Many people injure their backs because of poor posture, weak abdominal muscles and a lack of core training. Around 80 percent of the population in the United States alone will experience some form of debilitating back injury directly related to this neglect. Bodyblade® serves as an excellent functional training tool that can improve your posture and decrease pain and discomfort in your neck and mid back.
As a physical therapist in an orthopedic outpatient practice, I see many patients who arrive with a prescription to treat cervical (neck) and thoracic (middle back) dysfunction. Besides using ultrasound, heat, massage and electrical stimulation during the acute phase, I progress to the Bodyblade to strengthen, improve and regain function to perform activities of daily living. Driving the Bodyblade in a series of movements helps develop balance and synergy in the dysfunctional area by co-contraction of the muscles while simultaneously activating the core. When driving the Bodyblade, the muscles of the core begin to fire first, allowing efficient, safe, and normal movements of the arms and legs.
Strengthening the upper back and neck muscles are key in avoiding painful postural consequences that may lead to a doctor and/or physical therapy visit. Since the resistance is met by flexing the blade more or less, the Bodyblade automatically adjusts to the level of the user. When addressing the cervical and thoracic area, therapists tend not to exercise the chest muscle since it is strong and tight and the opposing muscles of the middle back are weak and overstretched. The Bodyblade chest press, on the other hand, can be used. Why? Because when performing the Bodyblade chest press exercise, the weak middle back muscles work efficiently and in unison with the stronger chest muscles. This allows the body to correct the imbalance through functional movement. No other piece of exercise equipment combines the power of vibration and inertia to create this balance between contracting muscles. This is defined as training movement rather than muscle. No muscle or group of muscles is isolated or left out, but rather exercised in a movement pattern.
The user will only be able to drive the Bodyblade if he can generate force and be able to match or react to those forces quickly in a coordinated manner. If the user fatigues and becomes tired they will not be able to keep up with the 4.5 cycles per second the blade requires to continue flexing. This helps prevent overtraining and injuries, making the Bodyblade a safe and effective tool in building strength and endurance for those postural muscles.
When driving the blade, your body is automatically brought into a more natural and upright posture. This brings in extensor tone in the back muscles to improve alignment. This means that the muscles of the back and hips cause the body to stand upright and for the scapular muscles to move downward and toward the spine (retract and depress). With Bodyblade training, great posture becomes automatic, using the deep involuntary core muscles to assist. You will also notice a change in your balance, proprioception (awareness of the body in space) and coordination.
Exercises appropriate for cervical and thoracic stabilization include but are not limited to Chest Press, Back and Shoulder Reach and The Jab.
To perform the chest press, use a two-hand top grip, wide side horizontal orientation. Hold the Bodyblade with both hands in front of your chest. Modifications include sitting in a chair, lunging, kneeling, half kneeling and standing on a single leg. Lightly begin moving your hands forward and back to drive the Bodyblade away from your chest. Other ideas would be to move the blade up and down in front of the torso, using the narrow side of the blade horizontally or bringing it downward or overhead, rotating the trunk, or using long sit positions.
Another exercise to consider is the Back and Shoulder Reach. This exercise emphasis is on shoulders, back, arms, core and upper torso including deep postural muscles. To perform these exercises, use a lace grip or top-to-bottom grip, and a wide side blade orientation. Hold the Bodyblade in both hands with your arms overhead, elbows pointing away from your body. Lightly begin moving your hands up and down from your head toward the ceiling. A modification would be to laterally flex your upper body to either the right or left side.
A third exercise is the Standing Jab. This exercise emphasizes core and upper torso including deep postural muscles, abs, chest, shoulders, arms, buttocks and thighs. To perform these exercises, use a single-hand Top Grip and the wide side orientation vertically aligned. Hold the Bodyblade with one hand with your arm out to the side of your body. Lightly begin moving your hand toward and away from you to drive the Bodyblade in and out away from your body.
Exercising with the Bodyblade is a sure way to decrease your chance of injury, pain and dysfunction in the cervical and thoracic area. Start out with short duration exercises from a 10–15 second interval and progress up to 60 seconds per exercise. Give these three exercises a try and see if you are not standing taller and feeling less stress in the neck and mid back!
All these exercises are explained further on the Bodyblade wall chart.