Tendon pain, gelatin, and collagen.

In our obsessive pursuit of stronger muscles and hearts, we’ve failed to understand how to train and feed connective tissue like ligaments, tendons, bones, and cartilage.

Almost everyone is told that the tendon doesn’t have much of a blood supply and takes ages to recover from an injury. We do nothing with this information.

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Why does your leg hurt again?

There are hundreds and thousands of therapists and trainers, that, when confronted with your hurting hamstring or your terrorised tendon will simply dive in and rub that bit! Maybe they will give you a specific stretch and maybe a reassuring “There there, therapist kiss it better”

The reality is that your body is a global system and highly interrelated. Leg issues can be caused by core issues, how you chew your food can screw your knee!

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Bicep stretch

its actually quite a tricky muscle to stretch. Interestingly it inserts into the shoulder and then skips over to the forearm. Speaking with my therapist hat on, I’d say 85 % of shoulder problems have a “poor relationship” with the bicep. Getting some sort of stretch in, is therefore, good.

Stretch No 1

The “just straighten your arm” stretch. Do what it says on the tin. It’s better than nothing

Stretch 2 is more fun. Sit down with your arms behind you and start sliding your bum forward. You’ll either feel the stretch in the elbow, the shoulder or in the belly of the muscle. Over the weeks, focus on getting your hips further forward to increase the stretch. Build to 2-3 minutes

Number 3 is a disgusting stretch, so make sure you have built some stretch capacity by pushing Stretch 2 along for a few weeks. This hanging stretch is stolen from gymnastics and is called the German Hang. Find a low bar, hang off it. Pull your knees through your arms then keep on turning. Lower your legs to the floor and hang in your shoulders. Do start this with a low bar, as you may need to drop straight off even as you get into something resembling the position. Its very intense!

It also helps you understand the meaning of the word “intense”

Stretching for Plantar Fasciitis.

Whilst I talk about the various therapies and stretches for Plantar Fasciitis here, its worth tuning into the “length of stretch” debate.

If you look at Porter D, Barrill E, Oneacre K, May BD. The effects of duration and frequency of Achilles tendon stretching on dorsiflexion and outcome in painful heel syndrome: a randomized, blinded, control study. Foot Ankle Int 2002;23(7):619-624.

You’ll find two protocols coming neck and neck:

3 minute of stretching 3 x a day, or five sets, 20 seconds each, two times daily.

Either way, the take home message that a quick reluctant 10 second stretch when you can be bothered, isn’t enough. The study also determined that both sustained and intermittent Achilles tendon stretching exercises increase Achilles tendon flexibility. This increase in flexibility correlated with a decrease in pain!

This is an idea that features heavily in my fix your plantar fasciitis course. Its only £9.97 and has the most effective science backed drills.Never waste money on physical therapy agai

Stretching your quads

It’s impossible to get fit without someone reminding you to “stretch your quads”. The quads, or quadriceps ( quad for four) run up the top of the front of your leg. Three of them go from the knee cap to below your hip. One goes across the knee and then across the hip. Here is a useful graphic from wikipedia

Stretching these muscles is important as they are the ones most likely to become short if you sit too much. We all sit too much.

Here is the standing quad stretch that I think everyone must have seen at some stage

But this is just the start of your quad journey. Get on a bed (or anything comfy) and kneel down

Put your hands behind you and lean back. Some may find this hard. Don’t worry, just keep on getting used to it. Just incase you get stuck, it maybe as well to have someone around to pull you back up again if you cannot get back up again.

Once you build your confidence, get a cushion pile and slowly take a cushion away each time you try

Eventually you’ll simply lie down. you’ll notice my hips are fairly high, so to be a quad stretching master, eventually you need to pull your hips down.

Unfortunately, you probably need to build this up to 3 minutes. If your ankles are very tight you may need a small roll (a towel) under them, as the initial stretch can be quite intense! Enjoy. Slowly build up your time and tolerance. In the early stages, it’s just about getting used to it.

Plantar Fasciitis: cures and curses

A big welcome to your Plantar Fascia. An unknown part of your foot, that, so it seems, you don’t have to worry about.

It will do whatever the hell it does for years, then one morning, in some unlucky people,  it creates almost crippling heel pain.

First thing in the morning, upon getting out of bed,  you’ll be in so much pain that even hopping across your bedroom floor is something you’ll dread. Even contemplating  allowing your heel to touch the floor makes many want to throw up in their own mouths.

It’s not all bad. Just give it 5 or 10 minutes of hobbling around and you can begin to limp with a bit of dignity.  Welcome to the party you now have plantar fasciitis. It often self cures, in anything from 6 weeks to TWO YEARS.

There are  two positive sides to the condition:

1) You’ll meet lots of people online searching for a cure. So it’s like an agony based Tinder.

2) you’ll meet lots of dodgy therapists trying to part you from your money for quack cures. If you spot them, it’s fun to watch. If you cannot see a quack coming, its a bit expensive.

So some back ground, according to the BMJ plantar Fasciitis copy has the reputation of being “a trivial  condition”. Clinically “benign and self limiting”. So, if you are limping around your bedroom, screaming with pain,  wondering how you can get to the loo, don’t worry, its “benign and self limiting”.

Pull yourself together. Its not cancer

So who gets it?

