Exercises to improve your posture

Exercises to improve your posture

Posture is so much more than just sitting up straight. Our posture is important because it gives us feedback about where we have been with our bodies. It lets you know if you have any aches or pains and reminds you of injuries you may have sustained years ago. It lets you know if you’ve been sitting for too long or running too much. Your posture can even let you know if you need more sleep!

Posture can be affected by a lot of things, one of those being the way you sit all day.

ANY posture you stay in for too long is going to have a negative effect. You can have the best and most comfortable camp chair, van lounge or desk set up but if you’re siting all day, you’re not doing your posture or your health any favours.

So, whatever your posture is, it’s important you move in and out of it as often as possible! I’ve designed this circuit to help do exactly that. Try this workout from your home, can or your office, to break up long periods of sedentary time.

BODY WEIGHT CIRCUIT FOR POSTURE

This workout will focus on a full body movements to complement poor posture. By combining common exercise movements with daily tasks, such as a squat with rotation, these exercises are both functional and transferable to the everyday demands on your body. We will open up the chest and shoulders, strengthen the core and posterior chain, and get your blood pumping for a great workout.

Try these five exercises in a circuit, and do 2-4 rounds of each:

1. BUM TAP SQUATS X 30-60 SECS

Targets: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads, Trunk/Core. It’s also a great exercise for mobility in the hips, knees, and ankles … This is an all-rounder!

Instructions: Standing with your feet hip width, roughly 10cm in front of a chair or bench (knee height). Reach your arms out in front of you. Next, lower down into a squat, barely tapping your bum onto the bench, and come back up. Tapping a bench helps ensure you use your glutes and hips, as well as a consistent depth for your squats throughout the reps.

2. WALL ANGELS X 10

Targets: Upper back… Pretty much all of the muscles that are usually crouched over a computer screen, or steering wheel, or hunched over in your camp chair.

Instructions: Stand against the wall (feet 5-10cm away from the wall). Keep your knees soft and your hips, shoulders, and head against the wall (you can take your head off if it’s too uncomfortable). Keep your abs pulled in and don’t let the ribs flare out. Your lower back should be slightly curved off the wall, but the rest of the spine should lie flat on the wall. Reach both arms up into a “Y” position against the wall, then down into a “W” position. Abs pulled in, spine on the wall, and squeeze between the shoulder blades in the “W” position. You should feel a significant amount of work being done by the entire back side of the upper body.

3. INCLINE PUSH UP X 10

Targets: Chest, Triceps, Core, as well as mobility through the upper back.

Instructions: Push-ups do not have to be from the floor! Choose a solid, stable surface (bullbar of the car, bench, kitchen counter) that is approximately hip height. As you lower into the push-up, squeeze the shoulder blades together; keep shoulders down away from your ears. As you push up, fully extend through the elbows and hold for 1 second. If that is too difficult, you can modify and do these on the wall at shoulder height until they are easier.

4. SPLIT SQUAT WITH ROTATION X 10 EACH SIDE

  1. Targets: Lower body, core, rotational mobility, balance, coordinationInstructions: SPLIT SQUAT: Start with one foot in front of you and one foot behind you, keeping them roughly hip width apart. Put your fingers behind your ears and keep your elbows wide. Maintain an upright posture and slowly lower down into a split squat. Both knees should come into about a 90-degree angle. Push back up to the starting position. Your back knee does not have to touch the floor but try to lower down as far as you can push yourself back up without assistance. ADD ROTATION: Same as a regular split squat, and now you are going to rotate the upper body towards the front leg. Rotate as you go down and turn back to centre as you come up. It should look nice and fluid.
5. BIRD DOGS X 10 EACH SIDE

Targets: Core, balance, shoulder strength, posterior chain

Instructions: Starting on all 4’s in a neutral spine, raise opposite arm and leg straight out from the spine. Keep the raised limbs straight, lower to the ground to tap, then raise again. Try to maintain a neutral spine, with no trunk movement as your move the limbs. Repeat x 10, then change sides.

If you need some help with particular stretches or specific aches and pains, don’t hesitate to send me a message.

If you are interested in a program to increase your fitness, lose weight, increase muscle or improve any aspect of wellbeing such as mobility and flexibility, I can design a program specific to your needs via my Online Personal Coaching Program

Join me my on my Facebook page Fit 4 the Road as I keep fit and healthy while traveling this great country.

Core exercises:more than just your abs

Core exercises:more than just your abs

You probably know that core strength is important. But did you know your core is much more than just your abs? So, what muscles make up your core and what are the best exercises to strengthen them?

