Tag Archives: Sports

ACL Pre/Post Surgery Knee Exercises

Torn ACLs and knee injuries are surprisingly common, and a prime example of how muscular imbalances create wear on the joints. Proper awareness, balance, and strength training are key to preventing and rehabbing any and all injuries… knees included.

For a knee injury, it is important to build the entire leg: maintain quad strength, build stronger hamstrings, and focus on balanced strength in the hips. Pay attention to proper traction and alignment of the ankle, knee and hip as you exercise – in other words, make sure everything is lining up. You can easily do a movement, but without proper alignment of the joints, muscular imbalances can be created, resulting in continued strain.   The best way to build overall strength and better alignment is to incorporate some form of balance into your exercises. Balancing coerces lesser developed muscles to engage, as well as to kick in a little core support.

Your doctor or PT will probably gave you some similar movements, like squats, leg presses, and lunges, but my recommendation would be to try to incorporate an element of balance with each:

Wall Squats with a balance ball behind the back – Angle out the legs and work your way to bringing them under your hips. Pay attention that the knee lines up with the center of your foot. Don’t let the knees extend into flexion past the toes, or a 90 degree angle. Hold the squat for 30 seconds.

Single leg wall squats – This is a challenge. Be careful with these.

Standing on one foot Hip hikes
– Using a yoga block, encourage balance work on the standing leg. allow the opposing leg to tap the floor and lift up. Works the hips and standing leg stability.

Balance on one foot
– Balance on an upside down bosu ball, foam roller, or a wobble board at the gym
Practice balance on this for 30 seconds to 2 minutes at a time.

Lunges with bosu ball – You can flip the bosu either way.  Arm movements are optional.  Here’s an alternative with the Bosu Ball flipped.

Swimming over balance ball – Lying over the ball. Core is centered. Opposing hand and leg lift, other two remain in contact with the floor. Hold for 5-10 seconds each. Keep both arm and leg completely straight, hold and balance. Switch.

Hamstring curl, pelvic lift series on balance ball or bosu ball – Lying on the floor. Soles of the feet flat on the ball (don’t hang in just heels), curl hips up towards the ceiling and roll back down through the spine. Keep ball stable. Can do with legs together (harder) or shoulder width apart. Curl up and down 10 – 20 times.
1. Next progression: you can keep hips elevated and carefully push the ball out and in. Don’t move hips as you move legs. Be careful with this one.
2. Next progression: you can do single leg pelvis lifts, with opposing leg stretched upward towards the ceiling – again, be careful with this one.

Leg presses on the gym equip. Don’t just power through. Keep body aligned and lengthen spine and low back away from the leg movement.

Foam Roller IT band massage If you have a foam roller at the gym, you might want to roll out the outside of the leg. Actually, investing in a roller for home is a wise purchase. There are a multitude of uses and benefits. Rolling out the IT band can be painful, depending on how tense is. The roller helps release hip and leg tension, while reducing strain on the knee.

Chinese Brands Have Arrived

It came much sooner than I thought.

Little did I know as I posted about the growth of Chinese Brands (you can read about it here) Li-Ning was opening its first store in the US. Listen to the story on NPR here.

Li Ning chose to open in Oregon. Take that Nike.

How weird.

Bringing Out Your Animal Style: China’s Sporting Brands

Here it comes.

China’s economic growth will be bringing unique brands to the global market, enticing the eyes and wallets of people wanting something new.  We are still ahead of the curve, but trust me, they are on their way.

Sports in China are big. They have served China as a bridge to the outside world to showcase the country’s strength. Now that commercial sports marketing has edged it’s way in, sporting style is more popular than ever, and basketball leads the pack. Basketball’s got style. Nike has Yao Ming. And now, China’s got Shaq.

All things Western still maintain a certain cache, but, China has it’s own popular sporting brand directly competing with Nike…Meet Li-Ning.

Although the Li-Ning logo bears a striking resemblance to the Nike swoosh,  the company claims it represents the bounding energy exuded by brand founder and former gymnast, Mr. Li-Ning.

Li-Ning was a six time gold medal winning gymnast in the 1984 Summer Olympics. The company was formed under the guidance of the Chinese Olympic Committee in 1990, and has since skyrocketed to success within China in the past decade.

If you are a die hard basketball fan in the mood for something different, you could always make Li-Ning your thing.

If you are looking for something with a little more street cred from those in the “China know”,  go back several more decades to the 1930’s and pick up the choice shoe of the martial arts set, the Feiyue. So cool is this old school Shaolin Monk shoe, that a French company has bought the rights and upped the design, and the price. To remain true to Chinese sporting chic, best bet is to find a martial arts store, or go to amazon, where they sell the originals for a few bucks. Feiyues are surprising comfortable, if not exactly supportive.

So there you go – a few ways to embrace the China Chic before the curve sets in. It’s like shooting a three-pointer from the mountain top, crane style.

Shoot Hoops With Your Grandpa TODAY

mink Summer is creeping up. It’s the kind of weather where the breeze gently brushes your skin and the warm sun keeps you from getting goose bumps. And what’s better…not too many bugs just yet.

So beautiful you wish you weren’t inside. And I was. Working with an elderly client on his balance and reflexes by tossing a ball. It made me a little sad for both of us. Remembering he is a very proud grandfather and a former collegiate basketball player, without much thought I asked, ” Do you have any grandchildren nearby?” You should be out playing with them instead of in here doing this with me.” He was hesitant about asking his grandchildren to play, fearing perhaps coordination embarrassment. Once he conceded and did in fact go out to shoot some hoops with his family, he had a blast. Such a great bonding time was had, they resolved to do it regularly.

It’s a no brainer!  Grandpa, Grandma, elderly neighbor, Mom or Dad….whomever. Basketball, kickball, hopscotch, four square, …whatever. It’s all about fresh air, quality time with family and/or loved ones, and exercises that stimulate balance, reflexes, focus. Best return on this experiment are the smiles and a little laughter. We all need to feel like a kid again once in awhile.

There’s not a lot to this blog today, but common sense advise. I’d rather see your Grandfather outside playing hoops with you, than inside a therapy studio tossing a ball with me. So what are you waiting for….

You can watch the NBA Playoffs together afterwards…

The Dawning of the Age of Golfers

golf mustache for wind resistance

Pilates and Golf.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you might have heard of this popular combo.  I must fully agree with the pairing.  They both require the same skills: mental and physical conditioning from the inside, outward to the external.  In other words, practicing how you respond to your surroundings.

Unfortunately, like in most things, there is no magic spell to make this happen. It requires mindful repetition of movements which allow you to change and control your own habits without over-thinking, no matter what the external challenges might bring.   To be done properly, both golf and Pilates require precision controlled movements flowing outward from a strong and flexible center. One compliments the other indisputably. To create control and precision movements, one needs to be able to breathe properly, releasing tensing muscles, and quiets the active mind.

Living in the Midwest now, I realize golf is seasonal, as opposed to the West Coast, where it flourishes year round.  So now is the ideal time to start prepping body and mind for the upcoming season.  One movement every golfer needs to work on is twisting properly. My explanation here of twisting is pretty rudimentary, but this should convey the general concept. Keep in mind, just like with the English language, there are always exceptions to the rule.

In Pilates, the basic concept of twisting starts with the axis of the spine. Along the spine axis we have two attached bones structures we will focus on: the rib cage and the pelvis.

Twisting to stretch the back and strengthen the obliques, one must either A. Twist the rib cage, and stabilize the pelvis, or B. Twist the pelvis and stabilize the ribs. When we attempt a twist without stabilizing one part of the spine we often end up with back injuries. The twist of a follow through in your swing is only executed properly with the ability to stabilize ones pelvis  even as it moves with the spine. Hmmm. tricky. But, possible. Think of a rubber band: In order to stretch it, one point must be fixed. If both points are unstable, it’s a wet noodle. If both points are fixed, it is rigid and doesn’t move.

So how do you practice twisting?

Warning: Be careful and do not over do any exercise. I recommend only 3 sets. (1 set is a twist in each direction). If you have any back pain, do not do this exercise until you consult a professional.

Sitting on a large balance ball. Both feet and knees about shoulder width apart. Arms can stretch out to the sides, rounded in front, OR you can place one hand on top of the other on top of the head. Twist the rib cage to the right, but DO NOT MOVE THE BALL OR YOUR LEGS. This will limit your twist, so that you are twisting from your obliques and not your hip flexors. Repeat to the left. The stability of your legs, backside and the ball is more important than the amount of rotation from your chest. As you twist, think of spiraling up towards the ceiling, rather than twisting back behind you. Remember: twist up, not back. twist-on-ball

For the more advanced student, it can be done on the floor, keeping both legs glued together and the spine lifted up towards the ceiling.


Spring and Summer 2009 I will be giving several workshops on Pilates movement for golfers. Please check back under classes and workshops to find out when and where. If you are interested in hosting a Pilates and golf workshop, please email me at: pilates@stephanieellison.com