Focus on Your Weaknesses and Build Your Foundation

By: Sarah Kuindersma, MAT Specialist

As many of us find ourselves forced to step back from the sports and recreational hobbies we love, right now is a great time to take some time to focus on our body movement fundamentals so when organized sports re-open, you can go in ready to play. With that said, here are Sarah’s suggestions for preparation, rebuilding, and doing your body some good as we head into this next year.

Focus on Your Weaknesses

Now is a great time to assess, work on and fix the weak areas in your training which could include any muscle imbalances and weaknesses that are identified. We've all heard the expression, “You're only as good as your weakest link,” and it's true that it’s often the little things that make a big difference overall. For example, if your glutes aren't firing efficiently, any activity you do will place more stress into your low back, creating stiffness and a decrease in performance. This could mean, for example, less power in your running stride. Therefore finding a way to build your glutes can help to solve or prevent future issues.

Build Your Foundation

Look at this year as an opportunity to build or rebuild a solid foundation. Some of us might have experienced some losses due to lack of activity, and now might need to ‘Get back to the basics.’ Your body stores information in the central nervous system and every time you learn a new movement, a motor pattern is actually integrated and stored. These movements become automatic and are fine-tuned by unconscious feedback that your body is storing as you are learning something new. The saving of motor patterns effectively makes the neuromuscular system much more efficient when the body is exposed to similar demands. For this reason, we do not have to think about a movement like walking, riding a bike, or throwing a ball, we just know! Without basic joint mobility and strength, it will cause to many inefficiencies, so it would be the equivalent to trying to build a house without ever knowing how to use the tools.

Check out Sarah's YouTube channel for some movement ideas, from basic exercises to sport-specific movements, here. If you'd like specific mobility drills to improve your game make sure to book an appointment to have it tailored to your needs and goals. 

How can an MAT Specialist help you identify and focus on your weaknesses and build your foundation?

A problem related to muscular imbalances occurs over time when we are exposed to stress, trauma, or overuse. The resulting inflammation on the body will bring about a less efficient muscular system and diminished neuromuscular function. In other words, your ‘saved’ faulty motor pattern when drawn upon can lead to injury or a loss in the proper power of the motion itself. This transformed communication between the nervous system and the muscular system can lead to altered mechanics which, in turn, can trigger symptoms relating to muscle tightness, pain, and many other physical complaints. 

Active Sports Therapy offers M.A.T.®(Muscle Activation Techniques), which is a way to assess and correct an individual’s muscle imbalances. M.A.T. ® is designed to re-establish the communication pathways between the nervous system and the muscular system in order to restore muscle contractile capabilities.  Having an M.A.T. specialist assess your mechanics can help you learn more efficient ways of moving and lower the chances of a future injury. You can also learn how to train more efficiently for your limitation.  If you would like to learn more about whether M.A.T.® might be right for you please contact us to  schedule a free meet and  greet with specialist Sarah Kuindersma.

5 Tips For Doing Your At Home Exercises

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Active Sports Therapy

Very often, our patients receive a treatment and then they get sent home with a number of exercises and stretches that are going to help with the recovery or maintenance of their issue. Like it or not, getting stronger and more flexible is going to take hard work, and time. The other important factor here is consistency. Therefore, the homework part of your treatment is as important as what happens at the clinic.

With assigned exercises and stretches, it might be difficult to see the results straight away. Research tells us that in order to see a change it can take 2-3 weeks of doing the targeted exercises and stretches consistently (3-5 days a week) to notice a change in your muscles and movement. Without this repetition, the change simply cannot occur.

To help to be successful, we’ve compiled a few tips:

  1. Identify your motivation – Is it to decrease pain or to be able to continue with an activity that you love? Both of those should be sufficient reasons to ‘Just Do It,’ as they say at Nike.
  2. Schedule It - Most groupings of assigned exercises should take no more than 15-30 minutes to complete. Some might be lucky enough to have even less to do! Schedule it in your calendar and use the technology that we have at hand. A Google Calendar alert, a phone reminder, Siri or Google Assistant can let you know, and there are even some great ‘habit tracking’ apps out there. Simply type in ‘Habit Tracking’ at the app store to find something you like.
  3. Track your pain and flexibility level. Keep a diary of your pain and flexibility. The pain scale is a simple 1-10 rating on what your pain level is. Track your flexibility simply by noting where you’re at and noting specific tasks that feel easier than they did before. The positive changes will no doubt lead to increased motivation to stick to it.
  4. Prioritize - Ask your therapist or doctor to let you know which exercises are the most important. On those days when you simply can’t fit them all in, you can challenge yourself to at least complete the most important ones.
  5. Make Associations – Building associations can help you to do your exercises throughout the day, sometimes automatically!
    • Calf raises or stretches every time you brush your teeth.
    • Stretches during commercials or before the next Netflix episode starts.
    • Quad stretch every time you’re waiting for a microwave.
    • Posture practice during conference calls.
    • Pectoralis stretch in the shower.
    • Wrist extension or flexion stretch at a stoplight.

Lastly, be patient with yourself as the truth is it takes a lot of repetition and hard work to start a new habit. Some studies suggest upwards of 60 days for a new behaviour to become automatic. But if you prioritize yourself and your health, we know you can do it![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]