If you suffer from stiff ankles or tight calves this blog post is for you.
The assumption to make when you have tight calves is to stretch the calves. However, to gain length in your calves it is often helpful to train the muscles at the front of your lower leg. This is because they are often weak in people who have chronically tight calves. This is because stretching causes a mechanical change in the muscles whereas strengthening causes a change in the way your body perceives length.
What are the problems if you have poor ankle mobility?
Common for people to roll off the outside of their foot when walking.
Big toe bunions can form
If your ankles are tight when walking your calf is used more, therefore becomes tighter.
Your body mass is more forwards when walking
Collapsing of your foot arch
So when you are at home instead of forcing your knee over your ankle to create mobility in your ankle, try to strengthen the front of your lower leg which will allow you to access more range of motion for the long term. This will be more long term because you won’t be relying on an external input but instead you will cause internal changes that should make more significant differences in muscle function.
How to do this?
Try this exercise called the moonwalk.
Come back onto your toes
As you lower your toes, bring your knee over the front of your toes
As you bring the knee forwards, lift up your toes
If you suffer from stiff ankles or tight calves and would like us to assess and treat you, then contact the clinic today on 0578678904, direct message us on Facebook or book now.
Shane has been selected to speak at the inaugural European Golf & Fitness Symposium which will be held in Lisbon. Portugal this coming April 12th & 13th
This symposium will bring together international experts in the areas golf coaching, biomechanics, physical preparation, injury prevention, treatment and fitness.
Shane is one of Europe’s leading Sports Chiropractors and is an expert in the treatment, screening and rehabilitation of golf injuries. He has travelled extensively with professional golfers on both the European & PGA Tours since 2009 and worked with over 45 different tour pros.
For more information on the European Golf & Fitness Symposium visit the website
Yours in Health
Lawlor Clinic: Spine & Sport, Portlaoise, Laois
Experts in the Assessment, Treatment & Rehab of Golf Injuries
Plantar fasciitis is one of those phrases that gets thrown around a lot in conversations. But do you know what it actually means? What is the plantar fascia, what causes irritation to it, and how can you prevent and treat the cause of the problem using Active Release Techniques?
What is the Plantar Fascia?
The plantar fascia is not a muscle or tendon, it is actually a connective tissue structure that supports the bottom of the foot. It runs from the heel bone to the toes and lies on top of the deeper muscles of the foot. But it is not the plantar fascia on its own that causes the problem. The fascia works in conjunction with the flexor digitorum brevis and quadratus plantae muscles, both are flexors of the toes.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
An irritation and inflammation to the previously mentioned tissues and muscles, to state it very basically! But what causes the irritation? Biomechanical issues in the foot and ankle, tightness or damage in muscles of the feet or calf, sudden increase in activity that is too much too soon, some even say too much sitting around (underactivity) can cause the problem.
But when you do get it, you want it to go away as fast a possible because it can be very painful!
Some common symptoms include:
Pain at the heel or anywhere along the bottom of the foot
Cramping at the bottom of the foot
Pain worse first thing in the morning
How can ART® help plantar fasciitis?
Active Release Techniques ART® is a hands on technique for helping to restore normal function to the soft tissue. So release of the plantar fascia and other contributing muscles in the foot, might be uncomfortable but the results will be noticeable within 3-4 treatments.
Along with ART®, manipulation of the joints in the foot using Chiropractic techniques can help to restore normal biomechanics to help prevent this from recurring in the future. To help speed up the healing process we commonly use Laser Therapy and you will always be given exercises and stretches to do at home.
If you think you might have plantar fasciitis, don’t keep suffering, give us a call today to see if we can help you get on the path to healing!
Yours in Health
The Lawlor Clinic | Spine & Sport, Portlaoise, Laois
Dizziness can be a little bit complicated. It can be caused by a number of different reasons, but you probably never thought that your neck could be one of them!? Well Cervicogenic vertigo is exactly that, dizziness that is theorised to be caused from dysfunctional or lack of movement in the neck.
20-58% of people who have had head/neck injuries or whiplash will also experience dizziness
How can my neck contribute to dizziness?
Typically this specific type of dizziness is seen in people after an injury to the head and neck such as concussion or whiplash. But that is not always the case, sometimes it is also seen in people with severe muscle spasm in the neck or loss of movement in the neck.
Proprioception is your body’s ability to perceive where it is in space. Tricky to understand, but basically think about it as your ability to stay on balance. Proprioceptive receptors in the neck can be disrupted through concussion or whiplash injury, thus relaying incorrect information back to the brain about where the body is, causing the sensation of dizziness or the sensation of being pulled to one side, or the room spinning. Along with the dizziness people with this type of vertigo typically have pain and limited range of motion in the head and neck.
