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Archive for the month “April, 2016”

300416 A lack of sleep may lead to a host of health problems

300416 A lack of sleep may lead to a host of health problems

Many people find a direct association between a lack of sleep with being irritable and tired and having difficulty focusing on tasks. It has even been shown that there is a delayed reaction time with being sleepy. This,can make you dangerous when driving down the road.

However, there are other less obvious health consequences of not getting enough sleep. A recent study found that those who regularly incur the sleep debt were more susceptible, by almost three times, to getting a cold. These people were compared to others who slept a minimum of eight hours a night.

It was also discovered that people who had difficulty in falling asleep or had a fitful night’s sleep of tossing and turning were 5 1/2 times more likely to catch a cold than others were who slept soundly for eight or more hours a night.

A more ominous problem arises with those who regularly sleep less than six hours a night. They have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure or worsening an existing high blood pressure condition. A person with high blood pressure or untreated high blood pressure increases their risk of a stroke and other heart problems. Sleep researchers believe that poor sleep prevents the normal nightly decline of blood pressure, which is common to those who sleep eight hours or more.

This continuous lack of sleep also hurts your body’s ability to control and manage its stress hormones, which over time contributes to higher blood pressure numbers. If you didn’t already know it by now, high blood pressure is a killer and must be controlled.

Frequently observed in those who don’t sleep well at night are migraines or tension headaches. However, this connection is not well developed but is certainly thought to be a contributing factor to these types of headaches. Oddly enough, not only is sleeping less than six hours a possible factor that leads to these headaches but also sleeping more than eight hours maybe just as bad for those who suffer from this problem.

If you are not getting at least 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, then you may want to consider talking to your doctor. There are strategies that can help you sleep better.

Some of the more obvious include:

  • Making changes to your sleep routine, including setting up your bedroom to exclude as much light as possible, keeping it cool and quiet,
  • Making behavioral changes in your going to sleep ritual,
  • Getting a better handle on your acute or chronic pain,
  • Cautious and thoughtful use of sleeping pills or
  • Even treatment for a sleeping disorder

Getting a good night’s sleep can lead to better physical health.

250416 Starting out with an exercise program for your arthritic knees

Please make note of the fact that I am not a doctor or a physical therapist. I am a strength coach with many years of experience helping people live better lives by becoming stronger and more physically able to pursue their lives pain free.

Start out slowly with low intensity exercises and a short time exercise session. By beginning this way, you allow your body and mind to adapt to exercising. For example, most people are able to go at least five minutes on a stationary bicycle the first time they get on it. By gradually increasing your time, you not only build up your cardiovascular capabilities but you’re also strengthening the muscles around your knee joint.

Is virtually impossible to isolate one joint, therefore effectively conditioning your knees is going to involve exercises that include the major muscles of the mid to lower body. These major muscle groups include your lower abdomen, hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and ankles. By working for such major muscle groups, you not only strengthen the targeted joints but you also increase your balance capabilities.

Improving your balance cannot only help prevent a fall but it also keeps your knee in a good position to decrease pain during movement.

Sometimes you have to modify the exercises by not doing full range of motion, lessening the load, or doing them with bands or in water. One example of this modification is with an individual with arthritis in the patella femoral joint (kneecap). Rather than going full range of motion with the squat or leg curl, cut back on the range of motion to where there is little, to no, pain involved in the movement. If this still causes pain then do quad sets. A quad set exercise means you straighten your leg out, tighten the quads as solidly as possible, and hold for increasing lengths of time.

One way to begin strengthening your arthritic knee is to do an alphabet tracing routine. In performing this series of exercises, you begin on the floor facing the ceiling. Stretch one leg out and with the other bent at the knee raise your hips off the floor. Now, with the extended leg slowly trace the letters of the alphabet in big movements. Change legs and do the same thing 3 to 5 times.

After you are able to do the alphabet, it is time to add additional exercises. The next exercise is the quad set where you simply extend your leg and tighten up the quadriceps muscles for increasing intensity and length of time.

Once you are able to hold it for a specified amount of time, then you can start adding ankle weights and start over with the quad set and the time.

The important thing here is not to give up. There are multitudes of things you can do to lessen the pain of osteoarthritis. Sometimes you just have to look a little further for them.

250416 Starting out with an exercise program for your arthritic knees

250416 Starting out with an exercise program for your arthritic knees

Please make note of the fact that I am not a doctor or a physical therapist. I am a strength coach with many years of experience helping people live better lives by becoming stronger and more physically able to pursue their lives pain free.

Start out slowly with low intensity exercises and a short time exercise session. By beginning this way, you allow your body and mind to adapt to exercising. For example, most people are able to go at least five minutes on a stationary bicycle the first time they get on it. By gradually increasing your time, you not only build up your cardiovascular capabilities but you’re also strengthening the muscles around your knee joint.

Is virtually impossible to isolate one joint, therefore effectively conditioning your knees is going to involve exercises that include the major muscles of the mid to lower body. These major muscle groups include your lower abdomen, hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and ankles. By working for such major muscle groups, you not only strengthen the targeted joints but you also increase your balance capabilities.

Improving your balance cannot only help prevent a fall but it also keeps your knee in a good position to decrease pain during movement.

Sometimes you have to modify the exercises by not doing full range of motion, lessening the load, or doing them with bands or in water. One example of this modification is with an individual with arthritis in the patella femoral joint (kneecap). Rather than going full range of motion with the squat or leg curl, cut back on the range of motion to where there is little, to no, pain involved in the movement. If this still causes pain then do quad sets. A quad set exercise means you straighten your leg out, tighten the quads as solidly as possible, and hold for increasing lengths of time.

One way to begin strengthening your arthritic knee is to do an alphabet tracing routine. In performing this series of exercises, you begin on the floor facing the ceiling. Stretch one leg out and with the other bent at the knee raise your hips off the floor. Now, with the extended leg slowly trace the letters of the alphabet in big movements. Change legs and do the same thing 3 to 5 times.

After you are able to do the alphabet, it is time to add additional exercises. The next exercise is the quad set where you simply extend your leg and tighten up the quadriceps muscles for increasing intensity and length of time.

Once you are able to hold it for a specified amount of time, then you can start adding ankle weights and start over with the quad set and the time.

The important thing here is not to give up. There are multitudes of things you can do to lessen the pain of osteoarthritis. Sometimes you just have to look a little further for them.

230416 A fat savvy guide

230416 A fat savvy guide

You may be surprised that some of the foods you thought were good for you are loaded with fat. For instance, granola bars generally contain a great deal of fat, as does packaged popcorn and those crunchy healthy sounding veggie chips too.

However, it is not just enough to know what types of fat to look for, you also want to make an intelligent decision based upon the description of the fat on the label.

If the description says, fat-free it means there is less 0.5 g of fat in one serving.

Low-fat means there is a maximum of 3 g of fat in a serving.

Reduced fat indicates there is at least 25% less fat in this food than in a similar food.

Trans fat free means there is less than 0.5 g of trans fat in one serving.

Fat, has 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram of a carbohydrate or protein. Therefore, when you eat foods that have a lot of fat in them you are getting five extra calories per serving than you would be if you were eating a protein or carbohydrate.

Restrict the amount of fat in your diet to less than one third of your total daily calorie intake. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make sure the food you eat does not get more than 30% of its calories from fat.

180416 Exercising your arthritic knees

180416 Exercising your arthritic knees

There are more than 100 different rheumatic diseases and conditions the most prevalent being osteoarthritis. The symptoms of the various rheumatic diseases include aching, pain, stiffness, and swelling in or around the involved joints.

Take a look at the following chart and see if you can detect the common thread in each disease.

Do you notice the trend? These four mentioned diseases, for the most part, result directly from a lack of exercise and poor eating habits. Both are changeable habits. Getting more to the point, some, if not all, of these painful conditions may be lessened with exercise, but it takes a change in your habits to start moving in the right direction.

Making the change in habits

Exercise and arthritis would seem to be a poor combination, however it turns out that the best thing you can do for your arthritic joints is to exercise them. The key here is to match the right exercise to your condition and to find your limits so you don’t overdo it but still do enough to benefit from the session.

Starting out with your exercise program

If you have not been consistently exercising because of your arthritis, it is a wise idea to discuss it with your physician. The two of you can then come up with mutually agreed-upon guidelines that will help you exercise in a safe manner and within healthy limits for your joint conditioning.

The first thing that comes many people’s minds when it comes exercising is jogging. However, if you have arthritic ankles, knees, or hips jogging is more than likely not going to be an exercise of choice for the simple reason is that it hurts. There are a variety of substitutions that can be made such as riding a stationary bicycle, using an elliptical trainer, and perhaps, depending on the treadmill, a treadmill. Water aerobics is also an option.

The right exercise or exercises will gradually help strengthen and thereby stabilize the joint. The stronger the ligaments, muscles, and tendons are surrounding the joint, the more stable this joint is going to be, which means less joint laxity and less pain with movement.

The most basic recommendation for choosing exercises is finding those that are low intensity and repetitive. These types of exercises do not overly stress the joint; they reduce the force placed across the joint and help preserve the integrity of the joint without causing pain during the movement.

160416 Men and women truly are different in their respective display of heart attack symptoms.

160416 Men and women truly are different in their respective display of heart attack symptoms.

It doesn’t take much of an expert to notice the differences between a man and a woman. However, there are subtle differences that can mean the difference between life and death when it comes to a heart attack. The Cleveland clinic has listed a number of symptoms that men and women tend to experience during a heart attack.

In non-alphabetical order, we begin with the signs of a heart attack in women. These symptoms are “less dramatic and are frequently mistaken for less serious medical conditions. Not only are these symptoms subtle they will vary widely, especially in women, diabetics, and older people.

Women with the following symptoms should seek immediate medical attention, these are quoted verbatim from the Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor information sheet.

  1. Upper back or shoulder pain
  2. Jaw pain or pain that radiates to the jaw
  3. Pain that radiates to the arm
  4. Pressure or pain in the center of the chest
  5. Nausea or queasiness and indigestion
  6. Shortness of breath or feeling “winded”
  7. Unusual fatigue for several days
  8. Lightheadedness

Men tend to experience the following during a heart attack:

  1. Chest pressure growing in frequency and intensity or one to three days (unstable angina). This is often described as a squeezing sensation
  2. Pain in the left arm, shoulder, neck or jaw that may or may not stem from pain in the center of the chest. It also may occur in the right arm
  3. Pain in the abdomen that may be mistaken for indigestion
  4. Sweating, restlessness and anxiety
  5. Dizziness, faintness and heavy pounding in the chest
  6. Shortness of breath
  7. Disorientation (more common in the elderly)
  8. Nausea or queasiness (more common in women)

The final piece of important information the Cleveland Clinic heart advisor makes it very plain is when they say quote if you think you’re having a heart attack – for any reason – don’t wait. Call 911 or have someone take you to the nearest emergency room.

110416 Exercising your arthritic knees

110416 Exercising your arthritic knees

There are more than 100 different rheumatic diseases and conditions the most prevalent being osteoarthritis. The symptoms of the various rheumatic diseases include aching, pain, stiffness, and swelling in or around the involved joints.

Within the joint is a cushion between the bones, this cushion is the cartilage. Osteoarthritis breaks this cushion down. Over time, this continual degradation process causes the bones to touch. Movement initiates this rubbing, which causes the pain, stiffness, and swelling so common in those with osteoarthritis.

These diseases are more common among the older population, nonetheless nearly two thirds of those with arthritis are younger than 65. Arthritis affects 24.3% of women and about 18.7% of men across every age group, as well as all racial and ethnic populations. Furthermore, it is also more common amongst those who are obese than it is in those who are normal or underweight. It is estimated that approximately 60% of those who are obese will develop osteoarthritis.

The heavier you are the more pressure you are applying to your joints. Losing weight lessens this load on the joints. Seek out the advice of a registered dietitian and begin cutting back your weight with an improved eating plan.

Not only is arthritis a painful disease, it frequently occurs with other chronic conditions. The United States Centers for Disease Control reports that nearly half (47%) of those with arthritis suffer with one or more life-changing diseases. Over half of these adults (57%) have heart disease, (52%) have diabetes, (44%) have high blood pressure, and (36%) are obese.

040416 A detailed look at the warm-up

A detailed look at the warm-up

All sports activities requiring muscular exertion benefit from a warm-up. A warm-up is a multifaceted series of organized physical exercises used to prepare an athlete for competition or a training session. Ideally, this preparatory phase will accelerate the adaptation of the body to the upcoming activity. This precompetitive/training session phase leads to improvements in performance both in the gym and on the field of play.

Physiologically, the warm-up transitions the body from a non-active status into an intense activity. This requires a certain amount of time to complete and involves the autonomic nervous system[1] and the central nervous system[2] (CNS). Therefore, the warm-up portion prior to competition or training should be efficient in preparing these two systems.

A thorough warm-up consists of three parts: general, dynamic stretching of the upper or lower torso, and movement specific.

