Stretching Tips

“When, how, static or dynamic, before or after exercise” are just some of the questions my patients
often ask about stretching.
The recommendations for stretching seem to change from year to year and from one expert to the
next. While researchers continue to look at the benefits and pitfalls of stretching, there is still limited
and often conflicting evidence.
The goal of stretching is to develop and maintain an appropriate range of motion around specific
joints. It is important to customise your routine to fit your needs. Therefore assessing your body and
your sport or the amount of time you’re sat at your desk is important to make sure you stretch (and
strengthen) in order to reduce muscle imbalances. Stretching tight muscles should go hand in hand
with strengthening the weak muscles.
So, with that in mind, here are 5 tips to be safe and effective when you stretch and to put in place in
your New Year exercise programme resolutions….!
Don’t consider stretching a warm-up. A warm up should be specific to the exercise you are about
to do, so start with light walking or jogging and gradually increase the intensity. It is thought that
dynamic stretches are best to do at this time, such as lunges prior to running or playing football, again
to prepare the body for the movement/sport you are about to do. Research suggests static
stretching, where the stretch is held for approx 30 seconds, is best done after exercise during the cool
down period.
Don’t bounce. Most experts believe ballistic, or bouncing during a stretch may increase the risk of
injury. This is because the muscle may reflexively contract if re-stretched quickly following a short
relaxation period.
Perform balanced stretching. This means you should always stretch the muscles on both sides of
your body evenly. Don’t stretch one side more than the other side.
Don’t aim for pain. Expect to feel tension while you’re stretching, but not pain. If it hurts, you’ve
pushed too far so ease off and then gradually move more into the stretch.
Keep up with your stretching. Stretching can be time-consuming. But you can achieve the best
benefits by stretching regularly. Studies support that range of motion can be increased by a thirty
second stretch for each muscle group per day. However, some people require a longer duration or
more repetitions depending on how stiff you are to start.
For more information around stretching why not tweat Julia @juliaphysio or email

Team Training

The Benefits of team training. Find the motivation to get off the couch!
Training alone it can often me difficult to find the motivation, especially throughout
the winter when we seem to leave and return to our homes in the dark.
If you have a training partner or team there is both the added motivation and the
thought that you will let them down if you don’t show up for your scheduled training
Within a team there is often friendly competition so you should remember if you are
not at training someone else is and probably getting the upper hand!
Training with a group either for team sports such as for rugby or football, or individual
sports like running or cycling, the group provides you with a support network of like
minded people that can cheer you on and provide you with the encouragement to
You have the added incentive that you are working together to accomplish an
ultimate goal.
In particular if you are training for any distance or endurance events such as
marathons, ultras or triathlons it always helps the miles pass by having a friendly
partner to chat while you train!
So join a team or group now. There are plenty out there and much more fun and
financial beneficial than a gym membership you never use!

Gym Away from the Gym

With the busy Christmas period upon us, it’s hard to find the time or money for the gym.  But there are many ways to stay in shape and prevent injury while doing your every day tasks at home in the run up to the big day!

You don’t need equipment to work out; your own body weight is an excellent tool to work with.

So, from the feet up: Get your ankles working by standing on 1 foot while you brush your teeth in the morning.  Stand on the other foot in the evening!

Imagine Santa hiding gifts at the foot of the bed as you get dressed, and walk around the bed on tip toes – working your calves and your dynamic balance.

When you’re squeezing into those ‘slightly tighter than last year jeans – loosen them up with a few lunges – try just 3 on each leg to get you going then really test the seam of them with 5 squats.

Now you’re nice and warmed up, use the stairs as a good place for a few easy calf stretches – drop heels off the edge of a step (holding onto banister to play safe) and let them sink down first with your knees straight, then with knees bent, until you feel a gentle pull –take your time.

Quadriceps StretchAs you wait for the kettle to boil, give those quads a stretch by bringing your foot to your bum, grabbing hold of it, push your hips forward and keep your knees together.  Hold and repeat on the other side.

As you get down to some present wrapping, loosen up your back by sitting cross legged on the floor, put the scissors on your right, sellotape on your left, and the gifts a good stretch out in front of you.  As you wrap try to keep your tummy in, back straight and shoulders back.

Now for the blood sweat and tears that is cooking the Christmas dinner (or any other dinner for that matter)!  The kitchen is a great source of work out tools, so, in-between bouts of chopping, grab a couple of food cans and do some bicep curls.

Make things harder by raising your arms straight out to the sides still holding the cans and make little circles with them… you’ll soon feel the burn in your arms before smelling the burning on the stove!

If you’re feeling particularly strong you could use something heavier like a bottle of wine or bag of potatoes, put then in a sturdy plastic bag and swing them over your shoulder like Santa carrying his sack of gifts.  Then, to work your triceps straighten your elbow so you are lifting the bag up and down behind your head – start with 5 each side.

Finish the day by dropping your chin to your chest and gently rolling your head from side to side, feeling the tension gradually release.  Take a few deep breaths, stretching your linked hands out in front of you and then behind, roll your shoulders gently and relax…. you can survive Christmas and manage to fit in working out in too!

There are hundreds of more stretches and exercises you can do around the home – now you’ve got started keep your imagination going and see what else you can build into your daily routine.

Juliet Hilton, Physiotherapist, Back in Action UK

Follow Juliet on Twitter @JulietPhysio and us @BackInActionUK 


Skiing, ACL Repair to High Heels

(Mamen ruptured her ACL whilst skiing and had surgery in Spain – her surgeon wanted her to wear a brace for a couple of months whilst walking which was for longer than the average following this surgery in the UK. In physiotherapy, her brace was removed for rehabilitation).

