The human head weighs about a dozen pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.
That’s the burden that comes with staring at a smartphone — the way millions do for hours every day, according to research published by Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine. The study will appear next month in Surgical Technology International. Over time, researchers say, this poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.
“It is an epidemic or, at least, it’s very common,” Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, told The Washington Post. “Just look around you, everyone has their heads down.”
Can’t grasp the significance of 60 pounds? Imagine carrying an 8-year-old around your neck several hours per day. Smartphone users spend an average of two to four hours per day hunched over, reading e-mails, sending texts or checking social media sites. That’s 700 to 1,400 hours per year people are putting stress on their spines, according to the research. And high-schoolers might be the worst. They could conceivably spend an additional 5,000 hours in this position, Hansraj said.
“The problem is really profound in young people,” he said. “With this excessive stress in the neck, we might start seeing young people needing spine care. I would really like to see parents showing more guidance.”
Medical experts have been warning people for years. Some say for every inch the head tilts forward, the pressure on the spine doubles.
Tom DiAngelis, president of the American Physical Therapy Association‘s Private Practice Section, told CNN last year the effect is similar to bending a finger all the way back and holding it there for about an hour.
It’s a risk for some 58 percent of American adults who own smartphones.
Michelle Collie, a doctor who heads Performance Physical Therapy in Rhode Island, told CNN last year she started seeing patients with mobile technology-induced head, neck and back pain some six or seven years ago.
Poor posture can cause other problems as well. Experts say it can reduce lung capacity by as much as 30 percent. It has also been linked to headaches and neurological issues, depression and heart disease.
“While it is nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that cause these issues, individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine and to avoid spending hours each day hunched over,” according to the research.
Speaking to TODAY, Hansraj gave smartphone users tips to avoid pain:
- Look down at your device with your eyes. No need to bend your neck.
- Exercise: Move your head from left to right several times. Use your hands to provide resistance and push your head against them, first forward and then backward. Stand in a doorway with your arms extended and push your chest forward to strengthen “the muscles of good posture,” Hansraj said.
“I love technology. I’m not bashing technology in any way,” Hansraj told The Post. “My message is: Just be cognizant of where your head is in space. Continue to enjoy your smartphones and continue to enjoy this technology — just make sure your head is up.”
written by Lindsey Bever
We are creatures of habit. How often do you walk into the cardio room at the gym and hop on the same piece of equipment, work at the same intensity and duration? Doesn’t it get boring? If it’s boring for you mentally, it’s boring for your body and you excess body fat stays put. Having to consistently do the same thing every single day is far more of a mental challenge than anything else.
I challenge you to challenge yourself and try workouts that you know you will not be good at in the beginning. The Abhaya Wellness Challenges are about fighting the demons in your mind that make you doubt yourself. The process of trying and putting forth the effort will reap rewards mentally and physically. Your mission is to try something new, something you wouldn’t normally try because you think you either can’t do it or because you don’t think you will be good at it.
The Abhaya Wellness June Challenge is Jumping Rope. Just 5 minutes with the rope can ignite your metabolism, improve your speed, balance, coordination and help you burn unwanted body fat.
Choose a lightweight jump rope. I purchased mine at Walmart for under $6. Weighted jump ropes are excellent for advanced jumpers. To find the right length place the rope under both feet while standing. The handles should come up about 4-6” below your collarbone.
When you jump your shoulders should be relaxed, the swinging motion comes from the wrists not the arms. Look forward. Have a slight bend in your knee, keep your abs contracted (jumping rope is a great core exercise), and bounce off the balls of your feet. You should only come about 1-1.5” off the ground. It may take a bit of practice, and may be frustrating in the beginning, but don’t give up. Once you get the hang of it, jumping rope will be a lot of fun.
If you are having trouble getting the hang of it, just pretend. Lightly bounce off the balls of your feet and move your wrists as if you have a rope in your hand. After all, the rope doesn’t burn the calories, your movement does.
For those of you who may find basic jumping rope a bit boring, feel free to mix up your jumping patterns by alternating your feet, double foot jumping, single leg hop, lateral jumping, high knees and kicks, etc. Get creative and challenge yourself!
This challenge is more than just about doing something different every day, it is about pushing yourself to consistently improve. To become better as the days go on. You are going to have days where you’ll want to take it easy and you may not have the energy to go all out. You will have days where your rhythm will be off and frustration strikes. That’s ok. Don’t get discouraged. Do your 5 minutes of jumping rope the best you can. Tomorrow is a new day. The important thing is to NOT QUIT. Always finish your 5 minutes.
