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Duncan Peak, founder of Power Living Australia, and responsible for bringing Power Yoga to Australia, has written the article Yoga For Women. To read the article click here.



When most people hear the words "gym workout", they immediately think of sweaty, muscular bodies running for long periods on a treadmill or lifting heavy weights to get those "beach muscles" into shape.

Unfortunately most people are not aware of the importance to develop stability around the lower trunk region. This does not necessarily mean performing hundreds of repetitions of sit-ups to develop that often-desired "six pack" stomach look.

Instead, it means improving the control of your core musculature. The key word here is control, and not strength. Your core musculature refers to your deep abdominal muscles, such as the transversus abdominus (TA) and the oblique abdominals, and your deep back muscles. These muscles are known as local muscles as they attach directly onto the lumbar (low back) spine and therefore provide segmental stability to this low back region.

Recent studies have shown that the TA muscle contracts with all movements of the trunk, regardless of primary direction.It is also recruited before all other abdominal muscles. Further research has shown that there is a delayed timing of onset in the TA muscle in people suffering from low back pain. When functioning normally, this muscle creates a corset-like effect to stabilize your low back when performing everyday activities and when exercising.

How do we improve core (lumbar) stability?

The best way to improve your core stability depends on your current ability level to contract these particular muscles. While some people find it quite easy to contract the desired muscles, others can take several weeks to isolate these muscles from their stronger, larger abdominal muscles. Remember, that large, rippled body standing next to you in the gym, may in fact have poor core stability.

To test your own core stability, lie on your back with knees bent up, and attempt to draw your navel towards your spine. Avoid tilting your pelvis, and remain relaxed in your upper abdominal and chest region. Make sure you continue to breathe normally whilst holding these muscles. If it is difficult to obtain the desired effect in this position, try the same activity on your hands and knees.

For those of you who do this quite easily, some progressions include holding the contraction longer; increasing the number of repetitions; adding in some arm/leg movements; or using the Swiss Ball.

The Swiss Ball is an excellent apparatus for improving your core stability as you can exercise whilst sitting, lying, kneeling, and if you're game, standing on the ball. You can also perform many of your stretches and weight lifting exercises whilst working on improving your stability at the same time.

Pilates is another great way to improve your core stability whilst giving your body an entire workout at the same time.

Luke Goodwin



The following questionnaires are designed to help you record your current levels of impairment:

1. Oswestry (for low back pain)

2. NDI (Neck Disability Index for neck pain)

3. Patient Function Scale (for a measure of daily activities performed)




(NB. People with neck and back pain should consult their physiotherapist before attempting these exercises.)


Lie on your back with knees bent up.
Tilt pelvis forward until back muscles contract (hold this position).
Draw in lower abdominal muscles (hold firm).


Whilst maintaining above position, take deep breath in through nose, and slowly exhale through mouth.
Ensure that back position remains the same and abdominal muscles remain firm (feel with fingers).

3.Overhead Arms

Hold arms up at 90° .
Take arms backwards as you breathe in, then forwards as you exhale.
Maintain back positioning and muscle holding.

4.Arms & Legs

Take same arm and leg forwards to floor as you breathe in (opposite arm moves backwards).
Return movement as you exhale.
Make sure you don't arch your back with movement (hold normal position).

5.Dead Bugs

Similar to exercise 4, but start with legs off the ground at 90° .
Make sure legs don't sag during exercise.
Flatten back slightly if more comfortable.

6.Leg Rolls

Lie on back with hips and knees at 90° (maintain pelvic tilt if possible).
Roll legs 20-30° to the side as you breathe in, then return to middle as you exhale.
Repeat to other side.

7.Leg Rolls with Knee Extension

Similar to exercise 6, except extend knees when rolled to side.
Keep legs straight as you exhale and return to middle.
Don't over-arch your back or let your legs sag.

8.Roll Up

Lie on back with legs straight and arms overhead on floor.
Slowly bring arms to 90° , then curl body into sitting position (sit up tall).
Reach for your toes to stretch hamstrings.
Return to tall sitting position.
Tilt pelvis backwards and roll body back to start position.

Luke Goodwin





Unlike the hip joint, which is quite stable, the shoulder joint requires additional stability due to its shallow socket. This additional stability is provided by surrounding ligaments, as well as the rotator cuff muscles.

The rotator cuff muscles are a group of different muscles which stabilize the shoulder joint throughout its range of movement. These muscles are required to balance the forces being exerted by other larger muscles that are lifting the arm in the air.

If it wasn't for the rotator cuff muscles, the head of the shoulder would be forced upward, thus resulting in it being jammed up against the bony roof over the shoulder joint. Unfortunately, some people still experience this situation which is known as "shoulder impingement".

Rotator cuff tendonitis is when the tendons of these muscles become inflamed, resulting in the narrowing of the space between the shoulder and its roof. There are numerous reasons as to why this occurs including overuse of the shoulder; poor biomechanics or technique; a strength imbalance around the shoulder, muscle tightness; and even poor posture.

The resultant tendonitis can lead to problems such as pain; decreased strength and movement; poor performance (work & leisure); and a decreased motivation to exercise.

It is most important that this type of injury is attended to quickly in order to prevent further damage to the shoulder, as well as to alleviate the increasing pain.

The physiotherapy treatment of rotator cuff tendonitis initially aims to settle down any pain and inflammation, followed by an extensive assessment of the shoulder to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem. If this underlying cause is not eradicated, then it is quite likely that the problem will reoccur. It may be simply a matter of correcting your technique when doing a particular exercise, or working to strengthening certain muscles around the shoulder.

If you are currently suffering from some of the problems just mentioned, then it is vital that you seek help immediately so that the problem doesn't worsen. A physiotherapy screening may also be beneficial to identify any potentially harmful factors.

Luke Goodwin




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