Many of you I’m sure will be taking up exercise, or increasing exercise levels over the next few months. We have come out of hibernation, the sun is peaking out and it’s gradually getting warmer, which means we are more interested in exercising and looking good. It is therefore extremely important that we have a solid ‘Inner Unit’ to withstand the extra work we are going to ask our bodies to do.
Any system is only as strong as its weakest link. It is essential that we strengthen our ‘Inner Unit’ in order to reduce the likelihood of injury, improve posture, assist the activation of larger muscle groups, improve stabilisation and core stability.
The following exercises should be performed progressively, perfecting each stage before moving on. They also may seem simple to perform but it is imperative that you truly stabilise the spine 100%. On your hands and knees, you should keep spine in it’s neutral position. Using a broomstick handle lying across the spine so that tailbones, mid upper back and occipital ridge are at all times in contact with the broom stick will help to keep the correct position. The gap between your lower back and the stick should remain about the thickness of your hand.
To get the most from the inner unit exercises they should be done 3-4 times a week as an individual workout.
– On hands and knees, with wrists directly below shoulders, knees directly below their respective hip joints
– Hold spine in neutral alignment, hips, shoulders and ears should be at same height.
– Take a deep breath in and allow your belly to drop towards the floor (without moving the spine)
– Exhale and draw you navel in towards your spine as far as you can. Once the air has completely expelled, hold the navel in for 10 seconds, or as long as you comfortably can (no longer than 10 seconds).
– Repeat 10 times to complete a set, keeping spine motionless throughout. Perform 3 sets with one minute rest between sets
– Same starting position as above, with slight flexion in elbows, elbows facing thighs.
– Draw the navel inward toward the spine, then float one hand off the floor just enough to slide a sheet of paper between the hand and the floor. The opposite knee is then lifted off the floor to the same height. Keep the broomstick level at all times. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
– Alternate hands and knees. Perform 10 reps of 10 seconds per side.
– When you can perform 3 sets of this, you are ready to progress to:
– Perform one set of horse stance vertical as a warm up
– Start position is identical to above.
– Lift one arm to a point 45° off the midline of the body and hold it in the same horizontal plane as the back. Keep the thumbs up to increase Lower Trapezius activation and length through Latissimus Dorsi.
– Elevate the opposite leg so that it is in the same horizontal plane as the torso. As you elevate the leg, DO NOT tilt your pelvis forward. You will know this happens if the space between your lower back and stick increases. Hold the leg out straight, activating Glutes.
– Make sure hips and shoulders don’t lose their position.
– Hold this lifted position for 10 seconds before switching sides. Repeat ten times per side, providing you can maintain perfect form.
– Again only progress once you have mastered the above.
– Same procedure as above, but once you have extended the leg, use the leg to draw letters of the alphabet. Start with small letters, 4-6 inches high and progress to large letters as you are more able to stabilise your core and keep the broomstick in place.
– Check points:
– Perform as many reps (letters) as you can with perfect form before switching sides.
Contact Richard for more information and exercises like this.
This exercise is relevant to anyone who sits at a desk all day, drives a car, does household chores and many other general everyday activities where one’s upper body is set forward with shoulders in internal rotation. Poor posture may lead to shoulder pain/impingements, neck pain and general discomfort.
This is a simple exercise which targets rhomboids and mid to low trapezius. Key points to remember: