Early Morning Riser

 

Looks like my body is beginning to get into the habit of rising in early mornings. You can’t blame me because I live close to the ocean and parks. In hot and humid Florida. During summer.  It’s relaxing  to greet the rising sun ( so long as no rains, thunder and lightning, hurricane are in the horizon). Once I ran without checking the weather and boy did it rain and lightning were so severe I won’t do that again!  Nowadays I include weather checks before running.  And also, as a PT, I don’t want to make the impression I limit all my exercises to running. I subscribe to the ‘wholeness of body’ principle. I don’t believe in ‘specializing’ in one activity only. I mix and match everything that involves cardio vascular, endurance, strength, balance, stretching, pain control or relief, injury prevention, mental/spiritual health. These are all involved in the well being of man. So  -- walking, running, swimming, cycling,  pilates, yoga, gardening/yard work, resistance training, stretching, meditation/contemplation, relaxation -- are all healthy activities for me.  Note that I refrain from using the word ‘exercise’ in my retinue because exercise is a big and daunting words for many. Exercise is associated with  time, gym, consistency, maximum effort and lots of people, let’s face it, don’t want it. Allow me to limit the use of the word and be more specific.

 

A few activities I indulge in nowadays are landscaping, beach walking, running and beginner’s core strengthening. Now,  pilates nowadays is practiced left and right and I think one has to get certified by a Professional before he can claim the title Pilates Instructor. I am not a Pilates instructor alright but I have my own ideas about core strengthening that can be similar to Pilates. Go to Pilates instructor if you have the money and resources but for me, a simple core workout will suffice. Core involves the center of the body that is most susceptible to injuries because

  1. Abdominal muscles are constantly stretched and weakened by obesity (increased circumference) while back muscles are constantly contracted to keep  our bodies upright when standing, sitting or working.

  2. Some conditions such as stroke, surgeries, abdominal hernia, pregnancy, sedentary lifestyle, beer belly (LOL), back injury (most common) among many can lead to core weakness or core imbalance.

  3. Heavy focus on extremities (arms, legs) and chest during gym visits make people forget about core strength, and if they remember it,  tends to overdo the crunches and leg raises and abdominal/obliques/back  machines without sufficient warm ups and preparation thus leading to soreness and avoidance of these exercises.

 

These are only a few of the reasons I can think of right now that can lead to core weakness. And core strengthening is one of the most important components of whole body health. Whether you sit in your office, work  with patients, in construction, electrical or plumbing, teaching, preaching, modeling, acting, dancing, standing in retail, cooking, almost any work requires core strength. The real precursor of back pain is not twisting or bending or lifting, it is the core muscle weakness or more precisely, core muscle imbalance. We tend to overuse our back muscles and letting go of our abdominal/oblique/transverse musculature in our daily lives. Well, to keep upright, we normally use our core strength in a balanced way. But between poor posture and the kind of work we do, we tend to overuse the back muscle more than abdominal. With that said, it takes only one false move and the whole core snaps and next thing you know you are in an MD office while he orders Xrays, MRI,  pain meds and Physical Therapy or Chiropractor’s visits for you. That will start your lifetime agony of  not dependence on narcotics. Worse you may end up with back surgery.

Basic Core