Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Common Core

The Common Core

girl_eating_watermelon.jpg
Core Strength and Regular Chiropractic Care
When you begin a core muscle strengthening program, it's important to ensure that your spinal biomechanical structures are functioning at their optimum. Proper functioning of your spinal vertebras is especially significant in the context of core muscle strength. The presence of spinal misalignments causes tightness of small muscle groups that connect adjacent vertebras and of large muscle groups that connect spinal regions such as the mid back and low back. Muscle tightness leads to pain and persistent tightness leads to pain that may last for days, weeks, or months. Core muscle strengthening becomes very difficult in the presence of such tightness and pain. In fact, when spinal misalignments are left uncorrected, attempting to perform core exercises may even cause injury.
By detecting, analyzing, and correcting spinal misalignments, regular chiropractic care helps restore normal biomechanical function to your spine and, correspondingly, to the rest of your musculoskeletal system. As a result, regular chiropractic care helps you get the most benefit from your core strengthening activities and helps you become healthier overall.
Core strength is critical for everyday activities such as placing heavy grocery bags into the trunk of your automobile, carrying a gallon jug of milk from the refrigerator to the dining room table, and even walking to the mailbox. When your core strength is diminished, even bending over to pick up a pencil may result in a serious spinal injury. Weakened core musculature causes simple, daily physical activities to be problematic. When standing up from a seated position or getting into a car causes you to experience twinges in your back, you may be sure your core muscles are not working in the manner for which they were designed.
Your core muscles consist of the four abdominal muscles – the transversus abdominis, internal obliques, external obliques, and rectus abdominis – and back muscles such as the erector spinae, longissimus thoracis, and multifidi. The most important core muscle may be the transversus abdominis, a sheet of horizontally oriented muscle that lies underneath the other abdominal muscles and provides deep mechanical support to the low back and pelvis. Similarly important are the multifidi, a group of small, powerful, deep spinal muscles that interconnect pairs and series of vertebras.
In times past, when the concept of work meant actual physical labor, there was no need to pay attention to training the core. In those days, your core muscles were being trained all day long by lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling loads with heavy resistances and/or bending, digging, hoeing, planting, and raking. Working on a farm or in a factory provided more than sufficient exercise for the core. But in today's developed world, farming and manufacturing jobs have been greatly reduced and the large majority of work is done in the so-called service sector. In the 21st century, people living in developed nations spend the largest portion of their day sitting at a desk. In such circumstances the core musculature will weaken drastically, unless specific attention is paid to training these muscles.1,2
The good news is that a wide variety of exercises are available for training the core. Most of them require no equipment. Many of them may be done at home and do not even require a gym membership. For example, yoga provides thorough and complete exercise for core muscles. Self-motivated persons might only need a yoga DVD and a yoga mat, minimizing financial cost and doing their yoga training at home. For others, taking yoga classes at a gym or yoga center might be more appropriate. But yoga is only one possible solution. Numerous highly efficient core exercises may be done on a physioball. Dynamic exercises such as the plank provide substantial core benefit and the only equipment requirement is a mat. Other dynamic exercises include squats, gluteus bridge, lunges, jumping jacks, and the grapevine.
When you spend the time to make sure your core musculature is strong, daily physical activities begin to be done with ease and grace. Back pain and other mechanical aches and injuries fade into memory.3 The overall result is a body that works efficiently and optimally. Thus, a strong core helps provide for a lifetime of health and well-being.

1Kumar T, et al: Efficacy of core muscle strengthening exercise in chronic low back pain patients. J Back Musculoskel Rehabil  2014 Dec 2. [Epub ahead of print]
2Granacher U, et al: Effects of core instability strength training on trunk muscle strength, spinal mobility, dynamic balance and functional mobility in older adults. Gerontology 59(2):105-113, 2013
3Huxel Bliven KC, Anderson BE: Core stability training for injury prevention. Sports Health 5(6):514-522, 2013

