5 Resistance Band Exercises to Add to Your Next Workout

resistance band exercises portland

Mini resistance bands are portable, they’re inexpensive, and though they might look to you like a larger, thicker, rubber band, the truth is they’re loaded with value! Physical therapists often use resistance bands to treat injuries in combination with other methods because of their versatility in targeting a variety of major muscle groups. But even if you’re not recovering from an injury, resistance band exercises are capable of strengthening areas that normal free weights can’t reach, making them a great addition to your workout routine. The best part is, you can continue to up the ante by increasing the resistance as you progress, further challenging your muscles without having to spend money on more equipment. Try these five resistance band exercises during your next workout and you’ll see what we mean:

Exercise 1: Isometric External Rotation

resistance band exercise

Isometric external rotation targets the shoulder and neck areas, specifically the rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers. This exercise is great for anyone with shoulder or neck weakness and/or postural deficits.

1. Get into standing position with good posture (your shoulders down and back, core engaged, knees soft).
2. Place the band around your wrists.
3. Keep your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle and close to your sides as you pull the band apart squeezing your shoulder blades together.
4. Pull band apart at an equal distance on each side until you feel resistance.
5. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat for 10 times for 1-3 sets.

Exercise 2: Squat

resistance band exercise

You’re probably familiar with the squat but using a resistance band is a good way to make sure your glutes are fully engaged while performing the exercise. Squats activate the quads and external rotators to improve hip-knee-ankle alignment which is great for those with knee-tracking issues, patellofemoral pain (knee pain), or weak glutes.

1. Stand tall with stacked posture, feet shoulder width apart, and the resistance band about an inch above your knees.
2. Place your hands on your hips.
3. Begin to move into a seated position until you reach a nice, squatted stance. Most of your weight should be through the heels, rather than the toes.
4. Keep the resistance band on tension throughout the squat and return to an upright stance.
5. Repeat 10 times for 2-3 sets.

Exercise 3: Clamshell

clamshell exercise resistance band

Clamshells target your gluteus medius and external rotators and can be a great strengthening and endurance exercise when held for 5-10 seconds. Clamshells are excellent for runners, people with glute weakness, knee pain, or patellar (kneecap) tracking issues.

1. Lie on your side with your knees bent and your lower extremities stacked.
2. Put the band around your legs and place just above your knees, about 1-2 inches.
3. Keep your feet and ankles together and lift the top knee as high as you can without your pelvis rolling backward.
4. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
5. Repeat 10 times for 1-2 sets, alternating sides.

Exercise 4: Quadruped Hand Taps

quadruped hand taps resistance band exercise

Whether you’re an athlete or not, quadruped hand taps are great for anyone with shoulder and scapular weakness. This exercise really targets your rotator cuff and cervical stabilizing muscles (upper back and shoulder).

1. Start out on your hands and knees as if you were going to crawl on the floor. Place the resistance band around your wrists.
2. Find your neutral spine position by sinking your spine down toward the floor and then arching up to the ceiling until you reach the midway point.
3. Hold this position while pushing into your hands so your shoulder blades pull apart from each other. Pay close attention to not round your upper back.
4. Keep your elbows straight but not locked.
5. Keep one hand stationary as you move the opposite hand inward and then outward.
6. Repeat 10 times for 1-2 sets.

Exercise 5: Single Leg Balance and Reach

single leg balance and reach resistance band exercise

Single leg balance and reach really works to improve your stability and (you guessed it) balance. It also works the glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings. If you have weakness in any of these areas you can utilize this exercise to increase strength and get more out of your workouts.

