How Is Your Abdominal Training  Plan Working? 

Mention abdominal training or core exercises and most people immediately think of sit-ups. Traditionally the go to move to flatten your belly and trim your waist. However, sit-ups are probably THE single worst exercise known for this purpose. 

Rather than balancing the muscles that surround and support your spine the wrong kind of training can cause more muscle imbalances. 

Another visible effect of unbalanced core strength is a pot belly. Yes! Training your abs wrong actually makes you look fatter!…

When you train your abs the wrong way you over-tighten a set of muscles called your hip flexors…

One of the hip flexors — the psoas major — originates on the vertebrae of the lower back and inserts on the top of your thigh bone…

When you shorten and tighten your hip flexors with the wrong kinds of abs training you actually pull your pelvis forward and down. This gives you a sagging belly that makes you look like you’re 5-10 lbs heavier than you actually are!…

And not only will you look fatter than you are… your distorted pelvis will give you serious back pain. Yet the danger to your back can be much more severe…


Here’s where your quest for flat abs can be dangerous!…

Most abs exercises force your spine into extreme flexion – bending or curling forward. Yet we now know this increases something called intra-discal pressure. Basically this is like pressing on a tube of toothpaste and increasing the pressure on the paste inside.

If you press hard enough the toothpaste will squirt out. And that’s exactly what happens to the fluids inside your disc when enough pressure builds up — causing what’s called disc protrusion or worse… disc hernias…

It can take months of careful treatment to recover from disc damage. Pain and discomfort  can stop your normal everyday activities and definitely put a stop to your flat ab dreams. 

So to find the right way for you to train your abs that gives you a healthy core, beautiful posture, and a stunning midsection you have to consider lots of of different factors. 

        Rectus Abdominis

The rectus abdominis is the long muscle that runs from your rib cage to your pelvis. It’s dissected vertically by a thin sheath of connective tissue, and horizontally by tendinous attachments that create six pack abs most guys are looking for. In my experience most folk have to focus completely on reducing bodyfat to get the ‘6 Pack’ look. 

The rectus abdominis helps to flex – bend forward – the spinal column. More importantly it stabilises the trunk  by balancing the back muscles and controls the trunk during movements involving arms and legs. This is the secret to way I train the core in both my Fitcamps and Pilates sessions. 

    The Obliques

The internal and external obliques work like a corset to define your waistline. These cinch you up and give you that V-tapered and slim-waisted look that is hardwired to be attractive to both men and women.

Pilates activates your obliques in a way that “wraps” your core in a protective sheath that will open up a whole new world of abs flattening exercise that’s been shown to work 3x faster than traditional training…

I include a 360′ approach to core or trunk training.  The result is a strong, mobile functioning spine in all directions of movement 

    The Posterior Chain

The posterior chain is simply the backside of your body. Its primary muscles include the lower back, gluteus maximus (butt), hamstrings, and spinal erectors

You may be scratching your head wondering why it’s included in the three Abdominal Fields of Action. Here’s why..

The Posterior Chain is the glue that binds your core together and will allow you to achieve the “spinal neutral” position – or the Natural Arch you’ve heard me talk about in class, that is central to the way your healthy spine works. 

So, when you next think about doing some exercises for your core remember it’s not just sit-ups and crunches you need a 3D approach to balance your posture and protect your spine. 
Train Hard, Eat Clean, Expect Results 
Jax 

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Neck Pain Again!

  
Here are a few ideas to help you manage the type of neck pain that comes every now and then, is more likely to be related to muscular tension. 

3 Common Upper Body Issues 

1. Upper Trapezius Dominance

  
Daily stress can cause your shoulders to ‘hike’ up which increases tension in your neck and upper back.  This can lead to muscle spasms and interrupt the way your shoulder blades move. Which can, in turn, lead to major shoulder problems. 
2. Winged Scapula (shoulder blade)

  
When your shoulder blades stick our or wing away from your back.  

There are many reasons for this – which should be addressed or the pain will remain.  Often certain muscles are in spasm – tests can identify which muscles need to be released to improve function and therefore reduce or remove any pain. 

3. Rounded Shoulders

  
This must be addressed to avoid shoulder problems and neck pain. 

I see this problem quite often in Pilates classes. As the instructor I have the chance to see where my clients have difficulty in moving arms overhead, and through many shoulder movements. 

  
Simple tests can identify which muscles are working too hard, causing limited movement through some joints. Exercises can, if practised regularly, reduce or remove this pain and improve joint mobility. 

It’s important to understand that

Chronic Pain is Common NOT Normal. 

This rule holds true in training OR in Ageing!

So, next time your neck pain occurs consider what you are doing, how you sleep, how you sit at your desk, when on your computer or tablet ……

Stay Healthy! 

Jax

Breathe Better & Release Your Back

#3 Focus on Breathing – Child’s Pose Drill

There are numerous breathing drills to work on. There are some quality drills out there that can be done using balloons, and other tools to help restore proper breathing mechanics. However, my favourite drills are extremely easy to use and require little set up time to perform properly. Here are the top 3 breathing drills.

