Ever wonder whether you're getting the most out of your daily walk? Wonder if there's a proper way to hold your body to get the most benefit? While there are many and varied ways of walking, from speed walking to a leisurely stroll, there are basic body positions that will help keep your body safe and maximize your walking effort.
HEAD POSITION – Chin parallel with the ground, not tucked to your chest or tilted out. Eyes/Focus should be straight ahead. Looking at the ground is not good form as it pulls your chin toward your chest and tilts your head forward too far. Your head and neck should be aligned naturally, with your head held high and neck at a natural extension.
ARM/SHOULDER POSITION– Your arms should swing freely with each stride, with a slight bend in your elbows. Your shoulders should move naturally with the swing of your arms. Be careful to watch your shoulder position. It is common for shoulders to inch toward your ears, breaking the long line of your neck position, and adding tension in your shoulders. Make a conscious effort to keep shoulders loose and down.
CORE POSITION – Keep abdominal muscles engaged, with stomach muscles gently tightened as you walk. This will also help keep your back straight, which is important to keeping all parts in good form as you walk.
FOOT POSITIONand STRIDE – Walk with a smooth, even stride, rolling your foot from heel to toe. Your stride can be extended over time, with proper stretching before and after each walk, and lengthened each walk once you have had time to warm up.
Whether you’re just beginning a walking program, or you’ve been at it for years, it’s never a bad idea to remain conscious of proper form during each walk. It’s the best way train your brain to default to the feel of good form and optimize the health benefits of each walk.
As with all exercise programs, we need to consider the potential risk of injury or dropout. The main risk of HIIT training, as in any advanced training protocol, is the inherent mechanical stress that high intensity movements can create on the joints and connective tissues. In order to hit those higher intensities you will be performing some extreme movements like jumping, bounding, sprinting, burpees, mountain climbers and suicide push-ups. These moves may not be appropriate for everybody; in particular those with compromised joints. To minimize this risk you will need to prepare your body and progress into the program properly. If you plan on adding HIIT to your regime you will definitely want to build up and condition your speed and power muscle fibers—with HIIT Pre-Conditioning Exercises.
HIIT Pre-Conditioning Exercises
Regenerate your jump-ability
Train your turnover time
Clean up your core control
Regenerate Your JUMP- Ability
If you haven’t done any high impact or jumping for a while you may find that you have lost your ability to propel and descend your body properly. Women may also find that jarring causes the dreaded “ring around the crotch line”. So it may take some re-training to get your body mechanics and pelvic floor muscles back in order. One of the best preconditioning exercise is to simply stand with your hands on a wall or sturdy chair back and perform a set of heel drops (bounces). Concentrate on absorbing the shock with tall upright spinal alignment and a lifting contraction in the pelvic floor muscles. Keep you knees and hips slightly bent.
Once you are comfortable doing heel drops you can progress to low jumps where you bend through the ankles, knees and hips and spring up a small distance off the floor (extending the joints), then land with a shock-absorbing bend in the same three joints. Think about keeping the spine erect and pelvic floor muscles lifted. Progress this by either jumping higher, further (bounding) and /or in more rapid succession. These exercises should be practiced several times a week using 1 to 3 sets of 30 seconds.
Train Your Turnover
Turnover is the speed and agility of foot movement, or the number of times your feet strike the ground per minute. To train your turnover you need to keep track of the amount of footfalls you can complete in a 60 second period. You can start with marching in place and work your way up to sprinting in place or running up and down on a platform. Again you should practice this drill several times a week using 1 to 3 sets of 60 seconds.
Clean Up Your Core Control
Core control is your ability to move your limbs and body through space without compromising spinal alignment. As we perform high intensity whole body movements the core muscles (muscles surrounding your spine, shoulder girdle and pelvis) are taxed well beyond their normal function. Add speed and a little competition and you have the recipe for disaster in terms of form and execution. Thus it will be important to condition your spinal support muscles prior to attempting the types of moves often used in HITT based workouts. To do this start with holding wall planks for 30 to 60 seconds, then progress to hand and knee planks, forearm planks and planks with one or more limbs either lifted or moving. Vary the planks as well including front, rear and side positions. Practice this drill as many days a week as you can. Since the core muscles are an endurance group, you need to train them often with minimal external load (in most cases your body weight alone against gravity is plenty).
By pre-conditioning your jump, sprint and core control you will soon find that you have the strength and endurance needed to protect your joints as you challenge your system with these exciting and effective HIIT workouts. When in doubt, modify or opt out of any particular move you find too stressful! If you are not ready for them they can cause more pain than gain; and the last thing anyone wants from a new training program is to wake up the next day feeling like a dead duck rather than a spring chicken!
Moveable joints, where bones come together and help us move, like our knees, hips and shoulders can become damaged over time due to wear and tear, disease, excess body weight and injuries. As a result, your joints may feel stiff, painful and become swollen. But, there are several steps you can take to prevent wear and tear on joint tissue.
STAY PHYSICALLY ACTIVE. Though some forms of physical activity – playing football in the NFL for years for instance, can add to wear and tear on joint tissue, normal levels of regular physical activity can help keep joints healthy by improving or maintaining bone density, muscle strength, joint flexibility and balance. Just be sure to protect your joints with protective pads when necessary and stop if they hurt more than tollerable discomfort from the exercise itself. Swimming is great exercise and is particularly low-impact on joints. See more on joint-related exercise do's and don'ts here.
