How to Stretch the Pectoral Muscles

Why Stretch the Pectoral muscles?

Two good reasons to stretch your pectoral muscles are; 1) to decrease shoulder, neck and arm pain, and 2) to improve your posture. Do you remember being told to sit up or stand up straight? Can you relate to slouching? Tension in the front shoulder, and chest (pectoral ) muscles (aka pecs), is largely responsible for the common forward shoulder posture, which accompanies the slouching posture. The following stretches will help you straighten your posture and free up your shoulder function.

How to Stretch

  • Begin by facing a wall.
  • Stretch out your right arm – it should be a little below horizontal.
  • Place your right palm against the wall.
  • Rotate your trunk slowly to the left – just far enough to to begin to feel a stretch in the front of the right shoulder and/or upper arm.
  • Your feet should align parallel to the wall.
  • Place your left hand on the wall in front of your chest.
  • Keep your right shoulder blade down – i.e. don’t let the shoulder shrug upward.
  • Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times with each side read more…

Surviving Snow Shoveling

Surviving Snow Shoveling           snow shoveling

With snow shoveling, specially the wet heavy stuff, comes the increased incidences of heart attacks and back injuries.

Why the Heart Attacks?

The reason for the heart attacks, while shoveling, is over stressing the heart with exertion.

The two main reasons for this are: 1- lack of physical conditioning and 2- trying to get the job done too quickly.

You need to know your limits and you need to pace yourself. However, when the snow falls, and you need to get to work, the scramble is on to move as much snow as quickly as possible. Hence, the heart attack or injured back.

Why the back injuries? 

Again, the need to know your limits and pacing yourself are paramount. There is also the need to use proper body mechanics in order to minimize strain on the back . As in every physical activity, you need to develop a balance between strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. read more…

Learn how to Rake Leaves Without Back Pain.

drawing of man in squatting position while raking leaves

 

Image depicting back pain

 

Why does raking leaves cause back pain? Most of the time this is because you are unwittingly straining the back muscles and joints of the spine..

It doesn’t have to be that way. Using proper body mechanics when raking, as well as performing other chores around the house, can greatly reduce back pain, strain and other injuries.

The safe way to rake leaves is to let your arms and legs do the work. Do not twist your body, or sweep to the side. Sweeping to the side requires twisting of the body. This creates torsion forces on the muscles, joints and other tissues protecting the spine. These torsion forces are unnecessarily strenuous, and damaging to your spine. Keep your movements in the forward and backward direction only. read more…

How to Stretch the Hip Flexor Muscles AKA the Iliopsoas Muscles

What are the hip flexor muscles?image of the iliopsoas muscles

IThe hip flexor muscles are responsible for raising the thigh toward the trunk – i.e. hip flexion. They are active in stepping forward when walking or climbing stairs. They are also important in the kicking motion. This muscle group includes the Psoas Major, Psoas Minor and Iliacus muscles. They are often referred to as the Iliopsoas muscles and are generally located in the front of the lower spine, pelvis and hip. Other muscles of the thigh also assist in hip flexion.

Why stretch the hip flexors? read more…

How to Stretch the Hip Abductor Muscles

Why Stretch the hip abductor muscles?

The hip abductor muscles are the group of muscles responsible for moving the hip away from the midline of the body.

image of hip abductor muscles

Image from 3D4 Medical Essential Anatomy 5 Application

These include the Gluteus muscles, which make up your buttocks. Also included in the abductor group is the priformis, which is one of four deep rotator muscles of the hip. Because of their location, these muscles play an important role in stabilizing the pelvis when standing. This is also crucial for good back mechanics. It is important to note that tight hip abductors will adversely affect your low back function and your gait (i.e. your walking and running). 

The abductors oppose the adductors (aka the groin). Balance between the two groups of muscles is essential. See How to Stretch the Groin or Adductor muscles here.

How to stretch your hip abductors. 

read more…

A Primer of Stretching Exercises: Why, what, when and how to stretch.

cartoon of man stretching

Stretching reduces aches and pains of daily living.

Strength training and cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise are essential to maintain the required strength and stamina for daily living. However, you need stretching and flexibility exercises to reduce the stress and strain that your body endures with the loss of flexibility that can occurs with aging. 

Moving Freely

You need good flexibility for optimal movement of your body parts. Good flexibility means muscles are less tense, more supple and have better blood flow. More blood flow to the muscles means they receive more oxygen and nutrition. Better circulation of blood also means better waste removal. This means there is quicker removal of lactic acid and other metabolic byproducts. Your muscles will better absorb the shock and stress of every day movements, when they are more supple. read more…