Iliotibial band stretches can make a big difference to back, hip and knee problems.
The Iliotibial Band (ITB) is a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of your leg from your pelvis to your knee. Some of the buttock and hip muscles attach to it and the ITB co-ordinates how these muscles work and stabilizes the knee.
Tightness of the ITB can make subtle changes to the way the knee moves resulting in knee pain . It can lead to patella maltracking, where the kneecap doesn’t glide properly. Sometimes referred to as Runners Knee and Chondromalacia Patella. It can also irritate the bursa, small fluid filled sacs that provide cushioning between the Iliotibial Band and the bones underneath, causing inflammation and pain. The most common sites for this are at:
1) The Knee: Iliotibial Band Syndrome. Common in long distance runners. Causes pain on the outer side of the knee and thigh.
2) The Hip: Trochanteric Bursitis. Causing pain and acute tenderness on the outer side of the hip
Standing ITB Stretches
1) Basic ITB Stretch
Intro: This is my favourite of all the iliotibial band stretches
Starting Position: Stand upright and cross your right leg behind your left.
Action: Lean slightly forwards and to your left side until you feel a stretch on the outside of your right leg. Lean on a chair/wall if needed. Hold for 30 secs
Repetition: Repeat 3 times, 2x daily, or before and after exercise
Progression: Place your hands on your head whilst doing this to increase the stretch
2) Wall ITB Stretch
Starting Position: Start as with the first exercise but cross your right leg further over behind you to the left. Place your hands on your head or lean on a wall for support ensuring your hands are above your head as this increases the stretch.
Action: Lean to the left whilst gently gliding your hips to the right until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 secs.
Repetition: Repeat 3 times, 2x daily, or before and after exercise
Notes: People often find that they feel more balanced and in control by using the wall for balance
ITB Stretches Lying Down
1) Side Lying ITB Stretch
Starting Position: Lie on your left side at the edge of a bed/table with your bottom knee bent
Action: Move your top (right) leg backwards so it hangs down over the edge of the bed. Gradually try and let the right leg drop down more to increase the stretch. Hold for 30 secs
Repetition: Repeat 3x, 2x daily
2) Belt ITB Stretch
Starting Position: Lie on your back with a belt looped around your right foot
Action: Bring your right leg straight up and across your body until you feel a stretch on your outer thigh. Hold for 30 secs
Repetition: Repeat 3x, 2x daily
Progression:1) Increase the stretch by turning your foot inwards as you do the exercise
Tips: Keep your hips flat on the bed/table rather than letting them twist up
Assisted Iliotibial Band Stretches
If you find it hard to do Iliotibial band stretches effectively, getting someone to help can make a big difference. They may be able to help you stretch your ITB further than you can on your own.
1) Assisted ITB Stretch
Starting Position: Lie on your back with your legs straight.
Action: Assistant brings your right leg up and across your body until you feel a stretch on the outer side of your thigh. Hold for 30 secs
Repetition: Repeat 3x, 2x daily
Progression: Increase the stretch by turning your foot inwards as you do the exercise
Tips: Get someone to put gently pressure through your hips to keep them still
The ITB band I have found to be very difficult to stretch alone. I have found that an assisted ITB band stretch is better and rolling out this area should be implemented as well.
Don’t forget to take care of the body that takes care of you.
Log onto Bodybuilding.com and do a search for Protein… What do you find? A list a mile long of different brands of protein. This article isn’t focusing on the brand, more so on the type of protein. Yes, I said “type”.
Some of you might not know there are different types of protein with different purposes. Heck, there might be a few people out there who have never even looked at the ingredients on a tub of protein.
This article will shed some light on the subject and break down what type of protein you need and when. Timing and the right type of protein is the key when looking for the best results.
Whey concentrate is one of the most basic forms of protein that is found in many protein tubs on the shelves of supplement stores. People who are looking for an inexpensive protein source will find tubs of strictly whey protein concentrate with a lower price tag.
This is a great starting point for beginners and those looking to add protein to their diet without making your wallet lighter. Some people will find though that they have a hard time digesting the concentrates and will end up feeling a little gassy and bloated.
Whey concentrate can be used both pre and post workout and can also be used as a snack in between meals. This is not a preferred source of protein to be used at night.
If you are looking for a protein that will slowly breakdown over the course of several hours that you can use as a meal, or better yet right before you go to bed then casein protein is definitely the way to go. Before bed if you take in casein protein you will stay anabolic throughout the night and will be able to utilize the protein in your body.
