News You Can Use
Janet Alexander and Chris Maund
May/June 2012  
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Janet doing a Prone Cobra
Welcome to the May/June issue of our newsletter. This issue is devoted to resistance training and posture. Summer is coming and you WILL look better with your clothes off if you can at least stand upright! The picture shows Janet demonstrating a Prone Cobra. When done correctly and several times a week, this exercise can be very helpful in correcting poor posture.
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Getting Started With Resistance Training
Most people get weaker as they get older and most athletes benefit from some form of resistance training. Whatever your motivation for starting a resistance training program, it is important to consider the following questions carefully:

1. What imbalances do I have in my body? What is my posture like?
2. What are my resistance training goals? Do I need power, strength or muscular endurance?
3. How many days a week do I need to do my resistance training program?
4. What type of training equipment do I have access to?

It is important to answer all of these questions BEFORE you start resistance training, otherwise you are very likely to end up making your posture worse and creating more problems than solutions. If this sounds hard to believe just go to your local gym and watch the ridiculous technique! Most of the people you see would be much better off NOT going to the gym...they really are doing themselves more harm than good.
Let's turn to question 1.
If you have poor posture then it make sense to choose exercises that will help to correct this rather than make it worse. There's not much point doing bench press and sit ups if you already have round shoulders and forward head posture. These exercises will only make this postural problem worse!
Exercises like rows (especially with a wide pronated grip to encourage recruitment of the interscapular muscles) are a much better idea.
Do you have really puny hamstrings and glutes? This is VERY common and leads to all sorts of back, hip, knee and ankle problems. If you do not have clearly defined muscle mass in your hamstrings and glutes then you are almost certainly in the "puny" category. To address this problem you must first train these weak muscles in isolation. Using exercises like squats, lunges and deadlifts (complex integrated exercises) will not usually have the desired effect because your brain has literally lost the neuromuscular control over these weak areas. Isolate these weak muscles first then integrate later once neuromuscular control has been re-established. If you do not know how to isolate your hamstrings and glutes then contact Janet and myself and we can help you. Balancing the strength/function of the quads, hamstrings and glutes is particularly critical for running and jumping sports. Most people who get knee injuries have weak glutes and quads that are far stronger than their hamstrings. This is a recipe for disaster.
Next month we will continue this discussion.
Better Posture...Exercises That Work       
By far the most common postural problem is rounded shoulders and forward head. Most of us suffer from this to some degree, in large part because we spend a lot of our day sitting in chairs.
What is to be done? First of all you need to change the way you use your body when at work and any time you sit. If at all possible get rid of your chair completely and get a standing desk for all computer or office work. It does not really matter how much money that fancy "ergonomic chair"'s still a chair and creates more or less the same problems as any other chair.
"But my legs get tired when I stand up" I hear you cry...well in the words of Chopper Read "harden up"! If you don't know who Chopper Read is look him up on YouTube but don't do it in front of the kids! Seriously though, if you are that out of shape that standing all day completely cripples you then you have some major problems with lower limb function and probably need the exercise anyway. "If you can't, you must".
Once you are standing instead of sitting you have a much better chance of holding your entire spine straight. Exercises like Prone Cobra (shown in the photo at the top of this newsletter), Wall Lean, Wide Pronated Grip Rows and the various ELDOA techniques created by Guy Voyer are all very helpful to strengthen the muscles that have become weak through years of slouching at your desk. Bike riding and rowing are NOT a good idea because these activities put you back into that round shouldered posture. Tai Chi, walking, running and swimming are helpful because to do these activities properly requires axial extension (lengthening of the spine from the coccyx to the top of the head). Once again, if you need help with these exercises please let us know. 
That's it for this time we'll continue our discussion of resistance training and talk about how you figure out which multi-vitamins are good and which ones are not worthy of your hard earned cash. Cheers.