Looking to try something new for your next workout? Try these fun and challenging exercises with a partner at the gym or at home.
A tight upper back may be attributed to stiffness in the shoulder, neck, or back muscles surrounding the thoracic spine. Rounded or slump shoulders, having sway in the lower back, or a forward head position due to weak back extensor muscles, short and tight chest muscles, or weak abdominal muscles may result in an individual having poor posture. Poor posture can place tension in the upper back and may result in irritation or pain. Sports, weightlifting, irregular sleeping positions, or car accidents may also cause tightness in the upper neck and back region. Mobilizing and strengthening the muscles surrounding the thoracic spine may relieve an individual of stiffness or pain, while improving an individual’s range of motion and functioning. Remember to have a balanced, upright posture by standing tall, bringing the shoulders down and back, tuck your chin, and keep a neutral spine to work on better posture.
Lie sideways on a mat or on the floor with both arms extended to one side and hands together. Bend the knee of the top leg to form a 90 degree angle. Place a long foam roller underneath the bent knee if you are unable to touch the ground with this top knee. Keeping your lower body in this position, twist your upper back by bringing the top arm over your body to the other side to touch the floor. Repeat 10-12 times, then lie on the other side and complete the same movement.
Begin in a table-top position with your knees hip-width apart and wrists shoulder-width apart on a mat or on the floor. Keep a neutral spine and head position. Move into the “cow” pose by inhaling as you drop your belly down towards the mat as you lift your chin and chest up to gaze toward the ceiling. Then move into the “cat” pose by exhaling as you draw your belly into your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. Repeat 10-15 times.
Begin seated in a chair with both feet planted on the floor or seated on the floor. Raise one arm up towards the ceiling. With your arm raised above your head, slowly bend to the opposite side. Return to the start position and lower your arm. Then raise the other arm and slowly bend to the opposite side. Repeat 5-10 times on each side.
Place a long foam roller perpendicular to your spine on a mat or on the floor underneath your shoulder blades. Interlace your fingers and place your hands behind your head to support the weight of your head. Slowly push with your feet to roll the foam roller up and down the thoracic region. Maintain a neutral spine and engage your abs.
This exercise helps to re-train muscle activation in the shoulder blades and mobilizes the muscles surrounding the thoracic spine for a better functional recovery. Place your hands and knees in a four point or table-top position with a neutral spine. Engage the inner core and start by walking one hand out to one side, then back to the centre, and then to the other side, then back to the centre again. Put full equal weight each time you place your hand down. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise. Repeat for 30 seconds for 3 sets.
Knee and ACL injuries commonly occur in sports such as soccer, ultimate, and rugby. Athletes may require months to even more than a year to recover and to be able to return to play. There is a vast amount of literature describing a number of ways on how to prevent knee and ACL injuries. However, the most effective prevention strategies are the ones that are based on scientific evidence, a thorough assessment made by the coach and medical team, and the individual’s input.
Strongly suggested by research, programs most beneficial in preventing injuries consist of flexibility drills, running drills, strength training, core strength, and plyometrics. Each session should last approximately 20 minutes with a goal of exercising a minimum of 30 minutes per week. Programs should be implemented through out the year from preseason to regular season. Although most research studies focused on athletes between the ages of 12 and 25 years, these programs may benefit older individuals.
1) Toe Taps: Standing tall, kick one leg up and touch your toes to the palm of your hand. Alternate legs. Repeat 10 times on each side.
2) Reverse Lunge & Hop: Step back with one leg until you get into a lunge position. Swing the back leg forward until your knee is bent at a right angle by your chest. Maintain an upright body and repeat on the other side. Perform 10 repetitions on each side.
3) Calf Stretch: Standing tall on one leg, extend the other leg forward with only the heel in contact with the floor. Gently bend forward at the hips and feel a stretch along the front leg. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on other leg. Perform 3 times on each side.
Perform running drills such as forward and backward running or bounding. Watch Physiotherapist Claire lead two athletes through a series of running and other dynamic drills below.
1) Planks: Begin on the floor resting on your forearms and knees. Extend both legs until your whole body forms a straight line from the top of your head to your feet. Engage the core and glute muscles. Begin by holding this position for 30 seconds. Progress to 60 seconds or more to increase difficulty.
2) Glute Bridge: Begin on the floor with your back flat, legs bent at approximately 90 degrees and both feet on the ground. Place both arms to the side then engage your core as you lift your hips up. Hold for a second or two at the top as you squeeze your glute muscles.
1) Box Jumps: Use a box that is around your knee height or higher. Stand in front of the box with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend slightly downwards, swing your arms back, then swing them forward and explode up off the ground onto the box. Repeat 10 times.
