What is the core, and why is it important?
The core is the center of our body, and its function is to stabilize the trunk while the arms and legs move. The core consists of muscles that stabilize the hips, torso, and shoulders, therefore having a strong core can help us prevent major injuries, while improving balance and stability. Building a strong core can make it easier to do most physical activities, whether it just be daily tasks or sport performance. Weak core muscles can lead to poor posture, low back pain, and muscle injuries, therefore it is crucial to build a strong core alongside your daily exercise routine.
Benefits of core strength/stability include:
Exercises for core stability strengthening
If you have any pain during exercises, or are unsure about what you are doing, please consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.
Healthwise Staff (2017). Fitness: Increasing Core Stability.
Retrieved from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/zt1226
Labour-intensive industries get a lot of attention when it comes to work-related injuries, but employees who work in office settings are also at risk. Poor ergonomics and organization can lead to common office injuries such as computer eye strains, falls and most importantly, repetitive use injuries.
Our bones and muscles make up our musculoskeletal system. This system allows us to perform activities such as walking, running, and anything requiring the movement of the body. A repetitive strain injury occurs when repeated movements produce stress on your body. Unfortunately, many office jobs require repetitive motions to fulfill our duties, and for this reason, they are the most common type of injury found in the office (WCB). Examples of repetitive strain injuries include carpal tunnel, tendonitis, radial tunnel syndrome, and others.
Symptoms of repetitive strain injuries include:
· Dull aching
· Loss of sensation (numbness) especially at night
· Tingling and burning sensations
· Swelling around wrist/hand
· Clumsiness (impaired dexterity, loss of ability to grasp items, etc.)
· Muscle weakness, fatigue, and/or spasms
· Stop or reduce the intensity of activity causing the pain
· Taking breaks from repetitive tasks
· While at the desk…
· Ensure proper ergonomics
· Avoid slouching
· Avoid bending the wrists when typing
· Avoid hitting the keys too hard when typing
· Don’t grip the mouse too tightly
· Ensure you are working in an appropriate temperature
Standing up and performing stretches such as the following:
WCB (n.d.) Office Ergonomics. Retrieved from: https://www.wcb.ab.ca/assets/pdfs/public/office_ergo.pdf
Start on hands and knees position on a yoga mat with a reverse arch in the upper back. You are wanting to keep your tailbone upper back and head in alignment.
We absolutely love using foam roller exercises to work out those nagging aches and pains, but sometimes they can’t get into a tight area quite as well as a pair of human hands. The next best option after a massage? This series of mini self-massage techniques using nothing more than a few tennis balls. These moves get into the deepest layers of your muscle and connective tissue to pry apart adhesions so your muscles can fully contract and stretch. They’ll also relieve soreness, pain, and increase circulation. So grab a pair of tennis balls (you know there’s one buried somewhere in the garage) and get started.
Try… Sole Searching
Why it helps: The ball loosens up stiffness in your sole’s muscles, joints, and connective tissues.
How to do it:
Try… Kneedy Ball
Why it helps: The ball acts as a spacer to gently traction the lower leg bones, kneecap, and thigh away from one another. This provides an internal stretch within the often-stiff joint capsule of the knee.
How to do it:
Try… IT Band Meltdown
Why it helps: The balls tease motion into the frequently tight IT Band and outer quadriceps muscle (vastus lateralis). This move helps to soothe tight knees and hips at once.
How to do it:
Try… Hip Help
Why It Helps: This move targets multiple large and small muscles that attach on the side of the hip (the gluteus maximus, the medius, and the pitiformis). These muscles can be tight either from sitting too much, overuse in exercise, or wearing high-heeled shoes.
How to do it:
Try… Low Back Loosener
Why It Helps: This move massages and relieves tension in the multiple back and core muscles that intersect in the lower back.
How to do it:
Try… Upper Back UnWind
Why It Helps: This move is a postural corrective, an upper back tension reliever, and also helps to revive your breath.
