Cool Down: Why or Why Not

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about the importance of warming up and how it was crucial before we jump into our workout. So today we are going to skip the workout and head straight into the cool down and why it’s important to do a cool down after. Some of you may think cool downs are a waste of time and it is extremely boring. I was on that boat myself not too long ago until I decided to give it a go and see what the difference was. So let’s go through a couple of important reasons why you should always cool down after a big workout.

 

  1. It can lead to a reduction of lactic acid build up. After a big workout, our muscles secrete a large amount of lactic acid. It is this lactic acid that causes our muscles to be sore. So to prevent muscle soreness it is best to reduce the amount of lactic acid continually building up. Research has shown that doing a warm down such as a slow paced walk or a gentle stretch is the most effective way or reducing lactic acid. So if you don’t like sore muscles the next day, do a warm down!
  2. A warm down prevents venous pooling of the blood in our extremities. This pooling of blood in the extremities may lead to dizziness and fainting. This is because when we are exercising our sympathetic nervous system comes into play. When we are in this state, our blood pressure and heart beat rises. When we stop moving, our body switches over to the parasympathetic state. In this state our blood pressure drops. Because of the sudden drop of blood pressure, the blood will have gathered into your extremity and not enough blood would’ve been pumped into your brain. Due to the lack of oxygen in the brain, it can cause dizziness and fainting.
  3. It’s a great time for reflection. After every sports game or workout, it is a good time to reflect on how well you did and what you can improve on. Of course, you always deserve a pat on the back as well after working out. Cooling down is a great way to calm your mind while still being engaged at your previous task.

 

Cooling down is just as important as warming up. It allows us to decrease the likelihood of muscle soreness, prevents dizziness and fainting and allows us a good time to reflect. There are also many great reasons why cooling down is a must after every workout! So remember to spend 5 minutes to either go for a small walk, a stretch or something with low impact after your next work out!

 

Chiropractor Auckland

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Fit For Life

Evening Exercise Benefits

 

Whether exercise is done first thing in the morning, in the middle of the day or late in the evening, it should be a staple in your daily routine. We have previously discussed about the positives and the negatives of working out in the morning. So I thought I should do the same but later in the evening.

 

Positives:

  • Your muscles are already at prime function. During the day your body would’ve had time to warm up and lengthen the muscles to optimal tension. Once we prep the muscles , the output would be much more. As a result, you will be able to lift heavier, sprint faster and jumper higher. In another word, you will be at your physical peak in the late afternoon/evenings.
  • Exercising in the evening can help you build muscle faster than working out in the morning. Firstly, this is because you are getting the most out of your workout as mentioned in the point above. Secondly, research has shown that working out in the evening stimulates more testosterone production compared to working out in the morning. Testosterone is one of the key hormones for building muscles.
  • It is a great time to relieve stress. At the end of the day, we are often very tired from our daily chores such as work and tasks. Most of us will have a lot of stress built up, a great way to release stress is to work out. Studies have shown that exercise is great for mental health because it releases endorphins and dopamine. Both hormones are responsible for metal positivity.

 

 

Negatives:

  • Although it is a great way of releasing stress, it is also very tempting to skip evening workouts. This is because by the end of the day most of us are very tired and we would just rather go home, curl up and watch Netflix. The best way to get past this hurdle is to force yourself to go to the gym before you enter the house and once you enter, you can treat yourself with something good.
  • Intense exercise late in the evening can cause a spike in heart rate and adrenalin. This may alter your sleep quality in the evening. We can see this in competitive sports or any high intensity work out. This is because your body will be in a fight or flight response and it has not settled down yet. To counter this problem, the best way is to try do something relaxing before you sleep to allow your body to calm down. Stretching is one of the best ways to calm your nervous system down and it is a great way to warm down your body.
  • Distractions may occur. This is because it is during this time when people are usually free. This means there will be plenty of gatherings, hangout sessions or some recreational activities. Due to these social aspects, we may forget or prioritise those events before exercising. To work around this issue, try set specific days and time dedicated to your exercise program. Those days will not be altered against most events. This will help you to create a healthy habit for you to get into.

 

There are many positive and negatives when it comes to working out in the evening or morning. Personally, I’ve always been an early bird, so I like to exercise in the morning leaving the rest of the day free. I understand that not everyone is like me so I would say as long as you set yourself a specific time to exercise and stick to it, it is the most important thing.

 

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Dawn Dusk Evening - Free vector graphic on Pixabay

Static vs Dynamic Stretching

There two different forms of stretching; Static Stretching vs Dynamic Stretching. Both of them have their benefits but which one is for you? Check out the advice from Dr Samineh Baktash at Revolution Chiropractic in Auckland.

Static vs Dynamic Stretching – What’s the difference?

 

Dynamic stretches involve motion. These are active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion. Whilst static stretching involve no motion. This is when a joint is at the end of it’s range of motion, and held there for a certain period. Both forms of stretching are beneficial to you and depend on the goals or needs of the body.

Benefits of dynamic stretching:

  • Performance temperature – Dynamic stretching work the muscles up to their functioning temperature gradually. Muscles in the body require a certain temperature in the body to function at optimal state. To illustrate, take a like a glass, if it’s suddenly filled with boiling water the glass will crack and shatter, however if it’s warmed up gradually, it does not break. This example correlates well with the human body. If the muscles are suddenly worked without warming up, they are more likely to suffer from injuries. It is important to raise the muscles to working temperature through dynamic stretching.
  • Sports Preparation – Dynamic stretching prepares the muscles and joints by going through movements that will be required. This equates to the body being engaged and ready for sports-specific response. Research has shown that combining dynamic stretching and plyometric training during warm-ups increases performance. This was noticeably seen in the vertical jump height in basketball players.
  • Improves flexibility – Varying flexibility is needed for specific sports. This is very important for athletes as the range of motion around the joint will increase gradually over time. For example, sprinters will increase the length of each stride gradually, which will allow them to travel for a greater distance for every cycle of their legs. This is important for development in becoming a more successful athlete.

Benefits of Static Stretching

  • Reducing stiffness – This is great for the body, especially which can be very tight after being idle for long periods, an intense workout, or sports game. During any intense sports or workout sessions, micro-tears are formed in the muscle. When recovering from these micro tears, the body lays down new muscle fibre which will result in growth. However, not all the new muscles are healthy new muscles, some are of the new tissue laid down is scar tissue. It is this scar tissue that causes muscle stiffness. Static stretching can mobilise the restriction caused by scar tissue and lengthen tight muscles. This is critical to improving the range of motion and performance.
  • Increasing blood circulation –  Blood flow is important for healing, the higher the blood circulation, the faster the body heals as the muscles can receive more oxygen and nutrients. It also helps the body recover faster by removing waste products in the muscles. These waste products are often inflammatory residue left in the body after an intense workout.
  • Mindfulness – Static stretching is excellent for calming the mind. This can lead to less stress in both mind and body. This is because when you are stretching, your nervous system triggers the release of a hormone known as ‘endorphin’ and slows down the production of stress-inducing hormones. Endorphins help relieve the body from stress and pain.

static vs dynamic stretchingConclusion

So there you have it! Static Stretching vs Dynamic Stretching. Which type of stretching is more suitable for you? Dynamic or static stretching? In summary, dynamic
stretching helps increase body temperature gradually, prepares the body for specific movements
and improves flexibility. Static stretching has many advantages for the body too; reducing stiffness, improving blood circulation and calming the mind, to name just a few. As a professional NZ Chiropractor and health care advocate, I would say a combination of both is important if you are constantly working out, or a high-performance athlete. However, if your excercise is light, static stretching would be enough. I hope this brings clarity as to which type of stretch you should do. Both are amazing and both should be included in your routine.

When to see a chiropractor?

It is often worthwhile to schedule an appointment with your Chiroprator before beginning any stretching routine, especially if you have strained muscles or existing injuries.  A good Chiropractor is uniquely qualified to assess which form of stretching should be used and when. It is our job to both prevent injury to the muscles as well improve range of motion.  When combined with a regular routine of care, stretching can be one of the body’s best defenses to maintaining proper function.

If you are searching to optimise your bodies health and functionality, consider chiropractic care to get and keep you in the best possible shape.

Contact Revolution Chiropractic – Leading  Chiropractor Auckland

To Schedule your FREE CONSULTATION at Revolution Chiropractic E-mail or Call us on 09 418 3718.  

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Sitting and Posture Health

Poor sitting posture and effects on spine health

Have a desk job and worried about your sitting posture? You are right to! Over time, poor posture from bad habits during everyday activities can wreck havoc on your spine. For instance, having a desk job, driving, leaning over a cell phone, carrying a bag over same shoulder, prolonged standing, breastfeeding and caring for small children, or even sleeping.

Poor posture can become ingrained, causing and aggravating episodes of back and neck pain and damaging spinal structures. What’s more, damaged spinal structures can have other knock off effects throughout the rest of the body. The good news is, our spine is adjustable and with a few simple changes, good posture and spine health can be achieved.

Here are a couple of steps you can take immediately to improve bad posture:

1. Identify the symptoms of back pain caused by an inefficient work environment and poor posture.

  • Did something change in your environment within the same period the pain commenced? For example, a new job, a new office chair, or a new car, a new desk.
  • Is the back pain is worse at certain times of day, or week? For instance, after a long day of sitting in an office chair in front of a computer.
  • Does the pain start in the neck and move downwards into the upper back, lower back, and extremities?
  • Does the pain ease after switching positions?

Right and wrong sitting posture - office chair

2. Keep the body aligned properly while sitting in an office chair and while standing

  • When standing, distribute body weight evenly across the front, back, and sides of the feet.
  • When sitting, select a chair that’s features support good posture. Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line.
  • If you need to change position throughout the day, try shifting forward to the edge of the seat with a straight back and alternate with sitting back against the support arch of the office chair to ease the strain on back muscles.
  • Try a balance / swiss ball. In this position the pelvis is tilted gently forward increasing the lumbar curve which shifts the shoulders back (similar to sitting on the edge of a chair seat).
  • Be aware of and avoid positions such as crossing legs unevenly while sitting, sitting on your legs, leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders up or forward, and tilting the head.
    Correct sitting posture at desk or office chair

3. Get up and move frequently.

This one is so easy to achieve, yet often the most forgotten. As muscles become strained, slouching, slumping, and other bad postures occur; this in turn puts extra pressure on the neck and back.

Change positions frequently, in order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture. At work,  set an alarm to remind you to get up and take a break from sitting in an office chair every hour for at least two minutes. During this time stretch, stand, or walk.

poor posture sitting - stand and stretch

When to see a Chiropractor for poor posture

Many people visiting our chiropractic clinic in Auckland suffer from back pain or neck pain relating to poor posture. Our approach to treating this is very effective. We start by examining and fixing the physical problems — a process that usually involves chiropractic adjustments to correct any misalignments.

Secondly, we identify the cause of your poor posture. We find any lifestyle factors which are causing the issue. Such as assessing your sitting positions, desk environment and any other relevant triggers. We then show you correct sitting and standing positions and give you tools and exercises to prevent poor posture in the future. By correcting the root cause of postural issues, we can ensure that the musculoskeletal system remains healthy.

Neck and Upper back Pain from poor posture – Leading  Chiropractor Auckland

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Neck and Upper back pain: The Chin Tuck

The Chin Tuck: An Excellent Exercise for Neck and upper back pain

After visiting your Chiropractor, one of the most effective postural exercises for combating neck and upper back pain is the chin tuck. Chin tucks are recommended for keeping the head aligned above the spine and maintaining good posture. When done regularly and with the correct form, chin tucks can help improve the neck’s strength, flexibility, and function.

