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D1 and T1: Tips for Killing Your BG and Opponent!

As a Type 1 diabetic for the last seven years, and a lifelong athlete, trial and error with exercise and insulin/eating patterns has been my best friend. No two people are the same, and neither are two workouts. The most important things to remember are to be adaptable, don’t beat yourself up, and get out and move!

While being a highly competitive athlete and T1D can be challenging, being a D1 athlete makes me a more regimented diabetic, and being a diabetic makes me a more disciplined athlete. Here are a few quick that help me be successful on and off the court. Keep in mind that everyone is different though, and I am not a medical professional, just an experienced D1 T1D athlete.

  1. Don’t take insulin before cardio if possible. Before a long tennis match, running, or practice, I try to eat a lower carb meal and avoid taking insulin. Bodies process insulin more efficiently when working out (especially for a long workout), and if I take insulin, I will inevitably go low.
  2. Fats are your friend! I love nut butters, avocados, and coconut oils, especially pre-workout. Because fats are metabolized slower than carbs and protein, they help sustain blood glucose levels pre and post-workout.
  3. Find a low snack that works for you. For me, I love drinking coconut water while playing tennis to keep my blood sugar up while avoiding spikes (which I usually get from Gatorade). I also love apple sauce, and larabars (due to fat content, which helps stabilize) for gradual lows. I always keep energy chews in my bag, too.
  4. Morning workouts>>> I cannot stress the incredible impact morning workouts have on my blood glucose control enough. Late night workouts usually result in 3 a.m. lows. Morning weight lifting helps me maintain BG levels throughout the day.
  5. Make sure your basal levels are adjusting according to your activity level. When I’m in season, I always cut my basal insulin by at least a few units. Talk to your doctor if you find you are running low/high more than usual! Getting my basal insulin in check has been the biggest help in my athletic performance.
  6. Switch it upppp! I love interchanging cardio, HITT, weight lifting, yoga, etc. throughout the week to maintain BG levels and challenge my body. Find workouts that you enjoy! Finding a workout buddy is vital to success.
  7. Be prepared! Never leave for an outdoor run without fruit snacks tucked in a pocket. Whether I’m running, playing tennis, or at the gym, I always have a debit card and low snacks (and insulin and a meter, of course).
  8. Keep track! Keep a log of workout type, duration, and the BG effect it had. I also use an app to track my meals and help me figure out what is the best fuel for active days.
  9. Adrenaline is a factor! My blood levels during practice and a match can be drastically different due to the stressors of competing. Because of this, I have to make sure to keep my emotions in check, and be aware of adrenaline spikes.
  10. Give yourself some credit! Being a T1D is a full time job. That being said, do not let anyone tell you it is impossible for you to be a highly competitive athlete– because that’s far from the truth! #diabadass

16 Health Benefits of Pilates, According to Science

In the 1920’s, a man by the name of Joseph Pilates observed people doing yoga, and animals moving how they naturally do at the zoo and came up with a series of movements that allow a human to stretch and build muscle that he called pilates.

Pilates is considered to be a “low-impact, big result” workout regimen. It was intended to be a workout for dancers with injuries.

Knowing it’s intended purpose it should come as no surprise that the series of movement works out the entire body but also tends to focus more on the core muscles and balance. (1)

Pilates is series of movements that are slow, methodical, require a lot of focus and accuracy coupled with controlled breathing.

Because it is not considered cardio, yet it is considered exercise and because it is so adaptable, pilates is perfect for those just starting out in the exercise world or those coming back from an injury.

Pilates is very much like yoga, but it is stepped up a notch.

Pilates is more balance, more muscle toning, more stretching, more flexibility, more mind/body connection. (2)

Pilates can be done as a stand alone exercise if it is challenging enough in itself but many do pilates on their “day off” from a stringent workout routine.

Regardless of why you choose to do pilates, the health benefits are amazing.

Here are 16 amazing health benefits of pilates and 10 tips for beginners.

