Initial Core Stabilization Exercises

core exercises stability core strength portland

No matter what sort of physical activities you engage in, a solid core is essential for staying strong and injury-free. Core stabilization exercises teach your muscles to work together, allowing your body to move efficiently no matter what you’re doing.

The following exercises are a great starting point for any sort of core-training program as they target the transverse abdominis (TA), which is the deepest core muscle that we have. A good way to think about core stabilization is that it works from the inside out. If the transverse abdominis is not functioning properly, it can be overridden by a lot of other muscles. Concentrating on, and isolating the TA is a good way to ensure that our trunk is stabilized for whatever movements we’re doing with our extremities.

Practice these exercises for 1-2 minutes each, once per day and take breaks when needed. Do your best to keep your mind focused on what your body is doing throughout.

Core Strengthening Exercises Transverse Abdominis

Transverse Abdominis (TA)

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Find your “neutral spine” by rocking your pelvis forward and backward and stopping in the middle of the two positions. Gently draw your belly button towards your spine like you’re trying to fit into a tight pair of pants. Breathe normally. Hold this contraction for 3 breaths, relax, and repeat. There should be no pelvic movement during this contraction.

Core Exercises Transverse Abdominis Marching

TA Marching

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Find your neutral spine and TA contraction. Breathe normally. While holding this contraction, slowly raise one foot a few inches from the floor and place it back on the floor. Repeat this, alternating legs for 1 minute.

Core Exercises 90 90 Hold

90/90 Hold

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Find your neutral spine and TA contraction. Bring one leg at a time up to a 90/90 position. Hold this position without your abdomen “bulging” towards the ceiling. Breathe normally. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat.

Core Exercises Quadruped Plank

Quadruped Plank

On all fours, with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips with toes tucked under, find your neutral spine and TA contraction. Breathe normally. Maintaining this position, lift your knees to a hover. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat.

These exercises can be a great assessment of how well you’re able to activate these muscles. Keep in mind that this is just a starting point and a good core-training program should not stop here. Your PT will progress you as they see fit or as your abilities allow. If you have questions or if you have any pain with these exercises, please consult a Therapydia physical therapist.

Warming Up for Rock Climbers

warm up rock climber rock climbing warm up

Warming up prior to activity is important for everyone, climbers especially. A good warm up prepares the body by increasing blood flow to active muscles, increasing circulation, increasing body temperature and improving joint mobility. Getting your body moving prior to activity can reduce the risk of injury and decrease the likelihood of soreness afterward. It can also serve to help your body perform at its maximum potential so it’s important to make sure you’re warming up properly and safely. Here are a few key points to keep in mind before your next climb.

Stretching

A major part of warming up is stretching, which can be broken down into two different types:

• Static Stretching is when you hold a body position for a predetermined period of time (typically 10-30 seconds). A good example of this is sitting and grasping your toes or throwing your foot up on a chair.
Dynamic Stretching involves continuous movement through your range of motion like when you practice swinging your leg forward and backward.

Circulation

Getting your blood moving should be the first goal when warming up. Prior to working out or preparing for a climb, spend 10-15 minutes walking at a moderate pace, jogging or cycling to get your heart pumping. Incorporating some light cardio will help to oxygenate your muscles and keep them working magnificently.

Loosening Up

Do this by performing dynamic exercises that incorporate as many body parts as possible. Try to devote 5-10 minutes to loosening up prior to activity. Some ideas to get loose:

• Shoulder Windmills
• Neck Rolls
• Finger Flicks
• Wrist Shakes
• Knee to Chest
• Butt Kickers
• High Knees
• Trunk Rotations

Warm Up Climbs

You’ve loosened up and your body is warm, time to climb! Remember to increase your problem or route sequentially and strategically. Whether you’re bouldering or sport climbing, practice beginning your first few climbs 2-4 grades lower than your usual routes. If you can comfortably climb V3s for example, warm up with V0-V2s and work your way up. If you are a 5.11 sport climber, consider starting out with a couple of laps on 5.9/5.10. Not only is it beneficial to ease into your climbs but spectators will be WOWed by how effortlessly you zoom through them! 🙂 Utilize your first couple of routes to help you wake up your stabilizer muscles. Incorporate some rest into your warm up climbs to avoid pumping out early, you want to make sure you get to all of your projects for the day!

