Everything you Knee’d to know!

The knee is often central to the everyday person’s list of complaints: “I could’ve gone pro but I blew out my knee”; “When there is bad weather, my knee acts up”; and the most common thought: “I think I need a knee replacement”.

As stretch therapists, we see countless knee pain-related cases weekly. The knee is vital to keeping your body upright and its clever structure is pivotal to allowing you to take a step. The knee is a complex joint of multiple bones, ligaments and tendons. This complex structure means that there are a variety of injuries or problems that can arise. The most heard of are Meniscus injuries, ACL tears, Runner’s Knee & the dreaded, knee arthritis.

Symptoms of knee injury or issues include pain, stiffness, weakness and decreased mobility. These often significantly impact function, daily activities and quality of life. However, proactive management of these issues through stretching, mobility work and strengthening can reduce symptoms and improve functionality.

It is also important to ensure that your knee mobility and surrounding structures are in good condition to avoid later injuries or issues. Pre-hab rather than rehab is a much easier and pain-free route!

StretchingSA therapists specialise in improving function, decreasing pain and increasing mobility and flexibility using active isolated stretching and strengthening.

Your knees support you, and you should support your knees! Let us help you figure out how to support your knees, combat pain and stiffness and get you feeling like the Bee’s Knees!

Stretching: An Effective Solution for Calf Problems

Calf problems can be a significant hindrance to daily life, whether you’re an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys being active. From muscle tightness to cramps and even more severe issues like strains or tears, calf ailments can sideline you from your regular activities. However, amidst various treatment options, one simple yet powerful solution often gets overlooked: stretching.

Understanding Calf Problems

  • Muscle Tightness: Sedentary lifestyles, improper footwear, or overuse of calf muscles without adequate recovery can lead to tightness in the calf muscles.
  • Cramps: Calf cramps can occur due to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, or muscle fatigue. They’re often characterized by sudden, painful contractions of the calf muscles.
  • Strains and Tears: Overexertion, sudden movements, or inadequate warm-up can result in strains or tears in the calf muscles, leading to pain, swelling, and decreased mobility.

The Role of Stretching

Stretching is a fundamental component of any fitness or rehabilitation regimen, but its importance for calf health cannot be overstated. Here’s how stretching can alleviate and prevent calf problems:

  • Increased Flexibility: Regular stretching helps improve the flexibility of the calf muscles, reducing the risk of tightness and enhancing overall mobility. This increased flexibility allows the muscles to move through their full range of motion without strain.
  • Improved Blood Circulation: Stretching promotes better blood circulation to the calf muscles, delivering essential nutrients and oxygen while removing metabolic waste products. Improved circulation aids in muscle recovery and reduces the likelihood of cramps.
  • Prevention of Injuries: By enhancing flexibility and reducing muscle tightness, stretching plays a crucial role in preventing calf injuries such as strains and tears. Incorporating stretching into both pre-and post-workout routines can significantly decrease the risk of overuse injuries.
  • Relief from Discomfort: For individuals already experiencing calf problems, targeted stretching can provide immediate relief from discomfort. Gentle stretching exercises help alleviate muscle tightness, reduce pain, and promote healing.

Effective Stretching Techniques

To reap the benefits of stretching for calf problems, it’s essential to perform the exercises correctly and consistently. Here are some effective stretching techniques:

  • Calf Stretch: Stand facing a wall with your hands placed on the wall at shoulder height. Step one foot back, keeping it straight, and press the heel into the ground. Lean forward, bending the front knee, until you feel a stretch in the calf of the back leg. Hold the stretch for only 1.5 – 2 seconds per repetition. Do 5 – 8 repetitions with 2 sets and switch sides.
  • Seated Calf Stretch: Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Loop a towel around the ball of one foot and gently pull it towards you, keeping the leg straight. You should feel a stretch in the calf muscle. Hold the stretch for only 1.5 – 2 seconds per repetition. Do 5 – 8 repetitions with 2 sets and switch sides.
  • Downward Dog Pose: Begin on your hands and knees, then lift your hips towards the ceiling, straightening your legs to form an inverted V shape. Press your heels towards the ground while keeping your arms and back straight. Hold the stretch for only 1.5 – 2 seconds per repetition. Do 5 – 8 repetitions with 2 sets.

