Male Athletes Do Pilates!

From the desk of Kristen M. Reynolds, DPT, CPT…

Pilates is just for dancers: fact or fiction?

It is true that Joseph Pilates’ exercises were first embraced by the NYC dance community after he defected to the United States. His method reintroduced movement early in the rehabilitation process by encouraging active-assisted range of motion and low load muscular forces, which was unique to dancers and choreographers who were accustomed to long prognoses. However, most individuals are unaware that Pilates Method was intended for men. As we celebrate Men’s Health Month, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight the history and benefits of Pilates for the male population.

As a young child in Germany, Joseph Pilates suffered from numerous illnesses leading to significant weakness. Accordingly, he dedicated his life to becoming physically stronger and studied several methods of movement, including yoga, martial arts, calisthenics, boxing, and gymnastics. From these experiences, Pilates devised a unique method of physical and mental conditioning named Contrology with the philosophy that “a few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics or forced contortion.” This system of original 34 exercises is known today as Matwork. In a WWI internment camp, he was a caretaker for many soldiers bedridden by injuries and the influenza epidemic. He progressed Contrology by attaching bed springs to headboards and footboards to facilitate resistance and body support for patients. The dual feature of the apparatus is essential to the body as it learns to move more efficiently and truly complements Matwork.

Pilates has gained momentum and attention in the past decade as a modality for improving flexibility, strength and mind–body awareness. Over the past several years, the method has become a staple in the conditioning of professional athletes including NBA players Jason Kidd, Greg Oden, Kobe Bryant, and Lebron James, MLB players Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling, soccer star David Beckham, and golfer Tiger Woods. Here are some of the top reasons these men do Pilates:

1. Power – Pilates maximizes performance and builds power by developing a strong foundation of core stability that allows the the primary movers and levers to work on explosive movements more efficiently. The spring-resistant Reformer eliminates gravity in the supine and sidelying positions to correct biomechanics during gait, jumping, and sport-specific movements.

2. Mind-Body Control – Pilates teaches participants to be mindful in their movements by integrating the pelvis, trunk and shoulder girdle in a safe, challenging and progressive system. The method facilitates neuromuscular re-education to occur in functional positions and multiple planes with focus on spinal stabilization. Dynamic activity in supine, prone, sitting, kneeling, quadruped, and standing postures requires balance and coordinated motor control. Concentration and the mind-body connection are essential components of this method and is typically what makes stellar athletes stand out from good ones. A recent study revealed that the Pilates method of exercise may contribute to improved performance in double leg lowering, star excursion balance tests, and throwing speed in college baseball pitchers (English T, Howe K. The Effect of Pilates Exercise on Trunk and Postural Stability and Throwing Velocity in College Baseball Players: Single Subject Design. N Am J Sports Phys Ther. 2007 February; 2(1): 8–21).

3. Stamina – Research has revealed that active middle aged men who participated in two 60-minutes Pilates mat sessions per week for 12 weeks demonstrated statistically significant increases in abdominal and upper-body muscular endurance (Kloubec, JA. Pilates for improvement of muscle endurance, flexibility, balance, and posture. J Strength Cond Res 24(3): 661-667, 2010). Exercising on the apparatus also promotes endurance, as requires consistent co-contraction to concentrically resist and eccentrically control the spring tension.

4. Circulation – The emphasis on coordinating breathing with Pilates repertoire enhances blood flow to the soft tissue and reduces stress, reducing hypertension and Valsalva. Pilates workouts are gentle on the joints, but can easily be challenging, elevate heart rate, and make participants work up a sweat!

5. Mobility – Most men fear they are not flexible enough to participate in Pilates. The great benefit of this method is that it promotes functional mobility with a stable center. Experienced teachers will also know several way to modify for impaired segmental mobility or muscle length in the hip girdle and gradually progress clients safely.

