“No Pain, No Gain”…. words NOT to live by!! (regarding exercise)

It’s unfortunate that so many active individuals who are passionate and dedicated to exercise fail to recognize the warning signs of a problem…PAIN.  The choice to ignore their pain often leaves them wishing they did not follow the mantra of “No Pain, No Gain”.  Trust me, there is no shortage of 50+ year olds (or younger) who, after many years of exercise, are now suffering (physically, psychologically, and emotionally) as they are unable to exercise or participate in the sports they once loved because their bodies will no longer allow them to. Sadly, it did not have to be this way….if they would have only listened to their bodies!! I am writing this entry in hopes that if you exercise for the betterment of your health, you will now be more aware and equipped to make wise decisions, allowing you to live healthy….and exercise for as long as your heart desires! :)

To illustrate my point I will use myself as an example. The Hints describe messages from your body that you should be listening to, and the Steps describe the systematic approach you should be taking to help ensure continued good health.

Lately for cardio, I’ve been walking hill intervals on the treadmill (running is hard on my body, so I DON’T run).  Walking hills is challenging but is not overly impactful on your joints and is a solid cardio workout that burns calories (which is my goal).

Last night, I started my workout (Step #1-start your workout), 10 minutes into the intervals, my right hip started hurting (Hint #1), but I didn’t feel it on my left side (opposite side has no pain Hint #2), so I kept walking for another minute or 2 but the pain didn’t subside (continuous pain- Hint #3). So I decreased the level and took the incline down to zero but it still hurt (made adjustments but pain still prevalent –Hint #4), So, I did what so many fail to do: I listened to my pain (and the 4 Hints) and got off the treadmill. I then immediately went on the elliptical machine (Step #2-make a change to your workout if you have pain) and gave it a try in the hope that I could complete my daily exercise goal (burn calories).  I had no pain, so I continued and went for 30 minutes with no pain.  To be clear, if at any point on the elliptical I would have felt pain, I would have stopped.  When I was done, I got off the machine, stretched for a few minutes and then laid on the Chi-Mat (Step #3-use management tools after exercise…if you don’t have a Chi-Mat get one! :) Otherwise I would have used ice).

Today, although I was NOT in pain, I got assessed (Step #4-when you experience pain, get assessed by a qualified practitioner) by my associate, Dr. Harris, and she diagnosed me with a mild strain of my TFL (hip muscle), she treated me (Step #5-get treatment when necessary) and she gave me a plan of action (Step #6-Have a plan)…over the next week, I will get a few more treatments, stretch, use a foam roller, stay off the treadmill, and continue to use the elliptical to satisfy my cardio goals.  Once I get the OK from Dr. Harris, I will then resume my hill workouts on the treadmill.

Key points….

I listened to my body and the hints it sent me, reacted appropriately to it in a systematic way (followed the Steps), and now have avoided making a mountain out of a mogul.  Do you listen to your body?? YOU SHOULD !!

 Dr. G’s Tips on how to avoid and react to pain:

  • Set goals for yourself (what is the reason you are exercising and what results are you aiming to achieve? i.e. build muscle, lose weight, alleviate stress etc). The Risks should never outweigh the Reward!
  • Listen to the hints your body gives you! If you feel pain during exercise, stop; try a different exercise, if pain persists, just stop!
  • Get assessed! Pain is your body’s way of notifying you that something is wrong. If you feel pain, don’t fight through it, consult a qualified professional, the earlier you address the pain, the easier it is to regain pain-free healthy status
  • If you exercise regularly, then you should be receiving some form of treatment regularly….your body needs it!
  • Take a minimum of one day off from exercise a week (than means NO exercise)… your body needs it!
  • Employ some “management tools” to support your exercise (i.e ice or heat, Chi-Mat, foam roller, etc.)
  • Stretch!!! Before AND After exercise!!!
  • Balance and Plan your workouts! That means mix things up…be sure to do some exercise that is less forceful on your joints (i.e. elliptical, bike, swimming), if you’re a runner- try not to run on back to back days, always make sure you do some form of cardio and weights (resistance training)

 

 

My personal thoughts…

 

Yesterday, with tears of joy, sadness, and reflection I started typing, I wrote it as a letter to my late wife Brenda.  I talk to Brenda every single day, but felt like writing, with the intention of sharing it with you:

 

For me, there’s certain days in the calendar that aren’t and will never be normal days…they signify way too much.  October 5, is one of those days! On October 5, 2001 my life changed forever when my beautiful wife Brenda was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I can remember that day as if it was yesterday; we walked into the doctor’s office as an amazingly in love, happy and newly engaged couple.  At 26 years old with the mention of 1 word, Cancer, our lives were forever changed.  It’s10 years later, and boy have I been through a lot!! Brenda, I owe so much to you! You truly take care and watch over me everyday and have brought joy back into my life! As Julie (newly married :) ) would say…”wowie”.  Can’t believe you’ve blessed me with Julie, such an amazingly spiritual woman with the kindest heart that has no boundaries, not to mention CRAZY hot;)  As I write this10 years later, I’m so happy your wings are free to fly, thanks for staying close to me, I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for you, your infinite wisdom, your love for life, and your passion for what matters in this world we live in. ! I love you Brenda, as much as I did on October 5, 2001(actually more because our love continues to grow) and I’m so honored and blessed to have you as my angel!! I remember frequently saying one thing to Sarah(my therapist who loved and adored Brenda)…no matter how much pain, suffering, and loneliness I endured,  I always knew and BELIEVED you wouldn’t let me suffer forever…thanks for bringing me joy, happiness, and peace back into my life!  Can’t wait for all of us to meet the beautiful baby in Julie’s belly :) :) :)  Wowee!

 

If you read this, thanks for reading it! Inspire others and love like Brenda did. Make a difference!! Today, tell someone you love them, call someone and let them know you care, It’s amazing the power we have as humans, you just have to express it!

 

For those who are struggling in life, speaking from experience I leave you with this, hope it makes a difference! When you are stuck in the tunnel, its hard to see the light….take a few minutes each day to close your eyes and SEE that light, it’s there, believe it and you will achieve it…I DID :) Wishing you peace, love, and light! Keep smiling!


 

AskDrG: Are ice baths good or bad?

In my first instalment of ‘AskDrg’ I am responding to a great question tweeted to me by @loganwelding, a young aspiring hockey player:

“Dear @yourDrG , how long should you stay in an ice bath? Also, how often should you ice bath?”

 

The first question you need to ask yourself is not how long and how often, it is actually if you should even use an ice bath at all. And that depends on how you are feeling and what your intended outcome is.

There are many pro athletes who take an ice bath after a game or practice, and quite frankly they don’t even know why they are doing it and what the benefits are.  Jumping in a cold tub because you heard “pros” do it or because a veteran athlete in the locker room does it, doesn’t necessarily make it right for you.  There’s a proper reason why one uses ice and please refer to my March 2011 blog as I discuss the usages for both ice and heat.

 

To answerLogan’s question here are the highlights taken from that blog:

The reason you use ice is not because it feels good, but rather because it is a proven tool against acute, painful and inflammatory conditions.  Simply stated, ice will decrease swelling/inflammation, decrease blood flow, reduce muscle spasms and alleviate bruising and pain…..

When using ice, apply the ice to the area that is the problem. Going in a cold tub or generally applying the ice to a larger area will not have the same affect (remember the goal of using ice is to decrease swelling and blood flow to the affected area, this can not be achieved if ice is applied to a larger more general area).

 

Therefore, if you have an area of complaint, a new injury, a chronic injury that flares up after activity, or a nagging problem, then you should be applying ice ONLY to that specific area and NOT going in an ice bath.  In the case of an athlete, the reality is that he/she is likely battling through aches, pains, bruises, or injuries throughout the season, so an “ice bath” is not the most effective way of managing your body; ice to the specific area is!  As such, I don’t often, if ever, recommend my patients use ice baths.  However, like most things, there are exceptions to every rule. There are two situations in which I am ok with someone using an ice bath:

 

1)    If your entire body is achy after your game, or if you have MANY chronic achy joints that are irritated following activities. Then going in an ice bath for 10 minutes may be helpful.

2)    You actually like the way your body (and mind) responds to the ice bath.  If there is a specific problem area, then prior to going in the ice tub, ice that area for 10 minutes, and then submerge your body in the ice bath.

 

I hope this answers your question.  Wishing you continued health and success!

Keep flying!!!!!!

Weight training…before or after cardio?

One of the most frequent questions I get is “Should I do weights before or after cardio”?  Although my quick answer and general rule is do weights first and then cardio after, in many cases the answer is not that simple and requires a more in-depth answer.  And in the case of the professional athletes I consult with, the answer is definitely not that simple. So, whether you’re exercising casually, a fitness enthusiast, pro athlete, or somewhere in between, here are some questions that will help you to determine the answer:

1) What is your desired outcome and what goals are you trying to achieve?

2) What form of “cardio” and “weights” are you doing.?

(There are many different definitions and subcategories for “cardio” and “weight-training”.  If the cardio you are talking about is an actual sport, the answer is very different then if it was simply cardio on an elliptical machine to burn calories, burn fat, and enhance your cardiovascular health.)

