So how are the new year fitness plans going? It’s rare that anyone finds maintaining exercises easy , but the benefits are so worth the motivational challenge.
Here are a few more suggestions of favourite exercises from our lovely physio and massage therapists following on from our blog in January. Next month’s blog will follow swiftly on with how to treat those Shrovetide injuries (should there be any!!!?)
This is a great exercises for easing high neck pain (high under the skull )and head aches.
It is also brilliant for correcting poor neck posture often associated with leaning forwards. Many of us drift into this posture when using a computer or reading. This exercise helps by restacking the vertebrae of the neck on top of one another in a better more upright position and takes the stress and strain out of all the muscles and joints at the back of the neck.
So , if you suffer from an achy neck at work or you are getting headaches- particularly at the back or top of your head – Give this a try!
Sit upright with good posture. Gently pull your head back as far as comfortable and down slightly. You will feel some gentle tightness in your throat and a small lift at the back of your skull.
This is a SMALL movement- and you will feel like you’re making double chins
Do NOT lift your chin up- just keep it level.
This exercise will help your neck and upper back posture.
Hold for 3 to 5 sec, repeat 5-10 times, Every 2-3 hours times daily, daily times weekly
Rest your forearm against a door frame or corner of wall with your elbow bent to 90 degrees and fingers pointing towards ceiling. Lean forwards keeping your body straight and rotate slightly away until a stretch is felt across your upper arm, front of shoulder and into your chest. Hold for at least 20s or until a release is felt.
– By raising the arm further up the door frame the angle of pull will stretch the pec minor muscle more specifically.
– With both arms against door frame, a bilateral stretch can be executed by leaning forward keeping body straight. This will produce a more generalised stretch to the anterior shoulder muscles.
This is one of my favourite exercises because it is easily incorporated into daily life as can be done whilst walking through any doorway at any time. I like it because it ‘opens up’ the chest and at the same time mobilises the upper back into extension and/or rotation. I regularly prescribe this exercise to patients who have rounded shoulders and stiffness in the upper back.
– improves posture
– increases range of motion of upper back and shoulders
– increases chest/lung expansion
Posterior cuff activation
Stand with your feet shoulder distance apart.Wrap the exercise band between your hands, elbows bent upwards and gently pull your hands apart putting slight tension on the band.Lift arms vertically overhead whilst maintaining tension on the band as far as is comfortable.Be aware of the muscles around you shoulder blades tensing to improve posture and strength.To progress the exercise use a stronger grade theraband or increase the repetitions.For advanced progression add a squat whilst raising arms overhead or sit on a swiss ball.I like this exercise because it is quick and effective in strengthening with plenty of scope for modifying to suit any client.
Cat Camel Stretch
Start in a neutral four point kneeling position on your hands and knees. Round your back upwards to form an arch as you pull in your abdominal muscles. Hold this position for a couple of seconds whilst you feel a good stretch through your whole back. Then drop your back in the opposite direction to form a hollow in your lower back. Repeat the movement several times until you feel that you have given your whole back a good stretch. 5 repetitions is a good starting point for most people.
I particularly like this exercise because it stretches the whole spine. It feels really good and really helps to reduce tension, get the back moving and ease back pain as well as activating the core stomach muscles.
Shoulder Bridge / Spine Curls
Two of our Physios chose this as their favourite exercise.
Adopt the supine start position. Bring your heels slightly closer to your bottom to reduce the stress on your Hamstrings. Exhale as you tilt your pelvis back underneath you, pressing your lower back into the floor. Slowly roll your spine off the mat one vertebrae at a time to the tips of your shoulder blades. Hold this position as you inhale. Exhale, rolling the spine back down, one vertebrae at a time. Make sure you keep your weight equal through both feet. Repeat as required.
This is a great exercise as it works so many parts of the body. It is good for core strength, pelvic control, hip and leg strength, making it suitable for people with low back pain, hip pain or knee problems. The basic bridge is suitable for most levels of ability however it can be progressed in many different ways. Variations include: 1 leg bridge, offset bridge, heel raises/toe taps, arms crossed or arms over the head.
Be careful not to overuse hamstrings in this exercise and not to push hips up too far. It should not be painful so adjust position or stop this exercise if it causes discomfort.
Bird Dog Quadruped Horizontal
This is one of my favourite exercises, and one I tend to give quite often. It is quick, doesn’t need any equipment (other than perhaps a mat if your floor is hard), and is easy to make easier or harder.
Position your self on all fours, and keep good posture. Draw your tummy inwards (towards the ceiling). Straighten your arms in front of you, and your opposite leg behind you. Repeat each side.
This is a great core stability and core control exercise to work the deep abdominal muscles. The exercise will also strengthen the lumbar erector and gluteal muscles, and improve your balance and posture.
Hold for 3 to 5 seconds, Repeat 5 – 10 on each side, perform 1-2 times daily, perform both sides.
Marching at the Wall
This exercise is one of my favourites just to add in whenever you have to sit for any length of time it gets the lumbar spine moving and free within minutes and adding this in every 30’ will stop you seizing up. Also great to break up long journeys.
Stand facing the wall fingers on the wall as a point of reference. Then march, lift your knees as high as you can comfortably and march 20-25 times. Job done!
Here are some of my favourite exercises for all round fitness
Lumbar and Thoracic Side Flexion Standing 2
Stand up straight, and bend to the side by running your hand down the outside of your leg and use an arm above your head to create more leverage. Hold this stretch, and then repeat to the other side. This is a good mobility exercise for the lower and upper back.
Standing, cross your legs, and run your arm down the side of your leg. You should feel a stretch in your back, and slightly on the outside of the opposite leg.
Quadriceps Stretch 2
Pull your foot towards your bottom. If you are unsteady on your feet, make sure you hold on to something sturdy like a wall or a table. You will feel a stretch to the quadricep muscles at the front of your thigh.
Glute Stretch Supine 3
Lie on your back, and bend your knee to 90 degrees (i.e. pointing straight up). Place your ankle across your opposite knee and pull your knee towards your chest to feel a stretch in your bottom. You can also use a towel to assist you.
Gastrocnemius Stretch – Single Leg
Stand facing a wall, with your hands resting on the wall. Move one leg forwards and gently bend your knee, this will be the passive leg and just there for support. The leg you will be stretching will remain straight with your heel on the ground. You should feel a stretch to the leg at the back, in the calf muscle (known as the gastrocnemius).
Active Dorsiflexion In Sitting Two Feet
Sit on the floor with your legs out straight. Bring your toes and feet towards you, then gradually control the movement back down. This will improve mobility in your ankles. You can also hold the stretch to create a calf muscle stretch.
Hamstring Stretch 7
Sitting on the floor, keep your legs straight in front of you, and reach forwards to touch your toes. Go as far as feels comfortable. You will feel a stretch in your Hamstrings (at the back of your thigh) and maybe your lower back as well.