 

 

 

Kristen M. Reynolds, DPT, CPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Pilates Teacher

Kristen Reynolds earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science from James Madison University in 2006 and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the MGH Institute of Health Professions in 2009. While practicing in orthopedics and sports medicine, a mentor introduced her to the Pilates Method and she has since pursued comprehensive certification to compliment her clinical interests. She has studied with Balanced Body, Peak Pilates, and most recently Balancepoint Pilates. She is an active member of the Pilates Method Alliance, American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy Sections, as well as the APTA of Massachusetts Shoulder and Manual Physical Therapy Special Interest Groups. Always interested in sports and fitness, she is a former YMCA and Junior Olympic gymnast, coach, and ACE personal trainer. Integrating the Pilates principles and Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, and Chair repertoire into her physical therapy practice has produced successful rehabilitation outcomes for a wide variety of patients, including adolescents, elite athletes and dancers, and individuals with chronic orthopedic conditions. Kristen utilizes this alternative therapeutic approach to improve muscle performance and joint mobility, correct posture and alignment, enhance body awareness, and create an evenly conditioned body that is more resilient to extremity and spinal injury. She greatly enjoys designing programs to target personal goals, educating clients to incorporate Pilates into their daily activities, and teaching small group classes.

Pilates for Runners Around the World [Wide Web]

From the desk of Kristen M. Reynolds, PT, DPT, PMA®-CPT…

Do you think I am the only professional preaching to runners about cross training with Pilates? Sorry track stars, I am not alone. A quick Google search of “Pilates for runners” generated 189,000 results in 0.20 seconds!

Check out my top 5 favorite articles from around the web that highlight why practicing Pilates will improve your stride and time:

Pilates Moves for Runners

Pilates for Runners: The Basics

Rehabbing Running Injuries with Pilates

Pilates For Running – Featured Exercises

Run Strong

If you have any more questions about Pilates or physical therapy, please feel free to BOOK ONLINE or call OMBE at 617.447.2222 to schedule a complimentary 30-minute session.   Our Boston Marathon Special means 20% off ALL private sessions now through April for those training to cross that finish line on Boylston Street!

 

 

 

 

 

Kristen Reynolds, DPT, PMA®-CPT Doctor of Physical Therapy PMA® Certified Pilates Teacher

Always interested in dance, sports and fitness, Kristen Reynolds is a former YMCA and Junior Olympic gymnast, coach, and ACE personal trainer. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science from James Madison University in 2006 and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the MGH Institute of Health Professions in 2009.

While practicing in orthopedics and sports medicine, a mentor introduced her to the Pilates Method and she has since pursued comprehensive training and professional certification from the Pilates Method Alliance to compliment her clinical interests. Dr. Reynolds is one of the few instructors in Massachusetts to have earned the distinction of PMA Certified Pilates Teacher. Additionally, she is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Sports Physical Therapy Section, APTA of Massachusetts Shoulder and Manual Physical Therapy Special Interest Groups, and Authentic Pilates Union.

Integrating the Pilates principles and repertoire with her manual therapy skills has produced successful rehabilitation outcomes for a wide variety of patients, including adolescents, elite athletes and dancers, and individuals with chronic orthopedic conditions. Dr. Reynolds utilizes this alternative therapeutic approach to improve muscle performance and joint mobility, correct posture and alignment, enhance body awareness, and create an evenly conditioned body that is more resilient to extremity and spinal injury.

 

From the 2012 Archives: Pilates for Runners

From the desk of Kristen M. Reynolds, PT, DPT, PMA®-CPT…

In my last post, we reviewed my 2011 post about the benefits of Pilates for runners. Check out this snippet from 2012 and look out for this year’s post coming soon!

 

 

 

 

With the days getting longer, global warming, and the Boston Marathon looming upon us, local runners are exceptionally inspired to hit the bricks, cobblestones, and uneven sidewalks. As I mentioned a previous blog about Pilates for Runners, this population needs to remember to incorporate cross training into their regimen to prevent imbalances in the body in order to avoid injury that keeps them off the cobblestones.

The best way to start is to meet with a trainer that can perform a postural and movement screen to see which muscles and joints are in need of more mobility and stability. Private Pilates sessions will allow you to have a program tailored to your body, utilize the Reformer, and learn specific Mat exercises that you can perform on your own.

Another great method of making Pilates “a habit” is to find a small group class that works with your schedule and attend 1-2 classes each week. Consistency is important because classical Pilates is presented in a traditional order and modern day classes tend to provide a wide variety of variations and modifications for everybody. Routine practice fosters precision in your execution, improved muscular control, and increased range of motion and flexibility. Joseph Pilates’ quote “In 10 sessions you will FEEL the difference, in 20 sessions you will SEE the difference, and in 30 sessions you will have a WHOLE NEW BODY” has become famous for a reason!

