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The Simple Back Pain Reliever

The Simple Back Pain Reliever When you lift, carry, walk, or run, your shoulders and hips move while the lumbar spine stays stable.  Prolonged sitting, age, and deconditioning can create tight hips/shoulders and a lumbar spine that is unable to hold a stable position.   Much of the mechanical back pain we treat in physical therapy is related to this stability/mobility issue.  A simple exercise that can retrain the neural control necessary to restore this essential movement skill is the bird dog. The bird dog is commonly used in physical therapy and usually poorly performed in the fitness arena.  Three things to keep in mind.  You are moving your arms and legs, but the focus of the drill is keeping the…

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Dead Bug Exercise Variations

Dead Bug Exercise Variations Dead Bugs are one of our favorite core stability exercises that we use here at Fenton Fitness.  This can be one of our first exercises used with a deconditioned client, post rehab client, etc.  It can also be progressed for even the most advanced trainee.  If you can lie on your back (which almost everyone can), you can do some form of dead bug.  Dead Bugs work the anterior core by resisting extension in the lumbar spine (low back) and teach you to stabilize your ribs and pelvis.  This is a vital function of the core both for performance (walking, sprinting, jumping, throwing) and for injury reduction.  You use the opposite arm/leg like you would when…

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The Essential Exercise

The Essential Exercise “Walking is the best possible exercise.  Habituate yourself to walk very far.” -Thomas Jefferson If I can get fitness clients to walk three times a week and strength train twice a week for six weeks, the results are universally good.  Participants are often concerned that walking is not strenuous enough.  They do not see walking in Crossfit Youtube videos.  No one on the Biggest Loser just walks.  Walking does not leave them gasping for breath.  This is my response: Quality Lifespan The most recent survey reveals that Americans are living longer.  The secret to happy aging is keeping as much quality in this abundance of quantity.  Walking is the essential movement skill that we all need in…

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Pain Never Precedes Dysfunction

"Pain never precedes dysfunction."--Dr. Stanley Paris I recently found a manual from a physical therapy course I attended in 1985.  Dr. Stanley Paris was the instructor and I was lucky to have been in his class at the beginning of my career.  At 26 years of age, I wrote this quote on the front of the manual and it still stands as the best bit of wisdom I can pass along to fitness clients and physical therapy patients. Pain happens as the result of some underlying performance problem: postural flaws and sustained joint positions, respiratory restrictions,  muscle strength/endurance is depleted, joint mobility is insufficient,  joint mobility is excessive, movement coordination is poor,  deceleration skills are below acceleration capacity. Resolving pain…

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Essential Movements for Life

Essential Movements for Life Maintaining the ability to sit and stand is essential to living your life to the fullest and staying active. If you want to continue to live life the the fullest it's important that you can sit and stand with ease and control--whether it's sitting at the table, on the couch, toilet, etc. The minimum level of function we want out of our older adults (60+ years old) is to be able to sit/stand with perfect control to a box or seat 16" off the ground for 10 relatively easy repetitions. Bonus points would be getting down to (or slightly below) parallel. For most individuals under 6 feet tall, this equates to a 10-12 inch box, for…

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Feets of Strength

Feets of Strength The feet are the interface between the ground and the brain.  A graceful gait and not falling are enormous evolutionary benefits so an inordinate amount of brain tissue is devoted to the evaluation of input from the feet.  As we age, develop medical problems, or become deconditioned, our feet can lose the capacity to send balance and coordination data up to the brain.  Training activities that enhance foot function will improve balance and keep us independent for a lifetime.  Read the remainder of this article and watch the video for a demonstration of a foot to brain retraining routine. Devote some fitness training time to restoring foot function.  Anatomically, we are talking about the joints, nerves, and…

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