The 9 Point Flexibility Test

9 Point Flexibility Index

Note: This is a loose transcription of the video: ‘The 9 Point Flexibility Test’ .

Hey guys, Brad from Primal Health here.

Today I am going to teach you a little bit more about flexibility, systemic flexibility, which basically means flexibility throughout your whole body.  We’ve all got varying degrees of flexibility. I want to show you a quick test that I do with all of my clients to be able to ascertain how hard I should push them with exercise and how much I should allow  them to stretch. So, basically this is called the ‘9 Point Flexibility Index. It has been put together by a person named Dr. Mariano Rocabado.

 

FREE YOU TUBE VIDEO –  Duration: 3:28min

 

1/ With your wrists and fingers facing straight up, pull your little finger back as far as possible. If it makes a 90 degree angle to the top of your hand when pulled back, score one point for each little finger.
(2 points possible)

2/ Hold your hand with your wrist at 90 degrees. Push your thumb towards your wrist. If you can touch your wrist with the thumb of the same side, you score a point for each thumb.
(2 points possible)

3/ Straighten your arms so your hands are level with your shoulders. If your wrist drops below the level of your elbow, then you score a point for each arm.
(2 points possible)

4/ Whilst standing, straighten your legs as far as possible. When looking from the side, if the middle of your knee joint sits behind the bony part of the side of your ankle, give yourself a point for each leg.
(2 points possible)

5/ Finally while standing, if you can put your palms on the floor with your legs held straight, you score an additional point.
(1 point possible)
So tally up all your points. As you can see with me, I have two points out of nine, which is actually the average!

So what does that mean?

0-2 = You need to stretch a lot more. Make stretching an important part of your exercise routine, and also between workout sessions.

3-5 = You need to do combination of strengthening and stretching.

6-9 = Don’t overstretch yourself all the time. If you constantly do yoga and don’t do any stability and strength work, you’re as likely to injure yourself as much as the tighter person with a 0-2 score.

 

Your score will give you more of an idea about how you should program the type of movement you do throughout your week.

What was your score?

 

How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 5/5: Kneeling Overhead Press

Swiss Ball Kneeling Overhead Press

Note: This is a loose transcription of the video ‘How to get Primal on a Swiss Ball! – Part 5/5 – Kneeling Dumbbell Overhead Press ‘.

Brad: Hey guys, this is part 5 of How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball. The next exercise or movement I want to show you is doing a kneeling dumbbell alternating shoulder press.

Swiss Ball Kneeling Dumbbell Overhead Press

[nonmember]FREE YOU TUBE VIDEO – Duration: 1:38min

MEMBER VIDEO: Duration: 4.21min
View the entire member video below when logged in.
No login details? Join the Tribe! (top right of this page)
[/nonmember]
[wlm_loginform]
[private_FREE]
[jwplayer config=”primal-health-600w-player” mediaid=”5219″]
[/private_FREE]

A: Seated Dumbbell Alternating Overhead Press 

The first progression that I use to get a client to be able get to do the full exercise is to first be able to do a dumbbell shoulder press sitting on a ball. It doesn’t sound that tough, but it can be, depending on how to do it. So, you can do it with two arms, but we’re doing a one-arm alternating one; that’s the goal as I want to get people to activate their core.

Draw your belly button towards your spine. Lift your chest up nice and high and then do the same movement as what you would be doing when you are on your knees on the ball. You can make that harder by lifting the opposite leg, or lift the same side-leg to activate more muscles that should help prevent you from falling off the ball.

seated-dumbbell-alternating-overhead-press-400x

B: Supported Kneeling on Swiss Ball

The next thing you would need to be able to do is kneel on the ball. So I recommend you do it somewhere where you can hold onto something firm and get up on the ball on both legs. Get used to not having to rely on sitting back down on your heels, which is a lot easier position to sit, in comparison to actually being up off your butt. Hold onto something like that and just get used to being able to purposely push forwards and backwards, side to side so that you can start to get your muscles used to, and get your nervous system used to, the movements that are going to take place when you’re actually on the ball. Hands on, Hands off, Hands on, Hands off. Get used to that and then also put your feet, dig them into the ball, so that they act like a rudder. Then purposely kick your feet back so that you’re not having to use your feet to help you with your balance. Once you can do that, then you can go onto the next stage.

