Spinal Mobility

Spinal Mobility

OVERVIEW

The cat-cow is an amazing exercise to get our spine moving and keep our spinal joints (and discs) healthy. Today we talk about how we can upgrade the cat-cow to get even more benefit from the already amazing exercise.

Did you know that we have 24 vertebrae in our spine? 7 in our neck, 12 in our upper/middle back, and 5 in our lower back. Did you know that each of those vertebrae have individual joints and muscles between them? If you didn’t, now you know. And believe it or not, we should be able to actively move and control those vertebral joints with those muscles.

Instead of repping out the cat-cow quickly and only moving your spine at a few spinal segments, spend some time trying to move each of your vertebrae on their own. Taking time to slowly and controllably move your spine will result in muscles being used that haven’t been used in years. And joints to move that may have never moved. So take the time to enjoy the movement!

A great starting point is moving your spine in 3 segments: your upper, middle, and lower back. After a few repetitions, try slowly moving each of your vertebrae one at a time. With practice, this movement gets easier and your range of motion improves.

Remember, movement is what keeps your joints and discs healthy, so get those spines moving!

Spinal Flexion

Spinal Flexion

OUR SPINES ARE MEANT TO MOVE!

They’re supposed to be able to move into flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation. And a combination of those motions! Without the ability of our spine to move in these directions we’d be pretty stiff.

We’re not sure about you, but we don’t like being stiff.

We make sure our spines are moving in all directions, #everydamnday. It feels good. And it’s actually good for your spine’s health. After all, movement is what keeps those spinal joints (and discs) healthy!

Now, if you’re in pain and flexing your spine is painful or makes the pain worse, then maybe you should avoid spinal flexion. TEMPORARILY.

Find a healthcare provider to help you get your spine feeling better. But you better believe that once it’s pain-free, you better start moving it again!

Be a movement optimist. Don’t be afraid to move your spine in any motion. It’s supposed to move!

With that being said, who’s a proponent of the Jefferson Curl? What are your thoughts?

Pelvic Floor: Leaking

Pelvic Floor: Leaking

ATTENTION ALL FEMALES!

It is not normal to urinate or leak when sneezing, laughing, coughing, or exercising!

“Leaking” is a very common issue that we hear as healthcare providers and strength coaches from our female clients and patients.

However, common does not mean normal, no matter how often it occurs.

This frustrating and often embarrassing issue is very common in females of ALL ages and activity levels, but is particularly prevalent in pre- and post-natal females.

Most women think this is just something they have to live with, but that could not be further from the truth.

This condition is definitely fixable!

Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles in your pelvis that control your bladder and bowel. These muscles contract and relax as necessary to hold urine or allow you to urinate when ready. Like all the other muscles in your body, your pelvic floor muscles are trainable!

With the proper assessment, history, education, and interventions, this condition can be fixed in no time!

Core Strengthening

Core Strengthening

There are so many ways to challenge your core strength other than sit-ups!

Sit-ups aren’t necessarily good or bad, but they may not be right for you.

Dr. Jen had a patient the other day who had lower back pain for going on a year. This patient was doing a combination of yoga and an “hour long ab class” 4-5 days per week.

Dr. Jen educated this patient on the types of ab exercises and yoga poses she was doing and how they may be causing/contributing to her lower back pain.

Dr. Jen then instructed her to perform other exercises for her abs/core if she wanted to continue strengthening them – exercises that challenge the core in it’s true stability role. Exercises that didn’t move her spine into flexion.

This patient then went on vacation for 7 days and did Dr. Jen’s exercises (as well as stopped all the yoga and ab classes since she was out of town). And guess what?! Her lower back pain was gone when she came home from vacation!

Now we’re not saying that sit-ups are bad. Or that yoga is bad. Or that spinal flexion is bad.

There’s a time and place for it all. But, this lady was literally causing and keeping her back pain by doing things she thought were helpful.

Do you have lower back pain?

Find out what your pain triggers are. Eliminate them (temporarily). Desensitize and strengthen your body. Then, reintroduce the movements again in a pain-free manner.

And there ya have it, we just put ourselves out of business.

Core Strengthening

Core Training

Some coaches argue that core training isn’t necessary.

Their reasoning is often because heavy squats, deadlifts, and other compound lifts challenge the core enough.

While these lifts definitely utilize the core and impose great demands on the musculature, we couldn’t disagree more.

Core training is essential for spinal health, injury prevention, and overall athleticism.

So what type of core training?!

We’re not talking about crunches, sit-ups, supermans, Russian twists, or other dynamic types of core training.

Rather, static, isometric core training that targets the actual role of the core: STABILIZATION.

Such exercises include planks, side planks, stir-the-pots, bird dogs, pallof presses, unilateral carries, and chops/lifts, to name a few.

Choose isometric exercises that challenge the core in more than just the sagittal plane (such as the plank). Also challenge the frontal plane with the side plank and the transverse plane with the bird dog.

These isometric exercises are amazing at increasing your core strength and overall core stiffness if done properly. They are also very safe to perform as they impose minimal load on the spine. What more could you ask for?!

Core Stability

Core Stability

Core stability is more about PRESSURE than STRENGTH. In the rehab and strength & conditioning world, core stability is often trained by increasing the strength of our abdominal, oblique, and lower back muscles. This approach is missing the main piece of the puzzle: PRESSURE.
Imagine making the rubber of a tire thicker. Yes, the tire may be stronger, but what is a tire without any air?! Now imagine your abdominals, obliques, and lower back muscles are the rubber tire: you strengthened them, but you cannot create pressure within your abdomen. Your core is essentially a tire without any air. So how do we create/increase core stability?! Through creating more pressure! We generate intra-abdominal pressure through proper diaphragmatic breathing. When we take a breath, our diaphragm descends and increases the pressure within our abdomen. This increase in pressure alone stabilizes our spine. Couple this increase in pressure with the proper contraction and bracing of our abdominals, obliques, and lower back muscles, and we have greatly increased our core stability. Once we master creating pressure, THEN we can strengthen our core muscles through training.
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