ITB Syndrome getting in the way of your running? Try these stretches and exercises today

Iliotibial band syndrome is common injury that occurs in individuals who are very physically active. This is a stress injury that occurs as a result of inflammation and irritation of the iliotibial tendon that rubs against the femoral condyle. Damage to this tendon will cause increased tension while running, biking, or intensive activities.

As the knee undergoes repetitive flexion and extension, inflammation and irritation occurs because of a lack of flexibility of the iliotibial band itself. In fact, this is a condition that is persistent and causes pain on the side of the knee. According to an article written by Razib Khaund of the Brown University School of Medicine, “treatment for iliotibial band syndrome requires activity modification, massage and stretching and strengthening the affected limb.” (Khaund)

Treating Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Fortunately, there are certain stretches and exercises that target the iliotibial band to prevent inflammation, pain and swelling. Since this condition generally flares up during exercise or intense muscular contractions, there are certain exercises and stretches that can strengthen this tendon. When the tendon becomes stronger it also becomes more elastic that will prevent sharp pains or problems functioning.

The best type of stretches for this condition originate from the hip so as to flex, or strengthen, the iliotibial band. Supportive movements and stretches that stretch the outer leg are also ideal to prevent problems near the knee during exercise. In combination with stretches, certain exercises can help to strengthen muscles in the leg, knee, and hip.

Stretches to Manage Symptoms

Stretching is a scientifically proven way to prevent and decrease the risk of injury during movement and exercise. It enables muscles to move and function properly through their full range of motion. Accordingly, certain types of stretches that directly target the iliotibial band to help manage symptoms.

Basic ITB Stretch: Cross left leg behind right leg and lean forwards to the left side. When holding this pose for thirty seconds, the ITB is directly affected and stretched.

Glute Stretch: Lay on your back and lay one leg flat on the ground while pulling the other close to your chest. This stretches the ITB directly.

Side Lying Stretch: Lay on a bed or table on the left side with the bottom leg bent. Slowly move top leg so that it drops behind to stretch.

Standing Stretch: Place the affected leg behind the other one and keep the foot on the floor while pushing hips to the opposite side. This will stretch the side of the thigh and leg.

Tensor Fascia Latae Stretch: Lay one leg down flat while crossing your leg to your upper thigh and lean forward slightly. This targets the tendon itself.

Exercises to Prevent Symptoms

Muscles are tissue that support the skeletal system and become damaged or deteriorated over time. As stated in an article published by Corey Beals in the Journal of Sports Medicine, “Conservative management consisting of a combination of rest (2–6 weeks), stretching, pain management, and modification of running habits produced a 44% complete cure rate, with return to sport at 8 weeks and a 91.7% cure rate with return to sport at 6 months after injury.” (Beals) To relieve inflammation and prevent damage of muscles, specific exercises can target problem areas, such as the hip abductor muscles, tensor fasciae latae and gluteus medius muscles.

The iliotibial band connects with these muscles and should therefore be exercised regularly to prevent and manage symptoms with exercises such as:

Clam Shell: Lay on your side with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle to your torso area. Using your glutes, slowly open and close your legs in that position.

Hip Hike: Stand on one leg with your pelvic area neutral and then drop one side lower than the other and use your hip muscles to get back into position.


Hip Thrust: Lay on your back with all weight on your back and keep your feet on the ground while your thrust your torso up.


Pistol Squat: Stand on one leg with your opposite knee raised in front of you and slowly lower yourself while stretching your other leg in front of you.

Side Hip Bridge: Position yourself on your side with your feet propped on a surface one to two feet from the ground and push your torso upwards with your feet.


Side Leg Raise: Lay on your side with both legs straight and raise one leg 45 degrees several times in a row.


Side Shuffle: Get into a squat-like position with your knees slightly bend and take ten steps to the side and ten steps backwards.