Casein takes anywhere from 5-7 hours to fully breakdown which keeps your body absorbing and utilizing the nutrients even while you sleep. People also use casein during the day to help stay full and to keep a constant supply of protein in your body to supply the muscles with proper nutrition for hours after drinking the shake.
Another positive to this source of protein is its high glutamine content. Glutamine helps boost the immune system and speed up recovery. This is the preferred source of protein to use at night before bed.
Isolates are one of the quickest absorbing proteins (but not the quickest-we will get to that soon enough). People will find this source of protein to be a bit on the expensive side (more-so than whey concentrates), but not near as expensive as the protein we will be touching on next.
These proteins are perfect for those with low carb diets. Many of the protein tubs on the market these days that are strictly whey isolates have very low if any carbs/sugars. Isolates are great pre and post workout as they are absorbed quickly and can supply the muscle the nutrients needed to help recover and grow.
Hydrolysate protein is the most expensive source of protein you will find on the markets these days and is the highest quality of protein available. They provide highly absorbable peptides that can have a great anabolic effect (highest absorption rate of the proteins available).
Hydrolysate protein is also much better on the digestive system compared to whey concentrates. This protein can be used both pre and post workout.
Soy protein (even though not a huge seller for bodybuilders) is a good source of protein for those looking for a vegetarian source of protein. This is a useful source of protein and comes with many benefits to its user. It is loaded with glutamine (to help with recovery), arginine (help dilate blood vessels to allow nutrition to get into the muscles quicker), and BCAA’s (help with recovery).
Soy supports a healthy cholesterol profile due to the isoflavones found in the product. It has also been found to boost thyroid hormone output. By doing so, it speeds up the metabolismwhich aids in fat loss. This type of protein can be used both pre and post workout or anytime throughout the day if needed to get in a meal/snack containing protein. This source is not preferred to use at night.
MILK PROTEIN ISOLATE
Milk protein isolates contain both casein and whey proteins. This source is full of amino acids (similar to soy protein). This type of protein is mostly used in a blended protein source where multiple types of protein are used. Milk protein isolates are not a preferred choice if looking for a protein but can be used anytime during the day, but is not a preferred source to use at night.
Now we are going back old school-to a place where protein powder was nonexistent. Egg whites (whether separated from the yoke or found in a container) are an excellent source of egg albumin. The amino acid profile on these are great and has been used since back in the day to help build lean muscle mass.
Egg albumin is not commonly bought in the powder form, but rather bought in a carton or container and cooked. Many blended protein sources as well as meal replacements will have egg albumin in them. This source of protein can be used anytime throughout the day, but is not a preferred source to use at night.
So as you can tell there are many different options of protein for you to choose from. My personal recommendation is start with something simple like a whey concentrate and see what results you get with that before you start buying something like the hydrolyzed protein where you will be spending considerably more money.
Some people find concentrates give them great results and stick with that. Some people are lactose intolerant so they need something like a whey isolate.
Whatever you choose, give it some time to give you results. Protein isn’t a “feel” type of supplement-meaning unlike a stimulant, you aren’t going to see and feel results immediately. Give it at least a month and then evaluate your results and go from there.
If you’re new to the CrossFit community, I’m sure one of the first things that you noticed is that you no longer just walk into the gym a with just a water bottle. Silly me, I used to roll up to Gold’s with a little drawstring knapsack to toss my keys and cell phone into while I went all crazy during spin class. Then, I signed up for CrossFit.
Hanging from a pull-up bar was one of the most foreign concepts ever. I hadn’t climbed a rope since the 4th grade. My hands were NOT in any sort of tough shape, and those blisters (and eventual rips) HURT. So, I went to the store and bought myself a pair of wide receiver gloves.
Then, I got my own jump rope. I noticed that I’d get shooting pain through the back of my hands whenever cleans got heavy. At regionals in 2013, I got my first pair of wrist wraps. The pile of CrossFit stuff kept growing, as did the size of my gym bag. Nanos, lifters, headbands, grips, chalk, knee sleeves…
WHERE DID ALL THIS COME FROM?!
So, if you’re still new to CrossFit and are wondering what certain things are and where you can get all this stuff for yourself, I’m here to break it down for you.
Rogue Fitness – You see the name Rogue on people’s shirts, shorts and our bumper plates all the time. In addition to rigs, plates and equipment, Rogue is essentially a CrossFit supermarket. They boast that they have the widest selection of shoes, and carry the 2 main footwear brands in the CF world, Nike and Reebok.
So, what are the most common workout accessories you’ll find in a CrossFitter’s bag?