 

supported-kneeling-on-a-swissball-400x

 

C: Unsupported Kneeling on Swiss Ball 

So after you have gotten proficient at holding onto something when you’re balancing on the ball, next you want to be able to get up on the ball without anything to hold onto. Perhaps, someone needs to hold onto the ball for the first time to ease your mind a little bit, but you can also do it from this way. Get your knees onto the ball and hands onto the ball like that, then roll forward. Balance in that position there, roll it forward far enough to where your feet dig into the ball and then slowly rise up there like that. Chest up, shoulders back, stomachs sucked in.

unsupported-kneeling-balance-400x

 

D: Kneeling Dumbbell Alternating Overhead Press 

Once you can do this proficiently, and you know that rolling forward and backwards, you’ve got the ability to able to switch on the muscles that you need to get you back to the proper centre of balance, this is when you should then be able to grab onto a dumbbell – nice and light first up, and then be able to actually do the exercise. So for me, I’ve got about 12 kg here, so about 25-26-27 pounds and then from there, one arm up, switch your stomach all nice and tight. Press straight up there like that, and then alternate.

kneeling-dumbbell-alternating-overhead-press-400x

And that’s it! That’s part 5 of 5 on How to Get Primal on a Swiss ball. Hope you’ve enjoyed it!

Other videos in this series:

How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 1/5: 4 Point Horse Stance
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 2/5: Prone and Supine Balance
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 3/5: Primal Push-Ups
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 4/5: Swiss Ball Squats

What’s your favourite swiss ball exercise?

 

Recommended Purchases

Swiss Ball  |  AOK Medi-Ball  |  AOK Max Ball  |  Stability Ball
Swiss Ball / Stability Ball
Perform Better – USA
AOK Health – AUS

How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 4/5: Swiss Ball Squats

How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball: Part 4/5 - Squats

Note: This is a loose transcription of the video ‘How to get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 4/5’.

Brad: G’day guys! Welcome to Part 4 of 5 on How to get Primal on a Swiss Ball.

Today, I am going to show you how to do squats standing on the ball, and the progressions that I use to get people to be able to do this. First up, I want to make sure that people can actually squat normally on the ground.

Swiss Ball Squats

[nonmember]FREE YOU TUBE VIDEO – Duration: 2:48min


MEMBER VIDEO: Duration: 6.10min

View the entire member video below when logged in.
No login details? Join the Tribe! (top right of this page)
[/nonmember]
[wlm_loginform]
[private_FREE]
[jwplayer config=”primal-health-600w-player” mediaid=”5100″]
[/private_FREE]

Now, you think that will be a fairly easy thing for most people. It’s a primal movement, we all have to do it in some sort form every day. But, essentially I want to make sure that when people go down into a squat, their hips don’t necessarily have to get lower than their knees. It depends on any structural abnormalities they might have within  their knees, hips, or their ankles. But in a lot of instances people just need a lot more flexibility, in particular around the actual ankle joint. Especially a lot of girls that are used to wearing high heels and things like that.

A: Normal Squats

normal-squats-400x

But I want people to be able to go down without twisting or leaning, all those sort of things have to be ruled out first through different corrective exercise and making sure that people are just aware of what their body is doing when they’re doing the squat. From the side, I want people to be able to go down keeping their upper spine nice and upright, sort of like a helium balloon lifting your chest up nice and high, maintaining a curve in your lumbar spine, as opposed to being like this.

All these sorts of movements from that position, basically tell me quite a lot of about where a person is being restricted the most. It’s harder to work with you one-on-one through this video, but if you have the ability to be able to squat like that, then you can do it with weights. This would be a fantastic step — a pretty good challenge to be able to do this sort of stuff.

B: Bosu Squats
So, the second progression, after being able to squat normally on the ground, is being able to squat on a Bosu. Now, we don’t have a Bosu here today but a Bosu is basically an acronym  that stands for Both Sides Up. They’re also known as half swiss balls; half a swiss ball with a platform on top of it. Being able to actually balance on a Bosu, going up and down in a squat, is a much safer first way of being able to do it, before standing up on a ball.

C: Supported 1/4 Swiss Ball Squats

supported-quarter-squats-400x

After you can do that, the next progression is to support yourself by holding onto a bar or a tree or anything when you’re standing on the ball.

