Archive

Category Archives for "Back Pain"
14

Seated Abs Exercise: Obliques Circle

Alexandra Williams, MA

If you want an abs move that will make your obliques stronger and help you have a leaner look in the waist, then the Seated Obliques Circle is for you.

Kymberly enjoying Rancho la Puerta gardens Jan 2012Whether you have weak abs or strong, this exercise has a version you can do. And the good news is that it might be perfect for people with bad backs or knees, or even for people who want to avoid lying down.

What is the purpose of the obliques, you don’t ask? I’ll tell you anyway. First of all, you have both the external and internal obliques, making something like an X along the sides of your torso. They help flex, rotate and abduct the trunk, support the abdominal wall, assist in forced respiration and in pulling the chest downward to compress the abdominal cavity.

And of course, the abdominal muscles all help support the spine and good posture. And those of you mainly concerned about the aesthetics of the waist get your wish too, especially if you work on good posture.

I won’t describe the exercise in writing, as it’s far easier for you to watch the video. Besides, I want you to watch the video. Mainly so you can do the move with me. I don’t want to suffer look amazing alone.

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11

3 Ways to Perfect Your Posture: Tenaya Healthy Living Retreat is One

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
 
Disclosure: In our capacity as fitness experts, we are being compensated for the events mentioned below. We don’t make any money if you join us; you just get great advice and a fabulous experience with two service-oriented companies – Tenaya Lodge and Sherpa.
Good Posture vs Bad Posture

Good Posture vs Bad Posture

In our previous post, Look Younger and Thinner Instantly with Better Posture, you discovered some of the benefits of good posture. Today you get tips on ways you can find and maintain good alignment. Plus we want to extend invitations to our west coast readers who are eager to revel in better health and happier bodies. (Hint – treat yourself to a spa weekend at the Tenaya Healthy Living Retreat in late March).

Kymberly: First up – Pretty Posture Pointers

  • Stand with your back to a wall. Do your shoulder blades, buttocks and heels touch the wall? Evenly?
  • Stay at that wall to do some of your exercises (such as bicep curls or forward raises) with your back and shoulders against it. Focus on whether you can maintain contact with good spinal alignment. You will easily notice coming out of alignment if you fall forward off the wall.
  • Do only back and downward shoulder rolls. Skip up and forward rolls. Why roll the shoulders up and forward when they are most likely already in that tense and hunched position?
  • When you are sitting in a chair, scoot your hips as far back in the chair as possible. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Even better, sit on a stability ball instead of a chair or stool.
  • When sitting on a hard surface, center your weight over the front edge of your “sitz bones” (ischial tuberosities) and imagine wiggle wagging your tailbone into the correct position.
  • Set a timer to remind yourself to lengthen into good posture, stand up, walk around, and reestablish alignment. Name the timer “mom” and let yourself be nagged, er reminded.
    Stop! In the Name of Posture

    Stop! In the Name of Posture

  • Implement my famous “Zip trick” Imagine a zipper that runs from your pubic bone to your chin. Zip up. Then (here’s the important part) imagine a second zipper that runs from the base of your neck to your tailbone. Zip DOWN right between the shoulder blades. Watch our Posture Zip Trick video.
  • Strengthen your back muscles.
  • Strengthen your core. Yes, we know these last two constitute more than “tips.” But what discussion on posture would be complete without mentioning the real, long term criteria to achieve beautiful alignment?

Alexandra: Posture Assessments at the LA Fitness Expo and Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite

I’ll add a tip that works for me – pretend you’re a marionette with a string running through the top of your head and down the center of your torso. Now imagine that the puppeteer is pulling the string up. If you’re more technical, just pretend it’s a plumb bob.

Because our Posture Series has made us so famous (hi Mom, hi Dad), we’ve been invited to two super duper events, where we’ll be offering posture assessments (and an energetic, fun Drums Alive class).

Stand Up and Sherpa Right

Stand Up and Sherpa Right

This Saturday, January 25, we’ll be at the Sherpa booth (#556) at the L.A. FitExpo doing free posture and gait assessments from 1:30 – 3:30. Please stop by if you’re attending.

