“I know exercise is good for me but I just don’t have time!” I hear this excuse from patients all the time and let me tell you, it’s easier than you think. You don’t necessarily have to join a gym or take yoga or dancing lessons (although these are all wonderful and fun ideas). You don’t even have to set aside an hour here and there every day to follow a precise regimen. Here are some tips to incorporate exercise into your busy life. Some exercise is better than none at all. So if you’re currently doing nothing, then definitely do these!
Take the stairs. Maybe you work in a big building that has an elevator. From now on, take the stairs (for at least the first couple flights). Stair climbing is an excellent workout! Will you really miss the extra 2 minutes?
Park further from the entrance. Most of us look for the closest spot possible. From now on, park at the far corner. This will add some walking distance.
Take micro-breaks. Do you sit at a desk for long hours? Every half hour (you can even buy a cheap timer), stand up and stretch. Reach up to the sky, to the front and to the back. Lean your body forwards and back and side to side. Go up on you toes and up on your heels. Roll your head in circles and roll your shoulders. Take some deep breaths. Then get back to work. You’ll be surprised at how better you feel and how much more energy and productivity you have!
Fidgeting is good for you. Really, it is. The body is meant for movement. Bounce your knees up and down. Roll your chair forward and back.
Drink more water. Drinking more water will force you to get up more often to go to the bathroom (and prevent dehydration).
Buy a stability ball chair. There are various stability ball chairs available in the market. The concept behind these is to sit on a slightly unstable surface. This causes you to use your core muscles more which will improve your posture and endurance.
Use an exercise ball while watching TV. Instead of lounging on the sofa as you watch your favourite program, get out your stability ball and sit on it and more around. You can do pelvic rocks and dips, roll outs or even bounce up and down. It’s fun.
Have a lunchtime stroll. Go outside and walk for 10 minutes during your lunch break.
Most people don’t achieve the minimal recommended exercise requirements for good health. By incorporating the above suggestions into your routine, it’s easy. So, get started today! Need some more motivation? Learn some of the many benefits of regular exercise.
Is pain preventing you from exercising? Or, need some help getting started? Visit your local chiropractor. Or if you’re looking for a chiropractor in Aurora or York Region, come see me!
Over pronation is one of the most common foot functional disorders. It occurs when there is a mechanical imbalance that causes the foot to collapse inward when walking or standing, giving rise to the appearance of a low arch.
Appropriate mechanics and alignment at the feet is very important because the feet serve as one’s base of support. A functional problem at the base of support can translate up the lower extremity kinetic chain affecting mechanics and alignment at related joints. Over time, this pattern of suboptimal loading of joints in the lower extremity can lead to irritation and pain in the muscles, joints or ligaments at the feet, knees, hips and even low back.
Over pronation can cause or contribute to the following:
plantar fasciitis and heel spur formation
callusing of the big toe
bunion formation (or outward deviation of the big toe)
knee pain (commonly irritation to the medial collateral ligament)
IT band syndrome
How To Correct Over Pronation:
The best ways to correct over pronation are custom orthotics prescription and rehabilitation of the lower extremity. Custom orthotics provide passive support to the arch whereas rehab helps to strengthen muscles that support the arch and improve balance and posture. Best results are achieved by combining both. If in addition to over pronation there is pain, manual therapies such as chiropractic care can help the problem heal faster and more completely.
Rehab for Over Pronation:
1) Short Foot Posture
Please enjoy the short video demonstration of the short foot posture exercise. This exercise helps to raise and strengthen the arch as well as correct the position of the ankle and knee. You need to master this exercise in order to proceed through exercises 2-5.
2) Short Foot Heel Rise
To further challenge and strengthen the arch, perform the short foot exercise, then raise the heels. The heels should be pointing slightly more towards the mid-line than a straight heel rise. Start with 10 reps performing the exercise in slow, controlled movement. This exercise targets the tibialis posterior muscle which supports the arch.
3) Short Foot Squat
While maintaining the short foot, perform a squat. A squat is done correctly when a neutral spine is maintained and the knees don’t travel past the toes. This exercise is designed to groove appropriate motor patterns. Start with 10 reps.
4) Short Foot One Leg Stance
While maintaining a short foot, try to balance on one foot with the knee slightly bent on the standing leg. Try to hold this position for at least a minute. Repeat for the other side. This is an excellent proprioceptive exercise.
5) Short Foot One Leg Star Excursion
Only perform this exercise if you have mastered the previous 4. This one is very challenging. While maintaining a short foot, stand on one leg with the knee slightly bent (as above). Imagine you are standing in the middle of a clock. Slowly point the toe of the non-standing leg from centre to a point on the clock and back to centre and to the next point and so on (as if you are tracing the outline of a star with many points). Focus your attention on keeping the standing leg strong and solid, only moving your non-standing leg. Repeat this pattern 3 times, then repeat on the other leg. This exercise is another excellent proprioceptive exercise which trains appropriate co-contraction of lower extremity muscles to maintain balance.
6) Bridge Exercise
Bridge exercises are great for strengthening the gluteal muscles. Gluteal muscle weakness often contributes to the over-pronated foot position.