Climbing the Hill

Climbing the Hill

cardio-respiratory exercise
Regular Chiropractic Care and Healthy Exercise
Regular vigorous exercise is critically important for retaining and maintaining optimal good health. But injuries may happen, disrupting our plans and best intentions. It's difficult to prevent random injuries, which by definition occur without cause or warning. One key to prevailing in your long-term exercise program is to minimize the likelihood of injury by maximizing your fitness potential.
Preventable, rather than random, injuries are often caused by tightness and/or imbalance of muscles that support spinal movement and spinal weight-bearing. These muscles include the erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, longissimus thoracis, and longissimus cervicis. These spinal stabilizers assist in all forms of exercise and their optimal functioning is required for any maximal effort. By identifying and correcting misalignments of spinal vertebras, regular chiropractic care helps ensure full and free movement of these important spinal muscles. As a result, regular chiropractic care helps you and your family get the most benefit out of the time you spend exercising, helping you to improve your long-term health.
Climbing a hill is a useful metaphor for activities involved in accomplishing a major goal, overcoming longstanding obstacles, or achieving a noteworthy milestone. But you must be prepared to engage in such a climb. Striking out without a metaphorical map, compass, bottle of water, or raingear will consistently result in limited success or actual failure. From a health and fitness perspective, climbing a hill may represent a real, concrete process. When you're out on your daily walk or run, unless you live and train entirely at sea level you're going to encounter changes in elevation. If you live in mountainous regions such as Southern California or along the Appalachian Trail, such variations in terrain require greater levels of aerobic capacity. Unless you want to spend your exercise time huffing and puffing, climbing a hill in the literal sense necessitates a high level of cardiovascular fitness.
Cardiovascular fitness may also be termed cardiorespiratory fitness.1 Such fitness refers to heart and lung capacity. With increased cardiorespiratory fitness, your heart's stroke volume increases. In other words, your heart pumps more blood with each beat than it did prior to attaining such fitness. More blood pumped per beat means your heart works less to achieve the same result. Your heart becomes more efficient, your blood pressure goes down, and your cells and tissues receive more nutrition more quickly.2,3 Similarly, with increased cardiorespiratory fitness your lungs take in more air with each breath. Such increased lung capacity means more oxygen is available to cells and tissues more quickly. Your entire cardiorespiratory system becomes more efficient. You're expending less metabolic energy and obtaining greater metabolic returns. Cardiorespiratory fitness substantially improves your overall health.
Attaining the goal of cardiovascular (cardiorespiratory) fitness involves the same type of thoroughness as that involved in achieving family and business-related goals. You plan your work and then work your plan. Interval training is a proven method of enhancing cardiovascular fitness, a method that is both mentally and physically challenging. Accomplishing your interval training goals also provides a great deal of fun and personal satisfaction.
Interval training involves alternating intense and slow periods of activity. Let's say you run three days a week, you average approximately 12 minutes per mile, and you run 3 miles per day. Now you'll substitute one interval training day per week for one of your regular running days. On your interval training day, you'll begin by lightly jogging 1 mile. Then you'll run 1/4 mile at 2:45, that is, slightly faster than your regular 3-minute per 1/4 mile pace. You'll continue with 1/4 mile at a very light recovery pace. Next, you'll repeat the sequence of fast (2:45) 1/4 mile followed by the slow recovery 1/4 mile. Repeat the sequence once more, add 1/2 mile of lightly jogging cool-down, and you've run your daily 3-mile quotient. Going forward, you may infinitely vary your interval training sequences, running 1/2 mile, 3/4 mile, and 1 mile interval distances at slightly faster than your race pace. You'll get faster gradually as your cardiovascular fitness and aerobic capacity increase. Within 6 months of engaging in consistent interval training, climbing hills may seem no more difficult than running on flat ground. Not only will you have become much more fit, you will have made tremendous gains in overall health and well being.
1Lavie CJ, et al: Exercise and the Cardiovascular System: Clinical Science and Cardiovascular Outcomes. Circ Res 117(2):207-219, 2015
2Myers J, et al: Physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness as major markers of cardiovascular risk: their independent and interwoven importance to health status. Prog Cardiovasc Dis 57(4):306-314, 2015
3Nayor M, Vasan RS: Preventing heart failure: the role of physical activity. Curr Opin Cardiol 2015 Jul 3. [Epub ahead of print]