How can you start Pilates training at OMBE?

Schedule a complimentary 30-minute demo with a Pilates teacher

Book your first Pilates class at a special rate of $15

Take advantage of our Boston Marathon Special and receive 20% off all private lessons

Until then, try one of my all-time favorite Mat exercises that is exceptional for runners – Side Kick! It will help to increase the strength in the lateral hip to enhance alignment during your stride:


Alignment:Lie on your side and line up head, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles (“body like a pencil”). Ensure shoulders and pelvis/hips are stacked on top of each other and the spine is straight.

Now move legs slightly in front of hips to stabilize your trunk and protect your lower back. Flex both feet (“toes toward your nose”).

Reach bottom arm along the mat to rest head on, then put top hand behind head (“elbow reaches to ceiling”) so that you are balancing on the bottom side of your body.

Coordinate Breath and Whole Body Movement:

Prepare by INHALING through your nose as you lift your top leg a few inches toward ceiling (“heel should be the same height as your hip”). Continue to flex foot and send energy out through the heel.

EXHALE and kick leg straight forward, creasing at the hip without rounding spine or rolling shoulder backward. Feel lower abdominals lift up and under ribcage (“keep core strong and centered”).

INHALE, point toes long, and extend leg straight back (“like a pendulum on a clock”). Keep lower abdominals lifted in and up to ensure that back does not arch and shoulder does not roll forward.

Concentrate on precision and only execute the kick as large as you can stabilize your core.

Try to establish a rhythm as you kick front and back.

Perform 5-10 repetitions, then roll onto the other side to balance the body.

If you have any more questions about Pilates or physical therapy, please feel free to BOOK ONLINE or call OMBE at 617.447.2222 to schedule a complimentary 30-minute session.

 

 

 

Kristen Reynolds, DPT, PMA®-CPT Doctor of Physical Therapy PMA® Certified Pilates Teacher

Always interested in dance, sports and fitness, Kristen Reynolds is a former YMCA and Junior Olympic gymnast, coach, and ACE personal trainer. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science from James Madison University in 2006 and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the MGH Institute of Health Professions in 2009.

While practicing in orthopedics and sports medicine, a mentor introduced her to the Pilates Method and she has since pursued comprehensive training and professional certification from the Pilates Method Alliance to compliment her clinical interests. Dr. Reynolds is one of the few instructors in Massachusetts to have earned the distinction of PMA Certified Pilates Teacher. Additionally, she is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Sports Physical Therapy Section, APTA of Massachusetts Shoulder and Manual Physical Therapy Special Interest Groups, and Authentic Pilates Union.

Integrating the Pilates principles and repertoire with her manual therapy skills has produced successful rehabilitation outcomes for a wide variety of patients, including adolescents, elite athletes and dancers, and individuals with chronic orthopedic conditions. Dr. Reynolds utilizes this alternative therapeutic approach to improve muscle performance and joint mobility, correct posture and alignment, enhance body awareness, and create an evenly conditioned body that is more resilient to extremity and spinal injury.

 

From the 2011 Archives: Pilates for Runners

From the desk of Kristen M. Reynolds, PT, DPT, PMA®-CPT…

Happy March! The groundhog predicted last month that spring is on its way (the snow storms really proved it, right?), which means that Marathon Monday will be here before we know it. With OMBE’s proximity to the famous finish line, we greatly anticipate this exciting day every year in Boston. This year, the staff is offering 20% off ALL private sessions with proof of race entry!

I thought this would be a great time to revisit some of my previous posts on the importance of cross training with Pilates. I’ll start with an oldie but a goodie from 2011…

Cross Training


 

 

 

 

I know many runners who love their chosen activity because it is great cardiovascular exercise that “tones” and is as simple as lacing up sneakers (although some are barefoot these days!) and heading out the door. As a “non-runner,” I am envious of these factors. However, as an orthopedic and sports physical therapist and Pilates teacher, I routinely see the effects of the imbalances in those addicted to running. Although those hitting the pavement develop significant strength and endurance, running alone is not a well-rounded exercise program and needs regular cross training to prevent imbalances in the body in order to stay healthy and painfree.