This exercise not only helps strengthen the muscles that pull the head back into alignment over the shoulders but it also stretches the scalene and suboccipital muscles.

This exercise is simple, effective and easy and can be done without interrupting your day. For instance, while sitting in the car or at the desk at work. The repetition of this exercise also helps develop good postural habits.

The Chin Tuck : Steps

  1. To perform the exercise for the first time it is often recommended that you stand with the spine up against a wall or door frame.
  2. Next place the feet out about 8 cm from the edge of the wall or door frame.
  3. Keeping the spine against the wall, pull the upper back and head back until the back of the head touches the surface. It is important to make sure that the chin is down so that the head is pulled straight back and is not looking up.
  4. Hold your head against the wall for 5 seconds.
  5. Repeat this ten times.

After performing this exercise about ten times, you can start doing the exercise standing or sitting without a wall.

• The exercise can be done 5 to 7 times per day.
• When in the car, use the headrest as a point to aim for when pulling the head back.

You may feel some stretching of the muscles on the side of the neck that go down to the collarbone. These are the scalene muscles. These muscles along with the muscles at the top of the neck at the base of the skull are generally the tight muscles. The muscles in the front of the neck and of the upper back are generally the weak muscles that need to be strengthened.

In cases of extreme forward head posture, you may not be able to pull their head all the way back to the wall when you first start. In these cases it is advisable to pull the head back as far as possible without pain.

chin-tuck-neck and upper back pain

When to see a Chiropractor?

Chin tuck exercises have been well documented for many years to reduce neck pain, headaches, stiffness and much more. However although these exercises are effective, we must address the cause of the misalignment in the beginning. It it important that the correct spinal alignment is in place. By removing stress on your joints and neck muscles and putting your body into a state of ease.

If you are experiencing neck or upper back pain of any kind it is highly recommended you visit your Chiropractor. As a leading chiropractor in Auckland, we see hundreds of patients per year at our clinic – Revolution Chiropractic. A great posture starts with a great spine!

Neck and Upper back Pain – Leading  Chiropractor Auckland

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Ready to workout? Think again…

 

Warming up before a workout is even more important than you think!

 

How many times have we just jumped into exercising without warming up properly? How many times have we got injured? Well, the two things mentioned above, warming up and getting hurt, go hand in hand. Warming up is extremely important due to a couple of reasons. Firstly, it can help loosen up our joints, muscles, and ligaments. Secondly, it can raise the body temperature and increase blood flow to muscles. Finally, it can help improve our performance in whatever form of exercise.

Warming up is extremely important for the body to prevent injury. Having a good warm-up can help loosen the joints, muscles, and ligaments in our body and stimulate our nervous system. Before we start exercising, our body is stiff, and we cannot move as smoothly as we would like. This puts us in a state which is more fragile. As we warm up, our joints, muscles and ligaments begin to have more laxity gradually. This is because warming up can stimulate the body to create more synovial fluids around the joint, which means we will not be suddenly overstressing any part of the body.

Additionally, it will also increase the speed that nerve impulses travel, leading to improved balance, motor control, coordination, and proprioception. All those components are crucial for doing any sports as it helps with performance and avoiding injuries. As a result, warming up can decrease the likelihood of overstressing your body and minimize any falls or accidents.

 

Functions of Temperature 

 

Warming up our bodies before we exercise can also raise the core body temperature and increase blood flow to muscles. When the body transitions from everyday life to high-intensity physical workout, a host of biological changes happens to our body. That’s why it’s good to ease into it. During our warm-up, breathing and heart rate gradually rise, leading to an increase of energy increase. Due to the increase in energy exertion, the body gradually warms up. Additionally, with heart rate rising, the muscles will be supplied with more oxygen. This results in a higher metabolism as the body will need more energy to function at its capacity. Having a warmer body temperature for our muscles can lead to increase elasticity in the muscles again, this can result in decreasing the chances of any injuries

.

