2 min read

Relieve Low Back Pain With These Work From Home Exercises

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Relieve Low Back Pain With These Work From Home Exercises

While we all find ourselves adjusting to the new normal, your workspace is now your home, and today, you’re putting in up to eight hours of work on your couch, bed, or kitchen counter.

While you adapt to your new setting, you may experience tightness in the low back and soreness through the hip. Sometimes it may feel like there’s a discomfort in the hip as it travels down the back of the leg.

While this pain can often be mistaken for sciatica, medically, it’s known as pseudo sciatica or piriformis syndrome. All of these signs and symptoms are results of mechanical back pain, due to weak muscles in the hips and core.

To help protect your body from low back pain, we put together a series of exercises that you can do while working from home.

Standing Cat Cow
Girl with one leg pressed against wall
Start position Round your shoulders and look down. You’ll begin to feel the stretch between your shoulder blades.

End position Lookup, squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your shoulders back until you feel the stretch in your chest or the front of your neck

Complete 10 reps, 3 x.

Hip Hinge
Girl squatting with kettlebell

Start position Hinge at the hips to sit back, keeping a slight bend in your knees. Reach your arms up beside your ears.

End position Standing up strong by squeezing your hip muscles, pulling your arms down to your side and your shoulders back.

Complete 10 reps, 3 x.

The W
Girl with one leg pressed against wall
Start position Start by standing with both arms overhead in the shape of a ‘Y.’

End position As if pulling down on something, squeeze the elbows to your sides, and your shoulder blades down your back. End in the shape of a ‘W.’

Complete 10 reps, 3 x.

3 min read

Vitas Naudziunas, PT

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How To Maintain Good Posture While Driving

 

We look at the top three reasons why you shouldn’t lean while driving, and the three things you can do to ensure you maintain good posture in the car.

Many of us spend a decent part of our life driving or commuting to work. The average one-way commute is 25 minutes in North America – that’s a minimum of an hour of your day spent driving. That is enough to develop poor posture and movements habits, especially right at the start of your day. Lower back pain and prolonged driving seem to go hand-in-hand, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Leaning over the one side while driving will eventually become uncomfortable on your lower back.

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The lean can stay with you all day

1. This position creates an “S” shaped curve in your spine. After sleeping, your discs have rehydrated and decompressed. Putting yourself in this position creates uneven load through the discs for a prolonged amount of time, creating uneven pressure through the discs of the low back. It also promotes having the head forward which can strain the neck and cause adaptive changes in the low back as further compensation.

2. Muscles adapt to chronic positions by adaptively lengthening or shortening. So after your 30-minute drive in that particular position, the body will naturally maintain some of that “S” curve once you are back upright or by the time you reach your desk.

3. This adaptation can also affect your movements patterns as the muscle progressively adapts to that position over time, especially if you go to work and spend your day sitting. Thus, you may have poor alignment while moving and there is a good chance you’ll even notice it because your body has already adapted to that position. That alignment may not cause issues initially but when it does it will take just as much time to undo it.

The following are ways you can fix your posture while driving.

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Sit the right way

Get in your vehicle and find a seat position where you can sit upright on the chair (raise the chair back if you have to) and comfortably have your hands on the wheel with a relaxed, mild bend in the elbows.

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Adjust your vantage points

Once in this position, alter your mirrors so that they will be most effective when sitting in this stance. Seated like this will be a constant reminder of optimal position while driving.

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Switch Your Sitting Position

For those that already have been in these postures for a long time, spend 5-10 minutes a day sitting in the opposite position for a few weeks just to help even out these muscle imbalances. You will notice that if you tend to lean right while driving, then leaning to your left will feel awkward. This reaction is your brain and body telling you that it’s a position you are not used to.

3 min read

Five Commute Exercises To Do For Neck Pain and Lower Back Pain

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Five Commute Exercises To Do For Neck Pain and Lower Back Pain

Typical activities while commuting, like staring at your phone or reading, also increases neck tension.

Your commute, plus sitting at work, is a lot of time that your lower back is inactive; therefore, causing lower back pain. “If you don’t use it, you lose it”. While we may not be able to do anything about the commutes (aside from relocating closer to our workplaces), we can optimize our time commuting to ensure your body won’t feel the after effects of logging countless hours on the bus or train.

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Get on/off your stop earlier

Depending on what your job is, you may already be spending most of your day sitting at a desk. Why not change up your routine and get on or off at a farther stop. Walking a few extra blocks will help activate your glutes which can contribute to decreasing lower back pain. Walking will also allow you to spend a bit more time each day in an extension position which will counteract all the hours spent in flexion at work. It’s also an excellent opportunity to destress from the day and reflect on things you may need to get done at home.

