In our last article in this series we’re just going to continue with simple, easy, effective stretches and exercises that can be done anytime, anywhere.
Wrist Flexion and Extension:
Obviously if you want to improve wrist stability and strength you would need to strengthen the wrist and forearm muscles. Again some more stretching, strengthening exercises that can be done quickly and easily while at work.Wrist Curls:
Wrist curls are great to work the top of the forearm along with improving wrist muscle strength. As with any exercise routine, you always want to stretch the affected body areas. Start off slowly beginning with light to moderate weights. You don’t want to sustain an injury so beginning somewhat easy and working into it, is best.
To begin you can start in a sitting position. Have your forearms placed on the top of the thighs. Some type of weight or some type of resistance is used with your palms facing downward. A band or even some household object, such as a can of soup, will do the trick. Lift the resistance up and down. Only your wrists should have any movement. Start with one set of ten repetitions and increase sets as you improve.
Another great exercise to compliment the Wrist Curl is the Reverse Wrist Curl. Doing just the opposite of the Wrist Curl these work the underside of the forearm as well as the muscles of the wrist. Place your forearms on the top of your thighs and moving only your wrists lift the resistance up and down.
Stretches are essential for strength and reduction of potential injury.
The wrist stretch allows you to elongate, stretch, energize, and align the wrist joint. You also get the added benefit of stretching the wrist itself, forearm muscles, and fingers. You can do this by sitting in a chair or standing up tall. If standing, make sure that your back stays straight. Take your arm and extend it in front of you. You hand and wrist should be out approximately even with your shoulder. The palm should be facing down. Take the wrist and bend it so that your fingers are pointing towards the floor. Bend the wrist and also have your fingers point to the right. You want to use your other hand and push the palm back towards the body. Do this for a 10-15 count. Release and do again. Do with both arms.
For most folks in most professions using a pinch grip is probably not that relevant. In the sonography world holding and or pinching an item, such as our probe, is essential to getting our work done. There are also many very good pinch-grip exercises that will increase grip strength and mobility. See Figure A.
Pinch grip training: One great way to accomplish this exercise is to hold two weight plates together. Make sure that the smooth side of the weight used is out. You want to vary the weight used. Hold the weights together and hold for anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds. You also have the option of holding the weights statically or you can choose to walk around a bit. Walking around increases the work of the exercise.
Medicine balls are another quick and inexpensive way to train your grip strength. You can purchase balls with different weights or by adding different materials you can vary the weight of the balls. Sand bags are another great, quick, easy, cheap solution. Heavy books will even work.
We call the next one the ‘Spider Stretch’. This is a simple, easy exercise to stretch the fingers. Touch each respective finger to its left or right counterpart; right thumb to left thumb, right index finger to left index finger etc…. Get a great stretch by bringing the palms of the hands toward each other while providing resistance with the fingers. The term we like to use when talking about this exercise is to pretend that your fingers are a spider on a mirror and the spider is doing pushups. Start off with doing sets of 20 and then work up from there.
Anybody in the fitness world knows the importance of the ‘core’ to the rest of our body. The core offers body stabilization and is really the place where all body movement begins. The core is the main area of the body that allows for stabilization and support of all the other areas of the body. If our core is off kilter or not able to do what we ask of it, because it is weak, it affects the entire rest of the body. You may not be able to walk or even sit properly if the core is affected. As important as our core is, it can be one of the most neglected body areas. The ‘core’ is at the core of all body movement. A strong core offers protection for our other body segments. If you have a strong core, areas such as the spine and back receive benefit. A weak core will often return bad posture, which leads to more body aches and pains, with the result being injury.
This next exercise is called the Sitting Leg Lift. This exercise works best with a stability ball. Stability balls are cheap to buy and offer a lot of versatility. You can also use a chair if a stability ball is not an option. Start by sitting on the stability ball or chair. You want to brace your core. Another way of looking at it is to draw your navel into the spine. This tightens the core, adding more stability. Lift up your pelvic floor and squeeze your buttocks together. Make sure you do not hold your breath. It is important to breathe while doing this exercise. Lift one leg off the floor and hold for 10 seconds. Switch and do the other leg. This is one set. Do one set and build up to two to three sets as endurance and strength increase.
Now we are going to take a look at and do BRIDGES. To begin, lie flat on your back. Bend your knees and have your feet flat on the floor. From this position lift your hips up off of the floor. The goal is to form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Mentally you want to make sure that you are bracing your core. To increase difficulty lift one leg off of the floor and hold for 10 seconds. Switch to the other leg and continue. Go back and forth two or three times.
Hip Rotation Stretch. (Figure B) Another easy one but for this one it is necessary to lie down on the floor. Your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor. Let you hips relax and slowly have your knees drop to the floor, first right and then left. Keep you body straight during this movement. Bring your knees back up to the starting position and then do the left side. Start off doing 10 reps each side and then build to two or three sets. Figure B.
One of the keys to staying strong is to make sure that you are doing enough movement. Movement is one of the keys to staying strong and healthy. Movement is one of the ways we can manage pain and injury. If you keep movement up throughout your whole life it will allow you to stay independent. Movement can also reverse some of the effects of illness, aging, and the health problems that go along with aging. Simple movement is also good for overall total body health. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or even how out of shape that you are but getting up and moving along with some form of an exercise program is better for your overall health. It’s also good for your affect, things such as your mind, mood, and memory. Anyone can benefit from some sort of exercise program. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to join a gym. Many of the exercises that we’ve shown you in this 4 part series don’t require a gym membership. Yet they offer huge benefit. You can receive enormous benefit to your health and well being without having to spend long tortuous hours in the gym. Adding and doing a few small things, and then adding from there, can offer enormous benefit.
Doug Wuebben BA, AS, RDCS (Adult and Peds) FASE is a registered cardiac sonographer who performs adult and pediatric echocardiograms. Doug is also a consultant and International Speaker on keeping Sonographers and Others doing their jobs at a high level.
Mark “Coach Rozy” Roozen M.Ed, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT, FTSAC, FNSCA Mark has his Masters Degree in HPERD, with emphasis in Exercise Physiology. He is a Certiﬁed Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS,*D), a Certiﬁed Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) a Facilitator for Tactical Strength and Conditioning (FTSAC) and a Fellow of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (FNSCA). He has been in the Strength, Conditioning and Performance ﬁeld for over 30 years.
Mark is also Owner and CEO of COACH ROZY, LLC, his company that does performance training, a radio show, writes a column in the local newspaper and oversees his speaking and writing. He is also Co-Founder of LIVE PAIN FREE with Doug, which works with groups, teams and corporation to help their staff and employees achieve peak levels of performance.
His other business is 911 Tactical Performance where they work with First Responders; fire, police and military to help BE FIT FOR DUTY - FIT FOR LIFE. They can be reached to firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.coachrozy.com and www.911tacticalperformance.com