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Gluteal Medius and Maximus Activation

Welcome back from a summer which showed that you must make the most of what you have and to experience life in all types of ways. Such was the case on the West Coast of Sweden this summer. I enjoyed, running in the rain, cycling in the rain, crossfit in the rain and even swimming in the rain…. ah, what a lovely summer!

However, after a summer of competitions for a lot of my clients, it has come to my attention on a number of people, even the fit and strong, the Gluteus maximus and gluteal medius are not performing the way the should.

A bit of research has shown to me that the flow on affect of a inactive ‘glut max and med’ is very real in many little pains in other joints or muscles. For example, the hamstrings will take too much load, the ankle joint or calf in running, the hip flexors in stabilisation and balances when doing mobility work.

The best exercises are generally the most simple. This is true when it comes to the glut max and med.
Side lying straight leg abduction  ((Glut Med)(as the name suggests, lay on your side with straight leg and lift the top leg straight up and come back down in a controlled manner until your leg is perpendicular with the floor – do not rest on the other leg. Do it 10 times and feel the burn! Check my instagram
for the example.
Single leg deadlift and single leg squat is the most basic for the Glut Max. Stand in a regular position on one leg, bend the knee slightly and flex at the hip to touch the ground with the opposite hand to the leg you are standing on. return to the starting position- remember to keep the knee about the toes as you go down.
The single leg squat is the same movement but with more of a flexed knee.

Of course for the hardcore, you can add weights, rubber bands etc to assist in greater strength building, however, just using your body weight to start with is a good way to increase the activation during warm ups, simple rehab or prevention work. However, as you strengthen them don’t forget the opposite muscles (mainly the hip flexor group) to assist in your overall balance!

Always, for the nerds, here is a good article comparing 12 different exercises and the affect on these butt muscles. Click here. 

Happy Training!

Multiple Flow on Effects from One Muscle - The TFL!

A runner, cyclist and swimmer will, at some point, pick up a little affliction along the Tensor Fascia Latae or TFL for short.

This little muscle, approximately the size of two middle fingers (or a little bigger if you are me – yes, i have small hands) sits just under the hip bone that you will feel on the side of your waist line. It is generally responsible for the leg coming out (abduction), bringing the knee towards the chest (hip flexion) and stability of the hip when standing up – it assists the Glut Max in this case. It also has an effect when we move the leg into a adduction position. Therefore it can be fairly well agreed that it will be activated for almost all functional movements of the leg – so, henceforth, this is for the swimmers, runners and cyclists that are picking up their intensity at this time of year.

Because of the TFL’s role in almost all leg movements, flow on effects are also likely to affect other joints and muscles. The common areas that I find to be related are the glut max activation, Tibal-fibula joint stiffness, Glut medius and minimus stability control in active hip rotation, and lateral calf tightness (in the peroneals).

Glut Max activation –
Here we can see a direct anatomical relationship with the TFL and Glut Max by sharing a common attachment – the Illiotibial band (ITB). When I’ve noticed the TFL & ITB is tight, the activation of the glut max will suffer as the full length of the muscle cannot be used due to the anterior pull affecting the lateral fibers of the glut max. Some may feel this during their training and may even ‘hit or slap’ the glut max to ‘wake it up’. If this is you, focus on a few more bum clenches in your warm ups and rolling out the ITB after you train.

Tibal-Fibula Joint Stiffness.
The insertion of the ITB is on the fibula head (outside of the knee). If you have any stiffness in the TFL or Glut Max, this will naturally refer to stress being places on this little gliding joint just below the outside of the knee. With very little movement in this joint already, a lessened amount can play havoc on the function of other muscles, such as the Peroneals.
If you notice a tight TFL or ITB, roll it out after training and then play a little with your Tibial-fibula joint by pressing underneath and moving your foot around. It can be tricky to notice if you are moving the joint, so be patient and careful!

Peroneals
These three muscles go down the outside of your lower leg. They control a lot of your foot stability and basic movements. For the runners, think of them as the core for your foot. Without them you would simply roll your ankle on every step. As mentioned before these muscles get affected if the Tibial fibula joint is suffering stiffness. Again, if suffering from trouble in the TFL & Glut Max functions then give a little love to these lower leg muscles as they will no doubt be working overtime to correct the dysfunction of the hip area.

Glut Medius and Minimus
These two muscles also assist the hip & leg in a similar fashion to the TFL. We tend to feel the Gluts more often then TFL when there is an issue, so if the side of your hips are playing up, have a feel a little further around and give the TFL some loving care also.

Dry Needling - A Basic Idea

As some of you maybe aware, I have started to use a new technique in pain relief and rehabilitation treatment with thin acupuncture needles called dry needling.