As long as you are jumping rope for 5 minutes every single day, you are doing great. If you do happen to skip a day, don’t try to make up for it the next day. That’s not the point of this challenge. Instead, just focus on the next day.
Every single day for 30 days, you will jump rope for 5 minutes trying to achieve as many jumps as possible. The goal is to be consistently dedicated to your own improvement.
Jumping rope is a perfect form of interval training. By performing jump rope intervals in a circuit fashion with strength training exercises, you can get so much more out of your workout. You can strengthen and tone your muscles while keeping your heart rate up, which means you burn a lot more calories in less time.
When you perform short bursts of high intensity training your body releases a higher level of human growth hormone (HGH). This hormone helps regulate metabolism, burn fat, and build lean muscle. Adding intervals into your routine can help break though plateaus and reach your fitness and physique goals.
An added bonus is that cardio intervals mixed in with strength training can help reduce soreness by increasing circulation and flushing lactic acid from your muscles.
Remember when it comes to fitness you must keep challenging yourself. Never settle and continue to only do what you’re good at. If it’s easy for you, it’s easy for your body to hold onto energy stunting your fat loss goals. Take on the challenge and make your weaknesses your strengths.
One of the best exercises for you, whether you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight (or both) HAS to be the squat. However, it’s also one of the most difficult exercises to do properly unless you actually know what you’re doing.
Squats work practically every single muscle in your body. Okay that’s an exaggeration, but it’s not far from the truth. They effectively work most of the major muscle groups of the butt, hips and thighs. Squats are also a versatile exercise. They can be done in almost any location, with or without the use of weights or equipment. Squat exercises are great for a total lower body workout.
Squats obviously help to build your leg muscles (including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves), but they also create an anabolic environment, which promotes body-wide muscle building.
In fact, when done properly, squats are so intense that they trigger the release of testosterone and human growth hormone in your body, which are vital for muscle growth and will also help to improve muscle mass when you train other areas of your body aside from your legs
If you’re looking to burn fat, you want to do exercises that trigger as much of your body as possible so it’s all getting worked and exercised. One of the most time-efficient ways to burn more calories is actually to gain more muscle! For every pound of additional muscle you gain, your body will burn an additional 50-70 calories per day. So, if you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you will automatically burn 500-700 more calories per day than you did before.
Muscles used when doing Squats: Primary Muscles: Erector Spinae, Gluteus Maximus (glutes), Quadriceps, Hamstrings – also including the tendons that make up the borders of the space behind the knee. Secondary Muscles(Synergists/
Squat exercises thoroughly engage the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles, which helps to tone and strengthen the legs. Slowing the motion down makes the workout that much more intense. Doing squats gives the glutes a powerful workout, helping to tighten and lift the butt. To increase this effect, give your glutes an extra squeeze when returning to a standing position.
Squats engage the core muscles of the body. Abdominal and back muscles are needed to keep balance during the movement. The result is a tighter, flatter abdomen and a stronger lower back. Make a conscious effort to hold in your abdominal muscles while squatting down to increase this effect.
Here are more reasons why you should include squats to your workout routine:
- Functional Exercise Makes Real-Life Activities Easier Functional exercises are those that help your body to perform real-life activities, as opposed to simply being able to operate pieces of gym equipment. Squats are one of the best functional exercises out there, as humans have been squatting since the hunter-gatherer days. When you perform squats, you build muscle and help your muscles work more efficiently, as well as promote mobility and balance. All of these benefits translate into your body moving more efficiently in the real world too.
- Maintain Mobility and Balance Strong legs are crucial for staying mobile as you get older, and squats are phenomenal for increasing leg strength. They also work out your core, stabilizing muscles, which will help you to maintain balance, while also improving the communication between your brain and your muscle groups, which helps prevent falls – which is incidentally the #1 way to prevent bone fractures versus consuming mega-dose calcium supplements and bone drugs.
- Increases Joint Flexibility Doing squats increases joint flexibility. The ankles, knees, hips and lower back are all utilized in the squatting motion. Be sure to maintain proper form to avoid injury. If you feel any pain in these areas, stop doing the exercises until the pain is gone.
- Prevent Injuries Most athletic injuries involve weak stabilizer muscles, ligaments and connective tissues, which squats help strengthen. They also help prevent injury by improving your flexibility (squats improve the range of motion in your ankles and hips) and balance, as noted above.