How to do it:
So it turns out, your mother was right after all: Good posture really matters ― even in your older years.Here are five reasons why good posture matters.
1. Bad posture can adversely impact your sex life.Research shows that slouching ― the opposite of “power posing,” meaning standing up tall and straight ― results in low energy and low self-esteem. Standing straight up with your shoulders back and neck aligned with the rest of your spine is considered a “power pose” that can boost your energy and confidence levels. By regularly practicing good posture, you’ll feel more confident and energized in and out of the bedroom.
2. Slouching makes you look older.If you’ve spent years sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer, you may be more likely to develop that unnatural hump in your neck or back resulting from “text neck.” For women, the forward slouching motion and rounding of the shoulders can cause breast sagging. To avoid your slouching from developing into skeletal or spinal issues, stay mindful of your posture in any position you’re in, whether you’re seated, standing, or walking, said Wang.
3. Bad posture can damage your back.Yes, of course you knew that. Did you know that back pain is the second most common reason people visit the doctor every year, and poor posture is directly correlated to the increase in back pain in people who spend a great deal of their time sitting. Research found that during an average workday, people spend as much as 38 minutes per hour slouching.
4. Poor posture can cause irregular bowel movements.We kid you not. It’s not just your back that will feel the affects of your slouching ― your intestines will take a hit, too. Having good posture means your stomach and intestines can easily push food through ― but poor posture can cause your gastrointestinal system to lock up or function poorly. Research has also shown that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome who suffer from bloating and gas can ease their symptoms by standing up straight.
5. Bad posture makes you more selfish.Research shows that sitting upright helps reduce self-focus, allowing you to tune in more on the needs and emotions of the people around you.
Last week we discussed the effects of upper and lower crossed syndromes. To follow up, this week we will discuss some stretches and exercises that can help to correct these syndromes and improve posture.
Many people will experience chronic pain at some point in their lives. Often times this pain can creep up unexpectedly due to poor or non-optimal postural habits. In this day and age, poor posture has become common due to an increase in screen time and desk jobs. We spend a lot of time in the day sitting or hunching over smartphones and tablets or straining our necks trying to get a better grasp on the view of a computer.
Over time, poor posture may be caused by habits from everyday activities such as sitting in office chairs, staring at the computer, cradling a cell phone, carrying a purse over same shoulder, driving, prolonged standing, caring for small children, or even sleeping.
Poor posture can easily become second nature, causing and aggravating episodes of back and neck pain and damaging spinal structures. Fortunately, the main factors affecting posture and ergonomics are completely within one’s ability to control and are not difficult to change.
Here are several ways to improve posture and ergonomics, especially for people who work sitting in an office chair for most of the day.
Identify the Warning Signs of Back Pain
Back pain may be the result of poor ergonomics and posture if the back pain is worse at certain times of day or week (such as after a long day of sitting in an office chair in front of a computer, but not during the weekends); pain that starts in the neck and moves downwards into the upper back, lower back, and extremities; pain that goes away after switching positions; sudden back pain that is experienced with a new job, a new office chair, or a new car; and/or back pain that comes and goes for months.
Keep the body in alignment while sitting in an office chair and while standing When standing, distribute body weight evenly to the front, back, and sides of the feet. While sitting in an office chair, take advantage of the chair’s features. Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line. Any prolonged sitting position, even a good one, can be tiring. Shifting forward to the edge of the seat with a straight back can alternate with sitting back against the support of the office chair to ease the work of back muscles.
Some people benefit from a naturally balanced posture that is achieved by sitting on a balance ball; in this posture the pelvis is rocked gently forward increasing the lumbar curve which naturally shifts the shoulders back (similar to sitting on the edge of a chair seat).
Also be aware of and avoid unbalanced postures such as crossing legs unevenly while sitting, leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders forward, or tilting the head.
