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3 Things You Should Do Everyday

By Kyle Torrance | in Training | on June 17th, 2014 Here are a few things you should be working on daily.  They aren't difficult or time no excuses! 1. Deep Squat Before I talk about the why and how, it's important to clarify that when I'm referring to the deep squat I'm talking about an unloaded squat vs. a loaded squat (barbell, kettlebell etc).  Remember that in a loaded squat we want to minimize the amount of spinal flexion and and posterior pelvic tilt (aka the butt wink) to lessen the amount of compressive forces on the spine.  Our depth therefore in a loaded squat will be dictated by these factors (which can be corrected to a degree depending on one's anatomy).  In an unloaded squat however, we can allow ourselves to sink a bit deeper. Why should you do this on a daily basis? Because you were born with this ability and should be able to do continue throughout your lifetime! Unfortunately, the typical North American sedentary lifestyle has lessened our ability.  Sitting in a deep squat regularly will help you to maintain good hip flexion mobility (ability to sit deep).  It has also been shown to help with vertical jump, hamstring and quad development, as well as glute  activation and hip extension torque. (1,2) What to do: Get in your squat position and allow yourself to sink all the way to the bottom while maintaining weight in your heel.  Once again it is ok if there is some spinal flexion because you are not  loaded.  Hang out for 30 seconds to start.  Each day, try to increase to time spent in the bottom position.  Your eventual goal should be stay for 10 minutes in the squat. photo 1 2. Breathe This one seems pretty obvious!  If you're reading this post and your not light headed there's a good chance you're breathing! What I'm referring to are specific breathing techniques that require focus and concentration.  Like so many of our movements, we do it without paying much attention.  But, like a squat, when we really focus on what we should be feeling, what muscles should be engaged and where, then we can start to perfect the movement. Breath control is essential in maintaining the integrity of the torso while under heavy loads.  In order to adequately stabilize the spine, the abdominals, thoracic and surrounding areas must be pressurized (3). There are a couple instances where this stabilizing is often done improperly. One is when sucking the abdominal muscles inward which (will actually reduce midline stability), and the other is when excessively pushing the abdominal muscles outward (which can put us into an hyper-extended position in the lumbar region and anterior pelvic tilt). Ideally, what we want is the action of breathing to be 'circumferential' and 'cylindrical' so that we are building a broad base and evenly 'filling' all sides of the trunk(4), not just the front or back. What to Do: Place your hands at your sides and find the bottom of your ribcage.  Place your thumb so that it wedges in underneath your last rib.  Note your hands should be at your sides, not your belly or your back.  Take deep breath in and try to push your thumbs out from under your ribs. If you only breathe through your chest, or only push your belly out, your thumbs will not move. Perform 10 of these deep breaths daily. photo 2 3. Glute Squeeze It's not surprising that with so many people spending the majority of their day sitting on their butts and not actively engaging them, that their glutes do not function optimally. The glutes are one of the most powerful muscle groups in the body and help to protect the SI joint, low back, knees, hamstrings, and the front of the hips, from pain and injury. (5,6)  One study showed that when people who had suffered a spinal cord injury regularly performed glute contractions they increased the usage of their glute muscles during gait and allowed them to walk faster. (7) What to do: Stand with your feet just outside shoulder width, pointing slightly out.  Squeeze your butt for 30 seconds as hard as you can.  Perform this daily to improve your overall glute function. photo 3 There you have it!  Three simple exercises that will take no longer than 4-5 minutes and will go a long way to improving your overall body function inside the gym and out! References:
  1. Caterisano A, Moss RF, Pellinger TK, Woodruff K, Lewis VC, Booth W, Khadra T. The effect of back squat depth on the EMG activity of 4 superficial hip and thigh muscles. J Strength Cond Res. 2002 Aug;16(3):428-32.
  2. Bryanton MA, Kennedy MD, Carey JP, Chiu LZ. Effect of squat depth and barbell load on relative muscular effort in squatting. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Oct;26(10):2820-8.
  5. Barker PJ, Hapuarachchi KS, Ross JA, Sambaiew E, Ranger TA, Briggs CA. Anatomy and biomechanics of gluteus maximus and the thoracolumbar fascia at the sacroiliac joint. Clin Anat. 2013 published ahead of print Aug 20.
  6. Hossain M, Nokes LD. A model of dynamic sacro-iliac joint instability from malrecruitment of gluteus maximus and biceps femoris muscles resulting in low back pain. Med Hypotheses. 2005;65(2):278-81.
  7. Govil K, Noohu MM. Effect of EMG biofeedback training of gluteus maximus muscle on gait parameters in incomplete spinal cord injury. NeuroRehabilitation. 2013;33(1):147-52.

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