So often we are focused on feeling good through exercise that we forget to take the time to monitor how we really feel. Most everyone agrees that exercise makes us feel better about our bodies and our lives in general. All too often though we get wrapped up in the psychological feel good endorphin rushes that we forget to monitor those little aches and pains that are often precursors to impending injury. Below are a few pointers I hope will guide you along if injury gets in your way.
Use Correct Form
Proper exercise form is always important, but is critical when coming back from an injury. At the very least, review the correct form for any exercise that involves the previously injured spot.
Regardless of the exercise, these cues will help you maintain good form:
1. Keep your spine straight and extended with a high chest. This ensures good posture without overcorrecting.
2. Relax your shoulders. Stress and computer time make shoulders and chest muscles tight. Keep a high chest and let your shoulders feel down and back.
3. Move from your hips. During full-body and lower-body exercises, movement initiates from your hips. Keep your spine long and move from the hips to avoid lower-back involvement.
Right Exercises Are Key
Take your exercises down a notch, even though you may not want to. Trust it is exactly what you need to do when returning to workouts post-injury. Either choose an exercise that is less challenging than the exercises you did pre-injury or choose to limit the weight and range of motion of the exercises.
For instance, when coming back from a knee injury, decrease the weight of your squats and then only squat down as far as you can while remaining pain-free. When first coming back, you may even want to remove the weights altogether and limit yourself to bodyweight exercises.
Then, every time you do squats, test your range of motion to see if you can get a little lower without pain. Over time, you’ll be able to reach full range of motion. You can then safely increase the amount of weight you are lifting.
My Friend’s name is Pain
Pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong. Stay away from painkillers before your workout so you can listen to your body. If your injury site hurts while you are working out, you may be doing more harm than good. But also note that there is a fine line and sometimes pain subsides as you do a few more reps. Be smart and keep the weight minimal as you make note of your increased, same, or increased pain the next day. Notice pain during an exercise? Try any or all of these tips:
1. Limit your range of motion to stay in a pain-free range.
2. Switch to a different, pain-free exercise.
3. Decrease the amount of weight you are using.
This can be the tricky part of getting back to workouts. If you have a limited knowledge of exercise modification or variety, you may have a hard time finding a pain-free exercise that also strengthens the previously injured area. If that happens, give me a call and I will be happy to get you through your injury in a smart progressive manner.
Be Active During Recovery
Active recovery post-workout can mean several things depending on your goals. Post-injury, I recommend the following:
- Weekly massage, or use a foam roller for deep-tissue massage to the muscles around the injury.
- Ice! Ice is the miracle “drug” and a post-workout ice pack for 20 minutes or a swim in a cold pool are great ways to get the benefits of the cold.
- Stay hydrated and eat well. Make sure you are drinking enough water every day and getting the nutrients you need for your exercise level.
- Stretch. End your workouts with a foam roller and stretch routine for the muscles surrounding your injury. Focus on deep, long stretches. Hold the stretch for at least 60 seconds. Restorative yoga with a qualified instructor can be a huge benefit to people who are recovering from injury and understand the need for active recovery.
All My Best,
The other day John and I had to unexpectedly make a trip to Ohio to assist my mother. Our long distance driving trip came at a time when we were both feeling grooved in our daily exercise habits, eating habits, and work-life balance habits.
I mention this because often in my health coaching practice, client’s main goals are often to liberate themselves from the stresses of their day to day lives by increasing their good health habits and eradicating poor health habits.
But what do we do when emergencies arise? Being as they say, “on the wagon”, or as I like to call it, “grooved” is a great feeling no doubt, but then… real life happens
A two-week vacation! A business trip. A visit to the see the kids, or a surprise emergency situation.
And we fall “off’ the wagon.”
Vacation time or visiting family used to get me out of my groove. These days, I am a pro at it. And My husband John is kinda good at it.
Here’s What We Do:
Instead of stressing out about how to continue our good routines during this period of disruption with hotels, eating out, sitting in cars/airplanes, and not getting home until after 10pm, we just take another wagon. We tell ourselves ( sometimes I just tell him) we’ll be taking another wagon for a while. It won’t be the same wagon as when we are grooved in our lifestyle at home getting up at 5 a.m., stretching, walking the dogs, reading meditations, and enjoying breakfast before the day’s work begins, but it will be a better wagon than simply resigning ourselves to poor health habits because we are too stressed about where we will work out and run or walk.
A Better Wagon For You
Could it be possible to find different ways of staying healthy while in different scenarios? When I’m in control of my schedule/food sources/exercise equipment/comfortable bed, I will have one routine. Then, when on the road I will have another routine. And on vacation, I will find another routine.
Even on weekends! I will have a weekend routine!
I will never be ‘off’ my wagon.
Each routine will incorporate as much goodness as possible. Sometimes more goodness than others, but at no point will I just throw in the towel.
I will always stay ‘on’ a wagon.
Here is an Example of My home wagon and my travel wagon (previously known as ‘off’ the wagon). See If it helps:
– 16 oz water with lemon zest. 6 oz. coconut water. Coffee. 20 minute stretch routine.
– inspirational readings 5 minutes. Dog walk with dogs and husband.
– morning shake and supplement routine including multi -vitamin, fish oil, vitamin D, b complex vitamins.
– cardio exercise run/walk, singles tennis, elliptical, bike, steps, or rowing.
– strength training workout at Serenata Beach Club or World Gym.
During the Day:
– well balanced meals including good fats, abundance of vegetables and low sugar fruits, proteins, nuts, seeds, and some beans and whole grains depending on weight goals.
Walk the dogs with John.
Watch 30 minutes of Ted Talks/or Netflix Series.
Read 10 minute in bed.
