Are you like me? I love to run, sweat, be outdoors …. I like to move! What I don’t like to do or make the time for is the slow isolating exercises that I know ultimately will protect my spine and joints, even though I know these exercises will add longevity to my active lifestyle. But they are so boring!
Build core stability and work on dynamic posturing while driving your car!
Dynamic posture is how your body is aligned during movements such as running or walking. Proper posture ensures that the muscles are optimally aligned in proper length and tension relationships for optimal function. This allows your body to absorb and distribute forces throughout your body evenly.
Proper dynamic posture reduces your risk of injury in sports and exercise. It also allows you to produce the most amount of strength and power, and increases your endurance, giving you an edge over other athletes who may have less perfect posture.
Strengthen one of the most important and often overlooked abdominal muscles -- the transverse abdominals -- while sitting behind the wheel of your car. These muscles, acting like a corset, keep the organs from bulging out of your stomach and they help support the spine.
This exercise is traditionally performed lying down but can be done while sitting in your car.
1) Be sure to be sitting on your sit bones, not on your bum. Then put your fingers on your ASIS and PSIS and make sure they are aligned horizonally so that your diaphragm and pelvis would be parallel. ( ASIS - are your hip bones or pointers. The "bumps" on the back of your hip bones are your PSIS)
2) Put your fingers on top of your head. Lightly push your head into your fingers. This action should initiate the depression ( downward pull) of your shoulders as your spine elongates. If you were to “ attach your head to a string and pull to the sky”, your shoulders will elevate adding to shortened neck tension. We do not want this. Make sure your chin is not forward from your nose, but aligned. If your seat can be adjusted to support you in this position, you can also utilize this trick. Get a small piece of paper ( ½ of an 8 by 10 sheet or a book cover works well) and place it between your shoulder blade and the seat. Every time you slouch, the paper will fall.
3) Breathe normally ( normal breath is actually breathing into your ribcage expanding your ribs at the side and back. Your shoulders and upper chest should NOT expand) You may have to practice this while lying down at home as it is very important. But at the end of your breath do both of the following actions simultaneously: contract your Kegel muscles, which are the ones that you use when resisting the urge to urinate ( however, I'd like you to work the full pelvic floor. Initiate the Kegel contraction from your anus and “fish hook” the contraction to the front and think of raising the elevator from the basement to the 3rd floor, not the pent house) and also abdominal brace. Brace your stomach as if someone is going to punch you in the stomach. Hold this position for a few seconds and release. You can breathe through it or with your breath. Remember that both actions are done simultaneously
4) Take note. Your quads and glutes should be relaxed! This is best done if you have your weight through your legs on the triangles of the bottom of your feet. ( weight evenly distributed on your heel, balls of your feet with big wide toes – big feet) I know that is a bit hard with the gas pedal, but you simply need the intention of this position throughout your legs.
( beginning to feel like your insides are on a wobble board? Good!)
5) Lastly, remember the drivers ed. days? Yes, place your hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2. Have you elbows out slightly and press gently into the steering wheel and imagine your elbows lengthening. ( I say "imagine", because we cant actually lengthen a bone) Feel the serratus anterior and lats around your ribs and shoulder blades tighten ( Keep those shoulders down!).
This position and contractions while sitting, standing, lying down, is the basic posture for stabilization, optimal breath, and power potential. If I walked by you and gave you a shove when I first saw you, most likely I'd have knocked you off balance. Now, if I did do this, you would not move. And now you can work on it while driving!
To further work on core stabilization at home , do the same positioning on your back with your legs in the hook line postion ( bent with BIG feet, flat on the floor) Also elongate your neck by placing a towel under your occiput ( base of skull). In this position instead of your hands on the steering wheel, elongate your elbows just the same, but have your finger tips gently placed just inside your hip bones ( ASIS), ( The top bumps on the back of your hip bones are your PSIS) Be sure you feel your breath going into the ribs, expanding your lower rib cage and into your back while your chest and shoulders are very down, depressed and relaxed. When you Kegel contract and abdominal brace, feel your muscles harden under your finger tips, then, without losing that contraction:
1) Slowly abduct your right thigh.( let your knee drop outwards to the floor) Only go as far as you can without breaking your abdominal brace and Kegel contraction while keeping your gluts and hamstrings relaxed and with no tension in the upper body. Do this 5 – 10 times and then do the right leg
2) Then do the same but with leg extensions Do not have your leg touch the floor. Go only as far as you can maintain your posturing contractions. Your spine does not move. Hinge from your hips.
3) Then bring the right leg into table top position, bring the left leg up to the same position so they are together. HOLD Table top position is when your hips are at a 90 degree angle with bent knee.
4) Can you bring both legs down into extension? Your spine does not move. The abdominal brace and Kegel contraction must be maintained. I can't. YET!
If you have any questions, book a time with me, and we can ensure you are doing these exercises properly, as doing these properly is the key to doing them in the first place. It’s the point of the exercises.
Carol Moore, RMT, ART