Your general catch-all training shoe. Not always carried in general sporting goods stores. I’ve always gotten mine directly from Reebok or Nike, either in their own retail or outlet stores.
Olympic Lifting Shoes
Rarely carried retail. You can buy directly from the manufacturers themselves online. If you’ve got tiny feet and are looking for Nike Romaleos, I’ve been told that EastBay.com has more sizes and colors than are listed on Nike’s own website.
Barbells get heavy, and a lot of us aren’t used to holding up our bodyweight’s equivalent in the front rack position in the everyday course of our lives. Not all athletes use them, but they’re a very helpful accessory to help lend you some support as the weights go up. They can be found on those websites listed above, or directly through brands. I snagged my wraps from a Strength Wraps booth at 2013 Regionals.
Everyone’s got their own reason for wearing them. I personally didn’t think they were necessary until tearing my meniscus a couple years ago. Since then, I’ve found knee sleeves to help keep my knees warm and flexy during heavy and high-volume squat metcons. PLUS, they offer an extra layer of protection when there are burpees involved, which is a big ol’ bonus. I’ve seen a big increase in knee sleeve popularity in the past 2 years. Rehband (one of the most common brands you’ll see) used to make only 1 color, now they come in a rainbow.
This is where I make an exception in general gear snobbery. If you can’t do double unders consistently, buying a $40 custom jump rope is not going to magically give you the ability to do them. Save your money. Buy a $10 adjustable rope on Amazon, (like this one). Practice, practice, practice. Build confidence with a simple rope that you can tweak and adjust to your body perfectly. Once you’re good at DUs, reassess your feelings and spend the extra money if you still feel the need to. Chances are, you will realize that money can be put to better use in the Friday night pizza fund.
This past Sunday was the first time in over a year that I finally made it back to Open Gym and man do I miss going. Opportunity to work on weaknesses, catching up with friends, overall just enjoying the journey. I also found myself having a bit of deja vu and having similar conversations and realizations I had about training a few years back. Specifically of having confidence in ourselves and our lifts. It can really go such a long way. That in mind, here’s a repost from back to early 2015 . . . .
SAVE THE DATE! Barbells For Boobs will be on Friday, October 21st. For more information or to register click here.
To believe – to have confidence in ourselves – to allow our mind to be persuaded in the truths of what we are capable of. Each of these are of the same, each of these different. Most importantly, all contributors to your personal success not only in life, but in your Crossfit journey. So many times you hear people talk about someone and their mental game, whether or not they are “ready”. It’s hard to tell when one is at this point. It’s not something that just switches on and off like a light switch. It’s developed over time, created through how we perceive ourselves. With so much coming up in the next months – competitions, fun runs, 5k’s – how are you to tell if you are ready or not? Simple, you’re not able to tell.
There’s only one way to know and that’s to get out there and do it. There may be days where you don’t even consider going RX or Competitor for the WOD, when in actuality you physically can. Heck, it might even be light weight or an easy movement for you. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that you always should but, days when we are feeling good and ambitious, we should really give ourselves a bit more credit than we do.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve questioned myself at whether or not I should go RX. So much to the point where I’ll load the bar up with RX but stack the weights in such a way where if I need to drop down quickly, even if it’s just 10 lbs, I can. Of course to my surprise, almost every time I don’t strip the weight down and still somehow complete the WOD. This is a perfect example of how we need to give ourselves more credit sometimes, to believe in ourselves.
Maybe for you it’s not weight. Maybe it’s stringing together more double unders, getting those higher box jumps, getting your first muscle up. . . no matter what it is, with a little confidence in ourselves, when we truly believe that we can, our mind will allow our body to follow suit. There will be days when you have no motivation, there will be days when you want to give up. Go anyways, get the job done and finish what you started. The reward will be unlike anything else. Your mind is the limiting factor. Then, magically, when you’re not even looking for it, you’ll realize you are ready. Sign up for that competition you keep looking at, sign up for your first fun run or 5k. The only way you will ever know if you are ready or not is to try.
In the worlds of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100%.”
I have been coming to CF Factory Square for about 3 years now and I still have questions. I love all of the WOD’s, however I really really love the ones that do not include the barbell. That being said, I get the most core strength and stability from our barbell work:)
I see weight belts on our CF athletes and decided to do outside research on the do’s and don’ts, pros and cons, and what might be preferred for each athlete. So, there is no right or wrong answer here. Just information. Information is POWER.
May help prevent injury to the low back during heavy lifts.
