Countless people have come in to see me lately with shoulder problems.
Some have injured themselves doing push ups or plank, so we'll talk a bit about the correct way to do those - without injury!
Let's cover correct form. Most people know by now that you can't let your lower back sag down toward the floor without causing injury to your lower back. Keeping the body as straight as possible is the way to go. Unfortunately, there are many other incorrect ways to do a push up that are not so well known.
- Do your push ups in front of a mirror, or have someone watch you, to make sure your shoulders are level. This is the most common problem that I see with my clients (mainly women). We usually have one arm that is stronger than the other and when we lower towards the floor, the shoulder of the stronger arm goes lower than the other, causing an imbalance. The action of pushing back up from this imbalance can cause injury. I recommend doing knee push ups, with your lower legs up off the floor, to begin with. This position uses the same muscles but it's a little easier to feel whether one arm is going lower than the other. Once you are stronger, and sure of your good form, you can go back to the military style.
- Also, When doing a push up, make sure that your elbows do not flare out from the body. That is most likely how we learned to do them as kids, but it's really bad form as an adult when we are lifting over 100 lbs! This position puts a lot of stress on the rotator cuff, leading to injury. Keeping your elbows tucked closer into the body might make your push up a little more difficult, but it will most definitely help prevent rotator cuff injuries. One of the ways I teach people to remember to do that is through using a heavy hand barbell. Place the barbells on each side of the body so that when you grab the barbell your palms are facing each other. Complete all of your push ups with hands grabbing the barbells and this will make it easier to keep the elbows in while at the same time, saving your wrists from strain - A win-win solution.
- Another common bad habit is letting your body simply drop toward the floor. Don't use gravity, use your muscles in a controlled movement both down and up. Ignore all those TV shows where you see guys doing push-ups so fast, you can't even count them. For proper form, you need to go slow and concentrate on using all of your back, shoulder, abdominal and arm muscles. Keep those abs tight so that they can protect your lower back.
Pay attention to HOW you do your exercises and your body will be much happier!
Best of Health,
Summer is short - let's get out there and EXERCISE!
One thing that I never go without doing, is, stretching before and after a hike. When we walk, run, or hike, often, our leg muscles tighten up. There are a couple of simple stretches that can make all the difference between an enjoyable next day and a painful one. Sometimes, our tense leg muscles can even keep us awake at night. Here are a few recommended, excellent, stretches:
Best of Health,
Here are some more simple and fun ways to detox your body:
- You may recognize this popular Maple Detox Cocktail, as it's been around for a number of years. The reason for that is - it works!
- Pour a dash of cayenne pepper into a 10 ounce glass (experiment with your threshold for cayenne)
- Add 4 Tbsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Fill the glass with warm water and stir thoroughly
- Add ½ tsp. of organic maple syrup to sweeten the mixture
Drink on an empty stomach to help cleanse your colon. Cayenne pepper breaks down mucus in your colon, while lemon juice eliminates toxins
Speaking of fiber, here are some foods high in fiber that we should all be eating daily. Most of us do not get enough fiber in our diets.
- Legumes - beans, lentils, peas. These are the highest in fiber, containing 10-16 grams per cup
- Cooked artichokes have about 10 grams per cup
- Raspberries, about 8 grams per cup
- Barley, 6 grams per cup
- Broccoli, brussel sprouts, and turnips have about 5 grams per cup
- Medium pears and apples, 4-5 grams each
The daily recommendation of fiber intake for optimum health is 25-40 grams (less for women, more for men). Most of us don't get anywhere near that amount. Try to build up to this during the spring - trust me on this one, you need to build slowly! 🙂
Best of Health,
Today feels like spring so let's talk about detoxifying our bodies from the long cold winter; spring is the perfect time for a good internal cleaning. Here are some tools to detoxify your system from the winter so you can flourish into the summer! Now, I know the word, "detoxify," scares some people, but I'm not talking about any extreme detox regimens that will have us living on the toilet for the week... Here are some simple and fun ways to detox your body:
- Sweat it out! Get outside and do some running, jumping, dancing or anything you like to do that makes you sweat. Exercise makes us feel refreshed AND some experts agree that sweat can flush toxins out of the body quicker than most commercial detoxifying products.
- Fasting for a day or two and replacing foods with natural juices made from fresh fruits and vegetables is a good idea for spring. Giving your body a chance to rest this way, gives it time to recuperate and rejuvenate. When our organs don't have to be focused on digestion and breaking down our food, and more toxins, they have a chance to recharge, and that means that you are getting back to your natural energy and a more effective digestive system. Cool!
- Hydrate more! Yes, drinking more water is good for our bodies. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse reports that drinking plenty of water helps prevent constipation and makes your dietary fiber work more effectively in the body.
