Health

Get strong for spring: 3 tips

CBC Health spoke with certified athletic therapist Elysa Graci for a guide to exercises to do at work to prevent injuries.

3 exercises to strengthen the core, glutes and mid back at work

CBC Health spoke with certified athletic therapist Elysa Graci of Toronto's Centre for Rehab and Wellbeing at Mount Sinai Hospital. 

1. Contract your core

Our cores are key to keeping us upright. The abdominals and surrounding core muscles prevent us from falling if we lose our balance.

Exercise for the core:

Throughout the day, focus on keeping the core contracted at around 40 per cent while sitting and standing.  Always keep it activated and keep it activated in a way that allows you to still expand your ribs and breathe. 

2. Activate your glutes

Studies show that proper gluteal muscle strength can prevent and heal injury and improve performance in fitness and sport. When we sit all day, we inhibit our glute muscles and weak glutes can cause injuries such as sciatic nerve pain, knee pain and hip flexor pain.

Exercise for the glutes:

While standing and walking, the glutes should always be slightly contracted.  Pretend you are squeezing a card between your buttocks. 

Chair squats are an easy way to activate the glutes between tasks at your desk.  Stretch your hands out in front of you and stand up from your chair and sit back down.  When you squat, make sure to place weight in the heels rather than the front of the feet to keep stress off the knees.  Repeat 10 times and try to do 3-5 sets per day.

3. Strengthen your mid back

These are the muscles that join the shoulder blades to your spine and they're also the muscles that round your back.  Without proper mid back strength, the daily hunching over computers, paperwork, and meals can lead to a slouch, a curved upper back or, ultimately, more severe issues like rotator cuff injuries or nerve problems in the upper body. 

Mid-back exercise:

When you find yourself in a "hunched-forward" position at your desk or while standing, practice the "W."  Keep both elbows by your side and create a "W" with your arms. This is achieved by rolling your shoulders towards the back of your body and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Pretend that you are trying to keep a pencil in place between your shoulder blades. This movement automatically opens up the front of your chest and shoulder joints. Practicing this posture will promote a full range of motion for the shoulders and help prevent problems.

With files from CBC's Natalie Ruskin

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