Maintaining poor posture for a prolonged period can lead to common muscle imbalances known as upper crossed syndrome and lower crossed syndrome, described first by Dr. Vladimir Janda. In these syndromes, there is a pattern of muscles that become relatively tight/short versus muscles that become weak/long. Unfortunately, with ageing, posture tends to decline. That being said, much improvement can be gained from posture retraining and rehabilitation exercises of the involved muscles.
Predisposing Activities Leading to Muscle Imbalance:
It appears that we are living in a flexion-addicted society. What this means, is that people tend to frequently stoop forward. This is seen in office workers and students who tend to sit at a desk for prolonged periods, slouching forward to see the computer screen. Students carrying heavy backpacks also tend to lean forward – the shoulders curve inwards and the head juts forward to counterbalance the load. Reclining on the sofa and driving in one’s car, people are frequently in a forward flexed position.
In the above examples, the muscle imbalances are seen between the front and back of the body. It is also possible to see muscle imbalance between left and right sides. Handedness contributes to this phenomenon because the dominant side is used more and becomes stronger. One-sided rotational sports (such as tennis, golf, hockey, baseball…) can also predispose an individual to this type of muscle imbalance.
Consequences of Poor Posture:
Most people don’t think about the impact that posture plays on overall health. Many people also don’t put two and two together and recognize that posture can be responsible for pain – yet they wonder why they have frequent headaches, neck pain, back pain and fatigue. Suboptimal posture inevitably leads to suboptimal loading of the spinal joints and stress and strain on muscles and ligaments which can contribute to pain and even arthritis over time. Below is a list of common negative consequences of poor posture.
pain in the neck, mid-back or low back
decreased range of motion
arthritis, due to uneven joint wear over time
increased risk for disc herniation (especially when poor posture is combined with exertion or repetitive flexion)
headaches (including migraines, tension headaches and cervicogenic headaches)
teeth clenching & TMJ problems
reduced lung capacity
loss of overall height
poor digestion (due to compression of internal organs)
less energy, poor mood
As seen above, poor posture can impact one’s whole body and overall health. How do we correct this? The first step is awareness.
Optimal posture is the posture that minimizes joint compression and shearing forces and minimizes muscle contraction necessary to stand upright. The body can carry the weight of gravity comfortably and efficiently. In general, there are two gentle backward curves in the spine (the cervical lordosis and lumbar lordosis) and a gentle forward curve in the mid-back (thoracic kyphosis). Having these gentle curves aids in shock absorption between joint surfaces as you ambulate. Deviations from normal (either excessive curvature or reduced curvature) can lead to problems. When visualizing the body in the side view, ideally the following structures should line up: the ear, the shoulder, the hip, the knee and the front of the ankle.
Upper Crossed Syndrome:
Upper crossed syndrome is characterized by the following muscle pattern.
Tightness: upper trapezius, levator scapulae, sternocleidomastoid and pectoralis muscles
Weakness: deep neck flexors, serratus anterior, middle trapezius and lower trapezius muscles
Lower Crossed Syndrome:
Lower crossed syndrome is characterized by the following muscle pattern.
Tightness: erector spinae (thoraco-lumbar), rectus femoris and iliopsoas muscles
Weakness: abdominals and gluteal muscles
Correcting Upper and Lower Crossed Syndromes:
Correcting upper and lower crossed syndromes can be challenging especially if they’ve existed for a long time. Patience and dedication are required to ultimately correct posture. In some people, posture can’t be fully corrected but with the following tips, improvements can be made and further declines can be prevented.
**Note: Poor posture, especially when accompanied with pain can sometimes be a sign of a deeper underlying condition (such as osteoporosis or rheumatological conditions). The following is for information purposes only and does not apply to everyone. Consult with a health professional before beginning any exercise program.
Posture Education: You must understand the importance of good posture and be conscious of your posture as you carry about daily activities. Actively correct yourself.
Avoid Prolonged Postures: If your work requires prolonged sitting, remember to get up frequently and walk around. In other words, take posture breaks at regular intervals. Sit up tall and do the Brugger’s stretch.
Stay Physically Active: Overall fitness and endurance helps improve posture and prevent declines. It is also good for overall health.
Corrective Exercises: Specific exercises to target the involved muscles are important. In general, tight/short muscles must be stretched and weak/long muscles must be strengthened. Endurance is just as important as strength.
How Chiropractic Helps with Posture Syndromes:
Chiropractic care plays an important role in diagnosing and correcting postural problems. Chiropractic care helps relieve pain, improve flexibility, improve joint function and improve muscle balance. Chronic poor posture can lead to pain and arthritis. Muscle imbalance can lead to joint dysfunction and poor spinal alignment. Chiropractic care involves manual therapies to help put the body into better balance both mechanically and neurologically. Chiropractors can also prescribe exercises to balance the muscles and facilitate recovery and provide other holistic advice. Postural problems and related joint dysfunction do not appear overnight and will not disappear overnight. These issues require a program of care and dedication on the patient’s part too. Combining passive chiropractic treatment with home exercises leads to the best results.
Preventing Spinal Injuries:
Having good posture as you carry about your daily activities plays a critical role in prevention of spinal injuries. Having a strong core is also important.