- Boost Your Sports Performance — Jump Higher and Run Faster Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a mom who chases after a toddler, you’ll be interested to know that studies have linked squatting strength with athletic ability.1 Specifically, squatting helped athletes run faster and jump higher, which is why this exercise is part of virtually every professional athlete’s training program.
- Tone Your Backside, Abs and Entire Body Few exercises work as many muscles as the squat, so it’s an excellent multi-purpose activity useful for toning and tightening your behind, abs, and, of course, your legs. Furthermore, squats build your muscles, and these muscles participate in the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity, helping to protect you against obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Help with Waste Removal Squats improve the pumping of body fluids, aiding in removal of waste and delivery of nutrition to all tissues, including organs and glands. They’re also useful for improved movement of feces through your colon and more regular bowel movements.
How to Do a Common Squat Exercise
- Stand with your feet hip width apart.
- Tighten and pull in your abdominal muscles.
- Lower your body as if you were going to sit in a chair. Keep the motion slow.
- Stop when your legs are parallel to the floor.
- Stay in this position for a few seconds.
- Now press down onto your heels and slowly rise back up to a standing position.
- Be sure to rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.
Once you’re comfortable with doing squats, you can increase the difficulty by adding weights. Try holding dumbbells at shoulder level or use a barbell across your shoulders.
Adding weights to your squat routine engages the muscles of the upper body, essentially giving you a full body workout in one exercise. You can accomplish this with the use of a barbell, dumbbells or a weighted vest. When adding weights to your routine, start with lighter ones and build as your strength increases.
You can also use one dumbbell; hold it in front of you with both hands while squatting. It’s especially important to maintain proper form when using weights. Keep your knees aligned with your feet and don’t squat beyond the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Adding squats to your routine is a must. Squat exercises are a motion that your body uses often in real life. Whenever you bend down to pick something up, you’ll be thankful that, because you participated and completed the Abhaya Wellness 30 Day Squat Challenge, you’ll have the strength and flexibility to get the job done.
Maintaining a strong core is important at any age; balance, posture and back health have been linked to core strength. Your core is the vital “foundation” of all your body’s movements, whether you are walking, carrying a heavy bag or playing a sport.
Most people think of the core as a nice six-pack, or strong toned abs, but the truth is that the abdominal muscles are a very small part of the core. The abs have very limited and specific action, and what experts refer to as the “core” actually consists of many different muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis, and run the entire length of the torso. When these muscles contract, they stabilize the spine, pelvis and shoulder girdle and create a solid base of support. When this happens, we are able to generate powerful movements of the extremities.
The core muscle group includes all of the muscles that are located in your torso that keep your body stable and balanced.
These muscles help control movements, transfer energy, shift body weight and move in any direction. A strong core distributes the stresses of weight-bearing and protects the back. It takes many different muscles working together to keep your body well-aligned during different daily activities.
It’s easy to assume that when we are moving, our extremities are doing most of the work; the opposite is true; most of the movement starts at the center and moves outward. A solid and stable core will help ensure that your movements are strong and pain free.
I’m guilty of thinking that our extremities do most of the work. I’m a very active person; biking, hiking, running and swimming. I twisted my hips towards the end of my race season and I refused to stop and rest and pull out of my races. But after my race season was over, I had no choice but to rest and take it easy and let my body heal and realign my hips.
After a few months I started training again, but my legs felt so weak. I focused on strengthening my legs because my way of thinking was the body part that doesn’t stop during a triathlon are the legs. Because I was swimming so much more than the previous years, I assumed my core was being strengthened through swimming. I became a stronger runner and swimmer last season, but to my surprise I struggled with biking. I thought maybe it was because I was focusing too much on the running and swimming and I neglected biking, but the more I biked, the harder it was. I did everything I could think of to change things on my bike, I even contemplated buying a new bike. But I realized I was struggling on the spin bike, stationary and recombent bike too. I felt not just frustrated, but defeated.
I want to be better at biking. But almost everything I researched went on about the legs and very little about the core. I was speaking with my co-worker who is a physical therapist, the first thing he said was I needed to focus on stabilizing and strengthening my core. He said my legs aren’t the problem, it’s my core. After a brief and simple conversation, it suddenly all made sense. Because the muscles of the trunk and torso stabilize the spine from the pelvis to the neck and shoulder, they allow the transfer of power to the arms and legs. All powerful movements originate from the center of the body out, and never from the limbs alone. Before any powerful, rapid muscle contractions can occur in the extremities, the spine must be solid and stable and the more stable the core, the most powerful the extremities can contract.
