According to studies, Low back pain affects nearly 80% of all adults. Most low back injuries come fromthe following: wearing high heels (women), performing manual labor and people who sit for long periods of time (greater than 3 hrs.). Although these statistics are alarming, there are some simple steps one can take to make sure that they avoid current and future back pain or injury. These steps all involve simple exercises that can be performed from anywhere, including one’s office.
Step #1: In order to prevent further injury or a relapse, the 1st thing one should do is stretch common muscles that are tight and may have caused the lower back pain in the first place. Tight muscles are known to overwork and when this occurs, they become overactive and let us know through pain. These muscles include: erector spinae, hip flexors, calves and the lats (the big back muscles). For each stretch, you want to hold the stretch for 30-120 seconds and perform the movement for 1-2 repetitions 3-5x/week.
Step #2: After you have stretched the tight muscles, now it is time to focus on strengthening the muscles that are weak or underactive. Muscles become weak or underactive typically from lack of use or overuse by the muscles that assist or oppose the weak muscles. For example, if your hip flexor is tight, it could cause your glutes (butt) muscles to become weak. The muscles that tend to weak with a lower back injury include: certain core muscles, the butt and hamstrings. For each strengthening exercise, you want to perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions 3-5x/week.
Step #3: Now that you have isolated the lower back with stretching and strengthening exercises, now it is time to focus on integrating your entire body back into exercising. Integrated exercises involve using as many muscles as possible in one given exercise. By performing integrated exercises, you will ensure that the your hip joint (which can be misaligned with low back injuries) starts and remains in the right position and the proper muscles are working as they should be. For each integrates exercise, you want to perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions 3x/week.
If you follow these three simple steps, you can avoid low back pain setbacks and ensure that your back is strong enough to handle your daily activities of life.
Links for stretches: http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/living-with-low-back-pain-11/five-back-pain-stretches
Links for core exercises: http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/living-with-low-back-pain-11/core-strength-for-back-pain
Links for integrated exercises: http://www.allthingshealing.com/Chiropractic/Corrective-Exercise-for-Back-Pain/8558#.VIoTN74zf8E (this link actually covers everything I wrote about)
Recently, I had the opportunity to support a colleague & friend of mine in her very first fitness competition. She posted on her Facebook page that the event would be in my neck of the woods (Washington, DC metro area) and asked if anyone in the area would be competing too. Since I had not seen her in a while (she lives in Charlottesville, VA), I decided to go and support her. In her Facebook post, she posted the link to the event and I clicked on it. As I started reading the page, I was not quite sure what kind of competition it was, but the descriptions of it seemed like CrossFit. I said to myself, “Hmmm, Mary (her real name is not Mary, but for discretion reasons let us just pretend that this is her name) is not a fan of CrossFit, so, why would she be competing in a CrossFit event.” So, I decided to shoot her a quick text message. She responded & sure enough, it was CrossFit and she had been doing it for the past three months! Needless to say, I was shocked! Not shocked because I did not think she would do well or be competitive, but shocked because we both were not fans the CrossFit (mainly because we thought the risks outweighed the benefits).
Well, I told myself, you’ve never been to an event before, here is a good reason to check it out live. So, I decided to do just that. To make a long story short, attending that event was one of the best fitness decisions that I have ever made! I got to see, firsthand, why Crossfit is truly a sport, is an encouraging and supportive environment and arguably the most efficient 8-minute workout ever created! Let’s talk about all of these:
1. CrossFit is a sport: As a former athlete (well, I still consider myself an athlete sometimes, lol!) of various sports, I know what a sport is. A sport has to have competition, it must be fun, it must have fans and it must involve preparation (i.e. Exercise). Guess what, CrossFit has all of these. If you thrive in this type of environment, then CrossFit maybe for you.
2. CrossFit is a supportive atmosphere: From the moment that the leader of the event counted down the time clock and said GO, there was tons of cheering, encouraging, screams, yells and hand clapping for literally every competitor there! This type of energy is very contagious. I found myself cheering for complete strangers, even when “Mary” was not competing. If you love immediate and constant support to be consistent in your workouts, then CrossFit maybe for you.
3. CrossFit is the most efficient 8-minute workout: There is that saying: “receiving your bang for you buck”. Whoever created that phrase must have had CrossFit on their mind. In a very short 8 minutes, I witnessed 100’s of fitness enthusiasts doing: burpees, leg-ups, deadlifts, and squat thrusts and to my surprise, I would say most of the competitors where able to hold form just like I would expect my very own clientele to do when they exercise with me. If I told you that you could burn 500+ calories in 8 minutes, but feel like you completed a 45 minute workout, how would that make you feel? If time is an issue for you and you struggle with burning enough calories in your workout to lose weight, then CrossFit maybe for you.