When both exercises and stretches are completed on a daily basis, the symptoms of the condition decrease. To treat mild pain after exercising and stretching, you can manually roll out the tendon to prevent further pain and symptoms. Additionally, ice or an icy hot patch can be applied to the tendon while it is sore, tender, or swollen.

As muscles get stronger, the inflammation decreases and the pain subsides as muscles support the iliotibial band. Although this condition may require attention after increased exercise and activity, it can be treated with the proper prevention plan. For this reason, individuals can continue to perform their favorite sports and activities when these tips and tricks are used to treat a damaged iliotibial band.


References:

Beals, Corey. “A Review of Treatments for Iliotibial Band Syndrome in the Athletic Population.” A Review of Treatments for Iliotibial Band Syndrome in the Athletic Population. Journal of Sports Medicine, n.d. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.

Razib Khaund. “Iliotibial Band Syndrome: A Common Source of Knee Pain.” Iliotibial Band Syndrome: A Common Source of Knee Pain – American Family Physician. American Family Physician, n.d. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.

 

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Five Stretches to Prevent and Relieve Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is one of the most common ailments that affect approximately 31 million Americans per year. Surprisingly, it is one of the leading causes of disability and affects up to 80% of individuals at one point or another. (Castillo) There are many causes for lower back pain as the lower back is comprised of muscles, nerves, bones, joints and ligaments. This pain is often different for each individual and may depend on the individual’s history and type and severity of pain experienced. Pain may be experienced by an individual directly after certain activities, after an injury, or as a result of a chronic condition. Since the bottom of the spine supports a lot of the body’s weight, damage or disruption to this area can cause pain in other parts of the body.

Gently stretching the muscles of the lower torso is an excellent way to immediately treat and work to prevent lower back pain. Pain can be present in many parts of the body, such as the bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, muscles of the low back, internal organs of the pelvis and abdomen. In fact, specific exercises and poses can help to strengthen the lower back muscles and provide support to prevent painful symptoms.

Regular stretching helps to protect your back by increasing its strength and flexibility and preventing damage. Before beginning any routine of stretching, it is important to warm up with light activity for ten to fifteen minutes to warm up your muscles. While stretching, the rule of thumb is stretch your muscles to the point where you can feel it without being in pain then holding for thirty seconds at a time.

Cobra Stretch

Lay on your stomach with your legs fully extended with your arms holding up your body. Push up so as to stretch the abdominal and lower back muscles.

 

Knee to Chest

 Lay flat on your back with your toes pointed upward then bend one leg and bring your knee to your chest. This helps to stretch the lower back and rear muscles.

 

Lying Knee Twist

Lay on your back with your legs extended straight out then bend a knee up and over the side of your body. Once in this position, hold the pose as it stretches the paraspinal muscles and strengthens the abdomen.

 

 

Piriformis Seated Stretch

 Sit with your back straight and then cross one leg over the other by placing one foot by your hip on the opposite side. Stretch by holding your hands on your knees and gently pushing to directly stretch the piriformis muscle that is often the source of throbbing pain and sciatica.

 

Yoga Cat Pose: Kneel on your hands and legs and then stretch your lower back muscles and exhaling as you arch your back. As you inhale, tighten your core muscles and round your back.

 

In a special health report from the Harvard Health Publications by Harvard Medical School, “an exercise program that is designed to tone your back and core muscles can help you heal from a bout of back pain and help to prevent it from occurring again.” (Harvard Publications)

In order to prevent painful symptoms from occurring or causing distress, a combination of stretches can be used to target specific muscles. The lower back muscles and supportive muscles of the torso and legs can help to bear weight more evenly, thus preventing lower back pain. Stretching can help relieve some of the pain that chronic back pain sufferers experience on a regular basis or help to tone the muscles to support the bones and nerves in the area.


References:

Castillo, Eric R., and Daniel E. Lieberman. “Lower back pain.” Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health | Oxford Academic. Oxford University Press, 10 Jan. 2015. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.’