All of the upsides to wearing a belt come down to the idea of intra-abdominal force or pressure. A study done by Miyamoto, et al. found that “Intra-muscular pressure of the erector spinae muscles increased significantly by wearing the abdominal belt during Valsalva maneuvers and during maximum isometric lifting exertions”. In short, if you increase the pressure in the abdomen, then you better stabilize the whole area which makes for a safer environment for the spine and can increase your ability to lift heavier weights.
Let’s go over the three kinds of belts that are in use most widely and the potential benefits of each.
1. Powerlifting Belts
Powerlifters wear belts like the Inzer Forever Beltprimarily because it allows them to squat and deadlift more weight. The potential safety benefit is a secondary concern.Belts designed specifically for the sport of powerlifting are heavy duty, stiff, and the same width all the way around. The fact that there is more surface area of your abs in contact with the belt, combined with the fact you’ve got a buckle that can be pulled as tight as you want without coming undone makes for a remarkable amount of internal pressure build up.
More pressure equals more stability equals more weight. It really is that simple.
2. Velcro Belts
Velcro belts are generally made of some synthetic material and because it is being held onto your body with only Velcro, there is a limit to how much force can be exerted against it before the Velcro simply pops off and your belt loosens. The amount of intra-abdominal pressure they generate is far less. You may get some added injury protection out of these, but you won’t get much of a performance boost.
3. Bodybuilding or Traditional Belts
These belts are made of leather and are thicker in the back than in the front.They are only as thick as the belts that hold up your pants. They buckle and fasten in the same way as a powerlifting belt – they just aren’t as strong.
What this means is that they provide less internal pressure than the powerlifting belts (because of a smaller front) but more pressure than a Velcro belt (because of their ability to be buckled very tight).
They are a hybrid in terms of what you are getting out of them.
Should You Wear a Weightlifting Belt? Cons
There are two major arguments against the use of a belt. Below I go over each, and my response to them.
1. Belts Mess With Motor Learning
The first concern is the belt might inhibit proper motor learning. Many of the best exercises in the gym require a correct pattern of recruitment of the abdominals (including the obliques and transverse abdominals). With beginners, weight belts circumvent their learning of how to “squeeze” their abs tightly and in the right ways during a heavy lift. The belt just takes over.
This issue, however, is pretty easy to get around if you have a good coach or you are paying attention.You should never use a belt in place of proper core work, stabilization, and technical learning. But that should be obvious.
2. Belts Make Your Lower Back Wimpy
The second concern is that wearing a weightlifting belt is going to cause your lower back to be weaker than it would have been without it. Why? Because it will take stress off the back and stress is what drives adaptation.
Let’s think about this for a second. The strongest deadlifters in the world nearly all wear belts all the time in training and competitions. Do you really think they have weak lower backs because of their obsessive use of a belt? Putting on a belt MIGHT lower the amount of stress on the low back by some amount, but that difference is more than made up for by the additional weight you will lift via a boost from internal pressure or even just the psychological boost you get when you feel safer.
To sum it up on my end is wear a belt that is comfortable for you and recommended by a CF coach. Wear it when you feel you need it, take it off when you don’t.
When we think of mobility in CrossFit, we usually focus on our shoulders, traps, IT band, quadriceps—pretty much the entire posterior chain (which includes the glutes, hamstrings, posterior deltoids, and more). But what about the ankles? You might scoff at the notion of spending time to work on the flexibility of the joint, but what if I told you that doing so would significantly help your squat, improve your strength and reduce the risk of injury? Now I’ve got your attention.
To learn why ankle mobility is so important in a squat (or any closed chain movement where the foot is in contact with the ground), we must learn more about dorsiflexion and how it relates to the ankle.
Dorsiflexion and the ankle
The ankle is a hinge joint, and is only able to move (on it’s own) through one plane of motion—the sagittal plane. There are two movements within this plane, plantarflexion and dorsiflexion. Plantarflexion is the movement or pointing of the toes downwards (like a ballerina going on to her tip toes). Dorsiflexion, as you might imagine, is it’s opposite. This is when you lift the ball of the foot with the heel in contact with the ground, as if you were pulling your foot upwards towards your knee. Now the reason why dorsiflexion is considered to be the most important of the degrees of freedom of the ankle is because it allows for the tibia (the shin) to move forward, relative to the position of the foot. This is crucial for correct body positioning and the efficient production and application of force.
What causes poor dorsiflexion?
Poor dorsiflexion can be attributed to a number of factors. These include:
Flexibility issues with the Gastroc/Soleus complex (muscles of the calf).
Ankle joint restriction. This can be due to a tight joint capsule and/or scar tissue and adhesions in the joint from prior injuries or surgeries.
