inhibition. We want to determine the source of injury, not just treat the pain.

Treadmill Video

Watching a runner from different angles in slow motion will complement what we find in the physical examination. How much bounding in the stride, numbers of foot falls per minute, arm swing pattern, leg cross over pattern, foot strike, body lean, trunk rotation, hip drop and breathing are all factors to consider. We will review the video with you to help point out relevant findings and improve your body awareness.


Recommendations

After considering all the information gathered, we are able to come up with recommendations for injury management, prevention or improved efficiency. Recommendations are usually one or more of the following: home exercises to help deal with mobility or stability issues, gym programs to build strength, running cadence changes, running drills, training modifications, treatment in the form of manual therapy or dry needling, diagnostic imaging, or referral to sports medicine physician.

Our goal is to get you back running and meeting your movement and performance goals.

Videos can be emailed to you on request.

We look forward to seeing you in the clinic soon!

Watch the video below for an inside look at a Physiotherapy Running Assessment!

Runner Resistance Exercises

Posted on: May 4th, 2016 by Movement Sports Clinic No Comments

Mini Band Work Out

mini-bands

Mini Bands

The mini band is an easy to use and portable tool for resistance and mobility training. For runners, activating muscles in different planes of motion can help resolve typical muscle imbalances. Working muscles and joints through full range of motion is also healthier than just relying on the mobility created from running alone.

Muscles that get dysfunctional or inhibited in runners are commonly found at the hip. Many stability muscles exist here and work to control hip motion throughout the stance phase of the stride. Although it may not look like it, there is rotation and side to side motion at the hip that needs to be coordinated, stable and strong.

The following exercises have been shown to activate and strengthen these hip muscle groups. Aim for doing one to three sets of 10-15 repetitions. There should be some feeling of fatigue. Focus on the muscles that should be working. Feeling the muscles work has been shown to be very helpful for improving recruitment. Bands come in different colours representing different resistances.

Keep in mind that just doing exercises may not necessarily recruit the right muscles. The body is pretty efficient at taking the easy way out. If a muscle is inhibited or weak, it may not automatically activate. Compensations are very common. If you are unsure about the effectiveness of these exercises, an assessment with one of our physiotherapists will help get you on track. We often have to address muscle tightness or compensatory patterns first, before a muscle will start activating again.

1. Clamshell

Purpose: lateral hip stability, hip range of motion
Muscles: gluteus medius and minimus
Common Compensating Muscles: hip flexors, quadriceps, hip adductors, foot investors, trunk
Key Points: Mini Band is above knees. Lay on your side with knees bent to 90 degrees and hips open 45 degrees from the waist. Shoulder, hip, and ankle should be in a line. Tip body forward slightly to prevent the body from rolling backward. Lift top knee up, keeping heels together and let toes come apart. Open hips as far as you can go without rotating backward. Hold 3-5 seconds, slowly lower the top leg. This can be quite difficult, so it is fine to start without the band and build it up.

2. Bridge

Purpose: Hip extension, hip range of motion
Muscles: Gluteus Maximus
Common Compensating Muscles: Hamstrings, back extensors, quadriceps
Key Points: Mini Band is above the knees. Hamstrings and quadriceps often want to take over for the gluteals, focus on the buttock muscles. Laying on your back, bend knees to 90 degrees or more. Place feet slightly wider than hips and push knees out into the band (this helps activate the gluteals). Lift hips up using the buttock muscles. Lift until the body is level from shoulder to knees. Hold 3-5 seconds and then lower. Bend knees in further or lift toes up to minimize overuse of quads or hamstrings.

 

3. Monster Walk

Purpose: Lateral hip stability
Muscles: Gluteus Medius and Minimus
Common Compensating Muscles: Hip flexors, quadriceps, hip adductors, foot invertors, trunk
Key Points: Mini band is at the ankles or around the feet. Stand with hands across the chest and feet hip width apart. Take small steps forward keeping hips wide. Keep trunk from twisting. Take 10-15 steps forward and then do the same walking backward. Rest between sets to let the muscle burn settle. This should be felt at the lateral hips and is generally felt more with the backward walk.