Publications, Harvard Health. “Stretching and strengthening are key to healing and preventing back pain.” Harvard Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 20
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Announcing Strava Integration

Integrate with your Strava account so you can sync your GPS data to your Lumo Run account. Run with your GPS watch and your Lumo Run sensor, sync the GPS data with Strava, and your data will automatically be uploaded to your Lumo Run account. We love this feature because you can now get your pace, distance, and route data into Lumo Run while leaving your phone at home.

Here’s how to use this feature:

STEP 1
GO TO SETTINGS > CONNECT SERVICES > STRAVA

In the Account section of your Settings, you will see “Connect Services”. Click on this to see the Strava connect button. Click on the “+” to connect with Strava.

STEP 2
AUTHORIZE YOUR ACCOUNTS TO LINK

Follow the instructions to link your accounts. Click on the “Connect with Strava” button. You will need to enter your Strava username and password, then just authorize Lumo Run to access your data from Strava.

Essential Exercises and Stretches for Weak Hip Flexors

The hip flexors are a particular group of muscles that are vital to the physical functionality of every individual, from the finest athlete to ordinary folks. They comprise primarily of the iliacus and psoas major muscles that connect the femur (or thigh bone) to the pelvis, and serves to flex the thigh and trunk. Essentially, the hip flexors aid in hip flexion. The hip flexors can perform two different movements: “When the pelvis is in a stationary position, a contraction of the hip flexors will pull the femur upward, whereas, if the femur is stationary, a contraction of the hip flexors will tilt the pelvis forward and the butt back” (Biss, 2016). Hip flexors typically get little attention with regards to strength and conditioning. They are either forgotten or neglected, which can become troublesome. Simple everyday routine such as sitting at your work desk can weaken your hip flexors because the seated position tends to shorten those muscles. Not only do tight hip flexors disrupt good posture and typically cause lower back pain, but in a weakened state, they increase the risk of developing foot, ankle, and knee injuries, especially in runners (Niemuth et al. 2005).

The good news is that, it is not too late to strengthen your hip flexors and restore optimal muscle balance, which is sure to prevent injuries and get you stronger. Here are some steps that you can take to either stretch or strengthen your hip flexors:

Run A’s on the Spot

Sounds silly doesn’t it? Simply put, this is high knees running in place, which combines knee lifting with simple running motion. This exercise strengthens and develops muscular endurance in the hip flexors. To do high knees on the spot:
1. Begin with one leg planted on the ground, and lift the other knee high but not passing hip height.
2. Jump from one leg to the next, hitting the ground with the ball of your feet, keeping the arm relaxed while following the motion.
3. Continue this alternating motion for 30-45 seconds

 

Foam Roll the Knots Away

According to Chiropractor Dr. Ben Kim, foam rolling (self-myofascial release) your hip flexors is “highly effective at improving blood flow and ligamento muscle length, and it can also help mobilize your ball and socket hip joints and the dense ligamentous capsule that surrounds these joints” (Kim, 2012). To get rid of those knots and tight muscle fibers that inhibit your range of motion, foam roll your hip flexor region by:
1. Place the foam roller in front of knees while you kneel on the floor, and then, fall forward and walk your body out with your hands.
2. Drop one side (the side you want to work) of your hip complex on the foam roller, with the leg on that side fully extended and slightly raised.
3. Softly roll up and down, rotating the torso to the opposite side to maximize the amount of weight placed on psoas major, just below your waistline.
4. Roll for 30 seconds to a minute on each side, and two minutes for a deeper massage.

 

Improve Muscle Extensibility with Couch Stretch

Comfort and relaxation may be expected from a couch, but the couch stretch may not be the most comfortable movement; however, it is extremely effective for opening up your hip and improving the extensibility of the hip flexor muscles. To perform a couch stretch:
1. Get into a kneeling position in front of a couch, chair, or wall to hold your foot up, and flex your back knee to the extent that it is as close as possible to your butt.
2. Keep your lower back straight, while you squeeze your glute muscles and hamstring, which aids in pushing your hips forward.
3. Hold the stretch for 30 to 45 seconds. Switch to the opposite side and repeat.
4. Complete three sets of 30 to 45 stretches.