Ok, ok, ok, I know some of you are saying the following:
1. Is Maurice, Mr. NASM, supporting CrossFit?
2. Is Maurice saying that CrossFit is not dangerous?
3. Is Maurice crossing over to CrossFit workouts?
4. Is Maurice going to abandon his current Move Well Fitness style of progressive workouts for CrossFit?
Hold your horses people, it is not time to stop the presses yet, lol! Here is what I’m saying: CrossFit is just like any other form of an exercise program. It has its risks and its rewards. But, for the person who is looking for a very efficient, time friendly, super supportive, sport environment, then there is nothing else like Crossfit and for that my friends, I must say two thumbs up to it!
Our bodies are designed to move. This is very evident in that we have legs that allow us to not only crawl, hop and walk, but also run, jump and skip (yes, adults should still be skipping and hopping). Our arms and torso are also designed to help us move and play an important role in our gait (if you don’t believe, then start walking now and watch how your arms and torso help to move the rest of your body). When done properly, exercise will enhance the ability of our bodies to move. A perfect example of this is watching an elderly person go about their daily activities of life as if they are still 35 yrs. old (I have several senior clients who are like this). We also know that our are bodies are designed to move because when we don’t, we lose what we have (if you don’t use it, you lose it principle). Just ask any elderly person who neglected exercise for most of their life and is now forced to sit for the rest of their lives because they literally can not stand for long periods of time due to pain or fatigue. Statistics show that our bodies are not as fit as they were almost 40 yrs. ago. We are molded by our furniture (we sit too much at work and home), gravity and inactivity. We have more ankle (one million/yr.), knee (80,000 to 100,000/yr.), shoulder (21% of the US population has had some sort of shoulder pain) and lower back (80% affected by this) injuries than ever before. Well, there is an even newer phenomenon that is rampantly running across the exercise world and that is the person who does exercise (despite the statistics mentioned in the previous paragraph), but does not move properly. My educated guess is that for every 10 exercisers, 8 of them are not are exercising the right way. I applaud their effort to exercise, but the issue is that because they do not move well to start with, they are putting themselves at risk of more injury. When you are attempting to exercise with lower back pain or shoulder discomfort, you can not start your exercise program like you could have 20 yrs. ago. With all this being said, the purpose of this blog is to stress the importance of moving well. Here are three simple steps to make sure you are moving well when you’re exercising: 1. Seek out the help of a professional. There are a lot of fitness professionals today that can assist you in making sure you move properly. Some of these professionals include corrective exercise specialists, muscle activation technique specialists and massage therapists to name a few. These people can help you determine what is not moving well on your body and correct those particular areas. 2. Warm-Up before you start exercising. Oftentimes, I witness people who don’t move well walk into the gym and jump right into strenuous exercise. OUCH! Generally speaking, your body is not ready for that activity. A warm-up will prepare the body for activity by increasing blood flow to active muscles and increasing your mental readiness. I recommend performing a general and specific warm-up. A general warm-up can consist of something like walking on a treadmill or riding on a stationary bike. A specific warm-up more closely resembles the main activity you will be performing. A specific warm-up can consist of pushups or squatting before you do your weight training. 3. Cool down once you finish. The cool down is considered the opposite of the warm-up. It is the best way to transition your body from exercise back to a resting state and should be done soon after your very last exercise. A cool down will allow your body to return to a resting state by reducing your breathing, heart rate and core body temperature. Stretching the muscles used during your workout is a good example of a proper cool down. So, there you have it. Obviously I could have given you a lot more, but the three ways I mentioned to ensure you are moving well is a good place to start. Exercise is important, but moving well during your exercise is more important. Special Offer: The 1st 10 people to respond to this report; will receive a free consultation with me where we will discuss ways specific to you that will help you move well! Don’t wait any longer, fill out the quick contact form on my website to join the MOVEment today!
During a recent visit (May 16th if my memory serves me correct) to the scale at the gym where I work, I jumped on it and it read 190 lbs. Ouch! That was a shock to me as I had not been trying to gain any weight nor had my workout routine warranted any weight gain. I made up in my mind that day that I had to change a few things in with my lifestyle. Here is what I've changed in the past week and a half that has me down to 180 lbs. and still counting (my goal weight is somewhere b/w 173-175 lbs.)!
#1: Drink more water: My water intake had been slacking. I increased my water intake by at least 50%. I felt the difference the most with this change. I could see the difference in my abdomen area and my chronic lower back pain has been reduced. I recommend drinking at the bare minimum 50 ounces a day. Once you can reach this amount, drink more!