 

I have broken the answer down into two categories with two opposing answers.  Establish which category you fall under, and there lies  your answer:

1. If your goal is to: get fit, stay fit, get lean, avoid injury, have a good work, burn calories, get stronger, etc. AND if your cardio is the elliptical, walking, jogging (moderate intensity, duration less than 1 hour), running (moderate intensity, duration less than 1 hour), biking (recumbent, stationary, or outside, duration less than an hour) then your answer is:

Do your weights first and then your cardio after!

Why:

Two reasons.  The first is safety/injury prevention.  You are more likely to get injured when your muscles are fatigued and generally you are more likely to have a mishap doing weights then moderate cardio.  So, it makes more sense to do the weights when your body is fresh and you are focused!  The second reason is results. Weight training yields better results when the body has ample energy stores.  However, you can effectively do cardio when your muscles are fatigued.

 

2. If your goal is: to play a sport (hockey, basketball, football, tennis etc); achieve optimal performance; OR endurance related (generally longer than 1 hour), AND your cardio is therefore running, skating, jumping, etc. your answer is:

Do your cardio (sport) first and then do your weights!

Why:

When you weight train, you are contracting your muscles against resistance.  The resulting affect: your muscles will be in a shortened and tighter state…not to mention fatigued. When you play sports involving speed, agility, explosive movements, reaction time, etc., your performance and safety is predicated upon lengthening muscles, flexibility, quick response time, and pliability, all of which can NOT occur properly when your muscles are shortened/tighter.

Unfortunately the reality is, that many injuries to athletes (at all levels, including professional) occur because of improper planning and training on the field, ice, or court.  If you are an athlete or participate in sports at a competitive level, NEVER do weight training directly before you play your sport; this will help you avoid injuries and perform at the highest level! That being said, weight training is key, but training properly with the right scheduling is VITAL to an athlete’s success, health, and longevity.  The right scheduling involves when, what, why, and how…that will be my next postJ

 

Be Aware! Stay Healthy! Achieve Your Goals!

 

 

Tip of the Week: Sitting at your desk… the right way!

There’s a reason why many people feel better while on vacation, and its not just because of decrease in stress.  Occupational stresses and bad habits in the workplace are a big contributor to back pain. At the top of the dreaded list of reasons why people’s backs “kill” at work is  sitting at a desk for hours during the day.  So here’s a few tips we tell our patients:

1) Get up every hour! Even if its just to stretch out and walk around your office for 1-2 minutes..it will help you tremendously

2) Recline in your chair and use your back rest.

3) Keep your feet on the ground and avoid crossing your legs.



 

Tip of the Week: Is your computer screen bright enough?

A proper workplace environment and workstation is vital to a healthy lifestyle. If your computer screen is not positioned properly, or illuminating a proper amount of light, overtime it can lead to problems.  With respect to brightness of your computer screen, it should equal (or slightly exceed) the rest of the lighting in the room.  If it does not, and the screen is duller, you will unconsciously squint to see the computer screen.  When you squint, your neck automatically flexes (moves) forward to assist your vision.  This puts unnecessary stress on your neck and leads to neck and upper back issues/pain, which is a common finding in the workplace.  A few tips to ensure your computer is bright enough include:  adjusting the setting on the computer screen until you find comfort, dimming the lights in your office, or shutting the blinds during peak sun hours.

Be aware and stay healthy!!!

 

Tip of the Week: Building those Pecs

To increase both your strength and definition in your chest, start your workout by “pre-exhausting” the muscle.  To do this, start your chest workout with 3-4 sets of machine chest flys(low-moderate weight) and then move on to a flat bench press…preferably dumbbells.  Although you will not be able to lift as much weight as your normal dumbbell press, by pre-exhausting the muscle you will eliminate smaller muscles (front deltoids and triceps).  This forces you to utilize your primary chest muscles (pecs), thus allowing you to work the chest to failure and yield maximum results.  Try this for at least 4-6 weeks, when you resume your normal chest workouts, you will find that you will be able to handle more weight.Replicas Inflatable Cemento

 

 

 

Massages for enhanced performance, by Cindy Fabro

If you are an athlete, professional or amateur, or even if you are a person who likes to exercise, getting regular massages may help you perform better.  Vigorous training can lead to tight, sore muscles, which may add unnecessary stress to joints, ligaments and tendons that assist the muscles in our bodies and help us move.  Muscle tension can lead to a decrease in range of motion, inflexible, rigid muscles and muscle ‘knots’.  All of which can increase the chance of injury.  Consistent tension in muscles can also lead to a decrease of oxygen to the muscles, which can leave you feeling achy and tired.  Keeping your muscles hydrated, oxygenated, relaxed, and flexible, can help you perform at your peak.

