A Basic Static Versus Dynamic Stretching Guide

Static Stretching

Static stretching is best for increasing length of muscles.  In general, the longer the stretch is held the better.  Ideally, each stretch should be held a minimum of 30 seconds.  Two to three repetitions are recommended.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is best used prior to muscular activity.  Your warm up prior to an athletic activity should include dynamic stretching (no hold stretching) in addition to general warm up activities (i.e. walking, jogging).  To effect change in muscle length, stretching must be performed regularly, 3 to 4 times per week.

If you have further questions about either, or need some examples feel free to contact one of our physical therapists to be sure to perform safe and effective stretching.

Can You Prevent Injury To Your ACL?

When a friend or family member tells you that they have torn their ACL, most likely you have an idea that they have injured their knee and may require surgery.  You would be right.

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four major ligaments in the knee that provide stability to the joint especially during change of direction or jumping.  It is commonly injured when another player contacts the outside of the knee pushing it inward or when the knee is pushed beyond its normal limit of straight (hyperextension).  This is known as a contact injury.  But, you can also sustain a non-contact injury when jumping, landing or cutting.  The decision whether or not to have surgery to repair the ligament depends on your future activity level and your willingness to participate in many months of rehabilitation.

For those who successfully return to their prior activities, the re-injury rate for the same knee or the same injury to the other knee is quite high.  Several factors may predispose one for injury including gender, activity level and biomechanical adaptation during dynamic tasks – or the position your knee assumes when landing from a jump or cutting to change direction.  Studies show that there is a 4-6 times greater risk for females than males to injure the ACL.

Recent, research is now showing that certain exercises can help decrease the rate of non-contact ACL injuries by 70%.  As your therapists, we incorporate these exercises into your rehabilitation.  These include exercises to not only strengthen your muscles, but to improve your landing, cutting and running technique to prevent ACL injury.   By practicing correct technique with all exercises, you begin to incorporate a safe way to move which carries over to your sport.  For athletes who have not sustained a knee injury, these exercises improve strength and agility and enhance your performance.

At Peak, we are constantly looking for new research and techniques to improve your therapy outcome.  If you or a family member are interested in learning ACL injury prevention exercises, give us a call.  Our goal is to keep your body in motion.


This article was written by Valerie Jackson.

Valerie Jackson is one of our Peak Physical Therapists. In addition to physical therapy, she is also a certified Pilates instructor, and has years of experience playing and overseeing patients at high levels of athletics such as running, soccer, basketball, and field hockey.

Ice or Heat?

One of the most common questions we get is “when should I use ice or when should I use heat?”  It can be confusing when trying to decide which is best to use in various scenarios.

Ice: We recommend the use of ice for acute/new injuries, usually sprains or strains of muscle or tissue.  Ice helps to reduce inflammation and can also ease pain.

General symptoms that call for ice:

  •         swelling
  •         injury is warm or red
  •         inflammation
  •         pain

 

How to use:

  •         You can apply ice for 10-20 minutes.
  •         You can repeat this process every couple of hours.

 

CAUTION: Make sure your ice pack is covered with something like a pillow case.  Putting ice directly against the skin can cause tissue damage, sometimes as bad as frostbite.

 

Heat: The use of heat can be helpful in easing symptoms of pain from muscle spasms, knots, or trigger points.  These injuries are usually chronic in nature.  A stiff neck or a sore low back can be relieved by heat since the warmth  relaxes the over-active muscles.  It helps to increase circulation and reduce the muscle spasms.

General symptoms that will benefit from heat:

  •         Stiffness
  •         soreness that is generally chronic in nature
  •         knots, trigger points

 

How to use:

  •         You can apply heat for up to 30 minutes or as tolerated as a comfortable, relaxing experience.
  •         You can repeat this process every couple of hours if necessary.

 

CAUTION: Be careful when using heat.  The purpose is to warm the tissue.  Heat is not recommended for people with peripheral vascular disease or diabetes.  Using too much heat can damage tissue.

In summary, think ice for acute injuries that may be swollen, painful and hot.  Heat can be used for chronic injuries or minor muscular soreness.  If in doubt, feel free to come visit us or give us a call.