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Back on track

Stretches, strength exercises can help restore body's balance

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óè Non-overweight/obese individuals sit on average 150 minutes less in a day when compared to the overweight/obese.

óè This means non-sitters can burn about 500-plus more calories in a day just through general movement (not including scheduled exercise).

óè That 500-plus calories can easily translate into one pound of weight-loss a week when paired with a healthy diet, and they didn't even set foot in a gym.

I hope everyone just got up and walked around for a few minutes.

RECAP: We divided the body into front and back halves and spoke at length about the muscles of your front half. Every time you sit, the muscles of your anterior chain are shortened. Over the course of weeks, months, years -- heck -- decades of sitting, this causes muscle contractures that require significant stretching and often other types of therapeutic intervention to return them to normal length.

But what about the other half of your body? Your muscles get lazy.

When you sit, the muscles of your posterior chain (the entire back of your body) become lengthened and lazy. The most notable of these muscles are your gluteal (buttock) muscles and your shoulder blade stabilizers. All this means that if you are someone who sits for extended periods of time and then does activities such as lifting and bending, which require your posterior chain muscles to fire, they are less ready to do so. Because they've been dormant for so long while sitting, you will recruit them less efficiently, and it is these muscles that prevent most types of back and shoulder pain.

Most people are under the impression maintaining a strong abdomen is the key to a healthy back, and while your core muscles are important in this function, they require strong muscle groups above (shoulder blades) and below (gluteals) to do much of the work and take stress off your lower back while lifting and bending.

So how do we activate these muscle groups? By using them more often. Simply getting up out of your chair every once in a while and activating your glutes and shoulder blade stabilizers can go a long way in helping how well they fire when needed.

In the gym, performing more (2:1 ratio) posterior chain strength exercises when compared to anterior chain will help them stay strong, and even more importantly help them fire properly in the everyday situations in which you require them.

In our online video this week, we have assembled several options for anterior chain stretches and progressions of posterior chain strength exercises that can help restore balance in your body. When patients present with these issues, this is often my first course of action before trying more intricate therapeutic interventions. Often, guidance and basic exercise are all that is needed to remedy the issue. As always, you need to keep it simple and perform exercises that are at your ability level. When in doubt, speak to your therapist or personal trainer for an individualized exercise plan and "just get out yo' seat and jump around!"

Tim Shantz is a certified athletic therapist and personal trainer.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 26, 2013 $sourceSection0

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