Make a Pose Navasana

There are ways to strengthen the psoas isometrically and bring balance and stability to the spine, thereby preventing injury. The yoga pose, Navasana, also known as the boat pose, is effective at strengthening the iliopsoas. To do the Navasana pose:
1. Start in a tall seated position on the floor, keeping your knees bent and feet flat.
2. Lean back on your sitting bones until elbows are straight, lifting your feet off the floor and keeping chest upright.
3. With legs at a 45-degree angle and torso in a V shape with legs, balance on your sitting bones for 5 breaths.
4. Complete three sets of 5 breaths.
s

Hang a Little!

Hanging knee raises are great exercise movement to target and effectively strengthen your weak hip flexors, with the added benefit of developing your abdominal muscles in the process as well. To do hanging knee raises:
1. Start by hanging freely from a pull-up bar with arms extended at medium or wide grip.
2. Contracting your core, slowly pull your knees towards your chest, or aim for the elbows, making a 90-degree angle.
3. Hold the contraction and then, with control, lower your legs to the starting position.
4. Complete three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

Keep your hips flexors strong and healthy in order to maintain effective movement and to prevent one form of injury or another. These exercises and stretches are just the thing you need!

References
Biss, Matt. “Flex Those Flexors: 3 Steps to Powerful Hips.” Bodybuilding, 13 December 2016, http://www.bodybuilding.com/content/flex-those-flexors-3-steps-to-powerful-hips.html. 20 Jan. 2017
Kim, Ben. “How to Keep Your Hip Flexors Healthy.” Drbenkim, 06 February 2012, http://drbenkim.com/hip-flexor-stretch-pain-stiffness.htm. 20 Jan. 2017.

Niemuth-Robert, Paul, Robert Johnson, Marcella Meyers, and Thomas Thieman. “Hip Muscle Weakness and Overuse Injuries in Recreational Runners.” Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, vol. 15, no. 1, 2005, pp. 14-21, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15654186. Accessed 20 Jan. 2017.

Rail, Kevin. “Hip Flexor Strengthening Exercises.” Livestrong, 07 May 2015, http://www.livestrong.com/article/156403-hip-flexor-strengthening-exercises/. 20 Jan. 2017.

Stiff Wrists? Take a break from typing and try these stretches

In this age of booming technology, many of us spend the majority of the day trapped behind a computer. That means, on average, we spend 40 hours a week typing on a keyboard or moving a mouse. When you add it all up, that’s a lot of strain on your wrists and the muscles and tendons that help make them work. Let’s take a closer look at what’s really going on and what you can do to fight the pain.

The Causes of Your Stress and Strain

If you’ve recently started experiencing pain in the wrists, you could be feeling the effects of carpal tunnel which is a common and painful condition that affects millions of people each year.[1]  If your job requires you to do a repetitive motion, like typing, you’re also at a higher risk for wrist stiffness and pain.[3] But Carpal Tunnel syndrome isn’t the only cause of wrist and hand pain. The source of the pain can range from weak joints to strains to tennis elbow, so it’s important to get diagnosed by a medical professional.[4] But not to worry! Surgery isn’t the first thing your doctor will recommend. You’ll most likely start with some daily exercises to help strengthen and heal your stiff wrists.[5] These exercises will help increase the range-of-motion of your joint, lengthen muscles and tendons, and help to strengthen your overall mobility.[6]

Work It Out

Here are five stretches you can try at home that will help you alleviate wrist pain.[7] You’ll want to do 10 repetitions of the following exercises for 10 seconds each, three times each day.

Exercise 1: The Extender

Place your arm on a table or flat service and place a rolled-up towel under your wrist. Allow your hand to dangle over the table. Turn your palm down. Now, raise your hand straight up so that your palm is facing out. Return to starting position and repeat.