Effects on workout

 

Finally, warming up can increase our performance. This is due to two reasons; the alterations in the body and the change in mentality. As mentioned in the paragraph above, a good warm-up can increase our metabolism, helping reach one’s performance potential. A thorough warm-up can change our mindset and mentally prepare for the upcoming task. With most sports and workout, it requires high levels of alertness and concentration. This adjustment in mindset can enhance the concentration on technique. With better technique again, it can lead to a decrease in injury. Andrea Pirlo, a famous footballer once said, “We play football with the head. Your feet are just tools.” This quote cannot more relatable with any sports or workout. The first change that occurs should be in your mind before you start performing. This is where an excellent warm-up comes into play.

Warming up is often overlooked by many amateurs or people who have just started to exercise. It can be argued it may be one of the most important aspects of the workout. Warming up properly can help loosen the muscles, ligament, and joints in the body, and it can help raise our core body temperature. Both of these can diminish the chances of injury. Most importantly, though, it can help mentally prepare us for the workout, exercise, and game that’s coming up. So before jumping straight into it next time, arrive 15 minutes earlier to prepare and get a good quality warm-up.

 

Chiropractor Auckland

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Raising Healthy Children: Tip # 1

By Dr. Jennifer Barham-Floreani: My number one tip or proactive step for raising the health status of your children is to FIND AN INSPIRING, RECOMMENDED WELLNESS CHIROPRACTORs and have your child’s nervous system regularly checked.

Chiropractors and children

I’m a chiropractic baby and cannot emphasize enough how chiropractic adjustments with a wellness chiropractor are a parent’s secret weapon when desiring to raise strong, healthy children. If you have never seen a chiropractor or have any questions regarding safety and effectiveness, please read my post on The Legitimacy of Chiropractic. Chiropractic for babies and children is gentle, safe, and effective, and in the spectrum of all health professionals – chiropractors have an incredibly excellent safety record. More and more parents worldwide use their chiropractor as their trusted health resource.

While chiropractic may be able to help with many health issues, chiropractors do not treat colic or asthma. For example — chiropractic adjustments free-up the nerve “communication channels”. The body is then better able to address and clear health challenges.

Unfortunately, most of us do not realize that the way our children enter the world may have a direct effect on their health. Spine and nerve distress can, at times, arise from restricted or abnormal positioning in the uterus and also from the journey through the birth canal or potentially during the delivery process itself. In my book Well Adjusted Babies 2nd Edition I discuss that many factors may cause birth trauma, including:

Birth trauma causes:

1 False labour

2 A long or very short labour

3 Poor positioning of the infant’s head and neck as they journey through the birth canal

4 Failure of the mother’s cervix to dilate

5 The use of drugs to increase contraction intensity

6 The use of vacuum extraction or forceps

7 Caesarean section delivery because of lack of progress

8 Cord around the baby’s neck

9 Foetal distress.

10 An awkward position within the uterus before birth

 Positioning and health

Left unresolved, this spine and nerve dysfunction may place further stress on the communication systems of the body. Birth trauma can affect a baby’s nervous system, which in turn (amongst other things) may then affect digestion and an infant’s capacity to breastfeed or sleep well. The Journal of Neuroscience (2008) states that, although the first year of life may be a period of developmental vulnerability, it may also be a period in which therapeutic interventions would have the most significant positive effect.

Sometimes children have the nerve and spinal distress that results in their head being tilted to one side so that one ear sits higher than the other (refer to picture below). At other times a child’s head may be rotated or turned more to one side so that they display a preference for having their head turned this way.

A misshapen head is not merely a cosmetic issue; it is a brain stem issue. If your child’s head looks uneven or you notice flat areas, this can indicate restrictions between the skull and the soft layers that cover the brain and spinal cord. A healthy mind requires good movement of the skull and spine; when this movement is impaired, the brain and nerve function is impaired.

There is a myth that an odd-shaped child’s head is of no concern and will ‘right itself’ with time. However, anomalies of shape can be the first indication that your child is susceptible to developmental delay. Chiropractors can identify and fix this immediately.