Just like any professional athlete, you need to properly take care of your body to help you avoid injury and perform at your best at every event.  Drinking water, stretching, warming-up and cooling-down are things we need to do in order to take care of our bodies.  But did you know that getting regular massages could help you train more effectively, perform better and recover more quickly?  Deep tissue massage can help relax tight, sore muscles, keeping them flexible and supple, flush out built up toxins and work out muscle knots and trigger points.  Massages also promote circulation to the areas being worked so tight muscles get the oxygen they need as well as nutrients important for muscle repair.  Massage can break down built up lactic and uric acids as well as other waste products that can accumulate and cause discomfort in the body.

 

Massages may also be beneficial during a specific sporting event.  Before an event starts, it can help warm up the body, increase blood flow to the muscles and help relieve any tension of the muscles that will be involved in the exertion, in turn, helping you perform better.  During an event, massage can help with any tightness or cramping that may occur and help support recovery and after an event, it can help flush the system, relax the muscles and aid in repair of tissues that may have been slightly damaged during the event.  One thing to remember: massages shouldn’t replace your regular routine but should be utilized more as an addition to it.

 

Are you aware of your posture? by Dr. Stephanie Harris

Are you aware of your posture? Have you ever looked at your posture in the mirror? What does it look like?  Good posture is an asset to healthy living. It is the body’s alignment and positioning with respect to gravity. Your posture is affected by your everyday activities including sitting all day at a desk, slouching in front of a computer, talking on the phone (without using a handset), bending and lifting heavy objects, and sleeping. Did you know that these activities are placing un-wanted stresses on your body?

 

Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions where the least amount of stress is placed on your muscles and ligaments. This can be done by stretching tight muscles and strengthening weak ones. The goal is to maintain balance between your muscles and within your body…. It’s the key to living a healthy, pain free life. Proper posture can prevent sprains/strain and overuse injuries, chronic back pain, muscular pain, and headaches.

 

An example of the importance of maintaining good posture becomes extremely evident when lifting heavy objects. If you bend down at the waist to pick up something, you are rounding out your spine and changing the shape of your natural low back (lumbar) curve, which increases your risk for injury. The proper way to pick up a heavy item is to bend from your knees making sure you keep your natural low back curve, which equals a neutral spine.

 

How do you lift??

 

Dr. Harris’ tips to help you improve your posture:

  • When standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart with toes pointing straight ahead (Avoid having your toes pointing outward or inward)
  • Keep your shoulders back (think about sticking out your chest)
  • When sitting, keep your back straight and avoid slouching in the chair
  • When sitting, keep your feet flat on the floor and knees and hips at 90 degrees
  • Keep your head in a neutral position where your chin is slightly tucked in (as if you were trying to make a double-chin)
  • Take frequent breaks from sitting (every 20-40 minutes) and change your position often

 

Mindful exercise: Are you living a healthy lifestyle?

Exercise is a crucial component to true healthy living. Being healthy from the inside out means that at some level, exercise has become part of your day-to-day routine.  But it is not just “exercise” that is important; it’s the right exercise with the appropriate what, when, how and why along with the what not, when not, how not and why not being equally vital.  I tip my hat to all those who participate in exercise and put forth the effort to live a healthy lifestyle.  I cringe though, with the number of people I see being told, misguided, or inventing the wrong exercise or the wrong exercise for them.  Just because someone told you or you saw it in a gym doesn’t mean that it is correct or it is the right exercise for you.  Just because the person in your yoga class is touching their toes, does not mean you can or even should.  Just because the person spinning beside you is standing while sprinting does not mean you should. I think you get my point.

Awareness of your body, your current health status, proper body alignment, proper form and tempo, are just some of the keys to healthy exercise and successful execution.

Oh, and in case you were not aware, the benefits of exercise come with longevity and an improved lifestyle.  In order to exercise into your glory years you should be conscious and well informed on the things “outside of the gym” that will help you succeed: hydration, supplementation, nutrition, pre and post exercise routines, rest days, sleep patterns, treatment options, management tools, hurt vs ache, understanding that pain is a notification…and the list goes on.

Bottom line: get informed! Find an expert.  Learn to listen to your body.  Get off the couch and get active.  Do it right!

Dr. G’s Tips:

  • Stay hydrated…drink water before, during, and after exercise
  • For ideal results and increased benefits try and do some form of exercise 3-5 times per week…1 time is better than nothing, 2 times will maintain your current status, and 7 times is too much!
  • If you are experiencing pain before, during, or after exercise, get it diagnosed by a professional so you can better understand what you should and should not be doing
  • Plan your exercise in advance and understand what muscles are involved and being targeted during each exercise session…if you don’t know, then find out!
  • For increased results switch up your exercise routine at least every 6-8 weeks

 


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