Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. If you have a question, just ask! Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

Advanced Swiss Ball Exercises

If you've already mastered the basic Swiss Ball exercises and the moderate Swiss Ball exercises, then you are ready for these more advanced Swiss Ball exercises to strengthen your core and back muscles. Start off lying on your back. Put your legs on the ball, and keep your back and head down on the floor. Bridge up by lifting your hips off the floor into a straight line. Try not to arch your back, and pause for about 3-5 seconds. If that becomes easy, you can try the bridging with one leg.

Next, you are going to roll the ball toward you while in a bridge position. Try to keep the ball in a straight line and bend your knees up towards your chest pulling the ball to you. If that is easy, then try with one leg. The last exercise is going to be plank push-ups. Roll out on the ball with your feet on the ball and your hands flat on the ground. Keep your back straight like you are in a tabletop position. Now drop down on one elbow, then the other elbow, and then back up. 

 

Hamstring Strengthening Exercises

Here are some simple hamstring strengthening exercises to get your hamstrings stronger.  There are some more advanced hamstring exercises in the Swiss ball exercises once you master these. You may also want to check out the Hamstring Stretching Exercises.

The hamstrings are very important muscles, and they are usually involved with back pain, hip pain, or knee pain. Here are some simple hamstring strengthening exercises to get your hamstrings stronger. Once you master these, there are some more advanced hamstring exercises in the moderate Swiss ball exercises and the advanced Swiss ball exercises. You may also want to check out the Hamstring Stretching Exercises.

To begin these hamstring strengthening exercises, start off on your back for the first exercise. Bend your knees up into a hooklying position. You will do a bridging exercise by pushing your hips up off the ground. If that is easy, you can do the same thing with one leg at a time. Next, you are going to roll over on your stomach. Pull your heel up and back as far as you can to your bottom. Eventually you will want to add ankle weights for more resistance.

The next exercise is standing. Hold onto something to start off with so you can do the correct form. Keep the top part of your leg even with the leg you are standing on. Pull your heel back to your bottom as far as you can without bringing your knee up or flexing your hip. Now you are going to perform a squat. Make sure that your knees do not go in front of your toes. Keep your legs shoulder width apart, and push your butt back like you are going to sit in a chair. Your weight on your feet should be equal all around, not shifted to your toes or to your heels.

Finally, you are going to do a lunge. Again, make sure your knees do not go in front of your toes, and keep your upper body straight. You can see the modified versions of the squats and lunges in the knee strengthening video. 

 

Nerve Pain, Muscle Pain, or Joint Pain?

Q: How can I tell the difference between nerve pain, muscle pain, or joint pain?

A: It is very important to know what kind of pain you are having. A frustrating answer I hear when asking someone to describe their pain is,  “It just hurts.” Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, there are many different kinds of pain. If you are able to be specific about your pain, it can greatly help your clinician better diagnose you and eventually help you to feel better.
 
So back to the question. There are many types of pain. The most common are nerve pain, joint pain, vascular pain, and muscle pain. Nerve pain is commonly described as sharp, bright, burning, or shooting. Joint pain can be dull, achy, and very localized. Vascular pain is usually diffused, achy, and poorly localized.  The most common type of pain is muscle pain.  It is usually very hard to localize, dull and achy. It usually is aggravated by an injury, and sometimes even refers to another area.  
 
So please pay close attention to the kind of pain you are having so you can easily describe it to your health care provider.
 
Have Nerve Pain? This video may be able to help.
 

 

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is when tissue on the bottom of our feet get irritated and inflamed. This can be very painful, and sometimes people have a difficult time walking with it. Often people will have the worst pain in the morning when they first walk. The pain can be in the bottom of the foot, the arch of the foot, and/or the heel.

There are several stretches in this video to help relieve the pain. First you are going to stretch your calf muscle, or gastrocnemius muscle. Keep your leg straight, and take the belt or leash and place it on the ball of your foot. Relax your leg and then pull your foot towards you. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, 3 times. Next, you want to massage the tissue, or fascia on the bottom of your foot. Use circular and spreading motions, and apply more pressure where you feel knots. 

These next stretches you can do sitting. The best time is right before you get out of bed because many people have the most pain when they first put weight on their feet in the morning. You can use a noodle or foam roll, and place it under your foot. Roll lightly at first, and then apply more pressure if it is not too painful. You can also take a water bottle and freeze it. This will give you an ice massage while you are stretching the fascia when rolling it under your foot. 

The last stretch you can do standing on a step or curb. Place the ball of your foot on the edge of the step and relax your heel downwards. This will stretch your fascia and your calf. Hold for 30 seconds and do it 3 times.

 

Neck Pain

If you are having some neck pain, stiffness, or tightness, check out this video for neck stretches. The neck muscles that are affected the most are your trapezius and levator scapulae muscles. People often describe neck pain as a crick in their neck.

First start off with some gentle neck stretches by bringing your chin to your chest and then looking up towards the ceiling. This is neck flexion and extension. Next you are going to take your ear to your shoulder on each side. Make sure you are not shrugging your shoulders up. This is side bending. Then you are going to turn your head from side to side like you are looking over your shoulder. This is neck rotation. If that is not painful, then you can add some overpressure with your hands. 

Now place your hand under your thigh to keep your shoulder down, then side bend your head to the opposite side and gently put pressure with your other hand to get a stretch through your trapezius muscles. Hold these for 30 seconds and perform 3 times on each side.

The final stretch is going to be for your levator scapulae muscle. This is the muscle that is used when you shrug your shoulders, and they can get overworked when you are stressed out. Take your arm on the side of the pain and place it above and behind your shoulder. Then take your opposite arm and place on top and slightly behind your head. Look down towards the opposite knee of the pain and apply gentle pressure for a good stretch. 

 

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