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Abdominal Exercises - Change it up a bit!

26 Feb 2020

t’s been drilled into our heads, that we need to keep our abdominals strong. Why? Well, for so many reasons! They help to support and stabilize the back. They provide a stable core for doing overhead movements. They have been shown to have an impact on hip and knee function. They help us breathe (especially in situations where we need to forcefully exhale). They help with posture and of course movement too. They help to keep our intestines and other organs from glooping out of our abdomen! Additionally, they help us to cough, vomit, sing, yell, push out babies (okay, they only do that for ½ the population… and not even that!), hold urine in… push urine out, and defecate! So, really… 3 cheers for your abdominals!

Thus, it makes sense that we exercise our abdominals and keep them strong. But did you know that there are plenty of ways to do this? As well, it’s likely best (and less monotonous) to change up your exercise routine and find ways to throw in a little abdominal exercise in short, easily attainable bouts! Check out these abdominal exercise options! There is no need to do all of them or any combination of them at the same time. Add some of these into the things you do during the day so as to ensure that you actually do a little bit of abdominal on a regular basis! (Caveat, if you have back pain, please consult with your healthcare professional before attempting these on your own.)

1. Crunches: We’ve heard of the sit up, but really, you don’t need to come all the way up. A crunch is simply done by lying on your back and lifting you head and shoulders off the ground. You can slide your hands to your knees and back down or put your hands behind your head. Do this slowly and repeat as many as able.










2. Planking: The world record for holding a plan was just broken this year by a 62-year-old former US Marine. He held the plank for 8 hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds! No thank you! However, trying to hold for a 10, 20, 30 seconds or even a minute is a real accomplishment. Throw this in once or twice a day!









3. Leg lifts.  Lying on your back with your hands by your side or I recommend tucking them under your buttocks, lift your legs off the ground.  Bring them up simultaneously if you have no back problems, or one at a time if you are just starting out. 

Leg Lifts









4. Pelvic tilts: I like to do this one when I’m sitting at the computer or driving in the car. Contract your abdominal muscles so as to rock your pelvis backwards, then reverse. Doing both directions helps you to feel the movement better. Alternately, you can do this while lying on your back.

Pelvic Tilts









5. Back bends: Stand up tall and bend backwards. Never go into pain. Try to breathe while you are in the back bend. Use your hands on your buttocks if you need the support. 

Back Bends









6.  Yoga Boat Pose: I admit, this one gets my muscles shaking like crazy. It looks like the picture below. You can do it more leaned back to make it more challenging. Hold for what you can or about 5 breath cycles.

Boat Pose








7.  Mountain climber exercise: Start in a plank and then bend one hip and knee moving it forwards, replace it back, and repeat on the other side. Do whatever number you can achieve on both sides. Challenge yourself to do one more than you think you want to! 

Mountain Climber Exercise










8. Stomach Vacuums: This is a newer exercise. Essentially, you exhale, then suck in your stomach and hold. From here either count to 10 and breathe again, resting until you feel able to repeat it. (I try to do 10 this way.) Or continue to hold the ‘suck in’ component, but now breathe while your tummy is sucked in. (Harder than it sounds.) I like to do vacuums while leaning on the bathroom counter. Be care of this one if you are prone to getting light-headed. 

Stomach Vacuums









9. Stand tall as you walk and think about having just a little bit of tone in your abdominal muscles. If you have to walk from point A to point B… why not make it an abdominal exercise? 

Stand Tall








10. Bird Dog: Start from on your hands and knees. From here progress to lifting and pointing one leg and then the opposite arm. Hold for a few cycles of breath. Then switch out to the other diagonal pair.

Bird Dog









11. Dance it out! Go all Shakira and JLo for a few minutes a day! Did you see the halftime show of the 2020 Superbowl? Move those hips my friends! Your abs will thank you! 










But if you can’t keep up with that level of dance, take it back in time and follow Chubby Checker and do the Twist. 