“Last year I broke my ACL skiing. My fall was followed by surgery where they reconstructed the ligament joining it to the tibia with a screw. After that, spent several days without moving at all, one month on crutches, and two more on a huge brace – and I was, obviously, limping everywhere. One of my friends had got the same injury and recommended Back In Action UK. He said to have been very pleased with them having a great expertise on ACL rehabilitation. They also have 4-5 clinics around London which was very convenient. A few weeks after my operation I started to get physiotherapy in Back In Action UK with Julia Peters. She seemed a really good professional and knew first thing I needed to get back was the lack of confidence on my leg as well as realising how much work I’ll need to put on if I wanted my knee back at 100% – which has always been my goal!

ACL rehab is like everything in life “you need to work hard if you want to get to the top”, which in this case it translates into being as strong, flexible and balanced as before the accident. During my weekly visits to Julia she massaged my leg, taught me exercises and planned the rehab sessions that I had to undertake by myself at the gym. Probably, one of the most valuable things that I learnt from Julia was to understand my injury; to understand the rehabilitation process and how bones, muscles and ligaments join all together around the knee. This is quite important because only when the patient understands the injury is also able to understand which rehab exercises suit best at each point on time.

Physical rehabilitation can be a tough, mostly if it stays daily for several months on top of your working life. The painful and frequent exercises can get so tiring and boring. And it is because of that the most important thing is to keep ALWAYS in mind that giving up is NOT an option, and that you CANNOT stop exercising your injured leg until is 100% back!! Stiffness, pain, sore muscles, demoralization… all those are normal feelings when rehabilitating; but all of that goes away with the time – believe me, it does!

Julia was extremely helpful and gave an excellent guidance on my rehab. After all I didn’t only get my flexibility, strength and normal movement back but also learnt how to stretch and exercise properly using the gym equipment, and how to do it depending on what I wanted to achieve. The process was long – 9 months in total until being 100%. And still a couple of more months until I decided to jump on my high heels again! After all, I can now say that my knee rehab is probably one of the things I feel the proudest of!!

Finally, I must say that the Back In Action UK Admin did an fantastic job dealing with my medical insurance company and myself. Hopefully none of you will need rehab, but if you ever do; go to Back In Action UK; go to Julia Peters!!”

Mamen, Consultant

TCS Amsterdam Marathon 2012, Melanie Orchard’s Story

Amsterdam is my third marathon and I am hoping to run a PB, without my hat (which I have worn pretty much for every race) and my iPod (I am intending to make polite conversation and enjoy the view)!

My 12 week training programme has gone well, but I have struggled with the taper and not really run for 2 weeks.

Getting to the start, squash on delayed metro (feels like London already) get off one stop early as train too full and walk 10 minutes to start worried I am wasting vital energy and whether this will cause early onset of lactic acid build up in my legs. ……

Having not run for over 6 days, and no more than 6 miles for the last 2 weeks I am very ready to run. As usual my nerves fuel the adrenaline and I have to remind myself as I bound along the first few miles, a little too quickly, that I have over 24 miles to go!

I spend the first 9 miles chatting with a club friend as we make our way along the picturesque canal route enjoying the thought that “this is just another training run”, and “what difference will a few miles tagged on the end really make”? As we head back towards the City the wind is now against us, the chatter dwindles our paces no longer match so we go our separate paces from mile 13. Convinced I can stay positive I remind my self that after Milton Keynes early this year (horrific wind and rain) this is just a light breeze for 5 miles where my first support cheers will be waiting at mile 18….

My legs have been aching since mile 13 (unusual for me)- I blame site seeing round Amsterdam on Saturday! I ignore the pain which has set in far to early. . . and look forward to my enthusiastic support – who unfortunately nearly misses me and only manages a weak “go Mel” which does nothing to take my mind off my legs!

The usual physical and mental dip occurs between 18-21 miles, and I chant to try and stay focused “long strides, enjoy the view” and wonder how long I can keep that up for.

I find my pick me up in an enthusiastic American who joins me encouraging me to pick up the pace and reach my race target. Initially annoyed, as my enthusiasm is dwindling; my competitive nature gets the better of me. Soon we are doing steady 8:30 min mile pace for the next 3 miles. I get further encouragement from my support who runs along side us at mile 24 cheering loudly, (to make up for the previous pathetic cheer), and taking a few memorable snapshots which fuels me to push on.

We continue on together and with more American encouragement we are hitting 8:15 in the last 2 miles as we head towards the stadium through the Vondelpark. My legs are at breaking point and I find solus in the thought that I can rest tomorrow but today is for running and breaking PB’s!
The last 500 metres into the stadium track are the longest of my life – crossing the finish line in 3:48:47 (with my American budding behind me) I am elated!

Having signed up for the race because I liked the t-shirt and needed an excuse to visit Amsterdam, I am ecstatic with the outcome….still thoughts of whether I can achieve 3:45 next time are in my head before my feet have even stopped hurting!! But I guess that’s why it’s called the Marathon Bug!

Follow Melanie on Twitter @MelaniePhysio

Physiotherapy & The Ryder Cup

How good was that European Ryder Cup win! Physiotherapy played a key part in the win. As well as mental stamina, golf requires physical fitness.

Players are now stronger, fitter, pay more attention to things like nutrition, sleep, core stability and exercise to improve their swing. Injury prevention is a vital to keep injury free during a very long season. Physiotherapists will assess swing mechanics and look at the associated biomechanics with video.

All the above affects performance and a little niggle can have a huge impact on distance, accuracy and endurance – Yes, the physical aspect of golf is underestimated.  The Medinah Miracle!

Happy golfing,

Kenny Butler

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