Alright! The snow is melting! The crocuses are poking through the ground. The temperature is rising and there are some beautiful sunny days. IT’S SPRING! At the risk of sounding like my mother…. GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!!
Perhaps you’ve been inside at the gym this winter. Let me encourage you to leave the aerobic machine, get out of the gym and go do the real thing! I know, you love that machine…you’ve grown very close. Here’s the thing – it’s not near as good as letting your body take you through the motions, rather than the machine. For example, the treadmill: the motorized conveyor belt you’re standing and walking on actually does the work for you. The muscles of the hip are not moving you, they are being moved. If you hold onto the hand rail, there is even less work through the hips, the back is in an odd position and there is zero trunk rotation to counter the hip movement. Normally, the hips and trunk twist slightly in opposite directions when we walk or run with opposite arm and leg movement and this is important for balance.
The elliptical machine has its own challenges. The momentum of the machine is doing all the work and your hips never really extend appropriately for proper gait. (Hip extension is the leg going behind you and creates the drive that propels us forward in walking and running!) I often hear “I prefer the elliptical because it’s not as jarring on my back”. While it seems as though that’s a good thing, your body is being led along and not in the best position. You are effectively creating some dysfunction – especially if you have alignment issues.
Then, there’s the stair climber. Most people on the climber are hunched over, leaning way forward at the waist with all their weight, grasping the rail. Do people really climb stairs that way? I don’t think so. Again you are training yourself in a dysfunctional way that will eventually cause injury and pain. The best thing is to actually go up and down flights of stairs! Skip the elevator when you can. If you use the stair climber – keep your hands off the rails and let your arms swing. This helps with balance and is a better more efficient workout!
The real answer is to get the body functional: a body that has proper strength, stability, mobility, endurance and flexibility in movement. When we’re functional, we can easily bend, twist, reach, pull, push, squat, duck, jump, climb over and crawl under. We need all that variety of movement, it is our birthright and where we come from! Remember how you played as a child? When we move like that, we decrease pain, feel better, increase metabolic rate, lose weight, tone muscles and improve our mood – Just in time for spring!
Give us a call and let us evaluate your posture and so you may begin your journey to a functional, pain free and active life. Your playground is waiting!