Category Archives: Exercise

Walking For Exercise And Spine Health

With the weather warming up, we know you’re itching to take a walk around the block and soak up some sunshine. Walking is a great form of low impact aerobic exercise for people of all fitness levels. It provides all of the benefits other forms of aerobic activity provide without the added stress on your joints. We recommend walking for exercise to our patients with ongoing or recurring back pain, or for those recovering from surgery.

Benefits Of Walking For Exercise

Walking for exercise has a myriad of health benefits. First, it helps to strengthen both your muscles and bones. When the muscles in your feet, legs, hips, and torso become stronger, they increase your spine’s stability and condition the muscles to hold your body upright. The stronger these muscles are, the less susceptible you are to back pain and spinal injuries.

Second, walking also provides nourishment for your spinal structures. Because it’s an aerobic activity, it improves your body’s circulation. Improved circulation helps pump nutrients into your spine’s soft tissues and drain toxins.

Third, walking for exercise can help improve your flexibility and posture. When combined, walking and stretching allow your joints to have a greater range of motion.

Finally, walking reduces bone density loss, which helps to prevent osteoporosis and lessens pain caused by osteoarthritis.Walking can help prevent osteoporosis by reducing bone density loss. Click To Tweet

Good Posture Is Key

However, like every other aspect of daily life, posture is the key to a healthy spine. Your feet help to keep your body balanced and aligned and any imbalance in your feet can cause weight to be distributed improperly.

This imbalance can affect your gait while walking, leading to muscle and back pain. While the imbalance may seem minimal, over time the unnecessary wear and tear can add up to serious damage to your spine.

A proper pair of walking shoes can prevent an imbalance from occurring. To find the correct pair, we recommend you visit a shoe store that can match shoes based on your natural gait.

 
And, as always, be sure to consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise regime. While walking for exercise is beneficial for most, it may not be a suitable exercise for all. Happy walking!

Tee Up For A Pain-Free Golf Season

Golf is an excellent form of low impact aerobic exercise, especially if you walk the course as opposed to using a golf cart. But did you know that golf and lower back pain have an undeniable link?

Lower back pain is by far the most common ailment of golfers, regardless of their age. In fact, 28% of golfers deal with lower back pain on a regular basis. Even 23% of professional golfers report playing with lower back pain.Did you know that 28% of golfers deal with lower back pain on a regular basis? Click To Tweet

So what about golf causes so many avid players pain? The main culprit is the golf swing. From the backswing to the follow-through, your spine rotates with great deal of force and not very much control. What’s more, is that forceful golf swing often strains your spinal muscles, specifically in the lumbar region.

Even the act of bending to pick up your golf bag, club, or ball can strain your back.

So, how can you reap the aerobic benefits and ensure a pain-free golf season? For starters, you can begin every game with a proper warmup and stretching session. Practicing smooth, easy swings are a great warm up. After that, make sure to stretch your shoulders, torso, hips, and even your hamstrings.

Another great way to prevent injury is to learn proper form and posture. Not only will doing so help prevent injury, but it may even improve your game! You want to focus on a smooth, rhythmic golf swing with good balance, making sure to maintain the same spine angle throughout the entire swing.  

Updating your golfing equipment might also help save your lower back. Choose a golf bag with a built-in stand to avoid having to lift it off the ground, and dual-straps to carry the weight evenly across your back. You can even rent or purchase a push cart, allowing you to walk the course without having to carry your clubs.

When you do have to pick up a piece of equipment, make sure to practice proper lifting techniques and bend at your knees.

 
Next time you hit the course, make sure to implement the tips above for a pain-free golf game. If you are already experiencing lower back pain, please schedule an appointment with one of our physicians.

9 Yoga Poses to Relieve Back Pain

Did you know that September is National Yoga Month? Yoga can be extremely beneficial for those experiencing back pain, including occasional soreness and chronic pain. However, people with severe back pain should not attempt to use yoga for symptom relief. And remember, it is always a good idea to consult your physician before beginning a new fitness regimen.