1. In a standing position, place the resistance band around your ankles.
2. Lift one leg while balancing on the other and dip into a mini squat.
3. Reach your arms out to the sides and then return them to the center.
4. Reach your arms behind you and then return them to the center.
5. Dip in and out of the mini squat with each rep, keeping your knee aligned over the ankle.
6. Repeat 10 times for 1-2 sets.


resistance band exercises strength portland oregon

Run Phase 2: Stance Phase

A complete gait cycle occurs when one foot makes contact on the ground and the same foot makes contact on the ground again. After your foot has made initial contact, the stance phase comes next. During stance phase, both knees are at their peak flexion. One foot is in the air at peak knee bend through swing phase causing the leg on the ground to absorb all your body weight. Your leg on the ground is at peak energy absorption/recoil. In this post, we will focus on the leg that is on the ground.

When looking at a runner’s gait, the stance phase occurs when the hip, knee and ankle joints are in more flexion compared to heel strike. The knee flexion angle allows for optimal energy absorption through the lower extremity as your body is moving forward. The knee flexion angle for the stance leg is around 30 degrees and your hip should be in neutral compared to the lower leg at this phase of running. Having adequate hip strength during this running stage is crucial. If you do not have proper glut strength to stabilize the hip joint during stance phase, this could potentially lead to injury.

How To Improve Your Stance Phase:

Breaking down this phase of running can be as simple as looking at the ability to stand on one leg. Being able to maintain equal hip/pelvic alignment and balance while standing on one leg will show how stable your stance leg is. If you find yourself having to use your arms for balance, or your trunk sways excessively from side to side, your hip is not working to properly stabilize your body. If you think of what else is happening during stance phase, your opposite leg is moving in space during swing phase. This contralateral movement, or opposite sides of the body working together, of the legs in inverse directions also requires significant hip and core strength.

In addition to highlighting hip strength, stance phase can also show if certain muscle groups do not have adequate length/stretch. For example, if the calf muscle is tight, stance phase would be much shorter because it would limit the flexion angle at the ankle; limited dorsiflexion at the ankle forces you to compensate at other joints and can lead to injury.

If we look at the knee going through swing phase, if there is quad muscle tightness, this will limit full knee flexion. If the hip is unable to get past neutral, or even worse, stays in a flexed position throughout the running cycle, this could lead to low back pain, hip pain, and again other compensation patterns leading to injury. Treadmill video analysis of your running gait can further reveal what other muscle groups might need strengthening or stretching.

Below are just a few examples of strengthening exercises for the hips and single leg balance. Please note that seeking tailored exercises from a physical therapist for specific muscle group strengthening is highly recommended.

1. Step Up With Run Snap:

2. 12, 3, 6 O’clock Toe Taps:

3. Single Leg Hip Hinge With Run Snap:

Eliminate cycling related pain with a bike fit

Spring is in the air and there’s no better time to hop on a bike and get outside. If you have never had a professional bike fit, you might know what you’re missing out on! Getting on the right size frame with the right saddle height are just scratch the surface of finding a comfortable riding position. Components such as cleats, pedals, saddle width, stem length, handlebar type and position and placement of the brake hoods can all play a part in how you feel on your ride. Don’t let these things sound overwhelming; when you see a Therapydia PT for bike fitting, you will be given all of the information and education you need to feel confident on your bike and take control of your ride.

If you’ve ever been to physical therapy in the past, then you know that PTs are biomechanical experts. We’re constantly looking at how the human body moves and responds to stimulus and the environment and look for ways to optimize your mobility. The same holds true on a bike: each bike fit will start with musculoskeletal movement screening both off and on your bike. We’ll look at your flexibility and mobility in the upper and lower body as well as your spine and discuss how these findings relate to your experience on the bike. From there we will talk about what you love about riding and what you want to improve on. Measurements will be taken to determine your baseline position on your bike and then we will make adjustments to work towards putting you in an optimal, efficient and pain-free position.

