We all have our mother's voice in our head telling us to sit up straight and maintain good posture, and although it was a nuisance when we were young, our Moms' were on to something! Posture is just as important as eating well and exercising daily. "Without good posture, you can't really be physically fit" (Kansas Chiropractic Foundation, 2016). So, how do you assess your posture and eventually achieve good posture?
Good posture means that your bones are properly aligned with your muscles, ligaments, and joints as nature intended. If your posture is in the correct position, your organs are in the right position allowing for peak performance, your nervous system is firing normally, and your spine is strong and stable. Before we get into how to reshape your posture into the correct form, lets discuss bad posture for a moment.
Bad posture can develop from an injury, accident, or your environment and bad habits. Either way your body is out of whack. When your are slouching, your muscles and ligaments have to work harder and strain to keep you balanced, which can cause headaches, back pain, and other problems. This comes through as fatigue, tight achy muscles and joints, and joint stiffness and pain. That's a big NO GO in our book. So how do we start establishing good posture?
A healthy back has three natural curves:
Now that you have some background information, here are some tips on how to achieve good standing posture.
Kansas Chiropractic Foundation. (2016). Good posture.... How important is it? Kansas Chiropractic Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.kansaschirofoundation.org/goodposture-article.html
Mayo Clinic. (2016). Prevent back pain with good posture. Mayo Clinic Adult Heath. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/back-pain/sls-20076817?s=1
The squat seems to be incorporated into so many work out routines and moves, but how do you know if you have proper form to reap the most benefits?
Here is a play by play to make sure that your form is correct overtime you do the squat.
1. Stand with your head facing forward, your chin parallel to the ground and your chest held up and out.
-With most exercises you want to make sure your chin is not tucked into your chest or lifted to high. This keeps your neck and spine neutral, so you feel the most benefits of the exercise. Your chest should feel like you are standing at attention if you were a solider!
2. Place your feet shoulder width apart with your toes pointed forward or slightly outward. If you need help with balance, extend your hand straight out or clasp your fingers in front of your chest with your elbows bent. This can also help your keep your chest up to maintain good form.
3. Sit back and down as if sitting in an imaginary chair, focusing on keeping your weight in your heels. Your upper body will bend forward a bit, but our chin should still be parallel to the floor and your back strong and straight. Rather than letting your back round, arch your lower back just a bit to help keep your spine straight.
4. As you squat your knees should travel in a straight line in the direction your toes are pointed. Lower down so your thighs are as parallel to the ground as possible. Do not squat so low that your thighs are lower than parallel because you are past the point of muscle engagement and thus not reaping the full benefits. Also check that your knees are not out past your toes. When your knees are past your ankles and toes you put extra pressure of the delicate ligaments, cartilage, and tendons that hold the knees in place and run the risk of injuring your knees!
5. Stand up, pressing though your heels, finishing with your legs straight but relaxed to prevent snapping your knees and forcing your lower back to arch (OUCH!). This brings you back to your original starting position where you can start again!
Start with 2-3 sets of 10, doing each rep slowly and focusing on your form. Before you know it you will be a squat master!
Here at the Body Loft we endorse the TRX suspension straps and RIP trainer, both improving your functional training. You might be asking what is the RIP trainer and how does it benefit me? Well here is the low down.
The RIP trainer is a lever bar and resistance cord that challenges and benefits your body through rotation, speed, and balance and coordination. These movements are found in almost all the sports we participate in the Lake Tahoe Basin as well as our daily movements, i.e. picking up groceries, kids, and other daily activities. It is important when we are active that we maintain control through our rotational movements to prevent injury. The RIP trainer uses resistance to build these muscles that stabilize our spine. Rotational force is achieved through the resistance band, which in turn helps produce more rotational force which forces you to control the rotation at the same time. The more you stretch the band and farther you are from your anchor point, the harder the resistance and the more force you generate creating a more difficult movement. This can be applied to both static and dynamic movements, helping build a strong body and exercise routine.
So now that you know how the RIP trainer works, how does it work our body? Every exercise on the RIP trainer enables your entire body, by connecting the lower and upper body through the core. On top of that you are building your coordination, balance, and total body power. If you do not stabilize your core using the RIP trainer, you will feel the resistance pull you back towards the anchor point. The exciting thing about this piece of equipment is that it each exercise can be customized to target to meet any goal or objective. So when you come to the Body Loft and see the RIP trainer, don't be scared be excited to integrate these dynamic moves into your exercise routine!
As we begin this new adventure here at the Tahoe Body Loft, it has become clear how important healthy habits are in achieving and maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle. A negative habit can break your routine and cause that dreadful plateau, affecting your motivation to reinforce the healthy habits. "A unhealthy habit is easy to develop and hard to live with; a healthy habit is harder to develop but easier to live with" (Whitfield, 2015). So how do we replace our unhealthy habits for healthy ones?
First it is important to remember that although we may not gain instant gratification from a healthy habit, these positive choices will have a much bigger reward in the long term. Sometimes that is hard to remember when we are taunted daily by poor choices that satisfy a craving in the short term. To ward off these evil bad habits it is important to break your long term goal (weight loss, strength, health, maybe even quitting smoking) into smaller manageable goals (Whitfield, 2015). This will help the larger goal seem less daunting to achieve. The smaller goals will also help you see the benefits of your new healthy habits and build your motivation to achieve your larger goals!
So in celebration of opening our new fitness gym, here are some tips on how to build physical exercise into one of your healthy habits. The benefits of physical exercise are not only for your physical health, but can help you unwind, socialize, get out doors, challenge yourself, and maybe even have some fun! In general, 30 minuets of exercise is a good goal and habit to add to your daily routine, and this doesn't necessarily have to be a fitness routine (Zeratsky, 2014). Start out by taking an extra 15-20 minute walk or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Are you in a job where you sit a lot? Take a stand break every hour to stretch or walk around. If your ready to take it up a notch, join us for one of our group fitness classes or personal training sessions. Once you get that ball rolling, it become habit!
Whitfield, R. (2015). How to change bad habits and live a heart healthy lifestyle. American Heart Association. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/How-to-Change-Bad-Habits-and-Live-a-Heart-Healthy-Lifestyle_UCM_434369_Article.jsp#.Vyo-52Mw2fQ
Zeratsky, S. (2014) The 12 habits of highly healthy people. Mayo Clinic Nutrition Wise-blog. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/physical-activity-habits/bgp-20085745