Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Can't throw a ball or raise your arms? Let's Discuss: Rotator Cuff

Think about the following issues:
  1. Can you raise your arms above your head?
  2. Can you raise your arms above your head without arching your back?
  3. Can you raise your arms above your head without arching your back AND do not hear any popping, clicking, or feel a rubbing against your shoulder?
Without getting too technical, it suffices to say that all of our muscles are connected together via Fascia. If one muscle is too tight or too weak, then another muscle elsewhere in the body may be tugged, stretched, or restricted in movement. Due to modern posture issues, such as constant computer and desk work, our bodies tend to roll the shoulders forward, tilt the head forward, and contract the abdomen. Constant tension in these postions creates tightness in those muscles while hyperextending many back and neck muscles.

One possible solution help strengthen the back and improve posture is to hold a proper plank.
Once you master holding a plank, you may also want to add some Serrratus Push-Ups.
Serratus Push-ups involve the following steps:
  1. Hold a perfect plank
  2. Press your forearms into the floor and lift your back straight into the air, pulling through the center of your body
  3. Return to the plank position
  4. Repeat at a steady cadence

This exercise is perfect for anyone, and can be modified to being on your knees as well if you lack the ability to hold the plank in the video above. Read more about Serratus Push-Ups, but be careful with your form in the plank. You do not want a concave curve in your back.

This is a good way to start protecting your shoulder girdle, but may not solve all of your upper back and neck issues, as well as strengthen and lengthen many other problem spots. To discuss some of your rotator cuff, shoulder, and core strength issues, please email me a cagefit DOT gmx DOT com

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What's the deal with... Back Pain

Let's start with a few simple questions:
  1. Where is the pain... generally? Upper back, lower back, hips.
  2. What position are you in when you feel the pain? Leaning foward, arching backward, tilt sideways?
  3. How painful is it?
Now the tough questions:
  1. Is the pain localized in one spot? Two spots?
  2. Does it happen only at certain times of the day?
  3. Is it getting worse or getting better?
Corrective Exercise Techniques can assess just how widespread your problem may be. It's important to understand that the most common source of back pain is actually muscle tightness, especially if the pain is not chronic. According to corrective exercise specialist Justin Price, MA: "A successful corrective-exercise program includes self-myofascial-release (SMR) exercises at the beginning and throughout the program as needed." Muscle tissue is all connected through fascia, a collegen-based connective tissue that holds all of the muscles together. Fascia has a tendancy to resist too much change- that is it's job after all- to hold everything together. "Sticky" fascia can reduce the range of motion in muscle and thereby create muscle pain by restricting movement. Initiating an SMR program can release "sticky" fascia and allow for greater range of movement.

SMR by itself can help to reduce the tension in the body, but should be combined with an overall static stretching regiment to maintain the muscular flexibility. An overall program would include a warm-up, followed by SMR, and then proceed to static stretching. This alone may help to aleviate back pain, but is only part of the overall solution as many factors can inhibit or even counteract the progress made through a corrective exercise program. For more information on how to properly set-up a corrective exercise program, contact me directly.