Rest

Remember to balance activity with rest. Occasionally you may hear someone say that they’re “pumped,” this usually indicates feelings of tightness, swelling, burning or pain due to lactic acid buildup (the PT brain never shuts off!). This usually occurs when a climber performs too many moves in a row. Like with any physical activity, there needs to be time for your muscles to recover from fatigue. All that said, find a good balance between incorporating rest into your warm up and not waiting too long—you don’t want to let yourself cool down completely.

Most importantly, listen to your body, pace yourself and rest appropriately so you can maximize your climbing time!

We hope these warm up tips and tricks will be helpful to you during your next climbing session. Keep an eye for more climbing-related physical therapy information on Therapydia. Until next time, rock on!

Get to Know Your PT: Kurt Gilbertson, Therapydia Lake Oswego Physical Therapist

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Therapydia Lake Oswego physical therapist Kurt Gilbertson takes some time to talk about changing the perception of the recovery process, the power of instrumental music and his love of soccer.

“The under-appreciated side of wellness is the mental. Wellness needs to be fun and enjoyable because it is lifelong, and no person has enough motivation to constantly do something they don’t enjoy.”

When did you know that you wanted to be a physical therapist?

I was a 3-sport athlete in high school, most interested in soccer. My sophomore year, I had a serious injury and found physical therapy. I returned to soccer my junior year, had the same injury and lost all college recruiting. I thought to myself “I was diligent with PT, why did this happen again?” It was then that I found my passion of changing the norm of returning to sport/life training within PT to make sure my journey as a patient is not experienced by my own patients.

What is the biggest challenge involved in being a PT?

I think the main challenge within PT is that we live in a world of instant gratification but the PT world is forced to live in delayed gratification. In the sense that Amazon can deliver a TV to your doorstep in 2 days (sometimes same day!) and you’re watching the Timbers that day, but it takes 4-6 weeks for injuries to heal, and then longer to return to your sport/activity of choice! You can’t change how the body heals but you can change the perception of that recovery process, which makes PT such a rewarding job.

How do you like to stay active?

I am quietly very competitive, so my activity tends to revolve around sports (I am actively seeking pick-up soccer/baseball/basketball/football/ultimate games!) However, I have picked up yoga which I love doing with my wife, Lindsay. We walk our pup Bennett twice daily and we are excited to explore the beautiful hiking in the PNW. And soon enough, I’ll get back into the gym.

What’s your favorite song to get you motivated?

I am always influenced by emotional instrumentals, similar to those in movies. “The Mighty Rio Grande” by This Will Destroy You always kicks me into gear.

What surprised you the most about the physical therapy profession?

How unknown we are to most people. The amount of times I’ve heard, “I wish I found you years ago,” breaks my heart.

Are you currently pursuing any further education/certifications?

I just sat for the Orthopedic Specialist (OCS) Exam in March 2018. I am scheduled to sit for the CSCS exam this Summer. I am fascinated by the developmental work of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS), the role of breathing in Postural Restoration (PRI), and the role of connective tissue chains in Structural Integration (ATSI) of which I plan to take some courses of each this coming year.

What do you wish everyone knew about PT?

That PT is a process and that process does not end when pain is no longer there. Pain is a gift that alerts you when something is wrong, but just because you turn off the alarm doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still take care of the reason why it went off. I’d also like to add that PT is more than stretching. I like to say, stretching gets you out of pain, strengthening keeps the pain away.

What’s your go-to breakfast?

You can’t go wrong with eggs, bacon and hash browns!

What is the most important personality trait that a PT must have?

Empathy, active listening, and expert questioning. You said three traits right? 🙂 But really, we collaborate with genuine people who more often than not have suffered for years, seen way too many doctors and know more about medicine than they ever should. It requires empathetic compassion to connect, the ability to hear the subtle cues of motivational factors to understand, and the ability to have laser questioning to find the root issue. “A smart person gives smart answers, a genius asks great questions.”

What do you do to de-stress and unwind?

Playing and watching soccer, walking with Lindsay and Bennett, building furniture and listening to music are typical de-stressors for me.

Finish this sentence: On Saturday mornings, you can usually find me…”

Half asleep at 4:30am watching Liverpool games and then sitting with Lindsay on the porch drinking coffee.

What is the best piece of wellness advice you’ve ever received?

The under-appreciated side of wellness is the mental. Wellness needs to be fun and enjoyable because it is lifelong, and no person has enough motivation to constantly do something they don’t enjoy. Exercise, prayer, reading, writing, cooking are all forms of wellness if it improves your perspective on life.