  1. Pilates improves flexibility
  2. Pilates increases strength
  3. Pilates increases core strength
  4. Pilates is safe for rehabilitation
  5. Pilates increases circulation
  6. Pilates increases lung health
  7. Pilates improves concentration
  8. Pilates increases coordination
  9. Pilates improves balance
  10. Pilates improves posture
  11. Pilates lowers stress
  12. Pilates can bring increased self-awareness
  13. Pilates can prevent injury
  14. Pilates can improve your brain health
  15. Pilates fights insomnia

To read more in-depth into each of these benefits of pilates, and for 10 tips for beginners, check out this post, courtesy of Jen Reviews.

Make Running a Habit

There is nothing like a good run on an early Monday morning to get your juices flowing so you can kick-start a productive day. The refreshing feel of cool morning wind on your face, the sound of motivating music in your ears through your earphones and a gorgeous scenery to keep you in awe: all but a few of the bountiful rewards that come with a morning run. It is the perfect way to start your day and fill your day with positive energy.

The benefits of running are numerous. From weight loss to stress relief to overall fitness to disease prevention – the list is infinite. However, realizing these benefits is no walk in the park. Though running is no rocket science, it will take you a whole lot more than just an alarm clock to pry you out of bed in the morning. Yes, you may pull it off once or twice. But without changing your paradigms and values, that snooze button will continue to feel like a plague your very existence.

So, here’s are five quick no-brainers to make running your number one habit.

  1. It’s All About the Big Picture

All actions in your life should contribute to your one goal in life – the big picture. With running, it’s no different. You have to find that reason inside you to wake up in the morning and partake in this activity.

Maybe you want to get a cute guy’s attention at the park. Or you want to get in shape for your wedding dress. Or, perhaps, the morning run is an effective way for you to jumpstart your day. Whatever reason it is, it should be the last thing you think about when you go to sleep at night and the first thing when you wake up in the morning. Revolve your entire life around it.

  1. Psych Yourself Out of Bed

We all know what it’s like. Waking up early on a cold morning, cozily wrapped up in a warm fluffy blanket. Getting out of bed in such conditions is a task that could shake the willpower of the most dedicated of running souls. This is because willpower is like a charged battery and it tends to run low when you wake up in the morning. This explains why the first thing you did this morning was probably pushing that snooze button. Needless to say, willpower cannot help you out here.

This, however, is where the 5-second rule comes in handy. All you need to do is to trick your brain into forgetting all those things holding you back. At the same time, it will help you focus on that big picture. This will remind you why you need to spring out of bed.

How do you do it? Just count backward from 5 to 1 and like a rocket taking off from its pad, launch yourself out of bed. Don’t overthink it, don’t second guess it, just do it. The more you think about it, the higher your chances of going back to bed again.

  1. Consistency is an Ingenious Policy

Yes, it takes discipline to get out of bed early for every morning of the rest of your life. However, discipline gets old and boring at some point. You will, eventually, grow tired of it and rebel from your own routine. So, though it is a good idea to rely on your discipline, keep this temporary. At least until, for you, waking up for that early run becomes a habit.

According to the experts, this will take approximately 66 days. This is exactly what you need to do to break that destructive, snooze-button-pushing, loop of a behavior.

  1. Watch Your Night Time Adornment

The intimidating, cool morning temperature beyond the blanket is one of the main reasons why most of us find it difficult to get out of bed. This is especially true for those of us who wear nothing more than a pair of undies to bed. The thought of revealing warm skin to the dreadful cold is just unthinkable.

So what’s the solution? Yes, you guessed it right: put some clothes on. It doesn’t have to be heavy clothing. Anything to keep your skin from being bare in the morning will suffice. At least this way, you can keep your favorite blanky while you’re at it.

  1. Get Someone Else to Push You

The dynamics are pretty different when you share a bed with a better half, though. Some nights get a bit more physical than others (if you know what I mean) and reaching for your clothes afterward is just not an option.

However, having a partner beside you can actually be a good thing. He/she can act as your coach and help you get out of bed for that morning workout. This can even apply if you sleep alone. Just get a friend to call in the morning to have you get out of bed.

Well, there you go. A quick five step guide to getting out of your bed for an early morning run, every morning. We do highly recommend wearing ankle support for running to prevent injuries though. Just in case you haven’t had a run in a while.

