last month

Carpal Tunnel and Other Handy Issues

Carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s a scary phrase. When this nerve problem begins, it’s like a runaway train… hard to control and stop from wrecking everything around you.

Without your hands, it’s difficult to type and work. Drive and eat. Taking a bath and brushing your teeth even becomes difficult.

I haven’t personally had this disorder, but shortly after becoming a mom I did have tendonitis in my wrists as a result of suddenly picking up a baby all day long. I had to do physical therapy and the pain was excruciating. I don’t wish this on anyone!

Statistics from the NIH show that women are 3 times more likely to get carpal tunnel the men (the part of their wrist that compresses the medial nerve is smaller), and assembly workers are 3 times more likely to get carpal tunnel due to repetitive movement stress.

So how can I avoid it? Watch your repetitive movements and be sure you’re not overdoing it.

We also know that exercises and stretches can help, so getting a daily dose of these in will feel good, and be good for you.

Even if you’re not worried about carpal tunnel,   even normal typing and texting we do all day long should  be counterbalanced with targeting stretches and exercises.

I’ve put together 5 wrist stretches to do daily to help improve the function in the wrist joint. I asked my colleague Christian Valentin, a top notch personal trainer who’s passionate about proper form and alignment, to help demonstrate these exercises:

First, let’s stretch the wrist flexors. You can do this 2 ways. When working at my desk, I like to simply stand up and place my wrist on the desk and lean into this stretch. Christian is demonstrating it on the floor and the wall to give you multiple options. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.

This next stretch also has a wrist flexor stretch but also an added component of a neck stretch, which addresses the impact  of the cervical spine on the arms and hands. This also gives the wrist medial nerve a good stretch. This can be done standing or sitting in a chair that doesn’t have arm handles. But sure that your head is pulled back into good posture (ear over the shoulder) before you begin this movement. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.

This next one is an amazing stretch for the thumb flexors. Make sure you do both hands and keep the arm still as you bend the wrist. Don’t pull too hard and hold each side for 30 seconds.

I love this next movement for the radial nerve. It feels best when done dynamically, which means moving slowly through the position 5 to 7 times (no static hold). Imagine you are holding an egg in front of you and then you plan to pass the egg to someone behind you. Yes, it’s an odd description, but it works.

Finally, this one is the hardest and most challenging to perform. Again it’s best done dynamically so move through the stretch 5 to 7 times versus holding still. This one gets the ulnar nerve so you will feel it in the pinky side of your hand.

If you’ve done these 5 movements, your wrists are warmed up and your nerves should all be moving better. These didn’t take long, so adding them into your daily routine should be an easy solution to your hand and wrist pain.

Please comment below, do you have wrist issues? If so, what has helped you resolve them?

Videos shot at Shredz Gym in Ladera Ranch; visit Christian on Instagram at @ChristianValentin7

a couple of months ago

How to Do Pilates Without Hurting Your Neck

Pilates! You’ve heard it’s amazing and it’s the “cure all” of all physical ailments. Having been a Pilates instructor for over 14 years now, I can tell you it’s a  and amazing gift that I love to give people. The mind body awareness, the muscle activation, the targeted flexibility training; these all contribute to a perfect batch of feel good movement principles and also get people coming back for more.

However, as you may or may not know, I am extremely passionate about not doing “excessive crunches” in any exercise routine. I explain why and you can read more here.

When Joseph Pilates was around ( he died in 1967 at the age of 83), the posture problems we have today didn’t exist. His repertoire included a lot of “crunch” type exercises that would now place excessive strain on necks that are already compromised from technology lifestyles. So it’s really important to modify and adapt to our changing culture, environment and bodies.

So today, I will present a few exercise that come from the Pilates method, but that I’ve adapted to be performed with the head down. It’s simple to make this change in order to take pressure off a misaligned cervical spine.  Even with the adaptations, these exercises are still difficult but valuable exercises to perform. Let’s take a look at 2 exercises in the “series of 5” from the original Pilates repertoire.

Single Leg Stretch:

This exercise challenges the core and hip flexors. Not all teachers cue it this way, but I prefer it when the knees stay directly above the hip joint and don’t come in towards the chest.  I find this to be more challenging for the core and helps to build strength while maintaining a neutral pelvis (bringing the leg in close will push the pelvis into a tuck position). In my variation, the head is down and the focus is on the leg extension, the knee position, and the breathing:

Double Leg Stretch:

This one is harder than the single leg stretch because extending both legs out can be very challenging  for the core. The biggest mistake here is to lower the legs too far down when the legs extend, which makes it very difficult and often cause the lower back  to arch. The goal is to extend the legs straight and find a position where it’s challenging on the core and also maintain the neutral pelvis position. The knees should also begin and end in the tabletop position (where the knees are directly above the hips). When they come in to the chest, it gives the abdominals a break and again, creates a “tucked” pelvis.

These exercises are an example of true “posture pilates” at it’s finest! It’s a variation that maximizes the benefits and minimizes the possible injuries. Let me know how they feel.  Are you able to feel your core?

 

a few months ago

Can Sports Apparel Improve Posture?

Today’s post is a guest post by Ivy Harper.  She takes an in depth look at sports apparel, and it’s potential to improve posture:

Proper posture gets a lot of attention in the world of sports, as poor body alignment can cause serious consequences in training or during a game. However, it doesn’t come naturally for many people especially with the nature of most jobs, and even athletes need some help. One exciting innovation that sports scientists have made are posture-correcting shirts that can improve sports performance.

Text neck

Image Source: Unsplash

A term coined by chiropractor Dean Fishman, ‘text neck’ is the pain felt in the cervical spine after slouching too much from looking at a mobile device. The human head weighs 10 pounds on average, but can feel as if it weighs up to 60 pounds depending on the angle of the neck when it is bent. This puts a lot of strain on the spine especially on the neck and the upper back.

Bad posture is an occupational hazard for athletes. They can also suffer from the syndrome, especially with lots of hours spent on the road and reviewing their performance on tape. Aside from these sedentary habits, Very Well Health adds that muscle imbalance, fatigue, and injuries lead to improper posture. Muscle spasms, for example, tend to weaken the damaged area over time, throwing the body out of symmetry. On the other hand, some athletes have a tendency to overwork the side of the body that they use the most and neglect the other—like a quarterback’s throwing arm. It can also put the alignment out of whack.

Posture shirts

Image Source: AlignMed Facebook

Posture shirts are not your average compression shirt as they’re considered medical devices. One of the more known brands is AlignMed which many athletes are starting to use. They include Kansas City Royals pitcher Greg Holland, and Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard, who uses it under his jersey. Although it is still a compression shirt, the AlignMed posture shirt is fitted with ‘neurobands’ that activate the muscle groups around the spine, particularly around the shoulders. When the neuroband technology senses even the slightest rounding of the back, it stimulates the muscles so that you can snap right back to proper posture. It’s similar to the wearable device Upright GO which we previously raved about here on VerticAlign. Posture shirts don’t do all the work but give you a literal tap on your shoulder (or your upper back) when your body is out of alignment.

Posture shirts

Image Source: Intelliskin Facebook

Aside from AlignMed’s posture shirt, other products have started popping up on the market as well. Underworks came up with their own version of the technology as well, with an additional band in the midsection to contract the abdominals.

Other sports teams and players have also looked into posture correcting technology by adding modifications to their apparel. In their article on the evolution of professional soccer kits, Coral details how Italy’s World Cup 2014 shirt had a special tape in the fabric that micro-massaged players. Its purpose was to speed up recovery and prevent muscle fatigue. This process helps avoid alignment issues.

Posture is extremely important in sports especially in terms of improving circulation, reducing pain, preventing injuries, and enhancing athletic performance. Right now, the science behind posture shirts still needs to be studied, especially its long term efficacy. However, testimonials from professionals look promising so it may not be a bad idea to invest in posture-correcting apparel.

Stay tuned for VerticAlign’s in-depth discussion of different posture correcting wearables. More products with such feature are still coming out on the market and they need to be put to the test!

1 2 3 24