Get Up and Move
As muscles tire, slouching, slumping, and other poor postures become more likely; this in turn puts extra pressure on the neck and back. In order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture, change positions frequently. One way is to take a break from sitting in an office chair every half hour for two minutes in order to stretch, stand, or walk.
Increase Awareness of Posture in Everyday Settings
Becoming aware of posture and ergonomics at work, at home, and at play is a vital step towards instilling good posture and ergonomic techniques. This includes making conscious connections between episodes of back pain and specific situations where poor posture or ergonomics may be the root cause of the pain.
Use Exercise to Help Prevent Injury and Promote Good Posture
Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, or bicycling will help the body stay aerobically conditioned, while specific strengthening exercises will help the muscles surrounding the back to stay strong. These benefits of exercise promote good posture, which will, in turn, further help to condition muscles and prevent injury.
There are also specific exercises that will help maintain good posture. In particular, a balance of core muscle and back muscle strength is essential to help support the upper body and maintain good posture.
Good posture will do more to keep you looking youthful as the years go by than a face-lift or Botox. And the benefits of maintaining your bone health are much more than skin-deep.
Although a stooped posture may seem to go hand in hand with old age, you can help prevent the characteristic rounding of the spine that is often caused by osteoporosis and the destruction of the vertebrae in the upper and middle spine.
Here are 8 tips to keep you standing tall at any age.
Now that many of us spend our days hunched in front of a computer. It’s very important for us to be able to stretch and open up and improve our range of motion.
To stay limber, try to get up for a couple minutes every half hour and stretch, walk, or stand.
Try this exercise: Every morning and night, lie down on the floor and make slow “snow angels” with your arms for two or three minutes.
For an extra challenge, roll up a towel and put it on the floor underneath your spine. Many gyms have half foam rollers, a tube cut in half lengthwise, that you can use for even more of a stretch.
But do these stretches slowly and stop if you feel anything worse than mild discomfort or pain. You want to work up to that, you want to make sure that you first get the flexibility.
When you do have to work at a desk, sitting up with good, tall posture and your shoulders dropped is a good habit to get into.
This can take some getting used to; exercise disciplines that focus on body awareness, such as Pilates and yoga, can help you to stay sitting straight. Make sure your workstation is set up to promote proper posture.
Strengthen your Core
Pilates and yoga are great ways to build up the strength of your core, the muscles of your abdomen and pelvic area.
These muscles form the foundation of good posture, and a strong core can have many other benefits, from improving your athletic performance to preventing urinary incontinence.
A stronger core can even make sex more fun.
In addition to helping to increase body awareness and core strength, yoga is an excellent way to build and maintain flexibility and strengthen muscles throughout your body.
Start practicing yoga gradually and listen to how your body responds, he points out. Make sure your yoga teacher is sensitive to your needs and abilities, and available for feedback. Hatha or restorative yoga are good places to start if you’re a beginner.
Support your spine
After menopause, women may have more weakening in the muscles around the spine than aging men do.
Exercises targeting the back extensors, neck flexors, pelvic muscles, and side muscles are crucial. Trainers at gyms can help; there are even special machines that target these muscles.
Endurance in the spine and trunk muscle groups is important too. That’s what allows us to stand up for long periods of time without our back hurting us.
The vertebral compression fractures that subtract from our height and can lead to the “dowager’s hump” in the upper back that’s a hallmark of old age are due to the bone thinning disease osteoporosis.
Women and men can prevent these changes with weight-bearing exercises, like walking, stair climbing, and weight lifting.
People who walk regularly through their whole lives tend to have better bone density than sedentary people.
Vitamin D is essential for bone health, and may help us maintain our muscles too.
Try to get it from a healthy diet. A recent report from the Institute of Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization, found that most of us get enough vitamin D from food and sunlight without taking supplements.
The recommended dietary intake for vitamin D is 600 IU a day for women up to age 70 and 800 IU for women older than 70.