Exercise 2: Meet and Greet

Form your hands into a prayer pose. Spread fingers while keeping your hands together. Separate your hands so that only fingertips are touching. Now, bring palms into almost touch. Repeat.

Exercise 3: Wrist Roll

Sit with your arm at your side at a 90-degree angle. Put your palm facing down. Rotate your arm to make your palm face up. Return to starting position and repeat.

Exercise 4: Howdy Do

Place your arm on a table or flat service and place a rolled-up towel under your wrist. Turn your palm sideways toward your body. Leaving your forearm still, move your thumb to your wrist as if you were waving hello.

Exercise 5: Finger Puppets

Start with your hand and fingers straight up, palm facing out. Bring your thumb across until it touches the skin beneath your pinky finger. Repeat 10 times. Return your hand to starting position, palm facing out. Roll your fingers into a hook fist, then return to straight. Next, roll your fingers into a normal fist, then return to straight. Repeat.

You can do these exercises every day and you can do them anywhere—even sitting at your desk. By sticking to it, you’ll reap the benefits of relaxing, stretching and lengthening the muscles and tendons in your wrist. Over time, you’ll see significant improvement in the pain you’ve been feeling. If for any reason your pain gets worse, stop these exercises immediately and seek help from your medical care provider.


[1] http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/carpal-tunnel/carpal-tunnel-syndrome

[2] https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Carpal-Tunnel-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet

[3] https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Carpal-Tunnel-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515258/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072780/

[6] http://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/5-exercises-to-improve-hand-mobility-and-reduce-pain

[7] http://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/5-exercises-to-improve-hand-mobility-and-reduce-pain


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How to Set Your New Year’s Running Resolution (and stick to it!)

It’s easy to say “I’m going to run more in 2017”… but sticking to New Year’s resolutions is a lot harder than just saying them out loud.  Whether you’re looking to run your first half marathon, your first 5K, or just hit the treadmill at the gym more often, we’ve got some great tips to give your stick-to-it-iveness a kick in the rump, runners’ style!

Suffering from Chronic Inflammation? These 3 exercises just might help

When the body sustains an injury, it reacts by initiating an inflammatory process to increase nutrients to the injured area and promote healing. This process is marked by redness, warmth, and swelling in the area. This is an important part of recovering the health of the body’s tissue. But sometimes a problem occurs when this inflammatory cascade is not “turned off,” leaving the body in a state of chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation can be inconvenient and can cause health issues. In addition to the heavy, uncomfortable feeling, chronic inflammation has been shown to cause long-term damage to the brain, heart, and several other organs. It has also been linked to several diseases like Alzheimer’s and chronic heart failure (Reina-couto et al.; Schwartz).

So chronic inflammation is certainly not something we can ignore. But what should we do about it? While the use of pharmaceuticals and nutrition adjustments can have an effect, there is one area of treatment that is often ignored: exercise!

Running Form, Performance and Injury: An Interview with Dr. Bryan Heiderscheit

When you modify how somebody moves, you can have a really substantial and nearly immediate overall change in their pain. Why weren’t more people doing this clinically?

This was one of the main reasons why Bryan Heiderscheit, P.T., Ph.D. of Biomechanics, decided to dedicate his research and career to runners to reduce risk of injury and improve performance through focusing on form.

Love a Runner? Here are 5 thoughtful ways to show the runner in your life you care

Not many exercises call to mind the pure simplicity of fitness better than a run. It’s a fantastic way to get your exercise, with a laundry list of benefits for both your body and your mood. Good for everything from joint stiffness to depression, with the obvious inclusion of fitness, it’s like the universal remote control of feeling good about yourself.

It’s trendy but, with the freedom to do it wherever you want, without the need for specific outfits or equipment, also extremely accessible. Seriously – it never goes out of style. If you aren’t already doing it, chances are you know someone who is.

Maybe it’s the special someone in your life. Maybe they really love it. And maybe you’ve been looking for that special way to tell them you care.

Hey; don’t even worry about it – we’ve got you covered:

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