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Meet Your New Stretching Partner: The TheraBand CLX

Posted by: Dr. Phil Page  /   July 16, 2015  /  12:32 PM

A good workout buddy can motivate you to get to the gym, spot you in the weight room, and even push you to a more effective stretch.

That’s right—a technique called contract-relax stretching improves flexibility more than merely holding a toe-touch or quad pull. To do it, you contract each muscle immediately before lengthening it. Experts believe this alters brain signals in a way that allows additional lengthening.

The only problem: A partner must provide the resistance, leaving solo exercisers out of luck. Until now. A recent study found an elastic band similar to the TheraBand CLX works just as well for contract-relax stretching. By pushing against the resistance of the band before lengthening, participants increased hip flexibility just as much as when stretching in pairs.

Try this CLX move to loosen your hamstrings. You can also use it to stretch your quads, calves, and Achilles tendon. 

Bigger, Better Muscles, No Weights Required

Posted by: Dr. Phil Page  /   July 16, 2015  /  12:28 PM

Think you have to hit the weight room to make muscle? Think again. Research shows the same elastic bands physical therapists use in injury rehab work just as well as machines or free weight at improving strength and muscle size. In fact, double up the band and you can even get a high-intensity, strength-building workout.

Scientists once believed you needed to train to failure—or complete fatigue—to stimulate muscle growth. They now know that’s not the case. Using products similar to the TheraBand CLX creates the same hormonal response as doing a similar program on weight machines, according to a recent study in Journal of Exercise Physiology. This immediate effect triggers the long-term gains found in several other studies.

So, pick up your CLX and start building a better body today. Try the Knee Extension below. As you get stronger, try placing both ends of the band around your leg. 

The Surgery-Free Way to Relieve Shoulder Pain

Posted by: Dr. Phil Page  /   July 15, 2015  /  05:09 PM

Your shoulder can move in more directions than any other joint. Thanks to this freedom, you can toss pitches, sweep floors, swing a tennis racket, and hoist heavy suitcases into the overhead bin of an airplane.

But all too often, chronic shoulder pain makes these motions—and more—difficult. Some people choose to go under the knife for shoulder problems. Two recent research reviews, however, find that in many cases, exercises work as well as surgery to relieve pain and restore function.

Shoulder-strengthening moves like the ones below, using the TheraBand CLX, can improve your strength, flexibility, and range of motion.

If you have stubborn shoulder pain, consider asking a physical therapist or other expert to demonstrate the best program for you. But once you’ve mastered them, doing exercises on your own can effectively treat many cases of shoulder pain, the studies suggest.

Hockey Players: Learn the NHL’s Secret Weapon Against Groin Strains

Posted by: Dr. Phil Page  /   July 15, 2015  /  04:21 PM

Goals, assists, penalties—all key hockey stats. There’s another number that should matter to players: The ratio of their inner to outer hip strength. A bigger imbalance between these muscle groups means a greater risk of groin strains.

Fortunately, exercises using tools like the TheraBand CLX can equalize hip strength and reduce injury risk. As proof, researchers recently evaluated an entire National Hockey League team. Of the 58 players tested, 33 ranked as high-risk and completed a six-week preseason strengthening program.

Only three groin strains occurred in the next two seasons (compared to 11 in the two seasons prior). And those who did sustain strains missed less playing time, in part because they incorporated similar strengthening moves into their rehab program.

Three strength-building sessions per week did the trick for the pros. If you play hockey or another sport with side-to-side motion, they could prevent injuries for you, too. 

Avoid Repeat Ankle Sprains with These Four Simple Moves

Posted by: Dr. Phil Page  /   July 15, 2015  /  04:13 PM

You’ve recovered from one ankle sprain. The last thing you want? To do it all over again.

Unfortunately, about 70 percent of people experience a second ankle sprain after the first. The reasons aren’t always clear. But experts believe poor balance plays a role—and that balance-boosting exercises can break the cycle of chronic strains.

San Jose State University researchers recently found simple kicking exercises—done with resistance bands similar to the TheraBand CLX—improved balance in both healthy and frequently injured men and women. Study participants did four exercises, kicking in four different directions, three times a week. At the end of four weeks, their balance improved significantly compared to a control group.

If you’ve suffered from a sprain, consider doing these moves regularly. But even if you fall off track, the results have staying power. In the study, better balance lasted for four weeks after the exercise program ended.

Hip Strength Can Ward Off Groin Strains in Male Soccer Players

Posted by: Dr. Phil Page  /   July 15, 2015  /  04:04 PM

With each forceful kick, male soccer players risk strains where they’d probably least like them—the inner thigh. In fact, groin strains rank among the most common injuries on the pitch.

Good news, guys: You can protect this area before trouble strikes. Use the TheraBand CLX to build what’s called eccentric strength—muscles that remain powerful when lengthened. The more eccentric hip strength you have, the more safely you can slow down, stop, and change directions mid-kick.

Danish researchers recently assigned soccer players to either a hip-strengthening or control group. After eight weeks, both groups improved their strength. However, the men who did the eccentric moves saw 13 percent greater gains.

Add that to an earlier study showing fewer groin strains in hockey players after a strengthening program. The result—an insurance policy against inner-thigh injury. For best results, add these exercises into your practice routine two to three times per week.

Women, Strengthen Your Hips to Beat Knee Pain

Posted by: Dr. Phil Page  /   July 15, 2015  /  03:35 PM

The ache often starts underneath your kneecap or on the front of your knee. But the solution to knee pain may lie higher, in the hips.

Strengthening hips using tools like the TheraBand CLX could ease runner’s knee and similar conditions, research shows. In one study, two simple hip-focused moves relieved women’s kneecap pain in eight weeks. In another, 85 percent of women sidelined with knee pain returned to their sports after a 12-week hip-strengthening program.

Why? Especially in women, weak muscles turn the hips inward. As a result, your knees cave and knock when you run, putting extra pressure on the joint. On the flip side, strong stabilizing muscles align your hips and knees properly—so you can move pain-free.

Don’t wait until you’re hurt to shore up strength. Use these moves anytime to prevent knee pain and even reduce your risk of injuring your ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).

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