Archive for the 'Fitness and exercise' Category

19
Nov
13

How Flexible Should I Be and How Can I Measure My Flexibility?


Low back pain SwisschiroWatching a dancer her leg to her nose is an impressive sight, and many of us can perform similar feats when we’re children. But we begin to lose flexibility as we age if we do not make a conscious effort to remain limber. Inactivity causes muscles to shorten and stiffen, and muscle mass is lost with increasing years as well. However, maintaining flexibility as we get older is of great importance, since it allows us to retain our mobility and reduces the likelihood of aches, sprains and falls as we age.

Optimal flexibility means the ability of each of your joints to move fully through their natural range of motion. Simple activities such as walking or bending over to tie your shoes can become major difficulties if your flexibility is limited. Unfortunately, sitting for hours at a desk, as so many are forced to do on a daily basis, eventually leads to a reduction in flexibility as the muscles shorten and tighten.

There are a number of different tests used to measure flexibility, but the one test that has been used as a standard for years is the sit and reach test. It measures the flexibility of your hamstrings and lower back. The simple home version of the test requires only a step (or a small box) and a ruler.

Before the test, warm up for about 10 minutes with some light aerobic activity and do a few stretches. Then place the ruler on the step, letting the end of it extend out a few inches over your toes, and note where the edge of the step comes to on the ruler. Sit on the floor with your feet extended in front of you, flat against the bottom step (or box). With your arms extended straight out in front of you and one hand on top of the other, gradually bend forward from the hips, keeping your back straight. (Rounding the back will give you a false result). Measure where your fingertips come to on the ruler. They should ideally be able to reach at least as far as the front of the step. Any measurement past the edge of the step is a bonus. No matter how far you can reach on the first measurement, do the test periodically and try to improve your score every few weeks.

If you find that you are less flexible than you should be, some regular stretching exercises combined with visits to your chiropractor can help to restore flexibility and improve range of motion, helping to ensure that you remain limber into older age.

 

04
Nov
13

Calculating Your Target Heart Rate


treadmill-heart-rate-200-300Finding the body’s target heart rate (THR) is essential for those interested in maximizing the effectiveness of their workouts and training programs and reducing the risk of overexertion.

There is an easy method for determining your THR: Subtract your age from 220 (226 for women); this will provide your estimated maximum heart rate (MHR). Multiply your MHR by the percentages listed for the appropriate exercise zone from the list below.

  • Healthy Heart – For low-intensity exercises and warm ups. The THR for this zone is 50%-60% of the MHR.
  • Fitness – For more intense but generally low to moderate effort exercises. The THR for this zone is 60%-70% of the MHR.
  • Aerobic – This zone helps build endurance and increases the strength and size of your heart. It also improves your cardiovascular and respiratory system. The THR for this zone is 70%-80% of the MHR.
  • Anaerobic – For performance training. This zone increases the amount of oxygen you can consume during physical exertion. The THR for this zone is 80%-90% of the MHR.
  • Red Line – For maximum intensity exercises that burn the most calories. The THR for this zone is 90%-100% of the MHR. This level should only be attempted by those in excellent shape who have been cleared by a physician or qualified medical examiner.

 

So, for example, a 40-year-old woman who wishes to find her THR for a fitness zone program would use the following equation: (226 – 40) X 60% = 111 (low end) and (226 – 40) X 70% = 130 (high end). Therefore, as long as she maintains her heart rate between 111 beats per minute (bpm) and 130 bpm, the woman is at the proper target heart rate for maximum exercise efficiency and safety.

A more accurate method for determining your THR is the Karvonen formula, but this requires that you determine your resting heart rate (RHR) and your heart rate reserve (HRR). Measure your resting pulse (your heart rate just as you wake up) three mornings in a row. Your RHR is the average of these three readings (add the readings and divide by three). Your HRR is your MHR minus your RHR. Once you have calculated your HRR, multiply it by the percentages for the zone you want to target for and add the RHR. The equations are as follows:

MHR = 220 (or 226 for women) – age (in years)
RHR = average resting heart rate (average of 3 readings)
HRR = MHR – RHR
THR = (HRR * target zone percentage) + RHR

So for our hypothetical 40-year-old woman targeting a fitness zone…

MHR = 226 – 40 = 186.
RHR = (64 + 62 + 63)/3 = 63
HRR = 186 – 63 = 123
THR = (123 * 60%) + 63 = 137 (for the low end) and (123 * 70%) + 63 = 149 (for the high end)

If you have any doubts or questions about the proper method for determining your THR, ask your chiropractor, physical therapist or doctor for help.

