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THERAPEUTIC EXERCISE and MYOFASCIAL STRETCHING 
 
Therapeutic Exercises are exercises that are performed to reach a physical benefit, like increasing range of motion, strengthening of weakened muscles, increasing joint flexibility, or improving cardiovascular and respiratory function.  They are all performed to help regain a person's ability to move free of pain.  

There are many aspects of therapeutic exercise, for example core strengthening, postural training, endurance training, spinal stabilization, plyometric training, myofascial stretching, balance training, and gait training.

Core strengthening exercises improve the strength and endurance of the muscles around your abdomen, back, hips and pelvis.  These are also called spinal stabilization exercises.  These muscles are used when you stand, walk, run, jump, swing a racquet or golf club, and even roll in bed.  They have an important job of keeping the vertebral joints in a good position while the movements are happening.  Without good core strength the upper and lower body are not coordinated with each other.  Degenerative changes can occur in the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and vertebral discs.  Arthritis can also set in sooner than later.

Postural training exercises allow a person to feel what the proper position is for their body.  Posture should be assessed as the parts of the body relate to one another.  It is a whole entity that needs to be optimized to prevent or reverse degenerative changes from occurring.  The posture of the head and neck will influence the posture of the pelvis and feet, and vice versa.  However, "good posture" is not achievable with correction alone.  In order for a person to make real changes and maintain those changes he or she must have good strength, endurance and range of motion.  Without good strength and endurance a person will fall right out of good posture as soon as they lose their focus.  I believe many people can relate to slouching soon after they "sit up straight".  Without good range of motion a person will not be able to even get into a good posture because they will be fighting against their own tight muscles.  Lastly, posture is not only a stationary position, but more importantly a collection of infinite positions occurring through active movement. 

Endurance training is beneficial for the heart and lungs, also called the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.  It is important for these systems to be efficient so that a person is able to walk the distances required in their life or perform at a high level  of skill even at the end of a sporting event.  It is vital for good performance of most sports.  

Muscular endurance is different.  It is the amount of repetitions a muscle can achieve in one activity.  It is great to be strong enough to move your body in your daily activities or during sports, but you won't get very far if you can only do it once or twice.  Muscular endurance training allows you to perform many repetitions of the same or similar movements without taking a break.  This is important for you if you are trying to climb a flight of stairs or if you're trying to pitch into the late innings of the game.

Plyometric exercises are for moderate to high level athletes.  It is another aspect of training that helps the muscles become more reactive.  If a person is strong and slow then they won't excel in their sport as well as if they are strong and fast.  Muscles, like everything else in the body, will be good at what they are used for the most.  If you practice improving the reactivity of your muscles, then they will become quicker, faster, and more powerful.

Myofascial stretching exercises improve the length of individual muscles and the fascia surrounding them.  The fascia is the covering around each muscle and muscle fiber.  It also runs a continuous connection throughout the body organs and musculoskeletal system.  Each area of the body can influence another greatly through the myofascia.  Stretching exercises help to free up tight or restricted areas so that the joints and limbs can move in their normal range.  This makes it more difficult to develop degenerative problems and injuries.  However, even though this is important, it is not the entire story.  Muscles that stretch out and are then very tight again within a day or two are doing that, not because the person has not stretched enough, but because muscles take orders from the brain . . . constantly . . . even when you are not voluntarily moving.  This is your resting tension level, which can only be changed by training your brain.

Balance exercises help train a person to be able to maintain or regain their center of gravity (their balance) when it is approaching a limit beyond their base of support.  This is important for the person that wants to be more stable on their feet or the athlete that wants to perform better.  Strength, endurance and flexibility are great, but not if you are falling down or off balance.  Balance can be improved at any age.  It requires practice and guidance to help you reach your goals quicker and safer.

Gait training is how we teach someone to walk properly with good posture and body mechanics.  This will help a person have better balance and avoid future injuries.  Proper stride length, good heel strike and rolling over each foot from heel to toe are examples of imperfections that might need correcting.  Contact us for an appointment.

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    The Physical Therapy Doctor of Bayside/ Whitestone, Queens, NY