Let me show you. So you would get up onto the ball like this. It’s good to also have someone helping to support you when you first do this, either holding onto the ball underneath or from the side. Imagine this branch is like a Smith Machine at a gym, a squat rack that is basically fixed and the bar is fixed to two poles, you can hold onto that and you can just basically do quarter squats. Get used to being able bend down and feel the wobble of the ball beneath you.

D: Unsupported Standing on a Swiss Ball

unsupported-standing-on-a-swiss-ball-400x

The next progression I like to get people to be able to do is to stand on the ball without holding anything and just get used to the ball going forward and backwards, side to side.

E: Supported Full Swiss Ball Squats

Supported Full Swiss Ball Squats

After that then it’s being able to hold the stick, the branch in this case, and squat all the way down the way you would normally squat alternately the same way you would do it on the ground.

F: Hands on, Hands off, in Bottom Squat Position

handson-handsoff-bottom-squat-position-400x

The next progression is being able to go all the way down to the bottom, holding onto the bar, then take your hands off and back on the bar a couple times, then come back up.

G: Supported Down, Unsupported Up, Swiss Ball Squats

supported-down-unsupported-up-swiss-ball-squats-400x

The next progression after that is being able to squat down holding on, take your hands off the bar get your hands out of the way, hold that position and then slowly go back up, not holding on. Hold, back down, hold the position, take your hands off, slowly go back up.

H: Swiss Ball Squats Nearby a Support

swiss-ball-squats-nearby-a-support-400x

The last progression is being able to actually do the whole exercise, staying near your support bar. So you don’t hold on, slowly go down to where you feel the most comfortable and then you come back up. If you feel that you can come down a bit lower, hold the position, go back up to the top. If you get nervous you are going to fall, you can grab onto the support.

I: Full Unsupported Swiss Ball Squats

full-unsupported-ball-squats-400x

The last progression is to move away from anything that is going to support you and do it the way that I showed you at the very beginning of the video. Try that out definitely on grass or somewhere soft because you will fall off at first; I’ve done it plenty of times. I’ve had a laugh, it hurts sometimes, but it’s really challenging. And if you’re getting bored in the gym, especially with squats and things like that, this is an awesome thing to be able to get good at.

So, that’s part 4 of 5 on how to get primal on a Swiss ball.

 

Other videos in this series:

How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 1/5: 4 Point Horse Stance
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 2/5: Prone and Supine Balance
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 3/5: Primal Push-Ups
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 5/5: Kneeling Overhead Press


Which progression did you get up to so far in attempting Swiss Ball Squats?

 

Recommended Purchases

Swiss Ball  |  AOK Medi-Ball  |  AOK Max Ball  |  Stability Ball
Swiss Ball / Stability Ball
Perform Better – USA
AOK Health – AUS

How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 3/5: Primal Push-Ups

How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball: Primal Push-Ups

Note: This is a loose transcription of the video ‘How to get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 3/5’.

Brad: G’day guys! Welcome to Part 3 of 5 on How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball. Today, I want to show you how to do Primal Push-Ups. There’s about 7 different progressions I use to get someone to be able do this, as it’s a pretty challenging exercise.

 

Primal Push-Ups

[nonmember]FREE YOU TUBE VIDEO – Duration: 1:41min


MEMBER VIDEO: Duration: 3.28min

View the entire member video below when logged in.
No login details? Join the Tribe! (top right of this page)
[/nonmember]
[wlm_loginform]
[private_FREE]
[jwplayer config=”primal-health-600w-player” mediaid=”4916″]
[/private_FREE]


A: Plank
So, the first thing I like to get people to do is just to be  able to do what’s called, a plank. Once you’ve been able to do a plank from the ground fairly easy, the next stage is just being able to do a plank in this position. The further the ball is in towards your hips and your knees, the easier it is. Ultimately,you want to be able to have it out around your shins and your feet for about 60 seconds.

One leg swiss ball plank

B: One-Legged Plank
The next progression is being able to do a one-legged plank, alternating your legs.

C: Jackknife
The next progression after that is being able to do a ball jack, which is this move. Keep your hips around the same level as your shoulders. Don’t let your butt lift up and just pull your knees in towards your chest.

Swiss ball jackknife

D: One-legged Jackknife
The next progression is being able to do a one-legged jackknife, on both legs alternating.

E: Push-Ups
The next progression that I get people to do after that is being able to actually do push-ups.

F: Push-ups with a Jackknife
The next progression after that is being able to do pushups with a jackknife.  So you jackknife first, then you do your push-up.

