Active Care Rehab

Winter Conditioning and Proper Breathing

tredmillWith Midwest winter weather upon us, many people will be transitioning to more indoor workouts and training. One downfall to being active is that the weather does not always allow us to get our activity in year round. If you are a competitive runner, a weekend warrior or a person that enjoys a nice walk or bike ride through the neighborhood the snow and cold can keep you inside and bundled up.

Although a nice warm cup of hot chocolate or hard cider sounds cozy on a frigid winter day, we still have to find ways to keep our bodies healthy and in shape. Many choose alternatives to being outside and exercising such as running or walking on a treadmill and riding a stationary bike. These great pieces of exercise equipment help keep ones cardiovascular system in shape but can lead to injuries when heading back to the road or trail when the weather allows.

Using a treadmill or stationary bike does not engage the glute and ankle muscles like their road counterparts. While your endurance may not decline during the winter months, one’s hip and ankle stability generally does. It becomes more important to start a core/glute and ankle strengthening program and working on generally flexibility so that when your competitive season begins or take to the outdoors again you are ready for action.

When working on core strengthening it is important to also include breathing techniques. Improper respiration can aid in many dysfunctions and the development in pain. Many of us hold our stomachs tight to appear to be smaller than we are. Doing this blocks the diaphragm and does not let it push downward when we inhale. This decreases the strength of the protective muscles of the spine and hips.

When the diaphragm can not fall properly, other muscles have to assist in rib expansion. The neck and shoulder muscles pull the ribs upward, instead of them moving downward and out. This type of respiration can lead to shoulder and neck pain along with headaches. The lower extremity muscles than have too help stabilize the spine instead of the hips or pelvis. This shift in stability can increase to the risk to many injuries.

Long term improper breathing can lead to overuse injuries and syndromes in the spine and extremities. Over using the neck and shoulder muscles can cause tendinitis in the shoulder and below, nerve entrapments that mimic carpal tunnel, and disc injuries in the spine.

Click here see exercises that help correct your breathing.

Your in health,

Dr. Justin Hildebrand

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