Tag Archives: fitness

Correcting some movement impairments


I've been having a bunch of uncomfortable muscle pain recently: a tight spot mid-spine; some numbness still in my arms; and occasionally my hip flexors are SO over worked that standing up causes serious muscle spasms in my butt. Or my hip flexor along the front of my pelvis hurts so badly I don't want to sit or lie down with my legs bent.

I look a little bit like Frankenstein.

Remarkably, I took the course to learn all about this several years: NASM's Corrective Exercise Training course. Haven't used what I learned in a while, so I pulled out the book to put myself through the assessment.

It's not very complicated: photograph your regular standing posture, looking to see if everything is line. Then video overhead squats from the front, side and back to see how my body moves. I linked to a movement assessment I did a few years ago as an example. (pre-hip replacement).

The theory here is that because of likely injury or overuse, I developed poor (compensating) movement habits:

-spend a lot of time on computers, knitting, walking dogs… anything that requires the arms to be forward of the body will make the pecs tight and the latts lazy.

Stop doing the rehab exercises on the replacement hip and weaknesses set back in.

My Assessment:

STATIC POSTURE: My left shoulder and right hip are slightly high giving me a slightly wonky appearance. My back arches slightly and arms are falling slightly forward.

DYNAMIC POSTURE: My right leg moves out -my left leg does too only less. And my arms fall forward during the movement. My hips don't break when they should so my arms fall forward. From the back, there is a slight shift of my weight to the right.

WHAT THIS MEANS: The arms falling forward indicate tight pecs and underactive latts. The slight shift to the right means the muscles on the right side are compensating for weakness on the left.

Likely overactive muscles: The piriformis (left side), TFL/Glute Min on the left side, pecs. These muscles need slow steady foam rolling and probably some lacrosse ball work every day for about a month.

Underactive Muscles: Adductors, Hamstring, Glute Max, Anterior Tibialis, Erector Spinae, Lattimus Dorsi. These muscles need to be stretched and strengthened with a planned program about 5 times a week for the same month. Then the movement assessment repeated and compared to the assessment from today.

So I know what I'll be doing work-out wise for the next few weeks.



Shake Things Up: A fast at home full-body workout

The East is getting pounded by a major blizzard; the west is drowning under inches of rain. The middle of the country has seen freezing cold. This is a time of year when the wise and well-prepared have an emergency at-home full-body workout in their back pocket for times like this.

If you don’t have such a plan, here’s one that requires no fancy equipment and will get heart pumping and challenge your muscles.

Do these exercises one after another with no more than 30 seconds rest between them.  Sets of 10.  At the end of the entire list, rest for a minute and repeat up to 2 more times.

  • Hip  bridges .  Lie on floor, face up.  Tilt pelvis to flatten lower back, then continue lifting pelvis off floor until a straight line from knees to shoulders.  Squeeze glutes hard and hold for count of 30
  • Push ups.  Counter/desk pushups. Girl pushups. Real pushups. As challenging as you can go. (10)
  • Stable Lunge/Military Press.
  • “Bathtub step overs.
  • Chair dips.
  • Lateral jump-squats.
  • Y-T-As.
  • Ali Shuffle.
  • Single Leg Push.
  • Lateral to Front Arm raises.
  • Because it was WAY TOO WORDY to describe how to do these, I made you a little video. At 10 minutes, it’s a bit too long (sorry). But how do you demonstrate 10 exercises in less time?

    Enjoy. Give these a try. Remember, proper form and posture at all times.

    Have questions? Let me know in the comments.

    Active Recovery

    Recently, after a hard workout, I feel tired -and the next day I just feel beat up.  Tired. Sore. Hungry. Unmotivated.Classic signs that I might be overtraining.  An idea that seem so unlikely because I’ve worked out a lot harder before and been just fine.  I’m tracking my food and taking notes on that so see if maybe it’s my diet, but in the meantime I’m spending a lot more time in Active Recovery.

    • Active Recovery is using blood flow to remove lactic acid and other waste materials from muscles so that we can continue to exercise and heal.
    • Active Recovery is continuing an action or activity at a much lower rate after a hard exercise session or a long event (say running a half marathon).  It is the cool-down.
    • Active Recovery is repeating a workout a day or two later at a lower intensity and lower volume to assist in healing.

    So there’s a lot to active recovery.  And, I’ll admit it, I haven’t been good about using this tool as well as I could .  But what does this all mean?

    When I weight train, I often go fairly hard- working to get close to muscle exhaustion failure in the 3rd set or so.  If I were a good lifter, I would then take time between sets to actively recover- some dynamic stretches (easily swinging my arms or legs), some static stretches, walking around or easy jogging in place- something to encourage the blood pumping, reoxygenating the muscles, and clearing lactic acid from the muscles.

    Yeah, I usually stand there breathless and sweaty, take a sip of water, and get ready for the next set.

    Near the end of a training session, the ideal actions would be to do what are often called “finishing” exercises in the weight lifting schools: after working complex, large muscle groups – you move down to exercising the smaller muscles groups and supporting muscle systems.  The ideal reason to do this: keep the blood flowing at a lower rate so that it help in healing.  Move slower, and less intensely letting the body cool down slowly.  At the least, I could jump on a treadmill or elliptical and have a 10 minute or so go at some steady cardio.

    Me?  I tend to go all out until I’m so tired that I drop my water bottle and cannot hold on to equipment.  Then I take a warm to cool shower to cool down.  (heads head in shame at admitting this.)

    Two or three days later, I should return to a recovery workout.  This is a session using light weights and high reps to increase blood flow to the muscles while limiting micro-trauma to the muscles.  (If you are a baseball fan- this the “easy throwing day” that starting pitchers use between their starts).  A recovery workout could be a full-body workout or simply a few exercises added on to a complimentary workout.

    Yeah.  This just doesn’t happen at all.

    Because I’ve felt so beat up lately, I’m taking some time to work out this plan and seriously implement a plan of active recovery.

    Now what have I gone and done??

    I teased you with a promise of some exciting things to come here. (admittedly not fully formed in my head – but close).

    And now? I’ve gone and gotten a full-time job in a gym that begins in a just over a week. A gym without wifi. So the very many hours I’ll be spending there hanging around waiting for work? I’ll be thinking about you. Will I be writing in long hand a waiting to convert when I get online? Will go black again?

    Only time shall tell. What is most likely to happen is that I’ll spring for a smart phone (probably a ‘droid) and connect that way.


    HOT by BlogHer.

    Boy, do I need every little shred of encouragement and support I can for losing these returned 10#. And I do need to lose them. I’m not fitting into most of my jeans, and I’m finding myself searching out my “fat” clothes. Hard to do when you purge your closet every 6 months of those clothes at are stained or too big for me to wear anymore.

    (and yes, it used to be those clothes that were too small).

    So I’ve decided to join the gals at HOT BY BLOGHER for a little group support and some fun. Maybe I can give a few pointers to some of them. Hopefully, I can get some cheers of my own.

    I’m working OK -well, I could get back to doing intervals now. So the exercise really isn’t the factor. What I need to do is get back to watching those damn calories. Back to whole grains, and lots of veggies. Yay, with summer coming that should be easy. Back to limiting that evening snacking.

    This is do-able. And doing it in a group will make it even more fun.

    Step one: begin journalling my food again. Gah, I hate that.

    The Scale Surprise

    Sunday I tentatively stepped on my scale. 125.5# it read. Up about 5# from what I’ve stated is my desired average weight. And it’s the holidays.

    I know I haven’t been eating the best, so I started to hit the panic button. Was I getting so off discipline that I would soon be back in “weight loss” mode?

    Before I continued down a path of panic and destructive self-retribution, I reminded myself that my clothes were all still fitting fine.

    I took the next step in assessing whether there was a problem: got out the body measurements I’d taken 6 weeks ago, grabbed a tape measure and did some math.

    My upper arms have grown 1/2″ in size, my lower arms 1/8″. My chest is slightly larger, (but my bra cups are getting too large). My waist and hips have decreased, my thighs and calves have increased.

    Guess what?

    I’M BUILDING MUSCLE! Nothing to panic about here. Well, except that I’m shrinking out of my jeans again. But that just means that soon I’ll have to enrich Old Navy’s coffers for some size 2 jeans.

    The old me would not have considered the possibility that increasing weight on the scale could be a good thing. It could only mean that I’m eating like a pig, all the wrong things, and once again failing myself. Becoming someone I can nag and abuse about my weaknesses. How many of us would have jumped at that conclusion and not checked further before beating ourselves up?

    I’ve worked intensely the past 6 weeks, hitting the gym hard an average 4 times a week. I earned that weight gain, dammit! Now I’m going to celebrate with a delicious chocolate/caramel swirl protein drink. Because I earned it.

    Rebuilding Strength

    I thought the time I took off to heal my shoulder, then the time I’ve cut back because of a medical issue, wouldn’t have any great effect upon my strength.  (silly me!).

    I thought that when it felt like working hard, even though I had cut back on my weight, it was just me being careful.

    The strength was still there waiting.  I just wasn’t using it.

    Silly me.

    I can’t take 6 weeks off from strength training and keep the same level of strength.  Nobody can.

    It became apparent to me Wednesday when I was on the exercise ball doing reverse-crunch-to-pushups.  Before my shoulder started hurting, I would try 3 sets of 15.  The first 10 were easy and I had to work through the last 5 pushups (and not always succeed).  The third set was a little harder than the first.  However, I could do it.  This time, I struggled to do 8 reps, and struggled to do a second set at all.

    That’s when it struck me: I’ve lost strength.  When it feels like hard work at weight levels that below what I was doing 6 weeks ago, IT’S BECAUSE IT’S HARD WORK.  I’m working near my potential at the moment.  (well, duh!)  When I said I’d take 6-8 weeks to build back to to where I was working before, it was because I’m going to need 6-8 weeks to rebuild the strength.

    I’m slow like that sometimes.

    I was working with trainer Adam a bit (he’s making sure I know how to use that monster robo-cable machine and do the exercises correctly.  Hello core-stability work).  He gave me some tips to help, like do push-ups supersetted with tricep pull-downs to shock the muscles and speed up the strength building.  He, too, reminded me that it’s going to take 6-8 weeks to recover.  Hmm.. looking at the calendar.. just in time for the New Year.