By. Dr. Ellen McNally – Providence, RI
With the New Year’s resolutions, plenty of people are thinking about their health (well, maybe just thinking about thinking about their resolutions.) Beginning in January, gyms across the US become so mobbed you’d think gym owners were exchanging memberships for regifted balsam and cedar candles. If you’re a regular to your gym, you know to brace for the 30 minute wait on your favorite cardio machine and the mob scene in aerobics classes.
But if you’re not a regular then you might be more than just a “newbie.” You might be a statistic. You might be one of the thousands of people to go to the doctor for an exercise related injury. Sadly, what people don’t know, and what gets left out from the messages of the fitness industry, is that not everyone is ready for an all you can exercise binge-fest.
Years of inactivity, poor posture and faulty movement habits can throw your body out of alignment. Key muscles go dormant and leave weaker support muscles to pick up the slack. Jumping into an intense exercise routine with problems such as these can be like trying to hit 120 MPH in a car with wheels that are out of alignment. But don’t fret, and certainly don’t let this deter you from pursuing your New Year’s fitness goals. With this corrective plan you can stave off injury, fix your love handles AND get stronger.
Perform this routine 3 times a week for 3 weeks in the following order:
Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
Begin by placing one foot on top of a stool that is slightly above knee height. Keep both feet flat on the ground, brace your abdominals and push your hips towards the chair. You should feel a stretch in the front of the standing hip. Hold for 30-45 seconds twice per side.
Assisted Leg Slide
Lie on your back with your hips and knees bent to 90 degrees and feet in the air. Pull your belly button in and hold it to engage your lower core muscles. Slide one leg out slowly, keeping the foot off the ground, and then return it to the start position. Keep your lumbar and pelvis completely stable. 2 sets of 8 reps per side.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, a yoga block between them, and your feet flat, directly below your knees. Pull your belly button in towards your spine. Bridge your hips up, keeping your back and thighs in a perfectly straight line. Hold this for 5-10 seconds before returning to the start position. Try for 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
Lie on your side with your left knee over a foam roller and your left hand on your right rib cage. Exhale and rotate your upper body so that your left shoulder moves closer to the floor. Keep your lower body still and your left hip bent to a 90 degree angle or smaller. 2 sets of 15 reps per side.
Shoulder Stabilization Roll
Lie on your back with your arms out to your sides with palms up, knees and hips bent at 90 degrees with a yoga block between them. Slowly lower your knees to one side while keeping both shoulder blades pinned to the ground. Once you feel tension build in the muscles around your shoulder blades, return your knees to the starting position. 2 sets of non alternating 8-12 reps per side.
Dr. Ellen McNally is the owner of Chiropractic Performance Center in Providence RI. She specializes in comprehensive evaluations, offering advanced techniques such as Active Release Technique and RockTape with Chiropractic care. She is the on-site chiropractor at Acushnet Company Headquarters, owners of Titleist and FootJoy brands.