Your bike fit may be covered by your insurance plan if medical necessity is determined following a Physical Therapy evaluation. Please call our office in Lake Oswego at 503-894-5654 to find out more about PT bike fitting, or email jennifer@therapydialakeoswego.com

9 Yoga Poses For Runners

With spring finally trying to break through the Portland grey skies, a lot of people are moving their exercise routines outdoors. From biking to jogging to dog walking, people are excited to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. With all this moving and shaking we need to also be aware of what a long cold winter could do to our joints. Sitting by a cozy fire or curling up on the couch with a good book can cause tightness in our joints, but we might not notice these restrictions until we go for our first spring run. Yoga is an amazing way to get stability and flexibility around all of our joints, and especially for our weight bearing joints such as hips, knees, and ankles. Below are a few quick yoga poses that are very beneficial for stretching hip flexors, quadriceps, hip rotators, and the low back.

Anjaneyasana (low lunge)

Horizon lunge with quad stretch

Horizon lunge with quad stretch (with props)

Revolved Figure 4 Stretch

Supine Twist

supine twist

Supta Baddha Konasana (Restorative pose)

supta bhadda konasana

3 Poses For Glutes and Hip Stability

Running in is a great way to get outside, explore your surroundings, and get a good cardiovascular workout! Yoga is the perfect compliment to running in that it stretches muscle groups that can get tight or strained. Runners are prone to overuse injuries due to tight muscles, particularly the hip flexors. Weakness in certain muscle groups, such as the glutes and abdominals, can also contribute to run-related injuries. To improve glute strength and hip stability give these poses a try:

• Warrior III – Virabhadrasana III (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna)
• 1/2 moon – Ardha Chandrasana (are-dah chan-DRAHS-anna)
• Tree pose – Vrkasana (vrik-SHAHS-anna)

The balance of strength and flexibility is one we should always strive for. For more information regarding running or yoga benefits please contact Therapydia Lake Oswego!

Health Benefits of Squatting

squat physical therapy

There are few exercises that exist that are more beneficial than the squat. Contrary to popular belief, when properly coached and progressed, squats are an excellent training tool for improving leg and hip strength, load tolerance in the knee, and core strength. While it is true that squats produce compressive loads within the knee joint and tensile loads of the ligaments and tendons of the knee, current research has shown that those loads are still below the maximum tolerable loads of those connective tissues. In fact, evidence also points to a higher levels of tensile strength and cross-sectional area (CSA) of the quad, patellar, and achilles tendons in athletes who have participated in weightlifting vs non-weightlifting sports. Strengthening exercises for the quads that allow for progressive loading, such as squats, can in fact reduce the long-term risk of injury.

Squats Can Actually Help Your Spine

When looking at the impact of squatting on the lumbar spine researchers have found no adverse effects on disc height in the long-term. In other words, the idea that barbel squats cause degeneration in the lumbar spine is based more on fear than science. In fact, the increase in demand on core musculature would indicate that loaded squatting improves the stability of the spine rather than the opposite.

As mentioned earlier, learning to squat can provide a whole host of benefits that outweigh the risks. Those benefits include:
1. Increased overall leg strength for daily activities.
2. Increased core strength for spine health.
3. Increased hip and ankle mobility with progressive loading.
4. Increased metabolic rate due to the increased muscle growth.
5. Improved movement patterns to minimize injury risk with other sports and activities.

If you are experiencing pain with squatting, consider meeting with a physical therapist to assess what the possible causes might be. Not everyone needs to squat the same and a good therapist will help identify what your limitations are and how to properly progress your program to continue to reap the benefits of squatting without increasing pain.

Do You Need an Ankle X-Ray?

ankle sprain xray

Rain is no stranger to the colder months here in the Pacific Northwest. This winter has not only seen a fair share of rain but also a higher than normal amount of snowfall. With those falls typically comes a trip to the emergency room and a subsequent series of xrays to rule out a fracture of some kind. However, more often than not those xrays show up to be negative and instead result in a larger medical bill, radiation exposure, and time loss. Luckily there is a checklist that exists called the Ottawa Ankle Rules to help patients identify whether an xray is necessary.

xray for ankle fractures

If there is pain in the malleolar zone (the malleoli are the bony bumps on inside and outside of the level of the ankle) then an xray is indicated if you also have just one of the following symptoms.
1. Tenderness along the tip or backside of the medial malleolus (inside ankle bump).
2. Tenderness along the tip or backside of the lateral malleolus (outside ankle bump).
3. Inability to bear weight for four steps. (note: inability does not mean that it is painful to bear weight. Pain is to be expected!)

