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Posted by on May 16, 2012 | 0 comments

You’d Better Slow Down if You Want to Avoid Swimming Injuries!

Summer is almost here, and when the temperatures rise, you’ll want to do an exercise that not only gets the job done but also keeps you cool.

Swimming is a longtime favorite summer activity for children and adults alike. Better yet, swimming has the reputation of being a low-impact form of exercise and is kinder on the joints. But just because it’s a low-impact exercise doesn’t mean that injuries never abound, especially when done incorrectly, in excess, or in speeds that you’re not used to.

Four major injuries can occur while swimming – swimmer’s shoulder, breaststroke knee, neck injuries, and lower back injuries. Here are some tips to help you avoid obtaining these injuries!

Swimmer’s Shoulder –This is probably the most common injury found in swimming. Usually, it’s caused by the user implementing bad technique or by working out too quickly or too much or simply by overusing the muscles. Sometimes the injury can occur when swim paddles and pull buoys are used.

To prevent swimmer’s shoulder, be sure that you are using the correct technique when you swim. A qualified swimming professional or even an experienced swimmer can help you pinpoint your mistakes and show you how to properly stroke.  Don’t over train or work out with tired muscles since the stabilizing muscles in the shoulder could be injured or over-fatigued. Additionally, avoid suddenly increasing your speed or workload in your workouts. Remember, slow and steady ultimately wins the race!

Breaststroke Knee (a.k.a. Swimmer’s Knee) – As the name may suggest, this injury is generated by the stroke mechanics of the breaststroke kick. Whenever you extend your legs and then bring them back together during the propulsive phase of the kick, your knees are subjected to external rotation and the lower leg bending outward. Additionally, your inner ligament in your knee (known as the medial collateral ligament) is also put under stress.

Don’t want breaststroke knee? Try alternating your swimming strokes. Try doing butterfly strokes, backstrokes, or even freestyle. Perhaps give yourself rest periods during the year in which you don’t use breaststrokes. During that time you could engage in strengthening exercises for your quadriceps and your hamstrings. Additionally, try using swimming fins and they will help with resistance. And, most importantly, warm up and stretch before you swim!

Neck Injuries – Usually neck injuries occur because the swimmer is using incorrect technique while swimming. Neck injuries can be easily avoided in nearly all the different forms of swimming.

If you are using the freestyle stroke, be sure to keep your head in line with your spine as much as possible with your eyes looking straight down. Try not to look forward or lift your head to breath, and avoid over-rotating your head when you inhale. Instead, rotate your BODY more so that your head won’t have to do so much of the work!

When you use the butterfly stroke or the breaststroke, keep your head aligned with your spine at ALL times. Breathe while looking down so your head stays in a neutral position and is much less prone to injury.

Lower Back Injuries – These injuries are typically obtained due to incorrect technique. If you aren’t certain of how to properly use the correct technique while swimming, consider taking swimming lessons or talking with an experienced swimmer.

While using the freestyle stroke, you can get lower pack injuries if you swim with a high head position or if your hips and legs tend to sink and you kick hard to keep your legs up, overarching your back. Try working on your position and balance so you can find a relaxed horizontal position and provide relief for your lower back.

When using the butterfly stroke, poor technique and lifting your upper body out of the water with your back strength can lead to lower back injuries. If you happen to swim like this, try working on your body undulation and dolphin kick so that it’s the body wave, not your back, that lifts your upper body out of the water. And as always, warm up and stretch properly before doing the stroke.

What’s that? Want some more tips on how to prevent injuries? We’ve got you covered!

*Warm up/cool down and stretch before and after swimming.

*Take swimming lessons and swim under supervision. Never swim alone as this could lead to more serious injury or even death.

*Don’t swim if you’re overheated, too cold, too tired, have a fever, have an upper respiratory infection, or have an ear infection.

*If you’re diving, be sure that the water is deep and safe enough. NEVER dive in the shallow end of a pool (this also goes for lakes and rivers)!

*Not up to full-fledged swimming? No problem! Pool walking is an excellent form of water exercise, and you are much less prone to injuries!

For more tips or if you have any further questions, contact Fitness4Life at (618) 656-5433 or visit!

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Posted by on Sep 2, 2011 | 0 comments

An FMS is an Athlete’s BFF – Why You Need to Get an FMS Today!

