Americans sit for an average of 14 hours a day. Recent studies show this habit severely decreases blood flow, neuromuscular function and life span. The human body is made for consistent multi-planar movements. Walking, squatting, reaching, pulling, pushing, jumping, crawling; these tasks are what our bodies engineered to perform. An balanced exercise plan that promotes mobility and stability is now more important than ever.
The modern seated lifestyle has slowly pulled our bodies out of balance. Our shoulders and hips are now on lock down doing the task of stability when they are designed for mobility. Prolonged sitting promotes tight hips, rounded shoulders and creates a forward head posture, all of which stress the posterior chain (the back of the body from the neck down to the feet). When seated with poor posture, our most powerful and capable primary muscle groups, our gluteal and abdominal muscles shut down. Lower back pain is often created and exacerbated by this neuromuscular degeneration.
To counter the effects of sitting, a balanced fitness program will employ regular mobility training. I encourage my clients to mobilize at least three times per day for a few minutes most days of the week or more. Myo-fascial self release also known as fascial rolling, has been shown to decrease calcification and promote circulation in the muscle tissue. When properly executed, it can realign muscle fibers, relieve pain and prevent injury. Though it can be quite painful, myo-fascial self release techniques are well worth it. Prolonged stretching is another important part of mobility, however deep, prolonged stretching should only be performed when a muscle is very warm, preferably after exercise. When a muscle is warm, hold a stretch for at 30 seconds to one minute to permanently elongate the muscle fibers. Do not go into the end of the stretch immediately. Use the time to ease into the final stretch position. In addition, a restorative posture held for 3-10 minutes per day has been proven to relieve stress on both the body and the mind.
Stability counters mobility, and like mobility, it should be employed throughout the day. When mobile joints take on stabilizing tasks, as our shoulders and hips do while seated, the stabilizing joints begin to mobilize. This is obvious in seated positions when the stable joint complex of the scapula (shoulder blades) relinquishes stability into the would be mobile shoulder socket. This is conducive to the rounded posture that many Americans have today. A dull pain in the upper trapezius, the area between the neck and shoulder socket, is an indicator of a destabilized scapular joint.
Stabilizing exercises can be done with our without equipment. They are easy to sneak in throughout the day in any standing posture. Simply pull the shoulders back, tuck the low ribs in slightly and engage the abdominal, thigh and gluteal muscles. This is your “active plank”. When seen from side view, the active plank position shows the ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles all in one line. At a more advanced level, modalities for challenging stability can include fun and functional TRX Suspension and Rip trainers. We use these tools at the Gumsaba classes for building strength and to create a greater capacity for preventing trips and falls. A fitness program that incorporates stability and mobility training can help prevent hip fractures and many other common injuries that begin to happen as we age.
A well balanced fitness program will provide you with great range of motion in your mobile joints and proper stability in your stable joints so that you can enjoy life to the fullest well into your golden years.
5:30AM Sunrise Danville Womens only class – Coach Briana – Strength AMRAPS
5:30AM Sunrise Danville Mens only class – Coach Allen
6AM Sunup Walnut Creek Co-Ed class – Coach Jentry – Circle Time!
9AM Sunshine Walnut Creek Womens only class – Coach Briana – Strength AMRAPS
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4PM Cytosport Yoga Benicia – Coach Michelle D. (private class)