Learn more about Kurt and the other PTs at Therapydia Lake Oswego here

3 Simple Exercises to Improve Your Posture

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Proper posture means that you’re using the most efficient amount of energy to keep your joints aligned. When aligned, your heels, knees, pelvis and neck are all stacked on top of each other and your body moves much more effectively, reducing the probability of injury. Poor posture can lead to issues like TMD, neck pain, headaches and even shoulder pain. Remember every time your mom told you to “stand up straight”? She had a good reason for doing so. Poor posture in any position, even when laying down, takes its toll on the body.

Give yourself a posture check with these exercises to ensure that your poor posture isn’t negatively affecting your body’s function in the long-term.

Bilateral Shoulder External Rotation

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• Start by wrapping a resistance band around your hands.
• Position your arms at your sides with your elbows bent 90 degrees and your hands about shoulder width apart.
• Pull the resistance band apart by squeezing your shoulder blades together and rotating your shoulders.
• Pull apart as far as you can, keeping the 90 degree bend in the elbow and pain-free.
• Keep good neck posture with the back of your neck long and your chin dropped slightly (not poking forward).
• Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat 10 times for 1-2 sets.

Wall Field Goal Post

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• Positioned against a wall in a mini squat position, or seated with good posture, start with your hands together in front.
• Raise your hands up over your head and keep them together and then out into a position like a football field goal post.
• As you move your hands out, feel the stretch in the front of your chest and squeeze the shoulder blades down and back.
• Try not to arch your upper back and keep a good neck posture (chin slightly dropped, back of your neck long).
• Hold for 10-30 seconds in the field goal position.

Seated Head Nod-Chin Drop

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• Find a good sitting or standing position: If sitting, put your weight on your sit bones or just in front with your ribs stacked over your pelvis, roll your shoulders up and then down back, “setting” them.
• Drop your chin slightly while making the back of the neck long (imagine a string pulling up from the crown of your head). This is a small gentle motion (not forceful).

If you have any questions or any pain with these exercises, please consult a Therapydia physical therapist. We can tailor an exercise program based on your unique body and individual goals.

Is Your Shoulder Mobility Limiting Your Climbing?

Rock-Climber-Shoulder-Mobility

An activity like rock climbing is a great way to shake up your normal exercise routine, not to mention it’s a thrilling and affordable full-body workout that can improve your overall strength, coordination and endurance. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or brand new to the sport, climbing is an intense and dynamic activity that requires proper shoulder mobility for maximum efficiency. The movements involved in rock climbing place a great deal of stress on the shoulders, among other areas, and can frequently cause overuse injuries and muscle imbalances if the surrounding muscles are not strong enough. These issues may result in limited range of motion, stiffness and pain around the upper extremities. As physical therapists, we work to educate our patients on how they can decrease their risk of injury while also improving efficiency. So what exactly do we mean when we say “shoulder mobility”?

The three main components for shoulder mobility include:

• The Glenohumeral Joint (ball-in-socket shoulder joint)
• The Scapula (shoulder blade)
• The Thoracic spine (upper back)

scapula-shoulder-mobility-glenohumeral

The Glenohumeral Joint

The glenohumeral joint (GHJ) is a ball-in-socket that allows your shoulder to move in all directions. If you’re a frequent climber, the muscles on the front of your body may become tight, pulling your shoulders forward and rotating them inward. As a result, the muscles on your back and your shoulder blades become weakened. It’s important to make sure that you have a good balance between muscle strengthening and stretching to improve your shoulder mobility.

The Scapula

When you raise your arm overhead, your shoulder blade—aka the scapula—should rotate upwards in relation to the shoulder joint. This movement is important for full shoulder range of motion. Muscles that assist with upward rotation are Serratus Anterior, Middle Trapezius and Lower Trapezius. If these muscles are weak and have difficulty coordinating together, your shoulder joint and shoulder blades can’t work together effectively.

Thoracic-Spine-Rock-Climber-Shoulder-Mobility

The Thoracic Spine

Your upper back has a natural curve, but the rounding is often accentuated with poor posture due to the movements involved in climbing pulling muscles and joints forward. Obviously this hunched position is not ideal when it comes to posture and can unfortunately lead to muscle imbalances due to decreased thoracic extension. Thoracic mobility into extension is a key component for shoulder elevation.

So, what now?