G: One-Legged Plank and Jackknife
The next progression that I get people to do after that is, just basically doing the one-legged plank and then twisting and reaching your foot, out of the other side, and then finally you can actually do the exercise. So you’re doing a one-legged jackknife, reaching through the other foot and going down into a push-up at the same time.

And that’s it guys, that’s part 3 of 5 on How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Primal Push-Ups.

Other videos in this series:

How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 1/5: 4 Point Horse Stance
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 3/5: Coming next week!

– See more at: http://primalhealth.co/how-to-get-primal-on-a-swiss-ball-part-2-prone-and-supine-balance/#sthash.qUS10MHb.dpuf

How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 2/5: Prone and Supine Balance

Supine Swiss Ball Balance

Note: This is a loose transcription of the video ‘How to get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 2/5’

G’day guys, welcome to Part 2 of 5 on how to get Primal on a Swiss Ball. Today, I want to show you some different exercises that are going to really activate your mid-section, or core. To get you to learn how to balance lying on your back and your front on a swiss ball. So, let’s go through lying on your back first, and the progressions needed to be able to get to that.

Prone and Supine Swiss Ball Balance

[nonmember]FREE YOU TUBE VIDEO – Duration: 1:38min


MEMBER VIDEO: Duration: 4.47min

View the entire member video below when logged in.
No login details? Join the Tribe! (top right of this page)
[/nonmember]
[wlm_loginform]
[private_FREE]
[jwplayer config=”primal-health-600w-player” mediaid=”4674″]
[/private_FREE]

Supine Balance Progressions

In order to be able to balance supine (on your back), try these progressions.

A: 1 Leg and No Legs Seated balance

1 Leg - No Leg Seated Swiss Ball Balance

1. Sit on the swiss ball.
2. Raise one foot off the ground. The other foot remains in contact with the ground.
3. Switch feet, then try lifting both feet off the ground and balancing.
4. The amount of challenge presented will depend on the person. This is really easy for most people, but hard for other people.

B: Seated Balance with Calf and Hand Holds

Seated Swiss Ball Balance With Calf and Hand Holds

1. Sit on the swiss ball.
2. Use only your calf muscles to balance yourself on the swiss ball. Keep feet off the ground.
3. If this is too hard, you can also use both of your hands to grab the swiss ball to be able to improve balance.
4. With your hands on the ball, purposely direct the ball to where you want to move, and get your torso and core muscles used to being able to activate the way they need to when you go a certain direction.

C: Seated Balance with Calf Hold and Single Leg Extension

Seated Swiss Ball Balance With Calf Hold and Single Leg Extension

1. Sit on the swiss ball using using only your calf muscles to balance, as before. Keep feet off the ground
2. Put one leg out, then alternate legs.

D: No Legs Seated Balance

No Legs Seated Swiss Ball Balance

1. Now lift up both legs. Ultimately try and have your legs straight. Pointing your toes will increase difficulty and activate your core more.

E: Supine Swiss Ball Balance

Supine Swiss Ball Balance

1.  Sit on the ball.
2. Raise both of your legs and allow your hips to move  forward, putting your body into a cross type of position, with arms out to the sides.
3. Draw your belly button in, and return to the start position sitting upright.
4. Repeat for several repetitions!
5. Warning: Best to try this out somewhere like a grassy or carpeted area where if you do fall over, you’re not going to hurt yourself!

Prone Balance Progressions

In order to be able to balance prone (on your front), try these progressions.

A: Swiss Ball Prone Cobra

Swiss Ball Prone Cobra

1. Lie on the swiss ball on your stomach, keeping your feet on the ground.
2. Raise your torso up, open your arms out and back, and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
3. Get proficient at least being able to hold your body in this position for 60 seconds.

B: Prone Swiss Ball Balance Alternating Legs

Prone Swiss Ball Balance Alternating Legs

1. Lie on the swiss ball on your stomach, keeping feet on the ground.
2. Initiate the movement by getting into a ‘Prone Cobra’ position, as in step A above.
3. Lift one of your legs.
4. Balance as best you can to prevent the side to side movement on the ball.
5. Alternate legs every 3-4 seconds.
6. Continue for 60 seconds.