Regardless, you can apply these tools to absolutely anything in your life. From improving your career to overcoming addictions to eating healthy – the uses are countless. You owe it to yourself to try this out. Remember, there is greatness within every one of us. Even at our lowest points when we feel beaten down with nothing more to give.

3 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Training at Home

Home workout routines are easy and beneficial in many ways. Without an expensive instructor, it’s also easy to make mistakes. Fitness is about developing good habits to improve your health and life in many ways. Get the most out of your routine by avoiding these common mistakes.

Imbalanced Routine

Unless you’re training for a marathon or sports, 30 minutes of light to moderate cardio in a day is enough. Save the extra calories for strength training. Cardio and strength training are both important to a routine. Aerobic exercises like running or walking burn readily available calories and improves blood flow. Strength training builds and tones muscle, which burns fat to maintain.

Too much cardio can cause muscle loss, while too much strength training can increase appetite. Include a focus of bone strengthening exercises to round out your workout. Yoga, jumping jacks, or even weight training on a Body Solid Home Gym can double for both bone strength and either cardio or strength training. Expensive trainers often provide a balanced routine for you, but you can create your own plan using a few simple guidelines.

  • 20-40 minutes of cardio
  • 30-50 minutes strength training
  • Include bone strengthening exercises

For losing weight, your total daily routine should stay under 90 minutes. Once you’ve hit your target, the ideal is 60 minutes a day for long term health. For long term programs, try an every other day approach; 90 minute sessions three times a week and 60 minutes the other four. Alternatively, stagger your focus on either cardio or strength in the same way.

Improper Challenge

When just starting out, it’s tempting to push too hard during the routine. Strain and exhaustion counteract benefits of your workout. Instead, start with 15 minutes and work your way up. Even light exercise for 15 minutes a day can improve your health dramatically.

For the first month, increase the duration of your routine without adding new exercises. Make sure to balance cardio, strength and bone exercises as you do this. After a month or two, slowly add in more complex exercises one at a time. Give an alteration at least a week to monitor the effect it has on your workout.

Too little challenge is also a common mistake of home routines. Set the standard to push yourself regularly, but take care to set reasonable goals. Changing the routine too often increases the risk of overworking your body. Know your body’s limits and lightly nudge once in a while to avoid plateaus.

Recovery

One of the biggest mistakes of any routine is underestimating the importance of recovery times. Proper recovery time helps you get the full results from your hard work. There are three areas of recovery to keep in mind:

  • Between sets
  • Daily activities
  • Rest

Between Sets

Resting between sets is an overlooked aspect of a home routine. At home, you don’t have the benefit of an instructor to guide you through an appropriate time of recovery. This is easily solved by formulating a plan for adequate rest between sets. However long your set took, rest for twice that time. Doing so allows your muscles to catch back up so you can start fresh the next round.

Daily Activities

Your daily activities will use calories, too. Recovering from each day’s stress on the body improves performance and prevents strain. Activities outside the routine also affect recovery. Some activities in everyday life can count as part of your workout regimen as well. Unplanned activities can affect your fitness plan. If extra recovery time between sessions isn’t an option, dial down the next session to compensate.

Rest

To fully recover from each session, your body has specific needs. This includes getting enough sleep, when the body does most of the healing, and diet. Without the proper nutrition, exercise can decrease muscle and bone density. Even if your diet includes the necessary protein and calories, many other nutrients and vitamins may have taken a back seat. Look for recipes that meet all your nutritional needs.

In Conclusion

Committing to a workout is only the first step in a total fitness plan. Home routines don’t have the benefit of an instructor to guide you through each session. However, you can become your own coach to avoid the pitfalls along the way to a healthier body.

Six Mistakes You Need to Avoid for a Productive Treadmill Workout

<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt; color: black;”>Treadmill running may seem like a simple workout but did you know that it is still possible to do it wrong? Yes, there are actually some treadmill mistakes that most people commit which prevent them from having a productive and effective workout.</span></p>
If you love doing treadmill workouts, there is a chance that you have unknowingly committed these mistakes at some point too. To help you out, we have highlighted some of these common treadmill running mistakes below.
<h2><span lang=”EN-PH”>1.)</span> <span lang=”EN-PH”>You are running too close to the front of the treadmill.</span></h2>
<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt; color: black;”>Oftentimes, you will see people at the gym running too close to the front of the treadmill and gripping the front bar too hard as if their lives depend on them. I know it can be scary to let go of the bar as you may come close to the edge and fly off if you do so. However, running too close to the bar will not give your legs enough room, and it can prevent you from practicing proper stride and posture.</span></p>
<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt; color: black;”>Another consequence is that you may accidentally push the controls and cause the equipment to stop which may cause you injuries.</span></p>
<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt;”> </span></p>

<h2><span lang=”EN-PH”>2.) You throw your arms all over the place.</span></h2>
<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt; color: black;”>Admit it; you have done this at some point. When you swing your arms out to the sides, you tend to use up energy, and it may prevent you from working out for longer. If that is the case, where should you put your arms?</span></p>
<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt; color: black;”>According to experts, keep your arms to the side of your body when you are at a slow pace. Once you are already jogging, try to keep the arms bent at a parallel position to one another, creating a 90-degree angle.</span></p>
<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt;”> </span></p>

<h2><span lang=”EN-PH”>3.)</span> <span lang=”EN-PH”>You take too long strides.</span></h2>
<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt; color: black;”>Yes, doing so can help you to cover more ground. However, it will cause you to lose form and efficiency. There are many reasons why you should avoid this. For one, you are using up lots of extra energy which prevents you from enjoying a long workout. In addition to that, it will increase your chances of hitting the front part of the treadmill which may cause you to fall. Experts claim that your target should be to run three steps per second instead of aiming for longer strides.</span></p>
<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt;”> </span></p>

<h2><span lang=”EN-PH”>4.)</span> <span lang=”EN-PH”>You look down.</span></h2>
<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt; color: black;”>When you look down instead of looking up, there’s a chance that you will lose your balance. In addition to this, it can also put a strain on the back of your neck and may cause your hips to pole out which may place stress on your knees, hips, and spine. When running, make sure that you keep your gaze ahead. You should also keep chest open and shoulders level. The rest of your body will follow.</span></p>

<h2><span lang=”EN-PH”>5.)</span> <span lang=”EN-PH”>You prioritize style over function (with your shoes!).</span></h2>
<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt; color: black;”>With so many cute styles out there, how can you resist, right? Well, keep in mind that you are working out and not walking down the runway so your priority should be the comfort and function of your shoes above all else.</span></p>
<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt; color: black;”>When choosing shoes for the treadmill, it is recommended that you opt for ones that have extra padding in the soles. This simple feature will help to protect the bones in your feet and heels from the impact created by each stride that you take. If you plan to run uphill and put the treadmill on an incline, look for shoes that have outer soles with moderate height.</span></p>

<h2><span lang=”EN-PH”>6.)</span> <span lang=”EN-PH”>You land on your heels.</span></h2>
<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt; color: black;”>Don’t get me wrong. Landing flat-footed is okay if you are just walking or jogging but it is not advised if you are running at high speeds. For the latter, it is recommended that you land on your forefoot so you can lessen the impact of each stride and the stress that back and hips will receive.</span></p>
<p style=”margin: 0in; margin-bottom: .0001pt;”><span style=”font-size: 13.0pt; color: black;”>Even if you are just running on <a href=”http://bodyshape101.com/best-treadmill-under-1000/”>a treadmill</a>, it is a must that practice proper form, wear the right gear, use the right equipment and avoid the mistakes that we have mentioned above. In this way, you can be able to make the most out of your running sessions. </span></p>

If You Want A Stronger Core, Fix Your Shoulders & Hips!

Everyone wants a “stronger core”. In fact, I want a stronger core! But the core is a contentious topic. So I will try to keep it simple. The core is not just your abdominal muscles. Your core is a dynamic complex of all muscles that work to stabilize your body during movement. So when you think about it this way, your shoulders, your back muscles, your hip flexors, and your glutes are all a part of your core. Even your feet!