Conclusion

Calf problems can significantly impact your quality of life, but incorporating stretching into your routine can provide relief and prevent future issues. Whether you’re dealing with muscle tightness, cramps, or more severe injuries, regular stretching can improve flexibility, enhance circulation, and promote overall calf health. Remember to perform stretches correctly, listen to your body, and consult a healthcare professional if you experience persistent or severe symptoms. With dedication and consistency, stretching can be a powerful tool in your journey towards healthier, happier calves.

The Foot

Introduction

26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons, the foot is incredibly complex. Your feet serve as the pillar or foundation for your entire body in terms of support, balance and posture.

“Be good to your feet, and they will carry you, all through your young years and all your old ones too. Give them the attention they deserve, ‘coz new feet can’t be bought!”

How the feet function, diseases and possible injuries.

The foot is used to stabilize, absorb shock, and propel the body in a forward or backward movement. One can identify many underlying health/medical disorders just by the foot itself. There are many kinds of diseases and disorders of the feet, to name a few: Bunions, Hammertoes, Corns, Ankle arthritis, Plantar fasciitis, Gout, Neuromas, flat feet, Diabetic Neuropathy, Hallux Rigidus, Osteochondral defect of the Talus.

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) can help with foot injuries, disorders, and diseases by improving flexibility, reducing muscle tension, and promoting proper alignment and function of the foot and ankle.

AIS involves stretching specific muscles and connective tissues in a targeted and controlled manner, which can help relieve pain by also reducing inflammation in the affected areas. AIS additionally improves circulation promoting faster recovery from injuries and reducing further complications.

AIS can help

AIS can help to improve overall foot function and reduce discomfort by stretching and strengthening the muscles and tissues surrounding the foot. Incorporating regular AIS into a comprehensive foot care routine can enhance the health and function of the feet and well as contribute to faster recovery.

Arthritis, and how Stretch Therapy could help

Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation in one or more joints, causing swelling, pain, and stiffness. Unfortunately, Arthritis worsens with age and occurs in the hands, neck, lower back, knees, or hips.

There are several types of Arthritis with different causes. The two most common Arthritides are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Osteoarthritis

This type of Arthritis occurs when the cartilage, the protective tissue at the ends of the bones, starts wearing down gradually and worsens over time.

Osteoarthritis happens in any joint and is more common in older people, but it can start in the initial stages in your late 40s.

What are the signs, and how do I diagnose osteoarthritis?

The affected joint will have pain during or after a movement and will be stiff whether you are active. The joint will be tender; it will not be flexible and swollen.

You can get a diagnosis for osteoarthritis with an X-ray scan; although cartilage does not show on an X-ray, cartilage is shown by the narrowing of the space between the bones in the joint.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

In Rheumatoid Arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the body’s tissue. It is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting the joints.

This type of Arthritis occurs when the joint linings are inflamed, and the inflammation can cause joint irregularity and bone destruction over a period.

Rheumatoid Arthritis in the initial stages, usual ages between 30 and 50 years, starts with attacking the smaller joints first, like your fingers or toes.

What are the signs, and how do I diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Before you start to experience any of the symptoms, you will first start to feel fatigued and have a lack of energy. The joint will start to feel tender, and you will experience stiffness, pain and swelling. You can also experience a slight fever because of the inflammation that Rheumatoid arthritis cause.

You can diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis through blood tests. These tests look for elevated levels of inflammation. You can also diagnose it with ultrasound or X-rays.

How does Stretch Therapy help with Arthritis?

Active Isolated Stretching or Stretch Therapy is an essential part of rehabilitation. The process begins with the identification of the affected joints, muscles and areas of tissues to be stretched and treated. Specificity in stretching is vital to achieving circulation, oxygenation, tissue extension and activation.

