In an earlier post, I talked about what muscles are important to stretch to maintain muscular balance and prevent injuries. Strengthening weak muscles is just as important or even more important for most people.
We start losing muscle mass around 30 years of age, and it will decline 3-5% each decade after that. At that point, it is all up to you to maintain your muscle mass or even increase it.
Due to the extensive time we spend sitting in today’s society, some muscles are prone to weakness because you are simply not using them on a day-to-day basis. Your core muscles are extremely important to maintain because they will help you have better posture and prevent injuries. When we sit we tend to slouch, which means that your core is inactive. Core exercises are easy to do, and you don’t have to go to the gym to do them—you can do them on the living room floor. There is a wide variety of core exercises, but the most important thing is that you switch them up so your core will be constantly challenged. Core exercises should not hurt, so make sure you are not doing exercises that are doing you more harm than good.
Another muscle group that becomes weak from sitting are the gluteus muscles and piriformis. You may think your glutes are just tight, but they can also be weak at the same time. Dead butt syndrome is when your gluteus medius becomes too long to compensate for tight hip flexors. The muscle gets inflamed and forgets how to function normally. There are many gluteal exercises you can do with your own bodyweight—air squats are the most common one. You can add weights to the squats when you are ready for a more challenging exercise. Bands that go around your thighs right above the knees can be used to do a variety of resistance exercises as well.
The hamstrings are a muscle group that most people perceive as tight but are weak at the same time. The quads tend to be stronger than the hamstrings, and that can lead to injuries in the knees. You may think that doing squats is enough for the hamstrings, but in many cases you need more. An exercise ball can be used for hamstring strengthening. You lay on your back with your heels on the ball, raise up your hips like you are doing a bridge, then extend and flex your knees. This can be done on a bench as well where you raise one hip up at a time.
The Erector spinae muscle group is the third group that is very important for posture and to prevent back pain and injuries. These muscles go along your spine all the way from your sacrum to the skull. These muscles can get weak from prolonged sitting and poor posture. Extension exercises like prone superman are very good for those muscles. If you want to add weights to it, deadlifts, bent over rows, and good mornings are good as well.
The last muscle group I want to talk about are the rotator cuff muscles because it is a very common muscle group to be injured. Most people experience that annoying shoulder pain that is hard to get rid of and comes with limited range of motion in the shoulder.
The rotator cuff consists of four different muscles that stabilize the shoulder. These muscles are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. Most people only do exercises for these muscles after they have injured them and the exercises are a part of their rehabilitation. People should be doing these exercises to prevent injuries. Doing them as part of your warm-up is a good idea. The exercises can be done with TheraBands or dumbbells. The movements these muscles perform are internal rotation, external rotation, and abduction of the shoulder.
If you have any questions about any of these exercises or need guidance to help you in strengthening weak muscles, don’t hesitate to ask us when you come in for your adjustments.