What are the symptoms?
Neck pain and/or loss of motion in the neck
Dizziness, sense of the room moving or spinning, or feeling disconnected from your body
The difference between other types of vertigo and this one are that the dizziness type symptoms you experience are made worse by holding specific positions of the head and neck. Moving the head doesn’t usually cause the symptoms to flare up but keeping the head in a certain position for a longer time does.
This type of vertigo or dizziness that is caused from injury to or lack of movement in the neck typically responds well to chiropractic care and physiotherapy. Using manual therapy such as manipulation, mobilisation, and Active Release Techniques (ART®) to release the muscles and improve range of motion has been shown to help in these cases. Also specific exercises for the neck and exercises to improve proprioception can be beneficial as well.
As with any condition it is important to have a thorough examination to figure out the true cause of the problem. Give us a call today to see if we can help with your problem!
Everybody knows how important sleep is. Runners need more sleep than most people. Running sleep deprived can be as dangerous as driving intoxicated! You probably know someone who brags how he only needs five hours of sleep a night and another who insists on eight hours — and it’s true, sleep needs vary.
As an athlete, getting enough sleep is as important as your food and exercise choices. Cheating on sleep makes it hard to concentrate at work, may impair your appetite and causes irritability. A sleep debt can negatively affect your running. The National Sleep Foundation says that “sleep is as essential as diet and exercise. Inadequate sleep can result in fatigue, depression, concentration problems, illness and injury. Sleep helps general protein synthesis, cell growth and division, and tissue repair and growth.”
So, what happens during sleep that is so important?
One of the most important ways sleep can help your running is water reabsorption — especially during the summer months when you sweat more and dehydration is more of a concern. During sleep, the kidney balances water, sodium and other electrolytes. Without enough water the kidneys can’t balance electrolytes properly. Being fully hydrated, the kidneys can balance your body’s electrolytes more effectively so that this balance can be better maintained during running.
“Dehydration leads to muscle pain while running and poor performance,” said Joanne E. Getsy, MD, professor of medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine, Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep Division, Philadelphia, Pa.
Besides making you feel better, sleep is when your body repairs and regenerates damaged tissue from the day’s workout and builds bone and muscle to be ready for the next workout. Distance runners especially need that sleep/repair time to make sure that muscles recover from training.
Research from Stanford published in SLEEP reported that increased sleeping time can improve athletic performance. In the study, researchers had basketball players maintain their regular sleep schedule of six to nine hours for up to four weeks. After that, they were asked to sleep 10 hours each night for five to seven weeks. Speed improved significantly (16.2 seconds verses 15.5 second for 282-foot sprints); shooting accuracy improved and the players said they felt their practices improved after six weeks of lengthening night-time sleep length.
The study suggests that sleep is important for performance and that reducing an accumulated sleep debt can be beneficial for athletes likely at all levels. Sleep should be a high priority in an athlete’s daily training. Sleep allows the body to engage in the repair process.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
During the deeper stages of sleep HGH is released during slow wave sleep. HGH is a natural hormone produced by the pituitary gland and released into the bloodstream. HGH rebuilds damaged tissue while building stronger muscles. It also helps convert fat to fuel, and keeps our bones strong.
“If you don’t get enough sleep, you produce less HGH and it becomes harder for your body to recover from workouts. Too little sleep also leads to an increase in cortisol, which often comes out during times of stress. An increase in cortisol contributes to slower recovery times,” said Shelby F. Harris, PsyD, CBSN, director, behavioral sleep medicine program, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y.
If your workouts are hard, your body may release greater quantities of HGH while you sleep. “If you do a harder interval workout as opposed to an easy run, you might have more HGH hormone secreted if you actually need it,” added Benny Garcia, MS, CSCS, exercise physiologist at Loyola University Chicago/Gottlieb Center of Fitness in Chicago.
Regular sleep can boost the weight loss benefits of running.
If you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s appetite signalling hormones [leptin and ghrelin] are thrown off. Less sleep leads to more ghrelin [which makes us hungry] and less leptin [which tells us we’re full]. Sleeping a full night regularly helps keep your hunger signals in check and keeps, especially when combined with exercise, your weight down.
For marathoners during taper weeks, regularly getting a solid night of sleep may be even more important than the miles you’re running during that time period.
Endurance athletes find that moderate carbo-loading just before an event can enhance athletic performance. However, if you’re not sleeping enough, your body won’t properly store the carbs you’re consuming [leading to less glycogen stores] and the benefits of carbo-loading may be lost. You might even hit the wall sooner than usual because your glycogen stores will be depleted too fast.