EAT HEALTHY. Doing so will do more than just keep your weight within normal limits (being overweight puts stress on joints), but, it will also provide a variety of nutrients necessary for strong bones and muscles. In particular, adequate levels of vitamin D and calcium are necessary for bone health while protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle strength. Having strong muscles around joints helps support the joint structure itself.
TAKE SUPPLEMENTS. And finally, the dietary supplements glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can reduce moderate to severe knee pain in some people. Chondroitin helps absorb water in cartilage and both chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine block the enzymes that break down cartilage and some studies suggest they may also help build new cartilage tissue. Click the "recipe" link to read about a great recipefor a fun, refreshing way to take this supplement!
Guest Blog Post by Iris Higgins, gluten-free cook book author and blogger of www.thedailydietribe.com, hypnotherapist with master's degree in psychology plus a Women's Wellness Wizard. Be sure to check out her very insightful and informative blog for great recipes and more.
Cold Weather Often Means Increased Joint Pain
While autumn heralds the return of hot soups, pumpkin pie, and cuddling under a blanket watching movies, it can also bring with it an exacerbation of joint pain for many people. Once the temperature drops, many individuals find they start to feel an all too familiar aching in their joints. However, there are ways you can prevent or at least lessen the discomfort of joint pain caused by arthritis.
Iced Peppermint Tea for Joint Relief contains only two ingredients. Peppermint tea is considered to be anti-inflammatory, while Joint Movement Glucosamine Liquid has three supplements that are beneficial for joint health. Glucosamine is necessary to prevent the breakdown of cartilage and fluid in joints. Chondroitin eases joint movement by providing support and lubrication. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is important for maintaining healthy connective tissues in the tissues. Take time out of your hectic schedule to relax with a cup of this tea. You’ll feel more relaxed simply by giving yourself a daily break, and your joints will remain strong and healthy during the cold winter months.
Iced Peppermint Tea for Joint Relief
8 ounces boiling water
1 bag caffeine free peppermint tea
2 tablespoons/1 oz Joint Movement Glucosamine Liquid (do not add this the boiling water as excess heat will degrade the active ingredients. Always add to cool beverages only - see below directions)
Prepare tea by steeping tea bag in hot water for 20 minutes, then allow to come to room temperature. Add ice or refrigerate to chill. When ready to drink, add Joint Movement Glucosamine Liquid and stir. Garnish with fresh lemon or orange slices if desired.
This is a great alternative way to take the glucosamine liquid for a change of pace. Remember, you can also mix it with water, any kind of juice or in a shake or smoothie. Then drink to your joint health!
In our ever-changing world of fitness trends the exercise pendulum often swings from safe and sane to hard-core and somewhat crazy.
Maybe you remember the ‘No Pain- No Gain’ philosophy of the early 80’s; or the mindful, rejuvenating yoga, Pilates and less impact acclaimed step-training workouts that grew in popularity during the 90’s. Today we see a little bit of everything with a definite focus on high intensity training methods like P90X, RIPPED, Insanity, Cross Fit, Power Yoga, Piloxing and Turbo Kick or the dance style trends like Zumba, Hip Hop Hustle and LaBlast.
On the positive side a wide spectrum of options means there really is something for every BODY… On the other hand it is more important than ever that new exercisers are aware of their current ability and progress properly into the right workouts. Fitness trends will come and go… but your joints are yours for life. So one good way to gauge if a workout or activity is right for you is to see if it adheres to some simple joint Do’s and Don’ts.
Joint Do's and Don'ts
Let’s start at the neck and work our way down to the ground.
Do – keep the neck limber with appropriate stretching in all directions and focus on strengthening the deep neck muscles that keep your head positioned back over your shoulders with exercises like chin retraction. Try to be more aware of your posture and head alignment habits especially when working at a computer or reading a book. Always try to keep your head stacked over your shoulders.
Don’t – do rapid head circles or a full yoga plow that places compression pressure on the delicate neck vertebra. Also avoid chin jutting during exercise or static postures.
Do- stretch the front of the shoulder including the chest and deltoid muscles. Also focus on strengthening your weak shoulder rotators with exercises like external rotation using an elastic band.
Don’t – perform loaded exercises that place your arms in position where you feel shoulder impingement or pain. That would typically be exercises where the arms go above and behind the head during movement or rotate the shoulders inwardly while lifting; like lat pull downs behind the neck or high upright rows with a narrow grip.
Do – loosen and limber your spine in all directions (forward and back, side to side-laterally and through rotation) and strengthen your spine with core stabilizing exercises like plank holds and the dead bug exercise.
Don’t – sit for long periods of time in a slouched position, or do unsupported lifting with your back in a bent or twisted position.
Do - stretch the hip flexor muscle on the front of the thigh and the hamstrings on the back and strengthen the gluts for good pelvic stability, a good example would be bridging sometimes called hip lifts.
Don’t – perform exercises or use ranges of motion that force your pelvis out of good alignment such as high kicks or side leg lifts that are outside of your ability to keep the hips level or stabilized.
Do - Focus on keeping the knees in alignment with the toes when doing lunging and squatting moves. Also strengthen the quadriceps, in particular the medial side that tends to get over powered by the lateral side. A good exercise for this is the single leg squat or terminal knee extensions.