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Practice your balance while riding public transit

This one is almost forced some days when the bus, streetcars or subways are full to the brim and there are no handrails to hold. But granted you are relatively stable as is (i.e. no severe balance issues), use this time to practice your balance by standing with no handrail support. The movement of the vehicle will provide external perturbation which will challenge your proprioception. Safety tip: it’s recommended to do this near a handrail in the event a significant bump, or sharp turn unexpectedly happens.

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Use the handrails for stretching

As mentioned, many of us spend a significant portion of our days in a flexed forward posture. This positioning has many adverse effects on our bodies,neck pain being a main culprit. Why not use your commutes to help you stretch out these tight structures? Use the handrails to get in a pec stretch or use two and stretch out those hip flexors. Anyone staring is just jealous they never thought of it.

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If you MUST sit, actively sit
Unless your commute is more than an hour, do your best to stand for most of it. This is especially true for those of us who will be sitting the rest of the day. However, if you need to sit, make sure to sit actively. When sitting, don’t slouch, don’t sit at the front of the seat and lean back and don’t lean excessively to the side. Instead, sit back in your seat, use the backrest for lumbar spine support and engage your core. For added benefit, perform seated cat/camels to keep your spine moving.

 

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Read or listen to podcasts while avoiding forward head posture

Using the dreaded commute for your personal gain can actually cause you to enjoy your time spent on public transit. However, with the crowded buses, streetcars, and subways, taking out your laptop may not be feasible. Try downloading some motivational podcasts or books that will help you to prepare for your day or week.

When reading, make sure to keep your posture in mind. Keep your elbows close to your sides and use them to prop your book up to eye level to avoid excessive neck flexion and forward head posture. When you’re finished, do a quick stretch for the front of your neck by extending, rotating and side bending until you feel a gentle stretch. Follow up with some chin tucks and you’ll be ready to start or finish your day right.

3 min read

How To Bar Hop Without Lower Back Pain

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How To Bar Hop Without Lower Back Pain

After a long day of work, spending a few hours unwinding at the bar with friends is common for a lot of us. But hours of drinking ultimately leads to prolonged sitting and standing, which could result in nagging lower back pain.

Nobody thinks about physical health while enjoying themselves at the bar. But you may want to reconsider and start using the chair or foot rail to help reduce that nagging lower back pain.

Difficulties meeting the prolonged postural demands hints towards a bigger issue than simply, “back pain.” This term has previously been called lower cross syndrome and is a way to conceptualize a combination of muscle imbalances that results in constant lower back pain.

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These imbalances typically consist of the following:

  • Tight lumbar extensors
  • Weak / Inhibited Abdominals
  • Tight Hip flexors
  • Weak / Inhibited gluteus muscles

The result is a hyperlordosis in our back, more commonly known as anterior pelvic tilt. But good news! If you find yourself stuck in this situation, you can work to counteract some of the tight muscles that may be causing these issues.

Here are three quick exercises you can do at the bar without catching too much attention.

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90/90 Breathing

This move is a great workout that uses specific muscle activation patterns to help alleviate a tight lower back and hip flexors.

  • In a sitting position, place your heels in front of the two front legs of the chair.
  • Make a fist with both hands and place them between your knees.
  • Press your heels into the legs of the chair, activating your hamstrings on the backside of your thigh.
  • Lightly squeeze together your knees against your fists, activating your adductors (groin muscles).
  • While breathing slowly, imagine tucking your tailbone underneath yourself, this is called a posterior pelvic tilt.
  • Repeat this for 2-3 minutes.

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Couch Stretch

This move stretches out your hip flexors, which often tightens after prolonged standing ?

  • While standing and using a high chair, bring your foot up to the seat
  • Tuck your tailbone underneath yourself by lightly contracting your abdominals.
  • Take slow and deep breaths in through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
  • Repeat this for 20 secs, 2-3 times.

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Figure Four Stretch

This stretch will target a muscle deep to the glutes called the piriformis. Doing this move will help alleviate some of the tightness  on the tailbone you feel from a long period of sitting. 

  • Using a high chair in front of you, bring your leg up onto it so that the outside of your shin is flat on the seat.
  • Take a deep breath in and out, and lightly lean forward at the hips do go deeper into this stretch
  • If your leg doesn’t lay flat, feel free to use a fist between your knee and the seat surface.
  • Repeat this for 20 secs, 2-3 times.

So next time you decide to spend an evening at the bar, make sure to try these exercises and avoid a “lower back hangover.”

