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Showing posts from tagged with: muscles


Why everyone needs a foam roller! What is Fascia?

  • Fascia is a layer of connective tissue that surrounds the outer surface of muscles , individual muscle fibres, vessels, nerves and organs binding them together
  • Fascia connects our skin to our muscles and our muscles to each other forming chains that help to redistribute stress throughout the body
  • The connection between the muscles and fascia is the myofascial system
Why treat the fascia?
  • For various reasons including inactivity, repetitive motion, injuries and poor posture the fascia and underlying muscles can become stuck together of bind causing ‘knots’ or trigger points. This restricts movement, decreases flexibility, causes muscles to fire improperly during exercise and causes pain.
How does self myofascial release (SMR) with foam rolling work?
  • It increases range of motion and decreases pain by sending information to the brain to enhance muscle activation and relaxation via the nerves and therefore breaking down adhesions. The elastic fibres are also directly manipulated from a knotted position into a straight position which is the correct orientation for the fibres
  • Tension is released via stimulation of the golgi tendon organ(GTO) (the nerve receptor where the muscle and tendon meet). When excited the GTO causes the muscle to relax
Benefits of foam rolling
  • Increased blood flow / circulation and therefore improved vitality
  • Allows muscle relax and to fire efficiently
  • Reduces pain
  • Assists injury prevention
  • Acts as an indicator of when muscles are tightening even though you may not feel pain with activity
  • Alternative to a massage
  • Reduce cellulite
How to use the foam roller
  • Identify the problem area
  • Hold on the tender spot for 30-60 sec or until the discomfort decreases by 50-75%
  • Roll over the whole muscle looking for other tender spots
  • Roll the entire length of the muscle to stimulate the GTO
  • Remember muscles are 3 dimensional so you may need to roll in multiple directions
  • Do not roll on 1 area for longer than 1-2 minutes.
  • If there are no tender spots you can you long sweeping rolls over the long muscles such as the hamstrings
  • Start with gentle pressure and gradually increase as your tolerance allows
  • Stay on soft tissue and avoid bones, joints and tendons
  • Also roll the areas above and below the problem area
  • You should expect mild to moderate discomfort when rolling but NOT pain especially sharp pain
  • While rolling focus on your breath: in through the nose for 4 sec and out through the nose for 6 sec. The longer exhalation helps to activate the para-sympathetic nervous system which allows the body to relax.  You must not hold your breath
  • It is good idea to do some core exercises prior to rolling
When to use the foam roller
  • Pre workout: roll quickly for 15 sec to
  • Increase blood flow
  • Optimise length / tension relationship of a muscle
  • Improve movement efficiency
  • Psychological ramp up for activity
  • Post workout: roll slowly for 30 sec to
  • Flush the tissue,
  • Create elasticity of the tissue,
  • Begin recovery process
  • Relax
  • Any time for the benefits already discussed, primarily getting rid of any niggles and bringing tight muscles back toward a normal state
If you have the following conditions you shouldn’t use the foam roller or need to take care
  • Osteoporosis
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Varicose veins
  • Pregnant
  • Taking anti-coagulant therapy

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondyalgia)

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondyalgia)

  If you have tennis elbow you can experience pain when performing gripping tasks or resisted wrist/finger extension. Pain can also be present when your forearm muscles are stretched. There is probably tenderness directly over the lateral epicondyle, the bony bump on the outside of the elbow, and tender points (trigger points) in the forearm muscles. In some cases, you may also experience neck stiffness and tenderness, and possibly also signs of nerve irritation like numbness and tingling. Most elbow movements are pain-free despite the surrounding area being painful.


  You don’t have to be a tennis player to suffer from tennis elbow. It is caused by the repetitive movements and the gripping actions common in tennis hence the term ‘tennis’ elbow. However, it may also occur in other activities requiring repetitive gripping actions. Tennis elbow can therefore stem from daily activities such as using scissors, cutting meat, carrying grocery bags, gardening, manual work that involves repetitive turning or lifting of the wrist, such as plumbing, or bricklaying, and typing.


  Acute tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is an injury to structures involved in extending (straightening) the wrist and fingers at the site where the forearm muscles attach to the bone via the extensor tendon. It occurs when more force is applied to that area than the normal healthy tissue can handle. For example:
  • Unaccustomed hand use such as starting the tennis season,or increasing the frequency or amount of time playing tennis too quickly. Sometimes just a weekend of home DIY may trigger it
  • Excessive gripping or wringing activities, possibly a new racket or different grip size
  • Poor forearm muscle strength or tight muscles
  • Poor technique (this may be a poor tennis shot).
  Chronic (ie. longer term) tennis elbow is associated with degenerative changes in the tendon. While a sudden acute flare up of tennis elbow may have some inflammation or swelling, chronic tennis elbow generally doesn’t involve inflammation and is instead associated with changes in the nerves and blood supply to the tendon.   Unfortunately, rest as a treatment is rarely helpful. If left untreated, tennis elbow can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years and can have a serious effect on your sport, daily activities and work. Physiotherapy is effective both in acute and chronic tennis elbow, and there are several things you can do to help in recovery and prevention.  


  Tennis elbow should be diagnosed by a physiotherapist or doctor. A history is taken, and tests performed. Referred pain from the neck and reduced nerve mobility can mimic tennis elbow. The physical therapist must check your neck and clear it from any involvement in your elbow pain. An ultrasound scan or MRI are the best tests to identify tendon damage,but are often not necessary.   Physical or manual therapy treatments than can help include:
  • Massage therapy to relieve pain and stretch tight muscles and structures
  • Manual therapy can mobilise joints in the elbow and around the neck to ensure normal function
  • Taping and braces are beneficial in reducing pain in the elbow and supporting the muscles when you return to sport n Ice and ultrasound therapy may be used to reduce inflammation.
  • Dry needling can also be effective for pain relief, releasing trigger points in the muscle and promoting tissue healing
  • Exercise therapy should be prescribed to strengthen and balance the muscles of the forearm. While stretches help to lengthen tight muscles.
  Other treatment options may include injections, which should only be considered if the exercises have not helped. Surgery can be carried out under local injection (subcutaneous tenotomy) with a 95% success rate and no reduction in grip strength.   You need to try and prevent tennis elbow from occurring or recurring, which unfortunately it has a tendency to do, which means finding out what caused the injury and addressing these issues with the help of your therapist.