Don’t – perform repetitive deep knee bends with heavy loads or pivoting moves where the feet are grounded causing a torque at the knee or the hurdlers stretch position.
Do – keep the angles mobile with stretches like ankle circles. Also work on strengthening and mobilizing them by doing toe and heel walking.
Don’t – jump repetitively on one foot for more than 8 hops or over stretch the muscles of the ankle with force or momentum.
DO - keep your joints in their best nutritional shape with the right supplement such as an extra strength liquid glucosamine and chondroitin that is fast absorbing to help improve your joint health. Glucosamine protects the cartilage tissue to keep them flexible and chondroitin helps to cushion and lubricate for better joint movement.
Striving for a well balanced diet and easy exercise routine is best but not always a reality.
Depending on age and stage of life and how much wear and tear on your body by extreme sports, sitting or standing for long periods of time or carrying a little extra weight around, it is easy to feel the toll it’s taking on our joints over time.
Key Nutrients – Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Glucosamine and Chondroitin work together in a “joint effort” to decrease the destruction of joint tissue, decrease inflammation and even build new cartilage tissue. Clinical studies show that people with moderate to severe joint pain experience relief from their symptoms after taking glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate daily.
Because everyone’s joints are different, results from taking Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements may vary, so you should commit to taking the supplement for at least 3-6 weeks to feel the difference.
Try a Liquid Instead of Pills or Tablets
However many Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements are large tablets and require many throughout the day that may not be easy to swallow easy or sit well in your stomach. Also, because it is human nature to avoid the things we don’t like, often people “forget” or avoid taking them.
If you tried pills in the past and didn’t experience the desired relief, try a liquid supplement instead with clinically supported dosing that is easy to swallow and fast absorbing. A quality liquid supplement also has the added convenience of being taken directly, mixed in water or juice or even better, easily added to a healthy smoothie in the morning or afternoon to mix up your daily routine. If taken daily it will keep you and your joints moving.
Getting the nutrients you need and absorbing them is important for good health, for more information, watch Lifetime TV’s The Balancing Act “Maintaining Healthy Joints” featuring myself, Marie Spano, talking about ways you can have healthier, less painful joints. http://www.wellesse.com/wellesse-balancing-act.asp
Guest blog post by Lori McKnight, B.A., busy mom and wife who enjoys living in the Pacific Northwest and has been a health and wellness advocate for many years.
Many of us live with the nagging discomfort of arthritis. We either experience the annoying beginning stages or the painful and often debilitating effects of living with later stage arthritis. For many of us, just a few reminders and tips can help us remember to move during the day and make it part of our daily routine. Keeping joints flexible is key to managing arthritis.
By taking care of our bodies and joints we will feel better. Making movement a priority will, in the long run, give us more freedom to do the activities we love with less discomfort.
Clean your house:
If you are not afraid of a little housework the movement in some activities will really help to keep you moving and burn a few calories too. Just the simple everyday tasks can be more fun if you add some music to the task and dance a bit while you are going through the chores. Cleaning the floor, washing windows, hanging laundry out to dry, cleaning the bathroom, unloading the dishwasher, etc. Protect your joints by using alternative motions while performing the activities.
Get outside to move:
Walk the dog or offer to walk a friend’s dog
Wash your car
Garden – use long handled tools to reduce strain on your back and knees. You just may reap the rewards not only with added movement but with beautiful flowers, vegetables or fresh fruit.
Make a play date – Take those kids or grandkids out to the park and play a game or take a walk exploring what nature has to offer.
Hike or bike – either at home or the next time you are on a vacation how about walking or hiking to all the historic sites instead of driving a car.
Interactive Video games: (Wi, Kinect)
Get off the couch and participate in the new generation of video games. There are some great ones out there that actually promote balance and movement. Give a few of them a try and find one that you like to participate in. Gather the family around and do it as a group activity. It is much more fun to do activities together. Before you know it you will be having fun!
Join a Fitness Club:
Get social and grab a few of your neighbors or your friends and create a walking group to take a walk around the neighborhood or a local park a couple times per week.
Take a class or join a group and learn out to dance, golf or play tennis.
Swimming is a perfect exercise if you have painful joints.
Volunteering can be rewarding. How about volunteering to walk someone’s dog or walk a dog at a local shelter?
Give your time at a retirement or rehabilitation community where you can help take someone on a walk that might not be able to get outside otherwise.
The random activities that add up that we forget about:
Carry your groceries – On the days that you are purchasing just a few things consider carrying them in a bag instead of using a cart. Carry them across your arms to reduce strain on your wrists.
Take the stairs – When possible take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Park in the last spot – We have all heard this one before. By parking further way from the front door you are adding in a bit more walking each time you park your car. Those few added steps can help boost your heart rate and keep you moving.
Do you sit at work all day or even at home in front of the computer or tv? Read more to learn some easy exercise tips you can do at your desk to relieve neck pain and stiffness.
We are quickly becoming a nation of professional sitters… as a matter of fact, the average American now spends 32 hours per month in front of a computer screen just searching the web. Add to that figure the hours spent sitting by those who actually work in front of a computer and you can easily see why the problem is escalating. This phenomenon is directly related to an increase in many physical changes and ailments from carpal tunnel syndrome to eye strain. One of the biggest problems is forward head posture, which can result in a ‘real pain in the neck.
