Tag: rehabilitation

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.

3 Steps to Stay Injury Free

All of us go to the gym typically for the same reasons. To “get into shape,” improve on or get ready for a sport, or simply just to work off some stress from a long work day. The last thing on our minds is the possibility of injury because after all, we’re here to get healthier right? The unfortunate truth is that many people unknowingly increase their risk of injury by skipping some crucial parts of a truly complete workout. Adding a few simple steps into your workout can dramatically reduce your risk of injury, help alleviate pain from current injuries and believe it or not even speed up your results.

1. Warm-up
Possibly the most underutilized and arguably the most important part of anyone’s workout is an effective warm-up. Working out without a proper warm-up will eventually catch up to anyone regardless of current physical condition. But what defines an effective warm-up? (No, swinging your arms from side to side for 30 seconds before attempting to max out on a bench press doesn’t count). An effective warm-up should consist of at least 10-15 minutes of light-moderate cardiovascular exercise that ideally moves the body in all planes of motion with minimal impact. An example of this would be 5 minutes on a rowing machine, followed by 5-10 minutes of body weight exercises that involves the use of your entire body (i.e. combining pushups and squats or lunges and jumping-jacks). When in doubt, it is always better to play it safe.

2. Stretching
Another often neglected part of many peoples workout is stretching. Stretching should not be done as a warm-up to an activity as you could injure your muscles if stretching them when they are cold. At least 3 to 5 minutes of cardiovascular exercise is recommended to warm up the muscles sufficiently. Each major muscle group should be stretched slowly and with control, holding each stretch for 1 to 3 sets of 10 to 60 seconds. Hold each at the point of mild tension or tightness, not to the point of pain. Research has shown that the most effective time to stretch is post-exercise while you are “cooling down”. When muscles perform any exercise, they tighten and shorten as a result. Stretching them helps to restore and improve their length and in turn will help prevent imbalances in the body that can later lead to injury.

3. Imbalanced Workouts
This topic is typically dismissed when we lose focus on our primary goal. It is great to want to have legs of steel or arms that make Popeye look like a wimp, however all too often the approach to these goals comes with the sacrifice of a balanced muscular structure and in turn will lead to chronic injury. Remember that first and foremost we want stay healthy and injury free. One way to help protect against overtraining certain muscle groups is to use a push-pull technique that involves targeting the opposing muscle group in the subsequent set (i.e. bench press into seated row). Another method that has recently been gaining popularity, and with good reason, is functional training. Functional training breaks away from the mold of traditional isolation type exercises, commonly seen in the bodybuilding world, and challenges the body using multidirectional movement involving typically two or more major muscle groups. An example of this would be squats with a press or pushup and pike. For a balanced program it is recommend that you consult with a trainer. Often adding just a few exercises into your routine can help balance your workouts and help keep you healthy.

In conclusion it is crucial that when beginning an exercise regime that all of these points be addressed. Each has its own role in a performing a safe and effective workout and will in turn leave you feeling healthier and decrease your risk of injuries. If you are running late and consequently your workout time is diminished, rather than heading straight towards the dumbbells, reduce your total sets and include these steps. Your body will thank you! For more information on ways to ensure that your workouts are both safe and effective please contact Will Paton.

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Side Kick Kneeling

Purpose: This advanced exercise concentrates on the waistline and hips. Emphasis is also on balance and coordination.

Begin in a kneeling position. You should be centered on the mat, facing the long edge of mat.

  1. Place one palm down on mat directly under your shoulder and in align with your hips. Fingers pointing away from you.
  2. Place the back of the other hand in front of your forehead with your elbow up to the ceiling.
  3. Straighten your top leg out (parallel to floor) along the mat in line with your body, making sure your center is firm.
  4. Lift your outstretched (top leg) leg up off the mat, hip height & balance.
  5. Inhale; for 2 counts; flex your foot and kick your leg forward reaching leg further on second count. Make sure you are not breaking at the waist. Imagine kicking a ball suspended in front of you.
  6. Exhale; swing your leg behind you stretching as far behind you as you can without rocking back and forth; gently pointing the toe.
  7. Complete 4-6 sets of kicks on one side; repeat the sequence on other side.

Visualization:
• Imagine you are suspended from the ceiling by a sling around your waist.

Checklist:
• Remain perfectly still in your upper body as you perform the kicks.
• Keep your elbow to the ceiling so that shoulder & chest remain open during exercise.
• Navel is firmly pulled into the spine.
• Keep head lifted and aligned with your spine.
• Don’t sink into your neck or shoulders.

Modification:
• Start with small kicks front & back. Concentrate on your balance & control before engaging in larger movements. If you have a bad knee, or wrist injury, skip this exercise.

Holiday Travel Stretches – Stretching 101

If you are traveling this holiday season, remember to be kind to your body. In a plane, train, or automobile your muscles are forced into a shortened position for a prolonged time. Here are some basic stretches that can be done to mitigate the effects.

Chest stretch- A muscle commonly associated with poor posture is the pectoralis, or chest, muscles. As shoulders droop forward and upper back becomes stretched out, the chest muscles become shortened. An easy way to stretch the chest is in a doorway or against a wall. Make sure your shoulder blade is back and down, shoulder joint is back, elbow level with the shoulder line, lean in and slightly angle away from the wall. Putting the forearm flat against the wall makes it easier to have the correct alignment.
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Lat stretch- In bad posture the shoulder blades move away from each other and you fall forward into a collapsed ribcage. This shortens the lattisimus dorsi of the upper back. It’s easiest to do this against a wall with the hands against a wall, hinging forward with straight limbs, shoulders down, which also effectively stretches the hamstrings.

Neck and upper trapezius stretch- The collapsed upper body slouch also causes shortness in the upper trapezius area. To stretch this muscle along with the side flexors of the neck take one arm bent behind your back, drop the opposite ear to shoulder and make sure to keep the shoulder back and down.

Spine stretch- To align your spine after being in a prolonged seated posture sit straight, twist to one side, focusing on an open chest and twisting the neck to look over the shoulder.
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Piriformis stretch- Inside of your hips the muscles and ligaments can become tight and pull your sacroiliac joint out of alignment. This can cause all kinds of discomfort along the back. An easy way to stretch the hips is sitting straight with feet flat then crossing one leg up and over the other with the ankle over top the upper thigh. This opens the hip to allow a deep stretch.

Hip flexor/ quadricep stretch- The front of the hips also becomes tight from sitting in a fixed posture for a long time. Sit on the edge of a chair and swing the outside leg back while pushing forward with the back of the hip to ensure that you’re not arching your lower back. You should feel the front of the hip and thigh being lengthened.

Another great way to create length in the spine after gravity has worn on you is to hang from a bar above you. This just allows space between the vertebrae and can release any vertebrae that are subluxed, or misaligned. If you do these basic stretches, you can help alleviate any accumulated discomfort in the body that sets in because of travel. For any specific stretch advice contact me, Amber Walz, at the club (206)443-1111 ext.242.

R. I. C. E. What Does That Really Spell?

Rest (keeping movement at a minimum)
Ice (cool it off with an ice pack)
Compression (apply an ace bandage to keep the swelling down)
Elevation (allow gravity to work for you- keep blood from pooling in an already inflamed area)

This is a great acronym to keep in mind after any kind of sprain or strain. It will assist in many ways by keeping any tissue or joint damage to a minimum. In the end it really spells – happier muscle and connective tissue!

Keep in mind massage can also work wonders for your recovery process! Come see us anytime!

Massage rates are as follows:

  • 25 minutes $40
  • 55 minutes $70
  • 90 minutes $100

Have a wonderful spring- with no sprains!!