In fact, when I tell someone during a session that they should “feel it in their core”, what I really am saying is, “You should feel all your muscles working together as one unit right now to stabilize you, beginning from your center and radiating outward”. I don’t mean that they should be “squeezing their abs in”.

You can flex & squeeze your abs all you want, but there are other more effective ways to ensure that you are actually strengthening your “core”. Plus, this excessive tensing can actually be counterproductive and trick your body into thinking you are in danger, which actually results in the creation of pain, particularly when dealing with back pain.

A strong core is a powerful asset because it keeps us balanced, enables us to produce force & control it, it prevents injury, and so on. I’d like to think the core is really just a concise way of referring to the entirety of your body, working as one efficient machine. If you have a strong core, you have a well-rounded, balanced body. And this is what gets rid of and prevents back pain!

It has nothing to do with abs or six-packs. In fact, when i had my most well-defined abs, my body was actually beginning to fall apart on me – because I wasn’t taking care of my hips or shoulders!

So, in order to strengthen this innocuous complex of our body, we have to fix the primary issues we tend to see in our bodies today. We tend to see similar issues, because most people tend to live a similar, sedentary lifestyle, lacking certain, critical movements. fortunately, there are some really simple ways to resolve these issues!

Let’s first examine what’s going on in our bodies, and then introduce 4 fundamental exercises which will help to restore balance in your body. [Please note – there are of course deviations from this, but these are the most commonly seen issues]

THE ISSUES:

Tight hips, underactive glutes, shifted pelvis, excessive arching in low back, rounded shoulders.

Let’s break it down further.

Most of us have extremely tight hip flexor muscles, as a result of sitting. These muscles become stuck in a shortened position, which makes them tight.

Then, this shortened position of the hip flexors causes an anterior pelvic shift (think of sticking your butt out – that’s what this looks like).

This shortened position of the hip flexors also makes it difficult for us to activate our glutes (this is because the primary function of the major glute muscle is hip extension, which is the opposite of hip flexion. so too much hip flexion = too little hip extension = sleepy, underactive glutes). I know, that was a mouthful.

The anterior pelvic shift then typically correlates with an excessively arched low back.

And on top of all of this, our shoulders become stuck in a forward, rounded position due to all this sitting.

This may not always be the sequence of events, but once you have acquired one of these issues, the others will naturally occur. This is because the body is one kinetic chain, so if one thing is out of place, something else will naturally shift out of place as well. When this happens, our “core” is definitely not working optimally to keep us stable, balanced & powerful! Everything is out of alignment and out of whack, which makes any movement much more difficult.

The good news is, there are really simple, really powerful exercises you can do for about 3-5 minutes a day that will enable you to maintain a strong core, and a balanced body for the rest of your life!

The exercises are below – they are links to YouTube videos and under the video in the “Description” there are specific instructions on how to perform each exercise.

EXERCISES TO FIX HIPS & SHOULDERS FOR A STRONGER CORE:

THE MORAL OF THE STORY:

The moment I stopped excessively doing sit-ups and other “core exercises”, and started actually taking a look at what was going on in the entirety of my body, at the joint level, my “core” began to regain it’s strength. I felt so much more enabled to do any movement I wanted with ease. We must take care of every part of our body. Again, because everything is connected, we must take care of everything in order to have a truly strong, functioning core. The good news is, all it takes are a couple of well-executed, simple movements to begin to restore your strength!

Give these a try and let me know if you start feeling more balanced, more powerful & more capable of doing any crazy movement/exercise/activity you want! I would love to hear from you!


To learn more about Melanie Daly and her personal training, please visit her website: http://www.backpainpersonaltrainer.com/

5 Fundamental Kettlebell Exercises

If you’re as much of a kettlebell enthusiast as I am, then you’ll love what I’ll share with you today.

Here are 5 of the most fundamental kettlebell exercises that will work out your full body. Best of all, these exercises are so effective (since they work out the full body and not just smaller, isolated muscle groups) that you don’t need to do many repetitions to achieve a great workout.

In other words, you can fit a quick workout based on these kettlebell exercises right into a busy day.

Are you excited? If yes, then let’s get started!

 

Read more: if you’d like to see a list of over 100 of the best kettlebell exercises, check out this post.

