Modern day life has changed our posture
Lower back pain is still one of the most popular complaints amongst adults and the majority of cases can be attributed to the lifestyles we have become accustomed. We spend more time sitting with bad postures in offices, on the sofa, and at the bar. Poor muscle tone, especially in the abdominal wall, and lack of flexibility in the lower back and hamstrings (back of the legs) region can often be to blame. It is these seated positions that have shortened our hamstrings and weaken our abdominal wall in the first place.
Women’s fashion also causes major problems with the wearing of high heels, tight fitting clothing, and ill fitting bra’s. What many of us fail to realise is that the whole body is connected. For example, wearing high heel shoes can cause muscle tightness in the calf muscles limiting ankle movement, this in turn causes changes higher up in the body. Often the pelvis will tilt, this affects the curves of the vertebral column and reduces the shock absorbing properties of the spine. Consequently the upper body will also make changes. This type of postural distortion is known as “lower and upper cross syndrome” and all this from just wearing high heels.
Only stretch what’s tight
You can put a stop to many of these aches, pains, and misalignments with some simple stretching but in order to achieve this you must only stretch what needs stretching. Just like a badly tuned guitar you only tune the strings that need adjusting. As a personal trainer I place great emphasis on assessment prior to the commencement of any stretching programme and you should do the same. As I’m not physically there with you, if you need assistance then you can contact me on the details below, you will have to get in tune with your own body. If one of the stretches given this week or on week 2 is very tight then spend more time on that area, if it is loose then just apply a gentle maintenance stretch after exercise and then move on to the tighter areas.
A cautionary note
If you have any back, neck, bone or joint problems consult your doctor before beginning a stretching program. No stretching routine should be painful. Pain indicates either incorrect technique or a medical problem. If in doubt, ask a qualified health professional.
Stretch everyday after exercise or when the body is warm.
Stretch each tight area 3 times for 15-20 seconds.
Next Week: Resistance training (intermediate)
a) Sit or stand with you hands down by your sides and palms pointing forwards
b) Lean your left ear to your left shoulder and keep your right shoulder down
c) Hold the stretch and repeat on the other side
d) You should feel the stretch on the lateral side of your neck
a) Sit or stand upright with one arm flexed, raised overhead and the palm of the hand running down the centre of your back
b) Grasp your elbow with the other hand
c) Inhale and pull your elbow towards your head so your hand moves further down the centre of your back
d) Hold the stretch and repeat on the other side
e) You should feel the stretch in the upper back part of the arm
a) Stand upright facing a wall approx. 3 feet in front of you.
b) Lean forward bending at the waist and place both hands onto the wall shoulder width apart and palms facing inwards
c) Exhale, press the shoulders and back towards the floor and keeping the arms straight
d) Hold the stretch, do not bounce
e) You should feel the stretch in the back and running down the sides under the arms
Hip / Glutes Stretch
a) Sit on a chair and cross one leg over
b) Sit tall and lean forward from the waist
c) Hold and stretch and then repeat on the other side
d) You should feel the stretch in the buttocks and hip
e) If you find this stretch difficult then you can emulate the stretch lying on the floor
Calf Stretch & Achilles Tendon
a) Stand upright slightly more than arms length from a wall
b) Bend one leg forward and keep the back leg straight
c) Lean against the wall without losing a straight line down the body from head to ankle
d) Exhale, lean towards the wall and bend your arms, keep the rear heel down and the leg straight
e) Hold the stretch and repeat on the other side