My Exercise Program
My Exercise Program
My exercise regime has two basic components: strengthening and stretching. There is not a huge emphasis on cardio-vascular; the first thing for me was to correct the major muscle imbalances. Activities like running and swimming would not do this for me, if anything they could cause more and more complications. That being said, I did take regular walks and occasional runs, especially before stretching to get the blood pumping and muscles loose.
Remember, do not copy this program! Seek medical advice if you’re in pain. All the following exercises were tailor made and shown to me under supervision.
In RSI cases muscles become very short and very weak; as the muscles re-grow it is absolutely imperative that they lengthen as frequently as possible. In the long-run a good stretching routine improves posture and re-trains the nervous by telling the brain to switch off unnecessary muscle tension/holding patters.
I began my stretching regime in late November 2004 and rarely has there been a day since in which I did not do at least 45-50 mins of stretching. That may seem a lot, or excessive but the more adept at staggering them in and fitting them around your life the easier and more automatic the whole process is.
I stretched pretty much every major muscle group of the body. I was going to get into particulars but when it comes to stretching there are so many different types. Again, make sure you are shown the proper technique. I made it a habit to always run my stretching technique by my physiotherapist every time I see him. It is so easy for the body to sink into lazy habits whilst stretching
Stretch properly. Hone your attention into the muscle that you are trying to relax, don’t get distracted. The first stretch should release some tension, the second repetition should do the same plus some lengthening, and before the third the muscle should be significantly relaxed so that noticeable lengthening should be apparent. The stretch should also be held for a sufficient time, normally at least 10-15 seconds (and good seconds, not rushed ones!)
Don’t force it, muscles will loosen in time. Don’t stretch into excruciating pain, and there should not be any pain felt after the stretch. This is all common sense stuff. The more your stretch properly, the better you get at it – it’s that’s simple. And trust me, you’ll love your know found flexibility after awhile, you’ll feel like a limber kid again.
All my strengthening exercises are targeted around improving core stability. Little, if any, weights are involved as most of my activity is done with the use of a large Swiss ball or just the body alone. I found that my arms and legs were getting stronger as a by-product of doing all the exercise. I found that focusing on gaining strength in the limbs via weights was a sure fire way to aggravate my injury.
The following exercises where particularly good in re-training and strengthening major muscles of the back to provide a sufficient foundation so that constant muscle injury would not occur.
An example: A huge problem for many RSI sufferers is the overactive and worn-out upper-trapezius muscle, the ‘hunch up’ that causes rounded shoulders and an out of place/forward head/neck relationship. This puts lots and lots of pressure on muscles like the scalene muscle and causes lots and lots of complications.
The following exercises increased greater awareness of the lats and the lower traps and laid a foundation that prevented my upper-traps from engaging unnecessarily.
1st Base Conditioning Program (November 2004 – January 2005)
Seated Trainer: sitting upright in a healthy position on the Swiss ball, lifting one foot off the ground and keeping the body still.
Supine Hip extension: In supine position, the ball supporting head/shoulders/supper back, lifting the hips, holding then releasing
Horse Stance : on all fours, simultaneously lifting a hand and the opposite foot
Prone Cobra: lay face down lifting up from mid back and squeezing shoulder blades together.
2nd Base Conditioning Program (January 2005- NOW)
Lateral Ball Roll: Supine position on ball, shuffling feet a few steps left and right. Keeping pelvis stable
Swiss Ball Squat: Ball as support, wedged between lower back and wall, squat down keeping healthy spine alignment and keeping knees behind feet.
Alternating Superman: Lying over ball, lifting one arm and the opposite foot simultaneously, not shifting the body, to compensate, while doing this is important.
Back extension : Lying over ball, extending up through the mid-back, feet staying on ground, squeeze the shoulder blades together, avoid hunching and using the upper traps.
Alternative 2nd Base without ball (May 2005 – NOW)
Lunge : Lunge forward, again feet in front of hips, with back knee just touching ground, back remaining straight throughout.
Squat: Squat without ball support, making sure back is straight and pelvis in good alignment.
Back Extension: without ball, using light weights for more resistance.
So at the moment I alternate between the 2 base conditioning programs. I do eventually intend to use greater weights for more resistance, but these will be very light ones.
I normally do three repetition of each set, around 8-15 reps of each activity. By the third set the endorphin rush has kicked in. But I never ever push it. That whole ‘no pain no gain’ thing is so eighties. There is always going to be some sort of pain/resistance with getting fit but always respect the natural time it takes for the body to grow properly. Don’t consign fitness to the modern attitude of boot camp/military barracks style of bodily punishment. It’s good to be focused and disciplined but you run the risk of burning out if you are too hard on yourself.
I’ll ensure this section gets updated when I graduate to harder programs
Other exercise activities (October 2005-February 2006)
My RSI pain really dropped off around October/November 2005. When it did I started using weights, only light ones for more resistance. I also started push ups and have worked up to about 80-120 per day (not in a row!) just about 20 per set interspersed throughout the day. I also started running, and activity I really enjoy and do about three runs per week. My lower back is still very tight and I need to stretch that constantly. As my pain dissipated it became harder to adhere to the stretching program. My mind sometimes easily forgot the pain and wanted to sink back into lazy corner-cutting stretching techniques or just blatant procrastination. It takes time to change deep-seated habits, but it’s getting better everyday – one day at a time hey!
3rd Base Conditioning Program February 2006 – NOW
I went back to the physiotherapist in Feb because I needed something more structured and interesting to take on. I always recommend doing a program that is tailor-made and which can be monitored and reviewed regularly. In those past few months I definitely went too hard on the running and hamstring/ mid-section muscles were getting really tight again. All part of the learning process.