Work in all planes of movement


 

 

 

 

 

 

How does injury occur? During each stride, runners fire the hip flexor group to lift the leg, the quadriceps to extend the knee, then the tibialis anterior muscle in the shin to lift the foot and allow the heel to strike the ground. Once the foot is planted, that leg is extends back using the gluteals and hamstrings. The repetition of moving in this flexion/extension pattern (called the sagittal plane) creates a bias in the flexibility and strength of particular muscle groups; the muscles that work in the horizontal and frontal planes lose strength and stability and lead to impaired posture and mechanics. For example, tight hip flexors and hamstrings can pull the pelvis out of neutral spine into anterior and posterior tilts, respectively, which leads to low back pain and lumbosacral pathology. Weakened lateral hip stabilizers cause the pelvis to drop on one side and contribute to iliotibial band (ITB) tightness and hip bursitis.

My solution? Pilates!

~ Pilates Mat classes are Tuesdays @ 6pm and Wednesdays @ 7am ~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like running, mat exercises can be completed anywhere at anytime without equipment and works the whole body in each plane of motion for uniform muscle development and core strength. A qualified Pilates trainer can assess overall flexibility, strength and balance in individuals and develop a customized program while providing clear and concise cues that enhance hip-knee-ankle-foot alignment and motor control. Guided sessions are integral in the beginning to ensure that the execution of the repertoire is precise and safe for one’s body; teachers are able to make modifications to the classical exercises to accommodate alllevels. Another benefit for the running population is that Pilates teaches breath control, activation of the muscles of respiration, and coordinates breathing into each movement.

If you have any more questions about Pilates or physical therapy, please feel free to BOOK ONLINE or call OMBE at 617.447.2222 to schedule a complimentary 30-minute session.

 

 

 

Kristen Reynolds, DPT, PMA®-CPT Doctor of Physical Therapy PMA® Certified Pilates Teacher

Always interested in dance, sports and fitness, Kristen Reynolds is a former YMCA and Junior Olympic gymnast, coach, and ACE personal trainer. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science from James Madison University in 2006 and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the MGH Institute of Health Professions in 2009.

While practicing in orthopedics and sports medicine, a mentor introduced her to the Pilates Method and she has since pursued comprehensive training and professional certification from the Pilates Method Alliance to compliment her clinical interests. Dr. Reynolds is one of the few instructors in Massachusetts to have earned the distinction of PMA Certified Pilates Teacher. Additionally, she is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Sports Physical Therapy Section, APTA of Massachusetts Shoulder and Manual Physical Therapy Special Interest Groups, and Authentic Pilates Union.

Integrating the Pilates principles and repertoire with her manual therapy skills has produced successful rehabilitation outcomes for a wide variety of patients, including adolescents, elite athletes and dancers, and individuals with chronic orthopedic conditions. Dr. Reynolds utilizes this alternative therapeutic approach to improve muscle performance and joint mobility, correct posture and alignment, enhance body awareness, and create an evenly conditioned body that is more resilient to extremity and spinal injury.

 

Acupuncture & Sport Injuries

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic. Ac., DNBAO…

Acupuncture & Sports Injuries

The summer is a great time to resume your outdoor workouts or start training for an athletic event.  As your training level progresses, it’s important to listen to your body for signs and symptoms of overtraining.  Overtraining injuries occur when the stress and physical trauma from exercise occurs at a faster rate than your body can repair.  Common causes of overtraining include: improper stretching or warm-up, improper footwear, a change in training surface or structural abnormalities.    How do you know if you’re overtraining? Signs and symptoms can include: fatigue, frequent colds, chronic muscle soreness or pain, insomnia, anxiety or decreased performance.  Acupuncture can help treat common overtraining injuries, prevent overuse injuries and increase athletic performance.

Sports injuries commonly treated with acupuncture:

  • Achilles Tendonitis
  • Ankle Sprains
  • Back Pain
  • IT Band Syndrome
  • Hamstring & Quad Strains
  • Knee Pain
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries
  • Shin Splints
Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO

Licensed Acupuncturist

Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery.

She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women’s health, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.

 

Book online for any acupuncture service in our Boston location or contact OMBE for additional information.

 

BE: hydration

From the desk of Sarah J. Rogers, LMT…

Yeah yeah, it’s like flossing and stretching and making time for yourself – hydration smydration.  Somehow it is one of those things that many of us have a very hard time staying – HYDRATED that is.  With the onset of warmer weather, it becomes even easier to get dehydrated with our bodies continuously sweating and acclimating to the heat.  Ensuring that you are properly hydrated will help you in many ways: improving muscular function, brain functioning, energy levels and overall body health.  If you are a fitness guru and cannot help but want to run outside and get your workout on, take some precautions and always pay attention for the onset of any of the following signs/symptoms associated with heat-related sicknesses:

 

  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

As they say, waiting until you are thirsty or miserable usually means that your symptoms have progressed enough that it’s too late to reverse them quickly and, obviously, too late to prevent them.  The Mayo Clinic suggests the following preventive measures to keep from experiencing heat-related illnesses:

 

  • Watch the temperature. Pay attention to weather forecasts and heat alerts. Know what the temperature is expected to be for the duration of your planned outdoor activity.
  • Get acclimated. If you’re used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first when you exercise in the heat. As your body adapts to the heat over the course of one to two weeks, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.
  • Know your fitness level. If you’re unfit or new to exercise, be extra cautious when working out in the heat. Your body may have a lower tolerance to the heat. Reduce your exercise intensity and take frequent breaks.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration is a key factor in heat illness. Help your body sweat and cool down by staying well hydrated with water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. If you plan to exercise intensely or for longer than one hour, consider a sports drink instead of water. Sports drinks can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating. Avoid  alcoholic drinks because they can actually promote fluid loss.
  • Dress appropriately. Lightweight, loosefitting clothing helps sweat evaporate and keeps you cooler. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb heat. If possible, wear a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid midday sun. Exercise in the morning or evening, when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors. If possible, exercise in shady areas — or do a water workout in a pool.
  • Wear sunscreen. A sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself.
  • Have a backup plan. If you’re concerned about the heat or humidity, stay indoors. Work out at the gym, walk laps inside the mall or climb stairs inside an air-conditioned building.
  • Understand your medical risks. Certain medical conditions or medications can increase your risk of a heat-related illness. If you plan to exercise in the heat, talk to your doctor about precautions.

For those who don’t spend much time in the sun – hydration plays an equally important role in your life !!!!!  Strenuous exercises, especially those done outside in the heat or in hot conditions – certainly put additional strain on the body – making hydration an even more immediate concern, but always remember – our bodies require water.

 

For sunscreen, OMBE recommends BADGER sunscreens.  A trusted and wonderful brand – good for the skin, good for the environment.

 

Train safely!

 

Sarah J. Rogers, LMT

Licensed Massage Therapist

Sarah J. Rogers is a licensed massage therapist and an internationally certified personal trainer. She received her training at The Cortiva Institute in Watertown, MA and The American Academy of Personal Training in Boston, MA. She is a member of the American Massage Therapy Association and of the American College of Sports Medicine. Having received her BA in Anthropology and History of Science at Smith College, she shares a deep intellectual and philosophical connection to her clients and work.

Sarah works with each client to develop a comprehensive treatment to suit each client’s goals. She incorporates neuromuscular therapy, advanced osteopathic stretching, myofascial release, stretching, and personal training. She also integrates relaxation, meditation and motivation techniques. Sarah understands and appreciates the various ways in which people use their bodies to get through their every day lives, and enjoys the process of tracing the source of discomfort and injury.

A life-long athlete, Sarah enjoys yoga, running, swimming and biking among other things. Sarah has coached swimming, participates in special education wellness programs (Cantor Youth & Special Olympics). Sarah believes that holistic and traditional health should be equally accessible to every individual. She participates in the Collaborative Health For All initiative by Jill’s List in collaboration with Boston Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

“Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul is the work of the soul and good for either is the work of the other.” -Henry David Thoreau.


 

Three Steps to Better Running

From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO….

OMBE’s Running Elite Program

Boston, MA – This year, OMBE is offering a Running Elite Program to help runners train for the Boston Marathon, stay injury free, and reach their personal best.  The 30-day program includes four key components – a Running Gait Analysis, 80-minute sports massage, a Pilates class, and Yoga for Runners session to get runners off on the right foot now through 4.30.12.

 

Every year the team at OMBE helps runners of all fitness levels and experience complete the Boston Marathon pain-free. This package is designed to encourage runners to start their cross-training and injury prevention early. Runners begin with a gait analysis with sports rehabilitation specialist and holistic chiropractor, Dr. Erik Vose.  He provides a video analysis of your running biomechanics and makes suggestions to optimize your training.

 

The 80-minute sports massage with OMBE’s licensed sports massage therapists provides athletes with muscle tension relief and insight to possible over-training patterns.  The Pilates and Yoga for Runners classes expose runners to effective cross-training techniques to improve core strength and flexibility.  The Running Elite Program for $199, is a 20% discount from regular pricing.  Runners continue to receive regular massage sessions at 20% off through 4.30.12.

 

To purchase the Running Elite Program or schedule a session, visit their website at www.ombecenter.com, email info@ombecenter.com, or call 617.447.2222.

 

ABOUT OMBE: OMBE is committed to integrative medicine and the environment, synergizing Western and Eastern medicine to develop comprehensive treatment plans.  The eco-friendly center offers acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, naturopathy, nutritional counseling, personal training, Pilates, and yoga. OMBE is the recipient of the Boston Business Journal’s 2010 Green Business Award and Mayor Menino’s 2009 Green Business Award.  OMBE is one of the first 25 companies certified as a Sustainable Business Leader in Boston.  To learn more about OMBE visit their website at www.ombecenter.com or call 617.447.2222.  ###

 

Accessing the Iliopsoas: Integral to Your Core and the Root of Much Lower Back Pain

From the desk of Nicole A. Trincia, LNCMT…

Over one quarter of people in the U.S. suffer from lower back pain (National Health Interview Survey, 2002 http://http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17077742). Even those who are diligent with exercise and stretching may have difficulty relieving this often annoying and sometimes debilitating syndrome.  I myself, even as a physically active massage therapist who stretches daily, have experienced lower back pain that would not seem to go away. There are a myriad of different causes of lower back pain, including repetitive stress, improper body mechanics, and spinal imbalances or degeneration. In getting to the root cause of your lower back pain, it is important to consider not just the “immediate” muscles of lower back (i.e. the quadratus lumborum) but the supporting muscles: in particular the elusive iliopsoas.

The iliopsoas consists of the psoas major muscle which connects to the iliacus muscle (originating at the 12th  thoracic vertebra through the 5th lumbar vertebra and inserting at the lesser trochanter of the femur). It actually runs somewhat diagonally from the middle of your back to the inside of your upper hip bone. It is the strongest hip flexor, and hence most apt to become hypertonic from common hip flexing activities (or inactivity!), such as sitting for long periods of time at a computer or driving in a car. It is difficult to palpate and also challenging to stretch.

Doing some sort of forward bend may seem like the best lower back stretch, but is sometimes not enough.  Depending on your specific physical circumstance, this stretch may not be appropriate for you, or could even aggravate your spine.  I experienced a bulging disc at L5-S1, where forward bending actually, unknowingly at first, exacerbated  my lower back pain! What I have found to work is kneeling next to a bed (for support with my arms,) with one leg bent at a ninety degree angle and the other leg extended behind me, with a strong pelvic tilt. This pelvic tilt is essential to engaging and releasing the iliopsoas, unlike other lunges (also commonly referred to as a “runner’s stretch”) that you may have tried in the past. The other key: breathe! Breathe deeply and slowly on your inhale and relax and exhale slowly as you lean into this stretch.  Also, make sure not to extend your bent knee past the top of your foot.  If you need to, move the foot of your bent knee out a little bit- but make sure your pelvis is tucked!

For those even more adventurous (and not pregnant or with acute abdominal issues), my ultimate iliopsoas stretch (thank you Ana Forrest!) requires a rolled up yoga mat (folded in thirds lengthwise, then rolled lengthwise and duck taped). Lie face down on a clean floor or a regular yoga mat with the rolled up mat under your abdomen. The rolled up mat should fit nicely below your rib cage, but above your pelvis. With your face turned to one side at a time, again breathe deeply and slowly, allowing your abdominal muscles to soften with each exhale.  This will probably feel uncomfortable or awkward at first if you have never done this before, or you have a lot of  tension in your core (physically and or emotionally!) Eventually, as you allow yourself to relax, you will begin to access and release the iliopsoas muscle and your elusive back pain!

