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The Squat Challenge

In the last newsletter, we challenged you to a plank challenge.  Not the usual challenge of how long you could hold it. Instead, it was how well you could do the plank at various challenge levels.

How did you do?  Were you able to progress to the counter height plank, maintain your ABCs and maintain optimal range of motion after?

This week we will challenge you to earn the right to move through some squat patterns.  We have to squat throughout our day for basic activities of daily living, so it would seem vital that we do it well.  Squats are also a popular exercise so if you are going to do repetition after repetition, let's be sure you are doing it in a way that supports the health and alignment of your joints.

Remember to use your ABCs:

A stands for alignment of the joints.  As outlined in the photos above, maintain your rib cage in alignment with your hips and pelvis.  When you can do this, it maintains optimal spine alignment, allowing your core...

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The Plank Challenge

The plank is a widely used exercise to build core strength.  When done optimally, it can build core strength and improve shoulder and spine stabilization. 

 

To get the most benefits from the plank, you want to follow the simple plan of A-B-C.

A stands for alignment of the joints.  As outlined in the photos above, maintain your rib cage in alignment with your hips and pelvis.  When you can do this, it maintains optimal spine alignment, allowing your core muscles to naturally turn on to maintain this posture without having to 'pull' them in.

B is for three-dimensional breathing. Breathing in a three-dimensional manner allows you to use your deepest core muscle, the diaphragm, maximally.  It also helps support your spine in the plank position.

C is for control. Control is when we use the correct effort for the task while maintaining A and B.  

Start with the wall plank with the arms extended.  Focus on maintaining the above...

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The Power of Habits

Habits!  Good or bad, they can significantly affect how our bodies move and feel.

Here is a quick example, bending over or squatting.  We do this throughout our day to sit or pick something up.  How you do either has become a habit.  Do you think you bend in a good way or a not-so-good way?

Let's take a look at some examples:

From the pictures of our model above, if you are doing more of a straight leg bend or a squat-type bend, you want to make sure you are bending and moving through your hips and not your back.

It sounds simple enough, yet, time and time again, people struggle with back pain.  They pick something up, and they feel pain in their back.  They get done working out and need to stretch their back because it feels tight.

So what is the secret to creating a good habit of bending?

  1. Bend at the hip joint.  This is where your thigh bone comes into your pelvis or the crease at the top of your leg.  If you struggle to move through this...
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Do you struggle with 'good' posture?

Stand up straight, pull your shoulder back, lift your chest, pull your abs in, and squeeze your butt; these are common cues for posture but are they good cues?

The dictionary defines posture as the position or bearing of the body, whether characteristic or assumed for a particular purpose.  Various postures are assumed for many reasons, including the military, fashion model, and bodybuilder, also to appear thinner, taller, shorter, and others.  

What posture is good for the health of your body?

When we consider 'optimal' posture, it would ideally be efficient, meaning the least amount of muscular effort while maintaining alignment of the body's joints.

The first picture below demonstrates optimal versus suboptimal standing posture. 

The second picture demonstrates how to create a more optimal posture.

1. At the head:  Imagine a hook under the small bump on the back of the head, and it suspends your head towards the ceiling.  This will help lengthen your...

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