 

4. Standing Clock

Purpose: Balance; hip activation in multiple directions
Muscles: All hip muscles
Common Compensating Muscles: trunk, hip flexors
Key Points: Mini band around knees or ankles (harder). Stand tall on left leg and visualize that you are standing in the middle of a clock. Pull leg towards 2 o’clock, 4 o’clock and then 6 o’clock. Repeat 5-10 times and then do the mirror image on the other side. Repeat to feel fatigue in hips. Both standing and moving legs work in this exercise.

 

5. Squat

Purpose: hip, ankle and knee mobility; trunk stability, quadricep and buttock activation
Muscles: Many; good to focus on buttock
Key Points: Mini band above knees. If unable to lower into a 90-degree deep squat, try a heel lift or can use a ball behind the back and against the wall. Push knees out into band, feet hip width apart or wider. Lower hips to 90 degrees or lower. Use gluteals to straighten up again. Back should not bend more than 45 degrees forward as you squat.

Six Ways to Use a Slastix Toner Band

Posted on: April 12th, 2016 by Movement Sports Clinic No Comments

with Louise Taylor

Slastix Toner BandResistance exercises are important for the health and function of muscles, connective tissues and bones. Loading our body in a progressive manner promotes cellular remodeling that leads to stronger muscles and more reinforced supporting tissues like the bones and ligaments.

Sport cords are easy to use, portable and offer an unlimited amount of choice for exercises. They come in different resistances so that an appropriate load can be chosen for each movement.

In the following video we show a few exercises that you can use a sport cord for.

Exercise #1: Shoulder Adduction

Exercise #2: Shoulder Raise

Exercise #3: Bird Dog

Exercise #4: Tricep Push Back

Exercise #5: Swimmer’s Shoulder Pulls

Exercise #6: Half Kneeling Wood Chop without Trunk Twist

Fitness can happen anywhere!

Questions? Email us at info@movementsportsclinic.ca

Slastix Resistance Cords are available at Movement Sports Clinic in Purple (Very Light), Red (Medium), and Green (Very Heavy).
 

Give Stability a ‘Tri’

Posted on: February 11th, 2016 by Movement Sports Clinic No Comments

Stability Exercises for Triathletes

Our joints need to have good mobility to allow us to move, but they also need stability to hold them together under load. For each individual doing a given sport, there is an optimum balance of mobility and stability. Triathletes need to manage the combined movement requirements of three sports. There is always going to be some compromise. The best triathlete in the world is not going to be the greatest swimmer, biker or runner but will be most successful at putting all three together.

Mobility is helpful in the shoulder girdle and ankles for the swim, whereas stability is required in the trunk and hips for managing impact forces on the run and creating propulsion on the bike. Tightness in the calf may help the natural springs of the body to improve efficiency on the run, but if ankle mobility is too restricted then injuries may occur due to altered biomechanics. Knee issues are commonly caused by loss of ankle mobility or poor hip / trunk stability. Shoulder issues often develop because of poor activation of shoulder girdle stabilizers and loss of shoulder joint range of motion.

Who needs to do stability exercises

Each of us is built uniquely, so ideally you want to know your own predispositions for mobility and stability. Repetitive static patterns like sitting posture, computer use as well as repetitive dynamic patterns like swim/bike/run will tend to cause fairly predictable imbalances over time… so most of us could use a tune up. Age changes and injury history can also predispose to asymmetries and stability issues. Also, if you have a very mobile, flexible body type, then stability will likely be of great benefit for moderating the impact forces of running.

Which areas need work

The exercises demonstrated in the No Limits video are common, effective and evidence based ones for introducing stability. Key muscles that are commonly inhibited or weak in triathletes are the lateral hip stabilizers (gluteus medius) the hip extensors (gluteus maximus), the trunk rotational stabilizers (abdominal obliques), the postural back muscles, and the shoulder stabilizers (trapezius, rhomboids and serratus anterior).

When training activation and stability, the goal is not to use high force and speed initially, but to use lower load and control. This means exercises are generally done slowly with either holds or repetitions. The goal is to do the exercises with correct technique and to feel some localized fatigue. Exercises should never be painful to perform. If an exercise is uncomfortable, check technique first. If better form does not help, then abandon the exercise. The pain may be a warning sign of potential injury or altered movement mechanics.

