Exercise of the Month
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September 2016 – Hand Exercises
Make a Fist:
- Make a gentle fist, wrapping your thumb across your fingers.
- Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Release and spread your fingers wide.
- Repeat with both hands at least four times.
- Hold your hand out in front of you, palm facing you.
- Bend your fingertips down to touch the base of each finger joint. Your hand should look a little like a claw.
- Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and release. Repeat at least four times on each hand.
September 2014 – Ergonomic Exercises for the Office
Working in an office every day can take a serious toll on your muscle and skeletal health. To avoid getting sore and worn out, we recommend taking a stretch break every 20 to 30 minutes. Here are 5 exercises that you can do at the office to get you started.
1. SHOULDER ROLLS, forward-backward
- Begin with shoulders relaxed
- Pinch shoulders upwards towards ears; hold 10 seconds
- Press shoulders downward as far as possible, hold 10 seconds
2. CHIN TUCKS, backward
- Sit or stand with good posture
- Tuck chin backward without tilting head up
- Use hand on chin for extra stretch as needed; hold for 10 seconds
3. EAR TO SHOULDER STRETCH
- Sit or stand with good posture
- Keep face forward, tip ear toward shoulder, hold for 10 seconds
- Switch sides
4. STANDING BACK EXTENSION
- Place both hands firmly against hips
- Bend backward until you feel a stretch, hold for 10 seconds
5. FINGER STRETCHES, open-close fingers
- Open hand and fingers fully
- Close hand and fingers fully
- Repeat with arms in various positions
Once you master these, seek out new desk exercises to try, make up your own, or ask your physical therapist.
September 2012 – LUNGES!
Lunges are a popular exercise choice for lower body strengthening that require no equipment. Lunges are a multijoint movement primarily targeting the hips, glutes and thighs. Lunges are also extremely time efficient.
Basic lunge: Stand with your feet hip to shoulder-width apart, arms relaxed at your sides. Take a very large step forward while keeping your torso erect, and bend the knees, slowly lowering your trunk straight down. To help avoid over-stressing the knee joint, keep the front knee behind the toes and be sure to lower straight down rather than bring your upper body forward. After reaching the bottom of the movement pause only long enough to take in a breath, then push your body back up, placing emphasis through the heel of the front foot. Be careful not to lock the knees at the top of the movement. Beginners should avoid coming down too far toward the floor until they have established reasonable leg strength, and if you have knee problems, do not attempt until you have checked with your physical therapist.
For those looking for maximum range of motion, lower the hips so that the thigh of the front leg is parallel to the floor. The knee should be positioned directly over the ankle and foot pointing straight ahead. The back leg can be positioned in one of two ways. You can bend both knees to an approximate 90 degree angle, or if greater flexibility of the hip flexor is desired, keep the back leg straight but relaxed, while bending the knee of the front leg until you feel a gentle stretch.
Reverse lunge: Instead of taking a step forward, take a slow, controlled step backward.
Side lunge: A nice way to mix it up, side lunges target the inner thighs to a greater extent than traditional lunges. With this variation, you take a step to the side and lower your body by bending your knee, rather than stepping to the front or back. Once you feel a strong contraction on your outer thigh, step back to the starting point and repeat with the other leg.
- The lower your body travels in a lunge, the greater emphasis is placed on the glutes.
- If you have trouble keeping your balance while doing lunges, hold onto a sturdy chair or wall for support. Try to look straight ahead rather than down.
- If you are looking for a way to take it to the next level, hold onto dumbbells while performing the exercise. You can also elevate the back foot onto a low step or platform, which places more emphasis on the front leg. Placing the back foot on a small stability ball is also an advanced move, creating an additional balance challenge.
- The number of sets and reps performed will vary according to fitness level and goals. Generally speaking, 1 to 3 sets are recommended, and as many lunges per set as you can perform without compromising form.
- Never allow the front knee to go beyond the toe.
- Those with knee, hip or other lower body joint problems should consult with a physical therapist before attempting lunges, as they are not appropriate for everyone.
August 2012 – Static Neck Exercises
Your neck muscles function to move your head backward, forward and side-to-side and to rotate your head to either side (chin over shoulder). You can exercise your neck muscles by trying to move your head through these ranges of motion, but resisting with your hands so your head does not actually move. For example, to strengthen the muscles that extend your head, place your hands behind your head and try to extend your neck (look up), but resist with your hands so your head does not move; resist for at least five seconds before relaxing. You can perform similar exercises by resisting flexion, lateral flexion and rotation ranges of motion with your hands