  • Middle aged and older people. In some research I undertook, the age spread was thus
  • Athletes and active people

In my research, these were the activities being undertaken prior to Plantar fasciitis developing

  • Those with a reduced range of ankle dorsiflexion. I’ll publish my results soon, so do join the mailing list

According to the BMJ, the treatment options are

  1. Bio-mechanical treatments (orthotics, footwear modifications, taping)
  2. Stretching techniques including night splints
  3. “extracorporeal shock wave therapy
  4. cortisone
  5. surgery

From my research, pictured in the above graph, I found a wide variety of cures being attempted.

So, for the stretches check out

Heel To Heal: New Stretch Relieves Pain From Plantar Fasciitis

“sit with one leg crossed over the other, and stretch the arch of the foot by taking one hand and pulling the toes back toward the shin for a count of 10. The exercise must be repeated 10 times, and performed at least three times a day, including before taking the first step in the morning and before standing after a prolonged period of sitting”. Thanks to Benedict DiGiovanni and Nawoczenski,

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Most foot issues (not only plantar fasciitis, but the nasty achilles tendonitis)  benefit from a better range of ankle flexion and  pliable calf muscles. This daily stretch is also a must.IMG_3689

You’ll notice Im using a yoga block. It’s not ideal but gets you a start ( you could just use a step or a book, or a brick). If you have wealth beyond avarice, or £40, check out the
Navaris Wooden Slant Board – Calf Stretch Adjustable Incline Board Portable Anti-Slip for Pain Relief from Plantar Fasciitis Tendinitis and More

Most modern stretch commentators suggests you need to do this daily for 2 minutes.

Ice helps reduces pain, so freeze a bottle of water and roll  your foot on the iced bottle. One of my clients uses a cold bottle of beer!

Massage balls. If you can stand the discomfort, start rolling the base of your foot on one of those massage balls! Start gently.

Get a night splint, and wear it at night IF YOU CAN. This drove me mad so I clawed it off within a minute

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Lots of people can sleep with it , so as its about £11-£20 well worth experimenting with.
Night Splint Dorsal Soft Light for treatment of Plantar Fasciitis – (Black inner, 9 – up), Large

However, Crawford F, Thomson C. Interventions for treating plantar heel pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2003; (3) found limited evidence to support the use of night splints to treat plantar fasciitis sufferers who had experienced pain for greater than 6 months. They found that patients treated with custom made splints improved but those with premade or ‘off the shelf’ splints did not.

INSOLES: In my humble opinion,  buying and wearing flatter shoes often causes Plantar fasciitis . This is often combined with the whole “go barefoot” rebellion.  It’s based on the “well, its more natural, innit” concept and totally, totally fails to take into account the fact that you have worn heeled, and supported shoes for the last 20-30 years!

Buy these Superfeet insoles.

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Superfeet  are worth every penny!!   These really helped me. Ive put a link that will make me £££££’s in commission if you use it. Superfeet Green Insoles, E (UK 8-9.5/ Mens 9.5-11/ Womens 10.5-12).

To actually fix your plantar fasciitis you need my SSES system ( stretch it, smash it, educate it, strengthen it). If you simply stretch it, the trigger points get you, and a lack of strength drags you back into pain. Strength on its own, without educating your muscles and restoring an effective range of motion,  is also a low return strategy.

In this course, I’ll teach you these skills with a  mixture of video, photos, and written teaching resources to help you learn. For the first 100 people you’ll get my email address so any issues I’ll be there to help you. However, I’ll soon set up a free but private Facebook group to support you that way.

If you need help or training, do drop me an email Andrew@andrewstemler.com

Stretch your glutes

There are loads of fantastic stretches for your glutes ( your bottom muscles) . These are seen as the biggest, strongest muscle the body has, and is the one that really powers most human movement.

It’s crucial to  build a supple muscle . Today, I’m just getting you used to this”easy” lie on your back stretch. Simply cross one leg over the over  in a figure of 4 shape and pull the “4” towards you (see above). You’ll feel a great stretch.

If that doesn’t work for you, isolate the core of this moves by grabbing your leg and ankle  so you can  see what you have to do to get the stretch to work. Focus on pulling the knee up towards your chest, with a pull across your body (see below).

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That cool shoulder stretch

Having great flexible shoulders can make your day to day life much easier and  improve your posture,  as well as your gymnastics!

Basically, can you make you hands meet behind your back? If so,  you are well on the way to some really useful shoulders, if not, this is your first port of call. Develop your  shoulders individually, both the reaching down and the stretching up parts.

Work on these sub-stretches, with some other drills we will show you, and your shoulders, too, will become lovely.

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Seated hamstring stretch

This is quite a classic stretch. I remember doing this back in the 1990’s.

Sit down,  stick one leg out straight with the sole of the other foot  facing the inside of your straight leg.

Bend forward from your hips, not your back.  Hold for 10-60 seconds, or  3,4,5, sets of 10 seconds.

Some calming rhythmic breathing is always handy. Some talk about adding meditation. I must I admit I stretch while watching TV!

As a test, it’s worth noting that whilst your hamstring ( the back of your leg) will feel tight and engaged, if you poke the top of your (straight )leg, it  (the quadriceps) will feel relaxed.

Obviously, do both sides.

There will be more hamstring stretches as we develop into the full splits.

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