Concentration & Mental Toughness
Runners can be analytical — always trying to figure out why one race went so well and why another didn’t. It takes a few hours after you fall asleep to reach deep, quality sleep, usually into the seventh hour — especially in younger athletes. Concentration can be negatively impaired when a runner races with sleep debt.
Enough sleep helps you tune into your body better, improves your concentration and helps you strategize the rest of the race or for the rest of the run. This concentration is also essential for being able to “push” it at the end of a race.
Knowing this, how can you get the best running from your sleep?
Determine your sleep needs and meet it every night, “Monday through Monday.” Establish a regular sleep schedule. Go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day. If you have a yo-yo sleep-wake schedule, your body never knows when it’s time to shut down. You end up being in a constant state of jet lag without ever leaving home.
Get one long block of continuous sleep at night. Power naps are a last resort if you have to make up lost sleep. Snooze for 10 to 15 minutes — no longer or you might become groggy.
Ensure you are well hydrated, taking in enough water during the day and limiting caffeine, nicotine and alcohol which can reduce sleep quality.
Stop using your mobile phone 1hour before bed – this can help to increase sleep quality.
Try to keep noise levels down and ensure there is no brightness entering your room.
Avoid stressful situations before bed – try reading a book, taking a relaxing bath or practice relaxation techniques, maybe even listen to relaxing music.
Lighten up on evening meals, try not to eat before 8pm. Eating after this can be a recipe for insomnia.
Try to fit your running in early. Exercise helps promote restful sleep if it is done >3hours before bedtime – you will sleep more soundly and faster if you try this.
If you are struggling with sleep days before a race, don’t panic. Research has shown that sleep loss ranging from 16-24 hours does not impair performance during aerobic and anaerobic events. The adrenaline rush of competition appears to override any negative physical consequences of sleep deprivation. Therefore, if you miss several hours of sleep for a night or two before your race, your performance is not likely to be impacted unless you are particularly susceptible to sleep deprivation. Once the sleep loss doesn’t exceed 2 successive nights.
“You might be able to get by with one or two lousy nights of sleep, but your best performance is when you’ve had a good night’s sleep,” said James B. Maas, PhD, a psychologist from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and author of Sleep to Win.
Aimee had a great time last night at the Portlaoise Leisure center last night, May 12th, 2016, sharing their presentation “Sitting Is The New Smoking”.
For those of you who couldn’t attend, here is a little recap of the evening.
-Sitting is the new Smoking is a phrase coined by Dr. James Levine, an American endocrinologist. He says, ” Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”
Have you been diagnosed with a disc herniation? It is one of the most common conditions that we see in the clinic. Today we want to show you one effective exercise that can help reduce your pain: The McKenzie Extension exercise.
In the last blog, you learned what happens to your discs. We guided you through the stages of disc herniations, and how they can protrude outwards into the spinal canal, which can cause irritation around the nerves and pain. With this exercise we are trying to get a decompression of the discs, encouraging them away from the spinal canal and the nerves, which will be evident by an improvement in your pain.
If you are experiencing pain down one leg, what we would expect with the Mckenzie extension exercise, is that the pain starts to become more central. Meaning that instead of feeling it all the way down to the ankle, you start feeling it only at the knee, or down to the bum.
If your pain does not improve with this, that means you may need a different type of exercise for your lower back pain. As always, its important to get a proper assessment and diagnosis to get the best treatment plan for you!
Ever wondered what you could do to make labour easier on yourself and your little one?
Times are changing for expectant mothers in Ireland with now having more information available to them via tv, internet and social media on natural birth. Education has improved and parents are more confident and willing to take an active roll in how their pregnancy and labour goes.
Gone are the days of simply lying on your back and purple pushing as they call it. Hypnobirthing has changed our preconceptions of labour and the associations with “purple pushing”, it and yoga also advocate active birth positions for mothers to ease the birth process. Women are finally stepping away from the tradition of lying on their backs on a hospital bed to have a natural birth.
We now know that when lying on your back to give birth the size of the pelvis is at its narrowest, due to the angle of the sacrum and tailbone. You lose the vital effect of gravity as now you will have to pass your baby over these structures and ultimately up hill.
Below are some Active Birthing Positions which can encourage the pelvic outlet to widen to at least 30% and with the aid of gravity help the descent of the baby through the birth canal. Therefore potentially making things easier.
Supported squat– using your birthing partner/ mid wife or bar as a prop can make you more comfortable during surges.
Kneeling– can be against a birthing ball or on the bed. It helps widen the pelvic outlet and can allow you to rest easier between surges.
Hands and knees – will also help relieve pressure on the low back and may help the baby reposition itself for delivery.