WHAT IS THE CORE?

The core is a collective term to refer to the primary muscles at your centre. These muscles bring stability to the spine and support movement of the limbs. The core makes up nearly half the body, and includes all the muscles that attach to the pelvis and spine.

To the rehabilitation world, the core is the thoraco-lumbar-pelvic (trunk) complex. It’s composed of as many as 35 different muscle groups! These muscles connect into the pelvis from the spine and hip area. In order to simplify the core muscles, I usually divide them into four regions; back extensors, abdominals, lateral trunk muscles, and the hip muscles.

The core as a cylinder, not a 6 pack…

Put simply, you can think about the core as a cylinder; it has a bottom (the pelvic floor muscles), a top (the diaphragm) and sides (the abdominals, obliques and back muscles).

THE CORE’S VIP: THE DIAPHRAGM

We already know that it’s primary function is to stabilise, but how? Well, this is where the diaphragm is really funky and important… The core creates stability when it generates intra-abdominal pressure by a gentle ‘drawing in’ action from all sides of the cylinder at the same time… but particularly from the diaphragm being a secure lid.

So, what happens if our diaphragm doesn’t function optimally?

Well, studies have looked at the associations between lower back pain and diaphragm functioning and in particular found:

  • Comparing people with lower back pain (LBP) to people without, the LBP group had less diaphragm movement when they inhaled and exhaled
  • The difference was more noticeable during inhalation, and they noted the diaphragm was positioned higher than the other pain-free group
  • This finding was even more pronounced when they added a level of physical exertion (a simple postural task)

The researchers hypothesize that this dysfunction of the diaphragm may exacerbate symptoms of lower back pain by increasing the anterior shear forces on the ventral region of the spinal column.

It’s all very interesting. But how does this information help you?

Well, it means you now know where to start when it comes to strengthening your core and reducing your risk of low back pain! Let the process of holistic treatment begin…

CORE EXERCISES: HOW TO TRAIN AND STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE

There are a lot of ways to train your core. Let me tell you, sit-ups and crunches are NOT THE ONLY WAY. Now that you understand how the core functions, you can see how it comes into play all the time, not just when we try to isolate it. Since our centre of gravity resides within our pelvis, and is where all movement begins; our core becomes fundamental for creating stability of all our lower limb movements. This even includes simple ankle and knee movements!

START WITH:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Transverse abdominus activation
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Isometric exercises (no movement) e.g. dead bugs

THEN BUILD STRENGTH AND CONTROL:

  • Animal crawls
  • Bird-dog (4-point alternative arm leg extension)
  • Forearm plank and side plank

THEN MOVE ONTO:

  • Compound movements e.g. lunges or lunges with single arm press
  • Dynamic movements e.g. cable rotations
  • Unilateral exercises e.g. single arm cable or dumbbell press

There are many exercises that I prescribe to my clients for core strengthening. The exercises include basic body-weight movements, sometimes really simple exercise to increase body awareness, proprioception and neuromuscular connection; it doesn’t always need to feel like its burning for it to be having seriously positive benefits!

A strong and stable core can improve optimal performance throughout the whole body and enable you move better, move more, and move longer, as well as preventing injuries!

GET THE RIGHT ADVICE

If you aren’t sure where to start, it’s best to ask for help.

22 benefits of strength training

22 benefits of strength training

Why do you do resistance training? We all know resistance training is good for us, and there are so many reasons to add it to your exercise routine. Some people to it to build muscle. Others, to reach a goal, like being able to pick up our grandkids, do some yard work or ensure you are able to cope with everyday activities. 

Whatever your reason, you deserve a big pat on the back just for doing it!

According to the latest National Health Survey, only 15% of Australian adults get enough exercise. This is especially true when it comes to resistance training! Out of 168 countries, we are ranked 97th for the percentage of population being sufficiently active. It’s scary considering physical inactivity is so highly associated with chronic health problems.

WHAT IS RESISTANCE TRAINING (AKA STRENGTH TRAINING OR WEIGHT TRAINING)?

Resistance training can be anything from body weighted strength to lifting very heavy weights. The person that hasn’t broken a sweat all session, and the person that is drenched in sweat at the end of the session – have both engaged in strength training. It looks completely different for everyone and that’s the beautiful thing about strength training! It can be adapted and individualised just for you and your body’s specific needs.

For those who maybe don’t know all the amazing benefits of strength training, I’ve made a nerdy little list below. Please feel free to share this with your friends and family members who maybe aren’t quite convinced on exercise, there’s something in here for everyone!

