Foam rolling interview: who should use a foam roller?

This week we were asked to give an interview to up and coming foam rolling advice blog, Foam Roller Match. The site contains lists of details about different foam rollers, covering some of the technical content that we brought up in our article on Choosing the Right Foam Roller. In the interview, we’ve given some details about what we do, the differences in foam roller density and who should be using foam rollers. The top tip being that everyone should be using them! The only reason not to use a foam roller is if you don’t want to improve, unless it involves rolling on wounded skin (as is sensible).
Another key detail revealed in the interview is how it’s best to rehabilitate after an injury, and the steps you should take with professional assessment before turning to foam rolling. For a few more tips on the effectiveness of foam rolling, read the full interview here.

What to do when you’ve got one leg stronger than the other

one leg strongerWhen you have one leg that is stronger than the other, it will impact the form you use during your exercises. This can reinforce muscle imbalances, as the stronger leg takes over the exercise and it becomes difficult to handle the load through your weaker leg. There’s one simple way to overcome this balance, but it requires taking care and focus. Simply put: slow down. Continue reading

Don’t “just do it” – why drill instruction is bad coaching

drill instructor coachingIt’s important to have an instructor or training partner who keeps you going, and pushes you to reach your goals. But it’s also important to recognise that a good coach should do much more than just that. A coach, a trainer, or even a casual spotter, should never be there just to spur you on. If you truly want to succeed in your fitness and health goals, to achieve your maximum potential and avoid injury, you need someone to give you technical guidance as well as motivation. A good coach is not a drill instructor. Here’s why: Continue reading

Does a wide ‘split-the-floor’ squat stance really strain your hips?

wide squat hip strainFollowing on from the account of my experiences of the wide-stance squat, to maximise external rotation, let’s address the feeling of strain that a wide-stance can produce. Many people get scared off from the exercise – people have injured themselves doing it, which gives others an excuse to shy from an exercise that requires effort. But it’s very important that you recognise the difference between the effort required by the style, placing a large demand on the hips, and the idea that the “strain” demanded by the hips could be damaging. Done correctly, the pressure you feel is not harmful. You just have to be sure you are doing it right. Continue reading

How high demand for external hip rotation in squats creates a road to perfection

wide stance squatDoing squats with a heavy emphasis on external rotation can prove frustrating, but we encourage it for a number of reasons. Greater external rotation from your hips during the wide stanced squat supports your feet arches, creates a more stable position for the knees, allows a more vertical back angle and activates the glutes more. Beyond these physical benefits, it is also a great indicator of what you are doing wrong. I like to describe it as a squat technique which puts a magnifying glass on technical faults. The slightest errors get amplified significantly, not allowing you to get away with movements you might be able to with other techniques. And that’s a sure road to improvement. Continue reading

Why people should give their muscle health as much attention as their teeth

teeth and muscles

Our culture encourages certain activities as a force of habit, because they are fundamentally good for us. Brushing your teeth regularly, for example, is drilled into children to the degree that even the most resistant amongst us will be instinctively aware that to go without brushing your teeth for a day or two is bad. We all know that brushing your teeth can prevent terrible consequences. The same should be understood of exercise, and strength/movement training, as we teach it here are KneeStrength, and we want to make it clear that your physical health is as much in your hands as dental care is. Continue reading

Managing knee pain when attempting to squat to parallel

managing pain squat parallelWhen suffering with patellofemoral pain there are two traits of the squat exercise which can initially bring on pain or discomfort in your knees. Here we will explain those traits and come up with short-term workarounds to help the beginner get started with squats, make some progress, and do so with limited discomfort in the knees. Continue reading

5 key differences between squats and sissy squats

squats key differencesAs you progress in your exercises, it’s important to remember that what you learn in one exercise may not always be directly applicable to another. With squats and sissy squats, which similar names and similar principles, there are many factors that make them different. You must beware of these differences, to avoid mistakes.

1. Purpose of the squat exercises

Sissy squats are a specialist exercise aimed to help people with patella maltracking restore proper balance in their quadriceps muscles, to ensure the patella does not rub against the condyles of the femur. Squats are the most fundamental movement a human being performs. Using them as an exercise teaches and develops proper movement patterns and strength throughout the whole body.

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Why it’s a bad idea to use aids and supports in exercise

bad supports in exerciseSupports can help make exercises easier to perform, encourage people to do more exercise and boost your confidence. But they don’t help your body move properly, they ingrain a crutch in your movements that you should be working to avoid.

There are many types of different supports such as using insoles in a shoe, or wearing an elastic support for your knees. The idea behind insoles is that they makes it easier to maintain an arch in your foot so they effectively do the job of your hip rotation for you. And if something is replacing the job your body should be doing, your body isn’t learning to do it effectively itself. In a case like this, the hips rely on these aids and do not get stronger. See this article about fallen arches for an explanation of how you should be training your hips to create the arches in your feet.

For those who have become reliant on supports, we recommend you implement a “phased reduction” of your use of these aids. If you rely on aids during everyday life, like insoles, try taking them out during squats. Then stop using them for incrementally longer periods in the day. Gradually remove them from your life. In this case, as long as you continually practice external rotation from your hips, you will be fine.

Where should you put your knees? Thinking, and over-thinking, knee positions

knee position lying downThis site offers very specific advice on where to put your knees during exercises and how best to track them, but there is a limit to the proscriptions that should be offered when moving, and positioning your knees during everyday life.

A client recently brought the problem this can cause to our attention by asking how he should position his knees in a side-on position, for instance when lying down, given that we advise keeping your knees above or outside the feet when sitting. Correct movement can be complicated, and the theory is something you should try to keep in mind during your everyday life; but it’s time that we made a caveat clear: there’s no one ideal angle and position you should adopt. Here’s why knee strength means more than just keeping your knees out: Continue reading