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Move It Monday: Stretches For Your Pipes

Welcome to Week #2 of the Pipes Challenge! During the six weeks of the challenge, I’m hoping to rehab my broken elbow into flexion/extension again and working on my wrist rotation. In case you’re catching up, I shattered my elbow six weeks ago in a skating accident and had reconstructive surgery on it.

I have progress pictures!! It’s been two weeks since getting my cast off and four physiotherapy sessions. I’ve also been sitting down and working on moving it at least twice a day.

Here’s what the flexion looked like two weeks ago:

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Here’s what it looks like today:

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Not that much progress, just a few degrees. The photos are taken “cold,” meaning I didn’t work on my arm beforehand. I can get it to go a little further in a physiotherapy session.

Extension two weeks ago:

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Extension today:

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I feel like I’ve made more progress with this movement. Extension is far less painful than flexion. My biggest problem right now is that my bicep is “on.” Meaning it’s almost always contracted. You can see it a little in the above photos. It’s why a lot of my movement is limited and why moving is so painful. Hoping it eases off soon!!

Wrist rotating to supinated (palm up) two weeks ago:

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Supination today:

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For the record, this is what supination looks like on a normal arm:

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I’ve made a little bit of progress with this too. My physio worked hard at it, which meant a sore forearm for days. But I can get my hand into “neutral” now with just a little coaxing, which is having your palm face your stomach.

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So overall, not an amazing amount of progress over the last two weeks. But at the same time there has been some progress, which is way better than nothing. I will say that being able to straighten my arm with the palm facing the ceiling feels like a million years away. Right now the inability to rotate my wrist is what frustrates me the most. I still can’t hold a book with two hands. Or read a newspaper comfortably. Or drive a car!!

As mentioned above, one of the biggest things holding me back is that the muscles in my left arm have completely seized up. Because they’re contracted, tight, and stiff, it makes moving my arm hard and painful. One of the things I’m most focused on now is learning to relax. Always checking in with myself and making sure I’m not tensed up along my arm. I’ve also started taking muscle relaxers before I move my arm and I find it helps noticeably.

As a way to help us relax those upper body muscles we’re working so hard during this pipes challenge, here’s a list of some of my favourite stretches!

Shoulder Stretch

Every person I know does this stretch wrong. It’s supposed to stretch out the back of your shoulder, but only works if your shoulder is DOWN. Try locking your scapula down, then bringing your arm out front. Don’t let your shoulder raise an inch when going into the stretch.

Chest Stretch

KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS DOWN!!

If your flexibility isn’t quite there yet, you can always do this one:

Just put your hand up on a wall, then rotate your body in the opposite direction. Your shoulders need to be down for this one too (noticing a trend here?)

Triceps Stretch

The best way to ease into this is start by bringing your arm back to reach between your shoulder blades. Then grab on to the elbow with the other hand and push it in & down towards your head.

Biceps Stretch

A lot like the above chest stretch, but you don’t need to be so vigilant to keep your shoulder down. I find I always have to play around and readjust this one to find that sweet spot where I start to feel it in my bicep.

Just because…

I finish every workout with this stretch. It hits the hamstrings, back, loosens the shoulders and neck. This is also one I’ve been doing a lot of with my bad arm to loosen up and stretch out my stiff left shoulder. Really have to relax and learn to haaaaang. Take deep breaths and enjoy being upside down for a while.

Well, that’s all she wrote! I’m meeting with my new physiotherapist tomorrow and going to see my family doctor for a referral with an orthopaedic surgeon. I still need bi-weekly x-rays and check ups, and will need more surgery to get a screw removed in six months.

Even more exciting news, is that I’m getting a gym membership this week!! Recumbent bike here I come…

Fitness Friday – Stretching For Runners

Happy Fitness Friday!!

After a brief hiatus last week, I am back to babbling about all things fitness at the end of each week.

This week wraps up what has been a series of several posts that are running related. I wrote about buying the right running shoes in this post and this post. As well as strength training for runners in this post.

Today’s topic covers the stuff you do after a run – stretching. I recently gave a talk to a local running group on the importance of stretching and put together the following program for them. I see so many people come into the running store with an ailment (plantar fasciitis!!) that could be solved, or significantly relieved through a proper stretching program.

I know it’s easy to forget about, or put low on your priority list. This is why I schedule stretching time into my workout time. I know I’m going to stretch 5-10 minutes after a run. So when I’m trying to figure out what time I have to wake up to get four miles in before work, I automatically add those minutes on to my running time.

It’s also worth mentioning that stretching is done after a workout and not before. You never want to strain cold muscles. A proper warm up (like 5 minutes of brisk walking) is the best thing you can do to get the oxygen and blood flowing and your body ready to exercise. If you want to stretch before, wait until after your warm up.

As far as dynamic stretching goes, I’m not a huge fan unless you’re a pro. Especially not weighted dynamic stretching. Some jumping and arm swinging isn’t going to hurt you, just be careful!