C: Prone Swiss Ball Alternating Arms and Legs

Prone Swiss Ball Balance Alternating Arms and Legs

1. This is the last step before being able to balance without arms or legs on the ground.
2. Raise one of your arms out front at a 45 degree angle then raise the opposite leg at the same time. Switch sides.
3. Next try both feet off the ground, with only one hand on the ground to support.

D: Prone Swiss Ball Balance

Prone Balance Progressions

Once you’re able to master all the progressions, you should be primed to balance on the ball without any support from the hands or feet. Once you start to get the idea on how your body needs to shift backwards and forwards to change the centre of gravity and keep from falling off the ball, this becomes a really fun balance exercise. Enjoy!

So, that’s part 2 of 5 on How to get Primal on a Swiss Ball!

 

Other videos in this series:

How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 1/5: 4 Point Horse Stance
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 3/5: Primal Push-Ups
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 4/5: Swiss Ball Squats
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 5/5: Kneeling Overhead Press

Recommended Purchases

Swiss Ball  |  AOK Medi-Ball  |  AOK Max Ball  |  Stability Ball
Swiss Ball / Stability Ball
Perform Better – USA
AOK Health – AUS

How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 1/5: 4 Point Horse Stance

Swiss Ball - 4 point horse stance

Note: This is a loose video transcription of ‘How to get Primal on a Swiss Ball! Part 1/5’

G’day guys! This is video 1 of 5 of ‘How to get primal on a Swiss Ball’.

Whether you have been using a Swiss Ball for a long period of time or just starting out, I am going to show you some progressions on how you can do some pretty tough exercises using the Swiss Ball. Basically, to help you increase the variety of things that you can do on a Swiss Ball to make this a more enjoyable way of getting primal and move your body. I’ve used these balls with clients and for myself for a lot of years. I’ve hurt my back in a number of different ways over the years, broke my lumbar spine and I slipped 3 discs before as well. It’s been pretty painful but the Swiss Ball has been a lifesaver. Bex and I sit on one of these everyday in front of the computer when we’re actually doing all of our computer work for you guys with social networking and the website. They really are amazing things.

This particular brand that we use all the time, is by an Australian company called AOK. In particular one that is called a Maxball. This is a 65cm diameter ball and it works best for me, as when I am sitting on this height, my hip is higher than my knees (see details here about sitting on Swiss balls). For certain other exercises that I actually do and prescribe, I use a smaller 55 cm ball (see sizing details here) but at least for now for this particular exercise that I’m going to get you to do today, you could use either size. So now let me show you what we’re going to go through and do. The ultimate exercise that you have seen in the beginning of the video is what I call a ‘Swiss Ball 4 Point Horse Stance’.

Swiss Ball 4-Point Horse Stance

[nonmember]FREE YOU TUBE VIDEO – Duration: 2:42min


MEMBER VIDEO: Duration: 5:45min

View the entire member video below when logged in.
No login details? Join the Tribe! (top right of this page)
[/nonmember]
[wlm_loginform]
[private_FREE]
[jwplayer config=”primal-health-600w-player” mediaid=”4595″]
[/private_FREE]

Horse Stance Progressions

A: Prone 4-Point Horse Stance

Prone 4 Point Horse Stance

 1.  Lie on the Swiss ball on your stomach.
2.  Put both your hands and feet on the ground.
3.  Lift the opposing arm and leg simultaneously. Alternate each side. Breathe in on the way up, out on the way down.
4. Pay attention to your arm placement. Don’t let your arms go straight out. Keep it at a 45-degree angle with your thumb up and don’t let your leg go straight to the side, keep it directly back behind you.

 

B: Kneeling Balance
Primal Swiss Ball - Kneeling Balance

1. Get on to the actual ball on hands and knees and just get used to balancing.
2. Keep a slight curve in your lower back. Don’t round out your back.
3. Hold position for about 60 seconds.

 

C: 4-Point Balance with alternating kickback
Primal Swiss Ball - 4 Point Balance with Alternating Kickback 

1. Kneel on the ball with both hands and knees in contact with the ball.
2. While keeping your hands on the ball, kick 1 leg backwards. Toes pointed. Stomach in tight.
3. Breathe in on the way up, hold your breath slightly, breathe out on the way back down. Same thing, alternating both sides.

 

D: 4-Point Balance with alternating arm lift

Primal Swiss Ball - 4 Point Balance with Alternating Arm Lift

1. Kneel on the ball with both hands and knees in contact with the ball.
2. While keeping your knees on the ball, lift one arm up to a 45-degree angle with your thumb facing up. Stomach in tight.
3. Breathe in on the way up, hold your breath slightly, breathe out on the way back down. Same thing, alternating both sides.