If there is pain in the midfoot zone (region of the arch is, or the middle 1/3 of the foot) then an xray is indicated if you also have just one of the following symptoms.
1. Tenderness at the base of the fifth metatarsal (usually directly in the middle of the outer edge of the foot).
2. Tenderness at the navicular bone (the bone just above the arch of the foot).
3. Inability to bear weight for four steps.

If your symptoms qualify you for a xray, you may still have a negative radiograph result. However, if you do NOT qualify under these guidelines then you can be pretty positive that you do not have a foot or ankle fracture. Regardless of the outcome of these guidelines, your best bet for a proper recovery and reduced risk of re-injury is to find a physical therapist that will ensure your mobility and strength return to normal quickly and appropriately.

Core Training For Expecting Moms: Diastasis Recti Exercises

pregnancy exercises

Pregnancy is an exciting time for a woman, as well as, a time of many physical musculoskeletal changes as the body prepares for birth. Both during and after pregnancy the abdominals will actually separate at the midline; this is called diastasis recti and it’s absolutely normal and occurs to some degree by the third trimester in every pregnancy.1 There are exercises that you can do both during and following pregnancy to lessen the width of abdominal separation, as well as restore balance to your core and reduce incidence of urinary frequency and pelvic pain.

Breathing

Any effective core stabilization program should always start with breathing exercises. Focusing on deep, intentional breathing has been shown to reduce stress, promote muscle relaxation, lower heart rate, and even reduce nausea during scenarios that normally induce motion sickness2. On top of all of these benefits, deep breathing helps to normalize intra-abdominal pressure and the relationship between the respiratory diaphragm and the pelvic floor musculature. The breathing diaphragm is closely related to the pelvic floor muscles in that they form the ceiling and floor diaphragms for the abdominal organs. As you take air into the lungs and the diaphragm lowers the pelvic floor relaxes to allow space for organs. When there is dysfunction in either the diaphragm or the pelvic floor there is increased pressure and sometimes pain on the pelvic organs. Try this diaphragmatic breathing exercise to get you started with finding your own deep breath:

  • Lie on your back on a comfortable surface with your knees bent and your feet planted flat.
  • Use pillows or blankets to cushion your head and neck so you can truly relax.
  • Gently place your left palm on your lower left rib cage just below your heart and your right palm on your right lower belly just to the right of your navel. Close your eyes.
  • Breathing through your nose, take a deep breath in and feel your ribs expand as your lungs fill with air.
  • Pause for just a moment, then exhale completely and feel your abdominals engage as your ribs relax and your lungs empty.
  • Continue to inhale and exhale at a slow pace and focus on relaxing any other tension in your body as you breath – relax your face, your jaw, your shoulders and your clenched glutes.
  • If you’re feeling dizzy, which can sometimes happen, just lessen how deep of a breath you’re taking but still feel the ribs and abdominals engage.

Aerobics class practising deep breathing for relaxation lying on their backs on their mats on the floor with focus to a young African American woman in the foreground

TA Bracing In Hooklying With Movement

Next we’ll activate the transverse abdominus (TA) muscle with abdominal bracing.  The TA is a deep abdominal muscle that wraps horizontally around the abdomen to the posterior spine. Because of this horizontal muscle fiber orientation the TA is often referred to as the body’s natural corset. Strength in the TA supports the spine to reduce low back pain, as well as provides support to the other core muscles and organs.

  • Lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted on the floor.
  • Move your right and left palms to your low abdominals to the right and left and inferior to your naval.
  • Take a deep inhale through your nose and as you exhale through your mouth feel your abdominals tighten and engage under your palms to “corset” your trunk.  
  • Maintain this muscle activation as you take another inhale, and exhale.
  • Repeat this pattern for 5 rounds of breath while holding your TA abdominal contraction.

A simple movement that you can add to this exercise to further challenge your TA muscle contraction is the bent knee fall out (BKFO). As you inhale slowly lower your bent right leg to the right. Keep your trunk stable to avoid rocking and control the leg movement so it’s smooth. Perform 5 repetitions with the right leg, then 5 repetitions on the left.

ADL and Sport Specific TA Strengthening

Now that you’re proficient with deep breathing and transverse abdominus activation, it’s time to progress to sport and ADL (activity of daily living) specific training. A physical therapist can design a home exercise program specific to your needs and goals. Whether it’s competitive cycling, weight lifting, casual running, or Pilates, our PTs at Therapydia are experts at getting your body in top shape to perform. We’d love to help you be your best.

  1. Fernandes da Mota PG, Pascoal AG, Carita AI, Bo K. Prevalence and risk factors of diastasis recti abdominis from late pregnancy to 6 months postpartum, and relationship with lumbopelvic pain. Man Ther. 2015 Feb;20(1):200-205.

2. Russel MEB, Hoffman B, Stromberg S, Carlson C. Use of controlled diaphragmatic breathing for the management of motion sickness in a virtual reality environment. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2014; 39: 269-277

Ride On: 10 tips for a safe winter bike commute

winter cycling safety

Posted by: Jen Craft PT, DPT

Though the weather outside is frightful, there’s no reason to place your bike in storage for the winter and give up on your commute. With a little bit of prep work and extra considerations for safety you can absolutely stay on two wheels this winter. Below are 10 tips to help you have a successful bike ride this winter season:

  1. Bundle up. Wind chill has a sneaky way of making it feel a whole lot colder than it is outside. For example, the thermometer might read 32 degrees but a cold front of wind can make the air feel 10 degrees colder. It’s best to dress in layers and be overdressed rather than underprepared (and frosty!).
  2. Pack an extra set of dry clothes. Dry socks, underwear and pants will mean the difference between being cold and soggy or dry and comfy all day.
  3. Cover your eyes. If you wear glasses you already know how annoying it can be when raindrops cover your lenses and blur your vision. A brimmed running or cycling cap under your helmet can keep the flurries out of your eyes so you can focus on the road. To prevent your glasses from fogging apply a layer of anit-fog or make your own with toothpaste or dish soap (the internet has a plethora of DIY suggestions).img_0330
  4. Gloves are a must. Two pairs of gloves are even better. Heavy, warm ski gloves are great for keeping your knuckles warm while you ride but warmth usually also comes bulk. If you need to change a tire or make any other adjustments to your bike during your ride you’ll be thankful for packing a thinner spare pair of gloves for fine tuning.
  5. Consider your tires. Riding with mountain bike or studded tires will provide you with more traction on slick roads. There are even tire chains that you can purchase for your bike, much like the ones you put on your car tires. Another option is to slightly under inflate your tires to increase the surface area contact with the road. Be careful not to lower the pressure so much that you’re at risk of a pinch flat.
  6. Shine on. Remember that it gets dark much earlier this time of year. In July it’s easy to enjoy the daylight into the early evening hours but in the winter it starts getting dark after 4pm. Don’t forget both your front and rear lights so you can safely be seen!
  7. Fenders are your friends. Fenders over your tires will prevent the icky street slush from splashing up onto you as you ride and are well worth the investment. cycling safety sign
  8. Mind the rails. Snow and slush on the roads can make streetcar and train tracks less visible after a storm. As always, approach the tracks at an angle but also be mindful that the metal of the rails can be slippery. Try keeping your bike as upright (vs angled) as possible when crossing the tracks to avoid wiping out.
  9. Stay hydrated. Just because you’re cold doesn’t mean that you’re not thirsty. Remember to rehydrate after your ride just as you would any other season.
  10. Be aware and enjoy yourself. Confidence and awareness of your surroundings go a long way towards keeping you safe on the road. Enjoy the fresh air and rush of adrenaline that a bike ride can give you and don’t let the weather get you down!

Crash Course: Physical Therapy after a Motor Vehicle Accident

SONY DSC

Statistically speaking, every person traveling in a motorized vehicle will be in an accident at one point in their lifetime. On average, there are more than 6 million car accidents on the roads annually (1). According to the 2015 census, there are approximately 2.4 million people in the Portland region (2). That is a lot of impending injury! Post-accident care for non-fatal crash injuries can range from a same day ER visit to a primary care physician visit a week later with medications, Xrays or MRIs frequently prescribed. This initial medical care to rule out red flags is important especially considering advanced age, high speed collision, paresthesias or numbness/tingling, and if mobility is extensively limited. Though, this is often the end point of treatment for most individuals and they are left to guide their own care. Typically, massage and chiropractic treatment is the duo of care accessed, yet more and more people are realizing that there is something missing in their recovery and that is the restoration and rehabilitation of functional strength that was lost after the accident. Without functional strength retraining under the guidance and expertise of a physical therapist, healing can be severely delayed and result in, among other issues, loss of job attendance and revenue. In 2010, motor vehicle crashes in the United States equated to almost $1 trillion in productivity loss (3). Yet, a lot of physicians do not prescribe physical therapy, especially for the “minor injuries” with little to no pain at all.

depositphotos_36839587_originalSay what?

You might be surprised to have just read that I suggested physical therapy for “no pain at all” after a motor vehicle accident. Pain is a peculiar thing. Initial pain from an injury can be present or not depending on inflammatory processes ignited, pain processing per individual, and sometimes severity of injury. I am eluding to the idea that the absence of pain does not equate to non-injury. There is research that demonstrates decline in muscle activity post MVA resulting in diminished muscle bulk over time and this almost always leads to significant dysfunction and pain down the road with additional loss of productivity at work, participation in recreational activities, and altered daily lifestyle. In the neck, for example, post MVA MRI assessments of injury to the cervical spine in relatively “injury-free” individuals revealed swelling in the major deep cervical flexor muscle (4). Swelling within a muscle renders it dysfunctional and muscles so close to the spine have basically ZERO leverage to be able to just “come back on their own” with daily movement and typical exercise approach. The longus colli muscle is responsible for supporting the neck the way the abdominal core supports the trunk. It provides crucial stability for the cervical spine to disallow shearing forces with the day to day insults, let alone more aggressive endeavors in recreation like running, soccer, crossfit, and yoga, to name a few.

 

086-cartoon-businessman-shoulder-debt-boxBaby Bye, Bye, Bye.

Without proper rehabilitation of these deep neck flexors and core musculature, they will remain inhibited and atrophy as a result. Say goodbye to these deep, small, essential muscles and prepare to welcome the beast that is pain. Or…. seek the care that you need. An orthopedic physical therapist is trained to screen for red flags that would prevent one from being able to participate in a rehab program at that current time and help get you the right care. They will examine the pathoanatomical causes of symptoms and are uniquely trained to tease out the impairments and dysfunctions from the crypt! The sooner one seeks treatment, the less underlying dysfunctions that set in and cultivate. This equates to less down time from life, less $USD spent on playing catch up in care, and happier, pain-free people in the long run. If you have or know someone who has had a motor vehicle accident, we at Therapydia would be happy to help with an assessment and treatment as needed. Give us a call or email us to get started.

