My job is a pain in the neck!
My son/daughter is a plain in the neck!
I'm sure we've all said it out of jest or frustration, but it could literally be true! The way we hold our kids and look down at them or sitting a desk on a computer all day can cause some painful postural distortions!
Take a look at yourself in pictures. Do your shoulders round forward? Does your head protrude forward? Does your upper back hunch out? This common postural distortion is often a result of how we spend most of our time. I see it mainly in two populations: 1) people who sit at a desk all day hunched over a computer and 2) in new moms how spend countless hours hunched over feeding and gazing at their new little one ("mom posture" also comes with and anterior pelvic tilt from the way we carry our little ones while standing, but that’s a topic for next week).
Fixing your posture is a great way to look and feel great! Good posture can instantly change your appearance. But, vanity aside, prolonged bad posture can cause headaches, neck and back pain, and sap your energy Typically, rounded shoulders are synonymous with weak upper back and shoulder muscles and tight chest muscles. Here are a few stretches and exercises to help combat this common problem. Try these at least three times a week for 3-4 week and you will find yourself feeling more energetic and more confident!
Doorway Chest Stretch:
Place each arm on opposite sides of the door frame, forearm and palm against the frame. Step through the door only until you feel a good stretch across your chest. Do not go to the point of pain in your shoulder. Hold for 30-45 seconds.
Foam Roller Chest Stretch: (bonus if you have one)
Lay back on the foam roller, with it the long way along your spine. Make sure your head is supported. Let your arms fall to either side. Rotate through a variety of arm positions to find the stretch that feel best for you (see image). If you begin to feel numbness in your hands, back off or prop your arms up with a blanket or pillow. Start with 30s and work your way up to a minute. You can also use a folded blanket in the place of a foam roller.
Upper Back and Shoulder Strengthening:
Band pull apart:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and tailbone tucked. Hold the band in each hand with your arms out in front of you at 45 angles. Pull the band back so that your arms are straight out to the side, squeeze your shoulder blades together (keep them down, don't hunch). Return to the starting position and a slow and controlled manner. Start with 2 set of 10 reps, and try to work your way up 3 sets.
Scapular Wall Slides:
Stand with your back against the wall, butt touching and feet about a foot from the wall. With your hands above your head press your forearms into the wall. Slowly bend your arms and slide them down the wall, keeping your forearms pressed into the wall and squeezing your shoulder blades together. End in the shape of a "W" then slowly move back up. If you can't keep your arms pressed against the wall throughout the movement, its ok. Just think about trying to; after a few weeks of the stretches you will get a lot closer!
The holidays can be particularly challenging when it comes to staying on track with a fitness plan. First, remember one day out of the year does not make or break your plans. Its about habit. Its what you do regularly that counts. Don't stress about being unhealthy one day out of the year. However, there are some simple tricks to surviving (and enjoying!) the day without going overboard.
Here are my top 10:
Most exercises can be categorized into movement patterns: Horizontal Push, Horizontal Pull, Vertical Push, Vertical Pull, Quad Dominant, Hip/Hamstring Dominant.
To be considered a "Full Body" workout it should be comprised of exercises from EVERY movement pattern plus some core work. Using movement patterns to design your workout is the most efficient way to make sure you are training your whole body the right way. If a pattern is missing in a workout, you are failing to train your entire body. If a pattern is consistently missing from your workouts, you are setting yourself up for muscle imbalances and inevitably injury.
For example, If you “push” more than you “pull,” you are setting yourself up for shoulder issues. If you squat like crazy and neglect your hips/hamstrings, you are setting yourself up for knee and lower back pain.
The way to make sure you are doing what you need to train your whole body and prevent injury is to balance all the opposing movement patterns:
The easiest way to do this is to choose one exercise from each of the following categories and then add some core work.
Horizontal Pushing Exercises: involves pushing a weight straight out in front of you so that it’s going away from your torso horizontally (think bench press). Here are some examples:
"There are some rare exceptions to all of the above recommendations, but for most people, most of the time, here’s the moral of this story:
Setting up your weight training routine in a way that ensures there is balance around the joints (shoulder, knee, elbow) and balance between the different movement patterns (horizontal push/pull, vertical push/pull, etc.) is KEY to injury prevention and building a balanced body."
The Ultimate Weight Training Workout Routine. http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/
You will notice that no bicep curls or tricep dips are mentioned above. This is because a good workout starts with compound exercises. For example, chest press is a compound exercise. It primarily works the chest, but also works the shoulders and triceps. A similar story could be told for all the exercises above. As a beginner you should stick with the compound exercises. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about incorporating isolation type exercises like bicep curls, tricep dips, etc.
I use this as a guide to design all of my LRWOC workouts and you can too! Start by choosing one from each category and then add in some core work. Next week, we will focus on the core and incorporating rotational movement to ensure we are working in all planes of motion.