This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 2 title
This is default featured slide 3 title
This is default featured slide 4 title
This is default featured slide 5 title
 

Monthly Archives: June 2018

Exercise Plateau Breakers

Take an Active Rest

If you have hit a plateau, it may be time for an active rest. Take a week off from structured exercise, and instead take leisurely walks, play ball with the kids, or take a yoga class. Active rest rejuvenates the mind and the body and allows for overworked muscles to rest and rebuild. You will return to exercise stronger and ready for new challenges.

Time to Eat

As you increase your fitness level, your body’s metabolism may increase and so will your calorie needs. If you hit a plateau, evaluate how much you are eating. You may need to eat more than you have in the past for your body to continue to increase its fitness level. If you find you are often hungry, this is a clear sign you need to eat more to sustain your exercise program.

Mix it Up

If you do not vary your workout routine your body will eventually run on cruise control, and you will experience a plateau. Try new cardiovascular activities, or use free weights if you always use machines for strength training. Changes in your routine will surprise the body and force it to adapt, bringing you to new levels of fitness.

Different Day, Different Intensity

Varying your activities, or cross-training is important to avoid or break through a plateau. While cross-training the type of activity is often recommended, it is also important to cross-train the intensity of your workouts. Specify different days of the week as low, moderate or high-intensity days. Try interval training work at a low intensity for a couple of minutes and increase to a high intensity for a couple of minutes, and repeat. If you use a heart rate monitor, be sure your average heart rate for your exercise sessions vary from day to day.

Sleep It Off

Be sure you are getting enough sleep. Getting the right amount of sleep for your body will allow time for your muscles to recover from exercise. This will ensure that you can come to your next exercise session with enough energy and at full strength to take on a challenging workout.

If you are still frustrated, find inspiration in the story of Chris Witty, winner of the Gold Medal in 1000 meter speed skating in the 1998 Winter Olympics. A month before she was to compete in the Olympics, she was diagnosed with mononucleosis. Of course she had to cut back on training, and at the time that she should have been preparing to peak for competition. Not only did she win the Gold Medal, which nobody expected, she broke the world record! Imagine what a little rest might do for your workouts!

Arthritis Exercise

For your upper back, you can stand upright in front of a table, then lean over and place your hands on the table and tuck your chin back toward your collarbone. Once positioned as such, lift your upper back upward and simultaneously take a deep breath. Hold that position for 5-10 seconds and then relax while exhaling. While doing this, lower your spine slowly as you move both shoulder blades forward as if toward each other. Repeat this exercise for 10-15 repetitions.

For the shoulders and middle back, start again from an upright position standing as straight as you can, reach back and lock the fingers of both hands together. Breathe slowly and deeply and lift upward with your shoulders while at the same time, exhaling. Be sure to keep your chest up and your chin in. Repeat this for about 10-15 sets.

For the shoulders and upper chest, choose a free corner of the room to stand in and place your hands on the opposite sides of the corner. Take a step back about 18 inches from the corner. You now should be facing the corner directly with your hands on both of the walls with your body some distance from the wall itself. Keeping your chest up after inhaling, lean in toward the corner while exhaling. Repeat this exercise for 10-15 sets.

Whatever exercise program you choose, be sure to breathe properly when exercising. Oxygenation is important to any exercise regimen as it promotes a healthy heart rate and reduces fatigue; additionally oxygenation helps circulation, which is vital to achieving the flexibility and strength that you are trying to achieve in battling arthritis. Also, listen to your body. It is natural to feel a little fatigue and soreness when starting a new exercise regimen, However if the pain of soreness persists for more than one hour, or you have a decrease in mobility that lasts longer than an hour, then the regimen should be reduced until the soreness desists. Also, look for signs of increased swelling of joints or any persistent increase of weakness; these are signs of activities that are too strenuous and a reduction in activity will be necessary. Just remember to take all new exercise regimens slowly at the start. The idea is to increase flexibility not train for the Olympics.

Some Elements of Exercise

Frequency and intensity

If you’re interested in the health benefits of exercise, you should aim to exercise at least three times per week at about half your maximum capacity.

