Are You Ready?
Spring At The Physical Therapy Clinic
The weather is warming up and soon we will leave the heated, insulated, safety of our home gyms and fitness centers. The spring migration back to tennis, soccer, pickleball, golf, fitness running, ultimate Frisbee, and stadium steps will begin. My physical therapy question is– Are you ready for these new challenges? Has your fitness program prepared you to withstand the rigors of these spring endeavors? This checklist should help you answer the question.
Have you been performing most of your fitness activities in standing?
Nearly every sport and most household chores are performed in a standing position. During most of my visits to commercial gyms, the majority of the activity I witness is in the supine, seated, or heavily supported positions. If your goal is to move better and remain free of injury, then 90% of your exercise should be performed in standing.
Do you practice moving in all directions?
Nearly every sport involves moving side to side, forward-backward, and in a rotational pattern. Basketball, soccer, golf, and tennis all require you to accelerate and decelerate movement in all directions. Most gym activities are predominantly sagittal plane– forward and backward. You ride on the elliptical, spin the bike, and run on the treadmill for months, and your spring visit to the tennis court results in a twisted ankle because you are unfamiliar with side to side movement patterns.
Have you been working on better balance?
Balance is a skill that tends to deteriorate with age, injury, and a sedentary lifestyle. Many commercial exercise machines take all balance demands away. The elliptical, spin bike, recumbent bike, rower… all are heavily supported. Proficiency with single leg stance balance prevents injuries and improves performance. The older and more deconditioned you have become, the more your fitness program should include single leg stance balance training.
Do you perform any explosive exercises?
We get slower before we get weaker, and life is an up-tempo game. We need to perform exercise that enhances quickness and improves control of deceleration forces. What you do in the gym is reflected in how well you can move during activities of daily living. If you continually exercise at slow tempos, you will get better at moving slowly. If you train explosively, you get better at moving at faster speeds. The capacity to decelerate a fall requires fast reactions. Gracefully traveling up the stairs and getting out of the car are only improved with exercise that enhances power production and speed of movement.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
That Office Chair Can Be Keeping You From Your Fat Loss Goal
For many years, I have been preaching about the negative impact prolonged sitting has on our metabolic health and musculoskeletal system. All the research has demonstrated that adaptive shortening of connective tissues and weakening of muscles occurs with as little as two days of prolonged sitting. New studies of daily movement patterns demonstrate that sitting has an even more severe impact on our ability to metabolize body fat. Take the time to read the article “Keep It Moving” by Gretchen Reynolds in the December 9, 2016 issue of the New York Times.
Once again, the answer is to get up off the Aeron, Barcalounger, La-Z-Boy, or setee and move around. Every twenty minutes, stand upright and defy gravity with some good old fashioned ambulation. Do not exercise in a seated position–train in a standing position. More and more we are learning that consistent daily movement is an essential element of human health.
Read the NY Times article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/well/move/keep-it-moving.html
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS