The Propel Blog

Archive for September, 2015

Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll – Oh! And tension headaches.
5 ways to relieve/alleviate tension headaches

Posted on: September 30th, 2015 by Laurie Plouffe No Comments

Tension HeadachesFun fact; all of the above can help relieve tension headaches (well maybe not rock n’ roll, but that all depends on your taste in music). We’ve all heard the rumor that sex can relieve a headache – obviously there is little credible research available to reference but no one is judging if it’s your first go to option, it is physical activity after all! Many common over the counter analgesics are available for the treatment of headaches, and music (whatever your favorite is) can also relieve headaches owing to the fact that it promotes relaxation.

Take a step back though. What even is a tension headache?! Well, your friendly neighborhood Physiotherapist may refer to it as cervicogenic headache. This means that it originates in the muscles around the neck that support our head. Our heads are heavy people, we need to support them, but like everything, there is a right and a wrong way to achieve this.

What can I guarantee will relieve or completely alleviate your headaches? MOVEMENT – the right type of movement.

5 easy steps to being headache free at work or on the go

  • Posture; make sure that your shoulder blades are flat on your back and tuck your chin – if your nose is in the air your neck is in despair! Plus this helps you breathe better – more oxygen to the brain cannot be a bad thing!
  • Stability training; training your deep neck flexor muscles can significantly decrease the incidence of tension headaches. These are the muscles hat hold your head without you thinking about it. Many times we stop using them and use bigger muscles in their place. Your physiotherapist can discuss these exercises with you in more detail.
  • Stretch;
    1. gently tilt your ear towards your shoulder. Hold for 20-30seconds
    2. turn your head and tilt your nose so you’re effectively smelling your arm pit. Hold for 20-30seconds.
  • Breaks; take regular breaks from work tasks, especially if your work requires you to be in a static posture for an extended period of time. Get
    up and walk to the water cooler!
  • Hydrate; Drink. Fill. Repeat. Too often we forget to drink enough water or drink too much coffee! Coffee is a diuretic, which means it promotes the excretion of water from the body. So drink up to replace the fluids your morning “pick-me-up” may be depriving you of!

If headaches have been affecting you for too long check in with your physiotherapist to determine what your particular needs are. Remember that pain is often the last link in the chain of a chronic injury – it’s paramount to address the underlying dysfunction. This will ensure success in treating what ails you.

5 Reasons Core Training Should Involve Your Butt

Posted on: September 18th, 2015 by Laurie Plouffe No Comments

When people think of their core they primarily think of their abs (Thank you Channing Tatum…), what most don’t realize is that their butt (glutes) also plays a critical role. Here are some reasons why activating your glutes is extremely important for functional strength, performance and injury prevention.

1. The glutes are part of your core group of muscles
The glutes play a huge role in core stability, as do other muscles in the mid section of your body such as the back, quads, hamstrings, obliques, and of course abdominals. The main function of these core muscles is to stabilize the body and make movement of the arms, legs and body more efficient. Training this area is crucial because all movement originates from our core.

2. The body has to provide stability to allow for mobility
The core muscles work together to stabilize the mid-section of the body and to allow for simultaneous movement in the arms and legs as well as the body. The goal is maximum stability and mobility so that energy can be transferred and utilized for the desired movement. When there is uncontrolled movement (or poor stability), valuable energy is lost and the activity becomes very inefficient while putting you at risk of injury. Whether your goal is kicking, running, jumping, skating, swinging or throwing, or any other functional movement, the goal is the same – to have sufficient core stability to allow our movements to be more powerful and efficient, and to ultimately improve performance.

3. If the glutes are weak, other muscles have to compensate for them
In addition to being one of the primary stabilizers of the pelvis, the glutes are a large producer of power in the lower body. Weak glutes are often a missing link in many functional movements which can lead to muscle imbalances. Essentially, if one muscle or muscle group is not fulfilling its role (weak or not working correctly), the body has to make up for this somewhere else. When other muscles, such as the back extensors or hamstrings, have to compensate for this, they become overworked causing fatigue. This often leads to poor performance and injury.

4. Quality of movement is always more important than quantity
Glute activity is strongest during high power activities such as sprinting and jumping, followed by running and climbing, and finally walking. However, if one muscle is not fulfilling its role, another will try to compensate and do the work for both of them. So, if you start with a high skill level or high resistance activity without activating the correct muscles, you are basically doing repetitions to strengthen muscles the wrong muscles. Try exercises which specifically activate the glute muscles, such as bridging and clamshells, to ensure you are activating your glutes before doing higher intensity activities (ie, jumping, sprinting). This movement prep can help reassure you are using your glutes when you train.

5. You don’t have to lift heavy to get strong glutes
The more you activate your glutes during daily activities the stronger the brain-muscle connection will become. This increased number of repetitions, or high volume training, can be very effective in building muscle size and endurance. It is also important to consider the effectiveness of the exercise, regardless of how much weight someone is using to complete a squat or deadlift, if the glutes are inactive, they are not getting stronger (the quads on the other hand, that’s a whole other story). If you’re unsure where to start with your glute or core training, consult with a physiotherapist. We’d love to help you build a better butt!

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