Have you ever been in any sort of accident or have experienced some sort of injury in your life? Most of us have had a least some minor injury to our body, be it a sprained ankle or injured hand or something more serious such as a dislocated shoulder or a torn ligament.

In fact, you don’t even have to be involved in sports at all to get a serious injury. It wouldn’t be unheard of if an adolescent playing an innocent game of nighttime tag with his friends turned the wrong way or overstretched his stride and dislocated his kneecap.

Let me tell you: that sort of injury does NOT look pretty.

And here’s the kicker – that adolescent with the dislocated kneecap, a horrible injury which could continue to plague him for the majority of the school year, could’ve easily been avoided.  Besides maybe being a bit more aware of his surroundings, he could’ve gotten a functional movement screening (FMS) from Mark Slaughter, PT, here at Fitness4Life.

Slaughter is one of the four certified physical therapists in the entire St. Louis area and is happy to provide screenings for any and all clients, young and old alike.

So what is FMS and what does it all entail?

FMS is an analysis on a person’s movement, and it evaluates the body’s vulnerabilities and inflexibilities so that future injuries will be prevented.  While your body’s weaknesses are identified, its strengths and flexibilities are also distinguished. It is a very effective screening that U.S. football, hockey, baseball, university teams and even the United States military have been using for years.

The screening includes 7 exercises and 3 easy movements to test for pain that you will undergo as you take it. They include the deep squat, in-line lunge, shoulder mobility, active straight leg raise, trunk stability push up, rotary stability, impingement clearing test, press up clearing test, and posterior rocking clearing test. These exercises are scored on a scale of 0 to 3 with 0 being a complete fail and 3 being perfect. Check out this video for what the exercises look like:

FMS can also help you to become a better athlete! Once you’ve discovered your weaknesses, Slaughter can show you workouts and stretches to help you strengthen yourself so you will become much less prone to injury.

The human body is like a computer; preventative measures must be taken in order to protect it from viruses and infection, and an FMS will help you prevent injury to your body. So stop by Fitness4Life before your next workout session or sports season and ask Mark Slaughter to give you an FMS!

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Posted by on Aug 30, 2011 | 0 comments

Hey, High School Athletes! Avoid Injury with a Functional Movement Screening at Fitness4Life!

School is back in session all around the country, and with the beginning of a new year comes the beginning of new school sports seasons. Approximately 7.2 million high school students will be participating in several sports this year, either purely for fun or perhaps emulating their favorite professional athlete. Oddly enough, high school students are injured at about the same rate as professional athletes.

Injury can occur anywhere, but it is especially prominent in sports activities. Don’t let this deter youfrom allowing your adolescent to participate in high school sports; there is an efficient and simple way to help prevent future injuries, and it can be done here at Fitness4Life!

Functional Movement Screening (FMS) is an excellent and easy process to go through which helps prevent possible injury in the future in easily injured areas such as knees, shoulders, and extremities. It may sound fancy and potentially terrifying, but FMS is only a screen that helps document how your body moves compared to how your body is supposed to move. By undergoing this screen, you will be able to find out your weaknesses and any dangerous movement patterns your body does, which could later lead down the path of injury.

If you feel like you could go without taking this easy evaluation, consider these following statistics: Each year high school athletes account for an estimated 2 million injuries. Doctors are seen for injuries such as these approximately 500,000 times a year, and 30,000 of the injuries result in hospitalization.

In short, about 20 percent of adolescent athletes have injuries each year, and one in four of the injuries is deemed as serious.

Mark Slaughter, PT, here at Fitness4Life, is one of the four certified people in the St. Louis area who can perform the screening.  Flanked by years of training and experience in working with thousands of patients, Slaughter can provide the quality care you need for a sports injury, working with common injuries such as shoulders and knees and complex injuries dealing with the spinal cord and ligaments.

FMS isn’t just limited to students; adults are also welcomed to try the screening! Even the fittest adults can be prone to injury, especially in the lower back region.  While exercising moderately and warming up can help avoid any potential problems, getting an FMS is a crucial part of staying fit, healthy, and accident-free.

So what are you waiting for? Lace up those trainers and head on down to Fitness4Life to get an FMS before you start working out or your next school sports season! Your body will thank you for it!

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