Monthly Archives: March 2015

Technology is Affecting Your Spine

unnamed
The era of technology has changed the way we communicate with each other. Text messaging on cell phones is a common way that people are communicating. What we don’t realize is how detrimental this could be to our neck, shoulders and back. Whether you are spending time on your phone text messaging or even reading on your tablet you are assuming the forward head posture.

The average head weighs approximately 10 pounds when it is in neutral position (ears over shoulders) and every inch that your bring your head forward you are changing the alignment and increasing the pressure on your spine.

Prolonged forward head posture can lead to neck strain which can include muscle imbalance, muscle tightness, headaches, muscle spasms, and nerve irritation. Also, staying in a slumped over position is not favorable for your lungs or internal organs. Test yourself try taking a deep breath while hunched over and then when sitting up straight. How do you feel?

Here are tips to help avoid forward head position:

  1. Make a conscious effort to know where your head is in space, your ears should always be in line with your shoulders.
  2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together
  3. Use a docking station
  4. Sit with your feet flat
  5. Take frequent breaks from your phone or tablet, if you have to set a timer to reminder yourself.

Some things you can do to alleviate symptoms in your neck, upper back, and shoulders.

  1. Chin tucks or Cervical Retraction (try making a double chin)
  2. Cervical Rotations (looking from side to side)
  3. Shoulder Shrugs
  4. Shoulder Blades Squeezes
  5. Chest stretches
  6. Going for a 15-20 minute walk without your phone or tablet.

Technology will continue to evolve which will keep us more connected, but in the mean time it can cause us to have more negative affects from over use. Try to be mindful and take a break for your cell phones, tablets, and other hand held devices in order to protect your spine.

by: Rita Zimmermann, LPTA/CLT

Back to Health

Chiropractic PainSpine Health: Making sure your back bend is not a back break

A healthy body is essential for healthy dancing. Spine health is not only important for injury prevention, but also important for improving your technique, strength, endurance, and quality of dance.

 

Core

Your core protects the spine and keeps your back healthy. Many dancers think of the core as the abdominal muscles (“abs”). The abs are one part of the core. The core also includes the back muscles, the abdominal muscles that wrap around the side of your waist, your hip muscles, and your buttock muscles. All of these muscles contribute to your core. Importantly, strengthening these muscles helps with your control. This means your extensions are able to be held higher and longer, your balance is better, your turns increase, and your artistry improves.

 

Outer Hip Leg Lift

One of my favorite core exercises focuses on the outside hip muscles. No matter what physical activity you do, you will tend to have muscle imbalances. Dancers work their turnout, so often times the other hip muscles are under-trained. You lie on your side, controlling your waist so you are not arching or tucking. Then, lift the top leg. It is best if you can bring the leg behind you in extension a few inches and turn it in just a little. I think of touching the toes of the moving leg to the arch or heel of the grounded leg. You should feel this working the muscles in the outside of your buttock/hip. You should not feel it working the muscles in your groin or hip flexor area – that means your leg is coming too far in front. Make sure to do both sides evenly.

 

Plank

Another favorite core exercise is planks. This is essentially a push up position that is held in place. It can be held either on the hands or the elbows/arms. Keeping a straight spine without arching or tucking under and not allowing your pelvis to move upward (which makes it easier) is important. Your body should be in a straight line. Ninety seconds is a good goal for a plank. Once you feel confident with your plank, add a side plank. Again, make sure your body is in a straight line and exercise both sides evenly.

 

Bridge

A bridge (also known as a half bridge) can also help strengthen your core muscles. Lie on your back with your feet on the ground and your knees bent up, arms by your side. Press your feet into the floor or exercise matt, lifting the hips upward so your weight is on your feet and shoulders. You are now in the bridge position. You then roll down from that position as you exhale and contract.

 

Technique

A strong core leads to a healthy spine. A healthy spine also comes from correct technique. At a young age, when they have less core development, dancers often arch their backs. This is for many reasons, but it can lead to injury. Teachers help their dancers correct this technique error, but sometimes dancers over correct an arching issue and end up tucking. Similar to a contraction, the dancer tilts the pelvis forward, often at the bottom of a demi or grand plié.

The correct alignment is to keep the spine neutral through a plié without arching or tucking. A correct plié influences a neutral spine just as the converse is true: a properly aligned spine produces a quality plié. Teachers at auditions may look for spine alignment and correct use of the core muscles. This is because how dancers use their spine can reveal potential information about their level of control, movement quality, and core strength.

 

Conclusion

Core cross training helps protect the spine, but it also helps your quality of dance. It is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain the positions required in dance technique without strength. While dance technique alone builds strength, it also builds imbalances, like any other physical activity. Adding a few core exercises can improve your health and your artistry. Happy, healthy dancing!

 

by: Dr. Kathleen L. Davenport, M.D.

Specialization in Young Athletes May Not be a Good Idea

Assorted sports equipment on blackAll of our athletic families, or those that show an interest in sports, would like our youth to become the next LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers, Derek Jeter or for the young women they could perform like Britney Griner, Kerrie Walsh, or Lindsey Vonn. The reality is this…DO NOT over do one sport early in their development. Specialization or sport specific training too soon can hinder their growth not only in sports but general health.

Sports all contain their own set of movement patterns which can lead to overuse injuries to their under-developed structures and soft tissue, not to mention one sport does not fully engage the young athlete’s nervous system. By letting them participate in multiple sports or activities, this will help prevent wear and tear at an early age and stimulate their nervous system, thus helping to prevent injuries. Having your child participate in a training program is a great idea but it does not, and should not be too specific to one sport. It should be to develop an overall athletic base, and prevent injury.

Finally, LET KIDS BE KIDS! Do not let them focus on one sport or activity. Let them explore their boundaries and let’s face it, if sports are your kid’s thing, playing multiple sports will benefit them when they decide on the one they enjoy most.

 

By: Rocco Ferraiolo PTA, NASM certified, USA-L1SP