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Hi, I'm Alexandra Ellis, an anatomy loving body-nerd who enjoys breaking down complicated body concepts to help you maximize your performance for pain-free living.
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When it comes to hip, knee and low back pain, the major muscles present (and blamed for issues) are the quadriceps and hamstrings. This makes sense as the rectus femoris, one of the 4 quadriceps muscles, crosses at the hip and assists with hip flexion and the hamstrings (biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus) anchor to the pelvis and assist with hip extension.
Because of the position in relationship to one another, the quadriceps and hamstrings work in opposition, known in the body as an agonist/antagonist relationship. When the quadriceps contract, the hamstrings must relax through a process called reciprocal inhibition. Reciprocal inhibition is a reflex that happens simultaneously – your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) tell one muscle to contract and the muscle on the opposite side of the joint to relax to allow for movement and prevent injury.
The quadriceps and hamstrings are also greatly affected by the position we tend to put them in most often during the day – sitting. The average person sits 14 hours a day. While this may seem like an insanely high number, when you consider time spent at your desk, sitting during your commute, sitting at home at the dinner table or couch, 14 hours doesn’t seem that outlandish. read more…
What if I told you that the secret to avoiding scars is fat and hair? Scar tissue, as we’ve discussed before (read: The Problem with Scar Tissue), is not regular tissue and can impact your ability to move once it’s developed. While there are things we can do to improve the movement and hydration of scar tissues once they have formed, once you have a scar you are pretty much stuck with it.
A multi-year study recently completed at UC Irvine and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that they could induce skin regeneration in mice when hair follicles were introduced into the wound.
Did you know that if you removed everything from your body that was not connective tissue, you’d still basically look the same? One major component of connective tissue is fascia, the gelatinous body wide web that forms the living seams, structures, protection and repair system of your body (Jill Miller).
How your body moves or doesn’t move, heals or doesn’t heal and your physical structure is all dictated by the health of your fascia. But how much do we really know about this living soft tissue scaffolding?
Check out this episode of Anatomy with Alex where I dive into the details of Fascia-nating Fascia! read more…
So you just got a new pair of therapy balls, now what? If you’ve been rolling with foam rollers, lacrosse balls, softballs or another sport-specific ball, you have definitely made an upgrade towards investing in your health, but there are a few things you should know about Yoga Tune Up® and The Roll Model Method® therapy balls that I sell on my site.
These therapy balls are made of a natural rubber – which means they will develop an amazing amount of grip, grab and give, but will also lose these qualities if left exposed to the elements. The natural rubber is similar to any other rubber product in your home – if left in direct sunlight, they will dry out. Once the rubber has dried out, it will not be able to have its grippy texture restored. While I have had a student file the surface of her therapy ball with a nail file, the grippiness is not what it used to be and the pliability and give of the ball did not return.
I recommend storing your therapy balls in an opaque gym bag or closed container where they will not be exposed to direct sunlight or the elements. I use a simple nylon zippered bag to store my therapy balls and they have withstood the test of time (all the therapy balls are going on 2+ years. read more…
In my previous article, Injury Whack-A-Mole, I shared a knee injury I’ve been dealing with for a few months. After finally taking my own advice, I escalated my treatment approach and went to see a Physical Therapist. But not just any Physical Therapist: C. Shante Cofield aka The Movement Maestro.
How did I determine that it was time to go to a PT? Well, to be 100% honest, I should have gone back in November when my knee first started hurting because it would have avoided me months of pain and the compensation patterns that I developed to work around the injury.
I still don’t know what happened, at some point in November(ish) of last year, my knee began to cramp when I flexed it past 90˚. At first, it was only when I would bend my knee and sit for an extended period of time, like when I was sitting on the floor and working. Then, it started happening anytime I bent my knee, including sitting at the kitchen table. read more…