7 Alternatives to Squats That Are Safer But Just as Effective

There’s no doubt about it. Squats can provide an exceptional full-body workout when they’re done the right way—one that strengthens the body’s core as well as the legs and arms. However, they’re also notoriously hard to do correctly, especially for beginners.

This is a particular problem with squats because doing them the wrong way (with poor mechanics and/or too much weight) can put a sudden, unhealthy strain on the shoulders, lower back and knees. And since many people don’t have a trainer or knowledgeable workout partner spotting them, it can be difficult to know when good form is starting to go bad. Plus, if something does go wrong, the instinct to rebalance an unstable load can cause serious injuries.

Why are squats so hard to do properly? They’re actually a lot more complicated than they look. One website lists 15 different things that need to be done right for a squat to be performed correctly.

Fortunately, there are alternatives that work many of the same muscle groups and are less likely to undo what your chiropractor has already fixed.

Single Leg Glute Bridge

  • Start by lying on your back with knees bent
  • Extend one leg up, squeezing the glutes and lifting the hips as high as possible
  • Pause, lower and repeat without letting your butt hit the ground during repetitions

Hydrants with Leg Extensions

  • Start on all fours with core engaged to keep back straight
  • Lift one knee up and out to the side (This is where the hydrant name comes from.)
  • Extend leg out toward the back
  • Return to start

Bridge

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and hip-width apart
  • Raise your back slowly off the floor, thinking one vertebra at a time
  • Tighten your glutes and hamstrings and rise until there is a diagonal line that runs
    between your shoulders and your knees
  • Return to the ground slowly

Tipping Row

  • Stand up straight while holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing inward
  • Lift up one foot while balancing on the other
  • Slowly extend your lifted foot backward and let your arms hang toward the floor
  • Lift the dumbbells by bending your elbows and raising your hands to either side of your chest
  • Hold and then slowly lower your arms toward the floor
  • Repeat dumbbell lifts

Single Leg Deadlift with Kettlebell

  • Hold a kettlebell in one hand and lift your opposite foot slightly off the ground
  • Lean forward and raise your leg straight behind you, keeping your back and neck neutral,
  • Be careful to keep some bend in your supporting leg
  • Lower the kettlebell toward the ground, but be sure that your chest never drops below the level of your hips
  • Hinge your hips backward and lift the kettlebell to return to the starting position

Superman Ball Lifts

  • Lie on your belly, holding an exercise ball between your feet
  • Extend your arms straight out in front of you
  • Engage your abs, inhale and squeeze the ball while lifting your knees, arms and chest
  • Hold for ten seconds and repeat

Lunges

  • Start with your feet parallel and hip-distance apart
  • Take a giant step forward with your torso upright, moving toward a kneeling position with your front knee aligned over your front ankle
  • Bend knees no further than a 90 degree angle
  • Return to the starting position, either by stepping forward with your back foot or by stepping backward with your front foot.
  • Repeat, alternating legs

A Few Important Things to Keep in Mind

Always consult with your chiropractor or another qualified healthcare provider if you’re starting a new fitness program. This is especially important if you’re recovering from an injury, suspect you may have a medical condition or haven’t been physically active in a while. After you begin your program, build up the number of sets and repetitions you do as you become more comfortable with the movements and your body adapts to the new demands you’re placing upon it.

As experts in musculoskeletal health and fitness, chiropractic physicians are specially trained to help you reach your goals. Want to learn more? Just call or visit our office!

5 Tips to Better Sit-Ups

Practicing sit-ups is a great way to help strengthen your core muscles, the ones that help you maintain good posture and allow you to bend and twist. If these muscles are weak, it can lead to chronic back pain and disability. But contrary to what those late-night TV ads tell you, sit-ups (whether using a machine or doing them the traditional way) will not give you a flat stomach and six-pack abs. The toned abdominal muscles will develop beneath the layer of abdominal fat, but no matter how many sit-ups you do, it will not spot reduce the amount of fat around your waist. The only thing that will remove the spare tire around your middle is a healthy diet and getting sufficient overall exercise. Once you have slimmed down overall, then those six-pack abs will show if you practice some sit-ups every day. But keep in mind that it’s important to do sit-ups properly in order to develop the optimal muscle conditioning while ensuring you do not hurt your back and neck in the process. Following are 5 tips to better sit-ups.

1) Make sure your legs are bent at a 90° angle – This is the best angle to help reduce excess stress to the lower back while you are performing a sit-up. You should be sure to do your sit-ups on a cushioned surface such as a mat or carpet. With your legs bent, there should still be just enough of a curve in your lower back so it does not touch the floor.

2) Cross your arms over your chest – The traditional hands behind the neck posture for sit-ups sometimes causes people to pull on the neck during the upward movement, which can overstretch it and cause neck pain. Instead, cross your arms over your chest and tighten your abdominal muscles to slowly lift your head and upper body off the floor.

3) Lift up only 6 to 10 inches off the floor – There is no need to sit all the way up when doing sit-ups. In fact, according to researchers at the University of Louisville, once you are above a certain angle, different muscles than the abdominals are being worked, so much of that extra effort to condition your abs is in vain.

4) Go slowly, both up and down – Many people slowly raise themselves up, then flop back down. The best workout for your abs is to go slowly, both on the way up and on the way down. This engages the abdominal muscles more fully and is more important than the number of reps you can do.