 

03
Sep
13

Biceps Tendonitis Causes and Treatment Options


??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The aches and pains of biceps tendonitis can seriously interfere with your daily activities. It is often surprising to people to realize just how much they use their biceps in the course of a day, whether they’re picking up a bag of groceries or just brushing their teeth.

The biceps brachii muscle originates on the scapula (shoulder blade) and crosses both the shoulder and elbow joints, eventually attaching to the upper forearm. Its main function is the flexion and supination (twisting the palm to the front) of the forearm, but it also helps lift the shoulder. Weight trainers will be very familiar with the bicep curl, in which the muscle is strengthened through repeated lifting of a weight in the hand through alternately flexing and extending at the elbow.

Repeated overuse of the biceps muscle can lead to inflammation of the tendon, causing tendonitis. People who practice sports with repetitive ‘overhead’ actions such as tennis, baseball and javelin throwing are at greater risk for the development of tendonitis, as are those with any kind of job or activity that involves similar repetitive movements of the shoulder. Bicep tendonitis may also often occur in combination with other shoulder problems such as rotator cuff tears, arthritis of the shoulder, shoulder instability, tears of the glenoid labrum and shoulder impingement (inflammation of the rotator cuff).

Patients with biceps tendonitis usually report feeling pain in the front of the shoulder and sometimes in the biceps muscle itself. This is made worse through overhead motion and improved by resting the arm and shoulder. The arm may feel weak when bending the elbow or turning the palm upwards. If you experience any of these symptoms, it would be wise to visit your doctor or chiropractor.

Biceps tendonitis is a common condition seen by chiropractors, and your practitioner will want to make a thorough examination of you and your medical history in order to determine whether your condition is tendonitis or some other condition, and if there are any co-occurring injuries. X-rays are rarely used initially, but may be called for later if the shoulder is not responding to treatment.

If you are diagnosed with biceps tendonitis, a range of treatment options are available. Nonsurgical interventions are the preferred first choice of chiropractors. Resting the shoulder and avoiding exacerbating activity may be suggested in combination with other strategies such as anti-inflammatory medication and ice packs to reduce pain and swelling. Any co-morbid conditions contributing to the inflammation will also need to be treated. In extreme cases, cortisone injections may be prescribed.

The most commonly employed surgical treatment for bicep tendonitis is acromioplasty, particularly in cases where shoulder impingement is also a problem. Acromioplasty is the removal of a small piece of the acromion (a bony protuberance of the shoulder blade), which gives more space between the head of the humerus and acromion itself, relieving pressure on the tendon and other soft tissues.

Biceps tenodesis is another surgical technique that may be utilized to treat tendonitis. In this surgery, the top of the biceps tendon is reattached to a new location. The technique has not, however, met with great success in treating tendonitis patients but may be necessary in cases where there is degeneration of the tendon or when extensive shoulder reconstruction is required.

Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP

Pierre DuboisDr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

14
Aug
13

“Exercise” Versus “Lifestyle Activity”: How Active Are You—Really?


If you are like most people, working out just for the sake of working out does not really appeal (although there are many dedicated gymcanot buffs who couldn’t live without their daily workouts!). We all know that it’s important to exercise regularly if we want to live a long and healthy life. However, if you find the idea of trotting along on a treadmill for 15 minutes and then spending half an hour of working out on Nautilus machines to be about as exciting as a trip to the dentist, then this article is for you!

Experts recommend that we get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week to stay in shape. But many people find taking this much exercise at once (or in three 50-minute stretches) too daunting. The good news is that a recent study conducted by researchers at Boston University that was published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that bouts of exercise lasting less than 10 minutes a couple of times daily, such as the kind you get when cleaning the house, were sufficient to meet your weekly exercise needs.

