Movement You Should Master
Modern medicine is keeping us alive longer, so now we need to put some effort into staying lively longer. Mastering specific movements will improve our quality of life and help us stay independent and injury-free. I have come up with several exercises you can use to make yourself stronger, more durable, and develop a healthier, more functional body. An exercise that I have found to be very helpful in restoring the capacity to get up and down off the floor is the Step Up.
The ability to go up and down steps will almost always be needed. Losing this ability is a sure sign that one’s quality of life and independence are quickly fading. Step Ups can be done in a variety of different directions and loaded a number of ways making them easily progressed or regressed based on goals and fitness level. Step Ups improve balance and strength in the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Depending how you load, they can also challenge the core and shoulders. The average step in the United States is 7 inches tall. Strive to work up to a 14 inch box so that no flight of stairs will ever intimidate you.
Here Coach Katie demonstrates two different versions we like to use and the benefits of each along with some progressions. Watch the video and give it a try: https://youtu.be/iGXtKyGlKMg.
1) Anterior Step up (Progression: Anterior Step Up with Racked Kettlebell hold)
2) Lateral Step Up (Progression: Lateral Step Up with one side loaded)
-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1
Movement You Should Master
Modern medicine is keeping us alive longer, so now we need to put some effort into staying lively longer. Mastering specific movements will improve our quality of life and help us stay independent and injury-free. I have come up with several exercises you can use to make yourself stronger, more durable, and develop a healthier, more functional body. An exercise that I have found to be efficient and effective is a Weighted Carry.
Very few things are more functional than a carry. You’d be hard pressed to get through daily life without having to carry something at least a few times per week. While basic, a carry is an efficient and effective full body exercise. Depending on the carry you choose, the load is virtually limitless. Performed for time or distance, carries will always improve gait and core stability. Depending on which version you use, they can also be an effective tool for improving shoulder mobility/stability, grip strength, balance, and overall awesomeness. Watch the video and give it try: https://youtu.be/PaP4-IlVAOA
Coach Chad demonstrates my top four carry picks:
1) Farmers Walk (gait, core stability, grip strength, upper back, legs)
2) Suitcase Carry (gait, core anti-lateral flexion, grip, upper back, balance)
3) Waiters Carry (gait, core stability, shoulder stability, balance)
4) Double Waiters Carry (gait, core stability, shoulder mobility, shoulder stability, balance)
-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1
Keep your shoulders and spine happy and strong by following Mike O’Hara’s advice in “Pushing Up Performance”. Video explanation and performance of pushups and their variations included. Jeff Tirrell discusses the proper performance of pull ups in his article. “Movement You Should Master”. Is your mobility limited? Try massage sticks or foam rollers with the information provided in “Pain, Pressure, and Pliability”.
Movement You Should Master
Modern medicine is keeping us alive longer, so now we need to put some effort into staying lively longer. Mastering specific movements will improve our quality of life and help us stay independent and injury-free. I have come up with several exercises you can use to make yourself stronger, more durable, and develop a healthier, more functional body. An exercise that helps build upper body strength and maintain shoulder mobility is the Pull Up.
If you are a superhero and find yourself hanging off the edge of a cliff or a building, you’ll need to pull yourself up. All kidding aside, the pull up is a fantastic exercise to build strength in the lats, biceps, rhomboids, and rear delts, while helping to maintain shoulder mobility. Pull ups can be done with a variety of grips. The most important thing is to use a full range of motion and maintain control (avoiding excessive movement to reduce injury risk). I utilize one of three pull up versions with most clients depending on their fitness level. Watch the video and give it a try.
1) Eccentric Pull ups: Use a box to start in the top position, and slowly lower yourself with complete control down to the bottom position. Once you can complete 10 of these with a good 4-6 second descent, then it’s time to move on to a standard pull up.
2) Standard Pull up: Start hanging from a bar (or rings) with your arms completely straight. Pull yourself up until your clavicle touches the bar. Slowly lower yourself back down until your arms are completely straight and your body is motionless.
3) Xiphoid Pull ups: Start as you would for a standard pull up, but rather than pulling to your clavicle, you want to lean back and pull yourself up until your xiphoid process (bony part at the bottom of your sternum) touches the bar. Then, lower yourself in a controlled manner back to the start.
See video of pull ups here: https://youtu.be/Cyvp4X2MRC0
-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1
Hamstring injuries are on the rise. In this month’s newsletter, Mike O’Hara, PT provides information on preventing hamstring injuries and includes videos of the recommended exercises. Learn what it is to be “farm boy strong” and what you can do to become a “functional farmer”.
Training Modifications That Help With Your Medication
Statin medications are amazingly effective at lowering blood lipids and have, undoubtedly, lengthened lives. More doctors are recommending their patients start on these drugs at younger ages. For a long time, we have known that a common side effect of cholesterol lowering statin drugs is severe muscle soreness after exercise. Recent research on animal models has demonstrated that statin medications inhibit the beneficial muscle adaptations that occur with exercise. If you are taking a statin drug, take the time to read Gretchen Reynolds’s interesting article in The New York Times, “A Fitness Downside to Statin Drugs?” Over the years, I have found certain exercise modifications help reduce the muscle soreness symptoms in physical therapy and fitness clients who are taking statins. The following recommendations may work for you.
