Your gluteal muscles are one of the largest and
most powerful muscle groups in the body,
but they can also cause a lot of grief if not
given enough attention!
What are the ‘Glutes’?
Your gluteal muscle group is made up of three main muscles; gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. Each individually play a part on moving the leg and acting on the hip joint and pelvis.
What can weak glutes cause?
Lower back pain:
As we have previously mentioned, the muscle groups within our body are all inter-related and can act upon one another. The glute max provides lower back stability through its connection and relationship with the muscles deep within the back that help us to stand up straight, and the connective tissue that surrounds them. If the glute max is weak and fails to contract when we are doing movements that involve lifting or bending, then extra load and pressure is placed on the lower back extensor muscles. This over time can cause lower back pain to develop due to muscle tightness or even deeper joint injuries.
Poor knee stability/ pain:
As stated above the glutes can impact on the surrounding joints and specifically the anterior portion of the knee joint. When your glutes are weak and in particular glute med, it can cause the leg to internally rotate more than it should, due to the quadricep muscle group at the front of the leg being stronger or tighter than the glutes. This as a result increases the pressure on the knee cap and can cause pain at the front of the knee. Overtime it can cause more serious alterations such as knee valgus or ‘knock knees” to occur.
Weak glutes can often cause poor movement patterns and incorrect activation sequences to develop. If the glutes are not activating during a movement then it causes a different muscle to overcompensate and this can often be the hamstrings. The glute muscles are predominantly stabilisers of the hip and when they do not activate first it can cause the hamstring to try and both stabilise and produce power during a movement. Over time this can cause the hamstring to become more prone to strains, tears or niggles.
When the glutes can’t produce enough force during hip extension there is an increase in forward movement within the hip joint capsule. This increased forward angle can eventually lead to a higher amount of force and wear and tear within the hip joint. This can cause conditions such as osteoarthritis and other joint related injuries to develop or progress at an increased rate.
These are just a few of the common injuries that weak glutes can cause, but they can contribute to so many more! If you feel that you may be suffering from some weak glutes head on over to our Facebook page to learn some glute specific strengthening exercises that can help!
By Aleisha Michael
What is Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's Disease is a progressive neurological condition that affects a person’s ability to control their body movements. It is caused by degeneration of the nerve cells in the middle of the brain which then causes a lack of dopamine to be produced. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that is necessary for smooth and controlled movements.
What are the symptoms that people with PD will experience?
The symptoms are seen as tremors, rigidity or stiffness of muscles and joints and bradykinesia which are slow movements, with other signs being muscle weakness, stooped posture, impaired balance and increased number of falls, freezing, reduced walking speed and step length or shuffling, depression and fatigue. Prior to these symptoms being noticed, other changes may be occurring including a loss of smell, difficulty sleeping and restlessness in bed, and deterioration of fine motor skills such as handwriting. Generally the symptoms appear when about 70 percent of the dopamine-producing cells in the brain have stopped working normally.
Is PD very common?
30 people are diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in Australia every day and approximately 100,000 Australians currently have Parkinson's. The average age of onset is 55 to 60 yrs and while the cause is unknown the biggest risk factor is age. Parkinson’s disease affects between 1-2% of individuals over 65 years of age, with approximately 6 million people affected worldwide.
Risk factors for developing Parkinson’s Disease include age, previous head injuries and being male.
How can Exercise help?
Research has shown exercise to improve many of the specific motor skills and symptoms of people living with Parkinson’s Disease such as improving their gait or walking ability, improving flexibility, grip strength, coordination and balance, and reducing tremors and falls.
Falls risk increases significantly in individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, with research showing that 70% of those with Parkinson’s disease fall annually, and 13% fall multiple times weekly. Increased frequency of falling can cause injuries, fear of falling and contribute to inactivity and a reduced quality of life.
What exercise is best?
In addition to generally being active, reducing sedentary behaviours and stretching, there are a few key focus areas which can be beneficial for people living with this condition.
Helps to maintain strength and function of our upper and lower limbs, but importantly by improving the strength of the muscles in our legs it can help to improve walking ability and ability to undertake activities of daily living like getting in and out of a car, shopping and gardening, and getting up from a chair.
Treadmill walking is frequently used for people with Parkinson’s disease to assist in maintaining gait and walking speed. For people who experience freezing, then stationary cycling is great for heart and lung function.
Cueing exercises’ involve walking while listening or seeing cues that mimic the rhythm of walking. These exercises can help improve your walking movements and overcome difficulty with gait initiation and freezing.
‘Dance’ has been shown to facilitate functional and expressive movement. It also provides important social interaction and can lead to improvements in perceived quality of life.
Dual task training which is performing one task whilst also completing another, such as walking and counting backwards, or balancing and juggling a ball.
If you or someone you know is suffering from Parkinson's Disease and could benefit from an exercise program we would love to help. If you would like specific information about the condition and support group information reach out to Parkinson’s South Australia.
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release technique or SMR for short. To break it down, the fascia in your body is like a large web of connective tissues that covers all your muscles, bones and organs keeping everything tight and connected. The fascia is incredibly strong and also very flexible which allows it to move with your body easily. Just like a muscle the fascia can shorten and become tight and this usually happens due to a muscle not being able to support the extra tension of sustained postures, repetitive movements or altered movements patterns by itself. The fascia comes in to try and help support the muscle and as a result becoming tight itself. Now as the fascia is interconnected throughout the body, issues in one area can cause tightness and pain to develop in other parts of the fascia.
What is it?
Foam rollers and even trigger balls are pieces of equipment that can be used to assist in releasing fascia or muscle tightness. A foam roller is a cylindrical foam roll that can come in all different sizes and lengths and also have varying degrees of firmness. By lying or pressing your body against the foam roller it creates pressure on that given area which allows you to complete self-myofascial release. This pressure releases the aforementioned tension and tightness within the fascia that can develop.
What are the benefits?
There is an increase in research being conducted into the benefits of foam rolling and there are many that have been confirmed already.
Foam rolling provides an increase in elasticity in the fascia after prolonged periods of inactivity. A lack of movement can also cause the fascia to become tight which is why foam rolling can assist in releasing the fascia allowing it to become more supple again. This will allow your body to move more freely without tightness or restriction.
For those of you who experience delayed onset muscle soreness (DOM’s) after an intense workout, foam rolling can be a great tool to assist in your recovery. Foam rolling causes an increase in blood flow to the area where pressure is being applied, which brings with it an increase in oxygen too. This can aid in helping the worked muscles to recover more quickly from your workout and decrease DOM’s.
Some studies have shown foam rolling to be more effective than either static or dynamic stretching, at increasing flexibility and range of motion as it assists in lengthening the muscle. It provides an alternative to stretching that can reach and target the fascia in your body differently. Stretching a muscle does not have the same ability as foam rolling to be able to penetrate the muscle and reach the inner fascia holding all your muscle fibres together.
Tips to get started
It all sounds pretty great right! So how can you get started?
Firstly, you will need to get a foam roller. Once you have acquired one you can select a muscle group to work on and then simply begin applying pressure to this area by laying on top of the foam roller and using your body weight as force. Now you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that the more pressure applied the better release… But this isn’t actually true! You can get almost the same benefits from applying smaller amounts of pressure to the target muscles. You then want to start rolling slowly along the desired muscle group, ideally for around 60 seconds. When foam rolling it is normal to feel a slight amount of pain when targeting muscle groups that are tight, but it can be helpful to roll around the areas that is particularly painful first as this can help to release that area initially.
Whether you are new to fitness, you’ve been training for a while or even if you find that you get tight from periods of inactivity, foam rolling can be a useful addition to add into your schedule.
By Aleisha Michael
Accredited Exercise Physiologist