 

 

 

 

  1. http://www.lawcore.com/car-accident/statistics.html
  2. http://www.oregonmetro.gov/news/portland-region-nears-24-million-residents-growing-41000-last-year
  1. http://www.rmiia.org/auto/traffic_safety/Cost_of_crashes.asp
  2. Deepak Takhtani, Eduardo Scortegagna, Oguz Cataltepe and Sathish Dundamadappa. MRI Findings of Injury to the Longus Colli Muscle in Patients With Neck Trauma. Neuroradiology/Head and Neck Imaging, August 2016, Volume 207, Number 2.

5 Lacrosse Ball Exercises For Trigger Point Relief

At Therapydia, we provide individualized, scrupulous assessment and effective treatment of musculoskeletal dysfunction utilizing precise manual therapy techniques among other modalities. Our goal is to restore proper length tension relationships of soft tissue and enhance normal joint mechanics for proper function. Our patients can replicate some release techniques at home with the use of a lacrosse ball applied to trigger points in tissue. Trigger points are areas of adhesions within soft tissue resulting from trauma or overuse and can lead to ineffective movement, weakness, and pain. Below are common applications of lacrosse ball trigger point therapy we teach our patients to overcome their functional obstacles:

Inter-scapular

The area between the upper scapula and spine can be addressed by self-massage with a lacrosse ball to help keep one mobile and also tame the upper traps that are often used in activity. The release technique here is more of a self mobilization and can be applied with short duration holds of pressure over a few locations left and right of the spine. The progression would be to add dynamic movement of the arm into flexion overhead and back down to the hip for several reps, encouraging more upper thoracic extension at end range shoulder flexion.

hip-flexor-treatment

TFL (Tensor Fascia Latae)

Foam rolling is a great way in general to get soft tissue more pliable and flexible pre work out, but it can be an ineffective tool for the hip flexors due to their proximity to the center of mass and thus need more pressure to release. We advocate the use of a lacrosse ball with a static acupressure approach- finding key points to compress for a few seconds before moving to another area within the same tissue. Place the lacrosse ball just below the ASIS in the lateral hip flexor bulk for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side; staying away from the femoral triangle to avoid compressing the major nerve, artery, and vein.

pectolaris-minor-treatment

Pectoralis Minor

Stretching the pecs is a very common exercise given by most physical therapists because as a species, we humans engage in movements that stress mostly the front of our bodies and tighten or shorten this soft tissue. But the stretches given often target the pec major and don’t address the pec minor. The pec minor responds well to acupressure using a lacrosse ball at the wall. A good starting point is to place the ball about 2 inches below the mid point of the clavicle and press your body into the ball on the wall. Static holds of a few seconds before moving the ball slightly to target a different part of the tissue is good practice and spending approximately 30 seconds total per side. Alternately; moving the arm dynamically in abduction for a few repetitions along the wall while maintaining pec-to-lacrosse ball pressure provides an active release.

axillary-border-exercise

Axillary Border

The axillary border is a great site for release techniques; targeting the lats, lateral body fascia, and teres major. Restricted soft tissue here will disallow full overhead movement of the arm and patients tend to move inefficiently through lumbar extension to compensate. We instruct placement of the lacrosse ball between the outer axillary soft tissue and the floor using the opposite hand to help guide and keep the ball stable in space as one gets situated. Rocking the body onto and off of the ball with little movements provides a dynamic functional release or static holds over trigger points is perfectly acceptable and spending up to 30 seconds total over several points.

gluteal-exercise-physical-therapy

Gluteal Musculature

Typically a foam roll will get the job done for most of the gluteal tissue. There are areas of the deep glutes that respond better to trigger point releasing with a lacrosse ball. Sitting on the floor, place the lacrosse ball toward the outer gluteal tissue near the greater trochanter. One will need to angle one’s body slightly to the same side of the ball to get better contact; the opposite knee will be bent with foot on the ground to help gain position. We have patients perform the release for 30 seconds each side with light rolling or short bouts of acupressure.