 

E: 4-Point Horse Stance holding onto support
Primal Swiss Ball - 4 Point Horse Stance Holding On With Hand

1. Find something to hold on to (e.g. tree trunk; desk).
2. Balance on the ball in the 4-point position, on hands and knees.
3. Grab the support (tree trunk; desk) with your right hand. Dig your right foot into the Swiss Ball and kick straight back with your left leg.
4. Alternate and do the other side.

 

F: 4-Point Horse Stance

Primal Swiss Ball - 4 Point Horse Stance

Once you get the hang of the last movement, you can shift your arm away from the object that you’re holding, and do the previous progression without holding on to the support. Again, alternate sides to complete the exercise. Maybe try it for the first time on some grass or somewhere that if you do fall, it’s going to cushion the blow a little bit. Once you can get to the stage of doing this particular movement like that, it’s a fantastic exercise.

So, that’s part 1 of 5 on How to get Primal on a Swiss Ball!

 

Other videos in this series:
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 2/5: Prone and Supine Balance
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 3/5: Primal Push-Ups
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 4/5: Swiss Ball Squats
How to Get Primal on a Swiss Ball – Part 5/5: Kneeling Overhead Press

Recommended Purchases

Swiss Ball  |  AOK Medi-Ball  |  AOK Max Ball  |  Stability Ball
Swiss Ball / Stability Ball
Perform Better – USA
AOK Health – AUS

Is Stretching Really That Important?

Stretching and Flexibility

Yes! Stretching, or flexibility, is the ability of your body’s joints to move through their full range of motion (ROM) to be able to do what they are designed to do. A joint’s ROM can be negatively affected from day to day activities such as bad posture and incorrect bending and lifting, as well as overusing muscles during exercise or sporting activities. Stretching is the type of movement used to help rectify these imbalances, thereby bringing the body back to a state of normality and symmetry and alleviating problems with your body. While many people are aware that stretching helps prevent injuries, there are many other lesser known but just as important reasons for stretching.

 

Here are some reasons and benefits of stretching

Shoulder Stretch
Shoulder Stretch

1/  Improved physical performance and decreased risk of injury
A flexible joint has the ability to move through a greater range of motion and requires less energy to do so. This greatly decreases your risk of injury and enables your body to move and perform much more efficiently.

2/  Reduced Muscle Soreness
Stretching helps alleviate the pain that occurs after exercise. Weight training especially can cause an effect on your muscles known as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) whereby your muscles and tendons will be sore up to 48 hours after your workout. Regular stretching can reduce this pain.

3/ Reduced risk of lower back pain
A very high percentage of people have had at least one form of lower back pain. Posture is directly related to this. Improving your posture through stretching is very important to prevent simple things like your back seizing up when making the bed! Increasing the flexibility of your hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, and other muscles attached to your pelvis, reduces this stress to your lower back. If you are a regular exerciser, stretching is an important addition to your program to help reduce tightness that can result from overuse of muscles that can further increase back pain.

4/ Increased Blood and Nutrients to Tissues
Stretching also increases blood supply and nutrients to joint structures. Stretching increases tissue temperature, which in turn increases circulation and nutrient transport. This allows greater elasticity of surrounding tissues and increases performance. Stretching also increases synovial fluid, which is a lubricating fluid, found in all joints that promote the transport of more nutrients to the joints’ articular cartilage.

5/ Improved Muscle Coordination
Another benefit is increased neuromuscular coordination, or the coordination of your nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and your muscular system. Studies show that nerve-impulse velocity (the time it takes an impulse to travel to the brain and back) is improved with stretching. This helps opposing muscle groups work in a more synergistic, coordinated fashion.  In other words, you won’t be so uncoordinated!

6/ Relaxation
Not only does stretching decrease muscle soreness and increase performance, it also helps relax both body and mind. Pilates, Yoga and Zone exercises are forms of exercise dedicated to stretching and relaxing the body. Stretching can certainly be hard and uncomfortable when you first try it, but you will certainly feel the benefits of it the more you do it.

