Why you should swap sit ups and crunches for these core exercises

Jan 22, 2020
 

When you want to exercise your abdominals or core, it’s common to turn to sit ups, crunches and twists. After all, these are the exercises we’ve all been taught for years. And yes, perhaps you’ll see some benefits, providing you’re doing them correctly. But there is a trade-off – sit ups, crunches and twists can actually cause damage to your spine. 

There is a better way, however, and in this tutorial I show you how. 

What’s the problem with sit ups, crunches and twists?

There has been a tendency in the fitness industry over recent years to focus on body building techniques for core training, and even for rehabilitation. That is focusing on muscles individually and working them hard to strengthen them. But this is not how our bodies are design to work. We don’t use one muscle at a time, we use combinations of muscles to perform particular movements. This means that when we isolate a group of muscles to train them, we are in danger...

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How to build new and habits and changing them part 2

Jan 02, 2020
 

You may have heard a theory that it takes 90 days, or 10,000 hours to change a habit. While there is some truth in that, there is another level to changing habits, and that is 'deep practice'.

In a health and fitness context, deep practice can be applied to various objectives; from losing body fat, to improving fitness or refining sports skills. The repetition involved in deep practice begins a process known as 'myelination', which can be seen as the coating to an electrical wire, and allows the electrical signal which is sent when the brain 'fires' during an activity and allows it to move quickly, lending itself to a higher degree of accuracy in behaviour.

As we begin to repeat something, it allows us to refine a skill. So where does the development of a new habit come in? In fact, rather than directly coming from repetition, we can credit it to something which very few people like to do - making mistakes. Expose yourself to making a mistake - because it gives you the opportunity...

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How to build new and habits and changing them part 1

Dec 12, 2019
 

There are plenty of ways in which we are able to build and change habits, and this certainly applies in a health and fitness context. But before looking at exactly which methods lend themselves to positively altering our behaviour, it is fruitful to examine the science which goes on behind it. What exactly is happening in our body when we change a habit?

First, let's run through three definitions:

Central nervous system

The central nervous system comprises of the brain and the spinal cord, from which the peripheral nervous system stems.

Neuroplasticity 

This refers to the brain's ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections as life develops and changes.

Myelination

Neuroplasticity is enabled by myelination - myelin is physically the fatty white substance which surrounds the axon of nerve cells. 

So, when we change habits on the inside, myelination refers to what happens when these connections occur, which gradually become stronger...

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7 ways to begin injury proofing your lower backĀ 

Nov 28, 2019
 

When it comes to injury, your lower back is particularly vulnerable due to the number of moving parts in the area and the amount of weight it has to bear. If you’ve ever experienced lower back pain, you’ll know how debilitating it can be. That’s why protection is the name of the game. By learning more about the way you move and putting the right habits in place, you’ll be able to safeguard the health of your back for a long and active future.

In the above tutorial, I share the top seven things I recommend you start doing immediately to protect your lower back and guard against pain. In summary: 

1. Train movement over muscle 

When you head to the gym for a workout, I’ll bet many of the activities you include in your session are about training your muscles to make them bigger and stronger. Your lower back will be better served if you turn this on its head and start training or practising movements instead. This may not feel like traditional...

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Lordosis stretch to help loosen tight hip flexors

Nov 14, 2019
 

A good lordosis stretch should lengthen the hip flexors, here is a good one to use that gets more than one of the hip flexors. Lordosis in an exaggerated curve in the lumbar (lower) part of the spine. It happens because the some of the muscle of your hip become tight and stiff. By using the right lordosis stretch can help a lot and with the right exercise you can begin to reduce how tight and stiff these muscles are.

Watch the video for correct technique points

Making sure you do this lordosis stretch is key a factor when correcting lordosis. There are many muscles around your hip that it affect and a change in posture can change the muscle that is being stretched. In a video before this one you learnt a stretch that is very similar. By lifting the foot from the floor you change the muscle that is being stretched.

How hard should I stretch?

As you do this lordosis stretch make sure you feel the stretch and not to the point that you are in lots of pain. Feeling too much pain when you...