2) Lateral Skater Jumps: Begin by standing on one leg and bend the other leg. Jump sidewards and land on the leg that was bent. Then switch sides. Repeat 10 on each side.
The bench press is one of the key complex exercises to build upper body strength and mass. It involves the pectoralis major, triceps brachii, anterior deltoids, traps, back, and glute muscles. Check out the following blog post on how to properly perform the bench press: https://insyncphysio.com/strength-training-for-dragon-boat-paddlers/
Warm up prior to any exercise is key as it raises the heart rate and circulation of blood to the muscles to prepare for an increase in activity. Complete the following steps before performing light reps on the bench press to warm up effectively for a bigger bench press:
Foam rolling decreases tissue density and muscle viscosity, while increasing blood flow into the muscles. Apply moderate pressure to the chest, lats, and tricep muscles. Do not roll over joints. Pause on any tender spots for several seconds.
Overuse injuries are commonly found in dancers due to their intense training regimes. Nearly 60 to 90% of dancers experience an injury or multiple injuries during their careers (Steinberg, Siev-Ner, Peleg, et al., 2013). These injuries include chrondromalacia patella (“runner’s knee”), Achilles tendinopathy, and metatarsal (foot) fractures. Some major causes of injury may be due to anatomic structure, genetics, training regime, improper technique, floor surfaces, age, body mass index, muscle imbalance, nutrition, and menstrual function (Steinberg et al., 2013).
Dance typically includes being on the toes and forefoot in a extreme plantar flexion position, known as “en pointe.” Individuals with poor balance and landing techniques will experience higher ground reaction forces which may subsequently strain the back, knees, and ankles. Incorrect form in many non-professional dancers entail a valgus knee position (knees caved inwards) and hip adduction. Conversely, mature, experienced dancers are able to rely on stronger hip and knee joint muscles to stabilize themselves during landing from jumps. Young dancers also experience lower back pain. Causative factors include high preseason training intensity, history of low back pain, low body weight, scoliosis, and stress fracture in the pars articularis of the spine (Steinberg et al., 2013).
Studies have recommended minimal exposure for young dancers to overload exercises, especially those involving the spine and caution with extensive stretching exercises (Steinberg et al., 2013).
Here are a few essential tips to reduce the risk of injury:
|Steinberg, N., Siev-Ner, I., Peleg, S., Dar, G., Masharawi, Y., Zeev, A., & Hershkovitz, I. (2013). Injuries in Female Dancers Aged 8 to 16 Years. Journal of Athletic Training, 48(1), 118–123. http://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-48.1.06|
Up to 80% of individuals will experience some lower back pain at least once in their lifetime. Lower back pain (LBP) results in high costs and places a burden on society. These costs include diagnostic, treatment, and indirect costs associated with work disability. A number of conditions can lead to low back pain such as infections, tumours, fractures or dislocations of the spine. However, lifting heavy loads is generally thought to be a key predictor of LBP. An important element in prevention of LBP is to correctly stabilize the trunk during lifting by pre-activating the abdominal wall muscles. By doing so, the spine will increase in stiffness to reduce the effect of undesired spinal perturbations. Exercises aimed at bracing the abdominal muscles may reduce the risk of LBP.
There are two ways of stabilizing the abdominal muscles: an abdominal hollow or abdominal brace. An abdominal hollow begins by drawing in the lower abdomen (transversus abdominus) while maintaining relaxation of the other surrounding abdominal muscles such as the obliques. At the same time, small muscles of the lower back (close to the spine) such as the multifidus are contracted while the larger back muscles are relaxed. With contraction of the lower abdomen and small back muscles, intra-abdominal pressure is increased and the fascia surrounding the spine increases in tension. Combined, these contribute to provide intersegmental stability.
An abdominal brace is performed by activating all of the abdominal and lower back muscles, rather than specific muscle recruitment. By tensing the entire trunk without drawing the muscles in or pushing them out, global activation of the ab and back muscles may provide increased stability in all directions in various movement patterns.
Both the abdominal hollow and brace can help increase the stiffness of the spine to minimize lower back pain. The use of either one will depend on the desired movement pattern and the goals of the individuals in stabilizing their core. Strengthening the core muscles is also essential in reducing the amount of loading on the lower back muscles. Watch these videos below:
Rock climbing is a fun, but challenging activity that requires strength, endurance, and skill. It is important to strengthen your arms and legs to move up near-vertical or overhanging rock. Having a strong core and torso will help keep the body balanced and up against the wall during the climb. Check out the following exercises below that to help condition your body before you tackle your next mountain or rock climbing wall.
Beach volleyball is an intense sport that requires good stamina and strength. Training various muscles of the body (core, lower body, upper body) to become stronger will allow you to hit harder and jump higher. Easily train on the sand using medicine balls, sand bags, kettle bells, or resistance bands with these specific exercises below.