For older children, nerve interference may play out as developmental delays, digestion issues, asthma, behavioural problems, low energy, inability to concentrate, headaches, etc – the list is endless.

Malleability

By the age of seven, a child is likely to have had hundreds of falls and while children seem to have a “bounce-back” resilience, left uncorrected the body tries to hide subtle damage that potentially leads to poor postural and neurological function. We need to keep in mind that each seemingly insignificant slip and fall our child has does ADD up, and that as the branch bends, so grows the tree. With a subluxated spine (where misaligned vertebrae may affect the function of the nervous system), our child’s “communication highway” no longer functions at 100%, potentially altering the way they can think, feel and behave.

I often explain to patients that having a subluxation is like driving a car with the hand brake on. You can certainly still drive the car but you don’t get anywhere — very effectively. And after some time, all sorts of engine issues arise. Chiropractors focus on increasing the neurological function of your child by removing nerve interference which may hinder nerve communication.

Chiropractors recommendations

I encourage parents to have newborn babies checked by chiropractors very soon after birth. Special techniques exist, that carefully correct any subluxated areas of the spine. Many chiropractors have a special focus on family health and work with babies and young children. If you haven’t had your child checked by a chiropractor then find a recommended family wellness chiropractor in your area.

If you are already taking your child to a chiropractor but feel that they are not thriving in a manner that you hoped then consider if you are only seeing your chiropractor sporadically, — investments in health work best when made consistently and regularly. I believe that children do well to be checked each fortnight, your child may not need to be adjusted each time but a quick “check-up” is an important health ritual. Most chiropractors have fee systems that make regular care viable.

People see chiropractors regularly because they feel and experience how adjustments add vitality, immune strength and clarity into their lives.

It’s like eating clean, healthy food — every cell in your body tells you, “this is a good thing.” Ask other parents who take their child to see a chiropractor about their experiences — worldwide, typically parents delight in the results they notice in their children.

Looking for a Family Wellness Chiropractor in Auckland?

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Deadlift Technique (Part 2)

Last week I talked about the deadlift stance. This week I want to cover another significant error I see in deadlift technique that can lead to injury and give this great lift a bad name. Properly performed deadlifts are great for strengthening the lower back and glutes. Performed poorly they can lead to significant lumbar injury.

When starting my strength training journey in 2010 I injured my lower back by making the foolish mistake of adding too much weight to the bar too soon, causing my lower back to round partway through the lift. Bang, my back went into spasm. I sheepishly put away the weights and limped to the shower and was forced to take a few weeks off to recover. Since then I have been meticulous about working on my deadlift technique.

After I recovered I spent months drilling the technique by having my training partners hold a broomstick along the length of my spine while I would perform my deadlifts. The goal is to keep three points of contact with the broomstick:

Broomstick-Deadlift method

  1. The back of your head
  2. Your midback between the shoulder blades
  3. Your tailbone

Image result for deadlift 3 points of contact

This drill will help you stay aware of what your back is actually doing during the lift and not fool yourself into thinking your form is good.

Filming yourself during deadlift sessions is paramount when starting out, and even for more advanced lifters to keep an eye on your form especially during your heavier sets. Review the footage between sets and don’t keep adding weight if you notice your form is looking rubbish!

Excessive rounding of the lower back, technically called lumbar flexion, puts a lot of strain on the back of the discs of your spine. Repetitively loading your spine in a flexed position is a great way to increase your risk of a disc herniation. Repetitively loading the spine in a neutral position (within a properly designed training program) is a great way to strengthen the spine and reduce low back pain and injury risk.

So grab a broomstick and a camera and work on your technique so you can build a strong, healthy spine!

 

Chiropractor Auckland

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Glutes, The Secret to Better Buns

Glutes

Nowadays, people are sitting… a lot. And they’re sitting right on their prized possessions – one of the most important muscles groups in the body – the glutes.

Let’s get to know this area of our bodies a little better. The glute area comprises of 3 muscles: gluteus medius, gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus. Maximus extends (pulls) your thigh behind your, while medius and minimus pull your thigh out to the side (abduction).

