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!

Are you aware of your sleeping position?

Is the way your sleeping going to come back to haunt you in the future? Changing your sleeping position may be the solution to your back pain. The following blog entry focuses on what I tell my patients about their sleeping habits and how it can affect their back.

It is a well known statistic that 8 out of 10 people will experience back pain at some point in their life and back pain is one of the most common health problems. Like any chiropractor, low back pain is one of the more common conditions that we see in our clinic. On your initial visit, a history is always taken and the one question I always ask to those patients presenting with back pain is ”what position do you sleep in?”. If your answer is “I sleep on my stomach” then that may be the cause of your pain. It’s amazing how many people sleep on their stomachs and enjoy sleeping on their stomachs, however, it is the one position that is not ideal for your low back and neck. In simple terms, the curve in you low back (lordosis) is crucial for proper balance, shock absorption, and strength. Sleeping on your stomach will in the long term reverse that curve, and in the short term put pressure on the posterior (back) portion of your spine and that’s where the pain receptors lie. If you are a stomach sleeper and experience back pain, sleep on your side or back and over time you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the difference it will make. If you do not have pain and sleep on your stomach, break the habit now, as it’s only a matter of time before you start to experience the negative affects.

Dr. G’s Tips:
• Whatever you do, do NOT sleep on your stomach. Sleep on your side or your back
• Use a pillow! If you are sleeping on your side put it between your knees. If you are on your back put in underneath your knees. This will ensure that muscles, joints, and nerves are not being stressed
• Use heat for 15 minutes at night before bed and this will help minimize common morning stiffness
• Use 1 medium sized, medium stiffness pillow for your neck. Using 2 pillows is a no-no and will create issues (the goal is that you maintain a neutral position of your neck- should not flexed(too far forward), extended(bent backward) or laterally flexed(leaning more to one side)
• Do not fall asleep on soft surfaces or awkward positions, which means NO sleeping on the couch!!
• If you are a stomach sleeper and are having difficulties changing the habit, here’s a tip that has worked with many of my patients: Take a sweatshirt with a front pouch or a pair of sweatpants with pockets in the front and put something hard (tennis ball etc) in the pouch/pockets, this will make it uncomfortable for you to sleep on your stomach

Hello Blogosphere!

Well, it’s taken over 35 years, but I’ve finally made it to the blogosphere! I feel great and I am very excited about sharing my insights, thoughts, knowledge and experiences with you. I have many goals for the blog: I hope to inspire and motivate you to achieve a healthy lifestyle, to help you obtain a more fulfilling lifestyle, and maybe even be the one that gives you that extra push that can sometimes make the difference in overcoming obstacles and achieving your own personal goals. I will share health tips as it relates to diet, exercise, treatment/prevention of ailments and injuries, my general thoughts on life, and the things that interest me. Other members of my talented team will be chiming in every once in a while on this blog to share their thoughts and expertise around health and wellness. I think you’ll enjoy their insights on the topics they will choose to write about.

When I take a moment to reflect, I am proud of my accomplishments, not just because I am fortunate to help patients with their health on a daily basis, or because I work with some of the top professional athletes in the world, or because, I am surrounded by so many amazing people. Most important to me, is the adversity I overcame to get to where I am today. I dealt with an insurmountable life shattering loss at a very young age. Just over seven years ago, my beautiful wife Brenda lost her two-year battle with breast cancer. She was 28 and full of love and life. That day my world, as I had known it, stopped.

A lot has happened since then and it’s hard to describe in words what I went through. Brenda taught me so much about love and living and showed me so many things that have allowed me today to be at peace with who I am and to be happy once again. Trust me when I say, the obstacles I had to deal with appeared to be insurmountable, but through some very powerful principles, continued perseverance, hope, faith, and belief, and with the love of others, I overcame them. The fortunate thing in life is that you don’t always have to go at it alone. In my case, I am extremely grateful to have found love again in the heart and soul of my fiancee Julie. She has taught me that the sun is always behind the clouds. You just have to believe it’s there and it will eventually break through.

Over time, in addition to the health and wellness tips I will share on this blog, I hope to use my personal experiences to inspire, support and help others help themselves and the people they care about. I do so as a tribute to my late wife. So whether it’s health, wellness, performance or the principles of life that allows you to succeed and make a difference, I hope my blog is something you look forward to reading and sharing with others. Let’s get started!

Are you drinking enough water?

It’s amazing how many of my patients, active or not, are not drinking enough water! The importance of drinking water and staying hydrated can’t be emphasized enough…
It is estimated that your body is made up of approximately 60% water. Your blood, muscles, lungs and brain all contain a lot of water. Water is needed to regulate your body temperature, help nutrients get to your organs, oxygen to your cells, remove waste from your body, protect your joints, help your immune system and improve your digestive system…do I need to say more?
Remember, you lose water through urination, respiration and by sweating.
So the more active you are the more you need to drink!

Dr. G’s Tips:
• Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning – it’s a great way to start the day and get a head start on hydration!
• Carry a bottle of water with you wherever you go
• Wait until your glass/bottle is empty before refilling; this can help you monitor your water intake
• Keep a bottle of water on your desk at work (it’s easy to forget to drink! Having a bottle on your desk will remind you to stay hydrated)
• When you drink is also important. If you’re going to practice, a game, or just working out or playing hard, drink water before, during, and after playing.
• If you are waiting till you’re thirsty to drink, you are waiting too long!!
• Where possible, substitute water for all other beverages… if flavour is an issue add lemon or cucumber to your water…hey they do it at spa’s so it must be good!
• Try to avoid drinks with sugar or sweetener as they contain additional calories and can cause other potential health hazards.
• Read the labels, know what you’re drinking, it will help you achieve your goals

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