Stretching the Hamstring Muscles

Stretch Your Hamstring Muscles to Decrease Knee Pain and Back Pain.

The hamstrings are the muscles on the back of the thigh. The three hamstring muscles are responsible for bending at the knee or flexing the knee. Hamstring tears are often the reason you see sprinters pulling up in a race. The hamstrings attach to the part of the pelvic bone which you sit on. When tight, they can tilt the pelvis backward, flattening the lower back. This can adversely affect the mechanics of the back and pelvis, which can strain your spine and hips. Like the quadriceps, tight hamstrings are often contributing factors of low back pain as well as knee pain.

How to Stretch the Hamstring Muscles

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An Ergonomic Look at your Computer Work Station

Ergonomics is the study of how to adapt the workplace to your body.

When the workstation is arranged to suit your body stress and fatigue are decreased and comfort is increased. The results are increased productivity and fewer repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

You can also avoid such troubles as chronic neck, back, shoulder and arm aches, as well as tension headaches.

Repetitive stress conditions are the cumulative result of strain on tendons, muscles, and nerves that may not seem significant at first. Over time however, the cumulative effect of this strain is one of excessive wear and tear on your body. The outcome is ultimately pain and dysfunction, which lead to loss of productivity.
Eliminating the elements that add unnecessary stress or strain to your body is the goal of ergonomics.

It’s your body. Take time to learn what your needs are and what works for you. Don’t hesitate to ask for help and instruction.  The long-term benefits–comfort, vitality and productivity— are well worth the effort.

Read below to learn some changes that may help you improve your computer work station.

How many simple and inexpensive changes can you make to your computer station, that can lessen the load on your body?

Is your chair’s height adjustable?

  • Your feet should be flat on the floor.
  • The knees should be slightly lower than the hips.
  • Do not compromise your correct seating position to achieve the correct height of the monitor and keyboard (see below for monitor positioning).

Do you have an adequate back rest with lumbar support?

  • Your buttocks should be against the back rest.
  • You should lean into the backrest to take some weight off your spine.
  • The lumbar support must be against the small of your back.
  • The back rest should be in a vertical or near vertical position.

Do you change positions in the chair frequently?

  • Ideally, you should stand up for at least a short stretch every 20-30 minutes.

Is your computer monitor directly in front of you?

  • Looking to one side in order to view the monitor is detrimental to your neck.

Is the top of the monitor screen below eye level?

  • A downward gaze of 20-50 degrees below horizontal has been found to be easier for the eyes to focus and accommodate.
  • This also helps reduce forward head posture.

How far is your monitor positioned from your eyes?

  • In general your eyes should be about 25 inches or more from the monitor.
  • It should be as far as possible while still being able to read it clearly.

Have you positioned the monitor so that glare is reduced?

Is your keyboard positioned to allow your wrists and shoulders to rest?

  • Your keyboard should be at elbow height or slightly lower.
  • Your knuckles should be level with, or slightly lower than, the wrists. This places the wrists in a restful position.
  • The forearms should be horizontal or tilting slightly downward.
  • Your shoulders should not have to creep up (tensing your trapezius muscles) in order to keep your wrists in a resting position.

 Your mouse should be on the same level as your keyboard.

Note: The points in this checklist are to be taken as guidelines only. Each of them should be considered. Allowances must be made for individual physical characteristics and tolerances.

Suggestions made in this publication are no substitute for medical advice. If you suffer with pain,  seek advice from your appropriate health professional.

About the Author
Domenic Lopez B.Sc., Certified Exercise Physiologist, licensed Massage Therapist, is owner and operator of Healthy Moves, a private practice where massage therapy and movement education help you achieve better living.

Stretch the Quadriceps Muscles to Decrease Knee and Back Pain

 Why should you stretch your Quadriceps muscles?

The Quadriceps are the muscles in the front of the thigh. They are commonly referred to as the quads. These muscles are responsible for extending the knee, when stepping forward, kicking and climbing stairs. They get a lot of use and deserve a good stretch.

Tight Quadriceps are a common cause of knee pain. Keeping the Quadriceps muscles flexible helps decrease the wear and tear on the knee cap and knee joints in general. Flexible Quadriceps are more elastic. This increased elasticity decreases the compressive forces on the knee joints. Less compression means less rubbing and wearing away of your joint surfaces. Hence, less pain due to arthritis or inflammation of your knee joints.

One of the quadriceps muscles (the rectus femoris) also functions as a hip flexor. It attaches to the front aspect of the pelvic bone. When tight, it can tilt the pelvis forward.

This causes an increased lower back arch (lordosis). This increased lordosis is a common contributor to low back pain.

In summary, we have a group of muscles that when tense or tight can cause pain in the knee and the back.

How to Stretch Your Quadriceps Muscles

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Learn to Use Your Abdominal Muscles to Protect Your Spine

The abdominal muscle

The different layers of abdominal muscles.

When your abdominal muscles are working properly they provide essential protection for your spine. Sadly, this is not the case for many people. I see this in the large number of troublesome backs that come through my office.

There are four layers of abdominal muscles. The deep layers are among the most important for stabilizing the lower back. These muscles are all too often weak and uncoordinated.

Sit-ups and crunches exercise primarily the more superficial layer of abdominal muscles. Sometimes these muscles are strong but without the deep abdominal muscles functioning properly your spine is at risk.

It takes more than sit ups to properly strengthen and coordinate all layers of your abdominal muscles. For maximum protection of your back seek coaching on how to strengthen and coordinate all the abdominal and other muscles that stabilize the spine.

An Exercise to Try

Stand up straight. Reach up to the sky with your arms. Take a deep breath. Start exhaling as you stretch your hands upward. When you reach near the end of your exhale force the remaining air out through pursed lips.

Did you feel the abdominal muscles contract to expel the air? Those are your deep abdominal muscles. Keep those muscles active while pushing, pulling, lifting, or bending, and you will better protect your spine.

Now that you’ve become acquainted with your deep abdominal muscles you should endeavor to engage them regularly in your daily activities.

Suggestions made in this publication are no substitute for medical advice. If you have any pain or difficulty performing the described exercise, seek advice from your appropriate health professional.

About the Author
Domenic Lopez B.Sc., Exercise Science, is owner and operator of Healthy Moves, a private practice where massage therapy and movement education help you achieve better living.

How to Stretch the Adductor (Groin) Muscles

Why stretch the adductor muscles?

The adductor muscles are a group of five muscles with their bulk on the inside (medial side) of the thigh. They are commonly referred to as the groin muscles. They attach to the pubic and ischial (sit bone) part of the pelvis. Their function is to prevent the thigh from slipping outwards. They pull the thigh in, toward the midline of the body. This movement occurs at the hip joint. One of the adductor muscles also crosses the knee joint. These muscles, in coordination with the other thigh muscles, work hard to stabilize and protect the pelvis, hip and knee.

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