By Motion Physical Therapist: Dr. Michelle Steege PT, DPT
Looking for a new workout this summer? Bored with your usual running or bike route, or just needing some variety? Get out on the water! There are tons of great ways to work your upper body, core, and even lower body with activities on or in the water.
For those with lower body injuries, getting IN the water can be a great way to cross train and decrease stress on the structures of the lumbar spine, hips, knees and ankles. Even those of us who may not be great swimmers can walk, jog or perform exercises in the water such as squats, lunges, heel raises, step ups, and more.
Variety is great when it comes to staying fit and active. It keeps our bodies guessing and brains attentive!
3 Ways to Avoid Summer Workout Burnout (and Injury)
- Kayaking: a great way to work arms and upper back. Scapular (shoulder blade) muscles are typically in need of some extra attention and this is an activity that can help you target them. Additionally, rotator cuff muscles and latissimus dorsi are used. As you make strokes in the water, concentrate on stabilizing the scapula to your rib cage (pull shoulder blade down/in toward spine). Because of the movements required during this sport, shoulder injuries are most common.
- Canoeing: arm and upper back muscles used during canoeing are similar to those involved in kayaking. Because you are sitting less supported while canoeing compared to kayaking, this will require you to engage your core musculature to a greater extent in order to provide proximal stability as you move your paddle through the water. Focus on keeping a neutral spine, avoiding increased lumbar lordosis or slumped posture. This is a great anti-rotation exercise for your core muscles.
- Paddle boarding: of those listed, paddle boarding requires the most stability and balance. This activity will require you to you really use your core muscles. In addition to those muscles listed above with kayaking and canoeing, you will also be required to use your lower body to maintain stability on the board as you make strokes–hinge from the hips and maintain a neutral spine. For those with low back pain, you made need to use caution when attempting paddle boarding due to the requirements of your core.
About Dr. Michelle Steege, PT, DPT:
Michelle is passionate about the profession of physical therapy, which allows her to help people return to the activities they love. Her experience in a hospital-based outpatient orthopedic setting has given her the opportunity to treat a variety of orthopedic conditions and sports injuries. Michelle began her orthopedic residency at Motion in 2017, further advancing her knowledge in the world of physical therapy. She also has training in instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) and running analysis.
Michelle earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in exercise science. She then attended the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas where she earned her doctorate in physical therapy.
In her free time, Michelle enjoys being outdoors—running, biking, hiking, kayaking, and spending time at the cabin in northern Wisconsin.