These muscles tend to be weak and underworked. Long periods of sitting tend to cause these muscles to turn off and weaken, which leads to low back, hip and knee pain due to a lack of stabilization of the pelvis from these muscles

Strengthening your glutes come with many benefits. They help stabilize the hips and pelvis while walking, play a role in knee and ankle alignment down the lower chain of the leg as well as just look aesthetically pleasing to both sexes. You’ll even find that your athletic performance improves as your glutes play a huge role in power generation in your stride and jump as well as side-to-side (lateral) movement.

If we haven’t made it clear yet, strengthening your glutes is a great idea and you really have everything to gain by strengthening them. So How do you do that? Well the gluteus maximus is usually addressed adequately through running, squats, deadlifts and lunges. But the often-neglected glute medius and glute minimus usually don’t get in on much of the action. So here are 3 exercises to start firing those glutes nicely.

  1. Side-Lying Leg Lifts

Image result for side lying leg lifts

  1. Single Leg Bridges

Image result for single leg bridge

  1. Side-Lying Clamshell (incorporate resistance band to increase the effect on glutes)

Image result for side lying clamshell with band

If you incorporate these exercises into your workout and work up to 3 sets of 12-15 reps you’ll find that your hip stabilization will improve greatly and your buns will thank you! Remember to keep learning and stay consistent – the results will come.

Chiropractor Auckland

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Pull Your Head In: Posture Exercises

Today we’re going to give you some exercises you can do in your gym routine for good posture.

Commands like “stand up straight!” and “don’t slouch” were commonplace for our grandparents. When training to be a seamstress my great grandmother would have to sit as straight as a ruler or else be whipped by it. Such a method may not be approved today, which is probably a good thing however the importance of posture is as important now as ever.

Hyperkyphosis, the technical word for what we might call forward head posture, rounded shoulders or “hunchback”, has actually been shown to be linked with shortened life expectancy in elderly (Kado et al, 2004). If you are not currently elderly and you are reading this then chances are that one day you will be, and guess what, the habits you build around posture now will get harder to break as you get older. This is a good thing thought because if you instil good habits then those too will be harder to break as you age!

Being aware of your posture at work, home, when driving, sitting at the table for dinner and on the couch is important. But so is building the strength and muscles required to hold you in good posture.

Pretty much every activity we do in a day, except doing up your bra for you ladies, is done with our arms in front of us. This means our brains are very connected to the muscles on the front of our upper body, the pecs, biceps and muscles at the front of the shoulder. The muscles on our upper back like the posterior deltoids, rhomboids, lats and traps are often over stretched and under developed, almost forgotten by the brain. The issue is that these back muscles are vital to hold you in good posture.

So what must we do about it?

Don’t make the mistake of working the mirror muscles (biceps and pecs) more than the upper back. Aim to do twice the amount of reps for your upper back compared to the front of your body in a given training week. This means putting more pulling movements versus pushing movements in your routine such as:

  • Pull ups/chin ups
  • Cable rows
  • Cable/lat pull downs
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Barbell rows
  • Face pulls
  • Band pull aparts
  • Reverse flies

You can do these exercises during warm ups for the main lift of the day. You can also do them as extra work after your main lift. If I am going to superset a pulling exercise with a main lift like a bench press or overhead press I will do an easier/lighter variation like lat pull downs or face pulls so as not to use up too much effort that would cause too much fatigue. More intensive pulling exercises like pull ups, barbell and dumbbell rows can be done on their own.  However you choose to put them into your routine make sure you are doing them correctly! The focus should be on initiating the movement with your back by pull the shoulder blades together and don’t let your arms and biceps do most of the work.

Here’s to building a strong healthy posture.

Kado, D. M., Huang, M. H., Karlamangla, A. S., Barrett‐Connor, E., & Greendale, G. A. (2004). Hyperkyphotic posture predicts mortality in older community‐dwelling men and women: a prospective study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society52(10), 1662-1667.

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