“STAPLES” TO STAYING FIT AND PAIN-FREE

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Tid Bits of Info

  • Maximum heart rate can be roughly estimated by the following formula: 220-your age = max heart rate.
  • Holding a static stretch for less than 2 minutes before an activity has been shown to do very little to the pliability of the soft tissue.
  • Perform less repetitions with heavier resistance for strength development and high repetitions with less resistance for muscular endurance.
  • Maintaining proper posture is a key to eliminating painful conditions and the muscles must be strong enough to maintain the posture.
  • Seek the advice of a Physical Therapist to be sure to perform the proper exercises with correct form.

Many injuries can be avoided or reduced with proper conditioning. Neck pains and/or low back pains are two of the most common injuries that healthcare professionals treat. If patients will follow the prescribed exercises consistently, they can potentially avoid these injuries or minimize the impact of these injuries.

Preventing the onset of injuries and pain starts by following several basic “staple” exercise routines. The Physical Therapist or certified personal trainer will incorporate some form of these basics into your routine.  If you follow the regimen consistently, you can avoid having to deal with an injury or painful condition of your neck and/or low back.

The proper formula to any sound conditioning program will include strength training, cardiovascular conditioning and flexibility development.  The key to success is to be consistent and persistent with the participation of the program.

Strength development requires the use of resistance to “over-load” the muscles.  When the muscles have to “work” against a resistance that is greater than the body’s mass, they will go through cellular changes that will enhance strength.  The muscle cells grow in size and number (this remains controversial). The growth of the muscle cell size is referred to as hypertrophy and an increase in muscle cells is called hyperplasia.  The only way to gain strength is to have this process occur in the muscle.    Performing 2-3 sets of 10 – 15 repetitions of a particular exercise against resistance is usually sufficient to achieve the desired results of strength development.  The last 2 or 3 repetitions should be a struggle but you should be able to complete the set and continue to perform the exercise with proper form.

Cardiovascular conditioning requires you to elevate your heart rate for a period of time.  The threshold of conditioning depends upon the use of oxygen by the cells.  If the heart rate is too high, the use of oxygen is very limited and the body relies on a stored energy within the cells.  The threshold is referred to as the anaerobic (without oxygen) threshold.   If the heart rate is maintained below this threshold, the exercise routine is said to be aerobic in nature.   Aerobic (using oxygen) type exercise can be performed for a very long time and is the type of exercise that is preferred for most people when it comes to developing an improved cardiovascular fitness.  The latest studies indicate that participating in a cardiovascular conditioning program 4-5x / week is the most effective way to enhance over all cardiovascular health.  The routine should include an exercise session that elevates the heart rate to a level of 60 – 75% of the maximum (220 – your age x .75 = max hr).

Stretching and/or foam rolling are two ways to enhance flexibility.   The most important aspect of increasing flexibility is to realize that the soft tissues that hold us together are more like leather and are very non-elastic.  To gain flexibility one has to perform a stretching or foam rolling routine daily.   Recent studies indicate that a combination of foam rolling and stretching is the best way to enhance flexibility.  There has not been enough research done to establish firm protocols for foam rolling, but empirical results indicate that 3-5 minutes per day is sufficient.  Dynamic stretching (actively moving body parts in similar motions that will be used during participation of an activity) has been shown to be more beneficial before the activity.  Static stretching (holding a stretch for a prolonged period of time) has been shown to be most beneficial after the activity.

Performing the proper exercise routine with correct form is essential to achieve the desired goals of avoiding injuries.  It is well worth your effort to seek out the advice of a Physical Therapist or a certified personal trainer to be sure that you perform the correct exercises with proper form.