To improve your climbing efficiency and to ensure that you’re not putting yourself at risk for injury, talk to a physical therapist today. They’ll address your strengths and limitations while providing hands-on treatment to improve glenohumeral, thoracic and scapular mobility, along with any other trouble areas. There are a lot of exercises out there that can help to improve your performance and ensure that you’re not at risk of injury; your PT can design a custom exercise program unique to you.

Get to Know Your PT: Tony D’Ovidio, Therapydia Portland Physical Therapist

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Therapydia Portland Physical Therapist Tony D’Ovidio takes some time to talk about intermittent fasting, the importance of empathy, and how an interest in sports and fitness led to a career in PT.

“We have to be realistic with where we are fitness-wise, find our limiters, and keep working them to reach our goals.”

When did you know that you wanted to be a physical therapist?

After undergrad, I hated my job as a research assistant and my Dad was in a pretty severe motorcycle accident. I moved back home to help him and started taking him to physical therapy which seemed like much more fun than what I was doing. I had always been into sports and fitness so it was a pretty natural move.

What is the biggest challenge involved in being a PT?

Turning it off when the day is done. Especially being in fellowship and just being interested in strength training, it’s hard to step out of that world and stop thinking about it sometimes. Having other interests that are equally as strong help.

How do you like to stay active?

It changes every few months since I like to experiment. Currently it’s basic barbell strength, cycling, and some flexibility training to prepare for higher level body weight training.

What’s your favorite song to get you motivated?

“Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys.

What surprised you the most about the physical therapy profession?

How much variety and variability there can be. I love my setting working with people with orthopedic injuries, but PTs can work in tons of different settings and with tons of different patients that I didn’t know about until getting involved in the profession.

Are you currently pursuing any further education or certifications?

Too many. I’m currently in a fellowship program in manual therapy and I have my orthopedic clinical specialist exam coming up soon, too. I’m also just naturally curious, so I end up reading a ton about exercise, nutrition, and a billion other topics.

What do you wish everyone knew about physical therapy?

How much knowledge and training we have. I think there’s still a perception among some out there that we apply modalities and massage people all day. At our best, I see us as consultants for musculoskeletal health who can guide patients through life, training, or whatever else to reach their goals. Our brains are more important than our hands.

What’s your go-to breakfast?

Black coffee. I practice intermittent fasting so the only breakfast I have is an occasional meal on the weekends.

What is the most important personality trait that a PT must have?

Empathy. It’s a challenge to connect with everyone you meet, but stepping into their shoes and seeing what’s important to them, and trying to think like they think and feel like they feel is what allows us to connect and provide the best possible care.

What do you do to de-stress/unwind?

Cooking/baking or getting out into nature. I also meditate regularly.

Finish this sentence: On Saturday mornings, you can usually find me…

Sipping coffee and reading comic books.

What is your favorite piece of wellness advice?

“You’ve got to start where you are.” – Dan Jon

We all want to be superstars, but most of us aren’t. We have to be realistic with where we are fitness-wise, find our limiters, and keep working them to reach our goals.

Click here to learn more about Tony and the other physical therapists at Therapydia Portland.

Our Favorite Equipment for Physical Therapy

physical therapy equipment rehab tools portland

Around our clinics, we have a fair amount of equipment that we incorporate into our physical therapy treatment programs for a variety of conditions. Here are just a few of our favorites!

physical therapy equipment rehab tools keiser functional trainer portland

Keiser Functional Trainer

Besides looking super sleek and taking up almost no floor space in the clinic, we love the Keiser Functional Trainer for its extreme versatility. It also uses pneumatic resistance, so the muscles remain active through the entire movement with minimal shock to the joints. In some ways, the Keiser is a standard cable machine but it also allows you to do things that other cable machines can’t. One example is both testing and training for power output. Let us explain: When you do a repetition on the Keiser, it gives you a reading in Watts that indicates the rate at which your work was done (essentially the speed of your movements). This can be very valuable, especially for athletes who perform a lot of rotational movements such as golf and softball/baseball.

We can measure power one side at a time, making the Keiser a great tool for injury prevention. We all know the importance of symmetry; well, this technology allows us to test rotation to the right/left and locate deficits on either side, giving you the information you need to know what to train for. It’s also effective for the lower body. If you’re a basketball player and you want to be able to jump off of both legs, we can test each of your legs one at a time to find out if they produce the same amount of power.

We use the Keiser in all phases of rehab. For those who are still in pain, the Keiser allows for super light resistance. For those who are in the “return to sport” phase, we can receive objective numbers in order to clear you back to your sport.