Once your body is operating at full speed again, you'll feel much more energized and want to take advantage of Mother Nature for more outdoor activities!
Best of Health
In my home, arnica gel is the go-to pain remedy for bruises and sore muscles, and now, research has shown it can also help soothe arthritis aches and pain. Several studies, including one with 204 people who suffered from osteoarthritis in their hands or knees found that using arnica gel for 21 days worked better than ibuprofen or anything else they’d tried!. Arnica gel is a non steroidal anti inflammatory.
I highly recommend picking some up for your medicine cabinet!
Best of Health,
P.S.Here are some studies if you are interested.
Hips are essential for walking, sitting, moving, but they can certainly also cause a lot of pain!
Have you ever seen those little old ladies walking, or more accurately, shuffling down the street with their tiny 6 inch steps? Think about it for a moment. The reason they take such tiny little steps is because they can no longer move their hips more than that!
If you don't want to have that problem, then start taking care of your hips today!
Here's an exercise that can help!
Best of Health,
Everywhere you look these days, you see people attached to their cell phones, tablets, etc., but have you thought about the machines you use at the gym? If you love spending all your gym time on the weight machines, you are not getting the most from your workout.
Weight machines usually focus on one muscle group at a time, and more importantly, they don't replicate the way we move in our daily lives, says Vonda Wright, MD, a Pittsburgh-based orthopedic surgeon who specializes in injury prevention and mobility. "Functional fitness" exercises, on the other hand, mimic the moves we do every day and strengthen the muscles we use regularly to help us avoid injury. After all, how many times a day do you lie down on your back and push a heavy object up with the soles of your feet, like you would on a leg-press machine like this one?
This is not an efficient way to build muscle. You'd have to use three different machines (leg press, back extension, overhead press) to work the same areas you would with one total-body dumbbell move like squat with an overhead press, and you still risk injury. What's more, these machines are usually designed to fit men's bodies, with their longer legs and extended reach, so women are at even greater risk!
If you are serious about improving your strength, try squatting, bending, and lunges You can even add a bit of cardio to your strength training by doing your walking lunges while carrying a small weight, or raising that small weight as you lower into your squat. At the very least, alternate your machine workouts with some strength training classes.
Best of Health,
Locust Yoga Pose With Acupressure Points SP 12 and SP 13
Location of points: SP 12 and 13 are located in the crease where your legs meet your trunk.
Benefits: Relieves abdominal cramping, strengthens the urinary tract, improve circulation to the extremities and helps relieve abdominal pain.
Locust pose: Lying on your belly, place hands under body so that your fists are in the crease where your legs meet your trunk Bring feet together, chin onto mat and inhale deeply as you stretch both legs back and up at the same time. This puts more pressure on the points. Continue for one minute, breathing deeply. On your last exhale, bring the legs down, place one cheek on the mat, release your hands and rest for several seconds. Then repeat for another minute.
** You can also practice half locust, bringing one leg back and up for 1 minute, then switch legs.
When you are done, rest in Child Pose for a few moments.
Best of Health,
Speaking of over-doing, the holiday season is a time when many of us overbook ourselves and become pretty stressed out. I have one word for you: no. Learn how to say "no." It's difficult at first, but after a while you'll feel a lot happier for not overbooking, overcooking, overworking, etc., and then it becomes easier because you'll have the freedom to enjoy, savor, and celebrate the season again! Hey, just sayin'...
In keeping with my theme of helping you avoid the illness or injury that often accompanies being stressed, here is another quick stress reliever. Just the thing to rid yourself of that pain in the neck! 🙂
I know, I know… you’ve got deadlines and bills and relatives, and you have to take the car in for repair, and you’ve simply got no time to take care of yourself. But if you slow it down and relax, all that changes. This is important because your nervous system is responsible for how your body’s self-repair mechanisms work. Stress raises your heart rate and blood pressure, releases the “stress hormones” adrenalin and cortisol, and weakens immunity—exactly what you don’t want. When you’re relaxed, you have higher levels of the growth hormone that repairs cells and tissue. This is key when you are working on building muscle.
Do whatever works for you to relieve stress, whether it’s meditation, gardening, exercising, or singing in the shower!
Water is also essential for well-balanced blood composition and proper functioning of your brain, respiratory, and muscular systems. When you are dehydrated, your body’s ability to repair itself is weakened. And I’m not talking about the kind of dehydration that a person feels walking around in the desert without water, but rather a continuous daily practice of not enough hydration – just not drinking enough water in your everyday life!
The rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll want to drink 75 ounces of water a day. I weigh 125 and drink 67 ounces (2 liters) of water a day, which is a little more than suggested. My friend Ned, on the other hand, drinks much less than half of his body weight/ounces per day. So while I believe everybody is different, I think this is a pretty good rule of thumb to keep in mind.
Best of Health,