And at the Yosemite Healthy Living Retreat at Tenaya Lodge, March 28-30, we’ll present a posture workshop, as well as a Drums Alive class to the attendees. Be part of Tenaya’s inaugural healthy retreat and join us at one of the world’s best wellness resorts (according to USA Today). Their focus is on interactive, fun, take home sessions and activities in a breathtaking setting.

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Besides our classes, you will have exclusive access to wellness education on topics ranging from fitness and yoga to nutrition and personal care.  Your weekend also includes special treatments in the Double Silver LEED-certified Ascent Spa, products and classes from Kimberly Parry Organics, and a hands-on culinary class and dinner with Executive Chef Frederick Clabaugh.

Now THAT'S  a scenic hike!

Now THAT’S a scenic hike!

Why not book the weekend and join us? All kinds of good stuff going on for those with perfect (or imperfect) posture! You can focus on perfecting your gait too, by joining us on a walk right at the gateway to one of our nation’s most revered national parks.

Outdoor Yoga at Tenaya Lodge

Outdoor Yoga at Tenaya Lodge

No matter what, dear Posture Pals, do as the Dirty Heads suggest, and

“Stand tall, it gets a little better
I see the wall that we can break down together
Stand strong, it gets a little better now”

When you’re done singing and standing tall, sit down at your computer and book your trip to join us at Tenaya Lodge.

Photos: posture graphics – Dreaming in the deep south; all others – Tenaya Lodge

7

Abs Exercise for Older Adults: No Head or Neck Strain with this No-Crunch Move

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

 

Work your abs without lifting your head or straining your neck.

You’ll love “The Bug” ab exercise whether you’re a baby boomer, older adult, person with neck or head soreness, or simply someone who wants a great option to strengthen your abdominals without rounding forward into spinal flexion. And if you are wondering why you should care about rounding into spinal flexion, read our recent post that has abs training tips for older adults. All will be revealed. Click this <—– link and you’ll see the guy who has the abs (and chest) that Alexandra has admired since the 70s.

Ab Move to Protect Neck & Spine

The Boomer Bug Beats A Crummy Crunch Any Day

This core move is simple to do well, and very effective. The hardest part is remembering to keep your head on the floor or mat. And to bend your knees slightly. And to compress. Speaking of mats, what do you think of our nubbly, no slip beauty? We got it from Stillmotion yoga mats.

 

 

 

 

Need professional, motivating speakers? Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Head over (with no neck strain) to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness with maximal impact yet minimal joint issues! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. 

6

Back Saver Sit and Reach Flexibility Test

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Sit and Reach Hamstring Flexibility Assessment

sit and reach assessmentWe were approached by eHow and asked to create a video to address the question: “What muscles get stretched when performing the back saver sit and reach test?”

Actually the back saver test is a modification of the sit and reach test. Both are flexibility assessments, though the former tests one leg at a time; the latter has both legs extended simultaneously. For the back saver, you sit on the floor with one leg extended in front of you and the other bent with that foot planted throughout.  Then you reach both hands toward your feet and mark how far you go. How low low low can you go? How low can you go?

So, what muscles get stretched in this test designed to test flexibility? For $100 per vowel and $200 per consonant, let’s go with H-a-m-s-t-r-i-n-g-s. We have a winnah! Hamstring flexibility helps with gait, posture and hip placement;  such flexibility helps protect your back. So that’s the “saver” part of the story.
Take a look at this short video we did for eHow demonstrating how to get the most out of the sit and reach test. Don’t we look deluxe when professional videographers shoot us with two cameras?

Good Form to Test Hamstrings

How flexible are your hammies? Are you doing the test correctly or imitating Quasimodo and hunching over? As our video shows, you want to lift long through the spine and press your tailbone back, not under. Lengthen your arms toward your toes without “turtling” (having your neck disappear into your shoulders). If you do this incorrectly and slump or roll in an effort to get closer to your toes–as most people do– then you’re not really involving the hamstrings any more. You’re simply stretching your upper back, which is already pretty stretched out on most people. So do stay long and lifted through your torso. If you have good form, then raise your hands to wave as if you’ve been back saved!