Delayed onset muscle soreness is more pronounced with two types of training: eccentric type muscle contractions (the muscle lengthens against resistance) and deceleration activities (landing from a jump, hop, or stride). I have found that managing eccentric muscle contractions and reducing deceleration activity allows clients taking statins the ability to perform beneficial training with less discomfort.
Manage Eccentric Muscle Contractions
Eccentric contractions (the muscle lengthens against resistance) create more micro trauma to the muscle fibers, and it takes longer to recover from a bout of training that involves more eccentric repetitions. Controlled pace, bodybuilding type muscle isolation training delivers eccentric loading in an effort to stimulate a hypertrophy response in the muscle.
Performing isometric strength training (no movement of the joints) completely eliminates the eccentric portion of an exercise. Sled pulling and pushing has no eccentric component and many statin medicated fitness clients say this fairly intense fitness activity is well tolerated. A suspension trainer works well to preferentially unload the eccentric portion of a squat or lunge movement pattern. Strength training with resistance tubing creates an accommodated force curve that reduces eccentric loading of the muscles. At FFAC, we have a Surge 360 that is a concentric only device that works all directions of a push or pull with no eccentric muscle stress. A good fitness coach can find multiple ways to reduce the eccentric involvement of an exercise activity.
Impact activities produce high intensity, eccentric muscle contractions. Land from a jump off a box and your quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles must create a quick, coordinated contraction that slows your interaction with gravity. Deceleration eccentric exercises create more muscle damage and repeated deceleration events are notorious for creating higher levels of delayed onset muscle soreness.
If you want to perform “cardio exercise,” choose the elliptical, Ski Erg, or one of the many types of bikes. If you possess the mobility, use a Concept 2 rower. Stay away from the impact of treadmill running and avoid jumping rope, jumping jacks, and any activity that involves both feet leaving the ground. Medicine ball throws can be performed with minimal impact and produce an excellent muscular and neurological training response. Avoid box jumps, Olympic lifts, and any other activity that creates an impact on your body.
Talk to Your Doctor
I have worked with many people who had a discussion with their doctor and a simple alteration of their statin medication resulted in far fewer side effects. I am always surprised by how often patients are reluctant to report their symptoms of severe muscle soreness to their physician.
So those are the hints that have come from years of my work with physical therapy patients and fitness clients. Stay off the wheel and stay healthy.
Read the NY Times article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/04/well/move/a-fitness-downside-to-statin-drugs.html
-Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS
How To Score Your First Push Up
Improving Performance Of A Fundamental Fitness Activity
Improving push up performance enhances spinal stability from the base of the skull to the pelvis, as well as strength in the shoulder girdle. Push ups are a valuable exercise that improves multiple aspects of fitness in a short amount of time. Various types of push ups can be used to achieve different goals such as better rotator cuff coordination, power production, or muscular endurance. Many people have never been able to perform a single solid push up. Getting better at performing push ups is easy. The trick is breaking the push up into pieces.
Push Up Planks
The biggest limitation for beginners is limited core and shoulder girdle stability. The torso and hips sag and the shoulder blades wing off the rib cage. To remedy these problems, work on improving isometric stability with push up planks. Set up in the top position of the push up and hold for thirty to sixty seconds. Get a mirror or have a training partner check your position. Keep the gluteal muscles tight and pull the shoulder blades down the back. Elevate the feet on a bench or box to increase the challenge.
Eccentric Push Ups
The most difficult portion of a push up is the eccentric or the lowering phase. You often see “half push ups” performed in the gym because the trainee is unable to maintain control if they drop any further. Start from the top of the push up and lower in a controlled fashion all the way to the floor. You will probably find that the bottom half is difficult to control–keep trying, it will get better. Perform two or three sets of three eccentric push ups.
Dead Stop Push Ups
The neural link up between varying muscle groups needs to be turned on to make a push up happen. Starting your push up from a dead stop off the floor improves these connections. Lay prone and place the hands on the floor directly adjacent to the armpits with the elbows back. Your upper arm should be no higher than 60 degrees from your side. Set your body by tightening up the shoulders, pulling in the chin, and bracing the abdominals and gluteal muscles. Think about moving quickly off the floor. Return to the floor, recharge your neural system with a ten second rest, reset, and perform another repetition. Once you get up to five good dead stop push up repetitions, move on to a full push up from the top position.
BOSU Leverage Push Ups
If you are not able to perform a push up from your toes instead of dropping onto the knees, I recommend using a BOSU under the thighs. It will produce a higher core stability demand, and I have found it has far more carry over to a true, full push up than the kneeling “girls push up’.
Avoid Training To Failure
Getting better at push ups is more neural than it is muscular. You make better progress if performing fewer repetitions with good technique rather than dozens of bad push ups. If you want to improve your push up performance, do not train your push ups to the point of failure. Stop the set with one or two repetitions “still in the tank”. If six repetitions is your maximum, stop at four, rest, and then repeat for another sub maximal set. Try laddering your sets of push ups; perform a five repetition set, and then a four repetition set, and then a three until you reach one repetition. You will increase the total work volume–more practice, without exhausting the nervous system.
Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS