Your Posture Sucks – Volume 2

This article carries on from the last and aims to arm you with tools to fight the evils of bad posture. If you missed the first part to the series, catch it here.

Before we move on from the hips, below are a few other variations worth trying…

piriformis_stretch

 

The above stretch works to target the deep gluteals and is a progression of the sitting stretch shown in Volume 1. Using the image as an example, the stretch should be felt in the buttocks region on the left hand side. Play around with the position a little to make sure your optimising the exercise. It is sometimes worthwhile propping your foot against the wall if your arms are giving out from holding your leg in position.

The stretch below, on the other hand, aims to target the outer part of the buttock region. It’s important to use these variations due to the many different muscle fibre directions.

ee645a0537bd2adc_glute_stretch_twist.preview

The lower back cops an absolute hammering thanks to sitting. Its worth remembering that the human body thrives on movement and by keeping the lower back in a static position for many hours compromises its function and health. The movement below incorporates rotation through this region. It should be performed in a controlled manner at a reasonable pace, i.e. not too fast or slow. Carry out for 30-60s. Although very simple, this drill is nothing to be sneezed at. Rotation of the spine helps to regain lost range in the other planes of movement, like extension.LumbarThe next stretch works to lengthen the belt-like lower back muscle which often becomes overloaded in sitting. The stretch should be felt predominantly on the left, using the image as an example. Variations of this stretch include; keeping the bottom leg straight, as well as hanging the top leg off a bed, if you are particularly flexible.

QL

 

That’s it folks for another edition of ‘Your Posture Sucks’. Work these bad boys into your daily routine until they become second nature. If you have an questions or suggestion, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below!

“A woman tells her doctor, ‘I’ve got a bad back.’ The doctor says, ‘It’s old age.’ The woman says, ‘I want a second opinion.’ The doctor says: ‘Okay – you’re ugly as well.'”

-Tommy Cooper

By Andrew Cammarano

Your Posture Sucks – Volume 1

This series of posts goes out to the desk jockey’s out there. We’ve touched on the dangers of sitting in Sitting Ducks. This write-up aims to give you a few strategies to combat the inevitable aches and pains which arise from too much time spent on your rump!

The human body is remarkable in its ability to adapt to change. When provided with an adequate stimulus, the body responds to reduce the impact, should it be confronted with the same stimulus in the future.

Unfortunately, the body is unaware of whether a stimulus is good or bad. The posture of sitting isn’t inherently bad, though when done so for hours, it has a negative effect. Then, take into consideration the deterioration of posture which occurs as fatigue sets in…

You begin by slumping through your lower back, then your shoulders slouch forward and finally you poke your chin out.

Effectively what your body does from this point is it attempts to make you more efficient in this poor posture. Your hips tighten-making it easier to slouch through your lower back, your pecs shorten-drawing your shoulders forward, and so on…

Though, by making a concerted effort to consistently move out of these postures, these pesky issues can be repelled.

Before moving on to the specifics, let’s talk about the parameters. As I’ve already alluded to, the key when it comes to correcting posture-related problems is a consistent approach. So…

  • Every 30 minutes when you’re taking a break from sitting, select two exercises from this series and carry out 2 sets of each.
  • As Will mentioned in a previous post, a 30 second hold is the gold standard for a stretch. Ensure you’re experiencing mild discomfort through the targeted area.
  • In the evening, dedicate at least 10 minutes to performing these. This is the bare minimum you should be doing to combat a days worth of sloppy postures. Now, don’t try to do all the mobility exercises known under the sun, prioritise based on how your feeling and what feels tight.

Let’s start with the hips…

When carrying out this drill, you should feel the stretch at the front of the hip. Squeeze the glutes tight and avoid arching through the lower back. The first part of the video demonstrates the movement.

Once your confident and have mastered this movement, you may find you no longer experience a stretch through the front of your hips. Watch from about 2.45 in the video for the progression, it looks like this…

Hip Flexor Advanced

This stretch should be felt slightly higher up through the abdominal and oblique region.

The next stretch targets your gluteal muscles. No excuses for this one Jimmy as it can be done in sitting!

Gluteal Stretch Sitting

Apply some gentle pressure through the elevated knee in order to maximize this stretch.

That’s it for the first volume. Begin incorporating these movement regularly and see if you notice a change in the way you move and feel.

 

“Don’t keep reaching for the stars because you’ll just look like an idiot stretching that way for no reason.”

-Jimmy Fallon

 

By Andrew Cammarano

Strengthening The Neck’s Core

Neck pain is becoming more and more prevalent, particularly in those who are involved in daily sedentary tasks. It has become so widespread that approximately 70% of individuals will experience neck pain within some point in their lifetime.

