abdominals, back, Core stability, Feet, Gymn Dangers, Physiotherapy, Pilates, Shoulder

What is Core Stability?

Power and Strength are useless without Stability and Control

muscles

Big flashy muscles might be attractive but as any physio will tell you, they are next to useless without core stability.

Thankfully the health and fitness industry has now started to embrace the need for core stability, but still few people really understand the concept and what it means.

Essentially our bodies have hundreds of different muscles that all perform important tasks and the very conspicuous Abs, Glutes, Pecs, Delts and Biceps (amongst others) are there to provide strength but they are supported by a plethora of smaller, less conspicuous muscles that provide stability.

shock absorbersThese are generically referred to as the ‘Core Muscles’ and the best comparison we can think of is with automotive suspension systems.

If the ‘Strength’ muscles are the springs then the ‘Core’ muscles would be the shock absorbers.  They are usually less conspicuous, sometimes even hidden within the springs but without them your car would fall apart in no time.

The same goes for humans.  Good strength muscles alone won’t keep you running smoothly. Without good core stability you’ll be in for lube and servicing (physio) all too often and eventually you’ll be off to the scrap yard before your time!

inner_core_musclesWhen it comes to spinal stability, the most important muscles are the multifidus, pelvic floor and transversus abdominis. As shown in the image to the right, these muscles form a supportive cylinder around the spine. The transversus abdominis is like a corset around your abdomen and it sits deep underneath all the “six-pack” muscles.  It attaches the lower ribs, diaphragm and lumbar spine to the pelvis.

This ‘core’ stabilises the spine and allows the load of movement to be evenly distributed between all the intricate joints of the spine. Just like a car suspension system, it reduces the shock through the joints and thus reduces wear and tear which would, over time, lead to conditions such as arthritis or bulging discs.

personaltrainerDoing exercises like sit ups is useful to strengthen the big “six-pack” muscles, but doing this exercise without good core stability will lead to excessive load through the joints of the spine and can lead to injury of the spine.

So in that respect it is important to activate and strengthen the core before you start on a regime of strength building.

 

Muscles of the posterior shoulderAnother example is the shoulder. The “delts”, “lats”, “pecs” and “biceps” look fabulous but they are not the stabilisers of the shoulder.

Over training of these without attention to the deeper, core stabilisers of the shoulder can result in injury as a result of an increased load being put through the system without the appropriate “suspension”, so to speak.

See our blog on ‘Shoulder Stability’ for a series of simple exercises to build core shoulder stability.

Each area of the body  has a “core” component.

Feet have intrinsic muscles that operate in balancing.

Ankles rely on hip and foot stabilisers for control.

Knees similarly need good hips and feet to be protected.

and even Necks have a deep system of muscles that control movement.

In essence, the core muscles play a crucial a role in overall well being and strength. Without the stability and control provided by the deeper core muscles, the power and strength gained from training is useless!!

Stay tuned as our series of CORE STABILITY blogs will introduce the specifics of core training for different parts of the body and the common areas of overloading we see in fitness regimes!

Post by Catherine Stephens (B.App.Sc Physio) and Angus Tadman (B.App.Sc Physio Hons I)

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Gardening, Lifestyle, Physiotherapy, Stretching

Keeping the ‘Ache’ out of Gardening

GardeningGardening can be the most restorative of activities – unless we overdo it, and most people will be guilty of that at some time or other.

The key is to not go at it like a bull at a gate, but to pace yourself (regardless of your age) and pause during repetitive tasks to let joints and muscles rest. Every fifteen minutes is a good target but don’t leave it more than half an hour before RESTING and performing the OPPOSITE movement for a short while.

Hands & Wrists:

Extended pruning with secateurs is a classic cause of RSI (repetitive strain injury).

Secateur-Hand-StretchJust pause now and then to stretch your fingers, hands and wrists in the opposite direction to the pruning action.  Joints will recover, muscles will shed their fatigue and you’ll be more efficient.

Shoulders:

While pruning or clipping overhead your shoulders will take most of the strain.  Just pause for a few moments and roll your shoulders down and back in a circular motion for one minute. Apart from providing rest for the muscles, you’ll also relieve those joints and tendons temporarily.  Remain standing tall during the exercise and keep your chin in.

Clipping-Shoulder-Roll

Back:

While digging, raking or bending to weed, stop and arch your spine and shoulders backwards with hands pushing your pelvis forwards.  It’s a classic for very good reason as it allows the gelatinous content of squashed discs to revert to balance again.

I see so many patients suffering from lower back pain from gardening, yet this small exercise can prevent so much discomfort.

Digging-Back-Arch

Knees:
Many gardening tasks involve kneeling and even if you’re wearing kneepads to protect the front of your knees, the knee joint and surrounding tendons needs rest and opposite action too.  So stand up and give them a rub and a wiggle (that’s a technical term for repetitive re-traction by the way).

Weeding-Knees-stretch

Painful Joints:

Many mature gardeners will suffer some occasional joint pain, whether it be arthritic or rheumatic and many will avoid outdoor activities at these times.  But all joints benefit from movement as it stimulates joint lubrication which in turn provides the nutrition for the joint linings and cuffs.

People who immobilise tetchy joints do themselves no favours as the joint will become stiff and produce even more pain. If you have painful joints and decide to do some gardening then warming up first is all the more important as this will minimise the initial discomfort.

But, as with all things to do with health, all movements should be performed in moderation. Stop if sharp pain persists and consult a doctor.

Post by Catherine Stephens B. App Sc (Physio) MAPA.  This article appeared originally on www.gardensonline.com.au

Work

Computer use and Neck pain.

When we sit for extended periods at a computer neck pain and headaches are common. These symptoms are worsened with the use of a lap top due to the increased hunching over that is caused by the proximity of the screen to the keypad.

Being aware of posture while sitting at the  computer is  the best prevention of the strain on the neck. Sitting with the lower back supported with a cushion etc. etc.

Ideal typing poistion

How to avoid pain from using a PC