If You Could Choose Only 2 Leg Exercises?

Alright, if we were trapped on a deserted island and could only do two leg exercises for the rest of our lives, what would they be? Well, they would need to be something functional, of course. But, they would also need to work many muscle groups at the same time, and be very effective as a body weight exercise. For me, the choice is simple: Bulgarian Split Squats and Single Leg Roman Dead lifts. These two lower body exercises are a hybrid of strength, balance, and flexibility. They can provide the perfect mixture for any lower body workout. Give em a try and see what you think!

Bulgarian Split Squats: 

Starting Position: 
With your back leg firmly on something elevated, (whether its a box, stair, bench, or palm tree), carefully walk your front foot out, so your knee is over your ankle. 

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Finishing position:
With your core engaged, drop your back knee towards the floor, keeping your front knee behind your toe. Try not to rest your knee at the bottom!  ( 3 sets of 15 each leg)

Single Leg Roman Deadlifts: 

Starting Position: 
Begin in a normal standing position, with the weight in the same hand as the leg that will go backwards. Try to keep your core engaged and your spine straight before starting the movement. 

Finishing position:
As shown above, bend from the waist keeping your body straight from your heel to head. Try to keep your bottom leg straight, and it's ok it you bend it a little :) Once you reach the bottom, return to a standing position.  ( 3 sets of 12 SLOW!)

5 Common Running Injuries & Tips for Recovery/Prevention

Whether you are a running rookie or a tenured road warrior, injuries are the fastest way to keep you from reaching your goals. Studies shows that upwards of 65% of runners will experience an injury every year. That means that nearly 2/3rds of runners will have to stop running, nurse their injuries, and try to regain speed to get back to their previous level. This can have large effects on performance and stamina, as well as consistency and healthy habits. It's hard enough to be consistent without any injuries, given the struggles of daily life and time constraints. So, the earlier you can nip a potential injury in the bud, the more likely you are to keep it from becoming  a much larger problem. Below are some of the most common running injuries, and how you can easily identify, treat, and prevent them on your own. 

Runner's Knee: 

Formally called Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, Runner's Knee is essentially an umbrella term for knee pain behind the knee cap associated with running. However, it can be caused by many other activities besides running. It is generally associated with pain around or behind the knee cap that feels like it's coming from the middle/inside of your knee. It can be caused by a variety of different things that increase stress and strain on the patellofemoral joint. It has been associated with weakness in the hips and quads as well as tightness in the hamstrings, which can cause the knee cap to be misaligned and move poorly. 

Prevention / Recovery Tips: 
- Decrease your mileage
- Incorporate more cross training such as cycling or elliptical to strengthen surrounding muscles
- Hill training/incline on the treadmill can be less painful, and help ramp up mileage after recovery
- Strengthen quadriceps and hip muscles to promote better knee cap alignment

Shin Splints: 

Ask anyone who has had shin splints, they HURT! They are the result of tiny micro tears in the muscle next to your shin bone. They are extremely common in new runners or runners who have taken a long break, and are most commonly caused by increasing your training too quickly, or starting with too high of a running volume.  It is crucial to increase your running mileage slowly, to prevent such injuries from creeping up! 

Prevention / Recovery Tips: 
- For acute injuries: Rest, Ice cup massage, and ibuprofen can potentially help with symptom relief
- Kinesio tape
- More severe cases can benefit from a soft air cast
- Incorporate agility work or more dynamic sports into your workout routine. Lateral movement can help strengthen stabilizing muscles. 
- Check your shoes! Worn out running shoes may be a culprit. 
- Look at your arch. Some people may need an orthotic to help with proper foot strike. 
- It's ok to start jogging or light running if some mild pain is present, but if the pain is present after you stop running, then that is a sign you body is not ready to return just yet :(

Plantar Fasciitis: 

This is by far the most common foot injury amongst runners. Stretching from your heel to ball of your foot there is a fibrous layer called the Plantar Fascia, which helps protect the ligaments and tendons in the foot, as well as aid in foot motion during muscle contraction. As with anything in medicine, "-itis" at the end of a word, means that something is inflamed. In this case, the Plantar Fascia is inflamed from increased stress and strain which cause small tiny tears. The pain can be as simple as a sharp pain in the heel bone, or throbbing pain throughout the entire bottom of your foot. Most commonly, the pain is much worse immediately upon getting out of bed in the morning. It is really hard to identify the specific cause in many cases, but most any "extreme" foot condition can increase the stress on the foot including: very high arches, very low arches or flat feet, over pronation, or over supination during running. In addition, it is associated with people who overtrain or start running too many miles too early in their training. Here are some easy things you can do! 

Prevention / Recovery Tips: 
- Roll a golf ball on the bottom of your feet, trying to isolate the tender points
- Roll the bottom of your foot on a frozen water bottle for 5-10 minutes 5X per day
- Strengthen the muscles in the bottom of the foot. Try "Towel Scrunches"
- Consider an orthotic for proper foot strike
- Strengthen your core muscles! A weak core can cause increased foot strain and increase risk for plantar fasciitis.
- Rest! Plantar Fasciitis can really linger, and unless you rest and do your rehab exercises, it can last for months. Be smart :)

IT Band Syndrome:

The Iliotibial Band , aka IT Band, is a long wide band, actually a tendon, the runs from the hip to the knee on the outside of the thigh. When this band of tissue gets irritated, its becomes inflamed; when it gets inflamed, its gets a fancy name called IT Band Syndrome (ITBS). The pain can be a dull/achy or sharp pain in the outside of the knee or even in the lower part of the outside thigh, often times worse with running, climbing stairs, hiking or biking. ITBS is extremely common amongst runners, and accounts for approximately 10-15% of running injuries each year. It is often seen in runners who increase their training volume too quickly, or have poor running biomechanics. There are many things that can cause biomechanical issues such as: overpronation of the foot, weakness in the hips and butt muscles, or even misaligned hips and leg length differences. ITBS can be a very nagging injury, and if proper rest is not given, it can continue to flare up for quite a while. Here are some tips to help: 

Prevention / Recovery Tips: 
- REST! take the rest early, so you don't have to take more time later. 
- Foam roll the IT band and Piriformis
- Try more non-weightbearing exercises such as swimming, swim-jogging, or elliptical
- Shorten your stride length. Make sure your foot is striking underneath your body, and you are not overreaching. 

 

Hope this provided some insight into some of the more common ailments with running! Run safe. Listen to your body. And take rest when you need it. It's more important to be consistent over the long term, than in the immediate present. 

Enjoy your run, 
Dr. Vincent

5 Tips to Jump Start Your Postpartum Exercise:

 

1. GO SLOW! 
Your body just experienced a very intense mixture of physical, hormonal and mental stress. kick starting your body back into movement can be challenging, especially when you add on the stress of raising a child and sleep deprivation. When you start your physical come back depends a lot on how your baby was born. A cesarean section will have a much longer recovery time than a normal vaginal delivery. For a c-section, Most OB/Gyn physicians recommend atleast 6 weeks with no strenuous activity or heavy lifting. A normal birth can be significantly less, but it all depends on how your body is recovering from the birthing process. Every individual birth is unique to the individual, and every body heals differently.  It's extremely important to discuss returning to excess with your physician and determine how many weeks is right for your body

2. CORE ACTIVATION
It's always a great idea to start from the inside out, but even more so when we are talking about postpartum exercise. Activating your core muscles is extremely crucial for setting the proper foundation, considering your abdominal muscles have been stretched for the past 9 months. But it's not all about crunches. Activating the deeper abdominal layers such as the Transversus Abdomens , as well as internal and external oblique muscles can provide stability to your spine and pelvis while you start to increase your exercise. Activating the proper core muscles will promote better posture and more efficient biomechanics, to get you back on your way without injury. Adding Pilates, Bar Method, or Dailey Method to your weekly routine are great options that focus on activating the core, and performing exercises with perfect technique. 

3. KEGEL EXERCISES
Kegel exercises specifically train the muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles make up the base of your pelvis and hold up the organs in your abdomen, including your bladder and uterus. You can imagine that after child birth, these muscles have undergone a significant amount of stress. Stress and strain to these muscles can lead to symptoms such as leakage of urine during normal movements or coughing. However, they are also very important for stabilizing your pelvis during activity. Many professional athletes actually perform Kegel exercises, because it increases core stability during training and performance. The easiest way to start activating your pelvic floor, is to pretend like you are holding your pee. YUP! Imagine that you really really need to go pee, but you try to hold it in. These muscles are your Kegels. Here's a quick exercise to get started. Activate your Kegels, aka "Hold your pee", for 10 seconds. Then, rest for a second. Then activate for another 10 seconds. Try to go for a total of 60 seconds. Pretty soon, you will be activating during all of your workout routines and daily activities.  

4. TOTAL BODY EXERCISES
After you've had a baby, you essentially need to wake your body up from it's hibernation. It's been in "baby growing" mode. You gain weight, your ankles swell, and you have aches and pains all over. So now, it's time to get it moving again, and you need to move ALL of your joints! Do more exercises that involve multi-joint movements, because they promote more holistic, functional improvements in the body. By encouraging your body to move as one, you can work to improve strength and conditioning in a wide range of movements and activities. Try some exercises such as Bulgarian split squats, Dumbbell squats with an overhead press, or reverse lunge with knee drive

5. HIP STABILITY
Whether you're a pro athlete or postpartum, strengthening your hips could be the single most important exercise you do. If you had to pick one of the 5, choose this one. Your hips are integral to all types of movement in your body. They not only help to stabilize the pelvis with the pelvic floor muscles, but also control the knee, ankle and foot. Your hips can help control all of the joints above and below it. One of the best ways to activate the hip muscles is by using mini bands in your workouts. if you do them properly, you will feel the burn! Trust me. There are so many creative ways to use mini bands. But remember, start simple, keep good form, and work your way up! 
 

Now go get after it!
Dr. Vincent

 

 

 

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

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At this point, everybody knows that getting your heart rate up, breaking a sweat, and doing some cardio is going to be great for your health. Aerobic exercise helps keep your heart healthy, strengthens your bones, tones muscles and, of course, burns calories! But the hardest part about doing cardio is not convincing ourselves of the benefit, it's actually motivating ourselves to do it. We are all creatures of habit, in some way or another, and often times we fall into a pattern of doing the same old routine.  Changing up your cardio routine can not only keep your muscles from adapting, but also re-inspire you with a new challenge or experience. 
Here's an idea! Try out a stair workout and see how it feels. Stairs are a great way to burn some extra calories while focusing on the glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves. Obviously, the longer the staircase, the harder and longer the stair workout will be. But, try to find a set of stairs or bleachers with atleast 30 steps to get the most juice for your workout! Try out this workout and see how you feel!  

                                                                     Stairway to Heaven Workout: 

Single step walking X4:  
Nice and easy warm up! take it one step at a time. 
Double step walking  X4: 
Double time! Now walk up the stairs skipping one stair with each step. 
Single step jogs  X4: 
Pick up the pace a little! Now start jogging the stairs, one step at a time. 
Double step jogs X4:  
On the jog, skipping one stair with each stride. Yup! Let's do it!
Side Stepping X4: 
Slow it down for a set. Walk side ways up the stairs, crossing one leg in front of the other to step up.
Double Step Diagonal Jumps X4: 
Jumping diagonally off one leg and landing on the other, skipping a stair in -between. ALL the way to the top!
Two foot bunny hops X4: 
Keeping your feet shoulder width apart, hop up each stair, using your arms to help! 
Single leg hops X2: 
This one can often be the most difficult. Use the handrail for safety if you need it. Hop up each step on the same foot. Try to hop half the distance of the total stairs on one leg, then switch legs half way. Always walk down with both legs :)
Sprints!! X4: 
This is where you lay it all out there! Give it everything you have. Whether you skip 2 steps, 3, 4, whatever,  try to sprint! 
 

Enjoy! 
Dr. Vincent