Anterior pelvic tilt posture. Bad posture (how often do you slouch when you’re sitting at your desk?) brings the body’s center of mass forward, which causes the ankle to plantar flex in an attempt to balance it out.
Other injuries in the lower body. If an athlete is experiencing knee, hip or back pain as well as any other muscle soreness in the lower body, they will instinctively limp or modify their movement to avoid discomfort. Doing so will cause the ankle joint to tighten and limit it’s range of motion.
Frequently wearing shoes with elevated heels. Most shoes have a heel that is slightly higher than the front of the shoe, so wearing them excessively will result in a progressive loss of flexibility. Now, I know what you’re going to say: “What about OLY shoes?” There is a varying debate on the usefulness of OLY’s—Matt Chan has actually attributed a knee injury he sustained to lifting in this shoe. On the other hand,Greg Everett points out that OLY shoes are around for a reason—to increase an ankle’s range of motion and allow them to dorsiflex. Obviously an OLY shoe doesn’t have as high a heel as, well, heels.
How to test your ankle mobility
So how do you know if you have poor ankle mobility? There are a couple of ways to find out:
Perform a basic air squat a few times and have someone watch you. A telltale sign of poor mobility is if your heels routinely come off the ground.
Stand straight with your feet together. Can you lift the ball of your foot off the ground without moving your body?
Kneel on the ground and assume a position similar to stretching your hip flexors, with one knee on the floor. Your lead foot that you are testing should be lined up 5 inches from the wall. From this position, start to lean in towards the wall while keeping your heel on the ground for as long as possible. This position allows you to measure the tibia angle in relation to the ground and measure the distance of the kneecap from the wall when the heel starts to come up. If the kneecap can touch the wall from 5 inches away, you have good mobility in the ankle.
How does poor dorsiflexion affect your performance?
Depending on the level of inflexibility in the ankle, it may cause a complete inability to perform a movement, or create a negative knock-on effect all the way up the posterior chain with the serious potential to cause an injury. As I mentioned, poor ankle mobility causes the tibia to be dragged into a more vertical position, the trunk to lean forward and the loss of a neutral spine (as well as a host of other maladies). So what are the practical implications of poor dorsiflexion of the ankle? Primarily, it severely decreases the ability to generate maximum force, thanks in large part to the loss of a neutral spine impairing the ability to transfer force from the hips to the load. In particular, it will affect your the front squat (and therefore clean) and overhead squat (and therefore snatch). Furthermore, if you are performing lighter or unweighted variations of these movements, you are building negative technique habits and unsafe joint loading patterns that will leak efficiency, reduce your work capacity and increase the risk of injury.
Obviously, it’s important to spend time working on ankle mobility to improve dorsiflexion. Here are a number of exercises to help get you started:
Self myofascial release on the foam roller. Grab a foam roller (the harder the better) and sit on the ground. Place one leg on the roller, just above the ankle, and the rest the base of the heel of your free leg on your toes. Roll up and down the entire length of your calf and Achilles’ tendon for 1 minute. If you hit a tender spot (you’ll know if you do), pause and focus on this area for 10-20 seconds. The great thing about this exercise is that you can turn your body to the side and hit both the medial and lateral aspect of your calf, and you can add in active movements during the rolling such as actively dorsiflexing the foot or performing ankle circles.
Banded heel cord with anterior bias. Take a monster band and fasten it against something stable such as a rack, and loop your foot through the front. Maintain contact between the front crease of your ankle, and have the cord pull you back. Step up and place the ball of the working foot onto a 25 or 45lb plate, or just an elevated surface, allowing your heel to still be on the ground. Drive your knee forward and backward, to put pressure on the front of the ankle to get a good stretch into the joint. Move into the end of the available range, and then move out of the end range, for about 1-2 minutes.
Heel raises. This is a simple and quick drill that is easy to perform. Simply place your toes on a slight incline (like two 5lb plates) and move into dorsiflexion by bending your knees. Increase the incline as you progress.
There are a ton of additional exercises you can find by doing some research online, or you can ask your coaches for some useful exercises. Just make sure that you start adding in an extra few minutes to your daily mobility routin
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Mark B., CFS Member
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Greg Glassman, CrossFit Founder
"I’ve come to realize that fitness and weight management truly are journeys, not destinations. And with the help of Crossfit and all that it represents, I’ve been able to get on the road to health."
Jim D., CFS Member
If you told me I would be able to deadlift 200lbs, do 65lb thrusters, jump onto the 20in box, make my mile time the fastest it has ever been or buddy carry my best friend over my shoulders, I would have told you, you’re nuts!