The best way to judge your exercise intensity is by comparing your exercising heart rate with your maximum heart rate, which you can estimate by subtracting your age from 220 beats per minute and multiplying the resulting number by 65%. (Or just fill in the blanks: 220-age x .65 = half your maximum capacity, in beats per minute.)

When you’re exercising, check your pulse, count how many times your heart beats in 10 seconds and multiply that by six to get the number of times it beats in a minute. Compare that number to the one you worked out with the formula above.

Cool down

Just as it’s important to warm up and prepare yourself for physical exertion, it’s also important to cool down by gradually reducing your exercise intensity. When some people suddenly stop exercising, blood pools in their legs, leading to fainting and possibly heart problems. You should take about 10 minutes to cool down, or as long as it takes for your skin to return to its normal temperature.

Overload, specificity and progression

In order to improve your physical fitness, you must constantly place higher demands on the appropriate body parts. The principle of overload simply means that the body responds to increased demands by adapting, which can help you improve your aerobic fitness, muscular strength and flexibility.

Stretching and Warm up

Most of the studies I’ve reviewed attempt to determine the effects of stretching on injury prevention. This is a mistake in itself and shows a lack of understanding as to how stretching is used as part of an injury prevention program and the warm up.

Stretching and its effect on physical performance and injury prevention is something that just can’t be measured scientifically. Sure you can measure the effect of stretching on flexibility with simple tests like the “Sit and Reach” test, but then to determine how that affects athletic performance or injury susceptibility is near impossible.

One of the more recent studies on stretching supports this view by concluding;

“Due to the paucity, heterogeneity and poor quality of the available studies no definitive conclusions can be drawn as to the value of stretching for reducing the risk of exercise-related injury.” (The efficacy of stretching for prevention of exercise-related injury: a systematic review of the literature, 2003, Weldon)

The Greatest Misconception

Confusion about what stretching accomplishes, as part of the warm up, is causing many to abandon stretching altogether. The key to understanding the role stretching plays can be found in the previous sentence. But, you have to read it carefully.

Stretching, as part of the warm up!

Here’s the key: Stretching is a critical part of the warm up, but stretching is NOT the warm up.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that doing a few stretches constitutes a warm up. An effective warm up has a number of very important key elements, which work together to minimize the likelihood of sports injury and prepare the individual for physical activity.

Identifying the components of an effective and safe warm up, and executing them in the correct order is critical. Remember, stretching is only one part of an effective warm up and its’ place in the warm up routine is specific and dependent on the other components.

The four key elements that should be included to ensure an effective and complete warm up are:

1. The general warm up

This phase of the warm up consists of 5 to 15 minutes of light physical activity. The aim here is to elevate the heart rate and respiratory rate, increase blood flow and increase muscle temperature.

2. Static stretching

Next, 5 to 15 minutes of gentle static stretching should be used to gradually lengthen all the major muscle groups and associated tendons of the body.

3. The sports specific warm up

During this phase of the warm up, 10 to 15 minutes of sport specific drills and exercises should be used to prepare the athlete for the specific demands of their chosen sport.

4. Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretching involves a controlled, soft bounce or swinging motion to force a particular body part past its usual range of movement. The force of the bounce or swing is gradually increased but should never become radical or uncontrolled.

Please note; dynamic stretching carries with it a high risk of injury if used incorrectly. Dynamic stretching is more for muscular conditioning than flexibility and is really only suited for professional, well trained, highly conditioned athletes. Dynamic stretching should only be used after a high level of general flexibility has been established.

All four parts are equally important and any one part should not be neglected or thought of as not necessary. All four elements work together to bring the body and mind to a physical peak, ensuring the athlete is prepared for the activity to come.

Stretching is beneficial, when used correctly. However, as with most activities there are rules and guidelines to ensure that they are safe, and stretching is no exception. Stretching can be extremely dangerous and harmful if used incorrectly.

Remember, stretching is just one very important component that assists to reduce the risk of injury and improve athletic performance. The best results are achieved when stretching is used in combination with other injury reduction techniques and conditioning exercises.