 

1. Kettlebell Deadlift

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0yspkANWVY

The kettlebell deadlift is probably the most popular kettlebell exercise and for good reason. It’s a full body exercise, which means it will help you work out your entire body and burn a ton of calories at the same time.

Here’s how you can do it:

Stand in a stance that is slightly wider than your hips, and hold the kettlebell in both hands. Bend down until you can place the kettlebell in between your ankles. Take a small breath at the bottom position, then flex your abs and stand up to your starting position.

 

2. Kettlebell Swing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSxHifyI6s8

The swing is a beginner-intermediate level exercise that will work you’re your lower body and your core.

Here’s how to do it:

Stand in a stance wider than your hips, let your feet stand outwards a bit and hold the kettlebell in both hands in front of you. While bending slightly at the knee, let the kettlebell fall down and through between your knees, and then stand back up into the starting position, once again holding the bell in front of you.

 

3. Turkish Get Up

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK-L2P56zjU

The Turkish get up is an intermediate level compound exercise that will target mainly your legs, shoulders and core.

It’s a quite complex exercise, so I won’t even try to describe how to do it, you’ll end up watching this tutorial video either way:

 

4. Kettlebell Clean

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPYfiwpUeSE

The point of the kettlebell clean is to take the bell from a low hanging position close to the floor up to your chest. It’s an important basic exercise to master, because from this position you’ll be able to do a host of other exercise variations like press, lunge or squat.

Instructions:

The kettlebell clean is a very simple looking exercise: all you have to do is take the kettlebell from a lying position on the floor up to a racked position onto your chest. However, the devil is in the details, so I suggest you watch this training video to learn what you need to pay closer attention to when performing this exercise.

 

5. Kettlebell Two Handed Squat and Press

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li4g5p6s2eM

This is personally one of my favorite kettlebell exercises. Despite its simplicity, it’s one of the best exercises for working out all major muscles of your lower and upper body at the same time.

Here’s how easy it is to do it:

Squat in a hip width stance and hold the kettlebell close to your chest. While keeping your back straight, stand up and when you reach the top position raise the kettlebell up over your head (while still keeping it in both hands). Then go back to your squatting position and start another repetition.

 

Conclusion

So there you have it: five simple but very effective kettlebell exercises that will help you work out your entire body and burn a ton of calories at the same time. If you’d like to see how you can fit these exercises (and many others) into a full-blown workout, I suggest you check out this comprehensive workout guide by KettlebellsWorkouts.com

 

Is Your Core Stability Actually Hurting You?

Core, core, core. Core stability. Core strength. Brace your core. Hold your abs in. Squeeze your abs.

Where did this come from? No truly, where did this idea come from?

Because when you ask the top physical therapists who are on the cutting edge of pain science, they can’t seem to find ANY literature that suggests core stability and bracing your core is actually proven to be beneficial for your back and your back pain.

Now, let me get one thing straight before you throw something at me out of anger and confusion.

CORE STRENGTH IS GOOD. Yes, having a strong core is, of course, important. Strengthening muscles and improving our ability to move with mobility, strength, power & balance is always helpful.

However, when you ask Peter O’Sullivan, a world renowned physiotherapist from Australia (see video above), he will tell you that we have taken this concept WAY overboard. Basically, we are now treating our body as if we are doing planks all day long. Planks are great, but, is it great if we are doing them all day?

Let me give you an example. Let’s say I told you to hold a bicep curl all day long, every day. No rest. Your muscle will be under tension and under load the entire day. Do you think that this will get you stronger? Or is it possible that you will actually, at some point, become weakened and tight due to overusing that muscle?

The same goes for our core. Exercises that strengthen this innocuous complex of muscles we like to call the core are incredibly powerful. But does that mean we should be doing them all day? Yet this is what we are essentially doing, unknowingly, all day, every day.

A large majority of the population who experiences either chronic back pain (that has resulted from no particular injury) or recurrent, random back pain tends to brace themselves into these positions and movements that are “tensing their core”. We don’t even realize it! But as a result of being told that core stability is great and will protect our spine, and that we should stay as upright as possible, we are actually increasing the amount of compressive load in our spine and leaving it more vulnerable to seemingly random pains and strains.

