As a sports therapist, I often meet flustered patients in the proverbial chronic pain loop. Their hours of exercise regime seems to be doing little to help them meet the physical challenges of daily living swinging them between more exercise to strengthen and more lay off time due to injuries. Here starts their tryst with different health professionals from orthopaedists to physical therapists , chiropractors to osteopaths. No one seems to be able to give them the pain free life they long for. If you are one among them, this post is specially for you.
Humans are designed to be mobile. Our bodies are wired to constantly interact with the gravity and help us counter it. We have evolved from hunters to gatherers to the modern desk bound man. If you have seen the pictures of ancient men the striking contrast to todays hunched world is an upright and heel down posture.
Why so? Are our exercise hours not helping us enough?
Modern world has emphasised a lot of forward bending like hunching over our computers, long sitting hours,holding the steering of the car, child carriers on the front. This has lead to overemphasis on the front group of muscles from our Pectorals, to rectus to hip flexors. These spinal curlers are overworking with practically no support from our back group of muscles “posterior chain” which are our deep spinal stabilisers. Our Rhomboids, errectors, obliques to transverse forming the spinal corset to help us counter gravity.
My posterior chain is weak, so what?
Curled spine will comperess the lungs reducing the oxygen supply to the system. There would be less room for the internal organs to move leading to a variety of problems like headaches, acidity, IBS.
I am already doing exercises and have no time to do more?
The classic question. Your exercises are a small part of your total movements during the day. A day of faulty movements can easily undo what is done as exercise after all the brain needs constant reinforcement of the desirable.
What is Foundation training?
It is the retraining of the long forgotten posterior chain muscles. They are activities done with breathing to exetend your spine. Good news is that they can be integrated seamless in yourregular day. Founders can be done at work, in the grocery store.
As a runner what is in it for me?
Running in itself is a whole body activity. Your posture during running is as important as your posture off it. A hunched spine will put more load on your lower back and knees that it is designed to take. A good foundation will help you enjoy the sport injury free.
Do the same foundation exercises work for all?
Each of us is unique and there is no one size fit all. A proper muscle mapping will help you understand yourself better and add postures specific to it. After all we are only as strong as our weakest link.
Hope this post has helped with the practical challenges faced by runners and others alike.
Stay happy stay strong.
Dr Anjanaa Balasubramaniam (MPT Sports, NASM-CES, DYED-Yoga therapy, DAC) is a sports physiotherapist and runs Recover Physiotherapy where she helps athletes rehab from injury and strengthen their foundation so they can perform better.