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What's your opinion of non-specific low back pain? Dr Stuart McGill

Oct 30, 2019
 

The niggling lower back twinge or pain is often difficult for many health professionals to not only diagnose, but to also recommend an exercise regime that will help alleviate the pain and get to the root cause of the issue.

These types of back pain issues are sometimes referred to as non specific low back pain, but what does that term actually mean? In order to try and find an answer, the question was posed to Dr Stuart McGill, who has some very interesting views and rejects the “non specific” part of this description.

He says, ”If you have ever been told that you have non specific low back pain, then it is my opinion that there is no such thing, that is, unless you have already undergone a thorough assessment, that has involved provocative testing. By provocative testing, I really mean testing that involves the finding of motions, postures and loads that have actually caused the pain and contribute to make it feel worse. Once a good part of the cause has been...

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How do I fix spondylolythesis and what are good exercises?

Oct 17, 2019
 

Spondylolythesis, a condition that people tend to ask me about fairly regularly, occurs when one of the vertebrae in the spine slips out of alignment causing pain that worsens with movement.  

I talked about the condition and what you can expect to achieve through exercise in the blog What is spondylolisthesis and what should your goal for exercise be?  In this tutorial I take it a step further looking at more specific stretches and exercises that could help the condition.

How to ‘fix’ spondylolythesis?

I’m a personal trainer, so I’m not going to talk about surgical options here, instead I want to focus on exercise. Can exercise fix spondylolythesis? The answer is it’s not likely to fix it, but it can have massive benefits for the sufferer. Exercise won’t realign the vertebrae, but the right exercises can help to build muscles to reduce stress on the spine and protect and support it, helping to reduce pain. 

You may even find...

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What is spondylolisthesis and what should your goal for exercise be?

Oct 03, 2019
 

What is spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis is a condition of the spine. It occurs when one of the vertebrae
slips out of alignment and rests on the bone, or disc, below it. It usually impacts the
base of the spine, but the issue can occur further up. The condition may be caused
by damage through trauma or fracture, or simply by genetics.


Spondylolisthesis can cause moderate to severe pain and may affect movement or
quality of life. The good news is that the condition is often treatable, and exercise
can help.


Should you exercise with spondylolisthesis?


Suffering with spondylolisthesis shouldn’t have to stop you doing anything you
want to do, as long as you’re taking care. It is not just about the types of exercises
you should or shouldn’t do, it’s about how you go about those exercises and being
mindful of what you’re trying to get out of them.


What should your goal for exercise be?


Before you rush off to do the high intensity workout, it’s important...

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How much exercise should you be doing with Scoliosis?

Sep 19, 2019
 

Scoliosis is a curve of the spine, presenting as either a single, ‘c’, curve or double, ‘s’, curve. Scoliosis can impact people in different ways depending on which part of the backbone, or spine, is affected.

This spinal curve can occur at any age and in some sufferers can cause severe pain, particularly if the rib cage becomes twisted causing breathing difficulties, or where muscles are tight.

Should I exercise with Scoliosis?

If you have Scoliosis you may feel that you can’t or shouldn’t exercise. Perhaps because you’re worried it will hurt or you’ll cause further damage.

And while this could be true for traditional fitness exercises, there are therapeutic exercises – those that focus on rehabilitation - that could help to improve your symptoms as long as they’re carried out in the right way.

I often find that those who come to me with Scoliosis are nervous of exercise and, where the condition has occurred late on, feel...

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7 Ways To Begin Injury Proofing your Lower Back

Sep 05, 2019
 

Do you suffer from lower back pain? Or have you in the past? Chances are if it’s the latter you won’t be in a hurry to repeat the experience.

 

Debilitating and frustrating in equal measure, low back pain can impact your everyday and affect your sleep too, leaving you feeling miserable and exhausted.

 

The good news is it’s never too late to put in place a few good habits to protect your spine, strengthen the muscles around it and ultimately reduce the chances you’ll pick up a lower back injury.

 

In the video above you’ll find seven ideas that you can put into place straight away – so what are you waiting for?

 

Build resilience to prevent injury from everyday movements

 

You may be conscious about hurting your back when you’re playing a sport or working out, but often you’ll find it’s the ‘normal’ movements like bending to pick up a Lego brick or twisting awkwardly to get into the car, that...

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