In my work, I have not had the need to frequently travel out of my home city and I must admit that I have been not understanding (in fact have been judgmental) of the travel schedules of some of my family members and friends who are practically out for 20 days in a month across time zones.
But I understood their dilemma pretty well when it happened to me. I was out of the country for a fortnight in different time zones and it really took a toll on my overall fitness. I was quite frustrated since those were the weeks when I wanted to ramp up my training for the upcoming Ironman Hamburg Triathlon in July’18.
The sad truth is that people who are having a sedentary lifestyle/frequent travellers don’t often get the time and opportunity to follow a fitness schedule and are more prone to injuries in their day to day life. They would like to be injury-free but are unable to take out time.
Along with Dr Nitin Mane, Head – Fitness & Physiotherapy, Atmantan Wellness Centre, we reviewed the Postural Assessment case papers of 500 guests who had stayed with us in the past 12 months and selected our LIST OF TOP 5 MUSCLES FOR an injury-free LIFE!
Our Sample profile is as follows: Sample Size: 500, Male/Female: 40:60, Age: 35-60 years
Profile of this sample: sedentary lifestyle & jobs, frequent car and flight travelling
1. Spinal Muscles/Erector Spinae Muscles
This is the muscle that holds us upright and also helps in side to side rotation. An injury or strain to this muscle can cause back spasms and pain. This bundle of muscle runs along the spine from the pelvis to the head.
Here’s how you can strengthen spinal muscle:
A) Bird Dog Exercise –
Step 1 -Start on all 4 positions with hands under shoulders and knees under hip.
Step 2 – Keep the spine in neutral and extend alternate hand and a leg up keeping elbow and knee straight.
Step 3 – Stay in the position for 5 secs and repeat 5 times
People photo created by yanalya – www.freepik.com
B) Extension curls on a Swiss ball –
Step 1 – Lie with your stomach over the ball.
Step 2 – Cross the hands over the shoulders and raise up from the chest with spine and neck neutral.
Step 3 – Hold 5 counts and repeat 5 times.
This muscle is what gives Usain Bolt the horizontal propulsion in every 100 metres race and helps basketball players to go low and then move around with explosive quickness! Glutes are the biggest muscles in our body…wondering what they are…its your booty….still thinking…..your bums! Glutes are not only a must for athletic performance but also to have a good posture.
The most common reason people suffer from underactive glutes is due to lifestyle. And remember the old saying – if you don’t use it, you lose it. Unfortunately, this is just what happens with your glutes.
This is my favourite muscle, both for reasons you are thinking and not, cause this muscle also helps us keep our back and knee free of pain.
Here’s how to strengthen glute muscle –
A) Glute Bridge – (for Maximus)
Step 1 – Place both legs on a swiss ball with shoulders and hand on the floor.
Step 2 – Now press the heels on the ball and raise up from buttocks squeezing them tight.
Step 3 – Hold 10counts and repeat 10 times.
B) Clamshell exercise– (for Medius)
Step 1 – Lie on one side with both hips bend to 45 deg and both knees bend.
Step 2 – Now keep the feet together and open the above leg apart upwards and
Step 3 – Hold 5 counts and repeat 10-15 times.
For most of us, Quads are dominant and Hamstrings are weak – this causes an unequal pull on the joints and sets the stage for knee injuries. Furthermore, sedentary jobs and frequent travellers who spend most of the day in sitting position have tight and weak hams.
Here’s how you can strengthen hamstring muscle:
A) Swiss Ball Curls –
Step 1 –Lie on your back with your calves resting on a Swiss Ball.
Step 2 – Lift your hips off the ground, form a straight line from your feet to your shoulders. Roll the ball towards you, bending your legs and finish with your feet flat on the ball.
Step 3 -Roll the ball back to the starting position.
B) Standing hamstring curls – teraband/weight cuffs –
Step 1 -Tie a theraband or a weight cuff at the ankle and bend one knee back towards buttocks while keeping the thigh in the same position.
Step 2 – Hold 5counts and repeat 10 times.
Calves are also called as the 2nd heart of the body as their main function is to push the blood back to the heart from the legs. For frequent travellers and people at the desk, when the legs are all the time hanging down, it does affect the function of the calves.
This can lead to anything from slight discomfort to severe pain. Other reasons for calf pain can be a peripheral vascular disease, DVT or even limited range of motion in ankle joint.
Here’s how you can strengthen this muscle:
a) Calf Stretch ( for Gastrocnemius muscle) –
Step 1- Stand with wall support in front and right leg behind with knees locked and heels down on the floor.
Step 2 – Now bend the front knee to feel the stretch in the behind leg calf and hold for 30 secs and repeat 2-3 times.
b) CALF STRETCH – (for Soleus) –
Step 1- Stand with wall support in front and LEFT leg behind with knees neutral and heels down on the floor.
Step 2 – Now bend both the knees and move down to feel the stretch in the behind leg calf and hold for 30secs and repeat 2-3 times.
Rotator Cuff Muscles
The shoulders have the maximum mobility and hence are also the most unstable. A joint with less inherent stability will always depend more on surrounding structures like muscles and ligaments to stabilize it.
This means that strong muscles are important to protect less stable joints like the shoulder and knee, but also these joints are particularly susceptible to ligament and muscle injuries like rotator cuff and ACL tears out there. I have been working on my Rotator Cuffs for the past 4-5 years as this helps me avoid over-use injury as I swim a long distance.
Here’s how you can strengthen rotator muscle:
A) Theraband exercise– Bend the elbow to 90deg and tie the band to a door/window at elbow level and pull in slowly for internal rotators and pull out for external rotators. Repeat 10 each side.
B) Rotator cuff strengthening on the stomach –
Step 1- Lie on stomach and suspend the hand down from bed as shown below.
Step 2 – Now move the hand in an upward direction to get forearm parallel to the ground. Repeat 10 times. Gradually, you can try doing this with light dumbbells in hand.