Call to Action Time

Do you need professional, motivating, entertaining writers or speakers ? Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.
Next, sit and reach for the links to subscribe to our YouTube channel for short videos that will improve your workouts. Have you subscribed yet to our blog?  Please also follow us on Google+: Alexandra and Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

11

Improved Sleep and Comfort: Technogel Pillows

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

If you have ever had an uncomfortable night’s sleep, you’ll want to read what we discovered from sleeping on pillows from Technogel.

Technogel pillow and bedAlexandra: For the past ten years or so, I’ve had issues with vertigo, which has many causes. My vertigo turned out to be related to neck tension that affected my inner and middle ear. In practice, this meant I would be stuck in bed for days, not even able to move my eyes quickly for fear of getting sick and dizzy.

Since figuring out the problem, I have been able to manage my neck tension through massage. But!!!! (there’s always a “but” in these stories) I don’t go to the massage therapist often enough. So when the chance came to try out a Technogel anatomical pillow, I abruptly broke up with my lumpy excuse of a down pillow (I believe it had gone down, down, down years ago), and welcomed the anatomical pillow into my life. According to the description, this pillow is “recommended for those suffering from neck, back or shoulder pain. It provides excellent support and muscle relaxation. Suggested for those who sleep primarily on their sides or on their back.” Ka-Chinga.

I heard that it takes a few days to adjust, but that wasn’t the case with me.
Neck – Oh, this is lovely, and I feel so relaxed.
Me – That’s good. Now please go to sleep and release some tension, wouldya?
Neck – Yes, um, hmmmmm, zzzzzzz, snork, sigh………(sounds of soft breathing)

I haven’t dissected my pillow, but I know that it’s got foam and gel inside. And I know that the company got its start in the medical field, providing cushioning for bed-bound hospital patients. I know this because I went to the Technogel booth during my BlogTour trip to IMM Cologne, Germany. Technogel is an Italian company, I was in Germany, and my primary language is Englilsh. You can get a good night’s sleep in any language!

They removed the top later of foam to show the blue gels.

They removed the top later of foam to show the blue gels.

 

As part of my (cough cough) research, I tested out the bed at the show. And the laptop pads. And the pillows (they have 6 styles). Eventually they noticed and asked me to change out of my pajamas and leave. Not really, I was treated extremely well and encouraged to lie on the bed for as long as I wanted. Poppies… Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep. Sleeeeep. Now they’ll sleeeeep!

 

Kymberly: I, too was selected to try out a Technogel pillow. I chose the expensive one Alexandra did not pick so that we had some variety to report back on. While I fall asleep easily, I tend to wake up often then toss, turn, and flip my pillow over and over looking for elusive slumber.

Do you also have sleepless nights or stretches of insomnia? Some nights I wake up and run “to do” lists and  conversations through my head. Such head chatter makes it hard to get back to sleep. Are you familiar with the song “Pillow Talk” made famous by Doris Day?

Pillow talk, pillow talk
Another night of hearin’ myself talk, talk, talk, talk

How do I turn Doris Day Pillow Talk into Kymberly Night of No Talk? Enter my new Technogel Deluxe pillow. It may be heavy, but it’s not chatty. Yes, the first thing I noticed was that the pillow had some heft to it. Yet it was obedient, conforming to my head and temperature.

Being a person who loves words, I actually read the pamphlet that came with my nifty, high tech pillow. There I learned that we are supposed to heave ho “standardl” pillows every 18 months due to germs, bacteria, small animals that look horrific under microscopes, and other gross out details. Oops, I had been about a decade behind on that task! Welcome even more to my new sleep buddy.

Ultimately the big question is simply “did I sleep better with this deluxe Technogel pillow?” The big answer is “yes.” Between the Pure Matters Healthy Sleep supplements I take, the new mattress my hubster got for my last birthday, and this special foam and gel pillow, I am showing those night sweats and insomnia moments who is boss! A colleague had told me to expect needing a week to adjust to Technogel pillows, but that the adjustment would be worth it. I transitioned in about four seconds, one snore, and two flutters of my eyelids. Comfort and support were mine. If you want to borrow my pillow, we are talking one serious pillow fight to wrench it from my sleeping grasp!

Relax your mind and body by subscribing to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

I was compensated by FitFluential LLC for this campaign. All opinions, pillows and snores are my own (actually, the snores are Kymberly’s).