7/  Improved Posture
The most important thing that stretching can do for your body is to help improve your posture. Posture is affected by everything we do, like carrying bags on one side of the body, always talking on the telephone using the same ear, and standing casually with more weight on one leg. These habits affect the symmetry of your body. In sports, athletes that constantly use the same parts of the body like shot putters, baseball pitchers, and soccer players, are also at risk of injuries from tight overused muscles. Muscles end up being tighter on one side of the body than the other, resulting in pain and problems in your body that you may not think has anything to do with posture.

Think of things you may do every day, or exercises that you do every single time you workout, that may be slowly changing your posture for the worse. With exercise, men tend to constantly overwork the ‘mirror muscles’ i.e. the six-pack, biceps and chest. With women, the butt and triceps (back of the arm) are always given a thorough workout. In our day-to-day posture, sitting in front of computers, sleeping, and driving are things that have a profound affect on our posture and therefore tighten certain muscles up over time.

Common Posture Types

The diagram above shows 4 common types of postures from a side view. Figure 1 represents ideal posture. When hanging a string line from a ceiling and lining up the protruding anklebone to the string, an ideal posture should then find the middle of the knee, shoulder and ear in line with the string. In this position, a person’s internal organs, muscles and bones are in an ideal position. This posture allows a person to move, breath, digest and function correctly. Unfortunately, the other three postures represent the majority of people. Each example has different muscular imbalances that require specific strengthening and stretching in order to correct their posture.

An easy way to make yourself more familiar with ideal posture without using a stringline, is to stand against a wall with your heels, butt, back of your shoulders and head touching the wall (chin tucked in). Then step forward and hold that position for a few seconds. This is pretty close to what ideal posture should be. Do it regularly to remind yourself.

Groin Stretch
Groin Stretch

How can I get started with  stretching?

1/ Consult a health professional that is familiar with stretching and doing postural assessments
This is important to determine which muscles to stretch and strengthen. Look for chiros, physios and specialised personal trainers that have certifications as a ‘CHEK Practitioner’. Visit www.chekinstitute.com for more information.

2/ Buy ‘How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy’.
If you are keen to learn about stretching yourself, get this book. It has a fantastic section all about stretching, in addition to a plethora of amazing information that will get you thinking differently about what is good and bad for your body.

3/ Listen to your body.
If you are familiar with a lot of stretches, start doing them regularly. Hold the stretches that feel the tightest, for a longer period of time and don’t avoid the stretches that you hate because they ARE so tight!

4/ Buy a foam roller and lie down along it regularly.
Many people have a very rounded upper spine with forward head posture. The spine has a strong ligament that runs down the front of it, that predominantly controls it’s shape. Ligaments don’t stretch like muscles do. To therefore change the shape of this ligament it is vital to spend a longer amount of time putting it in the exact opposite position that it is in the rest of the day. The foam roller is perfect for doing this.

Stretching on Foam Roller
Stretching on a Foam Roller

REFERENCES
– Excerpts from C. Tackett, www.freeweightloss.com
– Posture diagram from ‘Exercise Coach’ Certification Manual, CHEK, Paul.

Recommended Purchases

How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy by Paul Chek Foam Roller / Physio Roller
Amazon.com
Fishpond.com.au
Bookdepository.com
Foam Roller/Physio Roller
www.performbetter.com
www.aokhealth.com.au

6 Ways to Reduce Computer Pain

6 Ways to Reduce Computer Pain

In the 21st century, personal computers have forever changed the way we live. Even if your job doesn’t require you to sit in front of a computer all day, you may be clocking up lots of computer hours at night and on the weekends doing your banking, correspondence, administration, research, and planning. You may also experience neck and back pain, eye strain, and headaches in your everyday life. Since their invention in the 1940’s, computers have contributed to a stack of health problems we may refer to as computer pain, including neck pain, back pain, poor posture, headaches, migraines, and various syndromes and disorders caused by EMF (Electromagnetic Frequency) Radiation.

 

Computer pain was the catalyst to my holistic approach

After several years of increasing computer use, I started getting migraines and severe neck pain for the first time in my life. When all the tests and doctors could not provide any answers or relief, I focused on lifestyle changes and realized that my pain was the result of thousands of hours spent in front of the computer building websites for my businesses over the years. This realisation was the catalyst which changed my professional thoughts on health to a holistic approach. There was no official cure or remedy to be found for my computer pain, especially since my work required continued computer use, so I had to look at the real causes of computer pain and take a holistic approach. Though using computers is definitely not a primal activity, I have found ways which can reduce the aches and pains that may result from this integral part of our everyday life.

