June 26, 2015
April 30, 2015
Three years ago, my sister, Vanessa, had back surgery. As the daughter of a physical therapist and nurse, and the sister of a chiropractor and a registered dietician, the thought of having back surgery at age 32 was seemingly impossible. My sisters and I were all athletes and Vanessa was by far the strongest. However, a bad waterskiing fall coupled with two years of a work schedule that required business attire (i.e., heels), weeks of travel by air, train, and car, and a workout routine that was determined by convenience and consisting mostly of running, resulted in a herniated disc with nerve pain that was unbearable.
Vanessa was fortunate in her care. She had a wonderful chiropractor in New York who led her to a good neurosurgeon. A successful surgery was followed by 6 weeks of twice-daily physical therapy with our father. To complement her home therapy program, Vanessa searched out a local Pilates studio. She began with one-on-one sessions at three times a week with a skilled instructor. The improvement was remarkable and life changing.
A complete workout program incorporates three key areas: flexibility, stability, and strength. As individuals, our movement and function is dependent on these three aspects. We often think of each element independently of the others. We “do cardio” followed by some “core strengthening” followed by some “stretching” and call it a day at the gym. Perhaps there is a yoga class thrown in once a week for good measure. In real life, however, our bodies naturally and instinctively combine flexibility, strength, and stability: we coordinate them together to move as a whole. In order to train for “real life,” we need to train our body to seamlessly adapt to the environment around us. Ultimately, we exercise to improve our quality of life. It follows, then, that we should train to mirror our daily requirements.
A Pilates instructor’s training is thorough and detailed, and a quality instructor is key to any instructional program. The reformer equipment used in Pilates actually acts as a second trainer. The reformer allows you to understand the way your body is supposed to move, bringing an awareness to your movements that is often overlooked in traditional programs. Being able to activate your core muscles is important. Being able to train your core to work in conjunction with your hips, shoulders, legs, and arms addresses a real life need. This is the value of Pilates training.
Think for a moment about your workout routine. What aspects of flexibility, strength, and stability do you incorporate? What do you want to accomplish with all your hard work? Chances are, you are focusing on building the parts of your movements. You are lifting weights for strength, stretching to improve flexibility, and performing some core work for stability. The benefit of Pilates is in building on the work that you have already done, while teaching your body to function as a whole, rather than as a sum of parts. This is the heart of Pilates training.
This winter, Vanessa was walking to her car and slipped on the ice. As she fell, she felt her core engage to protect her. The months of Pilates training was validated in that one instant. Her body has been trained to react in a coordinated manner, combining her strength, stability, and flexibility. The fall left her bruised, but she had trained her body for real life, and she was otherwise uninjured.
To learn more about how you can minimize your risk of injury, visit www.pretrain.com
March 30, 2015
Shoulder, knee, hip, ankle, back, neck, elbow, wrist. You name it, it is susceptible to overuse injuries. Overuse injuries bring volumes of patients into doctors offices every year and cause countless moments of frustration with time off of training. How do you feel if you can’t exercise? If you’re like me not only do you suffer physically, but your emotional health takes a hit as well. Luckily, there is something you can do about it.
Overuse injuries occur when the work you put on your body exceeds the ability of your body to do that work. In other words, when you do too much. This can happen one of two ways: with a drastic increase in training over a short period of time, or through compensations of your body over a long period of time. For most people, overuse injuries occur slowly overtime, and they don’t even realize there is a problem until they have pain. Let’s take a look at some signs that you may have an overuse injury brewing.
1. Lack of stabilizing exercises in your exercise routine. Stabilizing exercises target the smallest muscles that are closest to the skeleton. These muscles hold the joints stable while the bigger muscles move us. If these small stabilizing muscles are missed in your normal exercise routine, they will become underworked and weak. Your body will compensate, requiring other muscles to work more until they become overworked to the point of injury and pain. Targeting these small muscles takes focused and intentional work and the benefits are many.
2. Inadequate strength training. Like it or not, our bodies sit way more than they are meant to. Because most of our work is done in front of us every day, exercise training should work in part to counteract these forces. In order to counteract this daily force, the focus on weight training, even body weight training, should be more on the back of us than the front of us. A good rule of thumb that I have found is 3:1 posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, back) exercises to anterior chain (chest, biceps, quads).
3. Improper flexibility and mobility. Flexibility is how well your muscles move and mobility is how well you move globally. Mobility includes motion at the joint as well as with the muscle. Home tools such as foam rollers can help with flexibility and joint mobilization with physical therapy or chiropractors will help target restricted joints.
4. Imbalance between the stability, strength, and flexibility/mobility in your body. Some people may have strength, but they do not have adequate stability and control over their strength. Others have a great deal of stability but have limited range of motion in their muscles and joints.
5. Lack of coordination between their strength, stability, and flexibility. This is common in people finishing up rehabilitation programs from an injury. The focus of rehabilitation programs is to get the affected area, say a sprained ankle, back to working order. However, the next step needs to be re-coordinating the movements of the healed ankle to work again with the rest of your body. If not, the compensations in your body that developed as you hobbled around on that sprained ankle will remain.
There is so much that can be done to minimize the risk of overuse injuries. It begins with understanding HOW overuse injuries occur. Our ebook, “Where do injuries come from?” is the best resource to increase your understanding of overuse injuries, and how to evaluate your existing exercise program for areas of improvement.