Don’t get shut out: preventing groin strain

With the Winter Olympics now in full swing, almost everyone in the country is thinking about one thing: HOCKEY! We know offsides and icing are common in hockey, but unfortunately so are groin strains.Whether you are a back yard rink rat or a 2018 hopeful here are some tips to keep you on the ice and off the injury reserve:

WARM UP: this is most often on the injury prevention list because it is SO important! Make sure to warm up completely, including dynamic or movement stretches. If you aren’t sure what that means, ask next time you’re in and your physiotherapist would be happy to explain these to you.
STRETCH THIGHS DAILY: stretch both the inner thigh and outer thigh muscles daily. While tight groin muscles can lead up to a strain, you should also stretch your hamstrings to keep your muscles balanced.
REGULAR MASSAGE & MANUAL THERAPY: regular massages from a massage therapist and regular manual therapy from your physiotherapist helps to keep your muscles flexible. They also help to break down old scar tissue and help with trigger points that could lead to injuries later on.
PRACTICE SPORT-SPECIFIC DRILLS: sudden changes of motion during play can cause groin strains, but practising the movements helps your muscles adapt and become stronger while doing them. Based on the sport your play, and the condition you are in, our physiotherapists can assign exercises specific to your needs. 
WORK ON CORE STABILITY: a strong core is a stable base for the movements you’ll be doing no matter the sport, and can reduce the chance of straining your adductor.
IMPROVE YOUR PROPRIOCEPTION: proprioception is your body’s ability to know what part of it is doing without looking at that part. That seems a bit confusing, but it’s how you can walk up stairs without looking at your feet, or put food in your mouth without a mirror. That seems like the sort of thing you might not be able to improve, but it’s based on balance, coordination and agility. Balance and sport-specific movement work improve your proprioception, improve your stability and all that helps to avoid injury.
STRENGTHEN THIGH & HIP MUSCLES: strengthening the muscles involved in the movement responsible for an injury increases your stability in that area. It is important for preventing injury, but especially for preventing a reoccurrence if you’ve already been injured. Your physiotherapist can determine where your muscle imbalances are, and assign exercises specific to your needs.
REST: make sure you rest! Over training leads to fatigue, which most definitely increases your risk of injury. Use it as your excuse to watch some of the games! Go Canada!

Plantar fasci-what-is?!

Lower back pain is something we can all imagine, but what does it mean if your plantar is fasciating (no, that’s not actually a word)?! Today we’re going to talk about plantar fasciitis, a common injury you have likely heard about in passing. Now you’ll be able to do more than just steer the conversation towards the weather.

There’s a band of connective tissue running along the sole of your foot, known as the plantar fascia.
Normally it just chills out supporting the arch of your foot, but if it gets stretched too far it can tear, causing inflammation. That inflammation leads to pain, and is referred  to as plantar fasciitis.
What causes plantar fasciitis? Good question. Sometimes physiological things like flat feet or high arches, if left to their own devices, can cause it to arise. Or a sudden change in how your feet need to support you, such as an increase in activity or increased weight gain might bring it on. It’s a common injury in runners, especially after increasing training volume or switching from running on a soft surface to a harder one.
The pain is typically felt on the bottom of the foot, close to the heel. It might fade and reoccur in an unpredictable pattern, or disappear completely only to return after a single workout. So you’ve got some tenderness on your heel, how do you know if you’ve got plantar fasciitis? Ask yourself the following questions:
Does it hurt especially when you wake up in the morning?
Does the pain go into the rest of your heel or the arch of your foot?
Do you notice the pain when you’ve stood up after sitting/lying down for a long time?
Does the pain occur after/during activity?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you may very well have plantar fasciitis. Icing the site of inflammation, adding more rest into your daily routine or substituting your normal exercise with non-weight bearing activity (such as swimming) are all options to help reduce your pain. While some cases will be helped greatly just by stretching tight leg mucles, while others may need custom orthotics. So feel free to give us a call, and any of our physiotherapists can help diagnose the cause of your specific pain. Then we can recommend the course of action that you need to get moving again, pain free.

Run. Stretch. Repeat.

We see a lot of runners come into our clinics, for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s one of the most accessible sports, and has become ubiquitous. Some days it might feel like you talk to more people who have run marathons than haven’t. Secondly, it’s one of the most accessible sports, so people just pick up off the couch and head out for a run…which can often result in injury. One thing that has been said time and again to help prevent injuries is stretching. Yep, be honest, you know you should be stretching, but do you? Well, if you’re diligent enough to be reading our blog you just might, but most people don’t. It’s hard enough to squeeze in the time for 10K, never mind having to tack on a yoga class at the end. Nope, no time to stretch.

Hey now! Turns out you don’t need a yoga class at all. Yoga for runners is great, but if you’re just looking for THE stretches you need to be doing as a runner, we’ve got them for you right here, Mathew approved. Just remember you want to be stretching WARM muscles, so use these to help cool down after a run. Make sure to do both sides, remember to breathe and hold each for at least 30 seconds.

  1. Hamstrings: if you run you’ve probably complained about tight hammies more than once. So, lay down on your back w/ legs extended. Starting with one leg at a time, bend your knee into your chest, and grab the back of it with both hands. Slowly straighten that leg until you feel a gentle stretch, pulling it towards you, while you keep your hips flat on the floor. If it feels too intense you can always bend your knee a little.
  2. Quadriceps: the big beautiful muscles on the front of your legs, this is the stretch you’ll catch most people doing. Standing with your back straight, pick up one foot behind you with the hand of the same side. Be sure to keep your hips level and thighs lined up.
  3. Piriformis: piriwhat? Not as talked about as the quads, but just as important, these muscles control hip rotation. They tend to tighten up in runners (what doesn’t?!) so start by laying on your back with legs out straight, hips level. Bend one knee, place your foot on the floor, and cross your other ankle over your bent knee. Put both hands behind your bent knee and draw it towards your chest.
  4. Piriformis: again! That should tell you it’s pretty important to stretch these muscles out. Start lying flat again, bend your right knee into your chest, and grab your knee with your left hand. Place your right hand out to the side, like you were making a “T” shape. Keeping your shoulders on the floor, guide your right knee across your body towards the floor, as far as is comfortable, on the left hand side.
  5. Calves: your calves might be small, but they are certainly important to your ability to run – those of us who run in minimalist shoes are especially aware. To give ’em a good stretch, start by facing a wall, standing back about a foot. Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Keeping both feet flat, slide one foot back and press into the wall until you feel the stretch in your calf. The stretch will increase as you move your foot further back.
  6. IT Band: if you’ve picked up a running mag you’ve certainly heard about the illotibial or IT band. IT’s kind of a big deal…okay, let’s just get to the stretch. Stand with your left side facing a wall, an arms length away, with your left hand on the wall. Cross your right leg (far leg) in front of your left leg (leg beside wall) and place your right hand on your hip. Lean your left hip towards the wall, bend your left elbow, and remember to breathe. Be sure to keep your legs and back straight.
That’s it! Be sure to do these after each run to help keep loose, limber and injury free. If you’ve got questions about any of these stretches, or have a running injury that needs individual attention, any of our physiotherapists would be happy to help you out.