Over 2,000 participants were included in the study, more than half of whom were overweight. Motion detectors were attached to each of the subjects for eight days, and an average of half the participants met their weekly exercise quota of 150 minutes. The average participant met his or her quota with exercise that lasted less than 10 minutes at a time. The types of exercise ranged from moderate (heavy cleaning, walking briskly and sports such as golf and badminton) to vigorous (running, hiking, shoveling and farm work).

As long as the participants met their 150-minute per week quota, no matter the length of their exercise, they had lower body mass index, smaller waists, lower triglycerides and better cholesterol levels than those who did not meet the quota. Assistant professor at Boston University’s School of Medicine, Nicole Glazer, says “But this study really speaks to the idea that some activity is better than nothing. Parking a little bit farther away, getting off the bus one stop early—all of these little things can add up and are related to a healthier profile.”

For years, researchers have studied the effects of exercise from practicing sports or visiting the gym. However, according to Glazer, “This idea of lifestyle activity is one that is under-measured in research studies.” Activities such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, using a push mower instead of a riding mower, etc. can add up to a significant amount of energy expenditure. Experts still stress that it’s important to also get in some traditional forms of exercise and not merely replace it with lifestyle activity. Still, any exercise is useful.

“The levels of sedentary behavior in this country are alarming. So the concern that someone’s going to stop exercising and instead just get off the bus a stop earlier, that’s not my concern,” Glazer says. “The real concern is, is this a stepping-stone? Is this the way we can get inactive people to do any sort of activity? People will come up with any excuse to not exercise. I don’t need to worry about my giving them one. They’ll be able to think of something.”

 

Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP

Pierre DuboisDr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

 

12
Aug
13

Top 7 Exercises for More Core Muscle Strength


Sitting for long periods of time has a detrimental effect on our “core” muscles. These are the muscles responsible for keeping us upright and allowing us to twist and bend without falling over. It is important to keep these muscles strengthened in order to avoid chronic lowWoman holding soccer ball back pain and injuries that may result from lifting heavy objects. The stronger your core, the less prone you are to injury. The following seven core muscle exercises are particularly good for strengthening these muscles. Hold each pose (except for the bicycle ab crunch) for at least 10 seconds and repeat 5 to 10 times.

Superman – Lie face-down on the floor with your arms straight out in front of you and your knees together. Simultaneously lift your arms, upper chest and legs off the floor, balancing on your pelvis.

Bridge ­– Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, as close to your buttocks as possible, with your arms close to your sides. Contracting your abdominal muscles, raise your hips toward the ceiling until a straight line is formed between your knees and neck.

Modified V-sit – Start while seated on the floor with your knees bent in front of you and feet flat on the floor. Lean back slightly on your hands and lift your feet off the floor so you are balanced on your buttocks (making a sort of square root symbol), then hold your arms straight out in front of you, on each side of your knees. Once you have gained some experience, you can work up to straightening your legs so you form a “V.”

Plank – Lie on your stomach with your elbows close to your sides and directly under the shoulders, with palms down and hands facing forward. Keeping your legs straight, lift your entire torso and hips off the floor, balancing on your toes and forearms. Your head should be parallel with your spine, looking at the floor.

Side plank – Start by lying on your side, resting on your forearm and on the outside of your foot, with one foot on the other. Placing your elbow directly beneath your shoulder, align your head with your spine while keeping your hips and knee in contact with the floor. Lift your hips and knees off the floor, keeping your upper arm flat against your side and balancing on your forearm and foot. For a greater challenge, raise up onto your hand and stretch your upper arm out, forming a leaning “T.”

Bird dog – On your hands and knees, place your hands directly below your shoulders, while aligning your head and neck with your back. Stretch your left arm out in front of you, parallel to the floor, while extending your right leg straight out behind you, being sure not to arch your lower back. Repeat with opposite arm and leg.

Bicycle ab crunch – Lie flat on your back with your hands behind your head. Curl your body forward, like performing a crunch, bringing your left knee towards your right elbow while extending your right leg out, lifted slightly off the floor. Keeping your shoulders off the floor, switch your crunch to right knee and left elbow, while extending the left leg. Keep alternating from left to right for about a minute.