Finally understanding the importance of both stability and strength of the core has lead me to do further research and the reason why I decide to put this article together.
Building a strong core takes more than doing crunches and sit-ups. It is important to find the right balance between developing core stability and core strength. In doing so, you work both the deep internal muscles and the superficial muscles. They train the muscles in your pelvis; lower back, hips and abdomen to work together in harmony.
A great exercise to start with that focuses on both stability and strength is the plank.
It is not as difficult as it looks. You can do this, and so can I. You will do this, and so will I.
Stabilizing and strengthening our core muscles will not only improve our balance, stability and posture, but it will also improve our functional activities such as our everyday simple tasks of household chores, carrying grocery bags and tying our shoes. It will also alleviate back pain and discomfort as well as improve athletic performance of all levels.
I hope this has intrigued you enough to want to make an improvement in your everyday life. Please feel free to contact me if you need help getting started or if you need more advanced core strengthening and stability exercises. I will be more than happy to help you get started.
Contributor, writer and information gathered by Sonia Petriello
Drinking water in general is a good idea, as the body benefits from proper hydration, and consuming water will help the kidneys and other organs process the various substances which move through the human body on a regular basis. Water is important because it makes up about 60 percent of your body. According to MayoClinic.com, water is used for a variety of functions in the body, such as moistening tissues and protecting internal organs, dissolving nutrients to be absorbed by the body, lubricating joints and regulating body temperature. In addition to the functions listed above, water helps the kidneys flush out waste products as well as help in oxygen transport to the cells of the body.
The human body needs water on a daily basis, and the amount depends on the body composition of the individual as well as the activity level. According to MayoClinic.com, water is lost daily through perspiration, breathing, urine and during bowel movements. Proper body function requires replenishment of the water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.
Why does your massage therapist always tell you to drink plenty of water?
Massage can be dehydrating. The manipulation of the muscles dehydrates them and moves around the fluid, in the interstitial spaces between the muscles. During a good massage, the muscles are stimulated, blood is circulated throughout the whole body and water, salt and other materials are released. Just like when you exercise, you lose water and electrolytes. You feel squishy as a sponge, but you need to wet those cells.
It’s not just important to drink water to lubricate the muscles and the organs, but the Fascia as well. Fascia is a thin sheath of fibrous tissue enclosing a muscle or other organ. Think of the fascia as a pantyhose for the muscles and organs. The example I love to give my clients is to envision a package of raw chicken breasts. When you open the package, everything is wet, moist and sometimes you see a clear sheath on the breast. Take the chicken and put it on a plate and leave it there for about a day. It completely dries up and it when you hold the chicken breast in your hand, it almost feels like it is constricted, tight. That’s what is most definitely happening to your muscles when you don’t drink enough water and most definitely why you are experiencing a muscle spasm, tightness, cramping or discomfort.
Drinking water before a massage will make it easier for the massage therapist to perform deep work by hydrating the muscles so they are easier to manipulate. Drinking water before a very deep massage treatment will also help to alleviate any soreness you may have after the massage.
There are primary reasons for people to drink water after a massage. The first has to do with substances released by the muscles as the massage therapist manipulates them, and the second has to do with ensuring that the muscles of the body are properly hydrated.
Drinking water after a massage helps the body flush out any accumulated materials in the muscles which were released during the massage. Massage stimulates circulation in the body while expressing water, salt and other minerals from the muscles, and circulation is designed to carry away waste materials generated by cells. By providing the body with plenty of water, massage clients can help sweep away these waste materials; otherwise, they may build up, causing muscle aches and soreness after a massage.
Other reasons why you should drink water:
- Helps to maintain the balance of body fluids
- Can help to control calories
- Helps to energize muscles
- Helps keep the skin looking good, younger
- Helps in digestion and constipation
- Improves the Immune System
- Relieves Fatigue
- Can help minimize the frequency of headaches and migraines.
Drinking beverages where “water” is a main ingredient does not count. If you use the excuse that you hate drinking water because it is so boring and there is no flavor, then add the flavor. There are so many ways to make your water tasty by adding slices of cucumbers, lemons, limes, strawberries, orange slices, raspberries, watermelon, just to name a few. Your water will never be boring. Drinking water can only do your body good, so drink up!!!