We all know exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. As someone who is also a recipient of upper cervical care, I understand you may be nervous about how to exercise while protecting your spine and holding your adjustment. How can you perform daily tasks like carrying groceries or picking up something heavy without affecting your alignment?
As a personal trainer, I’d love to help you understand how breathing properly and bracing your core can help you stay safe and hold your adjustment in both exercise and daily life. First off, let’s start with the basics. Have you heard of diaphragmatic breathing? This is when you breathe into your belly instead of your chest. Obviously you’re still using your lungs, but you should feel and see your belly expand instead of your chest and shoulders rise. This is important to do whenever you perform an exercise, like a squat, or carry boxes into your son’s new dorm room.
In fact, you should practice this type of breathing until it becomes a habit. If you feel tight in your chest and shoulders all the time, how you breathe could be the problem.
The technique we’re discussing can be applied to almost any type of exercise or lifting movement, but let’s simplify it by focusing on the squat. You squat multiple times per day whether you are working out or not. Protecting your spine while breathing into your belly should be your #1 goal.
Here’s a play-by-play of proper breathing technique for a safer squat:
1. With your feet facing forward, pretend like you’re lightly screwing them into the ground by twisting them out. Your feet aren’t actually twisting, but this activates your muscles to properly support your hips so your spine can stay aligned.
2. Next, squeeze your butt to put your hips and pelvis in a good position to support your spine.
3. Before you squat, you’ll want to stand up tall and try to ensure your head is over your heart, and your heart is over your hips.
3a. Open your chest and roll your shoulders back if you feel like you’re still slouching.
4. Brace your abdominal area like someone is about to punch you in the gut. This is called “bracing” and is crucial for protecting your spine.
5. Next, take a normal-sized breath using diaphragmatic (belly) breathing, while at the same time, keeping your core braced for the punch.
6. Hold that breath in and feel how it locks your spine in place. Hold it as you lower into your squat.
7. Exhale as you stand back up.
8. (Pro tip: think about squeezing your knees out as you stand back up)
If holding your breath on your quick descent down makes you nervous or lightheaded, you can always inhale on your way down, while bracing your abs for a punch and breathing into your belly. Exhale while standing back up. Following these steps will keep your spine locked in a safe place while doing things like picking up your kids or a bootcamp workout!
For most of us, belly breathing and bracing won’t come naturally, but your body and mind are brilliant. With some practice you’ll get the hang of these in no time, and you’ll start doing them on your own without even thinking about it! Practicing should improve your posture as well- hooray!
Protecting your spine and holding your adjustment are obviously priorities for upper cervical care patients. Exercise and healthy eating are also important factors to help your body function optimally, heal itself, fight inflammation and pain, and eventually reaching your goal of only seeing Dr. Chad quarterly!
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Check out my site here, and fill out the contact form on it if you have any questions!
Stay aligned my friends!