150218 An introduction to Tai Chi part 2 of 2

150218 An introduction to Tai Chi part 2 of 2 

There are different styles of Tai-Chi, some are more aggressive than others and involve faster paced movements. Those most commonly practiced utilize gentle slower motions that are suitable for everyone.

As with anything in life there are positives and negatives in the practice of Tai-Chi. The pros seem to outweigh the cons though in these respects:

  • The movements are self-paced and non competitive, which to a competitive person may be a negative attribute.
  • The physical space requirements are negligible as well as the attire. You don’t need a lot of space or fancy gear to take part in Tai-Chi. It’s easy to do; you can do it anyplace and anytime either alone or with others. Once you become accustomed to the activity and more proficient in the art then you can add in your own to make it even more individualized and specific to your needs.

The negatives are almost non existent but do include the usual warnings of possible soreness if the first few sessions are overdone beyond your current physical fitness levels.

Beginning a new activity starts with learning how to do it correctly. In the case of Tai-Chi this will mean seeking out a competent instructor who will guide you in the technical aspects of posture and movement. Pay strict attention to your breathing and body position throughout the training session. Develop the ability to perform the motions effortlessly and without conscious thought. Doing so helps avert muscle strains and damaged joints.

Tai-Chi classes are taught throughout the world. In the United States contact your local senior center, the YWCA or YMCA or check with the gyms in your area. You can even look it up on the internet; there are scores of sites listed.

080218 An introduction to Tai-Chi part 1 of 2

080218 An introduction to Tai-Chi part 1 of 2

Tai-Chi is an ancient art that uses a series of gentle continuous movements which place an emphasis on joint leverage based on coordination and relaxation instead of muscular tension. Practioners of the art have discovered increased balance control, flexibility and cardiovascular benefits. The elderly have reduced their risk of falling after learning and applying Tai-Chi training practices.

Healthy individuals also have reported reduced pain while using Tai-Chi as an alternative exercise method along with lowered blood pressure readings, decreased pain from arthritis and the effects of multiple sclerosis.

Progressively self paced, Tai-Chi is a noncompetitive gentle exercise that is performed in a very specific defined series of movements and postures. Each of which flows gracefully and slowly from one to another without a pause.

A major benefit to older people is the reductions in falls that accompany the art of Tai-Chi due to the increased enhancement of their balance and coordination skills. Since these movements are low impact they place minimal stress on the joints and muscles which is ideal in some situations for those with advanced arthritis or osteoporosis.

Anecdotally the relationship of Tai-Chi to reduced stress, increased flexibility, improved muscle strength and definition along with the development of greater energy, stamina and agility are well documented. These benefits all contribute to a greater sense of well being. However the art has not been scientifically studied until recently. The findings, thus far, are supportive of the anecdotal reports.

The scientific research into Tai-Chi have indicated reduced anxiety and depression, improved balance and coordination which helps to reduce falls in those prone to falling and improved sleep patterns. The time spent in sleeping was found to be longer and with greater alertness reported during the following day.

Practicing Tai-Chi was shown to slow bone loss in post menopausal women an especially important issue to those with osteopenia or osteoporosis. It also reduced high blood pressure and improved cardiovascular fitness along with providing relief from chronic pain. All of these healthy benefits made for better daily living functioning.

200617 Bone Health Exercise Recommendations

200617 Bone Health Exercise Recommendations

The mode of exercise should be a combination of weight bearing and endurance activities such as stair climbing, tennis, jogging and jumping. Add in regular sessions of resistance training to round out the weeks program.

The intensity level of all these exertions has to be in the moderate to high ranges in order to engage the bone loading force mechanisms leading to high quality rebuilding of these tissues.

The resistance training level of intensity will be in the 80-85% areas for the majority of the selected movements. The selected exercises are those that involve the major muscle groups that focus on the shoulders, chest, upper back and the legs front and rear. Repetitions will be in the 6-8 range for two to four sets with two to three minutes rest between sets.

These exercise sessions need to be at least as frequent as 3-5 times per week for the weight bearing endurance activities and 2-3 times per week for the resistance ones in order to elicit a positive effect on the skeletal structure.

Once these regimes are in place the desired time spent on each one per session is 30-80 minutes per day. This will be a combination of both types of exercise and not just one of the two recommended modes.

060617 Mechanical load consists of the following:

060617 Mechanical load consists of the following:

Magnitude of force

Magnitude of the load density or the intensity of the load will generally be above eighty to ninety percent one to ten repetition maximum in order to see improvements in the tissue response.

