090913 Tired of doing the same old same routine?

Tired of doing the same old same routine?

One of the nice things about being fit and healthy is the ability to do what you want to do when it comes to choosing a physical activity. Those who have included physical activity in their daily life have found that it has increased their breathing and heart rate during the exercise period thereby improving the health of their lungs, heart, and circulatory system. The combination of these three working together has increased their stamina for doing daily activities.

Not only does physical activity increase your ability to do daily activities easier it also helps improve your balance and coordination. And being able to move about without the fear of falling is one of the many results of being physically active.

However, if you have found yourself frequently missing a workout now more than in the past, perhaps it is time to take a break.

Taking a break does not mean ceasing all physical activity. It may mean changing up your exercise program in a dramatically different fashion. For example, if you are a hard-core runner and are experiencing ankle, knee, or hip problems you need a break from the constant pounding on your joints. One of the ways to maintain your cardio fitness and at the same time give a joint to break is by riding a bicycle or some other cardio piece of equipment. On the other hand, if you do not want to go to the gym then start walking.

Walking, as has been mentioned numerous times in the media, is an excellent way to increase your physical health. It is also much kinder to your joints than running. Walking, as can be expected, strengthens your leg muscles as well as improving your balance especially if you consistently walk over uneven terrain.

According to the Mayo Clinic “the more you walk, the better your balance will be, and the more practice you get at catching yourself when you trip or quickly change directions.” These are two good reasons to walk, particularly if you are older.

240613 Exercise form

Exercise form

Exercise is a way to live life to the fullest; however using poor form is a fast way of incurring an injury. If you are using free weights, which are highly recommended over any of the common machines, there are certain techniques to use in order to get the greatest benefit from them and avoid injury. In the next few paragraphs, we will briefly discuss some issues of exercise form to guard against.

The military press: stand tall, avoid a lower back, backward lean, and side to side lean when pressing up. Do the press in front of your face and not behind your head because this is harmful to your shoulders due to the extreme range of motion when the weight is coming down behind the head.

Barbell curls: For the most part, keep your hands close to your outer thighs. Don’t lean backward in an effort to move heavier weight. Keep momentum to a minimum. Keep the weight under control on the downward phase and do not let gravity take over in the hopes you will be able to lift more.

Supine lateral raises commonly referred to as flyes: Keep the weight under control and don’t let it drop suddenly because your shoulders won’t tolerate this for long.

Bench press: The number one rule here is to keep your feet on the floor and not on the bench as shown so frequently in the magazines or on YouTube. You have minimal balance control with your feet on the bench.

Instead use the five-point stance: Both feet on the floor, buttocks on the bench at all times, shoulders and head on the bench. Keep the weight over your elbows by not hyperextending the wrists. Don’t allow the weight to plummet to your chest with hope of bouncing it back up.

Dead lift: Begin by squatting into the start position by pushing your hips backward and striving to keep your lower legs perpendicular to the floor. Keep the natural lordosis in your lower back. Avoid lifting a weight that overpowers your ability to keep your back in the correct position.

Good mornings: Begin with the weight behind your head and on your shoulders (this is easier done in a power rack so you aren’t exposing your shoulders to an unnecessary injury-see the caution in the military press portion), flex your knees ever so slightly and bend over until your head is below your waistline. Don’t go fast on the down phase as this puts a lot of shock load on your lower back at its most vulnerable position in the lift; coming back up again. Instead, lift with control. There is that word again. Be in control of the weight by controlling momentum. You will get more out the exercise and perhaps even avoid an injury in the process.

Squat: Contrary to what many misinformed people may say this is the best lower body exercise in the entire encyclopedia of fitness movements. The things to avoid are rapid drops into the bottom position, knees coming inward on going back up, rounding of the back, not going deep enough, and in some cases, ego lifting with too much weight.

Some people think they are protecting their knees by not going into the full squat. They fail to realize that by not going deep they are exposing themselves to a sports injury when the need to exert protective force at the full range of motion is necessary to prevent an injury from happening.

Secondly, and more importantly, is protecting yourself in a fall when the leg is suddenly flexed to its extreme such as frequently happens during a fall on the stairs. If the squat is not deep enough then problems start to occur with such simple things a going to the toilet. A ninety-degree squat is not even deep enough to sit in most chairs.

There is strong evidence that at ninety degrees there is a tremendous high load on the patella tendon. If damage happens to this tendon, the individual with the injury is in for a long rehabilitation period. For example, a two hundred and fifty pound person doing a squat with two hundred pounds is putting over 600 pounds of pressure on their patella for an extended period due to the reversal of motion at this dangerous spot in the range of motion.

It is far better to go through this position, go deep and then come back up, than it is doing the high squat stopping at the magic ninety-degree spot.

 

010513 Ankle weights

Ankle weights

Questions often arise as to the usefulness of the small Velcro style attached weights. But that may be the wrong question to be asking if you are interested in safe, healthy exercise.

Attaching the weights to your ankles and doing any type of fast movements, where your legs are extending, such as happens when running or jogging puts an excessive strain on the knee and hip joints. Over time, this can cause problems leading to laxity in the joint capsule, potential constriction, and/or adhesion of the surrounding tissues resulting in abnormal wear patterns in the joint.

Thus, using these ankle weights for any type of aerobic exercise is not recommended. However, there are times when they are useful in an exercise program. And those times are when you need some extra resistance doing leg curls and quad sets at home.

These little weights are ideal when you are recovering from a lower joint surgery, particularly a total knee replacement. They will help you get back your range of motion, help develop endurance and eventually increase your strength in small increments. All of which you will need to completely recover from this surgery.

They can be useful when rehabbing your ankle from a strain if you follow your doctor and physical therapists advice on when and how to use them.

Although I have never used them when riding a stationary bike they may even be of benefit here too.

060313 Strengthen your leg muscles and avoid potential knee pain-part one

Strengthen your leg muscles and avoid potential knee pain-part one

Keeping the muscles of your lower torso strong will do a number of things to improve your health. The most important reason to have strong powerful legs is help prevent falls. In addition to the prevention of falls, the ability to maintain your mobility as you age will play an increasingly important role in your quality of life.

Many of our older citizens are beginning to find they have osteoarthritis, a painful condition brought on by the deterioration of the knee joints. This wear and tear on the joints may be the result of participating in high-impact sports throughout their earlier years. Moreover, being obese exacerbates osteoarthritis in the knee joint. There are different options to control the pain and discomfort in your knee joint.

Probably one of the most drastic will be the total knee replacement (TKA), normally performed when all else has failed to address the pain. However, before it gets to this point, certain life changes can make a difference and prolong making the decision to have your knee replaced.

One of the most effective of these changes involves cutting back on your calories and reducing your bodyweight. Logically speaking, lesser weight pounding on the joint is going to decrease the pain.

Another option is to change your methods of exercise. If you have engaged in high-impact activities involving twisting, and high load turning on the knee joint such as tennis, running, racquetball now may be the time to reconsider these activities. This is going to be a major mental disruption in how you view exercise. Nevertheless, at some point, the pain is going to make you change your mind about continuing with what you have been doing.

Some of the recommended activities, which are passive to low impact, are practicing yoga, walking or swimming. If you happen to not only suffer from knee pain but also have osteoporosis, then none of the suggestions previously mentioned will help make your bones stronger.