I’M ACTIVE at least five days a week. I frequently push myself hard, lifting bigger weights, challenging myself in new yoga poses or trying new classes for this column. I’m healthy, but I experience occasional tweaks and twinges. Some are old injuries that protest; others are new, like a recent turned ankle.
I don’t live in fear of injuring myself. I do pay attention when something feels off, backing off if I’m in pain or taking it down a notch.
There’s a lot more we can do to support ourselves at home. Preventive rehab can make a big difference for people who have minor injuries or want to avoid new ones, says Mark Trombold, who co-owns ProFormance Rehab (1550 Eastlake Ave.). If you are experiencing sharp or persistent pain, though, see a professional.
Regardless of the reason people come to Trombold, he almost always focuses on the core. It’s the central connecting point for the body. He says to think about a 360-degree approach with the spine as the tent pole in the middle. Work front, side and back — all are key to supporting your spine.
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Trombold recommends spending 20 minutes a day on core strengthening, including time on an area where you’re having trouble. Instead of managing injuries by crisis, take care of yourself so you experience fewer, shorter episodes, he says.
Here are his recommendations for basic equipment and exercises to strengthen your trunk and spine.
PHYSIO EXERCISE BALL
Active seat: The people bouncing away at work are the smart ones, challenging their balance and working their core. Play with lifting one foot at a time. Set a timer at 45 minutes for a posture check.
Trunk strengthening: Lie on your belly on the ball and lift your opposite leg and arm, engaging your shoulder, trunk and glute. Switch.
Back plank: Lie on the floor. Put your feet on the ball and lift your hips off the floor. Engage your glutes.
SPORT CORD (stretchy tubing with foam padding)
Controlled walk: Loop the band around your waist. Walk away to full resistance, slowly step one foot forward, focusing on the standing leg, then step back, controlling all the way to work balance and glutes. Other options:
Turn sideways to a wide, bent-knee stance. Step inside foot to meet the other, working slowly.
Use the band for controlled squats or to mimic moves like dynamic twists in tennis or basketball, such as pivoting on one foot side to side.
Lunges: Face sideways, put the band around your inner thigh, step the free foot on an upside-down Frisbee and slide your foot back and forth in a controlled lunge.
Banded situps: Grab the band and use it to slowly sit up one vertebra at a time.
Squats: Lower your hips toward the chair, and right before you sit, stand up. For the elderly, maintaining the strength to stand up from a chair is key.
Bridge:Lie on the floor and put your feet on the chair seat. Lift your hips off the floor, fire your glutes.
NO EQUIPMENT NEEDED
Mindful walking: Walk barefoot and pay attention to your feet. Put your hands on your glutes to see if they are firing when your foot pushes off the floor behind you.
Planks: Hold a plank on your forearms against a table, or a door frame if you’re not strong enough to hold it on the floor. Test yourself until you can hold a plank for 60 seconds. Do side planks, balancing on your forearm, holding on each side to build core strength.
Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: email@example.com. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific NW magazine staff photographer.