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An Ohio licensed Physical Therapist, TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor and K-vest Level one certified instructor providing simple exercises for golfers that empower them to train without pain.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Getting in Gear!

"Train, don't strain"

Just like pedaling a bicycle uphill in the wrong gear, Physical training must be geared to your fitness level.  

So, before you begin any training program, understand that you need to start slow and keep in mind that there is no truth to the concept of "no pain, no gain". 

In fact, if you are having pain beyond stretch pain that doesn't go away within a few minutes of completing an exercise, you need to stop. Find a sports medicine M.D. and/or physical therapist that can advise you in the best way to advance through your program. Please consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Okay, so I want to strengthen my core...where to begin? 
Physical therapists often incorporate 'pelvic stability' exercises into their treatments. First of all,  keep in mind that  much of our belly bulge is actually the fatty omentum that covers our midsection organs. Tightening up the abdominal muscles will do  little to change this. Only a  sensible diet combined with exercise can effectively reduce these fat stores.

However, it is  nonetheless possible to
strengthen the abdominal wall throughout your day in very simple ways. Years ago, I was advised that when traveling on the highway, tighten my abdomen every time a semi trailer passes in the oncoming traffic. However, with increased truck traffic, this became a daunting and exhausting proposition.

The point is to do a series of isometric contractions that engage your pelvic floor muscles or 'cutters' and abdominal muscles with five second holds throughout your day. Use any system of reminders that seem reasonable.

'Cutters' or pelvic floor muscles are those that some of you are using right now as you sense that you have to go to the bathroom, but want to finish this  long running sentence before you do.....(go now!)

A pelvic tilt is sometimes referred to as "tightest jeans" because you tighten the same muscles as if you are sucking in your abdomen to button your tightest jeans.

Another description of this pelvic tilt is to place both of your thumbs in your belly button and your other fingers around your belt. When you tilt your pelvis backward, you tighten up your abdominals in a way that brings your fingers at your belt and your thumbs at your belly button toward one another.

Isolation, isolation, isolation

Just like the most important thing about real estate is location, the most effective way to strengthen specific muscle groups is to isolate them as much as possible.

When performing sit ups from a laying position, it is important to flex your hips as far as possible while your feet remain planted on the floor*. This places your hip flexors in a shortened position, reduces the strain on your lower back and helps to isolate your abdominals as you perform a partial sit up.

*this may also be performed on a bed

Next, with your arms crossed in front of you, simply and slowly raises your head and shoulders from the floor. Breathe out slowly as you lift and inhale deeply once you return to a flat position.  

Keep in mind that all you are wanting to do is tighten your abdominal muscles, so it does not matter how far you raise up as long as your abdominal muscles are tightened.

If it is too difficult to do this with your arms crossed in front of you, rest your arms at your side.  At first, if your abdominal muscles are very weak, start with 5-10 repetitions to minimize muscle soreness 

Add one repetition every third day until you get to 15.

Now, congratulate yourself, drink some fruit juice and put it in neutral!
Next time, Lord willing, we will be looking at a little more of the core as it relates to spinal stability or what some refer to as 'stack and tilt'.

Until then, 

Have a Great Game!

Steve McMurray MPT, CGFI (aka Mr Stiv)

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