When muscles are very weak, doing fewer repetitions but more often is more effective. When in more of a maintenance mode, two to three times per week is a good plan to keep the body balanced from the rigours of life and training. Doing roughly two to three sets of 10-15 is effective. Spending 15-20 minutes may be all that is needed, but do it regularly.

As you get stronger, degree of difficulty can be increased with working against gravity, narrowing base of support or adding resistance. Stretch tubing like theraband, mini-bands and sport cords are helpful. Progressions can also include hand weights, kettlebells and medicine balls.

Breathing is very important. Breath holding is commonly used as a strategy to seek stability or when we are concentrating on a difficult task. We need to be able to breathe and exercise at the same time or we will tire quickly and lose ability to focus. Breathe in and out slowly using deep breaths that use the diaphragm.

The Exercises

The Bridge: This exercise is good for gluteus maximus activation and hip extension. The focus is on using the buttock to lift hips, not the back or hamstrings. This area is commonly weak in many of us due to time spent sitting, poor posture and minimal use of deep squatting activities in our first world lifestyle.

The Clamshell: This is a key pattern for gluteus medius activation and hip abduction /external
rotation. The focus is on using the lateral hip muscles to lift the leg. Work hard to stop the back from twisting in this exercise. Gluteus medius is known as ‘the walk’ muscle as it is needed to help hold the body upright on the single stance leg.

Dead Bug: This movement helps to activate the front trunk stabilizers like transversus abdominus and obliques. Moving arms and legs around a stable core is of fundamental importance for core stability and very relevant for a triathlete.

Bird Dog: Known as a safe and effective way to activate the back muscles, the bird dog uses a four point kneeling base to move the legs and arms on the diagonal. Like the dead bug it uses the natural spiral slings in the body to stabilize the trunk.

A, T, W, Y: This ‘alphabet’ exercise engages the stabilizer muscles around the shoulder girdle. Done in a face down position on the ball, ATWY positions activate the rhomboids, upper, middle and lower fibres of trapezius.

Squats: Ability to deep squat to at least 90 degrees’ knee flexion, with holding the trunk up and arms overhead is a benchmark sign of good joint mobility and trunk stability. Inability to perform the squat pattern is cause for evaluation. Sometimes it is simply a matter of stiff ankles (common in runners) that makes squatting difficult, and sometimes it is lack of trunk stability.

Stir the Pot: Done on the fit ball, this exercise pulls together use of trunk stabilizers with a shoulder control movement. Stirring the Pot is challenging, but can be used as a benchmark for trunk and shoulder stability. The exercise activates the lats, serratus anterior as well as front and back trunk stabilizers

Side Plank: A good exercise for the lateral chain of muscles, the side plank activates the obliques, gluteus medius and shoulder girdle stabilizers. Adding leg raises is a great progression for gluteus medius stability control.

Here are variations/progressions for some of the above exercises:

Winter Warm Up

Posted on: November 24th, 2015 by Movement Sports Clinic No Comments

Winter Warm-UpStepping out into frigid temperatures with cold, tight muscles never feels that good and could be putting you at risk. Whether you are a winter runner, a cross-country skier, alpine skier, or bobsledder a proper warm-up is critical for optimal performance and injury prevention. If you are not currently using a warm up before sport participation or races, here are some points to consider.

Why Bother?
Aerobic warm up promotes blood circulation to the muscles for optimum oxygen delivery and energy metabolism. Raising the heart rate helps warms up the core and peripheral body temperature to make soft tissues more resilient and pliable. Lubrication of the joint surfaces through dynamic range of motion exercises decreases resistance and improves sport specific mobility. Practicing muscle recruitment patterns that are sport specific will prime the nervous system to help coordination of complex, powerful or quick movements. Progressive loading of tissues by gradually adding speed or resistance prepares the tissues to handle forces safely. Canada One bobsled pilot Justin Kripps understands the importance of a proper warm-up and said “I perform a series of muscle activation exercises in my warm up that have almost completely relieved my chronic Achilles tendonosis”.

