As chiropractors that specialize in soft tissue treatments, we work with many individuals that have joint and soft-tissue restrictions. Finding spinal subluxations (spinal subluxation is when one or more of the bones of your spine (vertebrae) move out of position and create pressure on, or irritate spinal nerves) and soft tissue adhesions is like finding a needle in a haystack. The practitioners at Chicago Chiropractic & Sports Medicine focus on finding the relevant restrictions—the dysfunctions that are causing the most trouble. Functional screens are a way for us to narrow down the list of possible suspects, making treatments more efficient.
We will be doing a series of functional screens over the next couple of months. Screen One is the “6-inch Step-Down,” which helps us to determine hip strength and ankle mobility. To perform the screen, find a 6” step (bottom stair, wooden box). Stand on one leg with the opposite leg toes pointed up. Slowly lower the opposite heal towards the ground. Lightly touch the heel to the ground and return up. Perform on the other side. This movement should be done in a smooth, coordinated fashion. You fail the test if you lose your balance, you are uncoordinated, or you fail to reach the heel to the ground. Athletes should use an 8” step.
If you fail the Step-Down test, you may be lacking strength in your hip muscles (gluteus medius) or you may be lacking ankle mobility. One of the things you can do to help correct this is by adding the following exercises into your daily routine or before you exercise. If you feel that the exercises are not helping, you may need chiropractic manipulation or Active Release Techniques to remove the restrictions.
Calf Stretch with Stick Work
To work the calf, start by using The Stick over the calf muscles. Use firm pressure moving up the calf to find any tender areas. Focus on these tender areas by giving each spot 30 short and quick rolls with the stick.
To continue to stretch the calf, place the balls of one foot on a step and let the heel of the foot fall as far towards the ground as possible. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other calf. Do 2 sets of 30 seconds with each leg.
Side-lying Leg Lift
- The purpose of the Side-lying Leg Lift is to strengthen the gluteus medius (side of your butt) in order to help stabilize the knee.
- Lean your whole body forward 45 degrees and rotate your top foot so that the toes are touching the heel of your bottom foot.
- Lift your heel 4-6 inches off the ground and then lower back down.
- Start with 2 sets of 20-25 reps for each leg.
- Work up to 2 sets of 50 reps
- Then add 5 lb. ankle weight