Archive for Fitness

Opening up your mid-back

Today’s lifestyle of computers, smartphones, driving, and television promotes poor posture, forward tilt to the head, forward rounding of the shoulders, and rounding of the upper back. Being in this posture can affect the ability of the thoracic spine to move, which can lead to a malady of compensations down the road. Neck, shoulder, and lower back are just a few of the aches and pains that can come from an immobile thoracic spine.

The side-lying torso rotation stretch is a great exercise to open up the thoracic spine while protecting the lower back. To perform the stretch you need a foam roller and some sort of pillow or head support. Begin by lying on one side, make sure your shoulders are stacked on top of each other and are aligned with your head and hips. Place your top leg on top of the foam roller with your thigh flexed to 90 degrees. Your bottom knee should be flexed to 90 degrees and your bottom thigh should be in line with the rest of your body. Extend your top arm up into the air and you are ready to begin.

Take a deep breath through your nose and then exhale through your mouth, while you gently rotate your head and look over your shoulder. While turning your head your arm begins to reach back toward the floor. Remember your head begins the motion, not your arm. As you rotate, make sure your top leg stays in contact with the foam roller. This protects the lumbar spine. Continue to exhale through the entire stretch and go to the tension, not through it. The movement should take you approximately 4 seconds back into the stretch, hold for 2 seconds and then 3 seconds back to the start. Repeat for 4-6 repetitions. With each rotation, you should feel like you get a little deeper into the stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.

Try adding it to your flexibility routine and see how much difference it makes. It is an exercise we can
do every day!

Mike Locke
Fitness Directo

½ Kneel Wall Upper Spine Mobility

Our mid-thoracic spine (mid-back) is a very mobile joint. It allows us to rotate our shoulders, twisting left and right. The ½ Knee Wall Upper Spine Mobility exercise is great for helping us maintain the motion in this area of the spine.

To perform the exercise, place a pad next to a wall to protect your knee on the ground. Kneel down on the pad in a ½ kneel position parallel to the wall. One knee should be up at 90 degrees and the other knee down at 90 degrees on the pad. The raised knee should be the one away from the wall.

Take a yoga block, turn it lengthwise, and place it against the wall and your hip. You should be close enough to the wall to trap the block between your hip and the wall. This forces your hips to be still during the exercise.

Place the palm of your hand (arm nearest the wall) against the wall parallel to the ground. The thumb should be pointing down. Image the numbers on a clock 9-10-11-12-1-2-3. To begin the motion, take a breath and then exhale as you rotate your head to look over the shoulder nearest the wall. Move your palm and arm around the numbers on the clock. Your palm should not lose contact with the wall and your arm should remain straight. Only go as far as your range of motion will allow. Do not force the motion. Return back to the starting position and repeat 10-12 times then switch to the opposite
side.

This exercise is especially good for those of you who play golf, racquetball, pickleball, and other rotation type sports and activities.

If you have questions on how to perform this exercise properly please speak to one of our personal training staff.

Mike Locke
Fitness Director

Quadrupled Hip Mobility

Our hip joint structure is meant to be mobile, tilting forward and backward, hiking left and right, and rotating in all directions. Sitting more frequently or for longer periods of time during the day can affect the hip’s ability to move optimally. Lack of mobility dramatically affects how your lower body moves and can affect your spinal function. Done on a regular basis, hip mobility exercises can make a huge impact on your hip’s ability function. One of the easiest positions we can perform exercises for hip mobility is a quadrupled position or simply put, on your “hands and knees”. This is the developmental position that we learn to crawl in prior to learning how to walk. Quadrupled position helps you maintain spinal positioning while moving the pelvis, thus adding core strength benefit. Here are some of the exercises you can perform in the quadrupled position to increase the mobility of your hips and pelvis.

Quadrupled starting position:
Start with your hands on floor with fingers pointed forward and wrists aligned under your shoulders in a straight line. Keep your spine in a neutral position with a normal lumbar curve. Your knees should be directly under the hips in a straight line and your feet should be flexed forward.
1. Pelvic anterior/posterior tilts – While maintaining spinal position, tilt your pelvis forward then backward. Increasing the arch to the lower back then flattening the lower back as you “Tuck your Tail”.
2. Pelvic lateral tilts, or “wagging your tail” – While maintaining alignment, shift your pelvis left and right just like a dog would wag its tail.
3. Pelvic circles; both clockwise and counter-clockwise – While maintaining alignment draw a circle with your pelvis like you were doing the “Hula” or a “Hula Hoop”.
4. Rocking forward and backward – Starting in the quadruped position, rock your hips back toward your heels then reverse directions and take your shoulders past your hands.
5. Rocking diagonally left and right – In the starting quadrupled position, rock your hips diagonally back toward your right heel and then reverse back to your left shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side.
6. Rocking circles clockwise and counter-clockwise – Starting in the quadrupled position, take your hips in a rocking circular motion clockwise right to left. Repeat in a counter-clockwise motion.

Try performing one set of 10-20 repetitions in each direction while trying to maintain spinal alignment. Performed on a regular basis a few times a week you should begin to notice a difference in your hip mobility. Great to do first thing in the morning, prior to exercise, or after extended bouts of sitting.

If you have questions regarding alignment or how to perform any of these exercises please see one of our BAC Personal Training Staff.
Mike Locke
Fitness Director

ACU Mobility Ball

The ACU Mobility Ball is one of our latest soft tissue tools that we now sell in the Cordata Pro Shop.