Getting your body into the sport groove physically can also help prepare you mentally by clearing the head of distractions and helping achieve focus.

How Long Does it Take?
Professional athletes take their warm-ups seriously. Before a bobsled race, athletes will spend 30-45 minutes warming up to prepare to push a 465 lb sled for 5 seconds over 50 meters, before jumping into the sled and sliding down the track at speeds of 140 kilometers per hour!

Recreational athletes commonly warm up on the go with lighter exercise building into more strenuous activity. It will take most athletes between ten to twenty minutes of movement activity to physically heat up and be ready for higher level performance. Even if you are limited for time, taking an extra five minutes for more sport specific exercises on top of aerobic warm up will have a positive impact. In general, the longer or less intense the exercise session, the shorter the warm up necessary to be useful. The goal is not to be fatigued after warm up but ready to go.

What Do I Need to Do?
After heating up the body with some form of aerobic activity, the warm-up should include movements that activate the neuromuscular system. This means tuning up the nerve to muscle communication by stimulating muscles that may be slow to respond or that are about to be used at a high intensity. Depending on the sport’s requirement, you may need to start slowly and then build speed or power production in a controlled fashion. For mobility, it is recommended to perform dynamic, not static stretching. Dynamic stretching integrates sport specific muscle patterns using movement rather than holding a stretch for a prolonged time. The Hip Swing exercise seen later in this article is an example of a dynamic stretch.

The Routine
A warm-up routine should be individualized based on the sport requirements. The following images demonstrate five keys movements that will help prepare the body and activate key muscles for your winter activities.

Do the exercises in a non-stop sequence to maintain your core temperature and prepare your body and muscles for activity. Exercises can be done inside or outside. If done inside, ensure that you do not overheat before going outdoors.

1) Aerobic Warm Up
Jog or skip for five to ten minutes to increase the heart rate and raise the core body temperature. If you will be running on icy surfaces, consider using products like micro-spikes for better traction and safety. Most running and sport stores carry specific footwear or devices to put over the sole like Kahtoola Nanospikes and Yaktrax Run.

2) Squats
Place a mini-band or Theraband loop above your knees. The band will act to drive your knees inwards, which will force you to use your hip abductors, the major hip stabilizers, to push the band outwards. To increase the difficulty and to challenge your balance, try squatting on one leg.
Start slowly and gradually increase the speed of the squat.
Do 5-10 repetitions.

Key points:
Sit back as you squat to try to activate your posterior chain of muscle including the gluteals and hamstrings.

3) Three Way Hip Activation
With a mini-band or Theraband around your ankles, stretch the band apart in three separate directions:

i) Turn your hip inward and stretch band to the front at a 45 degree angle
ii) Turn your hip outward and pull back at a 45 degrees angle
iii) Extend your hip straight back, ensuring you do not over arch your lower back

Do 5 to 10 repetitions. Repeat enough times to notice the muscles around your hip working, but not so much that you feel fatigue.

Key points:
Keep you pelvis square and level during the exercise
Keep your knee extended on the leg that you are pulling with to ensure optimal contraction of your hip musculature and not overuse the hamstrings.

4) Bird Dog
In a hands and knees position, engage your core muscles and extend the opposite arm and leg and hold the position for 5 seconds

To increase the difficulty, try using a Theraband or sport cord, or try this exercise with your knees off the ground (on toes).
Do 10-15 repetitions each side.

Key Points:
Keep a neutral lower back and neck
Think about squeezing your gluteal muscles when you extend your leg backward
Push your fingers forward with the thumb turned upward and push the heel backward with toes toward the floor

5) Hip Swings: Hip Adduction/Abduction and Hip Flexion/Extension
While holding on to a wall, bench or post, swing your legs side-to-side and forward and back. Swing 10-20 times in each direction for each side.

Key points:
While swinging your legs, maintain a neutral spine, tighten your core and ensure you do not over-extend or over-flex your lower back.

References available on request.

Tyson Plesuk and Louise Taylor

For further information or questions, feel free to email tyson@movementsportsclinic.ca or louise@movementsportsclinic.ca

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