Now here is your own personal post-run stretching plan :)

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Stand with front toe pressed against a wall and heel on the floor. Lift your back heel to intensify the stretch. Stretches: Gastrocnemieus (calf) and bottom of foot.
Good for: Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis.

 

 

 

 

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Stand with one foot in front of the other. Push your weight forward, slightly bending the front knee. Back leg remains straight.
Stretches: Soleus, gastrocnemius
Good for: Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis.

 

 

 

 

 

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Grab on to your shoe laces and pull knees together. Do not let knees float apart and push hips forward to intensify the stretch.
Stretches: Quadriceps (front of thigh)
Good for: Runner’s knee, ITB syndrome

 

 

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Lunge forward with your front leg. Bend your back knee down so it is hovering above the floor. Take the same arm as the back leg and stretch it toward the ceiling. Lean back slightly, then to the opposite side.
Stretches: Front hip flexor
Good for: Hip flexor injury

 

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In a standing position, cross your ankles and lean forward. Repeat with other side.
Stretches: IT band (along side of leg)
Good for: ITB syndrome

 

 

 

 

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Sit with legs straight in front of you. Bend one leg up and over the other. Twist your body to wrap around the outside of the bent leg.
Stretches: IT band, lower back, hips
Good for: ITB syndrome, hip flexor injury

 

 

 

 

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In a seated position, bring one heel inward and stretch the other straight out in front. With a straight back, tip forward from the hip in the direction of the outstretched leg.
Stretches: Hamstrings (back of thigh)
Good for: Pulled hamstring

 

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Lying on your back, bring one leg towards the ceiling. Keeping the legs straight, pull the outstretched leg toward your body.
Stretches: Hamstrings
Good for: Pulled hamstring

 

 

 

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Lying on your back, press the outside of one ankle against your other knee. Reach between the legs and grab the thigh of the bottom leg.
Stretches: Glutes, hips
Goof for: Hip and sciatic injuries

 

 

Click here to get the PDF version of these stretches. Print it out and hang it on your fridge and go through it whenever you get home from a run. Your body will not only love you for it – but I bet you’ll get better at running because of it too!

Stretch it out

Happy Friday!! Once again I’m happy it’s the weekend, despite having to work. Weekends just always have a wonderful feeling about them :)

I woke up before dawn this morning to go for my “long run.” I fuelled with an iced coffee in a frosty mug, and a wasa cracker with PB and smooshed dates.

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Even though my iPod conveniently died right before I left, I still had a wonderful run. The beautiful pink sunrise over the river kept me occupied. According to Gmaps Pedometer, it was about 4.55 miles in 45 minutes. I’m happy with a 10-minute pace for my long runs. No need to push it as I get into longer distances.

Unfortunately, my left ankle has been hurting all day. Whyyyyy does running hate me?? I don’t get it! I keep my mileage and speed low, run on even trails, have new fitted shoes, and do a combined warm-up/cool-down of walking for 20 minutes! Not to mention the ridiculous amounts of stretching, rolling and icing I do. The only thing I can think of is that I run like Phoebe from Friends.

Anyone have any ideas??

I ate a plate of fruit to make me feel better.

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Oh yeah, there were a couple waffles with AB & yogurt on the side ;)

Then there was a bunch of working, highlighted by a giant turkey and hummus pita.

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One of my coworkers started bugging me while I was trying to eat this. I don’t know about you guys, but my meal time is my meal time. I hate being bothered while I’m eating!! How am I supposed to conduct pointless small talk when I’m up to my ears in hummus and spinach?? Not cool. Come back in 15 minutes.

I’d been planning on making spring rolls for dinner tonight, and went with something completely different as soon as I got in my kitchen. I’m not very good at planning meals. I like coming up with things on the spot depending on my cravings. I don’t know what tonight’s supper says about my cravings…

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Let’s start with that cottage cheese mess. Underneath is what I thought was a purple sweet potato, much like the ones that grace April’s blog. But I was duped.

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The package said “Purple Sweeties.” But I missed the small print which said “golden flesh sweet potatoes.” Apparently they’re purple on the outside and golden on the inside. They were a little more potato-ey than regular sweet potatoes, but still quite good! I wonder if they will still turn me orange? :P

I also randomly decided to eat a can of sardines in a mustard sauce that’s been in my cupboard for a while.

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I mashed it up with some green onion, tomato and capers and topped it on wasa crackers. This was my first time trying capers and I really liked them! The vinegar/salty taste complimented the mustard sauce perfectly. Overall, an odd and perfectly satisfying dinner! I love whipping things together on a whim. Plans shmans!

So I thought it would be fun to follow up my rolling post by sharing my favourite stretches at the moment. They’re very reflective of the areas that ail me the most – hips, quads and glutes.

 

Except, on that last one, I put my hands around my shin to get a deeper stretch. Soooooo good!

What are some of your favourite stretches? Include a link if you want, and I’ll put them up in a post tomorrow!

Have a great start to your weekend!! :D

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