Avoid Back Pain By Skipping Sit-Ups And Crunches

If you have back pain, you’ve probably heard that you should do sit-ups.  While strong abdominal (stomach) muscles are good, sit-ups can be not so good.  Here’s why:

  • Your abdomen is basically the “front of your back.”  Some of the muscles that attach to your spine are actually accessible through your soft abdomen by a trained massage or muscle therapist.  Sometimes the muscles in the “front of your back” are the ones that cause your lower back pain.
  • When you do sit-ups, the movement removes the natural curve from your lower back; it makes it flatter.  The curve is good–it’s there for a reason.
  • When you do sit-ups, it’s easy to strain your neck muscles.
  • Sit-ups shorten your abdominal muscles.  Short muscles in front help flatten your lower back and take away your natural curve.  Short muscles in the front of your body make it harder to keep good posture.  Good posture helps prevent back pain.

What are some safer Continue reading “Avoid Back Pain By Skipping Sit-Ups And Crunches”

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Are You As Strong As A Small Child?

I’ll bet you think you’re stronger than a little child, don’t you?  I’m sure you used to be as strong, but are you still?

Let’s think about this for a moment.  When you were little, you were running, sliding, hopping, jumping, climbing.  You were skipping, swinging, squirming, wiggling, jiggling.  Hula-hooping and jump-roping.  You were up and down, up and down.

You even used the muscles in your face.  And when you cried, you cried with your whole body.  If you were like most healthy children, you were moving all the time.  Unless you were asleep.

You used ALL of your 600+ muscles every day!

And, now?  Or, like most of us, do you use only the same 60 or so muscles, just the bare minimum to get through the day?

You might be able to lift and carry that little child, so you think you’re stronger.  But, the reality is, that little child is strong ALL OVER while some of your muscles are strong and some are weak.  Some are used too much, some not enough.

If you were as strong as that little child you used to be, you wouldn’t have that achy back and neck or those headaches.  Your posture wouldn’t be collapsing forward.  You’d feel really good!

Well, good news!

You can feel a lot better than you do now.  All you have to do is make a few changes, do some things differently, and start using more of your muscles again.  Like you did.  Remember?  When you were little?

Right here at SimpleStrengthening.com you can discover simple, easy ways to start getting strong again and use of all of your muscles again.  You can get a strong back.  You can relearn how to hold your head over your body.  You can become as strong as you were when you were that little active kid.

There’s no time like the present!  You’re gonna start feeling better and feeling stronger.

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9 Advantages To Strengthening Your Back In Bed

There are lots of types of exercise and movement strengthening programs, and most of them are done in upright positions.  Here are some of the reasons I prefer a program that can be done while you lie on your back in bed.

1.  Almost everyone can lie on their back in relative comfort.

2.  Gravity works with you rather than against you.  When you are upright, gravity is working to pull you down toward the earth.  When you are on your back, you are already down.  The force of gravity becomes your friend and assists you.

3.  Your bed acts as resistance.  It is soft enough to press into, yet firm enough to push back at you.

4.  If you have an anatomical leg length difference (like 10% of us–one leg is truly shorter than the other) or if one half of your pelvis (one hip bone) is smaller than the other (like 1% of us) it doesn’t matter.  When you are standing or sitting, these size differences can throw you off balance.  They move the center of your body away from neutral.  When you are on your back, these differences are taken “out of the equation.”

5.  Lots of us are “vertically challenged.”  We just plain feel better when we lie down. This is due to leg length differences, scoliosis (curvature of the spine) or weak back muscles.

6.  If your back is weak and you have trouble staying upright, working from a flat position is easier.

7.  It is easier to isolate the areas of your body that you need to strengthen when you are on your back.

8.  Stretching from this position is also easier because gravity pulls on your arms and legs while your back is in a neutral position.

9.  You don’t need any additional equipment.

So, those are some of the reasons I’m working on a program to help you get strong while you lie in bed.  If you read the articles here at SimpleStrengthening.com you will find lots of “how-to’s.”

It is so important to have a strong back side!  Everything from your knees to the base of your skull should be strong.   When your back side is strong, you will feel better, your body will function better and you will be able to withstand the forces of gravity when you are upright.  This is a good thing.

“Because You Deserve to Feel Better!”

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Got Back Pain? Causes for the Pain in Your Back

Does your back hurt now more than it used to?

Do you have back pain between your shoulder blades?  Is the pain more on your dominant side?

Or, is it more lower back pain and/or your neck?

There are many possible causes for back pain and muscles are the usual culprit!  Honest!  Muscles!

That’s good news, because muscles can be fixed.

When your back muscles get overstretched, they will complain and cause back pain.

So, how do muscles get overstretched?

For your upper back it is usually from reaching forward, or working with hands in front of you, a great deal of time, especially with your dominant hand.  For example, most hairdressers use one hand more than the other, and the side they use most can get pain, unless…

They take the time to strengthen their back, and to do periodic stretches to lengthen the muscles which have become short in front of the arm and chest.  (The front muscles become short due to the arm being held in front of the body for so long.)

If you work with both hands in front (reaching or stretching) for long periods, your whole upper back can get overstretched and be uncomfortable.

So, how do the muscles in your low back become overstretched?

If you lose the nice Continue reading “Got Back Pain? Causes for the Pain in Your Back”

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What Causes Muscle Strain and Muscle Pain in Your Back?

If our muscles get out of balance – some too tense or tight, and others too loose or flacid – it is easy to have muscle strain.

Here is an example.  You may recognize this pain that lots of us experience:  The one on your back, between your spine and your shoulder blade.  If you are right-handed, it will be on your right side.

It feels like a knot, and almost feels like it is burning.  Do you know that pain?

Here is what happened.  The muscles in the front of your body, chest and arm, and probably your neck, become shorter and tighter.  This occurs because most of the time we hold our heads our arms in front of our bodies.   That makes the muscles in front become tight.

Unless you work to strengthen your back muscles, your tighter, stronger front muscles will win the body war.  They will make your body shorter in front and these shortened muscles will “pull” on the weaker muscles in your back.

Your back muscles are getting stretched because they are not as strong as your front muscles.  Your back muscles go into a type of contraction, or spasm, to keep from being damaged by further stretching.  The stretching strains the back muscles.

You feel the contraction as pain or burning.  Your body is complaining.  It says, “Please fix me!”

So, when an area is stretched for a long time, or overstretched, the result is muscle strain.

How can you fix this? Continue reading “What Causes Muscle Strain and Muscle Pain in Your Back?”

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Simple Strengthening Tip #1 – Neck Pain Relief

Do you have neck pain?

There are many causes for neck pain, but here is a very common cause and a simple strengthening solution.

Often our heads get “stuck” in a forward position.  This happens because of the way we hold our head for long periods.  The muscles both in front and in back of our necks can cause distress for us.

The front/side neck muscles attach from collar bone at the “notch” to our skull behind our ears.  The back neck muscles attach to our skull.

When we are in this “forward head” position, the muscles in the back of our neck can get weak and overstretched.

Here is a simple tip to strengthen the muscles in the back of our neck.  When these muscles are strong, they help us hold our head upright.

  1. Lie on your back.  Your bed is fine.  Use no pillow or the flattest pillow possible for your comfort (only if you absolutely need to.)
  2. Rock your head slowly by Continue reading “Simple Strengthening Tip #1 – Neck Pain Relief”
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Simple Strengthening for Your Shoulders to Relieve Shoulder Pain

All day long we are very often stuck in one position.  Our shoulders get tired and ache.

If we are a new mom, the position we are stuck in might be holding our baby.  If we work at a desk, it could be leaning over the desk.  If we are a mechanic or line worker or cook, it is using our hands in front of us all day while we look at our work or project.

So, our shoulders and heads get “stuck” in front of us.

Our poor back suffers as a result.  Muscles don’t like being in that position.

To lift your head, pretend a hook is pulling you skyward.  The hook is attached to your breastbone, near the top of your chest.

To do really nice things for your shoulders, lift them up and roll them back and down.  Since our shoulders are in front of our bodies all day, instead of out to our sides where they belong, moving them backward – toward our spine – is a good counter-move for them.

Lifting and rolling our shoulders back and down does several good things Continue reading “Simple Strengthening for Your Shoulders to Relieve Shoulder Pain”

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