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Sister Hermeta Saved My Soul and My Spine

Tall Kneeling Core Stabilization Training

During my parochial grade school education,  I was taught how to kneel in church.  Eyes forward, hands together, spine tall, and no leaning on the pew.  You maintained the kneeling posture for extended periods of Father Furlong’s mass.  I believe the good sisters were on to something.  Despite every one of them being well past 100 years of age, they all possessed excellent posture and remarkable mobility.  As a physical therapist, I am convinced that a daily dose of sustained kneeling helped keep the Felician Sisters in fighting form.  I have some tall kneeling training suggestions you can add your fitness routine.

Get to Know Kneeling

Many people will benefit from some sustained tall kneeling.  Protect your knees by placing an Airex pad under your knees.  In and ideal situation, you will have a mirror for feedback on posture and alignment.  Keep some space between your knees and line the feet up with the knees.  Pull the head back, lift the chest, and reach the top of the head to the sky.  Many people have difficulty getting into a fully upright position in kneeling.  The most common problem is a forward lean at the hips accompanied by complaints of tightness in the lower back and front of the thighs.  Holding a pvc pipe or dowel overhead while performing some deep breaths can help reduce muscle tone in the hips and torso.   Perform two or three, thirty second holds at every training session for the next six weeks

Tall Kneeling Pallof Press

The tall kneeling Pallof press is an anti rotation core stability exercise that helps recruit the postural muscles that keep us upright and tall.  Lack of isometric strength-endurance in the spinal muscles is a primary contributor to back injuries.  This exercise will improve that component of spinal function.

Place your knees on an Airex pad and set up in kneeling position.  Use either a cable unit or resistance tubing set at a level even with your sternum while you are in the kneeling position.  The tubing should be directly to your right and slightly behind the body.  Use a double overlap grip on the handle and hold at chest level.  Press the tubing out to arms length and then back to the chest.  Select a resistance level that permits execution of fifteen repetitions without losing the set up posture.  Rest and then repeat on the other side.

Tall Kneeling Anti Extension Holds

The pelvis is a bowl and the torso rests on the top of the bowl.  You need a pelvic position that makes stabilization of the torso over the pelvis effortless and automatic.  The tall kneeling isometric hold aligns your pelvis under the torso.

Kneel on an Airex pad.  Hold a kettlebell, dumbbell or Iron Grip Plate behind your back.  It is difficult to prescribe a load.  Twenty pounds may be too easy and five pounds may be too much.  My suggestion is that you err on the lighter side of the load equation.  Stay in the loaded kneeling position for at least thirty seconds.  Lower the weight, walk around, and take inventory of how you feel.  Repeat for another thirty seconds.

See video demonstration of these exercises: here

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

We all want fitness results, and we want them now.  We want to look, move, and feel better in two weeks.  We know it took us years to get into this overweight, weak, and deconditioned state, but we have a wedding in three months, a reunion in six weeks, and a date next Friday.

Unfortunately, many of the physical problems that slow our progress toward specific fitness goals will not resolve with two or three exercise sessions a week.  Postural deficits, faulty motor control, mobility limitations, and joint restrictions require daily attention to elicit any meaningful change.  Short bouts of focused training, interspersed throughout the day, will produce the best results.  In physical therapy rehabilitation, we prescribe home exercise programs that are performed up to every two hours to reduce pain and restore function.  Fitness clients will more rapidly reach their goals with some daily Nano Sessions of exercise.

Nano Office Session

A rounded shoulder, forward bending thoracic spine posture is delivered free of charge with your new smart phone.  This posture has become nearly universal, and it brings with it a gigabyte of shoulder, neck, and head pain problems.  Fitness training at the gym often feeds into this postural problem- sit ups, crunches, spin bike, heavy bench texting, etc…  Combine this with an eight hour office day of computer entry and number crunching and you create a postural deterioration feedback loop that needs a killer app.  This Nano Training session can help.

You will need a resistance band or tubing and a doorway.  It takes daily training to eliminate postural deficits.  Perform this program twice a day. Two or three gym workouts a week are not enough.  I understand you can set an alarm on your smart phone as a reminder that it is time to stand up and move through your Nano Session.

Doorway Stretchoffice_nano

Office workers perform so many tasks with the arms forward and head down that they develop restrictions in the muscles in the front part of the shoulders and chest.  Use a doorway stretch to reverse this adaptive shortening.  Stand up with the elbows placed just below shoulder level against the doorjamb.   Step one foot forward through a doorway.  Hold a gentle stretch for ten seconds and then lower the arms and rest.  Perform two or three ten second stretches.

The stretch should be felt across the front of the shoulders and chest.  Go easy.  Stop at the first point you feel a stretch.  If you are grimacing in agony, then you either have a shoulder problem or you are being too aggressive with the stretch.  As the stretch gets easier, try working the elbows higher up the doorjamb.

Postural Band Aid

One of the most convenient and easy to perform postural correction activities is an exercise I call the postural band aid.  This exercise takes less than thirty seconds to complete and can be performed at any work sight.  Take a short length of tubing or resistance band and stand up.  Assume a tall posture with a proud chest and the head pulled back.  Hold one side of the band in each hand and keep the elbows by the sides.  Pull the band apart so that your arms form a letter W with your body.  You should feel a tightening of the muscle between your shoulder blades.  Hold the band apart for three counts and then slowly release back to the starting position.  Repeat for eight to ten repetitions.

To view video demonstration of the above exercises, click on the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmUoUKzPr9k&feature=youtu.be

-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

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