Category Archives: – Balance

Correcting some movement impairments

http://youtu.be/0TXZX1_ILeA

I've been having a bunch of uncomfortable muscle pain recently: a tight spot mid-spine; some numbness still in my arms; and occasionally my hip flexors are SO over worked that standing up causes serious muscle spasms in my butt. Or my hip flexor along the front of my pelvis hurts so badly I don't want to sit or lie down with my legs bent.

I look a little bit like Frankenstein.

Remarkably, I took the course to learn all about this several years: NASM's Corrective Exercise Training course. Haven't used what I learned in a while, so I pulled out the book to put myself through the assessment.

It's not very complicated: photograph your regular standing posture, looking to see if everything is line. Then video overhead squats from the front, side and back to see how my body moves. I linked to a movement assessment I did a few years ago as an example. (pre-hip replacement).

The theory here is that because of likely injury or overuse, I developed poor (compensating) movement habits:

-spend a lot of time on computers, knitting, walking dogs… anything that requires the arms to be forward of the body will make the pecs tight and the latts lazy.

Stop doing the rehab exercises on the replacement hip and weaknesses set back in.

My Assessment:

STATIC POSTURE: My left shoulder and right hip are slightly high giving me a slightly wonky appearance. My back arches slightly and arms are falling slightly forward.

DYNAMIC POSTURE: My right leg moves out -my left leg does too only less. And my arms fall forward during the movement. My hips don't break when they should so my arms fall forward. From the back, there is a slight shift of my weight to the right.

WHAT THIS MEANS: The arms falling forward indicate tight pecs and underactive latts. The slight shift to the right means the muscles on the right side are compensating for weakness on the left.

Likely overactive muscles: The piriformis (left side), TFL/Glute Min on the left side, pecs. These muscles need slow steady foam rolling and probably some lacrosse ball work every day for about a month.

Underactive Muscles: Adductors, Hamstring, Glute Max, Anterior Tibialis, Erector Spinae, Lattimus Dorsi. These muscles need to be stretched and strengthened with a planned program about 5 times a week for the same month. Then the movement assessment repeated and compared to the assessment from today.

So I know what I'll be doing work-out wise for the next few weeks.

 

Stability and Balance Workout

This workout is a great “at home” workout for anyone.   If you’re just getting into fitness, it will develop the support muscles that will make it easier to go further.  If you’ve been working for a while, this will still challenge you.

Do the first four moves for 30-60 seconds each, resting 30 seconds between each one, and repeat for 3 sets.  Then choose 4-6 of the remaining exercises to round out your circuit.  Do these one after another with minimum rest between.  Rest for 2-3 minutes and repeat one or two times.

STABILITY:

  • Plank
  • Bridge
  • Incline Plank
  • Cobra

ENDURANCE, BALANCE, POWER

  • Mountain Climbers
  • Squats: wall squats, body weight squats
  • One foot balance-and foot push
  • Step-Up to balance
  • One leg squat
  • Ball chest pass
  • Ball throw down
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Side Shuffle
  • Walking lunges

Another exercise you should be doing

After shooting down crunches and inner/outer thigh machines, and advocating deadlifts instead, what other exercise might I push that many folks aren’t doing?  Here’s a hint: it will develop your balance, your legs, your coordination…

DID I MENTION BALANCE?

With so many people spending their day sitting down -and then walking on firm predictable surfaces like sidewalks- we are losing many challenges to our balance and the opportunities to develop the proprioceptive response to uneven surfaces.  Then, as we age, we might further limit our movement: using a support to raise out of chair or leaning on handrails as we walk up and down stairs.  We lose the ability to adjust our gait, to recenter our weight.  We lose the ability to balance.

Balance, is one of the predictors of longevity.  The greater our ability to maintain balance in unstable situations, the greater the chance that we will be physically be able to adapt to our surroundings, protect ourselves from injury, and therefore survive.

So what is one thing you should be doing to work on balance? Easy answer is everything you can, but realistically lets begin with the Single Leg Romanian Deadlift.  (what is it with me and deadlifts?  They are the magic!)

How to do a Single Leg Romanian Dead Lift:

1. Stand up tall, feet just inside shoulder width apart.  Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand letting the weight hang down in front of your thigh. (No dumbbell?  Use a plastic drink carton.  The important thing is having a good way to hold it).  Lift the opposite foot just off the ground and balance.

2. Slowly bend over, letting the weight carry your arm down, and touch the floor in front of your foot with the weight.  The free leg should move slightly behind the support leg, but not fly out to the side or move far behind you.

3. With your abs tight, squeeze your glutes, feel the tension moving UP your back, squeeze your shoulder blades together.  You should be standing back up again.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?  Right now, give it a try.

Do 10-15 reps with one foot, then switch.

By the end of this exercise, your feet should feel like they are growing roots and might be slightly cramped.  Your inner thighs should be burning, your glutes burned out, your shoulders permanently in a down and back position.  And your balance?  Well, you’re working on it.

Let me know in the comments how you do – and any questions you have.

New Balance Rock and Tone Shoes

Hey, FTC, Yeah I got these shoes from New Balance for free, but the words below are all mine.

While I was at FitBloggin last March, I signed up  to send me a pair of  New Balance Rock and Tone shoes.  Received them a couple weeks ago and have been test wearing them ever since.

As I’ve spent over a year regularly wearing MBTs – probably the “gold standard” in rocker soled shoes- I wanted to see how the Rock and Tone shoes compared.

I have bad feet.  Many people have bad feet or weak ankles.  Or poor posture.  Or weak balance.  If you have ANY of these issues- rocker-soled shoes will help you.  For me?  There are days when they are the only way that I can walk around.

That’s why I originally purchased a pair of the MBTs.  And why I was anxious to try the New Balance Rock&Tone.

In a “side by side” comparison:

1. The New Balance shoes are considerably lighter.   The lighter shoes means there is less fatigue and less of a tendency for an altered gait because of the weight.

2. The New Balance shoes have a slightly reduced rocker profile.  I like this- they look like “regular” shoes.

3. The New Balance shoes are cooler.  I cannot wear the MBTs in the summertime.  Using more muscles in my feet combined with the construction tends to make my feet warmer.  Warm enough that combined with summer heat and I’m not wearing these when it’s hot.

The MBTs because they have a greater rocker profile do challenge me to balance/rock/stabilize more when I’m simply standing, a feature I enjoy.  However over all, you will see me wearing my New Balance shoes more.

Now an honest assessment of any rocker-soled shoe ability to tone/firm/burn more calories.  I find I DO work a little harder to maintain a good posture while wearing any rocker shoe, which might result in a slight increase in working the leg muscles; but, I don’t believe that I work THAT MUCH harder to tone these muscles.  So, inspite of advertising, I wouldn’t purchase these just just to burn more calories.

New Balance- in the press release announcing these shoes- explained the reasoning for rocker soled shoes:

The design of New Balance rock&tone footwear was based on learnings from the pedorthic and rehabilitation communities which show that rocker bottoms encourage the use of alternative muscle groups resulting in additional toning and caloric expenditure.

Now many people when they walk will walk in a very mechanically efficient way- most of the work being done by their skeleton- stacking bone over bone with minimum muscle engagement.  Have you ever heard a person who states that they walk 3 miles or more a day and don’t understand why they are not losing weight or getting firmer muscles? They are working “efficiently” but not working their muscles.  Put someone like this in a rocker soled shoe and they will forced to change their gait to use their muscles more in movement.