Alpine Physical Therapy: Stability Exercises

sm-apt_horizontal-logo1This has been a pretty amazing February with the sunny weather. We have (jealously) been watching runners cruise past our windows at Alpine downtown, in light winter clothing to just t-shirts and shorts! It really makes us look forward to the upcoming months seeing so many people out already. This month Jamie and I have come up with a series exercises to serve as a foundation for you to start your training off on the right foot. The videos are linked to a youtube page for you to view them as much as you need. A brief introduction for each exercise is below and further information will be on the youtube page.

These exercises may seem simple but having a strong foundation is important for runners at any level. Your foundation is what allows you to build a sturdy body, so stick with us as we help you lay the framework. This month we will introduce some terms you will hear through our video series as well as some basic core muscles. The muscles introduced this month stabilize your spine, pelvis, hips and aid in maintaining correct alignment of you leg. It is important that you have good posture, find awareness in these core muscles and start to use them correctly. Stability and correct movement is part of the picture to decrease wear and tear on the body and prevent injury.

We wish you a happy training season! To watch the videos click on the title the exercise. Next month the exercises will get harder, so train up and be ready for the upcoming race season!

Neutral spine:
“Neutral spine” is a big buzz term these days, but rarely do you hear it defined or given in a simple way to apply to your body. We are going to try and help make this a simple concept that will just take some practice and body awareness. There is a little variance from person to person and between males and females, but this will get you close. You should be able to reproduce neutral spine in sitting, standing, and eventually apply to your running.

Rib ring and pelvic ring:
These are basic terms you will hear through the video series. This concept is important for correct body alignment. Correct posture and body alignment allows your muscles to work optimally and will reduce the wear and tear on your body. Try standing with your rings stacked as describe in the video for ten seconds 5-10 times through the day, every day. Find that good posture your Mom always told you have.

Pelvic floor:
The “inner core” or “base core stabilizers” refers to four muscle groups that control stability in the spine and pelvis: the pelvic floor, the transverse abdominis, the multifidus and the diaphragm. These muscles are often underused, under discussed and under appreciated.The pelvic floor makes up the bottom of the pelvic bowl. In a healthy individual, who does not have pain, they usually turn on in anticipation of movement. They are anticipatory muscles, like the rotator cuff in the shoulder. After injury, pain, dysfunction they stop firing in anticipation and need to be reminded. It should be a light contraction about 15-25% of your max contraction. Make this part of your daily routine. Try and hold the muscles on lightly for 2-10 seconds 10 reps daily. Eventually it will happen without you thinking and you can focus on the trail ahead.

Transverse abdominis:
This muscle is part of the inner core and functions like a corset and again it should be an anticipatory muscle. Having your spine stabilize before you move allows for more efficient, stronger and safer movement. Activating the inner core muscles in isolation and with activity improves their ability to function optimally. Try to hold a contraction (as described in the video) for 10 seconds for 10 reps, daily. Try this in sitting, standing and walking once you can do in laying down. A strong core makes for a happy back and body!

Sidelying hip abduction:
This exercises is designed to strengthen muscles that stabilize the pelvis and move the hip. They are muscles that runners tend to be under-developed in. Try to keep the tension in your buttock muscles and not the front of the thigh. These muscles need to have both strength and endurance so go for 3 sets of 15-20 reps and if you are not tired get out that resistance band! Try to do this exercise 3-4 times per week.

Clamshells:
This exercise, again, will help you learn to stabilize your pelvis while you move your hip with into rotation. When the inner core muscles and lateral rotators of the hip are weak the knee can dive in to midline leading to pain. This exercises should be performed at a steady, controlled pace. The work should be felt in your buttock muscles and not into your hamstring. Make sure your hips stay stacked and you are not rotating backwards through your back. If you can do 3 sets of 20 reps-25 reps without fatigue add a resistance band to boost the challenge. Try do this exercises 3-4 times per week.

Ball planks:
Ball planks are a great exercises to get a little burn in that low belly and start firing your inner core and big core muscles together. When you activate big core muscles, which is anything above firing your base core in isolation, you want to make sure the little muscles are on prior to letting the big muscles come on. Make sure you maintain neutral spine and ring stacking. This is why a mirror at first is really helpful. You should not feel this in your back! If you do, draw the ball closer to you and decrease the amount of load. A good goal is 30-60 sec hold 3x twice a day and we will show you how to progress next month. Happy foundation building and see you next month when you are ready to progress!

Matt Schweitzer, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Jamie Terry, DPT, SCS, CSCS
Alpine Physical Therapy Downtown Located in the Peak Health and Wellness Center
150 E. Spruce St. Ste. A
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: 406-549-0064
Fax: 406-543-2999
http://www.alpineptmissoula.com/

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