Regular physical activity is vital for good physical and mental health. It helps improve your overall health and fitness, maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk for many chronic diseases and promote good mental health.
Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend that at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days is required for good health. This is the same for women and men. However, only 54 per cent of Australian women meet these guidelines.
Some of the barriers to physical exercise that women face include family responsibilities, body image and perceptions of safety.
Do you have headaches? Pain in your neck, shoulders and / or back? Do you activate the stabilisers in your neck correctly, to support your head?
Just like the lower back has spinal stabilisers, the neck has spinal stabilisers that perform the function of stabilising the vertebrae in the neck. This is to ensure the vertebra do not “jam” on each other and impinge the discs and nerves between each vertebra. It also allows the bigger mover muscles the opportunity to do their job, i.e. move the head, while the stabilisers do their job, i.e. provide spinal stability.
If our head is in the wrong position, it reduces the ability of the spinal stabilisers to activate correctly. Once this happens, the bigger muscles that are responsible for moving the head try to do the job of stabilising the neck as well as moving the head. This can cause headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain and even pain down the arms.
It is recommended everyone learn how to activate their deep neck flexors to help ensure the correct muscles are performing their roles at all times.
We should all try to assess and reassess our posture intermittently throughout each day to ensure we are in ideal posture, just so we don’t put unnecessary stress and load on muscles. We should also all know how to activate our deep neck flexors, to help ensure these muscles are doing their job i.e. stabilising the neck and helping to maintain ideal neck and head posture.
Everyone should know how to activate these muscles and do regular checkups on themselves to ensure correct technique.
By Kerrie Hains
Fitness Inside Out – Mobile Personal Trainer
Do you cross your legs when you exercise? Performing exercises with your legs crossed is really not recommended; if you want to prevent injuries. The reason is that, generally you will always cross your legs the same way. If you clasp your hands you will find that you want to do it with either the left or right hand in front. If you try to change it, it feels very unfamiliar, even uncomfortable.
It is the same with your legs. We generally do the same way each and every time, especially when exercising. If you have a close look at the spine in these two pictures you may notice in the picture on the left that the pelvis on the right hand side is slightly lower than the left. You may also notice there is a slight curvature in the lumbar spine toward the right.
In the picture on the right hand side, the legs are not crossed. The pelvis is showing relatively horizontal, and the vertebrae is showing almost vertical, as it should.
If you exercise with your legs crossed, and you cross them the same way every time, the risk of you ending up with a functional scoliosis (curvature of the spine) is quite high. Most exercises that we do with our legs crossed involve activating our core musculature; these include push ups, chin ups, crunches, to name a few. Consider the slight tilt in the spine, with repeated repetitions or long sustained holds of core muscle activation.
Try to get in the habit of not crossing your legs while you exercise to give your trunk it’s best possible chance at maintaining ideal alignment.