3 min read

How To Netflix And Chill Without The Back Pain

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How To Netflix And Chill Without The Back Pain

 

We’ve all been there before. One hour on Netflix quickly turns into twelve hours slouched on your couch and before you know it, you’re experiencing lower back pain.

Before you decide to invest the next twelve consecutive hours of your day cuddled up with your partner, make sure to take the proper steps to avoid any potential back pain.

To help avoid any injuries, we’ve outlined the top five things you need to know so you can Netflix and chill, sans the back pain.

Plank before the meet-up

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Before you head over to your date’s place, do a plank. Getting into a plank position is an excellent way to get your core muscles engaged to take on the stresses of a TV marathon. I mean, you could do a plank at her house, but there is no guarantee she won’t consider you a weirdo. For the sake of argument, get to know her first before you make her living room your personal space.

Slouching isn’t attractive

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Slouching creates a posterior pelvic tilt and it adds additional stress on your back. To avoid any back pain, slide your butt right back into the wedge where the backrest meets the cushion.

It’s good to kick it, but not with your feet up

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Putting your feet up seems relaxing, but the temporary bliss is just adding more stress on your lower back. If you want to test your back out, try sitting with your feet up for three hours while slouching. You may make it through the next episode, but eventually your back will give in.

Don’t overlook the figure-four stretch

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Every hour, take a break and try a duo “figure four stretch.” There is no better way to show your date that you take good care of your body.

  1. Slide forward to the edge of your seat
  2. Cross one leg over the other into a figure 4
  3. Sit up tall until you feel a stretch in your glutes
  4. Hold for 30 seconds
  5. Repeat three times on both sides

Every step you take counts

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Whether it’s bathroom breaks, refilling your drinks, or restocking snacks, getting up from your seat will have a positive impact on your back. Going for a walk mid-way into your TV binge will alleviate the stress on your back and provide you with the perfect solutions to avoid any post-Netflix and chill back pain.

2 min read

How To Properly Sit At Your Desk

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How To Properly Sit At Your Desk

 

The majority of people sit either with a flat lumbar spine or overarched lumbar spine. 

Sitting incorrectly creates improper compensations, inefficient use of the musculature and compression of the spinal disk. These dysfunctional sitting postures can be carried over into standing and movement patterns which can have a drastic effect on your health.

Also, sitting while under stress (i.e. at work) taps into your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). Since you can’t punch your boss, out (fight) or run away from work (flight), your sympathetic nervous system is on overload constantly even when you get home. You cannot tap back into your parasympathetic nervous system to rest and digest, that is why so many people cannot sleep well and have poor digestion. By repeating the cycle day in and day out, it’s no wonder why people die prematurely.

So how do you resolve this? Well, for starters try to not to sit so much. Go for walks, find a movement practice to destress, and meditate.

If you have to sit, sit with a posture that is supportive for your structure.

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Many of us spend way too much time sitting at work with a posture that is not supportive for our bone structure and tissues.

Sitting up straight and pulling your shoulders back are important to keep in mind, but they are difficult to do unless you keep your pelvis neutral. How do I do that?

  • Find your “SITS” bones. Get in a chair and when you feel two hard/firm bumps, you want to sit right on top of them. If you tilt your butt back, you will feel them move backwards.
  • Try to slouch upper body without allowing your pelvis to posterior tilt.
  • Come back up then allow your pelvis to posterior tilt (Tuck tail under). You will notice your upper body drop into a slouch
  • Keeping your pelvis in posterior tilt, try to straighten your spine, so you are upright.

It’s hard to keep everything lined up if your pelvis is not level but it’s so much easier when it is!

1 min read

Staff

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This Is Why You Don’t Have Good Posture

If you’re not standing or sitting straight, it’s not your fault you don’t have good posture.

How often do you hear the importance of good posture? They’re either nagging you to, “sit straight, keep your chest out, and stomach in!
” or “stop slouching and keep those shoulders back!”

You’re constantly bombarded with advice and suggestions on how to be “posturally sound.” But unless you make a conscious effort to “sit straight”, you are quick to revert to your old habits! Here’s what you guys have been waiting your entire life to hear – it’s not your fault! 

The problem is that people confuse “posture” with “structure.” Posture is the ability to hold the structure of your body. Structure (when it comes to your body) is how your body stacks with gravity.

Wait, what? Okay, let us break it down. When the structure is properly balanced, your body is stacked well, which means it’s much natural to have good posture. While there are many other reasons that cause poor posture, in this case, we should clearly look at how the structure of our body directly effects our posture. A person slouches not because he has bad habits, but because their body structure doesn’t make it easy for the person not to slouch.

Do you want to get someone to sit straight? Focus on the structure of your body so when sit down or stand, you’ll notice a drastic improvement with your posture.