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InBody Body Composition Analyzer

If a patient has goals of weight loss or strength training, the InBody machine is great for them. This machine can give you some really cool data to help you structure that goal.

The InBody Body Composition Analyzer provides your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories that you burn at rest), which is important to know before you work out. This will help you know how much you need to eat in relation to how much you need to burn. Rehab-wise, the limb segmental breakdown (right arm vs. left arm, right leg vs. left leg) is extremely helpful. If you have an injured leg, especially if it’s chronic, then there’s likely going to be some changes there in terms of your muscle mass. The InBody provides objective data that you can use to measure over time to make sure that we’re focusing on the right elements during your rehab and making things challenging enough to gain back muscle.

Even cooler, this is all done through electrical current (there are two sensors in each hand and two sensors in each foot). As you stand on what feels like a normal scale, the current goes through your body to determine what’s muscle, what’s fat and what’s bone, in just a couple of minutes.

Read more about the InBody Body Composition Analyzer

trx physical therapy tools rehab equipment portland

TRX

Another one of the most versatile pieces of equipment that we have, and one that may look especially familiar, is the TRX. Used for suspension training (all bodyweight training), it’s incredibly safe for all phases of rehab and for people of any age group. The TRX allows you to make things really simple or really challenging, depending on your personal condition and needs. You can target your upper body—great for those with shoulder issues who need to focus on shoulder blade strengthening—or lower body—someone with knee pain for example will be able to do a lot of assisted types of squats and can use the TRX as a helpful tool to progress from two legs to one. It’s also great for core work.

What else do we love? It’s portable and really quite simple: This amazing tool isn’t much more than a couple of ropes!

physical therapy equipment rehab tools portland

AeroPilates Reformer

In addition to being used for Pilates workouts, the reformer is something that we use on a daily basis with our patients. It’s low-impact and easy to adjust the intensity to match your condition (it has the ability to go from 25 to 75 pounds of resistance). You can perform upper body, lower body and core work. We probably use this most for helping patients get the leg strength that they need to squat. For those who can’t stand up to do a squat without pain, the reformer comes in handy to help them do a sort-of modified leg press. It’s a super effective tool used to progress patients to more functional, weight-bearing exercises.

Pelvic Health Myths

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Pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunction affects millions of people, however, the majority of these cases go untreated. Whether people just don’t know that pelvic pain isn’t something they should have to live with, they’re uncomfortable discussing it or they’re not sure where to seek out help, it’s our mission at Therapydia to shine a light on the fact that solutions to these problems DO exist. In treating patients, we come across a lot of misconceptions surrounding the musculoskeletal problems of the pelvic region. While we’re only scratching the surface of the topic here, it’s time for some of these myths to be debunked!

Myth: Pelvic floor issues only occur in women.
Truth: Believe it or not, men can have pelvic floor issues as well. Other than the obvious anatomical differences between men and women, most of the muscles of the pelvic floor are the same. Treatment is much different but a lot of men suffer from pelvic pain, pain with intercourse and many of the same symptoms as women.

Myth: Only women who have given birth suffer from pelvic floor issues.
Truth: You don’t have to have had a child to experience symptoms like leaking, diastasis recti, and other issues associated with pelvic health. Other causes of pelvic pain can stem from exercising improperly or trauma. Even something as seemingly unrelated as experiencing a hard fall on your tailbone can result in a misalignment of the bones in the pelvis and can completely alter how the pelvic floor muscles function.

Myth: It’s normal to have leaking and pelvic pain after childbirth.
Truth: It may be common but it’s certainly not normal. It’s important to know that something can be done about these pelvic floor issues and it doesn’t have to be your “new normal”. Women’s health physical therapy can help.

Myth: Constipation is only a result of the foods that we eat.
Truth: Much of the time, constipation is a pelvic floor problem. The symptoms can be a result of a neuromuscular issue in which your muscles are not able to fully relax and allow you to have a bowel movement. Read our blog on Toilet Ergonomics for more on this issue and to learn about the transformative powers of the Squatty Potty.

To learn more, visit our Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy page.

5 Ways to Challenge Your Single Leg Stance and Improve Your Balance

Improve balance portland physical therapy

The ability to maintain our balance is linked to multiple processes in our body including muscles and joints, vision, and our inner ear. As we get older, there are changes in all of these systems that result in a loss of steadiness and an increased risk of falling. Fortunately, falling is not inevitable and with training, our balance can improve! Training your balance now is also effective in improving your athletic performance by making better use of the strength that you already have.