I recently had an x-ray done on my neck to see why I was experiencing chronic tension in my upper back and neck area. To my surprise the x-ray showed that I have pretty much lost the natural curve in my neck (cervical curve). This curve should look somewhat like a banana on an x-ray and mine looked more like a tilted pencil. I was also told that I had signs of arthritis in the neck vertebra, which could progress if the stress continues. How could this be happening to me? I understand good body mechanics and pride myself on staying fit and healthy...
Possible Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain
The first thing my physician ask was whether I spend a lot of time at the computer or reading in bed at night… both of which I defiantly do. He explained how these long held postures can result in a forward head position and how that position, even if slight, can create a huge problem for the muscles and joints of the neck. Our head weighs about 10 pounds, so imagine the stress it can cause on our neck when it shifts forward even slightly. Think of how much harder it would be to hold a bowling ball with your arms extended in front of your body rather that up close to your body; your arm and shoulder muscles would fatigue pretty fast. Well, that is pretty much what is happening to your upper back and neck muscles. These muscles then slowly tug and pull at your spine and can actually changing the position of your spine from curved to straight. This is not a good thing because there is an important reason for that curve. Your spinal curves are there to help absorb shock during movement. So if the curve is gone the facets of the vertebra can’t absorb the stress correctly. This wear and tear takes its toll resulting in degeneration, arthritis and in some cases bone spurs and nerve impingement.
Aging and Repetitive Strain or Stress
We do know that two main causes of these unhealthy joint changes are aging and repetitive strain or stress. These changes include deterioration to the cartilage between the stressed vertebra as well as a reduction in the protein content of the synovial fluid that keeps joints moving without pain and stiffness. We can’t do much about aging but we can be sure to reduce some of those stresses with proper posture checks and breaks.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Joint Health
We can also take advantage of some of the supplements that are designed to help support joint health such as a liquid glucosamine and chondroitin supplement. The role of this supplement in joint maintenance is logical. Glucosamine is an amino sugar that the body produces and distributes in cartilage and other connective tissue, and chondroitin sulfate is a complex carbohydrate that helps cartilage retain water and gives it elasticity.
Women like myself, in their peri or post-menopausal years are definitely at higher risk. Thus we need to counteract the stresses we create when we do too much of the same thing or stay too long in a poor postural position. This brings me back to my neck problem and plan of action.
So what is a pencil neck like me to do? Well it starts with awareness… Make sure your desk-site is set up ergonomically – You can check out the United States Department of Labor website for proper desk set ups (http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/components_desk.html). Next you will need to learn to position your head back over your shoulders and keep it there when sitting or reading. This is harder than you might think.
Below are a few tips to help you place your head on your shoulders and KEEP it there:
1. Place a lumbar support between your lower back and chair. By maintaining the proper lumbar curve in your back, you will be more likely to also keep better upper body alignment
2. Take neck breaks every 30 minutes that you spend working or reading in a seated position. Here is a simple stretch and re-posturing exercise:
o Sit up tall and start with slow gentle shoulder rolls (3 to 5 rolls), hold the shoulders in the down position and move on to slow gentle forward neck rolls. Chin tucks and moves slowly downward from one shoulder to the other and back (3 to 5 rolls in each direction).
o Next begin the chin retraction stretch. Press your chin back towards your throat, stretching the back of your neck and bringing the ears back as far as you can. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds and then relax. Now retract your chin again but this time gently tilt your ear towards your shoulder and hold for 3 to 5 seconds. Repeat tilting to the opposite shoulder.
3. And last but not least is a great neck strengthening exercise that can be done daily to strengthen the intrinsic (deep) neck stabilizer muscles and all you need is your hand:
o Sit tall and position your palm on your forehead, press your head against your palm without letting your head or hand move. Hold the contraction for 3 to 5 breaths.
o Repeat this move with the palm on the side of the head (right and left side) and then with both hands behind the back of the head.
o It is important that you keep your neck in good alignment over your shoulders throughout all of the pressing contractions. Also be sure to breath fluidly throughout the holds.
If you practice these few tips daily you will definitely see a reduction in your current neck stress. You may even help prevent curve loss or restore a healthier curve.
Remember that you should always check with your physician when you are having pain or discomfort in a joint and get their approval before you do these or any exercises. And if your neck feels worse rather than better after performing these moves reduce the amount of time or intensity with which you do them. If they still don’t feel right then discontinue the program completely.
Golf is a very popular activity for those in the retirement years, which means that we may not be playing with totally healthy, young joints. Therefore we need to pay extra careful attention to form and pre-game practices. This means we need to be aware and prepare.
Let’s start with being aware… When it comes to being aware, I am specifically referring to an awareness of proper spinal posturing during the position used prior to performing a golf swing. This position can lead to a common mistake when it comes to the lower back. Finding and maintaining a neutral lumbar spine is key. To do this you should practice in a mirror. You will need to find your ideal position and then recognize it kinesthetically (in your minds eye), so that you can get into the right posture every time you set up for a swing. Here is how to find and practice it.
Stand with your side profile to a mirror.
Set your feet in the stance you typically use during a swing.
Soften your knees and sit back into hips your as you would pre-swing.
Place your hands on your thighs.
Look at your spinal position in the mirror.
Tuck your tailbone as far under as you can.
Reverse and arch your back in the other direction as far as you can.
Now find the point right in the middle of those two extremes.
Hold your lower back in the midway, neutral position.
Engage your abs and look to see that your shoulders on a diagonal line with your hips and your knees are behind your toes.