Here is another analogy to help clarify. Think about your car. If you were to go on a road trip and you knew the road was going to be pretty bumpy, would you over-inflate your tire to give you more protection from all those forces? Or would you actually allow for a little bit of give in the tires to protect you from those forces? Which situation would subject you to more force? I’m pretty sure an over-inflated tire would actually make the car quite stiff and unable to absorb those forces. The same goes for our spine when we “squeeze our abs”, or “brace our core”. We come rigid, stiff, and vulnerable to external forces.

Again, strengthening your core during your workouts is great, but if you start doing it all day, that’s when you start to actually put your back at more risk.

So, what do you do now? Well, start paying attention to your resting postures and your movements. Feel your stomach with your hands. Are those muscles contracting? It will take some practice to understand whether or not they are, as at first, you may think that’s just what those muscles are supposed to feel like all day long.

Try this for me – try to be as loosey goosey as possible in your stomach. That’s right. Try to be as flabby and sloppy in your core as possible. You don’t hear that often do you? Ha! But truly. Just let it go. Incorporate some relaxed, diaphragmatic breathing to try to let those core muscles go. Let your entire body just relax. Let your shoulders and spine round and slump forward. Just let everything go and let gravity do its job.

I bet if you are experiencing some back pain, or even sciatic pain, that if you start to relax and let this muscular tension go, you will pretty soon start to feel those muscles relax, and your pain subside. Let me know how it goes. And as always, if you have any questions, or even if you want to jump on a quick video chat to ask me if you’re doing it correctly, do not hesitate to reach out! I love to help as many people as I can.

Good luck!

-Melanie, your Back Pain Personal Trainer


To learn more about Melanie Daly and her personal training, please visit her website: http://www.backpainpersonaltrainer.com/

How To Properly Plank

Planks are a great yoga pose. There are two types of planks- a high plank and an elbow plank. Do you know the difference? Check out the why and the how for each plank below:

High plank

Why?
Strengthens wrists, arms, back, and abdominal muscles

How?

  1. Start in table top.
  2. Keep shoulders and hands as they are.
  3. Step feet back so you’re up on the balls of your feet.
  4. Balance your weight evenly between both hands and feet. Imagine you are in mountain pose. Suck belly button in and up to elongate and straighten your spine.
  5. Feel as if your lower back is pressing up.
  6. Make sure shoulders don’t pass wrists.
  7. Breathe here.

Check your position in a mirror if possible, or ask a buddy to watch. If your low back is swaying, you have several options:

  1. Pike your hips to decrease the curve in your spine.
  2. Bring knees down if necessary, but be sure to keep your abdominal muscles engaged.

Or, if you’re not ready for a high plank, start with your knees on the floor, so there is a straight line from the crown of the head to the knees.

If you’re unable to exercise with a mirror or a buddy, or can’t tell where your body is in space, time your planks (from your feet or knees) in 10-second increments, then return back to a table top position.

Note: A plank is about trying to equally distribute body weight. Our bodies feel and work differently daily, so doing a plank might feel differently day to day.


Forearm plank

Why?
Strengthens wrists, arms, back, and abdominal muscles

How?

  1. Start in table top position.
  2. Bring your forearms to the ground.
  3. Align your shoulders over elbows. Your hips will naturally shift backwards.

    You have 3 options – place palm face down on the ground, bring each hand into a fist, or bring both hands together and interlace your fingers.

  4. Press your hands down into the ground.Step your feet straight back so the balls of your feet on the ground.
  5. Balance your weight evenly between both forearms and feet. Imagine you are in mountain pose. Suck belly button in and up to elongate and straighten your spine.
  6. Feel as if your lower back is pressing up.
  7. Make sure shoulders don’t pass elbows.
  8. Distribute weight in forearms and hands/fists and not on your elbows.
  9. Breathe here.

Once again, if you’re unable to exercise with a mirror or a buddy to see if your low back is swaying, time your planks in 10-second increments, then return back to a table top position.

 

 

 

 

3 Stretches To Help Your Posture

I get this question a lot, so I figured I should probably share the answer with you as well.

