Take hold of your health with our weekly column from Fitness Director, Clint Ward.
The majority of us who are looking to increase strength and overall health usually start with one priority in mind: targeting the waistline. People throw out the word “core” frequently and punishing your abs on a daily basis seems to be the normal method these days for trying to shrink the belly (not true by the way). However, because of our bad habits, it is the spine that we need to pay attention to the most.
Try Less Sit Ups, More Back Exercises
Poor posture is plaguing this country due to the extended period of time that we now find ourselves sitting still. Whether it’s working at the desk, driving a car, eating food, watching a TV, or PC gaming, we’ve become a society that exposes the human body to the kind of stress it was never meant to handle.
Gravity gets the better of us when we’re constantly in the seated position.
Strengthening your spine first helps to build a foundation in your core’s stability. There are also a number of muscles that run parallel to your vertebrae that assist in posture control as well as connect the rib cage to the hips which allow your body to flex and extend in a variety of ways.
Spine Strengthener, The Bridge (3 sets of 20 reps)
Start slow by lying with your back on the floor and your knees bent. For reference, you fingers should just be able to touch the backs of your heels. Tuck your shoulders toward the ground with your arms firmly pressed down next to your sides. To perform a BRIDGE you must push through your feet and raise your hips in the air as high as you can. For added benefit, squeeze your butt to maximize muscle recruitment.
To advance the bridge in intensity, place a ball or block in between your knees to activate your inner thighs & raise heels for a calf workout!
This exercise allows you to train your back without putting excess loads on your joints.
Be sure to incorporate flexibility training along with myofascial release therapy as you begin to increase the intensity of your workouts. Over-stressing the back can lead to chronic low back pain (LBP) if you are not careful.
STRETCHING takes PATIENCE
It takes muscle fibers roughly 2 minutes before it initiates the release mechanism required for stretching. Take your time. Take DEEP breaths and hold your stretches for no less than 120 seconds. Don’t force it. Extreme tension causes your surrounding muscles to flex which will tighten the area and limit the lengthening of targeted muscle group.
Spend more time on the areas that are the tightest. Don’t go through the motions just because you think it’s what you should be doing. Focus on the imbalances. If your left side is tighter than your right, then stretch more on your left side and specifically where you feel the tightest.
STRETCHING reduces PAIN and therefore makes you STRONGER!
We are only as strong as or weakest joint. LBP or any other joint pain can slow us down no matter how severe. Reducing stress should never be overlooked when you design your program. Reduce stress and inflammation in your muscles through Myofascial Release Therapy.
Use a foam roller, tennis ball, even a lacrosse ball for the brave, or another form of personal massaging device that can reach deep within your muscle tissue. Find areas that are knotted up on your body and place the ball or foam roller between the sore muscle and the ground. Relax your body over the device as it begins to massage its way into your tissue. Hold it there for no less than 2 minutes or until the pain subsides. Take deep breaths in order to help the muscle release.
Remember that your spine should be the most important area to strengthen. Sore muscles will come and go but make sure that you pay attention to your body and react accordingly if you feel an unusual amount of pain. Consult with a chiropractor or your doctor if discomfort continues over an extended period of time.
Thank you again for supporting GRIPBELL! If you have specific questions pertaining to your fitness goals then don’t hesitate to ask. I am here as your Fitness Director.
See you next week,