Whether from a physical therapist, a personal trainer, or part of the warm up routine of your sports team, balance is very often overlooked in any training program. Maybe it sounds a bit dull but there are ways you can make it fun! Balance training can so easily be incorporated into your exercise routine and the results can help to preserve your ability to balance as you get older, warding off injuries and keeping your body strong.

Gauge your own balance with the single leg stance. Stand next to something sturdy, like a chair or table, and raise one leg off of the floor with your hips bent to 45 degrees and your knee to 90 degrees. Begin by trying to balance for 5-10 seconds and then work your way up. To challenge yourself even more, try these single leg stance modifications:

Relax Your Toes

Most people, when they stand on one foot, automatically tend to “grip the floor for dear life” with their toes as a way of searching for any type of stability. Relaxing the toes increases the surface area of your foot and allows some of those deep intrinsic foot muscles that are just in the arch of our foot, to activate.

Practice Balancing Barefoot

Taking the shoes and socks off allows you to receive sensory feedback from the floor, letting your natural foot do what it wants on the floor. You’re also not forced into the position of your shoes (aka foot coffins). Runners who need to have really strong foot muscles will do a lot of training while barefoot. This gives these muscles a better chance of activating without that stability.

Look Up!

We’re so reliant on our visual system for balance and movement in general, we’ll always correct our posture so that our gaze is horizontal. When you look down at the ground, everything else follows—your neck is flexed, your shoulders are rounded, your butt may be sticking out a little bit to counter the weight—posturally you’re put in a really bad position. Looking up straightens everything out and makes it much more challenging.

Close Your Eyes

At first this may be difficult, but over time it will make you less reliant on your visual system. Closing your eyes will make your proprioceptor system work a little bit harder, helping to train and strengthen those muscles and ligaments.

Multi-task

Balance training doesn’t always have to be “stand on one leg and hold for as long as you can”. Practicing balance while frozen (not talking, not blinking, not moving) is not quite realistic to maintaining proper balance in everyday life. Shake things up by catching a ball while you’re balancing on one leg, having a conversation, thinking about something else, moving your arms, cooking, washing dishes, etc. Challenge your brain to focus on more than just your balance so that it becomes an automatic response.

Make balance training a part of your workout routine by practicing your single leg stance daily. You’ll notice improvements in no time!

Is Crossing Your Legs Bad For You?

Crossing your legs seems like a natural sitting position but can it actually be bad for you?

Aside from claims that it raises your blood pressure or that it can cause varicose veins, regularly sitting with your legs crossed may result in a stooped posture, lower back pain, neck pain, and/or hip discomfort. This seemingly harmless sitting position could be contributing to aches and pains and actually increasing your chance of further injury.

When you cross one leg over the other, muscle imbalances are created in the lower back and the hips which can contribute to pelvic and sacral dysfunction as your body naturally shifts to one side. The pelvic imbalance eventually makes the hip flexor and inner thigh muscles shorter and the outer thigh muscle longer, putting your joints at risk for stiffness and dysfunction. Your pelvis also rolls backward and “unstacks” the spine, putting pressure on the lower back and forcing you into a leaning position favoring the side that the leg is crossed over. You end up with tight muscles on one side and on the other side, muscles that are weakened and overstretched. No good!

Sitting with your legs crossed slightly twists the spine which may lead to back pain, neck pain, and disc problems. For PT patients who experience back pain, it is recommended that they work on breaking the habit of crossing their legs as it may lead to compensation and stiffness, making their symptoms worse. Sitting this way after treatment can even undo physical therapy work that has already been done. It becomes a constant battle of reactivating muscles and restabilizing the pelvis and sacrum. Finding a neutral position is key to begin stabilizing better. When your pelvis is in a neutral position, the rest of the spine can also find a more neutral position

crossing your legs is bad for your health physical therapy

So I can’t cross my legs…how am I supposed to sit?

If you’re used to crossing your legs while sitting, it can be a particularly difficult habit to break as many of us do it without even thinking. It may take some time to get used to but practicing crossing your legs down at the ankles with your feet on the floor allows your pelvis to sit in a neutral position so that the rest of your spine can also be in a neutral position. Your stabilizing muscles can activate best in this position as there’s no negative tension on the ligaments, joints, and discs.

To find that neutral posture, your weight should be just slightly in front of the sit bones. To find this while seated, roll back and forth so you can feel your sit bones. Make sure both feet are flat on the floor with your knees and hips as close to 90 degrees as possible.