Why It’s Better to Be Gumby (Flexible)

Okay, I hate to admit it, but I haven’t always been the best when it comes to stretching, but I have vowed to make it more of a habit from here on in.  As I approach the half century mark the latter part of this year, it has become abundantly clear to me that I need to be more flexible.  I have the cardio/weight lifting habit down, but am seriously lacking in the stretching department.

Since I can’t seem to make it into yoga as much as I would like to, I did some research on some worthwhile stretching books. I have two really good books already, but wanted something new.   I found an excellent one entitled:  Stretching: 30th Anniversary Edition by Bob Anderson I plan to scan copies of relative pages so that I may forward them on to family/friends/clients/colleagues!  If you are new to stretching, or want something for just about every sport or activity you could think of, this is the book for you.  Here are highlights from the book:

Stretching When to stretch?

Before you begin your day in the morning

At the workplace to release nervous tension

After sitting or standing for long periods of time

When you feel stiff

At odd times during the day, i.e, when watching TV, listening to music, reading, sitting and talking

Stretching_2 Why stretch?

 √Release muscle tension making the body feel more relaxed

√Help coordination by allowing for freer and easier movement

√Increase range of motion

√Help prevent injuries such as muscle strains/sprains.

√Make strenuous activities like running, skiing, swimming, and cycling easier because it prepares you for the activity; it’s a way of signaling the muscles that they are about to be used.

 √Helps maintain your current level of flexibility, so as you do not become stiffer and stiffer over time

 √Develop body awareness; as you stretch various parts of your body, you focus on them and get in touch with them; you get to know yourself.

 √Helps loosen the mind’s control of the body so that the body moves for “it’s own sake” rather than for competition or ego.

FEEL GOOD!!

Prevent Arthritis Pain!!

I subscribe to the idea of using the food we eat as medicine to keep the body healthy. I was motivated to look up foods that prevent or ease arthritis because it seems to be an issue for many.

Following is a list of 7 types of food to prevent arthritis pain:
1) Green tea
2) foods with Omega-3 fatty acids
3) olive oil
4) food rich in beta carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin
5) foods rich in Vitamin C
6) antioxidant-rich food containing the anthocyanins
7) and food containing spices of turmeric and ginger

And for every list of “do’s” there is a list of “don’ts.” Avoid the foods if you have arthritis:
1) saturated fats
2) trans fats
3) fried food in general
4) refined carbohydrates
5) and foods high in simple sugars

 

 

 

Hot or cold compresses for achy muscles/ joints?

Both hot and cold compresses can ease pain, but the trick is knowing which one to use when. Any time you have a sudden onset of discomfort (either from a new injury or a flare-up of an existing one), apply a cold pack for 20 minutes, several times a day. Icing the area decreases blood flow to the injured region, which helps prevent swelling and reduce soreness. Ice is nature’s anti-inflammatory, and with all the controversy over pain medication these days, it’s a inexpensive, safe, smart choice. If you live with chronic achy pain from back pain or arthritis, heat is better; it increases blood circulation, soothing muscles and stiff joints. Many of my clients rave about the one-use disposable heat pads and wraps available at the drugstore—you simply stick them on and go.

Traveling Without Low Back Pain

The main reason why people suffer from low back pain on long car rides is inactivity.  Our bodies are not meant to be immobile for long periods of time.  Our muscles need to move about, contract and stretch in order to remain functional.  Inactivity decreases blood circulation, waste removal and nerve conduction to the muscles resulting in muscles that are irritated and painful

If immobility is the cause of pain, then motion must be the cure.  Here are some exercises that always work for me on car or plane rides.  Try some of these on your next journey and you should witness a noticeable improvement.

Tips for Preventing Back Pain

  • Stop and take breaks frequently. Have a breath of fresh air, get out and stretch and enjoy the scenery, grab a snack, etc, etc.  But most importantly, you are stretching out those muscles and moving them, thereby boosting blood circulation.
  • Keep hydrated.
  • If you’re stuck in a car seat, wiggle a little.  Crank up the tunes and start jiggling!  It’s good for your health!  You might not be inspired enough to break out into a full blown fist pumping dance session, but some slow gentle motion can greatly help you stay loose. Here’s how:

Mobilize Your Lower Back

  1. Start by raising your left hip then lower it.  Then raise your right hip then lower it.
  2. Then try twisting your left hip forward then back, followed by the right hip.
  3. Arch your lower back so that your bum sticks out a bit more.  Next round your lower back.

Exercise Your Gluteal Muscles

  1. Now you can start working with your gluteal muscles.  First, you want to squeeze both glutes together.  If you do this right you might feel yourself lift off the seat a little.
  2. Next try squeezing just the left gluteal muscles.  It might help to push your left foot into the floor at the same time almost as if you are trying to raise that left hip off the seat.  Now try the right and alternate back and forth.
  3. If you are feeling especially adventurous, turn the volume up to 11 on your car radio and just dance like no one is watching.

Safety First

  1. A few things to remember for safety sake:  To avoid accidents it is not recommended to do these exercises if you are driving.  To avoid being seized up, try these exercises by yourself first so that you feel comfortable enough doing them in a way that doesn’t draw too much attention in public (the key is slow, small movements).

Performing these steps may seem a bit odd at first, but with some practice it will become a healthy habit on those long trips.

If you find the pain too intense or extensive, you might need to schedule a massage or acupuncture session.

 

 

Why Do I Get Painful Muscle Cramps?

 

Here is a  very interesting article on the causes of muscle cramps:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/why-do-i-get-painful-muscle-cramps-when-i-work-out/article1632891/

The article explains muscle cramps being caused by imbalance between nervous impulses, a sudden loss of electrolytes, and a poor training schedule.

 

Runners: Gluteus Medius Exercises For IT Band Pain

The gluteus medius muscle is located in the upper part of the glutes, just below the hip bone (iliac crest).  The gluteus medius muscle is extremely significant in stabilizing our hips during exercise.  It is weak in most people and this weak point can be a major source of problems in the lower back, SI joints and IT band.  Running or jogging can reveal long hidden weakness in this muscle, but you don’t have to be an athlete to have gluteus medius problems.  Because simply standing, walking, or sitting requires participation of the gluteus muscle, clients that lead mostly sedentary lifestyles often develop weakness here that leads to different pain syndromes.

Here is an interesting article explaining the importance of the gluteus medius muscle as well as some exercises to help strengthen it.

http://www.running-physio.com/glutemed/