 

Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP

Pierre DuboisDr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

 

02
Aug
13

Being a Great Fitness Buddy


Studies have shown that one of the best ways to stick to your fitness regime is to have a reliable fitness partner. Being a fitness buddy means that someone else is counting on you to make them accountable for their workout, keep them inspired and ensure that they are not alone in their quest for fitness. To be a great fitness buddy you just need to keep a few basic guidelines in mind:man-woman-stretching-200-300

You should both have similar goals ­– If you are training for a place on the Olympic team and your fitness buddy just wants the occasional weekend workout, neither of you is likely to meet your goal. This does not mean that you have to share the same goal, but they should be relatively comparable. That way, you can encourage your partner to meet their goal while not losing sight of your own.

Find someone at a similar fitness level – Your fitness partner does not want to feel like they are being left behind if you are at a much higher level than they are. Similarly, choosing someone at a higher level may make them feel like they have to hold back. Having the same starting point is more motivating for you both.

Be reliable – Always show up when you say you are going to. Your fitness buddy will be more motivated knowing that he or she can count on you to be there for a scheduled workout. You should ideally have similar schedules so that your partner does not have to work around your previous commitments.

Don’t hesitate to push your partner – It’s natural to want to do as little work as possible to reach our goals. But encouraging your fitness buddy to push themselves a little farther than they might on their own can help them to reach their goals a little faster. Never push them beyond what they can safely do, but there is no harm in encouraging your partner to push beyond what they perceive are their limits, and they will be pleasantly surprised at how much they can accomplish that they never thought they could.

Keep focused – Help your partner to keep focused on his or her workout by ensuring that your mind does not wander off or become distracted by the cute guy or girl walking by in the gym.

Provide useful criticism ­– Do not hesitate to correct your workout partner if you feel he or she is using bad form or doing something unsafe. Part of the responsibility of being a great fitness buddy is ensuring that your fitness partner does not become injured during their workout and that they perform to the best of their ability.

 

Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP

Pierre DuboisDr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

 

30
Jul
13

Dehydration Nation? How Much Water Do We Really Need?


Americans drink over 9 billion gallons of bottled water each year, up from 5 billion in 2001. However, most Americans still believe that they go through life chronically dehydrated. At least, that is what we have been led to believe by certain experts and bottled water companies who have suggested that everyone drink eight glasses of water a day for the sake of their health. However, that advice has no basis in scientific evidence, according to Scottish physician Dr. Margaret McCartney, who says that the need to drink that much water to prevent dehydration is “not only nonsense, but is thoroughly debunked nonsense.”Girl drinking water

It is easy to find articles all over the Internet on the health benefits of drinking more water. From better skin to weight loss, all manner of health improvements have been attributed to drinking eight glasses of water a day. But according to Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a nephrologist at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, who looked for evidence to support these health claims, “We found that there really is no evidence that drinking more water makes you perform better. It doesn’t reduce appetite, it doesn’t lead to long-term weight loss, and it can’t possibly improve your complexion. It won’t clear your body of toxins or reduce headaches.”

The idea that if you are thirsty then you are already dehydrated has no basis in fact. The human body is well designed to manage its water needs, and if you drink when you are thirsty, then you are likely getting enough fluids. Goldfarb notes, “Thirst is a highly developed sensation, powerfully motivated. When you’re thirsty, all you want to do is drink. But being thirsty doesn’t mean you are ill at this point or dehydrated to the point that there are consequences.”

Another myth is that coffee, tea and soft drinks cannot be counted in the amount of fluids you take in each day. We get thirst-satiating fluids not only from these beverages, but also from other things we eat, such as fruits and vegetables, many of which have a relatively high water content. Excess caffeine and sugar intake from various beverages can affect health negatively, which is why physicians do not advise these in place of water, but they do contribute to the amount of fluids you get each day.

Those who should be more concerned about drinking sufficient amounts of water are athletes and those who work at jobs that require a lot of physical activity, as water is lost through sweating. But the average person who sits at a desk most of the day and commutes by car to and from work is not at high risk of dehydration. All you need to do is to drink water when you are thirsty (and tap water is just as good, despite what the bottled water companies will tell you).

 

Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP

Pierre DuboisDr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.




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