Bring your arms in front of you as though you are holding a golf club.
Check in the mirror to make sure you have maintained the proper position.
Hold for five deep breaths and then place your hands on your thighs for a break.
Repeat several times.
Now to further prepare for a strong back swing you can add the following rear shoulder exercise from the pre-swing golf position:
Posterior Raise with dumbbell or full water bottle
Perform a dumbbell posterior raise in a slow controlled manner from a well-aligned pre- golf swing posture.
Keep the weight light enough for you to maintain the proper posture throughout the range of motion.
Perform 8 to 12 repetitions with control.
Then finish up with a great mobility/stability exercise for the torso and shoulder girdle.
Quadruped Rotation with Flexion and Extension
In quadruped position (hands under shoulders, knees under hips), take right hand and put behind head as far as possible.
Flex and rotate spine, aiming right elbow to the outside of the left knee.
Then extend and rotate spine, aiming right elbow up towards ceiling.
Perform slowly holding the end range positions for 3 to 5 deep breaths.
Do 4 to 6 on each side.
Maintain! Take Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplement for Healthier Joints and Flexibility
Taking a liquid glucosamine and chondroitin supplement daily can also be very helpful for maintaining healthy joints and flexibility. It helps keep joints lubricated for improved mobility. Glucosamine helps rebuild cartilage tissue lost over time and from wear and tear and chondroitin helps to cushion and lubricate your joints for better joint health and to help manage joint pain and stiffness.
Don't let joint pain keep you from enjoying your golf game this summer! By doing a few preventive measures such as these exercises and taking a glucosamine supplement, you can be on top of your game without joint pain.
Arthritis awareness month is a great time to focus on finding fitness activities you can enjoy with maximum benefits and minimal joint strain.
To do this you need to use what I call the ‘Arthritis Activity Continuum’. At one end of the continuum are the activities and exercises that can be done by almost everyone. This might include activities such as walking, isometric Osteoball exercises and gentle seated stretches. On the other end of the continuum are the things that should only be done sparingly or for short bouts due to the greater load or forces on the joints. These higher continuum activities have a cost/benefit ratio. If done with control and proper progression they will help keep your body in peak condition. If done too often, or too intensely they can cause more joint harm (wear and tear) than good. Examples would be running, competitive sports, jumps and heavy weight lifting.
Then there are the many activities that fall between these two continuum ends. The question is, where is your ability and comfort range on the AA continuum?
As many arthritis suffers know, this can shift from day to day based on many factors including weather, time of day and overall health status. That means you need to listen to your joints and have a sliding scale of doable options to choose from depending on how you are feeling on any particular day and joint pain. Keep in mind that any activity is better than no activity at all for joint health. Finding the right variety and proper progression is key for managing arthritis joint pain. Try line dancing, golf, water aerobics or even a Zumba Gold class. The right supplements can also play an important role in joint maintenance such as a high quality liquid glucosamine and chondroitin, calcium and vitamin D and omega-3 essential supplements.
Quick Morning Routine to Get Started
Here is a quick morning wake up routine to start your day. It utilizes the progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) technique. This technique involves tensing and relaxing specific muscles or muscle groups in sequence. When done first thing in the morning this technique will act as a gentle full-body wake up call. At the end of a workout or day it can help relax your body and release stress.
Lie on your back, tense then relax every one of the muscles in your body, starting with your feet and progress all the way up to your face and scalp.
Hold the tension for about 5 seconds then release and move on to the next body part.
When you’re done move right into tuck stretch for the hips and spine; hold one thigh towards the chest while tucking your shoulders towards your knee. Hold for a few deep breaths. Switch legs and repeat the hold.
Follow this up with a full body traction stretch; reach both arms over your head with your legs outstretched, inhale as you pull away from the midline in both directions (like you on a stretching rack), exhale and release the pulling tension. Repeat a few times
This Earth Day, April 22nd, 2012 marks the 42nd anniversary of global recognition of the need to protect our environment. Protection and preservation of Earth’s natural resources and our environment are critical directives across the globe. We can and should continue to push for community, state, country and global level changes in favor of renewable, sustainable use of our resources, and fight for healthier choices for our planet.
Challenge yourself this Earth Day to include changes on a personal level as well. While you are thinking about and involving yourself in Earth Day activities (recycling, conserving water, planting trees, advocating for policy change) think of your body as a miniature Earth. The same principles for preservation, renewable and sustainable use of resources apply to your body.
Sustain your body’s natural resources and bring sunshine, energy and strength to your world with supplemental nutrients such as Calcium, B Vitamins and Vitamin D. Your body deserves the same healthy treatment the Earth needs. Minimize pollution, increase greenery, and find clean, natural solutions to adopt into your life. Go beyond thinking local, to thinking personal this Earth Day….you will benefit and the world will benefit from your better health.
April is Foot Health Awareness sponsored every April by the American Podiatric Medical Association. Feet are the root of your body and play a very important role in overall health. Learn more...
Believe it or not your feet contain ¼ of your bodies bones, 33 joints and over 100 different muscles, tendons and ligaments. They are the foundation of the body and a solid foundation is a must for good body mechanics. Problems with your feet will often lead to issues up the chain including ankle joint pain, knees and the entire spine. Besides the more obvious aches and pains caused by foot irritants, there are deeper issues that can be signaled by the feet. Health practitioners will often evaluate a persons walking gait as a clue to underlying problems from diabetes and peripheral neuropathy to low back syndrome and muscle imbalance (for more information on this go to http://www.caring.com/articles/things-walk-reveals-about-health?utm_source=care2&utm_medium=partnership).
By becoming more aware of how you stand and move on your feet, you can improve your chances for early detection as well as possible prevention of certain troublesome foot or foot related ailments like joint pain. Here is a simple series of exercises you can do to help keep your feet healthy and strong for better joint health overall.
For the lower legs and core muscles:
1. Start by taking your shoes off and standing tall with your feet and knees pointed forward - head, shoulders, and hips in good upright alignment. Feet should be a comfortable distance apart, no wider than your hips.
Try to distribute your weight evenly across the bottom of your feet - from front to back and inner to outer edges. Feel for a natural lift at your arches.
Spread your toes and let them rest lightly on the floor.
Now shift your weight slightly side to side and front to back - feel for the connection between your feet, the floor and the core of your body.
2. Next rise up onto your toes and then roll back onto your heels several times, while keeping the knees softly bent and the body upright. Feel the limbering effect this can have on your feet and ankles.
3. Now do 10 to 15 calf raises working on a slow assent to your balls of your feet, hold and balance for a count of 3 and then a slow descent bringing the heels back to the ground.
4. Finally walk forward and back 10 to 20 steps on your heels, keeping your forefoot and toes as high off the ground as possible.
These low leg strengtheners will help keep both the front and back muscles of the lower leg and ankle muscles both strong and mobile.
For bottom of the feet
For the muscles and tissues on the bottom of the feet you can perform the towel scoot exercise. This exercise series has been used to strengthen the muscles of the ankle and foot. It is also helpful for various problems with the connective tissue (fascia) under the foot.
1. From a seated position place a towel flat on the floor out in front of your foot and use your toes to pull and scoot the towel in towards your body.
2. Then try to reverse the action pushing the towel with your toes out away from you.
3. Next place the towel to the side of the foot and use your foot to scoot in towards your body. Follow this with a reverse action, scooting the towel back away from your body.
4. Repeat these actions on the other foot.
If you are having pain or trouble completing these exercises you should seek medical advice before continuing with any exercise program. Also keep in mind that proper calcium and vitamin d supplementation is key to healthy bones to support healthy joints. For additional joint health aid take a liquid glucosamine and chondroitin supplement.
Joint pain can be acute or chronic; but in any case it can be a real pain! In particular during ADL (activities of daily living).
So what is a person with joint pain to do?
Well let’s take a look at the best things to do based on the type of pain you find yourself in.
Acute Joint Pain
The easy one is acute pain: Typically acute or sudden sharp joint pain is associated with injury or the irritation of an injury. This is the knife stabbing or pinching sensation that happens suddenly as you move or bear weight on a joint area. This type of pain is a red light indicator. Stop what you are doing, have it checked by the appropriate physician and apply the principle of RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Second is chronic pain: This is the kind of pain most of those with joint conditions like osteoarthritis (O.A. -wear and tear disease) and rheumatoid arthritis (R.A.- systemic auto-immune disease) . In these cases you need to learn to live with a certain level of joint discomfort. The pain that may be worse in the morning or after be stationary for long periods of time and then feel a bit better once you get moving and warmed up. It may only affect certain joints (O.A.) or affect the lining of all your joints (R.A.). It makes movement difficult but not impossible and continuing to move and exercise in short bouts to keep the tissues strong and synovial fluids moving is much better than giving in to the temptation of being more sedentary. A few recommendations to make things feel better are as follows:
Exercise mid-day once you have been moving around a bit yet before you have become over-tired
Exercise in a warmer environment or with added clothing to keep the body and joints warm during movement
Limit the range of motion to avoid pain you might describe as higher than a 5 on a scale of 1-10 (moderate)
Limit repetitions and weight load on particularly sore joints (i.e. start with 5 to 8 reps verses 10 to 12)
On bad days opt for low weight bearing activities and exercises... Like seated exercises or those done in the water. Yoga and Tia Chi are also great low impact options.
Use the 2 hour pain rule – if your joint/s are more sore 2 hours after exercise than they were before exercising, you have done too much. In those cases you need to modify or cut back the next time you exercise.
Remember that, before you begin your exercise program, talk with your doctor and/or physical therapist. These professionals will be able to best assess your current condition and help you determine appropriate limitations. Also be sure to supplement your joints in the right way by taking a fast absorbing liquid glucosamine and chondroitin supplement. It's very important to take it every day for best results.
I received this wonderful TRUE story from Barbara in Framingham, MA and wanted to share....
"I had knee surgery back in 2009, ACL arthroscopic surgery but my knee kept reminding me that it still was never going to be pain free. I started using Liquid Glucosamine and Chondroitin with MSM supplement and noticed a difference the very next day. (results not typical, for most it does take longer) I am able to ski again, a passion of mine, thanks for this supplement.
I heard on the news that taking liquid glucosamine can actually help rebuild cartilage. I love the taste of it and it is very speedy in helping reduce discomfrot. Most of the time now I do not notice anything. Now I have no pain when I ski and it helps me exercise so I can maintain knee strength and eliminated the discomfort. Thanks!"
Thanks Barbara for sharing such a great story! Hopefully, this will help other people who also have knee or other joint pain. Liquid glucosamine and chondroitin supplement can really help manage arthritis and for some, enable them to do the activities they used to love once again.