By isolating the affected Arthritic joint and only holding the stretches for 1.5 – 2 seconds, the inflammation within the affected joint drains, blood flow increases, and the joints start to get more pain-free, functional and flexible; regaining more range of motion which leads to quality of life.

Benefits of AIS (Stretch Therapy):

  • Active Isolated stretching improves oxygenation and nutrition of myofascial structures, promoting growth and repair.
  • Active Isolated stretching stimulates the circulation and drainage of the lymph, which helps eliminate metabolic wastes.
  • Active Isolated stretching improves flexibility and health of muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Active Isolated stretching realigns collagen fibres.
  • Active isolated stretching reduces muscle spasms and the risk of muscle strain and tear.

 

By Carla Swart / September 13, 2022

 

What is Stretch Therapy?

Stretch Therapy is the name we give to the special work being developed by Aaron L.Mattes over the last 50 years. Stretch Therapy spans the entire technique called ‘active isolated stretching’ and ‘active isolated strengthening’. This technique is very useful right from rehabilitation to performance enhancement.

Stretch therapy comprises the following main elements:

Stretching
we use a number of techniques to improve the Range of Movement (ROM) of the body; nerves, fascia and muscles are used as ‘gateways’ to change the “movement map in the brain.

Re-patterning
inactive muscles are made active; knees, shoulders, and elbows are stabilized; posture and alignment are made more efficient.

Strengthening
the capacity of the whole body to exert force is the emphasis here; most of our techniques are body-weight only, and all involve the ‘core’.

Relaxation
the forgotten part of any health optimization program. Here, ‘relaxation’ is used in two ways: the first as a shorthand for techniques that enhance speed (any force-producing agonist needs its antagonist to relax equally quickly so that a limb, or a whole body, can move faster), and the second sense, the fundamental part of rejuvenation and regeneration practices.
Together, the Stretch Therapy elements enable anyone to improve flexibility, and to perform ordinary and extraordinary tasks with greater ease and better performance, and for longer in life.

Stretch Therapy is the safest, most efficient method for anyone to achieve grace and ease in daily life, and is suitable for most people.

Active Isolated Stretching: How it Works

There are two primary principles that provide the basis for how AIS works. The first is called reciprocal inhibition, which means that if you want to lift your arm, your nervous system has to shut off the muscles that bring your arm down. This means that AIS involves your nervous system in the stretch, making it easier for the muscles to elongate. The second principle is to hold the stretch for 1.5 to 2 seconds, and no longer. Research shows that holding a stretch for longer than 2.5 to 3 seconds will cause your body to engage a protective reflex. This stretch reflex will cause a muscle contraction in the muscle you are trying to stretch. It is therefore important not to hold any stretch to long, not even 3 seconds.
By not “tripping” the stretch reflex, you are able to get a gentle stretch, without the body fighting itself. The stretch is repeated 8 to 10 times in a set. The repeated “pumping” action of the muscle allows for increased circulation to the area. Because the stretches target highly specific areas of the body, AIS provides an efficient and effective stretch.

These specific movements also help relieve symptoms of stress. Stress touches all of our lives. Gentle stretching movements can invigorate the circulatory, respiratory and neuromuscular systems, which help alleviate many of the symptoms of stress.

Benefits of Active Isolated Stretching:

  • Improves flexibility
  • Helps to relieve muscle soreness
  • Reduces muscle spasm
  • Helps to address and reduce chronic pain
  • Reduces the risk of muscle strain and tearing
  • Helps recovery from injury
  • Helps to increase athletic performance
  • Helps to relieve stress
  • Improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to cells
  • Helps stimulate lymph circulation and elimination of cellular waste
  • Helps to maintain good posture
  • Helps to regain and maintain the full range of motion of a joint
  • Promotes balance in the body
  • Promotes healthy growth in children and youth
  • Prevent postural problems in pre-adolescent growth spurts