Saturday, September 7, 2013

Injury Prevention: Shoulders   
Strengthening the shoulders properly can be tricky. What most people do not realize is that you really need to have proper spinal alignment while trying to isolate the shoulder muscles. One great way to do it is to include a half foam roller as pictured below. Keeping your sacrum, middle back (between your shoulder blades), while your head remains in contact with the foam roller helps you maintain proper alignment.  
1. Half Foam Roll Front Raises: Standing against a wall with the foam roller behind you, keep your arms to the side and raise with your thumbs up to shoulder height. Do 3 sets of 8-15 reps.
latraise frontraise     
2. Half Foam Lateral Raise: Standing with your feet shoulder width apart and with your arms down to your side, raise your arms with palms down out to the side up to shoulder height. Do 3 sets of 8-15 reps.   
latraise lat   
3. Scapular Retractions: Using the lat pulldown bar, keeping the arms straight, retract and depress the shoulder blades creating a down and in motion. Keep your arms straight on this one. It's a very small movement! Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
retract retract2    
4. Dumbbell Reverse Fly: Starting on an incline bench, arms will hang down and then squeeze the shoulder blades together so you're in a T position. Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions 
uback3 uback6  
Thoughts From My First Triathlon
  chi tri
Laughing as I saw someone riding a Divvy bike in the race

Most of you know I competed in my first sprint triathlon in August. Up until then, one of my biggest fears was swimming in open water. I never really learned how to swim as a kid because I was always playing tennis during the summers. So committing to a triathlon was a great way to overcome my fear while giving myself a deadline. 

What was my biggest faux pas? Me thinking"No problem, I run almost everyday." That's what I said before the race. Mark my words...I will never do another triathlon again without practicing the bike to run transition! Why? Because my legs felt like Jello after biking 17 mph for 12 miles. What I thought would be the easiest part of the race quickly became my biggest hurdle. 

So am I happy I did it? Of course! My nerves on race day started out a little rocky, followed by a minor bike wipeout on the way there. I thought things can only get better and they did! Next year I'm doing the international distance if anyone wants to join me :) 

A huge thanks to everyone that supported me, the clients (Coleen and John) that woke up at the crack of dawn to come see me, and my friend Dave who calmed me down before the swim! 
Overuse Injuries: Global vs Local

With all of the half marathons, marathons, and triathlons over the summer, overuse injuries are a common obstacle for many athletes. The most frequent injuries are lower back pain, knee pain and Achilles tendonitis. For many injured athletes, the question is where is the problem in the body? Does the real muscle weakness exist locally where the pain is?

The answer is typically no, which is part of the reason so many athletes have a longer rehabilitation. Chasing the pain does not necessarily mean you will get to the root of the problem. Our bodies are so efficient that over time we develop compensatory patterns to achieve full function and range of motion.  Athletes tend to be the best at compensation because they operate at higher performance levels than the average person. 

Here are some considerations for common injuries:

IT Band Syndrome: Typically results in knee pain. The feeling of a "tight" IT band may be a weakness in the TFL (hip flexor) or gluteus maximus. Abdominal weakness causing a shift in the pelvis can could also be a contributing factor.

Achilles Tendonitis: Pain is usually local at the back of the heel. Potential causes could be weak hip extensors creating a feeling of tight hip flexors or even weak abdominals with tightness in the hamstrings.

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