BENEFITS OF RESISTANCE TRAINING:

  1. Improves focus
    2. Improves cognitive function
    3. Decreases anxiety
    4. Reduces depressive symptoms
    5. Improves feelings of well-being
    6. Increases self-esteem
    7. Decreases risk of dementia
    8. Reduces markers of inflammation (particularly in people who are overweight)
    9. Decreases cholesterol
    10. Decreases blood pressure
    11. Improves insulin-swings for those with type 2 diabetes
    12. Improves insulin-sensitivity
    13. Boosts metabolic rate
    14. Reverses ageing factors in mitochondria and muscles
    15. Increases bone mineral density (and prevents bone loss)
    16. Increases muscle mass
    17. Improves movement control
    18. Reduces chronic lower back pain
    19. Decreases arthritic pain
    20. Reduces pain from fibromyalgia
    21. Improves balance
    22. Increases walking speed
HOW CAN YOU GET ALL THESE BENEFITS, PLUS MORE?

If you would like to start getting more out of your resistance training sessions, or if you’re wanting to start resistance training but you have some niggles that bother you, then get in touch. I can help to find the right exercises for you and help you to move safely! 

Until then, safe travels

Kerri

Get your butt into gear – Part 2

Get your butt into gear – Part 2

We learnt from Part 1 of this blog (click here if you missed it) that a weak butt might be the culprit when it comes to your lower back pain.  Having a weak butt (glutes) means your back takes up the slack when it comes to supporting your body in everyday movements and activities.

The best solution to your pain is to make exercise a daily part of your routine and this blog will outline four exercises you can do to activate and strengthen your glutes to reduce pain.  The other benefits of these exercises are that they will help with your core strength, balance and mobility…..what a bonus!

First we need to wake up your butt!

The next 2 exercises can be done on the bed if getting down on the ground is not appealing or difficult.

Hip Bridge

Lie face up on a mat, with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place a mini band around your legs, just above the knees. Lift your hips up off the floor. Do you best to keep your thighs lined up with the hip joints. Try to resist the inward pull of the band Bring your hips back down to the floor and repeat.

Perform 2 sets of 10-12 reps to start and progress as strength builds.

Note: This can be performed without the band as a level 2 option.

Clam Shell

Lie on your side with your head supported by pillow. Bend the knee of the right leg and place the instep of that foot just below the left knee. Gently raise and lower the right knee while keeping the pelvis tucked under and stationary throughout the exercise. Don’t “cheat” during this exercise by hiking the hip, arching the lower back or rolling the hips. When performing this exercise correctly, you will feel a strong contraction on the outside of the right butt and hip.

Perform 2 sets of 8-10 reps, focusing more on the side that is the weakest.

Once your glutes and awake progress to the glute-strengthening exercises.

Squat With kick back

Stand with feet about hip-distance apart. Place a resistance band under both feet and grasp the ends of the band in each hand. Lower down into a squat with your knees tracking over your toes. Squeeze your glutes and rise up out of the squat. Extend one leg back behind you without arching your low back. Bring your foot back to start and repeat the squat with hip extension on the other leg.

Perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps on each leg to start and progress as strength builds.

Note: You can also perform this movement without the band and use a chair for stability as you squat.

Perform 2 sets of 8-10 reps, focusing more on the side that is the weakest.

Once your glutes and awake progress to the glute-strengthening exercises.

Reverse Lunge

Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart and the hands by the sides of the body. Take a step backward with the right leg and remain on the ball of your right foot. Bend the left knee and lower the body down toward the floor. Pause when the left thigh is parallel to the floor (if you can). Return to the starting position by pushing off of the right rear foot and straitening out the left leg. Repeat on the other leg. Be sure to keep the upper body straight during the entire exercise.

Perform 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps on each leg to start and progress as strength builds.

Note: Your options for this exercise are to hold onto a chair for additional stability as this will challenge your balance, which in turn strengthens your core.

This routine should be performed at least twice a week. If you have any pain performing these exercises, please discontinue until further treatment/advice can be sort from an Allied Health professional.

Traveling with less pain is what we all want in the end. It allows us to enjoy our journey and create lasting (wonderful) memories. If you stick with it, the results will come.

Want some guidance in a structured workout/exercise plan customised to suit your fitness level, goals and abilities? Why not consider my Online Personal Coaching. Do you have niggling injuries or aches and pains that I can help you overcome to ensure you are Fit4theRoad and can continue your travels?  If so, get in contact with me  and I can tailor a program of strengthening and rehabilitation exercises to have you back on track. – Kerri

Get your butt into gear

Get your butt into gear

Bottoms, butts, backside. Call it what you want, we all have one, but how strong is yours? Did you know your body can actually switch on the wrong muscles because the correct ones are weak or inactive?  This is most common in our glutes (butt) and can be the reason for lower back pain, knee pain, muscle spasms, and even nerve pain.

The movements of daily life, sports and most weight-bearing exercises require the spine to move forward, backward, side to side and in rotation (McGill, 2002). When you lean forward, for example, the spine rounds/flexes. When walking, it moves from side to side as you transfer weight from one foot to the other. When performing sporting movements like golf, the spine must rotate to achieve the desired motion.

What are my butt muscles?

The muscles along the backside of your pelvis are commonly referred to as your glutes. The glutes consists of your gluteus maximus (the big muscle), gluteus medius, and your gluteus minimus. These muscles attach from the top of your pelvis to the back of your femur (thigh bone).

Why are they so important?

Your glutes are responsible for stabilising the hip and propelling you forward as you walk, pushing you forward as you walk up stairs, and most importantly for holding your pelvis upright when you stand.

If your glutes are weak or inactive they cannot hold your pelvis in the right position or help maintain correct alignment of your thigh bones. This can cause the wrong muscle groups to be “switched on” and work harder to help compensate for the lack of strength in the glutes. These muscles then cause a change in our walking pattern which can lead to increased stress and damage on our joints.  This over extra work and compensation is what leads to back and knee pain, muscle spasm and nerve pain.

Could you have a weak butt?

Have a think about it. How many hours a day do you sit on your butt. When your traveling from one camp site to the next, when you are sitting around the camp reading a book, sitting during happy hour and most of the night.

Too much sitting causes the muscles at the front of the thigh and hips (called your hip flexors) to become short and tight and the muscles at the back (glutes) to become long and weak. Pretty soon our bodies get used to this and pretty soon the pain and discomfort sets in.

Can I strengthen my weak butt

Yes! Most methods of treatment are the same regardless of whether they are recommended by you family doctor, physiotherapist or like me, a personal trainer. The human body is very adaptable and trainable.  By identifying the areas of weakness and those are are overworking to can train your butt to work properly to reduce your  back pain.

Look out for PART 2 of this blog where I’ll show you four great activation and strength exercises to help.

 

McGill, S. (2002). Low Back Disorders: Evidence Based Prevention and Rehabilitation. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics.

 

Want some guidance in a structured workout/exercise plan customised to suit your fitness level, goals and abilities? Why not consider my Online Personal Coaching. Do you have niggling injuries or aches and pains that I can help you overcome to ensure you are Fit4theRoad and can continue your travels?  If so, get in contact with me  and I can tailor a program of strengthening and rehabilitation exercises to have you back on track. – Kerri

YOU GO, I GO – partner workout

YOU GO, I GO – partner workout

In a recent post I talked about how you can incorporate your kids in your exercise schedule so not only you can keep your workouts consistent, but how you set a great example to them about keeping healthy and well.  If you missed it click here

Exercising with your partner can also be another way that allows you to be consistent with exercise.  You are not only spending time together but also keeping each other motivated and therefore feel less isolated in your fitness journey.

After all, its about keeping you both feeling fit and healthy to continue your travels TOGETHER for as long as you can.

So, in that spirit, I have developed a workout called: YOU GO, I GO!

One partner (P1) will complete their 10 reps while the other partner (P2) will hold the move. Then swap! (ie P1 will hold as P2 does their reps).

After you each hold and do the reps, move to the next pairing in the circuit.

Complete 3-5 rounds through the circuit, performing reps and holds on each move! For the unilateral (one sided) moves, hold and do reps on one side before switching.

Beginners, feel free to lower the reps to 5 as needed or use the many modifications I have shown you on FIT4theRoad

CIRCUIT:

  • P1 – 10 reps/side Lunges – P2 – Glute Bridge hold
  • P1- 10 reps Push Ups – P2 -High Plank Hold
  • P1-10 reps Squat Jumps – P2- Squat Hold
  • P1- 10 reps/side Lying Leg Raises – P2- Side Plank Hold
  • P1-10 reps/side Mountain climbers – P2-Plank
  • P1- 10 reps squats – P2- Wall sit (against the van)

Want some guidance in a structured workout/exercise plan customised to suit your fitness level, goals and abilities? Why not consider my Online Personal Coaching.

Have niggling injuries or aches and pains that I can help you overcome to ensure you are Fit4theRoad and can continue your travels, get in contact with me to tailor a program of strengthening and rehabilitation exercise to have you back on track.

– Kerri