Have a story you would like to share? Would love to hear it! Just leave a comment here and it may be featured in our blog.
The past 14 days our blog has provided many tips and information about how to set goals, tracking them, achieving them and healthy weight management. Now that you have done all that, how do you stay on track all year long?
If you started the first of January or even just two weeks ago, it's easy to lose steam or fall off the weight loss or fitness track. So what can a person do to bridge that gap between now and swim suit season? The first step is to accept the very real possibility of and prepare for any program set backs.
Recognize the Cause One way to prepare for a lapse or set back is to recognize it. See it coming and try to put it in perspective. Back slides can happen with any goal but it doesn’t mean it is the end of ones program. Create a list of things that may cause a slip, such as an upcoming vacation, change in job, relationship or living space. Once you write those things down you can evaluate them in terms of how they will affect your existing or desired diet and workout routine.
Prepare Ahead of Time List three or four things you can do to counteract the situation... For example if you are going on a vacation in a few weeks, you could call and find out in advance whether there is a gym in your hotel or where a local workout option might be. You could also prepare to lessen the guilt of an exercise free vacation by adding in an extra workout or two the weeks before you go. Or you can make a conscious effort to include more outdoor site- seeing activities like hikes or bike rides.
Perhaps a change in job, a looming deadline or relationship is on the horizon and you recognize your tendency to overeat when dealing with stress. This would be the time to buy a new healthy eating book or load up the fridge and cabinets with healthy snacks. (Remember to throw out anything that is expired or not healthy)
Plan a Strategy to Get Back By knowing and preparing for these things before they happen you can control the slip. You position it in your mind as the temporary situation rather than the permanent, so rebounding is simply a matter of going back to the norm. If the lapse is of significant duration, say several months rather than weeks or days, you will need to go back and progress into your old program gently so that you avoid negative training responses...like pain and soreness or feelings of failure. Your body is pretty amazing in that it can come back from almost any backslide as long as you take it one step at a time.
Remember to Supplement Keep in mind that proper supplementation can help reinforce any program or program comeback. Be sure to take a liquid multivitamin with B complex and essential nutrients and perhaps an added liquid vitamin D supplement as well, especially during the winter months. If you are experiencing joint pain, try taking liquid glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, keeping in mind it may take a few weeks to start noticing an improvement in your joint flexibility and discomfort. Staying healthy is key to maintaining an exercise program. It's harder to exercise when you are not feeling well or have injury or joint pain. Those who exercise regularly have a tendency to be sick less often as well. Don't Punish Yourself for Small Slips Relax! It's ok to slip up occasionally. It's almost impossible to be perfect all the time. What matters is a cumulative lifestyle pattern of enjoying healthy food, exercising, finding ways to relieve stress and staying connected with others that support you.
Have you had any set backs? What do you do to get back on track?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could start off every year with a new lease on your body! Especially when it comes to your joints!!
It is hard to accept it, but our joints much like the tires on a car get worn down with usage and although we know exercise is a good thing, it also adds to that wear and tear down.
So what is a body to do?
Well the first thing is to fight overuse with proper exercise selection and progression. It may be time to give up a few of the more ballistic activities like running or jumping in exchange for power walking and water fitness. You can also increase the shock absorption of your joints by keeping the surrounding tissues strong and healthy. This is typically accomplished with the right balance of resistance training and supplementation such as liquid glucosamine for joint health and liquid calcium and vitamin D for bone health. For those with moderate to severe joint degeneration that resistance training should start with joint friendly isometric training. Here is a great one for this week.
The Wall Press Find a sturdy wall: o Place hands in the push up / shoulder width apart
o Position your feet in a lunge position and lean your weight forward as though you are pushing a cart up-hill
o Push the wall as hard as you can and count to 10 out loud
There are many different ways you can lose weight from counting calories to incorporating “food rules” into your life (“don’t eat after 7pm” is an example of a food rule). And most methods work if you actually follow the plan. Therefore, the best way to lose weight is by trying something that is doable (be realistic here) and fits your lifestyle.
If you are at your wits end with diets it’s time to not diet. If the thought of not being accountable to the scale or a weight loss class terrifies you, stop and think about whether or not what you have been doing has worked. If the answer is no then trust me, it’s time for a drastic change. And that change involves letting go of the dieting crutch.
Why should you ditch dieting? Dieting for some people places entirely too much focus on the scale as opposed to overall health. In addition, dieting can lead to thoughts of deprivation and subsequent overeating “forbidden” foods. So how do you “un-diet”?
Follow these easy steps:
• Throw your scale out (or donate it) • Spend less time around chronic dieters and chronic over-eaters • Stop counting calories and instead focus on eating healthier, yet delicious, foods • Take the time to enjoy your food. In our rushed society we eat in front of computers, the TV and even in our car. Yet research shows that simply taking the time to eat without distractions can help prevent overeating. Chew each and every bite slowly before swallowing. • Find exercise that you enjoy. We shouldn’t view exercise as “punishment” for eating too much but instead a way to improve our health and improve our overall disposition. If joint pain is keeping you from exercising, try a liquid glucosamine and chondroitin supplement for joint health. • Pick up a copy of the book Intuitive Eating – this is the go-to guide to helping people ditch dieting.