Sidelying– with one leg elevated or held by the birth partner allows the pressure of the baby to be redistributed within the pelvis and making things more manageable.
Birth pool– the effect of the warm water can lessen low back discomfort and can let the mother adopt the squatting or kneeling position much easier.
If you are due to have a little one please take the time to educate yourself in how you and your little one can have a smoother and more pleasurable experience. We hope this helps you in your journey to motherhood.
Our last few blogs have been about pregnancy and the time after pregnancy, and some associated issues women experience during these times. One of the main concerns is an unstable pelvis. Aside from getting treatment, what else is available out there to help women have a pain-free pregnancy?
The main issue during pregnancy is that the pelvis becomes unstable due to the maternal hormones released during this time. Which can cause a lot of dysfunction and pain in some women. Treatment and exercises can help to keep the pelvis pain free, but those alone cannot fully stabilise the pelvis. So how can we stabilise something that is unstable?
Our top tip for an unstable pelvis:
The Serola belt. It is a support, worn around the waist, in a similar way to a belt, that actively gives support to the pelvis, helping to stabilise it. It provides the support that the pelvis desperately needs during this time. Providing relief for sacroiliac joint dysfunction and symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) as well as lower back pain.
The Serola belt is not a permanent solution, as these hormones that relax the ligaments and joints are vital during labour to help the baby pass through the pelvis. But until that time, it can be a great companion to help take some of the pressure off that sore unstable pelvis! Keep a look out for our upcoming video on how to properly wear a Serola belt.
Yours in Health,
Chiropractic | Mums & Babies | Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization
Some of you will be aware that we welcomed our son 3 months ago now, a beautiful bouncy baby boy Davin, weighing in at 8lb 2ozs. At the moment I am on maternity leave and enjoying every moment watching Davin grow up, granted it has been testing at times, particularly when bleary eyed in the early hours, but it has all been worth it.
Back early last year when we found out we were going to be parents we were so excited, with a level of nervous anticipation. It would be our first child.. would we make good parents, would it be healthy and oh how was the pregnancy and actual labour going to go? I have treated many pregnant patients and children in my years as a chiropractor and now it was my time.
I wanted to share a few of the things that I found important and beneficial throughout my 40 weeks (+10 days!!) which will hopefully help other mums to be.
Prenatal vitamins, fish oils, super greens and a probiotic where my daily go to after brekie to help me stay healthy and do the best for my little one. I had a pretty clean diet as it was but it was even more important now. Thankfully i had no cravings good or bad. I did force myself to drink more water throughout the day to stay hydrated, which is essential.
Prior to pregnancy I was running several times and week, long distance mainly with a marathon and half marathons,and regular strength training, so I was pretty active. I wanted to maintain a level of fitness throughout my pregnancy, as it was what made me. It helped me stay healthy and relaxed, and a happy healthy mammy makes for a happy healthy child.
Throughout the 9 months I continued to run albeit shorter distances and in the later weeks I walked daily and swam several times a week. After 12 weeks I started Pregnancy Yoga, which was fantastic for overall pelvic and core preparation for labour. It was also a great chance to make new friends. I would recommend this to every new mum as the information and support in these classes from all the ladies was invaluable. All of this I believe helped with my relatively smooth and quick labour and speedy recovery.
I heard of Hypnobirthing before being pregnant but wasn’t fully aware of what it involved exactly but I did know that it promoted a more natural and relaxed birth experience. So we decided to sign up to a course of classes locally and found them to be very informative. Afterwards we both felt more prepared mentally for what lay ahead. It definitely reinforced that we were in control of how labour would go and try to make it as positive an experience as possible. We would both definitely recommend these classes.
Acupuncture & Reflexology:
Having gone 40 weeks + 10 days I had been scheduled to be induced by day 10 but thankfully I didn’t need it. Those last 10 days were the toughest part of the pregnancy altogether as I was getting increasingly anxious as the lil one wasn’t going anywhere, he had his own agenda obviously. In that last week I had a few acupuncture and reflexology sessions to help encourage labour and to ease my own anxiety, which I found fantastic. I only wish I had attended throughout my whole 9 months and not just at the end.
The perks of owning your own chiropractic clinic with associates and having a husband who is also a chiropractor meant that I was fortunate to have weekly treatments throughout my pregnancy to keep my pelvis in the best possible state for carrying an ever growing child and childbirth. These sessions were essential in keeping my little one in the correct position and reducing any symptoms from the muscle and ligament changes that your body goes through.
I really hope that by reading this even one person gains something that they can do during their 9 months and even before, to help make their journey to motherhood as smooth and amazing as mine was.
Below are a few links to some of the people who helped us on our journey: