Tag: back pain

Runners, Cyclists, and Athletes – Tight hip flexors? Low back pain?

The combination of certain activities – especially running, hiking and cycling – followed by sitting for long periods of time, can contribute to tension in the front of the hip, and pain in the low back. Have you had a day of activity, followed by a long drive home? Or had a great run or ride, maybe an intense spin class, then sat for hours at the desk? The hip flexors are in a shortened position while sitting, tighten, and then the nagging pain in the low back will often follow. Those muscles in the crease of your hip can actually get so tight, that they stop other neighboring muscles from working. The deep glutes can stop activating when walking. If this pattern continues, not only can your bottom become flat and flabby – AND WHO WANTS THAT – but back pain or discomfort generally follow. Our posture, while standing or walking will change. The top of the hip bones are pulled forward, which increases the curve of the lower back.

What will help, when this imbalance occurs? One stretch that is particularly helpful is a lunge, with the back knee down, sometimes know as the “lizard pose”. Ask one of our massage therapists, trainers or instructors to help you with this. Something else to try is to lay face down on a mat, with a lacrosse ball underneath you, positioned on the front and side of the hip. This can be a little intense, or uncomfortable at first, but if you are consistent, and try it for a few minutes every day, the hip flexors will loosen.

The best solution of all is to get a therapeutic massage session. There are a couple of assisted stretches that will target the front and side of the hip, as well as deep tissue and fascial techniques, that will really make a difference.

Try all three – stretching, self-care with the lacrosse “torture” ball, and a professional massage. Why live with that nagging pain? With some focused effort, one can really make some changes, and start moving freely again. Thank you for reading this,

Leo DiLorenzo
Licensed Massage Therapist
Seattle Athletic Club

Lower Back Pain: Quick tips to a healthier back

Have you ever bent down to tie your shoe or pick up some small object and come up with back pain? Have you hurt your back while playing with your kids or walking the dogs? Low back pain is a common problem and one of the main reasons is inactivity. As we get older and less active, we lose the strength and the balance in the core muscles (abs and low back) can lead to poor posture, improper alignment, fatigue and pain. Regular exercise is the best way to protect your lower back.

Quick tips to a healthier back

Sitting:

  1. Do not sit for long periods of time.
  2. Avoid sitting forward on a chair with back arched
  3. Sit in a chair with good lumbar support and proper position and height for the task. Keep your shoulders back. Switch sitting positions often and periodically walk around the office or gently stretch muscles to relieve tension. A pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the small of your back can provide some lumbar support. If you must sit for a long period of time, rest your feet on a low stool or a stack of books.
  4. Avoid sitting with legs out straight and raised on a stool.

Standing:

  1. If standing for long periods, shift positions from one foot to another or place one foot on a stool.
  2. Stand tall, flatten low back, tighten lower muscles under belly button, and relax the knees a bit to lessen the pull of the hamstrings on your pelvis.
  3. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. A raised heel will exaggerate the curve in your lower back.

Lifting and Carrying:

  1. To pick up an object, bend at knees and not the waist; do not twist to pick up an object. Face the object squarely; and tuck in buttocks and tighten abdomen.
  2. To carry an object, hold object close to body; hold object at waist level; and do not try to carry object on one side of body for extended period of time. If have to be carried unbalanced, chance from one side to the other.

Sleeping:

  1. Do not stay in one position too long.
  2. The bed should be flat and firm yet comfortable.
  3. Do not sleep on the abdomen (stomach).
  4. Do not sleep on your back with legs fully extended.
  5. If sleeping on your back, a pillow should be placed under the knees.
  6. Ideally, sleep on the side with knees drawn up to reduce any curve in the spine.
  7. Do not sleep with arms extended overhead. This will increase curve in spine.
  8. If your bed is too soft and gives little support to your back you may need to place a ¾-inch plywood board underneath the mattress to give it a firm, stable surface for your low back.
  9. If dealing with acute pain from an injury the position of least strain on the back is in the fully recumbent position with the hips and knees at angles of 90 degrees.

Regular exercise and a healthy diet will help decrease your chances of a low back injury. Special attention should be placed on flexibility of the muscles that directly impact the movement and stabilization of the hips and low back. Please come and talk with personal trainer Jason Anderson janderson@sacdt.com or any of our training staff at the Seattle athletic club to get you started on a safe and effective workout program to protect your back.

Spinal Alignment and Positioning

Spinal alignment is key for proper development and activation when exercising. Most exercise is done with a neutral (can also be referred to as straight) spine, which is the maintenance of the natural s-shaped curvature when the spine is erect. Everyone has an anatomical variation; a slightly different degree of curvature. But, often the spine can get out of alignment from bad posture, trauma, or work- related stress. So when do we need to move the spine through articulation, and when do we need to stabilize it?

Several exercises will help develop the slow-twitch muscles directly along the spine; the multifidus and erector spinae. Increase in load of the exercise will also strengthen larger muscles responsible for spinal strength; core muscles, quadratus lumborum and psoas muscles.

Stabilizing exercises with a neutral spine:
Plank – The plank is arguably one of the best exercises you can do. It incorporates core muscles and spinal stabilizers in an isometric contraction (without movement). There is a lot of shoulder and scapular involvement, and will improve overall posture.

Side plank – The side plank is more intensively focused on lateral hip stabilizers, intercostals, and quadratus lumborum of the side closest to the ground. This can be helpful to correct or help dominance issues and scoliosis.

Bird dog – This is also called the quadruped opposite arm and leg raise. This exercise focuses on stabilizing the hips and shoulders from the core muscle structure while aligning the body parallel with the ground.

Bridge – The bridge is a great hip strengthener. It is directly targeting spinal stabilizers and there is the central focus of core contraction.

Strengthening exercises with a neutral spine:
Seated row – The seated row works on stabilization of the lumbar spine and scapulae through a retraction and depression motion that activates large muscles in the thoracic spine (rhomboids, rotator cuff muscles, latissimus dorsi).

Front weighted cable squats/ barbell squats – Require a more intense stabilization of the spine and core muscles through a movement. With the weight in front of the body or on the shoulders there is more load applied to the spine in particular.

Weighted hinge/ deadlift – This exercise is one of the most important to develop strong spinal stabilization. Most of the movement that is done throughout the day requires little to no stabilization so our movements tend to articulate and relax the muscles around the spine. This movement works on integrating large hip muscles and core stabilizers to move from, versus the back muscles. The motion itself is often inhibited in a lot of people and can be a challenge to teach the body, but worth it in the long run.

Prone cobra – The prone cobra directly targets muscles along the spine from the rhomboids of the thoracic spine to lumbar fascia and quadratus lumborum of the lumbar spine. This exercise puts the lower back into extension and opens the chest cavity; as well as, loosens hip flexors and activates hip stabilizers when done correctly.

Articulation is important to prevent nerve impingement between the vertebral discs. Pilates and yoga have the best full-body movement that articulates. In sport-related movements the initiation of a movement is stabilized and then progressions with follow through.

Spinal movement:
Cat/Cow – This is a yoga movement to fully articulate the spine through a gentle motion.

Spinal twists and lateral bends – There are several different exercise techniques that accomplish this. The exercise should start with little to no weight (added or body weight) and then progress to adding more load.

Light cable rows/ band rows – Doing a row with little to no weight will accomplish the same as the gentle movements if articulation is integrated, but will also strengthen the spine during this kind of motion in daily life.

Hinge/ deadlift with articulation – This will accomplish the same as the above exercise by allowing the spine a full motion and then engaging to increase strength.

These last two exercises are relevant to an athlete for increased performance and protection during the sport and less relevant to someone who is moderately sedentary for most of the day.

One of the best ways to improve posture and spinal stabilization and strength is learning to sit and walk with a straight spine. The muscles will have to fire more continuously and develop as a result. A general rule of thumb – nothing will improve posture better than working on just that, posture. If you have any questions concerning desk/computer alignment or an assessment of your posture and needs, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Amber Walz for further details.

3 Steps to a Stronger Healthier Back

The most common ailment to affect people to today, even more common than headaches, is low back pain. According to the American Chiropractor Association (ACA) as many as 80% of people will suffer from some form of low back pain, either chronic or acute, at some point in their lives. In fact, Americans alone spend nearly 50 billion dollars each year in order to correct this disorder. The good news is that most low back pain can be relieved or dramatically improved reduced following a few simple steps.

One of the most common contributors to low back pain is simply due to lack of strength in the core and lower back. Using a few exercises that can be performed at the gym and some at home can help address this problem:

Back Extension

  • Starting Position: Sit in the machine with the upper back pressed against the back pad. Flex the torso forward and move the body back to align the hips with the axis of the machine. Place the feet on the machine frame or foot supports. Grasp the handles or the sides of the seat.
  • Backward Movement Phase: Keeping the thighs and feet stationary, extend the torso (lean backward). Keep the upper back firmly pressed against the back pad. Maintain a tight grip on the handles or the sides of the seat.
  • Forward Movement Phase: Allow the torso to flex (lean forward) back to the starting position. Keep the upper back firmly pressed against the back pad and the thighs and feet stationary. Maintain a tight grip on the handles or the sides of the seat.

Bent-Over Row

  • Starting Position: Grasp the bar with a closed, pronated (palms down) grip wider than shoulder width. Lift the bar from the floor to a position at the front of the thighs using the first pull phase of the power clean exercise. Adjust the feet to assume a shoulder-width stance with the knees slightly- moderately flexed. Flex the torso forward so that it is slightly above parallel to the floor. Assume a flat-back torso position with the shoulders back and chest out. Focus the eyes a short distance ahead of the feet. Allow the bar to hang with the elbows fully extended. Adjust the position of the knees, hips, and the torso to suspend the weight plates off the floor.
  • Backward Movement Phase: Pull the bar up toward the lower chest or upper abdomen. Keep the elbows pointed away from the sides of the body with the wrists straight. Keep the torso rigid, back flat, and the knees in the same flexed position. Touch the bar to the sternum or upper abdomen. At the highest bar position, the elbows should be higher than the torso.
  • Forward Movement Phase: Allow the elbows to slowly extend back to the starting position. Keep the torso rigid, back flat, and knees in the same flexed position. After the set is completed, squat down to return the bar to the floor.

Bent Knee Sit-up

  • Starting position: Assume a supine position (back facing the ground) on the floor or a mat. Flex the knees to bring the heels near the buttocks. Fold the arms across the chest.
  • Backward Movement Phase: Flex the neck to move the chin to the chest. Keeping the feet, buttocks, and lower back flat and stationary on the mat, curl the torso toward the thighs until the upper back is off the mat. Keep the arms folded across the chest.
  • Forward Movement Phase: Allow the torso, then the neck, to uncurl and extend back to the starting position. Keep the feet, buttocks, lower back, and arms in the same position.

Another all too common contributor to lower back pain is due to a lack of flexibility often due to lack of exercise, a job requiring extended period of sitting, and old injuries. Here are a few Stretches to help address these issues:

Stretch #1

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place your bands on the back of your thighs and pull your legs toward your chest.
  • Pull until a gentle stretch is felt.
  • Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 9 more times.

Stretch #2

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Keeping your back flat on the floor, rotate your hips to the left, lowering your legs down to the floor until a gentle stretch is felt.
  • Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 9 more times.
  • Keeping your back flat on the floor, this time rotate your hips to the right, lowering your legs down to the floor until a gentle stretch is felt.
  • Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 9 more times.

Stretch #3

  • Lie on your stomach.
  • Prop yourself up on your elbows extending your back.
  • Start straightening your elbows, further extending your back.
  • Continue straightening your elbows until a gentle stretch is felt.
  • Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 9 more times.

Stretch #4

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Push the small of your back down and into the floor by tightening your lower abdominal muscles.
  • Hold for a count of 10.
  • Return to starting position and repeat 9 more times.

The last step, and arguably the most crucial for a healthier back, is recognizing good and bad posture. Given that many of us work jobs that require extended periods of sitting, this step virtually everyone can improve on. Here is a tip to achieve better posture and potentially have the greatest effect on your lower back health…Lose the Chair! It is no secret that nearly all office chairs are mediocre at best in supporting good posture. With their sleek design and comfortable arm supports, who wouldn’t want to a go about their work day in a lazy boy? Unfortunately office chairs today are simply not built with back health in mind. Although comfortable, these chairs offer little benefit for supporting a strong core. One solution has come with the use of a stability ball or Swiss ball as a replacement for your chair. The added challenge of balance offered by the stability ball means proper spinal alignment is virtually impossible to cheat. Using the ball as a chair, forces the user to break the habit of slouching by positioning the pelvis underneath the core in order to stay balanced. It is recommended, however, that you phase in this chair replacement as this can initially be tiring for the muscles responsible for holding the spine in proper alignment. For more information on exercises, stretches, and other tips on low back health please feel free to contact Will Paton.

Yoga Pose of the Month: Post Workout Stretches

This month, the Yoga Pose of the Month is actually a simple series of four basic “feel good” yoga poses for a post work out stretch.

The first, Downward Facing Dog (Adho Muka Svasana), is a yoga classic. It’s purpose is to stretch all the major posterior muscle groups, as you strengthen your core, and let oxygenated blood flow to your brain.

The second is Pigeon (Raja Kapotasana) which is designed to create flexibility in the hips, glutes and inner thighs.

The third, Bridge Pose (Setu Bhandasana) will open the muscles of the chest and create flexibility in the anterior body, as well as strengthen your back side if you push firmly into the floor and fire up your hamstrings and glutes.

The final, Resting Pose (Svasana) is an important piece to muscle recovery as it allows the body and mind to be totally still, and feel the wonderful effects of your workout and deep relaxation of Yoga Asana.

Posture at Work and Pain

Often, people suffer from pain while they are working, particularly those who work at a desk all day. This can range from neck pain and headaches to low back pain to cramping hamstrings. Posture plays a vital role in all of these areas of the body. Poor posture will tighten certain muscles, loosen others and cause nerves to over fire, causing pain. If you have pain, look for these signs:

  1. Are your shoulders rounding forward? This is usually a weakness in the external rotators of the shoulder and tightness through the chest. By strengthening the rotator cuff your shoulders will pull back more naturally. You can stretch the chest in a doorway by placing your arms at 90 degree angles and leaning the weight forward. Take a deep breath and allow the stretch to deepen. This stretch should be performed as soon as you get to work. It will help to keep your open for the rest of the day.
  2. Are you tensed in the neck talking on the phone or do you reach your head forward looking at a computer screen? Every so often take a deep breath and sigh out the mouth. This will help calm the mind and relax your body. Also, perform cervical spine stretches while sitting.
    • While looking forward drop the ear towards the shoulder. Take a few deep breaths to deepen the stretch. Perform 3 times on each side
    • Drop the head down, pointing your nose towards one of your armpits. Again, take a few deep breaths. You will feel this one more behind your ears.
    • Turn and rotate the head as if you were trying to look over your shoulder. With each breath, try to look a little bit further.
  3. Do you get back spasms while seated? You may be flattening your back against your chair, giving it an unnatural curve. When this curve occurs, the lower vertebrae take on more weight than they were designed for. To help take the strain off the vertebrae, different muscles will begin to over fire, causing pain. While sitting, reach the crown of your head up and maintain this position. Sitting on a Swiss Ball helps with this. Since no back support is provided the body is required to be in the correct posture.
  4. Do your legs or knees hurt while sitting? You may be sitting too long. While in a seated position the hamstrings are slightly contracted and the quadriceps are slightly stretched. This position can be taxing on the muscles if maintained over an extended time period. While sitting, stretch one leg out straight, placing the heel on the ground. Keeping the spine straight, lean forward and feel the stretch up the back of the leg. Also, try to stand up from your seat every so often to get the blood to flow back to your legs. Even just sitting down and standing up a few times will help loosen up your legs and back.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a set of symptoms including pain that may be caused by general compression and/or irritation of one of five nerve roots that give rise to the sciatic nerve or by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve itself.

Generally speaking it is pain in the lower back, glutes, leg and foot. The pain may be in one of those places or all of them and can be mild or very severe. Someone with Sciatica may also feel numbness, and may experience muscular weakness causing difficulty moving or controlling the leg. Typically the symptoms are on one side of the body.

Although sciatica is a relatively common form of low back pain and leg pain, the true meaning of the term is often misunderstood. Sciatica is a set of symptoms rather than a diagnosis for what is irritating the root of the nerve, causing the pain. This point is important, because treatment for sciatica or sciatic symptoms will often be different, depending upon the underlying cause of the symptoms.

What are the causes of Sciatica?
The number one cause of Sciatica is a disc herniation – A condition where two vertebrae’s are compressed together forcing the jelly like cushioning to bulge out from in between the vertebrae’s. There are others causes though, such as:

  • Spinal Stenosis – A condition due to narrowing of the spinal cord causing nerve pinching which leads to persistent pain in the buttocks, limping, lack of feeling in the lower extremities, and decreased physical activity.
  • Spondylolisthesis refers to the forward slip of a vertebra over the one beneath. There is different grades of this, which explains why some people don’t have pain with this condition.
  • Pregnancy – Weight gain, uterus growth, ligaments and joints relaxing due to hormonal changes, cause shift in the pelvis, which can in turn cause compression on the sciatic nerve.
  • Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Dysfunction – SI Joint becomes inflamed; the portion of the sciatic nerve running in front of the joint will become irritated.
  • Piriformis Syndrome – is a condition due to an over active Piriformis causing compression on the Sciatic nerve.
  • Daily Habits and Activity – Daily activities can cause overuse of the Piriformis muscle or place more stress on the joints, which can cause added compression or irritation to the sciatic nerve.

Can sciatica be cured?
There is no cure for sciatica. You can relieve the symptoms to the point you don’t have any more pain or discomfort though a series of stretching and exercises. However, these symptoms may come back depending on the cause of sciatica. The best thing to do is, once the symptoms are relieved continue with the stretching exercises prescribed by your doctor or physical therapist. This will help in future prevention of the symptoms of sciatica to come back.

What can I do to relieve the symptoms?
Depending on what is causing sciatica depends on the treatment. There are many different forms of treatment that your doctor will prescribe to you depending on the cause of sciatica. Below are different approaches that may help to relieve symptoms. In most cases many of these will help. Always ask your doctor before beginning any form of treatment though.

Below is a list of treatments and description of each, try the least evasive forms of treatment first.

  • Stretching Exercises – Though a series of stretches for the hips and back you may relieve the symptoms of sciatica. This will help to relax the over active muscles compressing on the sciatic nerve.
  • Physical Therapy – Will rehabilitate the herniated disc or the over active muscles as well as give you a program to follow to prevent recurrent flare-ups and compression on the sciatic nerve. This program will help you to strengthen the muscles supporting your back, stretch the over active muscles, and improve the posture, which can cause the compression on the nerve roots.
  • Massage Therapy – Massage therapy along with trigger point therapy is a great way to help alleviate the symptoms of sciatica by getting the muscles around the area to relax releasing the compression on the nerves.

If these forms of treatment do not relieve the sciatica symptoms, then trying these more aggressive forms of treatment.

  • Non-Surgical spinal decompression – this technique is great for those with herniated or bulging disc that are causing the sciatic symptoms. It gently separates the vertebrae from each other, creating a vacuum inside the discs that we are targeting. This moves the herniated or bulging disc into the inside of the disc, off the nerve root. Eliminating the symptoms of sciatica.
  • Medications – you may be prescribed anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce the inflammation of the muscles that are creating sciatica along with a muscle relaxer to allow the muscle to relax. If you have a lot of pain a pain killer (narcotic) may be used for short term relief. In some instances your doctor may inject a corticosteroid medication into the affected area to help relieve pain.
  • Surgery – in some severe cases, this is an option when the compression is causing excessive weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control, and when the pain is progressively getting worse, even following all other treatment options.

What are some Exercises and Stretches I can do at home?

  • Low Back Stretch – Start by lying on your back pulling one or both knees to your chest holding for 30 seconds
  • Lumbar Rotation – Lie on your back with both knees bent, hands and arms making a “T” shape, drop your knees to the side, keeping your feet flat on the ground the whole time. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch – Start by kneeling on the floor, place left foot in front creating a 90degree angle. Press hips forward while engaging the left glute to help the left hip flexor relax. Hold 30 seconds and repeat on the right side.
  • Piriformis Stretch – Lie on your back cross the left knee over the right, raising the knees and pulling across the midline of the body. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • Lat Stretch – Start by sitting on your heels. Keeping the hips on the heels, walk the hands out in front stretching though the back only as far as out as you can go while maintaining hips on heels. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Marching – Start by lying on your back, placing your heels on the floor at a 90degree angle from your hips. Holding that angle as if in a cast, raise your knee up slightly past perpendicular to your hips maintaining that 90degree angle, lower and repeat 10-15 reps.
  • Clam Shells – Start by lying on your side in a fetal position, knees bent to almost 90degrees. Roll your hips forward so that the top hip and knee is slightly in front of your bottom hip and knee. With out rocking your hips backward and keeping your heels together, raise your top knee only as far up as you can with out changing the position of your hips.
  • Quadruped – Start out on your hands and knees by placing your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Raise your left leg straight back pushing your heel toward the wall, while raising your right arm straight out keeping it as close to the ear as possible. Hold this for 5 seconds, lower and repeat on the other side, 8-12 reps on each side.
  • Swimming – Start by lying on your stomach placing hands out in front of you. Raise your left leg and right arm, and lifting chest off the ground, keeping the neck in neutral position, hold for 3 seconds, lower and repeat on the other side, 8-12 reps on each side. REMEMBER do not jerk your body into position only as far as you can controllably raise your chest, arm, and leg.
  • Bridge – Start by lying on your back, knees bent at a 90degree angle, feet flat on the ground. Squeeze the glute muscles, keeping the abs engaged, lift the hips up off the ground. Hold for 5 seconds, lower and repeat for 10-15 reps.
  • Pelvic Tilts – Start by lying on your back, knees bent at a 90 degree angle, feet flat on the ground. Place your hands on your hips and tilt hips forward, (think about taking your hip bones and moving them to touch your leg bones). It is important to remember to not use your back muscles to create an arch in your bag, but instead using your deep core muscles to move your hips. Then tilt your hips backward (think about taking your hip bones and moving them to touch your rib cage.) It is important again to remember to use your deep core muscles to move your hips rather then squeezing your glutes to move your hips.

For a more detailed view of the Sciatic Nerve see the below pictures.

Pathophysiology

Testimonial:
A couple of years ago I injured my back while training for a marathon. Initially I thought rest and ice would take care of it – it didn’t. I tried going to a chiropractor with no relief. Eventually, my doctor sent me to physical therapy where I received ultrasound treatments and was taught various stretching and strengthening exercises. The PT provided some relief, but I was still frustrated at my lack of progress as I had a nearly constant nagging pain, especially when I sat for long periods.

I spent a lot of time self-diagnosing. An article in a running magazine suggested that one common cause of lower back pain in runners was an injury to the piriformus muscle in the lower back and buttocks. It quite literally is described as a “pain in the butt.” I decided this must be it. At the end of 2009, I started working with Katrina Yniguez at SAC. I explained to her my desire to get back to running, and my belief that my piriformus was causing my back pain.

Katrina conducted an assessment of my biomechanics and immediately prescribed some corrective exercises for my leg and back muscles. She also started me foam-rolling (deep tissue massage) my piriformus muscle and other muscle groups. At first I thought she was crazy as the exercises she had me doing were very easy and seemingly unrelated to my back. Katrina explained, however, that strengthening these muscle groups would improve my biomechanics and ultimately reduce the risk for future injury. I persisted.

Eventually, Katrina stopped being crazy and started being just plain mean. Although always pleasant and upbeat, she had obviously decided at some point that the corrective exercises were not needed anymore, and it was time to start the hard stuff. Now, twice a week, she puts me through my paces with core-focused exercises that primarily work my back, legs and chest. I never look forward to the tough workouts, but I always am glad that I did them after they are through. The good news? My back pain is almost completely gone and, when it occasionally returns, I know exactly what to do to get rid of it. I’m now back to regular running, pain-free.

I appreciate Katrina’s ability to listen to what I thought was happening to my body and to design a program that would target the needed areas. It has been great working with her. She is great to work with an always has a positive attitude, and I’ve discovered she’s not really that mean (well, she kind of is).

Matthew D. Latimer

If you would like to begin developing a training program to assist with your specific situation, please contact Katrina Yniguez.

How many cyclist do you know with good posture?

Many Seattleites enjoy the vast terrain of Washington through the means of biking. Weather permitting many people hit the outdoors and enjoy all of its scenery using a road, mountain or on a hybrid bike. While the true enthusiast might brave the Seattle downpour, most people come inside the club and enjoy one of the many different spin classes offered at the club.

One Factor that is constant with all cyclists, indoor and outdoor, is that their posture will start to take a turn for the worst. Having correct posture consists of maintaining a balance in the strength and flexibility of the front side (chest and front deltoids) and back side muscles (rear deltoids, mid traps and upper lats) of the upper body. As we ride any type of bike we maintain a slight or extreme forward lean, sometimes for hours. This forward lean eventually causes a strengthening and tightening of the front side muscles, while never addressing the backside muscles. If this continues without constant stretching and strengthening of the backside muscles a kyphosis or mid back hunch back look will start to form. So now that we cyclists know what the issue is, how do we address it? Some of the great options offered at the club are to take a yoga class and ask them to add a cat and cow sequence to their class. This sequence is performed by getting onto your hands and knees and alternately depressing your chest as far as possible (cow) and then pushing your shoulder blades as far upward and apart as possible (cat). Another possible rehab solution would be to try pilates, where everything involves lengthening the spine and strengthening the core. If these are not addressing the posture problem then you could always get a personal fitness trainer to make a rehab workout to strengthen all the backside and core muscles as well as show you upper body stretches.

Cycling should be a fun and enjoyable sport that we can enjoy both indoor and outdoor until we are in our later years; in order to keep it that way and not create muscle imbalance problems for ourselves, we need to make sure that we stretch our chest and strengthen our back muscles as often as possible. If we keep our posture safe, we keep all of our daily activities safe and enjoyable.