 

10

Abs and Core Exercises Safe for the Lower Back

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Don't Go Back in Time to These Old School Exercises. Ouch!

Don’t Go Back in Time to These Old School Exercises. Ouch!

Dear Fun and Fit: Can you give me some helpful tips to work out my core? I had surgery in 2001 and still to this day am scared to do certain things to cause my back to hurt or go out. I’m ready to get over this fear and work on strengthening my abs and lower back so I can work out better in the gym. Should (abs exercises you recommend) be done every day or every other? I look forward to your advice. Thank you. Cassie W. Fenton, MO

Alexandra: First, test your comfort and ability to engage your abs (not back) with this easy tip from our video, and post, Easy Way to Find Your Abs.

Kymberly: Next, view our one minute video that offers the following back-safe obliques exercise.  We suggest it because you have very little chance to arch or stress your lumbar region.

 

[youtube]http://youtu.be/faVKhcGzBpg[/youtube]

Side-to-Side Obliques Exercise

Lie on your back. Bend your knees and lift your legs in the air above your hips. The knees can be in towards your chest a bit; feet directly above the hips. Keeping both shoulders firmly anchored to the ground or mat and arms outstretched but below the plane of your shoulders, slowly bring your knees to the right then back to center then left. Go only as far as you can still keep your shoulders on the mat. Basically you are dropping the legs side to side in a hinge-like motion without using any momentum.

Reverse Curl Exercise

Next try reverse curls, which also target the core with little risk to the lower back For one, the hips are tucked (posterior tilt) throughout this move, so the lumbar spine has little chance to hyperextend or arch (anterior tilt).

Click on the link to our video showing the Right and Wrong Way to Do Reverse Curls. Or go for the whole kit and kaboodle and read our post on how to take full advantage of reverse curls.

As for frequency, with abdominal exercises you can do them every day if you want. The abs are endurance, not power muscles so don’t really need a day’s rest in between. Go by how your back feels.

Alexandra: After you’ve tried these, please check back in and let us know which exercises were most comfortable, which were most effective, and so on. We want to know how you progress.

The most pain-free exercise you can benefit from today and every day is to subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above. Please share and subscribe!

16

Hamstring Stretches: 3 Wrong & 3 Right Ways

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Want more benefit from your hamstring stretches? (You are devoting some of your workout time to stretching, right?) Avoid the most common form faults. Be uncommon, just like us! Flexible hamstrings reduce tension on the lower back, allow for good alignment and posture, and enhance your physical performance.

Don’t take our word for it. Watch our short video. Then you can take our image and word for what good form requires.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viVL1_neJeY[/youtube]

Most mistakes are related to:

  1. knee joint bent too much
  2. hips and buttocks up in the air
  3. neck and shoulder hunching

Fit-tastic, ham-tacular form involves:

  1. holding away from joints
  2. relaxing the head and neck
  3. lengthening the leg, even if it means moving the leg away from your body

The best stretch of all is the one your fingers make when you subscribe to our YouTube channel and this blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit, especially if you like shots of Santa Barbara and nature. The icons in the right sidebar are a quick way to link to us as well. We link and follow right back.

Readers: What stretches do you see commonly done ouch, wrench, twist and shout, the WRONG way?

Photo credit: Us. Yeah, we took a screen shot from our video. Bet you could tell. Real credit goes to Rancho la Puerta fitness resort in Tecate, Mexico for allowing us to shoot this video while visiting as guest instructors.

Want to see more cute compression leggings and socks? Visit zensah.

9

Back Stretches: Wrong and Right Way Tips

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Have lower back tightness? Need to stretch your lumbar region?

Don’t become the Hunchback of Notre Fame by making the most common back stretch mistake. Many people incorrectly round the area that needs the least attention and neglect the tight lower back. Focus on the area needing extension and less tension with our right and wrong way tips shown in two common back stretch positions – standing and on all fours.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9bx4Bjz5pY[/youtube]

Filmed at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Resort. Ain’t that place just super purty and inspiring?

And now for our commercials:
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Our colleague Michelle Melendez is offering a free training call on Wednesday, September 12, called “Get the Body You Love in 90 Days.” It’s FREE, but you do have to register at the link. Check it out NOW!

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Readers: Who has suffered from lower back pain? How did you work through it?