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

 


ICE vs. HEAT – Part 2

Last week, I weighed in on the benefits of ice to treat an injury. In this blog entry, I’m continuing the Ice vs. Heat debate telling you what I tell my patients about the use of Heat!

In my practice I use heat on my patients prior to treating them. But it doesn’t stop there. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t recommend heat to help manage someone’s pain or condition.  90 percent of the conditions I see in my office would be classified as a repetitive strain injury or chronic (with the other 10 percent being acute). Heat is the  key when treating repetitive strain or chronic injuries! Heat will increase blood flow, relax muscles, decrease pain and promote healing.

Dr. G’s Tips on when/how to use heat:

  • use for chronic injuries, if you have tight muscles
  • use before activity to warm up muscles, not after activity
  • use at night before bed if you often wake up with stiffness
  • heat should be applied for 15-20 minutes but can be used for longer (if you use an electrical heating pad, be sure not to fall asleep on it as they can cause burning)
  • Apply the heat to the area that is the problem…going in a hot tub/sauna or generally applying the heat to a larger area will not have the same affect (as mentioned earlier the goal of using heat is to increase blood flow to the affected area, this can not be achieved if heat is applied to a larger more general area)
  • recommended to use moist heat rather than dry heat (e.g. Hot water bottle, gel packs, etc)

ICE vs. HEAT Part 1

Could there be anymore of a misunderstanding of when to use ice and when to use heat? Knowing which one to use could make the difference in how you feel and how you ultimately perform! Part 1 - Ice is your friend!
Ice and heat can play critical roles in both the management and treatment of many muscular issues. If used properly, I like to say “Ice is like your friend that tells you what you need to hear not what you want to hear”. In other words, it may not feel good but it’s what you need!! The reason we 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.
Whether you are a professional athlete, a weekend warrior, or someone who just wants relief, here are some extremely useful tips:

Dr. G’s Tips on when/how to use ice:

• In my books, anything frozen counts as ice, so if do not have access to ice cubes or and ice pack- grab whatever you can find in your freezer…it will do the trick
• Ice should always be used on acute pain/injuries or a re-aggravation/re-occurrence of an old injury/condition (for clarity “acute” is something new or of sudden onset, is usually a sharper more uncomfortable pain)
• Ice should be applied after activity never before activity
• 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 (as mentioned earlier 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)
• When applying ice to an acute injury, try and get the ice on as quickly as possible after the occurrence and it should be used for the first 24 to 72 hours
• If you have a chronic condition that is aggravated by activity, apply ice as a management tool to decrease the likelihood of a flare up or aggravation
• General rule- apply the ice for 10 minutes on, 20 minutes off (allow enough time for your skin temperature to go back to normal), and then repeat

The Benefits of Massage Therapy by Cindy Fabro

Believe it or not but massage therapy has been around for many years and is one of the most ancient forms of healing. Evidence from the ancient Greeks, Buddhist temple carvings, ancient China and even the dark and middle ages has shown that some form of massage therapy was used to heal injuries in athletes, men and women, the rich and the poor. It is only within the last few centuries that massage therapy has become more pronounced as a natural alternative to traditional medicine. Although a vast amount of information on the benefits of massage therapy exists, the following is a list of benefits specifically proven through years of research and observation:

• Increases circulation and blood flow through the body, providing tissues with more oxygen and nutrients
• Reduces stress, anxiety and depression
• Promotes relaxation in tight, tired, overused muscles
• Enhances immunity by stimulating lymph flow (the body’s natural defence system)
• Aids tissue regeneration by breaking down scar tissue and adhesions
• Increases range of motion and joint flexibility
• Helps lower blood pressure
• Alleviates pain and tension and helps you manage pain better
• Decreases inflammation
• Promotes faster recovery from injuries (work, trauma, accident or sports-related)
• Strengthens the immune system
• Promotes an overall feeling of well-being
• Increases body awareness
• Reduces spasms and cramps

Overall, massage is a great way for the body and mind to unwind and relax. When’s the last time you got a massage? Maybe it’s time!

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