#2: Getting more sleep: My sleep had been absolutely horrific (4-5 hrs. of sleep/day and sometimes less). I have no problem falling to sleep, however, it's getting me in the bed at a decent hour to fall asleep that had been my issue. I've added, on average, 1 hr. to my sleep. I'm still not at the recommended 7-8 hrs. of sleep, but I'm close. Sleep is important because your respective changes that you're trying to achieve take place during sleep. I recently read where 50% of fitness goals take place in your workout and healthy eating, while the other half takes place during sleep. So, shoot for at least 7 hours of sleep everyday, including weekends.
#3: Accountability Partner: My wife has been on a mission to be more consistent with her health. As a result, it has encouraged me to "step my game up" as well. She is doing a program called Power 90, one of Beachbody's (www.beachbodycoach.com/lwellness) exercise programs. It's great for her because she does not care to workout in a gym, so she can do it from the comfort of our home. We have been encouraging and motivating each other to achieve our respective health and fitness goals. I recommend you find an accountability partner that will help you do the same things my wife has.
#4: "Cleaner" eating: My wife, who is an aspiring personal chef and AWESOME cook, has always prepared and cooked healthy meals. However, over the past week and a half, we've included protein with every meal (including our snacks), cut down on the "starchy" (i.e. brown rice, corn, pasta, etc.) carbs, eat our foods slower, cut down on the "added" calories (i.e. sugar, honey, etc.) and do not go back for seconds (unless it's a salad). This has been really great! I recommend you try this for a week. You'll see and feel the difference it makes for sure. Shoot for 5-6 meals every 3-4 hrs. Absolutely do not skip breakfast!
So, there you have it. I believe these four simple suggestions are doable and sustainable. So, if you have a goal of improving your overall health and some weight loss, try them and let me know how it goes!
This is a question that I've been recently pondering over and over in my head. Yesterday (Feb 2nd, 2011), I took the morning and early afternoon off from my career as a personal trainer. This eliminated 7-8 clients or sessions and left with me with one in the mid to late afternoon. Let me tell you: this left me feeling very energized and refreshed. Now, I must say that I never take a day off, except for Sunday (and if you know me, Sunday is not a day off because it's the Lord's Day and I attend three worship services on this day), so perhaps this is why I felt an abudance of energy and excitement. This really lead me to question just how effective am I with training 7-9 sessions M-F and 3-4 sessions on Saturday every Saturday? Is this physically and mentally possible to do on a week in and week out basis? I deal with various type of clients and along with this, comes various types of attitudes, personalities, energy levels, etc. that could all have a profound affect on me as their trainer. Now, let's tie into this equation my personal, outside of the gym life. I'm a husband, father, brother, provider, supporter, comforter and encourager just to name a few. These responsibilities all kick in once I walk into my home after a long day of training and honestly never stop. Needless to say, I think you've figured out by now that it is hard for me to keep up the type of schedule that I have and still be effective. So, my goal is focus more on working smarter, not necessarily harder. The first thing to focus on is taking more time off. The other thing is to focus more on passive streams of income. In addition to my passion as a personal fitness trainer, I would also like to be a fitness educator with NASM, a free lance fitness writer and do more online/virtual fitness coaching. I know this is the best path for me to be the most effective trainer that I can be and still provide for my family! In directly answering the question I stated in my title to this blog, I believe 5-6 sessions/day is the maximum number that will allow me and you (if you're trainer) to be the most effective (i.e. have great energy, stay focused, progress their workouts, email them articles, re-assess,etc.) trainers we can be!
As a personal fitness trainer, I really had no interest in watching the tv show, The Biggest Loser, once I saw the previews of obese people performing exercises they had no business doing. However, my wife started watching it one season, so I decided to watch it with her. Here are the things I really liked about the show: 1. They were exercising. 2. They had a support group. 3. They were being supervised by some medical professionals. 4. They had a healthy eating plan. 5. They made exercise a part of their daily life. Here is the one thing I did not like about the show: 1. THE PERSONAL TRAINERS! Without going into a lot of detail, Bob & Jillian (who were the trainers when I watched a season) really brought shame and disgrace to my industry. Yes, I did say my industry because I've put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this field for the past 15 years. To make a long story short, safety is our number one priority as a health professional. I've never made anyone in all my years of training: 1. Fall off of a treadmill and tell them to get back on it. 2. Swing a kettlebell with lack of core stability and hip mobility. 3. Continue to exercise with an apparent and serious injury to a joint. Let's be real people! Do you really want a personal trainer like this? I hope not. Here's my solution, hire a PROFESSIONAL personal trainer with the following attributes: 1. Certified w/ one of the following credentials: NASM, NSCA, RTS, MAT, PTAGlobal, Chek Institute, ACSM or ACE. 2. Have a degree in the field or has take some course work in exercise science. 3. Has a proven record of safe and progressive results. 4. Is passionate about his/her craft. Celebrity trainers are not always the best answer for your fitness goals. Let's wake up America.