What makes yoga so much better for back pain than other fitness routines? Yoga is one of the only workouts that emphasizes stretching, strength, and flexibility. In fact, recent studies have found that practicing yoga relieves symptoms caused by back pain better than stretching alone. The same study found that those who practice yoga regularly are twice as likely to cut back on pain medications than those who attempt to manage symptoms on their own.

So which poses should you incorporate into your routine for the most effective pain relief? We’ve compiled a list of nine poses below, along with instructions on how to perform them, to help manage your back pain symptoms. All of the poses should be held for 3-5 breaths.

Downward Facing Dog

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Downward facing dog is the most well-known yoga pose out there because elongates the cervical spine and strengthens the core, hamstrings and lower back – all in one move! Begin on your hands and knees, tuck your toes, lift your hips and bring your heels toward the ground, making sure to keep your spine straight.

 

Upward Facing Dog

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Upward facing dog helps to open your chest, and improve abdominal and back stretch. From the downward facing dog position, shift forward into a plank pose. Untuck your toes and lift your head up, making sure to keep your knees off the ground.

 

Low Lunge with Backbend

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Low lunge with backbend strengthens and stretches your entire back. While in a low lunge position, gently lower your back knee to the ground. Bring your arms up alongside your head and lean back.

 

Seated Forward Fold

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Seated forward fold is primarily known as a hamstring stretch, but it’s also great for lengthening your back. Start in an upright seated position with your legs in front of you. Guide your hands down your legs until you’ve stretched as far as you can.

 

Seated Spinal Twist

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Seated spinal twist is great for improving posture and spine mobility. While in a seated position, bring your left foot to the outside of your right knee. Hook your right elbow outside your left knee and look back over your left shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side.

 

Standing Forward Fold with Clasped Hands

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Standing forward fold with clasped hands is great for stretching your back, increasing shoulder mobility, and opening up your chest. While standing, bend forward at your hips and stretch your fingertips toward the ground. Clasp your hands behind you and bring your palms together, even if you have to bend your elbows.

 

Lower Back Clasp

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Lower back clasp both stretches and strengthens your lower back. While lying on your stomach, clasp your hands behind you and lift your chest off the ground. Again, if you have to bend your elbows to bring your palms together, do so.

 

Sphinx Pose

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Sphinx pose lengthens the spine and opens up the chest. Start on your hands and knees, and lower your stomach to the ground while bringing your forearms in front of you and lifting your chest.

 

Bow Pose

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Bow pose stretches and strengthens the upper back and shoulders to help improve posture. While lying on your stomach, reach for your heels and lift them up, causing your back to arch naturally.

Go for the Gold! Train Like an Olympian

This weekend, the Summer 2016 Olympics will kick off and we will see the world’s finest athletes compete for a gold medal. Many of these athletes have incredible conditioning and workout routines to prepare them for competition. Leading up to competition, they focus on diet and exercise. Ever wonder what some of their secrets are? If you are looking to change up your workout regimen, you can sneak in some of these tips. Remember to always consult with your doctor when you want to incorporate new exercises into your routine.

Successful athletes all do the same thing: they set a goal and stick with it. This is the most important part of training like an Olympian. You can do this, too! Is your goal a distance? A weight? A blood pressure level? A reduction in pain? Once you determine your goal, you can establish the building blocks of your exercise and diet plan. Break down the process of reaching your goal into smaller goals that can mark progress along the way. This can often help make an unreachable goal seem much more attainable.

In most sports at the Olympic level, many athletes put their effort into developing lean muscle mass rather than only losing fat. One secret that many athletes use is following a steady-state cardiovascular workout. These often take the place of strength training and high intensity-interval training (HIIT) because these workouts can often exhaust you, making recovery time between workouts longer. While it is important to rest between workouts to prevent strain, fatigue and injury, when you are working out towards a goal, you’ll want all the time you can get working out instead of resting. You’ll recover faster following a steady-state cardio workout than one that focuses on strength and HIIT. Steady-state cardio can also help you to maintain muscle mass, burn calories and build your aerobic fitness. Often the types of maneuvers can mimic the benefits of weight training without the stress.

You might think training is the most important part of being a successful athlete, but don’t forget about a healthy diet. The first thing any Olympic athlete will tell you is that hydration is key to their success. Each athlete will formulate a healthy diet designed for their goals and the types of training they are doing. The food you eat should fuel your body and contain a good balance of nutrients to support those workouts. Eat for your workout. Athletes will focus on filling their diet with healthy, lean proteins like almonds or chicken. If energy is needed, you can incorporate healthier carbs like a sweet potato or chickpeas. Antioxidants in leafy, green veggies can help with recovery, too. Most healthy athletes will avoid fatty, high calorie foods that offer low nutritional value like fried foods, white carbohydrates, foods high in sugar, and large portions.

Finally, the best thing you can do to train like an Olympic athlete is to stay motivated. A fitness plan should really come down to one simple question: are you going to stick with it? Make sure you create a plan that you enjoy and that brings you joy. If you don’t love your workouts, you should at least respect them. To keep you on track, try to find a buddy that will work out with you and keep you motivated on those days when you just don’t feel like it. Write down your goals and keep a positive diary of your amazing progress. Stay optimistic about your goals and your workouts and you will soon see the benefits.

The Benefits of Swimming

The summer heat often tends to keep people indoors with the air conditioning blasting and fans on high cooling them off. While summertime brings longer days, a little more leisure time and often vacations, it can also put a wrench in your usual exercise routine. Walking and running are great cardio workouts, but in the heat, they can often be dangerous. This time of year can be a great time to experiment with your workout regimen and incorporate things like water sports and swimming into your routine. Swimming has some incredible benefits that can keep you in shape and prevent you from overheating during a summer workout.

Swimming is a great low-impact workout, especially for those who suffer from joint pain. If you are a runner, your joints and spine take a blow with each step. Swimming eliminates any impact on your joints that can cause injury or pain. When you are swimming, the water creates a buoyancy for your body that counters the effects of gravity. This helps to support your body’s weight and give you a more controlled and wider range of motion compared to exercising on land. It can also improve your balance and strengthen your core.

The water also creates a natural resistance creating friction that you must work against. The viscosity of water gives you the opportunity to strengthen your muscles without weights. You can also strengthen an injury safely – preventing falls due to imbalance while on land. Even if you aren’t rehabbing an injury, you can define and tone your muscles with some simple maneuvers in the pool. While in chest deep water, you can work both your upper and lower body. If you assume a wide stance, jump so that your knees rise above the water and then land safely back on the pool’s floor, your abs will get a nice workout. You can do arm movements under water to help strengthen your back and shoulders. If you feel like these moves are too easy, you can wear water gloves or other resistance accessories to make things a bit tougher.

Finally, water puts hydrostatic pressure on the body. Hydrostatic pressure is caused by the weight of fluid putting equal pressure on the fluids in our body. The pressure you feel when you enter the water is good for you! The pressure forces your heart and lungs to work a little bit harder compared to regular exercise. In fact, doing even minimal activity in the pool works out your heart and lungs in a very different way than they are used to. Regular pool workouts can actually allow you to take in more air during land exercises. So, by taking a dip, you are conditioning your body to be a more efficient runner, too.

However, you should be cautious when starting a new exercise plan, especially in the water. If you are new to the pool, take extreme care and make sure you have proper safety accessories. There are other water sports that commonly cause injury. If you don’t ensure that you are employing proper form during swimming, you can cause neck and back strains. The lower back can become hyperextended during front strokes. The neck can also be jerked backwards repeatedly when taking breaths. It is important to maintain proper form, use safety tools, follow pool rules and consult with your doctor before beginning any water exercise program. More importantly, have fun and stay cool this summer!