These VerticAlign blog posts contain information about different exercises and stretches that can assist with posture and alignment. These exercises aim to help reduce back pain, neck pain, hip pain and knee pain. Each movement can be used to help build core strength, overcome an anterior pelvic tilt (arched back), posterior pelvic tilt (flat back) or kyphosis (hunchback) posture. Each exercise has a detailed description to help the reader understand exactly how to do it properly. Exact form is ideal for doing each of these movements. It’s important for the client to know exactly what to do, and how to do it. It’s also important to know what ORDER to do these movements in. Clients can use these descriptions to do workouts at home. Exercising at home is a powerful way to help overcome pain and feel better. Daily movement to improve posture will make you look slimmer, taller and leaner.
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?
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?
So they say “work your glutes”. In fact, I personally say it often. I’ve even ventured to tell you that working your glutes is more important that working your abs. Read more about this here. Today however, I want to focus on a specific glute muscle.
Lately, I’ve been super focused on the gluteus medius. This is located on the side of the hip. The muscle helps the other glutes with their functions (external rotation, hip extension) but it also has a solid role as a muscle stabilizer. Working this muscle is very important for a variety of movement symptoms:
Do your feet pronate (flat foot) and/or are your knees sore? Work the gluteus medius!
Do your hips shift side to side excessively when you walk? Work the gluteus medius!
Do you have a hip that sits higher than the other side? Work the gluteus medius!
You get the picture. Sometimes an “inactive” gluteus medius can cause havoc on the hip alignment and can create a pain that radiates down the body into the back, knees, ankles and feet.
Now this exercise is unique. It feels odd. You won’t know what to do with one of you arms. But check it out below and then I’ll give you some tips:
Here are my tips:
Stand against a wall. Your inside leg will be lifted into a 90 degree angle. Your inside shoulder should be touching the wall and your inside hand can rest on the lifted leg.
Make sure you are standing in good posture. The standing leg should be very straight. Your bent leg should be pushing into the wall.
You will be working both glutes. However each leg will feel different in how it is working.
Hold this position for at least 1 minute on each side.
Give this Wall Stork exercise a try and tell me what you feel. One client told me her weak glute woke up and she felt it tingling. Another client got so fatigued on one side she was able to immediately identify which glute was weaker. We are all different, so tell me how it affects YOU.
Please comment below and tell me how this feels in YOUR body!