The bottom line is, have some fun with it. Throw it into your daily routine. Simply think about your abdominals now and then and give them a little work out periodically.










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Blue Spaces

29 Jan 2020

By Margaret Kraeling, PT, CCRT

Blue Space

In physiotherapy we primarily focus on joints, muscles, ligaments and functional exercises. Of course, this is important, and all of these issues need to be addressed however researches are now recognizing that other factors are also important to improve mental and emotional wellbeing. Any boost in our mental wellbeing will be helpful in reducing pain, anxiety and stress.

Researchers in New Zealand, Hong Kong and England studied groups of people who had access to a view of water such as a lake, ocean or even a river. They called this their “blue space”. They found that this view reduced stress levels resulting in a number of health benefits. These people were less susceptible to mood and anxiety disorders and overall had lower levels of psychological distress.

Another benefit noted was improved memory, possibly due to the fact that stress and anxiety trigger inflammation in the brain. Controlling stress and anxiety can improve memory for years to come.

A study done in Canada revealed that people living near large natural bodies of water had a 10% lower risk of dying in the 10 years of the study.

One possible explanation provided by researchers in the US and Europe is that many of us have a “paleo-deficit disorder” because we live in a man-made environment. We are not exposed to a natural environment and therefore pay a price in higher levels of anxiety.

These researchers are recommending that people spend more time in “blue spaces” as well as “green spaces” such as a wooded environment. Scientists in Japan say that areas of rich vegetation give off substances called phytoncides, natural substances released by plants to keep insects and pathogens from attacking them. These phytoncides may boost immunity, decrease anxiety and stress, improve relaxation and even help you sleep better.

This sounds like a much better option than any drug that I know of.

Now – off to the beach!



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17 Dec 2019



Have you ever noticed those random purple marks many athletes or celebrities occasionally have on their bodies? I have seen Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston proudly don their red marks on the red carpet! Those marks are from a practice called cupping.

Cupping is an ancient technique in which therapists use special cups on your skin to create a suction effect. This suction draws circulation to the surface and may leave temporary purple marks from the increase of blood flow being drawn superficially.

This suction and negative pressure effect is used to encourage blood flow, loosen muscles and myofascial tissue. The myofascial system is a network of connective tissue throughout our body that connects the skin to muscles and surrounds our organs. The distraction and suction of tissue can help to stretch and release this connective tissue. It is commonly used to relieve pain, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, radiating pain, and inflammation in our bodies.

The cups may be made of glass, bamboo, earthenware, or most commonly, silicone. The technique dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures. One of the oldest medical textbooks, the Ebers Papyrus, describes how the ancient Egyptians used cupping therapy in 1,550 B.C.

The practice of cupping work to draw the skin, muscle and connective tissue away from each other. The cups may be used directly over a tight muscle band, in an area of chronic inflammation, or along nearby tissue to release tension, encourage circulation, and reduce inflammation at those locations. Cupping has also been used to help speed healing from a nasty cold, cough or allergy symptoms. It has been shown to help boost immune function by moving blood and lymphatic fluid throughout the body.

Poor circulation can lead to a buildup of toxins in the body. This build up can be the root cause of many different health conditions. Cupping can help to reduce stagnation in our body. This increase in blood flow to an area also brings nutrients, platelets, white blood cells and fibroblasts to aid in healing. This technique helps to release muscle knots and scar adhesions which can help with those stubborn injuries that seem to plateau. Many athletes and weekend warriors have found benefit from this therapy with aiding their body to faster recover from workout sessions.

If you are interested in trying cupping or have a stubborn injury that just isn’t getting better, the therapists at Two Hands Physiotherapy would love to help you out!

Jennifer Gordon (BScPT, CCRT, AFCI, GIMS)

Physiotherapist / Canine Rehab Therapist

Two Hands Physiotherapy / The Canine Fitness Centre

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