Meet Sean White

Sean WhiteSean White, moved to Bellingham from Elburn, Illinois to attend WWU. For those of you not familiar with Elburn it is a suburb west of Chicago. Sean attended DePaul University for two years prior to transferring to WWU where in 2017 he obtained his BS in Kinesiology. He will be attending graduate school this fall and will be a graduate assistant in the Kinesiology Dept. at WWU. Sean is a certified personal trainer, CSCS, through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. 

An avid hockey player and snowboarder from a young age, Sean also enjoys playing golf and is a car enthusiast who loves working on his car. Being from the Chicago area he is a diehard Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, and Cubs fan. Sean tries to take in Cubs games at Wrigley field when he is home during the season.

Howard, Sean’s 3 ½-year-old retriever/hound mix, keeps him company and on the go with his boundless energy.

After his post-graduate studies are over Sean hopes to see how he can meld the physical therapy and strength coach fields into a career path.  Sean working with members of all ages and abilities.

Foam Rolling

Benefits of Foam Rolling:

  • Improves flexibility for a short duration but when done on a regular basis improves long-term flexibility.
  • Improves range of motion.
  • Evidence to suggest assists in post-activity recovery to reduce muscle tissue soreness.
  • Duration should be 20-30 seconds per muscle group for 3-5 sets.
  • Frequency should be 3-5 times per week performed on a consistent basis to achieve and maintain long-term results.
  • Can be performed prior to activity, during activity, or after activity.

Meet Cindy Olavarri

Cindy graduated from the University of California with a B.A. in Physical Education, a Secondary Teaching Credential, and a M.A in Exercise Physiology. She is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a Health/Fitness Instructor and Advanced Personal Trainer. Cindy had a very active childhood, fishing, backpacking, and playing baseball and basketball with her brothers. She ran track and cross country in high school and at the University of California. She was also a member of the first women’s crew team at U.C. Berkeley.

After college, Cindy competed in bicycle racing and was a member of the U.S. National Cycling Team. She competed in four World Cycling Championships and won the silver medal in the pursuit in the 1983 World Championships in Zurich, Switzerland. She also won three U.S. National Championship titles.

Cindy has worked in the fitness industry for over 30 years in a variety of capacities. She has been a personal trainer, fitness director, physical therapy aid, and college cross country coach. Cindy loves working one on one with clients of all ages helping them navigate the challenges of life with a healthy, active lifestyle.

In her spare time, she enjoys running, weightlifting, walking her dogs Lucy and Che, and working in her yard.

Equalizer Dip

Take two Equalizers and place them side by side. Stand in between the Equalizers then bend down and grasp the foam portion of each handle. Place both feet outside the Equalizers just on the other side of the front feet. Knees are bent and the arms should be straight. Lower your body down between the equalizers
by bending the elbows. Make sure not to lower yourself down any further than 90 degrees of your upper arm. Extend your arms lifting your body back up then repeat. In this position you may if needed use your legs to assist you.

“The Stork” Outer Gluteal Activation

The “Stork” is a static hip exercise for strengthening and activating the lateral Gluteals, Gluteus Medius, Gluteuas Minimus, and the Piriformis muscles. This set of external hip rotators are responsible for abducting the leg out away from the body, rotating your leg outward, and stabilizing your femur at the hip. Non-activity and injury can cause this group to become weak which can affect the overall performance of your hip complex, affecting your gait and in some cases cause knee, hip, and lower back pain.
A static exercise like the “Stork” means that the exercise requires you to hold the position for a set duration, much the same as an isometric where the limbs and joints do not move but the muscles are contracted. The duration can be as short as 10-20 seconds to as much as 30-60 seconds depending on the prescription.
To perform the “Stork” take an inflatable balance disc, foam pad, or even a moderately firm pillow and place it against the wall. Turn sideways to the wall so that your shoulder is next to the wall with your feet about shoulder width a part. Lift the leg closest to the wall and trap the disc between your lower thigh and the wall with your leg not quite 90 degrees. Stand tall and put your wall side hand on the wall for balance. Begin by driving your body into the disc with you outside leg. Your wall side hip should not touch the wall. Keep the outside leg straight throughout with the body tall. Hold for the prescribed duration and repeat on both sides 2-3 times. Please see our BAC Personal Trainers to learn more about the “Stork”.

“Standing Donkey Kick”: Glute Activation

The Static Hip Series is called the “Donkey Kick”. The “Donkey Kick” is a static hip exercise for strengthening and activating the Gluteus Maximus and the Hamstrings. The Gluteus Maximus and the Hamstring muscles work in concert with each other to extend your hip. Extremely important muscles for gait in walking and in running. Injury and inactivity can dramatically affect the performance of these two groups which in some cases may cause modifications to gait and running mechanics, increasing the chances of injury and or pain.
A static exercise like the “Donkey Kick” means that the exercise requires you to hold the position for a set duration, much the same as an isometric where the limbs and joints do not move but the muscles are contracted. The duration can be as short as 10-20 seconds to as much as 30-60 seconds depending on the prescription.
To perform the “Donkey Kick” take a “Ballast Ball”, Stability Ball with sand material in the bottom, or a regular Stability Ball. Note that a “Ballast Ball” has a little more stability that a standard Stability ball. Pin or trap the ball at the base of a wall, a corner works even better as the ball will not roll around as much and you have a wall to stabilize and balance yourself with. Turn your back to the wall and the ball and then place the sole of one foot against the ball. Your support leg should be far enough forward, that the knee of the foot that is on the ball is slightly behind the front leg. Standing tall drive the heel of the foot on the ball into the ball. You should feel a contraction in the Gluteus Maximus and hamstrings. Hold for the prescribed duration and repeat on both sides 2-3 times. Please see our BAC Personal Trainers to learn more about the “Donkey Kick”.