7 months ago

Kickstart Your WorkStation Posture with This Brilliant Solution

Every once in a while you stumble across something so brilliant you want to shout it from the rooftops!

This is the exact case for this posture product review of the new software Brightday (currently available through a Kickstarter Campaign only).

As a posture fitness specialist, I’m not a huge fan of posture braces. When a brace is holding your body in position, it trains the “brain” to sit in better posture, but the muscles are still being assisted by the brace. I’m a bigger fan of products that force you to find movement and proper alignment using your own body mechanics and musculature.  

For example, I reviewed a product a while ago called “Upright Go”, which is a device that sits on the upper spine, tracks alignment, and buzzes you when you fall out the position. You set “training” sessions throughout your day to practice sitting in “proper posture”, because wearing it all day long doesn’t make sense (if you bend over to pick up your bag you would be buzzed).

Now in theory, this product is brilliant, but in reality there are some downfalls. Do you know what happened to my upright go? I wore it home one day (accidentally) and took it off, and kept forgetting to charge it and take it back to my workstation. The “forgot to put it on and charge it” element of the posture device, leaves more than desired when it comes to ease and effort.

Now along comes Brightday, billed as posture software with no straps or gadgets. At first glance, my thought was “I don’t want to have to download something new that may or may not work”. But, when I realized it was compatible across many devices and platforms, and that I could program it to open at a particular time of day that worked for me, I was in.

The download to my HP laptop was easy. The set up took less than 5 minutes. Figuring out how to use it was a breeze.

With a posture wearable device, you are forced to reach around and awkwardly place it on your back to put it on, and then to press a button to “calibrate” it for your proper posture. Instead, Brightday software showed me a video of how to sit properly, asked me to find this position, and then recorded my position using the camera on my own laptop.

Much like the other wearable posture devices, I then set a “training” session for myself. I sat in the correct position and noticed that when I started to slouch, the indicator on my screen turned a different color. So, I immediately correct myself! By the end of my 10 minute training session I received a notification letting me know what percentage of the time I was in “proper posture”.

I’m not the posture coach who will tell you that you should be sitting in the same position all day long. In fact, I believe the exact opposite of this. I believe that movement is key and immobility is killing us (I actually just launched a coaching program that ensures movement and posture positive exercises at your workstation).

HOWEVER, I do believe in what Brightday offers because it is important to build the awareness around what is “good” posture. These muscles need training. The mind controls the body and the mind needs re”minding”.

This software is currently on Kickstarter, and I urge you to support this amazing endeavor. It’s bound to instantly provide value for you (especially since a year subscription only costs $49 for 1 user, with additional discounts for family and small office packages).

Brightday will “kickstart” you into better posture and without all that crazy posture pain, you are bound to have brighter days ahead!

10 months ago

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

11 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?