The process is simple – find trigger points (or knots that spread pain) in the muscles, take a thin needle, and put it into them. A strong reaction is felt, generally referring pain to surrounding areas (e.g, a needle put into the upper trapezius neck muscle will give a warm rush of blood feeling into the head and most likely some pain will be felt over the side of the head and up the neck.).

If the needle misses the trigger point, generally no pain is felt as the needle is so thin.

This technique has show tremendous results in peer reviewed studies to reduce local pain as well as referred pain. Mobility is also increased with the technique as the penetration of the muscle with the needle causes a chemical reaction which increase the chances of the muscle relaxing and ’letting go’ of the knot, therefore allowing of the muscle fibers to be free and function properly.

A review of studies has found much evidence tpo support the use of dry needling by educated physical therapists. In the article linked below, it has been show to significantly increase recovery time, from training soreness and injury, especially when combined with other non-invasive treatments (such as sports massage). Studies also concluded that more benefit is found in dry needling then acupuncter.

… “For athletes, this treatment has the ability to have a positive impact on pain, performance, and quality of life,” especially if used in conjunction with stretching, exercise therapy, and other non‐invasive treatments”
(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4458928/)

So, again, for the nerds out there, have a flick through these articles, come and speak with me about the technique, and book a massage time to experience less pain – with or without needles!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3201653/

Massage and Meditation

It has been a while since I have posted. The main reason for this is due to a hectic life, stress with sickness and a number of other personal things seemingly happening all at once in the month of February.
So, because of this, I want to remind, insight and talk about the benefits of massage on your state of mind – particularly anxiety.

I have attached two clinical trails below and a great article written by liveanddare.com to show that the effects of massage and the enhanced effects when combined with meditation (or mindfulness if you prefer).
In short, a simple touch or hug is enough to release the happy hormones into our blood stream. With the release of dopamine and serotonin in this short term, anxiety and its dangerous effects are controlled and decreased. This combined with the physiological effects of meditation (reduction of inflammation levels, dilation of blood vessels, regulated heart rate, increases the immune system response, along with many more) has been shown to dramaticly improve quality of life and maintain a longer term decrease in anxiety levels.

The combination of the two is a no brainer. When you are stressed with work, family, sickness or life in general, look at treating yourself at either one or two of these options before you begin anything else.
It works for me, it works for terminally ill people and those facing the most server anxiety (such as radiation therapy for cancer).

For the nerds out there, here are two articles to read up on.

Quality of Life in late stage AIDS patients
Anxiety facing radiation therapy
And another must read… a complete list of the scientific benefits found in over 3000 studies on meditation by Giovanni at liveanddare.com

Pec Minor! The Little Muscle Causing Big Problems!

If you work with a computer in an office environment, this is important for you. After spending a lot of time with office workers recently, I have been treating many issues, such as sore backs, a funny feeling in the arm and fingers, sore and tight necks, arms that won’t straighten above the head and many more.
The common factor in all of these are tight Pectorial Minors. This muscle goes from you first few ribs on top of your chest to a boney part of the shoulder blade at the from of the shoulder called the coracoid process. It also lies underneath the big chest muscle making it a little hard to find sometimes.

When the  muscle gets tight, it pulls the shoulder blade forward and brings a slight forward rotation also. This doesn’t allow the shoulder joint to perform correctly. The shoulder joint is extremely complex as it allows such amazing movement, in, out, up, down, and all around. So, when the joint cannot move correctly, then all sorts of other issues start to arise. This issues are all mentioned above, such as, a sore middle back, shoulder impingements, tingling down the arm and so on.

If you want to read more, check out this great article below, and if you work in an office, do the stretch below 3-4 times a day!

http://neurokinetictherapy.com/the-pectoralis-minor-king-of-compensation

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DOMS

Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness (DOMS) or träningsvärk på svenska. MASSAGE HELPS!

We know it as the painful feeling of walking down stairs the day after a heavy squat session or long run.
Ultimately, we are still unsure exactly what is the real reason for ‘DOMS’. What we do know is that MASSAGE creates extra blood flow on the local area through vessels and lymphatic system, thus, creating a healing environment for oedema, ischaemia, build up of by-products, directly or indirectly causing the pain.
The British Sports Medical Journal has stated that DOMS can be any one or more of the following;

  1. Accumulation of metabolic waste sensitising A delta and C fibres causing pain
  2. The exercise causing muscle ischemia causing the production of a pain substance. the pain causes a reflex spasm which induces a vicious cycle prolonging ischemia. 
  3. Exercise results in intramuscular oedema activating mechanoreceptors thus causing the pain.
  4. Eccentric exercise damages the connective tissue thus causing pain.
  5. Exercise leads to inflammatory by-products sensitising nerve endings
  6. The destruction of muscle finer liberates creatine kinase which causes pain. 

Reference; E.Ernest.
British Journal of Sports Medicine, 1998.

The SCM – Head Forward Posture

 

A simple and commonly occurring issue with so many people today is their Sternocleidomastoid or SCM for short.

This muscle goes from the boney part behind your ear-lobe to the middle of the collar bone and another section to the inner most part of the collar bone (basically on your throat).

This muscle pulls and twists your head forward and around to the sides. So, looking at your phone or a computer keyboard, you will be using this muscle.

Over time, this gets shorter and shorter. Stress and pressure build up in our shoulders and back of the neck to try and counteract this ‘head forward’ position.

The ultimate result is someone whose head sits forward, rounded shoulders, and possibly an arched back due to the rounded shoulders. More interestingly though, other symptoms can include a build up of tears in your eyes and a twitching of the eyelid as the SCM muscle when tight can affect the eye muscles through trigger points. Headaches are common as the deep neck muscles at the back become stressed from trying to pull the head back. Dizziness and imbalance can occur due to the head not sitting in line with the rest of the body (this will then affect your hamstrings as they will tighten so you don’t fall over!).

This muscle and syndrome is easily noticeable and treatable. If you know or this sounds familiar, getting massages regularly can pick up on this and prevent it and treat the symptoms.

Once every 4-6 weeks is recommended. Your body deserves it, you deserve it and you can live freer and happier.

Book on-line and look at treating yourself to a 6 treatment card to prevent your body holding you back!

Also, for the geeks out there, check out this article!
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1769463/

 

The Forgotten Muscle

A pain in the hip! The Gluteus Minimus

This little muscle boasts a powerful reputation as an Abductor (moving you leg sideways away from your body) and as a hip/pelvis stabilizer.

The muscle lies underneath the big glut max, and glut medius. The Minimus function differs from its 2 brothers, the max and med. More of a stabilizer for running, squatting, and sports with dynamic movements.

The pressure placed upon the muscle can easily lead to pain, tightness and a ‘just not right’ feeling when squatting or running. This pressure is commonly turned into an overuse injury or small tears in the muscle, so knots/adhesions are likely to form. From this, a ‘ball’ can be felt on the rear side of the hip bones. A typical ‘waddle gait’ is noticed when walking also. This is characterized from the person having more of a leg sideways movement when walking. Pain also usually will refer down the leg and the tightness will generally lead to the hip dysfunctioning and a second problem in the lower back can be felt.

Massage combined with active soft tissue release (when the muscle is held and movement is forced by yourself) is a great way to get extra blood flow and nerve recognition to the muscle allowing for a better healing and function processes.

To add to potential issues, especially for those seriously into their training, the nerve supply for the Glut Minimus is from the L4, L5 and S1 joints of the spine. Therefore, if you have or have had issues with your sacroiliac joint this has the possibility of impinging the nerve supply and altering the correct function of the gluteal minimus muscle.

For more info, book in and see me at webstermassage.se

The Modern Computer Neck

The muscles under the base of your skull (at the very top of your neck) are of immense importance to your over all health, flexibility and happiness.

The extensors (the muscles that make you look up) and the flexors (they make you tuck your chin into your neck to make the sexy ‘double’ chin) are becoming very imbalanced in all of us due to our so called ‘normal life’ habits of computers, driving, and phones.

However, help exists in the form of massage and simple exercises to correct the imbalances. If you or people you care about have any of the following;

  • Slumped shoulders,
  • Head reaching forward,
  • A tight chest
  • Trouble raising their hands above the head with straight elbows.

When corrected, benefits have been noticed in hamstring flexibility, clearer thinking, decrease of headaches and increased balance and posture.
For the nerd out there, have a read of the linked article, the best and simplest one I have found to express this information. Otherwise book a time now with Webster Massage

http://optimumsportsperformance.com/blog/suboccipitals-small-but-important/

Strengthening Neck Muscles for Balance

Balance comes from many different areas of the body. Stabilising muscles are found in all areas of the body and they link together to keep us from falling over. Since they are linked, when one becomes weak, another must tighten up to compensate.

I have been treating many tight hamstrings recently and doing some research has lead me to this article (link below) for all to read. Explained and clear the basic principles are to be conscious of how the neck sits and its important role in how it is the starting point of balance when standing, walking and bending.

It is easy to active and release strain of the neck muscles that can easily cause hamstring tightness which leads to back pain also.
Book now with webstermassage.se to bring a bit more balance to your life.

https://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/are-your-weak-neck-muscles-making-your-hamstrings-tight