Monthly Archives: June 2015

Stand Up Straight Again

By | Exercise | No Comments

If you’re one of the many who spend their days sitting in front of a computer or behind a steering wheel more often than you’d like, there’s a chance your posture may be suffering. Being seated for hours a day can start to pull you out of natural alignment and begin to add stress to your spine, hips, shoulders, and surrounding tissue.

So what can we do to get the body back into proper balance? For this article, the focus will be on 5 exercises that will help release shortened muscles while activating weak muscles and in turn, set the body back into normal muscle tone.

Pectoral Release. Lie on a dense ball to apply pressure directly to the pec muscle near the front of the shoulder. With firm pressure held on the tight area, slowly move your arm around and focus on getting a full range of motion through the shoulder joint. Continue for several minutes until you feel improved range of motion and then switch to the other pec.

Thoracic Release. Lie on a foam roller with it placed slightly below your shoulder blades. Keep your neck neutral and hips on the floor. Gently drop your shoulders and puff your chest forward as your back naturally arches. Hold for several seconds and then move the roller up or down an inch at a time and repeat until you feel a release of tension throughout that area of the spine.

Thoracic-Smash

Hamstring Release/Stretch. Take a seat on a firm medicine ball and place it just below your glutes at the top end of your hamstrings. Allow your weight to sink into the ball and slowly move down the length of your hamstrings until you reach the backside of your knee. You can also tilt your body side to side to hit the inner and outer parts of the hamstrings. Once you ‘smash’ out each hamstring, now you can focus on stretching it. Assume a lunged position over the top of a mat and drop down until your back knee is resting on the mat. With a flat back posture, slowly straighten the front leg while leaning forward until you feel the hamstring lengthen. Slowly shift your hips side to get a nice release through the back of your leg.

Hamstring-Stretch

Now that we’ve released some of the tight areas, it’s time to activate some of the weaker areas.

Glute Bridge. Lie on a bench with your feet on the floor and your upper back supporting the rest of your weight as your body will be turned perpendicular to the bench. With your feet placed directly under your knees, squeeze your glutes while keeping tension through your abdominal wall. Hold for 5 seconds and then slowly drop your hips about 12 inches. Raise back up and hold again for 5 seconds. Repeat for 1-2 minutes.

Glute-Bridge

Scapular Retraction. Lie face down with your legs together and your arms resting on the floor so you form a Y-shape. Engage your glutes and your abdominal wall and then slowly raise your arms off the floor while rotating your thumbs upward and squeezing your shoulder blades. The goal is to feel engagement in the glutes, abs, and shoulder blade area without feeling tension or pinching in the lower back or neck. Hold for 5 seconds and then slowly return to your starting position. Repeat for 1-2 minutes.

Use this routine a few times per week to help your body re-learn its natural posture.

Caffeine – Is it right for you?

By | Nutrition | No Comments

 

Pouring Coffee

Caffeine. Is it good or bad? We get this question all the time, and the answer really depends on your goals and current state of health.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that starts altering bodily functions once consumed. Caffeine will increase heart rate and blood flow while raising your body temperature. Many people drink coffee and its accompanying caffeine to help them start their day. A cup in the morning makes you feel more alert while satisfying the physical dependence you may acquire from drinking it daily. Most experts agree that a daily cup or two of coffee or tea is considered safe.

Caffeine may not be suited for everyone though. Caffeine consumption may disrupt sleep cycles, but it can also cause under-hydration as well as restlessness, anxiety, and irritability in mood and behavior. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes are risking added stress on the heart and circulatory system as well as a possible increase in blood sugar levels. So caffeine could increase health risks in individuals with these conditions.

On the positive side, studies have shown that caffeine does improve athletic performance, which means a cup of coffee or green tea before you exercise could help you accomplish more. This is due to caffeine’s ability to increase muscular power output by assisting the release of calcium as well as helping your body burn more fat as a fuel source. Caffeine consumption before a workout also lessens your rate of perceived exertion and your perception of exhaustion. Your brain makes you feel as if you aren’t working as hard as you really are. This performance boost can be achieved by consuming as little as 1 milligram of caffeine per kilogram of bodyweight. So, for most people, a cup of coffee or green tea would be enough to boost the output of your workout.

The main concern we have with drinking coffee every morning is that too often the coffee takes the place of a complete breakfast. Many people rely solely on the caffeine and sugar in their morning cup to get them through until lunch, but this gives no nutritional sustenance. So as long as breakfast consists of a balance of macronutrients from actual food, there should be little concern with having a cup of coffee or brewed tea. If you’re drinking an 8oz caffeinated drink, be sure to drink 8oz of water to help offset the diuretic effect of the caffeine.

Also, be aware of your dependence on caffeine, as it is found in many sodas and energy drinks. If you have to drink more than two caffeinated drinks just to get through your day, it may be time to cut back. Try, instead, to fuel your body with nutrients from real food so you stay naturally energized. Many caffeinated drinks contain high amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners, so limiting or avoiding them will help keep your overall health in check as well.

So be aware of the good and bad aspects of caffeine and if and how it should fit into your nutrition plan.

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