The general portion activates the secretion of hormones that mobilize the glycogen reserves within the body and stimulates activity of the blood, blood vessels, heart and lungs. This increases blood temperature and intensifies the abilities of the capillary system in the heart, lungs, and muscles. This ensures adequate energy, through the blood supply, to all of the working muscles. The emphasis, in this part of the warm-up, is on the cardiovascular components of the body.

This activity of the autonomic nervous system increases the nerve center sensitivity, thereby raising the responsiveness of the respiratory and heat regulating centers in both the cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems within the body. After making these physiological changes in the athlete, it is time to move on to more movement specific exercises, where engrams[3][4] are developed. An engram makes possible non-conscious, non-thought based, instant active or reactive movements.

The next phase of the warm-up consists of dynamic stretching of the upper, mid, and lower torso. This is not the time to be doing any type of static stretching. Doing so will limit your body’s ability to produce maximal force by up to 8%. The purpose of this portion of the warm up is to loosen up the joints but not make them so loose that they become lax as happens with static stretching. All of the movements should be pain-free and within the individual’s dynamic range of motion.

Moving through these exercises within three to five minutes prepares the athlete for the final portion of the warm-up, which directly involves sport or training session movements.

The final part of the warm-up specifically directs attention toward movement patterns that are integral parts of the sport or the training session. These exercises, performed at a low intensity with a gradual buildup of speed, further prepare the body for the heavier loads later on in the session.

For example if you are preparing for lower body training session, do 5 to 10 minutes of aerobic exercise until a slight sweat appears. Next, move into the dynamic lower torso stretches such as leg swings fore and aft, side-to-side full range of motion good mornings and finally bodyweight squats for 10 to 20 repetitions each.

The final portion of this part of the warm-up will be the actual squat or deadlift, starting out with the bar to groove the technique and then into 50% of the one repetition training maximum, not the competition max. After completing these repetitions, take one, or at the most, two more sets before getting to your final work out weight. Once the warm-up is completed, move up to your workout weight as quickly as possible without spending a lot of time with dinky weights.

Resources:

Engram development; the vital component to success by Danny M. O’Dell, M.A. CSCS*D

Verkhoshansky, Yuri and Verkhoshansky, Natalia, Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches. Published by Verkhoshansky SSTM 2011, Rome, Italy

 

[1] http://www2.ivcc.edu/caley/107/lectures_unit_3/ans.html

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is an involuntary division of the nervous system that consists of motor neurons (autonomic neurons) that conduct impulses from the brain stem or spinal cord to cardiac muscle, smooth muscle and glands. These motor neurons are responsible for regulating heart rate, regulating peristalsis (smooth muscle contraction of the digestive organs), and the release of secretions from certain glands, such as the salivary glands in the mouth.

[2] http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=2667

The central nervous system is that part of the nervous system that consists of the brain and spinal cord. Her

[3] :a hypothetical change in neural tissue postulated in order to account for persistence of memory—also called memory trace

[4] “An Engram is an effect or performance that is imposed upon the Central Nervous System through repetition. From Therapeutic Exercise for Athletic Injuries, Houglum. P.A. Human Kinetics 2001”[4]

010416 Accommodation to training

Accommodation to training

Using the same loads and the same exercises time after time leads invariably to a decrease in performance gains. Accommodation in the strength field is NOT a good thing to have happen during your training.

Accommodation is one of the natural laws of biology and can be best described as the response ‘to a given constant stimulus decreases over time’. ‘By definition accommodation is the decrease in response of a biological object to a continued stimulus’.

Taking heed of this biological law of nature would preclude following the same program for an extended length of time. The program must vary for progress to take place.

Variation parameters in the program must at the same time keep in mind the specificity of the sport. Thus the exercises chosen need to be kept as closely related as possible to the actual sport joint movement patterns and angles; to the velocity of movement and the coordination and physiological demands of the activity.

The transfer of training to the sport will occur at the highest rate if the exercises chosen are the most relevant and specific in nature to the sport. However in designing programs that are as specific as possible a glitch appears. Variability in design planning avoids accommodation but this tenet conflicts with the stability requirement needed to meet the specificity challenge demands of the activity.

Avoiding or decreasing the negative effects of accommodation while planning a program means modification of the schedule in a periodized fashion. This happens in two ways:

1. Quantitatively
2. Qualitatively

Training loads, i.e. the total weight lifted in the session represents the Quantitative half of the formula, whereas Qualitative changes means replacing exercises during the training sessions. Periodizing the schedule, varying the load and replacing accessory exercises will help avoid accommodation from occurring. In other words, don’t do the same thing all the time.

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