Here are my top 6 tips for reducing computer pain:

1/ Sit on an ergonomic seat

A Swiss Ball or Bambach Saddle Seat are my favourites. A normal seat with a back ‘support’ makes for a kyphotic upper spine (rounded shoulders) and kyphotic lumbar spine (flat back) making it more likely that you will slip a disc in the future doing a simple thing like making your bed! If you spend hours in front of the computer, this is extremely important for computer pain prevention.

Swiss Ball Reduces Computer Pain in Neck and Back
Use a swiss ball as your desk chair

2/ Make simple adjustments to your computer screen

Raise your screen to eye height Having your head tilted even just slightly down for a long period of time can cause neck pain. Your head makes up 8-10% of your body weight, so think of it as being like a bowling ball that sits on top of your spine. Your neck muscles have to work hard to keep it up! If you screen height is not adjustable, consider height adjustable desks, or height adjustable mini tables made for laptops. Avoid glare on the screen Check your room lighting, screen angle, and don’t work with your back to a window. Increase your font size Straining to read computer text is a surefire way to a headache or migraine. Change the computer display in your control panel, or if you are using an internet browser, do a quick Google search to find the instructions on how to zoom in and zoom out on that browser (ex: CTRL +/-).

 3/ Reduce your exposure to EMFs

There have been way too many times I have walked away from a computer feeling completely exhausted like I just had a hard workout! There is a copious amount of information out there showing how EMFs (Electromagnetic Frequencies) are directly related to syndromes, disorders and diseases like cancer. Especially if you use a laptop, get the laptop off your legs and move it as far away from you if possible. Buy a separate keyboard and mouse that sit in front of the laptop. I have tested this with a machine called a Gauss metre (EMF Detector) and it works quite well in reducing the EMF exposure to your head through fingers touching the laptop keyboard. In my research, getting further away from the computer works best. I have tested plenty of pendants and gadgets which have shown no change on the Gauss Metre.

Separate keyboard and mouse reduces laptop EMF exposure
Separate keyboard and mouse reduces EMFs

4/ Get up and walk around! Stretch.

Take a break from the computer regularly to stretch and move the body to break the constant position in which you sit. Allow your eyes to focus on things further away than the screen. Have lunch away from your desk. If you’re drinking lots of water at your desk, as you should be, the frequent toilet breaks will be a good reminder to get up and walk.

5/ Lie on a foam roller regularly

The Foam Roller, or Physio Roller, has been endearingly called The Big Panadol (Tylenol), over the years by my clients. I’ve helped so many people reduce their neck and head pain using this simple lump of foam. Sitting in any position for an extended length of time convinces the body that you want to always have that posture. Don’t think that stretching the chest and neck will alleviate it long term. There is a big long ligament that runs down the front of the spine called the anterior longitudinal ligament. Unlike muscles, ligaments have a thixotropic property like tomato sauce or gel, which prevents them from changing shape or stretching as easily. Therefore, if you want to change your upper spinal posture, don’t expect your spine to change shape with a few 30 second stretches if you have been sitting in the same position for hours! Lying on the foam roller for 5-10 minutes after a computer session will save you a lot of pain in the long run. Invest in one today, and learn more about stretching.

6/ Minimize or eliminate computer use after sundown

Our body clocks, or circadian sleep cycles, have been in tune with the rise and fall sun for millions of years. This regulates our system so that we produce hormones that accelerate our body in the morning, and slow it down at night ready for sleep, repair and growth. Now that we have fluorescent lights, TVs and computers to keep us up late into the night, our health is deteriorating simply because these unnatural lights are tricking our bodies into thinking that the sun is still up. Light touching any part of your skin is the equivalent of keeping it awake and accelerating activity. Batch the majority of your work to be done in the daytime and enjoy the night for what is meant to be for.

Whatever role the computer plays in your life, be mindful of how you use it and what health issues may be a result. Following these 6 steps now will save you lots of computer pain and dollars at the doctor’s office down the track.

Recommended Purchases

Foam Roller | Physio Roller Swiss Ball  |  AOK Medi-Ball  |  AOK Max Ball  |  Stability Ball
Foam Roller / Physio Roller
Perform Better – USA
AOK Health – AUS
Swiss Ball / Stability Ball
Perform Better – USA
AOK Health – AUS