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Archive for the tag “healthy-living”

Tendinitis

Every day, my personal training clients ask for advice about their assorted pains, strains, aches, cramps, and twinges. I’ve been involved in athletics and fitness long enough to have had them all, so, although I’m not a physician, I almost always have some helpful guidance. Recently, a client asked for advice regarding pain near his heel. From our brief discussion, it appeared that he was suffering from chronic relapsing Achilles tendinitis.

The Achilles tendon’s job is to help your calf muscle pull your heel, so you can rise up on your toes and push off when you walk or run. Some people get Achilles tendinitis due to lack of flexibility and mobility at the ankle joint, as well as overpronation at the ankle. http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/generalinfo6/g/overpronation.htm

Tendinitis is defined as localized inflammation, typically caused by overuse. I’ve had loads of tendinitis, mostly in my elbows and rotator cuffs, and I know from experience, that, even in mild cases, it can take MONTHS of rest for the tendon to fully heal. If you suspect or have been diagnosed with tendinitis, you mustn’t start back up until you’ve been cleared by your physician or team doctor. At the first sign of symptoms, the best thing to do is rest, start a cycle of anti-inflammatory pain medicine, and do gentle stretching exercises. To prevent tendinitis from happening again, a proper warm up is extremely important, before athletic performance. http://www.livestrong.com/article/230835-warm-up-exercises-for-achilles-tendon/ Although stretching and strengthening are important for maintaining healthy, pliable tendons, they can be weakened by over-stretching and inflammation.

Some physicians and exercise physiologists will suggest a shoe with a soft, thick heel to support your run. I’m more of the mindset that you should use a minimal shoe, which will encourage proper mechanics and strengthening of the foot. In any case, I suggest seeking the advice of a medical professional. My Physical Therapist, Chris, at PhysioFitness, is an expert at sports injury rehab, and has been helping me by implementing Active Release Technique.

If you have joint pain, muscle pain, or any other exercise-related issue, please give Chris a call.  His hands are powerful, and his brain is loaded with great physio technique.

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HOW TO: Kettlebell Backward Flip and Catch

Kettlebell training improves your grip, builds muscle, develops explosive strength, and tones your body.  Flipping a kettlebell develops hand-eye coordination, mental focus, and is lots of fun.

Here’s how:

1. Master the kettlebell swing.

2. Master the high pull.

3. Err on the side of releasing high, as this will give you more time to catch the bell during its freefall.

4. Center your grip on the handle, not near the horn as in a regular grip.

5. Your eyes must remain on the kettlebell at all times during the flip. Distraction is the main reason for drops.

6. If possible, practice outdoors on grass or dirt, cuz you’re gonna drop it.  Don’t do this at your gym.

7. Don’t even think about this if you’re an uncoordinated, non-athletic noob.

Keep Ya Chin Up, Ya Slouch!

When I was still an unruly whippersnapper, I was pestered to, “sit up straight,” and, “stand up tall.”  My dad, a football coach and biology/anatomy instructor, probably had more than my outward appearance in mind, when he gave me these posture-boosting cues.  Clearly, he didn’t appreciate my mimicry of the decidedly careless, drowsy poses conveyed by my Alt-Rock idols.

There are 2 fundamental causes of postural dysfunction. Broadly speaking, these stem from either a physical or psychological origin. Whether you feel overwhelmed and stressed, or you simply have bad habits, it can be tough to, “keep your chin up.”

Your neck and back have a lot of work to do…all day, every day. Keeping your hefty braincase from toppling around like a bobble-head is burdensome and takes constant coordination, strength and endurance from the muscles of your back and neck.  Once these muscles begin to lose wind, they drop your head and shoulders forward, like a marionette with its string cut. Other, less efficient muscles step in to help, but theirs is a losing battle.

Sitting for hours at a desk is particularly troublesome for your physique.  This is just one example of how the sedentary lifestyle ultimately violates human health.   It’s a good idea to take frequent movement/stretch breaks.  Better yet, quit your horrible, life-sucking job and get outdoors.  Keep in mind that even during walking, running and sleeping, postural habits like slouching take lots of practice to break.

Strengthening the muscles that keep your shoulder blades stable is a necessary step to improve your posture.

scapularretractionThe most basic form of scapular retraction requires no equipment.  Perform this exercise frequently throughout your day for sets of 15 reps.

Correct anatomical posture involves keeping the ears, shoulders and hips in line.  You don’t need to look like the Queen’s personal security guard, so keep it a bit relaxed.  The human spine is designed to have a soft, “S,” shape.

6 cues for good posture:

1. Keep your weight on the balls of the feet, not on the heels. Don’t lock your knees.

2. Keep your feet about shoulder width apart.

3. Let your arms hang at your sides.

4. Tuck your chin slightly and keep your head level. (Be sure your head is balanced over your neck and spine.)

5. Stand tall, with your shoulders slightly back and down.

6. Stand against a wall with your head, shoulders and buttocks touching wall. (Keep this in mind as you use your mobile electronics.)

Obviously, if you stand and walk like a chimp on a Nyquil bender, people will make assumptions about your cognitive capacity, emotional stability, and maybe even your bodily hygiene.  While avoiding social repudiation is typically wise, so is staying out of musculoskeletal pain.  Your muscles and joints are well designed and robust, but they can support your wilted carriage only briefly before they bail on you, leaving you in discomfort.

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