Tag: chiro

Healthy Swellness: Don’t let pursuing your fitness goals give you back pain

davWith the warmer spring weather on its way, a lot of us are scrambling to get started on getting our beach bods back in time for summer. And while we may be considering how toned we want our arms to get, or of that six-pack of abs, the health of our back is not something we typically consider, but really should not be overlooked.

Ironically, as I write this, it was almost a year to the date that I discovered how important back health is in the most painful way. It’s hard to say for certain what caused me to throw out my back, but long flights and running both possibly contributed to the issue. What I can say for sure is that it is the most physical pain I have experienced ever. I couldn’t sit down, lie down, pull open a door, or move in any way without incredible pain. My pride kept me from crying actual tears, but there was much whimpering and crying on the inside. And the only way I found relief and got my back to health? Regular appointments with a chiropractor.

If you’ve never seen a chiro, I think they’re a health pro we could all use in our lives. For example, if you’ve thrown yourself into a new workout regimen this spring, remember how important proper form is. Improper form can cause injury to your spine, knees, and shoulders, says the Ontario Chiropractic Association. Three popular exercises, when done with bad form, that can and often do lead to back injuries are squats, deadlifts and kettlebell swings.

First off, for these exercises, remember to maintain a neutral spine (to discover your neutral spine, stand backed up to a wall, with your head, upper back and tailbone touching the wall, with enough space for your fingers between the wall and your lower back). Next, keep these pointers in mind for each exercise:

Squats

Keep your chest up, and as you bend your knees, engage those glutes by lowering your body as though you were taking a seat. This form will help you maintain a neutral spine.

Deadlifts

As you hinge at the hip to perform your deadlift, envision a wall two feet behind you and imagine you are touching your glutes to this wall. This little tactic helps ensure you hinge at the hips instead of overusing your knees,

Kettlebell swings

Maintain that neutral spine as you swing so that you hinge at the hip and avoid straining the back. Swing the kettlebell only up to shoulder level (if you swing higher, you may compromise your neutral spine form.

Whether you’re just getting back into fitness or are a regular at working out, make sure you can continue your exercise routine by caring for your back, bones, muscles, joints and central  nervous system. You can find more essential info on keeping your back health in check at www.chiropractic.on.ca. And while you’re at it, on the site, you can find a local chiropractor who can help you learn about and maintain your back health.

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Leave a Comment May 1, 2017

Healthy Swellness: Straighten Up app review

Straighten Up app

 

I cringe whenever I see photos taken of me that I haven’t posed for. Because I’m always slouching. In fact, if you go on my Instagram, there are few examples of my poor posture.

Sigh.

Besides being unsightly, poor posture is the cause of many musculoskeletal problems. So many of us sit for ours, hunched over our desks. And all of this sitting puts 30 percent more stress on your back than standing does. And lower back pain accounts for one-third of missed work days (second only to the common cold). Each year, more than 11 million (11 million!) Canadians will suffer from at least one muscuskeletal condition, yikes.

With my poor posture in mind (and honestly, these stats about musculoskeletal issues frightened me!), I  put the new Straighten Up app to use for a few days. Launched last month, the app includes exercises aimed to improve posture and reduce the risk of a musculoskeletal disorder. I’ve only tried it for a couple of days so far, but in a study, participants who practiced Straighten Up daily for at least five weeks reported improved posture, strengthened core muscles, and less back pain when sitting.

The app’s easy to navigate. And I love that the exercises only take three minutes to complete; I found completing them once I get up in the morning is a nice, gentle way to wake up my body. In terms of production value, it’s not the slickest, but you really only need to watch the video once or twice to learn the proper form, and then just a quick glance at the home page of the exercises is enough to jog your memory as you do the exercises to your favourite song. (Oh, btw, there’s a Youth series of exercises, too).

Also in the app is a handy “Find a Chiro” feature, along with a blog of articles about spine health, sports injuries and more. You can also log your exercises in the app, which is always satisfying, don’t you find, watching your good fitness work adding up over time?

The exercises only take three minutes to complete, so in theory, you could easily complete them in cubicle or office. You might feel a little silly doing ones like Bending Circles (a little bit like waving your hands in the air like you just don’t care), though. But when you consider the benefits of doing exercises that improve your posture, that might be incentive enough to looking a little silly. Five reasons why good posture is so important:

1.       Reduces wear and tear: Having a balanced spine decreases the amount of stress and pressure on your joints, reducing the risk of wear and tear that can result in a limited range of motion or arthritis.

2.       Breathe easy: By avoiding slouching and sitting up straight you are helping to open your airways and increase oxygen flow throughout your body.

3.       Decreases stress: Since stress causes your muscles to contract and become tense, stretching those muscles reverses the tension and the related stress.

4.       Increases energy: Slouching puts many of your muscles into overdrive as they work to hold you up, wearing your body out. Proper posture enables the body’s most efficient position, saving energy.

5.       Be better: Standing up straight with your shoulders back gives you the appearance of being taller and slimmer, making you feel more confident.

Just three minutes a day of the Straighten Up app’s exercises can help prevent you from experiencing lower back pain–think about it, you can complete it in the time of a commercial break as you watch The Good Wife. 

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Leave a Comment November 19, 2014


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