Try these daily stretches along with regular massage (twice a week if necessary for persistent back pain, or at least once a month). Suggest to your massage therapist to work on your hip adductor muscles.  As your iliopsoas runs through the middle of your body, and is thus difficult to access, the hip adductors are close “relatives” that are more accessible and often involved in the tension pattern of the iliopsoas and lower back.

Nicole Trincia
Licensed Massage Therapist

Nicole Trincia is a Massachusetts Licensed and Nationally Certified Massage Therapist who has been practicing in the Greater Boston area for over eleven years. She graduated from Healing Touch Institute in 2000, with certification in Holistic Massage Therapy. Her training includes Swedish, Esalen, Neuromuscular, Myofascial, Sports and Pregnancy Massage as well as Polarity, Aromatherapy, and yoga. As a member of the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP), Nicole has expanded her massage into an integrative style, customized to the unique needs of her clients. She incorporates Cranio Sacral, Thai Massage, Hot Stone, assisted stretching, and Feldenkrais techniques. In 2010, she successfully completed the First Degree of the Usui System of Reiki Healing.
Over the years of working in integrated wellness centers, spas and in private practice, Nicole has guided clients with intuition and compassion, out of restriction and pain, into more physically and emotionally productive living. Her clients range from professional athletes, musicians, children, the elderly, and those with repetitive stress injuries, systemic illness, special needs, and emotional stress.Having earned a B.A. in Psychology from Wheaton College and a M.A. in Education from Lesley University, Nicole is personally fascinated with the mind-body connection. She is committed to identifying stress patterns and educating her clients on proper body mechanics, work habits, diet and exercise. Nicole has been practicing Forrest Yoga for eleven years and has studied Macrobiotics. She has played various sports since childhood, and has overcome repetitive stress injuries through the use of massage, yoga, and other integrated therapies without surgery. She delights in sharing what she has learned through massage and overall mind-body awareness with her clients, so that they may live a more balanced, vivacious, and joyful life!

 

Pilates for Runners

From the desk of Kristen M. Reynolds, DPT, CPT…

I know many runners who love their chosen activity because it is great cardiovascular exercise that “tones” and is as simple as lacing up sneakers (although some are barefoot these days!) and heading out the door. As a “non-runner,” I am envious of these factors. However, as an orthopedic physical therapist and Pilates trainer, I routinely see the effects of the imbalances in those addicted to running. Although those hitting the pavement develop significant strength and endurance, running alone is not a well-rounded exercise program and needs regular cross training to prevent imbalances in the body in order to stay healthy and painfree.

How does injury occur? During each stride, runners fire the hip flexor group to lift the leg, the quadriceps to extend the knee, then the tibialis anterior muscle in the shin to lift the foot and allow the heel to strike the ground. Once the foot is planted, that leg is extends back using the gluteals and hamstrings. The repetition of moving in this flexion/extension pattern (called the sagittal plane) creates a bias in the flexibility and strength of particular muscle groups; the muscles that work in the horizontal and frontal planes lose strength and stability and lead to impaired posture and mechanics. For example, tight hip flexors and hamstrings can pull the pelvis out of neutral spine into anterior and posterior tilts, respectively, which leads to low back pain and lumbosacral pathology. Weakened lateral hip stabilizers cause the pelvis to drop on one side and contribute to iliotibial band (ITB) tightness and hip bursitis.

My solution? Pilates! Like running, mat exercises can be completed anywhere at anytime without equipment and works the whole body in each plane of motion for uniform muscle development and core strength. A qualified Pilates trainer can assess overall flexibility, strength and balance in individuals and develop a customized program while providing clear and concise cues that enhance hip-knee-ankle-foot alignment and motor control. Guided sessions are integral in the beginning to ensure that the execution of the repertoire is precise and safe for one’s body; teachers are able to make modifications to the classical exercises to accommodate all levels. Another benefit for the running population is that Pilates teaches breath control, activation of the muscles of respiration, and coordinates breathing into each movement.