When speaking about strengthening our body’s “core”, people immediately picture copious amounts of abdominal training to help with strengthening the low back. However the neck’s equivalent to this; involves a duo of muscles known as Longus Capitis and Longus Colli, which when functioning together, form the “deep neck flexors” (DNFs) within the neck.

DNF

 

When functioning correctly, they act in similar fashion to the “core” muscles in the back, in that they stabilise the cervical spine (neck) in various positions especially against the effects of gravity. Research has also shown that activation of this pair helps to slightly flatten the cervical curve which opens up the posterior aspect of the cervical facet joints.

A key article in the developmental concepts of deep neck flexors; examined the activity of the neck’s “core” and other associated muscles in participants with and without neck pain. The article by Jull and associates (2002), found that participants who complained of chronic neck pain or had whiplash associated pain, demonstrated higher Sternocleidomastoid muscle activity and reduced strength, endurance and activation of the DNFs.  The link between the dysfunctional DNFs and cervical pain is a resultant of the forward head position which is accentuated. This allows for areas in the neck including the joints, discs, muscles or ligaments to become overloaded and cause pain.

Beiber


Knowing that dysfunctional activation, strength and endurance of the deep neck flexors leads to an increased risk of cervical or neck disorders, strengthening is vital either in the form of treatment or prevention.

Exercise 1:

Lying on your back with a towel rolled under your head/neck. Gently draw your chin towards the floor, performing a slight nod of your head. Avoid lifting your head off the ground.

  • Hold for 10s
  • Repeat 10 – 15 times
  • Twice Daily

Exercise 2:

A progression of Exercise 1, gently tuck your chin towards your floor and whilst holding the position, rotate your neck from left to right

  • Rotate 10 times per side with hold
  • Twice Daily

Exercise 3:

Progressing to a functional position similar to when pain occurs

  • Sitting for office workers
  • All 4s/Bent over for cyclists or weight lifters

Gentle draw your chin towards your adams apple, whilst keeping your neck straight.

  • Hold for 10s
  • Repeat 10 – 15 times
  • Twice Daily

*Progressions of this can incorporate upper limb or lower limb movements or low grade strengthening around other postural muscles including the shoulder retractors (single arm rows/shoulder blade squeezes), whilst holding the ideal neck position.

Neckrotn4pt

 

       

Strengthening of these muscles has shown to improve their function and assist in reducing neck pain and the incidences of future neck dysfunctions. However, strengthening of the deep neck flexors are not only limited to sedentary workers who suffer from neck pain, but they are also highly useful as a preventative exercise for athletes, particularly those performing in sustained positions, such as cyclists.

 

Cycling

 

 

By William Chin

The Shoulder: Stability vs. Mobility

This is a guest post from Samuel Christian. Sam graduated from Curtin University with a Bachelor of Science (Physiotherapy) degree with Distinction, and is currently working full time as a mobile physiotherapist providing in-home services to those who are unable to attend a clinic. He treats a variety of conditions ranging from neck and back pain, rehabilitation following surgery, and assisting the elderly in maintaining or improving their balance, mobility and function. His sporting interests include basketball and mixed martial arts (UFC), and he is a die-hard Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki fan.

Let us talk a little bit about one of the most complex joints in the human body – the shoulder!

The shoulder girdle consists of a number of joints that work together in synergy. These are the:

  • Acromio-Clavicular (AC) joint
  • Sterno-Clavicular (SC) joint
  • Scapulo-Thoracic joint (where your shoulder blade attaches to the rib cage)
  • Glenohumeral joint (what most people refer to as the actual “shoulder joint”)

Therefore, it is important that we consider all these different joints when we are talking about, or treating the shoulder.

Today will be an introduction to the anatomy of the glenohumeral joint – the articulation between the humerus and the scapula (shoulder blade).

If you think about the normal activities you carry out each day – such as putting on a shirt, brushing your hair or reaching up to grab something from the cupboard – you will notice that they require a fair amount of mobility in your shoulder.

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in our body and allows movement in almost every single direction. Unfortunately, like with most things in life, we can’t always have the best of everything! In this case, the stability of the shoulder is sacrificed to provide a greater mobility and this is why it is the most commonly dislocated joint in the body!