Speed of force development

The rate or speed of loading means how fast the force is being applied to move the load in a concentric muscle contraction (force applied against a weight with the muscles shortening). Think speed during the lift.

The direction of forces

Varying the direction and pattern of movement will stress the bone and the attaching musculature. Full range of motion in all exercises ensures to a certain extent that the forces are applied as required.

Volume of force applied

The first three mentioned above are primarily responsible for bone mineral improvements. Typically the repetitions do not need to exceed thirty to thirty five to see improvements IF the load is within the correct intensity zone (80%-90% 1-10RM).

Exercise prescriptions for bone growth stimulation*

  1. Volume 10 reps for 3-6 sets
    2. Load 1-10 RM at 80%-90%
    3. Rest 1-4 minutes between sets
    4. Variation Undulating periodization patterns
    5. Exercise selection Structural, multi-joint, large muscle groups

    *Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning
    Baechle, T. R., Earle, R.W. Human Kinetics 2001

Summary:

The greater the magnitude or intensity, the higher and faster the power output, and the direction of force all contribute to the successful laying down of new bone growth.

130317 Posture-dynamic and static

130317 Posture-dynamic and static

Posture, just the word brings to mind standing at attention with your head up, shoulders back and chest out. In reality it is more than this.

Body posture is both dynamic and at the same time a static action. In fact balance and posture are closely intertwined and in many cases are the same.

Posture affects not only how tall you will grow and how well your internal organs function but your activity and sports performance as well.

Briefly stated, posture can cause positive or negative alterations in the structure of your bones. Problems with your posture cause muscle imbalances, flexibility issues and damage to your joints if continued long term. The results of these changes are back, shoulder and neck pain, all of which, if caused by poor posture, can be alleviated with a conscious awareness of maintaining good posture.

Early on in a person’s life when the body is still developing is the ideal time to establish good posture habits. Doing so allows the body to build a strong useful platform for daily activities and participation in sports.

Good posture means your internal organs have room to grow and be healthy. Improper alignment in the structures of your body puts undue stress on the rest of it causing chronic strain which translates into chronic pain. Some study results have associated chronic pain as being a contributing factor to arthritis later in life.

The spinal column is the supporting base for your entire body and as such needs to be strong and powerful to endure the stresses placed on it throughout the day and for the remainder of your life.

The spine should be solid and flexible (within normal range of motion) while at the same time maintaining the four natural curves at all times. Strengthening the spinal column and the muscles that attach to it will help keep your posture correct and you feeling good about yourself.

270217 Checking your posture

270217 Checking your posture

While viewing an individual from the side, imagine a plumb line dropping from the middle of the ear downward to the floor. From the ear, the line will continue through the middle of the shoulder, down through the hips, mid knee and onto the ankles. Viewed from the rear this same line will be seen dropping from the middle of the head, middle of the back through the Gluteal cleft and between the knees and ankles to the floor.

This line divides the body into the front and rear sections with equal weight on both sides. This dividing line makes no effort to be symmetrical nor is it passing through any obvious anatomical structures equally.

Poor posture can contribute to low back pain, shoulder joint pain, and can even affect how you walk (your gait). If left unattended this pain could become chronic in nature and in a worse case situation could cause long-term damage to the body. This column will include suggestions to improve standing, sitting and lying-down posture.

But first off do you have proper posture? A quick check may offer a revealing glance at how you carry yourself day in and day out.

Begin by standing in front of a full-length mirror. Do you look even from side to side, are your shoulder’s straight across with both sides on the same level as the other side, i.e. one is not higher or drooping when compared to the other side. Imagine a straight-line beginning from the middle of your head through your nose, through the middle of your breastbone, down between your knees and feet. The spaces between your arms and sides are equal, your hips are level, your kneecaps face straight ahead, and your ankles and feet are straight.

Now stand sideways to the mirror and check that an imaginary line beginning at your ear lobe continues down your body. As it drops down it should be hitting the middle of your shoulder. It should pass just behind the hip joint and finally end up in front of the knee and the ankle joint.

Basically, that is how you should look. Do you?

250217 Introduction to posture

250217 Introduction to posture

Posture is an important part of our lives. Posture counts. It can make us feel good or bad, not only mentally but also physically. Imagine walking around slumped over all the time, how do you think you feel? When you notice someone walking like this what is the first thing that pops into your mind? It’s probably something along these lines-they look like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Compare that posture to the posture you have when you really feel great. You can see it in how you walk down the street can’t you?
Carry yourself high and proud. Remember the old saying behavior changes attitude and vice versa. If you are slumping, do yourself a favor and perk up!