As one of the six private sessions and classes offered during OMBE’s Integrative Sports Medicine workshop series this summer, Pilates for Runners will introduce clients to a challenging series of classical Pilates exercises sequenced to bring balance to a runner’s body by strengthening the core and lengthening overused muscles. Students will learn a repertoire to help enhance stability and alignment through the entire body to improve their fitness level, meet training goals, and reduce risk for injury.

 

Kristen M. Reynolds, DPT, CPT

Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Pilates Teacher

Kristen Reynolds earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science from James Madison University in 2006 and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the MGH Institute of Health Professions in 2009.

While practicing in orthopedics and sports medicine, a mentor introduced her to the Pilates Method and she has since pursued comprehensive certification to compliment her clinical interests. She has studied with Balanced Body, Peak Pilates, and most recently Balancepoint Pilates. She is an active member of the Pilates Method Alliance, American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy Sections, as well as the APTA of Massachusetts Shoulder and Manual Physical Therapy Special Interest Groups.

Always interested in sports and fitness, she is a former YMCA and Junior Olympic gymnast, coach, and ACE personal trainer. Integrating the Pilates principles and Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, and Chair repertoire into her physical therapy practice has produced successful rehabilitation outcomes for a wide variety of patients, including adolescents, elite athletes and dancers, and individuals with chronic orthopedic conditions. Kristen utilizes this alternative therapeutic approach to improve muscle performance and joint mobility, correct posture and alignment, enhance body awareness, and create an evenly conditioned body that is more resilient to extremity and spinal injury. She greatly enjoys designing programs to target personal goals, educating clients to incorporate Pilates into their daily activities, and teaching small group classes.

 

Sole Food

From the desk of Sarah J. Rogers,  LMT…

Many of us think of health as mostly an internal process.  It won’t take you long in reading OMBE’s blog to realize that though we know and believe that the internal processes of our bodies are essential to our well-being, we see this as just a piece of our overall health and well-being.  Let’s take a moment to start from the ground up – literally.

Foot health has evolved as a hip subject of interest especially as we see athletes romping around in minimalist footwear.   Our feet take a beating no matter who we are and what we do – and they need love! Research on the efficacy of manual stretching of the foot versus manual stretching of the calf to relieve foot pain is limited, however we can speculate that a combination of both would serve us best as our lower leg functions to create motion at the ankle and within the foot (remember the song the hip bone is connected to the leg bone?).

Ensuring that healthy muscle length is maintained in the legs and the feet can prevent injuries to the muscle and connective tissue – a well-known example: plantar fasciitis.  The fascia of the foot is a thick piece of connective tissue which supports the long arch of the foot.  Although it is not a true extension of your Achilles tendon, the plantar fascia follows the same functional line of movement as your Achilles tendon and, therefore, is subject to similar functional
patterns as those of the calf and Achilles proper.

Evidence points to most injury and damage to the plantar fascia occurring at the heel-end of the tissue.  Many people will feel a piercing pain at the front end of their heel when they are experiencing the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.  A combination of soaking your feet in warm Epsom salt baths, manual therapies such as massage and stretching, and proper footwear is ideal for happy feet.

A 30-minute massage sessions is a perfect opportunity to receive focused work on your precious feet.

Additionally, the wonderful practitioners at OMBE would also love to help you take care of your feet!  Sign up for a private Integrative Health consultation and find out how to best address your foot concerns.  Book a session with Erik for a gait analysis and orthotic fittings or enjoy a wonderful 30 minute foot/calf massage and stretching session.

Enjoy happy feet!

 

Sarah J. Rogers, LMT

Licensed Massage Therapist

Sarah J. Rogers is a licensed massage therapist who received her training at the Cortiva Institute in Watertown, Massachusetts. Her practice focuses on the mind-body relationship and the usefulness of this connection not only for healing, but also for seeking balance in everyday life. Sarah brings her experience as an athlete and her compassion for mind-body health to her practice, inspiring growth and comfort in her clients. Along with massage, Sarah is now offering Active Isolated Stretching which can be done alone or in tandem with massage therapy. Employing techniques focusing on relaxation, neuromuscular therapy, stretching, myofascial release, and overall balance, Sarah will work with you to develop a treatment style that suits your needs.