If you've had bariatric weight loss surgery, you know that is just the beginning of your weight loss journey. Learning how to eat the healthy way can be difficult but necessary. Be sure to consult with your dietitian or doctor about your food intake. You will also need to take essential supplements such as calcium and vitamin d supplements as well as iron and B12 due to decreased absorption after weight loss surgery.
Best wishes on your Successful Weight Loss Journey!
Daily supplements of chondroitin sulfate may ease pain associated with osteoarthritis in the hand and reduce stiffness in the morning, according to results of the Finger osteoArthritis Chondroitin Treatment Study (FACTS).
Results published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism indicate that daily supplements of chondroitin sulfate were associated with an 8.7 decrease on a well-established scale of pain. In addition, researchers from the University Hospitals of Geneva in Switzerland report that the supplements were associated with improvements in hand function.
"Our findings show chondroitin sulfate is a safe and effective treatment for patients with hand OA," said Cem Gabay, MD, lead researcher of the study. "Alternative therapies, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), provide similar pain reducing effects, but with considerably more long-term toxicities."
Study details The new study used the Chondrosulf branded agent, which is licensed as a drug in Europe. The researchers note that in the US chondroitin sulfate is sold as a dietary supplement and often paired with glucosamine.
FACTS included 162 patients with osteoarthritis of the hand. They were randomly assigned to receive either 800 mg per day of chondroitin sulfate or placebo for 6 months. At the end of the study, the researchers report that the chondroitin sulfate group had significant decrease in global hand pain compared with the placebo group.
In addition, hand function also improved significantly, as did morning stiffness. “Whether this statistical significant difference has a clinical impact remains to be shown,” wrote the researchers. “However, the presence of a positive effect on the evolution of [hand function] at 6 months is indicative of a positive clinical effect of CS in this study population.”
Source: Arthritis & Rheumatism Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/art.30574 “Symptomatic Effect of Chondroitin Sulfate 4&6 in Hand Osteoarthritis: The Finger osteoArthritis Chondroitin Treatment Study (FACTS): A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo Controlled Clinical Trial”
Have you stopped exercising because of painful joints? It's time to start moving again for your joint health!
Arthritis and bursitis can cause joints to feel swollen and sore throughout the day. Unfortunately our normal response to sensitive, cranky joints is to reduce our activity level. Yet, one of the best things we can do for those joints is gentle exercise. Movement is necessary to keep the muscles surrounding our joints strong and mobile. When your joints are cranky try this three-step joint soothing technique: a simple isometric contraction followed immediately by gentle static and dynamic or mobilizing stretches.
It's all about an isometric contraction Let’s review what I mean by isometric contraction. An Isometric contraction has ‘no joint movement’ (which is why it is one of the most comfortable contractions to perform for those with sensitive joints). In these types of contractions you push or pull one body part against another or any immovable surface. After holding the contraction for five to six seconds, you then immediately stretch the same muscle/s statically (holding the stretch at the point of gentle tension). Follow the static stretch with a dynamic, mobilizing stretch (including controlled full range joint motion). This three-step process will increase muscle blood flow, warming and thinning the synovial fluid to allow for better joint protection and more comfortable movements throughout the rest of the day. Below are several joint specific examples.
Shoulder Contract: press your palms together at chest height. Keep pushing as you count out load to five. Build the tension with each count. This will contract all the muscles in the front of the shoulder girdle, chest and arms. Stretch: open your arms out to the side with your thumbs pointing back and hold the static stretch for 3 to 5 deep breaths. Mobilize: Finish off with 8 to 12 breaststrokes followed by 8 to 12 backstrokes (alternating right and left arms). Try to increase the range of motion of these strokes gently while keeping the spine stable and elbows slightly bent.
Spine Contract: push your spine gently back against a firm surface such as a wall or tall chair back. Keep pushing as you count out load to five. Stretch: Place your hands on your thighs from a seated or standing position. Hinge forward from your hips and gently stretch your back towards the ceiling like and angry cat. Hold the stretch for 3 to 5 deep breaths. Mobilize: From the same position as you were using during the stretch move your spine 8 to 12 times from a flat back position to the angry cat. Be sure to keep your hands supported on your thighs.
Hip Contract: from a standing position place one hand on a sturdy surface such as a wall, chair back or counter top, lift the opposite leg and press downward on the thigh with your free hand. Keep pushing as you count out load to five. Stretch: take the lifted leg and position it behind you in a lunge position. Sink down into the lunge until you feel a stretch in the hip and thigh of the back leg. To enhance the stretch tilt your pelvis under. Hold for 3 to 5 deep breaths Mobilize: slowly swing the leg you were stretching forward and back 8 to 12 times (swing from the hip with the knee in a bent position). Followed with 8 to 12 small outward circles of the leg in the hip joint. Stay tall and stable through the spine and standing leg. *Repeat the entire process with the opposite leg.
Points to Remember: *Your muscles will always stretch better once you warm them up. This can be accomplished externally by taking a hot shower or stretching in a warm environment as well as internally by performing 5 or more minutes of light cardio work such as walking.
*Exercise can only do so much to help protect and relieve joint stress. Avoid anything that causes extreme joint pain, and cut back on what you are doing if you experience a heightened sensation of pain several hours post exercise.
*Nutrition also plays a key role in joint health, so make sure to use the appropriate joint healthy supplements such as a liquid glucosamine and chondroitin supplement that absorbs quickly and calcium and vitamin d for strong bones.