“How do I improve my posture?”

“I feel like my shoulders are slouched forward – is there anything I can do to fix this?”

You can absolutely fix this, even if you have been sitting at a desk for most of your life and feel like it’s a lost cause. It’s never too late – the body is “plastic” and adapts to exactly what we do.

This goes both ways. This is why our body gets so good at being in a slouched position. But this is also why we can re-train our body to shift back to a more optimal alignment.

The truth is that you have a bit more work a hard of you if you have been “stuck” in this posture for a longer time. However, this just means it requires a bit more consistency on your behalf. It is completely doable.

I would suggest taking 3-5 minutes to do these stretches, 3 times a day – once in the morning, once mid-day/afternoon and once in the evening before bed. Here is my challenge to you – give it a try for 3 weeks, 3 times a day. I assure you that you will look AND feel different.

These stretches are designed to restore proper function to your upper body joints & muscles. This will restore muscular balance and enable you to maintain a more optimal alignment during static postures (sitting) & dynamic movements (any activities of daily life). As a result, you will be enabled to alleviate tension in your neck and/or back.

Try it out now and be sure to comment with your progress! If you’re having difficulty and want to set up a free 30-minute consultation with me, email me now and I’d love to help!

Lying Chest Opener Stretch

Shoulder Drivers

Child’s Pose Reach

5 Reasons Why You Actually Should Try That “Breathing” Thing

Have you had someone tell you just to breathe and your natural reaction was something along the lines of rolling your eyes or wanting desperately to punch them in the face?

Especially if you’re upset or stressed about something. It’s like it makes your blood boil even more. Don’t tell me to relax! Now I’m even more hulk-like!

Well, I’m certainly not going to tell you to relax…I do have a couple questions though:

  • Do you ever get nagging aches & pains that distract you from your work?
  • Do you ever feel like your mind is running at 100MPH and you can’t seem to shut it off?
  • Or maybe you have persistent pain that limits you from being able to play golf, go rock climbing or go on a walk/hike with your significant other?
  • Have you started to feel like having pain, feeling insecure and/or out of shape is your new norm?

Well, if any of that even slightly resonated with you, and if you’re open to it, here are 5 reasons that might peak your interest in this whole “breathing” thing.

  1. It literally lowers stress [by activating your vagus nerve which decreases the sympathetic (fight or flight) tone of your nervous system. every time you breathe, you are quite literally telling your nervous system “it’s all good, nothing to worry about here!”]

  2. It allows you to finally turn your brain off [the different areas of our brain compete for their attention, so by focusing on something physical, our brain activity cannot focus on the millions of thoughts running through it – it must instead divert its energy to the physical. this is the same reason you can’t really talk if you’re concentrating heavily on some difficult new yoga pose or dance move or golf swing.]

  3. It relieves tension in spine that may be contributing to your pain [many people hold themselves in a very rigid, upright position all day, which creates a lot of excessive muscular tension in the spine (much like holding a bicep curl all day long – it would hurt & fatigue eventually!). it’s extremely difficult to hold this stiff position while breathing deeply, so if we practice deep breathing, we learn to let that stiff, rigid posture go.]

  4. It improves core strength [deep, diaphragmatic breathing actually requires use of specific abdominal muscles – the muscles in between your rib cage. so, by focusing on a deep, long exhalation, we are actually enabling our core muscles to activate better!]

  5. Its a powerful way of giving movement to your body 24/7 [breathing is actually a form of micro-movement. as we inhale and exhale, the joints and muscles of the spine and the core are getting movement. and as we know, the body does not like inactivity, so by learning to breathe deeply throughout the day, we are feeding our body more movement in areas that are often tense/inactive. this has a plethora of benefits!]

I’m going to be following up on each of these topics for the next couple of weeks, so be sure to stay tuned. I’ll be posting them on my Facebook page, my Instagram, my Twitter, and my exclusive Facebook Group!

And don’t be shy – if you have a specific question about any of this, email me so we can jump on a quick phone call to discuss what’s going on with you!


To learn more about Melanie Daly and her personal training, please visit her website: http://www.backpainpersonaltrainer.com/

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