But WHY is the shoulder unstable you ask? Let’s have a look…

Our joints get their stability from a number of different factors. One of them is the congruency or the “fit” of the combining surfaces. Take a look at the hip for example; it is a ball-and-socket joint just like the shoulder. The acetabulum of the pelvis (socket) wraps nicely around the head of the femur (ball) and provides a tight “fit”. This makes the hip a stable joint but in turn reduces its mobility – unless you are a gymnast or dancer which means this doesn’t apply to you!

Now let’s take a look at the shoulder… The glenoid fossa (or cavity) of the scapula is like a small and shallow socket, and provides little support for the relatively large head of humerus – some people compare this to a golf ball sitting on top of a tee. This difference in size means that the combining surfaces do not “fit” well, making the shoulder a relatively unstable joint. However, this is what gives the shoulder its mobility! With that being said, there are other structures around the shoulder that help to make it a little bit more stable.

A piece of cartilage called the glenoid labrum lies around the margin of the glenoid fossa, making the socket slightly deeper and providing a better “fit” for the head of humerus – increasing the joint’s stability. Fun fact – the depth of the socket is greatest at the top and bottom of the glenoid fossa and most shallow at the front and back, which is why we see more shoulders dislocate in a forward or backward direction!

Secondly, the capsule that surrounds the glenohumeral joint is reinforced by ligaments at the front, which are connective tissue that attach bone together with bone and limit excessive movement of a joint. These ligaments get tight when you move your arm in certain directions, such as when you try to throw a ball from behind your head. The tightening of these ligaments protects your shoulder from “popping out” by compressing the head of humerus into the glenoid fossa and restricting excessive movement, further stabilising the joint.

Last but not least, a group of four small muscles famously known as the rotator cuff provide added stability to our shoulders. In brief summary, their job is to keep the position of the head of humerus within the glenoid fossa during movements of the arm. The rotator cuff will be discussed in more detail in a later post about the shoulder!

Tune in next time – same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

By Samuel Christian

 

References

  • Brukner P, Khan K (2009) Clinical Sports Medicine (revised 3rd edn). NSW: McGraw-Hill Australia
  • Kalogrianitis S, McBride T (2011) Dislocations of the shoulder joint. Trauma 14: 47-56
  • Norris CM (2011) The Shoulder. In Norris CM (Ed) Managing Sports Injuries. Churchill Livingstone, pp. 334-374

THE EVIDENCE BEHIND ICE – PART II

This is the second part  of ‘The Evidence Behind Ice’ post from guest blogger Craig Donovan. Craig studied physiotherapy at Curtin University and is currently working in a rural hospital setting. He has a strong interest in research, particularly in the areas of pain and neurology. After recently completing a project looking into the association between the brain and pain, he is a strong believer in the importance of the brain in pain control. If you missed out on the first post, check it out here: The Evidence Behind Ice – Part I.

After many years of complying with the RICE principal it has become so heavily ingrained into our brains that, when injured, we reach for the closest bag of peas and rest for a few days. This is something that is controversial, but has to stop.

Research has shown there is very little evidence that, ice plus compression vs compression alone, speeds up the healing process. There is strong evidence for the use of compression to assist in decreasing secondary swelling. Ice still plays a role in acute injuries, but only to aid in decreasing the pain by numbing the area. Therefore it is best used sparsely and for no more than 10 minutes at a time. But be aware: if you intend to continue playing sport after icing, ensure that a thorough warm up is completed as ice has been shown to reduce endurance, speed, coordination and strength of muscles.

The most recent evidence points towards elevation as being the key component in promoting early recovery. This is because the inflammatory cells have reached the target tissue but require aid in terms of drainage from the area, preventing secondary cell death (something ice does not).

Another key component that I suggest in the early stages of recovery is gentle movement (within pain limits), as this assists to both bring fresh blood into the area and also facilitate drainage through the muscular pump system. Just think about how much swelling there is following surgeries such as knee and hip replacements…. the surgeons orders are always for early mobilisation, as immobilisation leads to further complications.

If the injury is severely painful and there is an inability to move or weight bear through the injured area, then stop whatever activity you are doing. If in doubt, always consult a medical professional for further opinion, especially to rule out broken or fractured bones which, if  undiagnosed, can lead to lengthy recoveries. Physiotherapists are great at designing exercise programs to target the affected area and assist in a quicker return to sport.

So in summary, let the body do what it has been designed to do and heal itself, avoid both ice and anti-inflammatories. The body allows us to perceive pain for a reason – to make us aware that an area is injured and needs healing. The initial management is just as important (if not more) than the rehab later down the track. Aim to return to function as early as possible without pain.

Please share your thoughts or questions below.

By Craig Donovan

 

References:
http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/FULL/Immobilization_or_Early_Mobilization.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3396304/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC522152/