5) Pace yourself – It is common to start off doing sit-ups quickly, then slow down as your abdominals tire. Start out at a slow, steady pace, and you are more likely to be able to keep it up than if you get burned out early on in your reps.

Want Your Kids to Be Active? Here Is Why YOU Should Be their Lifestyle Role Model

It’s not news—obesity is a growing national epidemic among young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that obesity in children has doubled in the last 30 years and quadrupled in adolescents. Nearly 20% of children 6-11 years old are obese as are almost 23% of teenagers. This places them at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Finally—and even more concerning—studies have shown that people who are obese as children tend to be obese as adults.

What’s happening here?  In large part, it comes down to our lifestyle choices. Record numbers of both adults and children are succumbing to the temptations of TV, computers, and video games, and many of us simply don’t get the exercise our bodies need to stay healthy.

Naturally, parents who read statistics like these may be—and should be—concerned about their kids. More and more often, they ask themselves questions like “What can we do to help our kids be more active and physically fit?” One answer to this question is pretty simple: To get your kids to be more active, engage in more active pursuits with them. One of the keys to getting children to exercise more is to have them see their parents exercise more. That’s the finding from a new study published in the journal Pediatrics

In the study, researchers at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine in England fitted 554 mother-child pairs with equipment to measure how much exercise they were getting when they were together as well as when they were apart. Accelerometers tracked their exercise levels, and GPS devices measured how close they were to each other. Over the course of seven days, the findings were clear – the more physical activity the mother was engaged in while with the child, the more active the child was during the rest of the day. In fact, for every minute of moderate-to-vigorous activity the mother got, the child was likely to get ten percent more of the same activity. Conversely, for every minute the mother was sedentary, the child was 0.18 minutes more sedentary. Both of these effects were more pronounced in girls than in boys.

These findings seem to indicate that parents can be effective role models for their children by getting more active exercise themselves. But specialists emphasize that parents don’t have to drop their other priorities to do this. Physical therapist Teresa Beckman suggests, “Incorporate small changes into your daily life. For example, rather than playing a board game together, go outside and play hopscotch. Or if you’re planning a trip to your local playground, try walking instead of driving.”

Other suggestions for becoming more active with your children include playing more sports with them, walking more with them (if you take the bus, get off one or two stops early and walk the rest of the way), riding bikes together, and even playing Frisbee. Dancing is good exercise, so you can encourage your kids to take lessons in various forms of dance and then set a good example for them by attending the classes yourself. You can join exercise classes together, schedule regular pre-dinner walks or runs, or just play family games of basketball or soccer.

You are your child’s most important role model when it comes to teaching them about the importance of exercise. And exercising together is just as good for you as it is for them. So switch off that TV or computer and go out to play! You’ll both be doing something good for your health and having fun at the same time!

 

Fitness Tips to Inspire You

By Chiro One Wellness Centers

It can be a struggle to stay motivated when it comes to working out—the same routine can get old fast and it never feels like there’s enough time. It’s time for a change! Your workout doesn’t have to be a chore; try these fitness tips for refreshing your regimen and use your newfound inspiration to reach greater fitness heights.

Motivate, motivate, motivate. Getting out the door is (more than) half the battle, right? Keep yourself motivated with some daily inspiration—these are the perfect pick-me-ups when you’re feeling like skipping that run.

  • Sit down and write out your fitness plan for the week and hang it somewhere you’ll see every day (the bathroom mirror, your bedroom door, etc.)
  • Make a visual representation of weight loss goals. For example, get two jars—one holds marbles for pounds to lose and one collects marbles for pounds lost.
  • Put an inspiring quote by the door, hang a picture that represents health and fitness to you on the fridge, write out a fitness goal and tape it to the dash.

Change it up. Don’t do the same thing day-in and day out—anyone would get bored! Switch up depending on the season, your mood or just when you start to feel your dedication waning. Here are some ideas to keep it fresh:

  • Consider hiring a trainer for a few sessions—see how you like it! It doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment; you’re bound to learn something useful.
  • Sign up for a new fitness class you’ve never tried like Zumba, spin, hip-hop, Vinyasa yoga, barre or Kettlebell.
  • Revamp your workout playlist and add in some energizing music to keep you moving. Not sure what tunes to pick? Ask friends what gets them going.
  • In the spring and summer, scope out some local tennis courts and set up a weekly match with a friend. In the colder months, try wintry sports, like snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, or head indoors to play racquetball or rock climb.

Stop saying you don’t have time. You do! No one will argue that life gets a little hectic, but you should always make time for your health. Try these little tweaks to squeeze in some exercise.

  • Take a good hard look at your schedule; where could you shave off a few minutes? Set your alarm just 15 minutes earlier, or skip the coffee run in the a.m. and just brew your own. See how many minutes you can add up and then set them aside for your fitness.
  • You don’t have to go to the gym for an hour or more to get fit; stay home! Buy a jump rope, hula hoop and some 5 to 10 lb. weights and search for some great online fitness videos.
  • Get your energy going early before you start your day—you only need 10 – 15 minutes to do quick, at-home workouts like 30-second rounds of jumping jacks, crunches, push-ups, wall sits, planks and squats.
  • Literally schedule “appointments” to workout. You’d make it to a dentist appointment, right? Exercise should be no different.