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3 Child’s Pose Breathing- If you’re familiar with yoga at all, then you’ve probably seen this one. The child’s pose is done by sitting back on your heels with your toes plantarflexed (pointed), knees tucked, heels on your butt, and your chest tucked into your knees with your hands along the floor ahead of you. I really like to use this one if someone struggles with getting air into the low back with either the crocodile breath or The other drills i use here. The child pose position allows you to close off your ribs with your knees, and really helps force air into the low back to stretch the spinal muscles in the upper back with each breath. This is a good one if you’re stuck in an extended posture. Getting into some major flexion and controlling a breath will be a challenge, but will be useful in getting your posture back in line.

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Why I Teach Pilates!

I have been teaching Pilates since 2000, it’s been around for more than 50 years, I love teaching it – it’s the best cross training format for athletes, sportsmen and gym bunnies.

It’s not too shabby for the rest of us mortals either great for building strong, mobile and balanced bodies.

It can help your rehab program, support good posture and keep you pain free.

Watch this little video – it was made by some media students from the local college about a weekly class I teach at Fitness4Less.

You should all try a class…..

If you’re local – my weekly schedule is –

18:00 Monday, Tuesday & Thursday Hayden Hill Studio
And….
18:00 Wednesday Fitness 4 Less Cheltenham
1945 Monday & Thursday
And…
14:00 Friday for Multiple Sclerosis. Elmscroft Community Centre

Jax xx

7 Ways to Ease Pain and Avoid Injury

7 Ways to Ease Pain and Avoid Injury

Sue FalsoneDecember 10, 2008

Dave Cruz

Everything you do in the gym, at work, and at home either makes you more susceptible to injury or helps reduce your risk for pain. Tip the scales in your favor with these seven simple tips.

 

1. Straighten Up

Most people realize there’s potential for injury when moving or performing an athletic activity, but what you may not realize is that poor posture can have similar if not more detrimental effects on your body than sports and exercise.

When you slouch, lock your knees, or sit with your head forward, for instance, you place unnecessary stress on areas of the body that were never built to handle it. Over time, your muscles will tighten from trying to compensate for poor posture and your joints will ache from the excessive stress placed on them. So what’s the fix?

  • Sit up straight, but keep your back naturally arched—your back’s natural curve is meant to help transfer force
  • Keep your ears aligned with your shoulders, hips and ankle bones when sitting or standing
  • Avoid hours of the same posture—try to change your position as often as possible.

2. Invest 5 minutes a Day in Injury Avoidance

We all live busy lives, but what’s more important than your health? Don’t wait to think about your body until it lets you down. That’s like thinking about retirement when you’re broke. You spend time and effort investing your money to achieve a great return. So invest in your body with proactive exercise, or what we call “prehab.” To get started, use Floor Y’s and T’s to help protect your upper body, mini band walks for your lower body, and planks, pillars & bridges for core stability.

3. Stay in Control of Your Body

Flexibility is not only movement through a range of motion, but it is the ability to control the movement through the range. Without neuromuscular control, range of motion is useless. Think of a fast car that can handle successive curves on a road. If the car did not have the appropriate braking and accelerating actions, the drive would not be smooth or safe. The same concept applies to movement in the human body. The greater the flexibility you have, the more coordinated strength you need to direct your movement appropriately.

4. Wake Up Your Muscles

Injury is often caused by one muscle group—often times, your glutes or shoulder stabilizers—being completely shut off. This causes other areas of the body to compensate, leading to injury. Following your movement preparation program will activate these inactive areas and enable your body to recall movements you may have not used since childhood.

5. Pay Attention to Your Feet

Improving the strength of your foot intrinsic muscles (the small, stabilizing muscles) will build a greater base for movement. On the other hand, lack of foot intrinsic strength will lead to inefficient movement patterns, placing excessive stress on the foot, ankle, knee, hip and low back. To check the status of your arch, see if the inside bones of your feet touch the ground. If they do, you can benefit from simple exercises to support your arch. Here are a couple:

Towel Crunches

  • Sit in a chair with feet flat on the ground with toes pointing straight ahead.
  • Then, place a towel under feet and curl toes trying to pull towel under foot while rolling feet out to lift arch up.
  • Go for 1 minute, and repeat a total of 3 times.

Tennis Ball Foot Massage

  • Place your foot on top of the ball and slowly apply pressure as you roll your foot over it. You may find some tender spots. That’s OK.
  • Apply enough pressure so it’s a little uncomfortable, but not painful.
  • Do this for about 5 minutes on each foot once a day.

6. Stay on the Lookout for Warning Signs

Pay attention to the small aches and pains that creep up in your training. They’re usually a red flag that some part of your training is not being performed correctly. It may be related to training intensity, mechanics (compensations), or slight positional faults. Ignoring them can only lead to bigger problems that may significantly impact your training later on. You’re probably already aware of your weaknesses. Start training them.

7. Follow a Real Plan

Performing workouts at random can result in injury if your training is unbalanced. You may strengthen some muscles at the expense of others, creating imbalances that result in pain or injury. So set long term goals to help set your motivation in place and help define direction and purpose in your training, but also set specific, clear, short-term goals to guide and focus you along the way. At the end of each day, ask yourself, “Did I move closer to my goal today?”