Work/Family Travel Wagon:
– 16 oz water. 20 minute stretch and strength routine in hotel room including pushups, squats, and abdominal curls.
– 2 minutes meditation mantra – mantra changes with situation. For example recently: ” I can do whatever it is I set my mind to do.”
– multi vitamin supplement only if traveling for under 5 days. Starbucks high protein snack pack and coffee for breakfast
– Find ways to include more walking while at airport, between car stops and while visiting family friends/or during conferences
During the Day:
– Make best possible choices while at restaurants/family/friend homes being sure to always eat lots of vegetables, good fats when possible and lean proteins.
10 oz water. 15 minutes easy television watching.
Here’s the Thing
Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t stress out about real life interference. Don’t feel guilty about enjoying your vacation. And don’t sabotage your weekly progress on weekends. Just identify your wagon and create an easy plan for each one.
You need never be ‘off’ your wagon again. Just hop on a different wagon, and make the most of the ride.
30 Days To Lean Good Stuff!
Congratulations to Brandon and Robin who lost a total of 57 pounds together in 60 days on BodySmartWay’s 30 and 60 Days to Lean Program
And guess what? They just got married!
Good stuff Robin and Brandon! Congratulations!All My Best,
Over the weekend an acquaintance of mine told me he was tired of being flabby. That’s his term, not mine. He said he lost a bit of weight and is now at his college weight, but he doesn’t like what he looks like. He’s only in his early 60’s, and says he doesn’t understand why he looks so differently now since he weighs the same as years ago.
I wasn’t sure if he really wanted me to give him the reasons why his body looked differently from years ago even though he is at the same weight, so I listened. In the paragraphs below, I tell you what I was thinking.
Me Thinking Out Loud
When you start to lose muscle and lay down fat around the belly, it’s the first sign that your metabolism is off-track and your health is taking a path towards poor health. Storing fat and losing muscle is one of the biggest signs of aging, and worse yet, belly fat (also known as “visceral fat”) is metabolically active, sucking out your ability to maintain testosterone and build muscle while increasing your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
While this is ominous sounding, muscle actually makes you a better fat burner and more resistant to metabolic problems. The more muscle you have, the better your body balances blood glucose; the better you balance glucose, the better you will feel, the easier it will be for you to maintain and or lose weight, and the healthier you will be.
I Knew He Did Loads Of Cardio Exercise – So This is What I Was Thinking.
He probably knows that lifting weights will burn calories, but what he doesn’t know is that even though he burns 500 calories on the treadmill, muscle building, as in weight training, actually makes us better fat burners day in and day out 24 hours a day.
Not only that, increases in muscle size means not only increases in metabolic processes for a longer time after your workout but there is a direct correlation between muscle mass and basal metabolic rate or called BMR. BMR is the amount of energy expended daily by humans and other animals at rest. Of course the more energy expended, the higher our daily calorie burn is. And who doesn’t want this? I like to call this burning energy or calories in our sleep. And this is just one of the nice things that muscle mass does for us. So the question becomes… Why wouldn’t my acquantance or anyone want increased muscle mass too? Not only does it look good, but it helps us maintain a higher metabolic rate.
You Need To Know
Increased muscle mass for both men and women not only makes us feel better, move better, look better, but allows us to continue to eat in abundance all the nutrients that we are designed to take in, and without gaining weight. This is what normal is. It is not normal to consume miniscule amounts of food while appearing rounder as we age. We can put a stop to this and we can improve our body composition considerably.
Increased Muscle Mass Also Makes the Rest of Life Easier
Muscle makes routine tasks less cumbersome and reduces injuries. Our day-to-day life often involves lifting and moving heavy objects, and when your body is equipped to carry these burdens, it is much less prone to injury. It’s hard to imagine (a young) Arnold Schwarzenegger throwing out his back taking the trash out, yet this is a common injury precisely because so many people don’t build the muscle to support the daily or weekly tasks they need to perform!
Muscle also provides your golden ticket if you want to improve your sex life, boost immunity, and reduce your risk for dementia. In fact, studies at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that building and maintaining muscle improves your: Balance, Fall risk, Blood sugar levels, sleep, and mental health.
And More! Hormonal Advantages…..
Strength training has another big advantage over endurance training athletes. In a recently published clinical trial, athletes who strength trained over 12 weeks reported the greatest testosterone to cortisol ratio while endurance athletes experienced plummeting testosterone levels. Increased testosterone is key to building more muscle, maintaining anabolism (growth), and it also helps with sex drive.
To keep this in perspective, just realize I am not suggesting one eliminate cardiovascular workouts. Our heart muscle is central to good health. What I am suggesting is that you would be wise to focus on more strength training as a means to reach your desired weight and body composition rather than cardiovascular workouts. Or in other words if you are pressed for time, and your heart is in good shape, then avoid the temptation to jump on the elliptical, treadmill, bike or other cardiovascular machines, thinking that a good sweat is going to burn more calories. In the long run, and often in the short run, weight training trumps cardiovascular workouts in weight loss/maintenance, body strength, and overall functional living capacity!
Note: Controlling inflammation after working out (particularly during strength training) is important because it controls the muscle repair process that ultimately causes one to gain lean muscle.
Eating is super important for growing muscle and getting rid of belly visceral fat so tell me what you eat and what you do not eat. I bet you will be wildly surprised that many “health foods” are keeping you from reaching your body composition goals.
Congratulations to Brandon Van Dermark and his fiance Robin Cleary – 30 Days to Lean is not over for them yet but together they have already lost 35 lbs! So much good is going on everyone! People are tired of eating crap!
All My Best,
*BodySmartWay’s 30 Days to Lean Programs start the first Monday of every month. Sign up 5 days in advance by texting 904 501 6002 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.