In health surveys, lack of time is often cited as the number one reason why people don’t exercise. It’s ironic, because the same people who don’t choose to make time for physical activity, will have to make time to treat medical conditions that arise from that lack of exercise. Waiting until your body is damaged or ill, is the least time-efficient way to care for your health.
In part I of this series, we identified that spending your days and nights in rounded, slouched positions causes deformities in your body that create many of the aches and pains we all complain about. We agreed that step 1 of the solution was to change your habits of posture and perform simple desk exercises to stop the damage before it goes too far. In this post we’ll discuss why the desk exercises, although effective, are often not enough to completely undo years of abuse to your body. By incorporating corrective exercises into your gym routine, you can fix your imbalances while simultaneously achieving your fitness goals. It’s proactive and efficient.
Sometimes referred to as Preventative Rehabilitation, Corrective Exercise is a method of fixing the body’s imbalances by performing therapeutic exercises in a particular order. The National Academy of Sports Medicine developed the guidelines for the 4 phases of this method of training. Below, I give you examples of some common corrective exercises. The order of the four phases is purposeful, so be sure to follow them in the order they’re listed. The rationale is that each phase prepares the body for the next phase so that by the time you get to your actual workout, the body is running on all cylinders and fully prepared to work hard. Your workout becomes the “fix” that can prevent pains from ever developing.
This phase involves shutting down and ‘relaxing’ the muscles that are tight by using devices to perform a form of massage. The most common devices are foam rollers, shaped bars, tennis balls etc… “Roll” over each muscle slowly for 30secs searching for tender points. Pause for 10 sec on those tender areas and then move to the next muscle.
The most common areas to target are:
This phase involves stretching the same areas that you just targeted with massage. Stretch to the point of mild discomfort but not pain. Hold stretches for 20 sec each.
A few common stretches are:
This phase involves turning on and “waking up” the muscles that have become weak and inactive. Do these moves slowly with purpose. Maintain perfect posture with your chin tucked back, scapulae squeezed back, abs tight and spine straight.
Effective activators are:
This phase involves performing exercises in combinations that work several muscles simultaneously. These moves are more complex and more closely resemble how your body moves in daily life with coordinated movements in different planes.
Effective Integration moves are:
These exercises are appropriate for most people, however, if you have existing medical conditions, please consult your physician prior to trying any of them. This paradigm becomes a template you can use to design every workout. All four phases are done prior to every workout session. Depending on various factors such as time constraints and your current training goals, you would simply adjust how much time you spend in each phase. Some beginners may perform this routine as a separate workout in itself 3 days per week, whereas advanced athletes perform the corrective exercises as a preparation for their actual workout. For a customized routine, contact a corrective exercise specialist who will evaluate your specific needs.
The routine may sound daunting and time consuming, however, remember that correcting the problems in your body will end up saving you time, money, pain, and aggravation by preventing the injuries that arise from imbalances. This is time well spent. The bonus is that these moves will help produce the tight toned body that you probably desire anyway, so there is no down side here.
Perform the corrective exercises every time you workout and you’ll be strengthening, toning, slimming, and fixing imbalances all at the same time. It’s a preventive approach to your orthopedic health that is truly time efficient and smart.