Sitting in our office cubicles, what novelist Douglas Coupland called "veal-fattening pens," basically turns us into gargoyles: our bodies learn to hunch forward to read glowing screens from computers and phones.
Trainer Bonnie Smith of Fit for One Design in Newport Beach, Calif., is always looking for ways to get clients to reverse this trend. One example is a modified crunch using a weighted ball.
Here's how it's done:
Sit on the floor with a small (about eight-inch) squishy stability ball behind you.
Lean back a little until the ball is in the small of your back.
Put your hands together in the "prayer" position.
Pull your abdominal muscles in tightly.
Lean back about five inches, then rise forward again. Hold for a count of three.
Lower down again, only this time twist to the right. This activates the oblique muscles, on the side near the waistline.
Now twist all the way to the left.
Twist back to the right again, and resume the forward movement. Hold again for a three-count.
"This allows you to do the crunch in an upright position, without putting a lot of pressure on your back, because remember, when we do crunches (normally) we draw the shoulders forward," Smith said. "So we're trying not to do that. We want to work on posture, always.
"A lot of people have lower-back issues, so by having the support of the ball you can do a little bit more."
-- The Orange County Register