I’m Ryan, a physio newbie and this is my story. My mother tells me I slouch, I spend 8 hours a day at my desk, and I read more than I run. Sound like someone you know? Join me on my journey to overcome my postural hurdles and fitness fumbles.
Why this blog?
Over the next 3 months, I’ll be working with the staff at Westcoast SCI to discover the benefits of physiotherapy for an average joe like me. This blog will show exercises you can do to help posture and muscle strengthening, delve into the benefits of physiotherapy, and highlight what we do here at Westcoast SCI. My goal is to create an accessible intro to physiotherapy for those who are interested in preventing injuries and building a healthier, stronger body.
My First Ever Physio Session
Today I will be doing my session with Gabe. Gabe has experience working with patients in orthopedics and sports, occupational rehabilitation and pediatrics. He has worked with babies less than a month old to elite athletes – but no babies were hired in the creation of this blog!
Before starting any exercises, Gabe has me lie down on my back with my feet planted to assess my posture. In this position, I was asked to recognize the natural curvature of the spine. You shouldn’t have too much of a curve in your lower back, but you should also make sure that you can snugly fit half of your hand underneath your lower back.
Core Muscles: Can I find mine?
While on my back Gabe also makes sure that I know what it feels like to engage deep core muscles that should be used when trying to maintain good posture. The easiest way to engage those deep core muscles is to mimic the feeling that you are trying to stop peeing. I think it’s unorthodox, but Gabe assures me it is the best way to register those muscles.
Alignment is Key to Posture
He also taught me how to bring back my shoulders properly. Each shoulder blade should try to cross down to the opposite they are located when pulling shoulders back. Feet should also be waist length apart and ears should be aligned with shoulders. Finally, your chin should be brought down a bit to straighten out your neck.
Tips on Maintaining Good Posture
Maintaining good posture can be hard to maintain throughout the day. After a couple of minutes, like so most people, I would forget to remind my body to practice good posture. Here’s what Gabe told me: “To help maintain better posture, try using certain queues to remind yourself to realign your body. When walking this could be whenever you pass a stop sign or hit a red light. Give yourself a moment to breathe and readjust your stance. “
Exercises to Promote Good Posture
Once I had familiarized myself with what having good posture looks and feels like, Gabe helped me through exercises that help strengthen the muscles that promote good posture. With each of these exercises I had to keep in mind the steps Gabe had told me before. I promise you I did do these exercises, but we used Gabe for demonstration to make them as clear as possible.
SWISS BALL ROLLOUT
- Kneel in front of a Swiss ball
- Brace the abdominals and keep your spine neutral as you roll the ball forward
- Keep your thighs and torso in a straight line
GLUTE BRIDGE, FEET ON BALL
- Begin lying on your back, feet flat on a ball, knees and hips bent at about 90 degrees
- Push yourself using your glutes and push up hard on the ball so that your thighs and torso are aligned. Try not to push with your arms
UNILATERAL BRIDGE ON BALL
- Lie on your back with one of your ankles on a ball, the other leg straight off the ball and your back in neutral position (slightly arched)
- Activate your lower abdominals (transversus abdomini) by bringing your belly button inward and by activating your pelvic floor muscles (inner thigh) 20 to 30% of maximal contraction
- Maintain a steady abdominal breathing while you lift your pelvis off the floor, keeping your back straight and your knee slightly bent
- Return to the floor and repeat
PUSH-UP HANDS ON DUMBELL
- Keep back straight and abs tight – Hands on dumbbell – Medium grip – Neutral or hammer grip
ACTIVE SHOULDER PROTRACTION
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your back in neutral position (slightly arched).
Engage your core by recruiting your pelvic floor and transverse abdominis
- Maintain a steady abdominal breathing while you raise one arm to 90 degrees. Once your arm is vertical, raise your shoulder blade off the floor and reach up to the ceiling, keeping your back flat on the floor
- Return slowly to the initial position and repeat with the other arm
LOWER TRAP ACTIVATION
- Lying prone, arms overhead abducted to 180 degrees, squeeze the scapula back and down towards your opposite back pocket. Keep your lower back (trapezius/rhomboids) relaxed.
- Keep your thumbs towards the ceiling