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Dietary Supplements in Sports – Smart or Unnecessary?

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There is an impressive range of supplements to optimize performance, keep you healthy, and aid recovery. These dietary supplements can come in the form of powder, tablets, capsules, gels, or even ampoules.

However, it is important to remember that supplements do not replace a healthy diet, but rather support the body if it is deficient in something, prevent reactions to overexertion and illness, and also compensate for an unbalanced diet.

supplement pills

Generally a drop in performance and poor concentration are typical signs of a nutrient deficiency. But before you start taking nutritional supplements, you should find out whether you even need them. Less is often more. In fact, many people are not aware that too many supplements can be harmful to the body. It can lead to digestive problems, nausea, headaches, fatigue, or faintness.

How do I find out whether I have a nutritional deficiency?

In order to be certain that you need supplements, you should have a laboratory test your blood and urine to determine your current levels. This is a reliable way to identify deficits, which can be addressed with a supplement program. In addition, if you tend to show signs of a deficiency, it is wise to keep a record of what you eat several times a year and work with a nutritionist if necessary. Deficiencies can usually be treated by adjusting your general eating habits.

Should athletes take dietary supplements?

Even though almost everything can be regulated through nutrition, athletes can benefit from dietary supplements.

A few examples: A one-sided, vegan, or vegetarian diet can lead to a vitamin B12, iron, or zinc deficiency. Low-calorie diets to lose weight can also create deficiencies. But a nutrient-rich diet should be enough to restore your nutritional balance.
High-intensity training and long working hours could also be reasons why the energy you use is not compensated through your diet.

6 supplements that can be helpful for runners:

1. Isotonic drinks

A mix of glucose and electrolytes are essential for endurance runners, because they replenish lost fluids and electrolytes. A composition of 80 g of sugar and 400 mg of sodium is recommended for one liter of water. Other electrolytes like magnesium, calcium, and potassium are also advisable, but not absolutely necessary.
If supplements are taken on an ongoing basis, calcium and magnesium should be ingested on different days to improve absorption in the digestive tract. Vitamin D should be taken with calcium and is recommended to improve performance. As an alternative, mix fruit juice and sparkling water in a 1:1 ratio.

isotonic drink

2. Concentrated carbohydrates

To keep your glycogen stores full during endurance runs (min. 20 km), I recommend taking concentrated carbohydrates according to the duration of your training:

    • 60-120 mins: 30-60g/h.
    • >120 min: 60-80 g/h.

3. Energy gels

Energy gels provide a complex of various nutrients for longer runs (min. 10 km), such as amino acids, vitamins, and sometimes caffeine. A few natural alternatives –  if your stomach can tolerate them – are sparkling fruit juice, a banana, or dextrose.

4. Concentrated protein

Protein is necessary to maintain muscle mass:  0.8-1.7 g of protein is recommended per kilogram of bodyweight per day. However, you should be able to consume this amount with a balanced diet.

protein powder

5. BCAA

BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids. These include the three essential amino acids: leucine, valine, and isoleucine. They help you maintain and build muscle and aid in recovery. The best sources of this are fish, eggs, red meat, chicken, and dairy products.

6. Micronutrients

Consuming the following micronutrients can also be a wise move, depending on the focus of your training:

  • caffeine (endurance sports)
  • creatine (strength training)
  • sodium bicarbonate (sprints)
  • nitrate (high intensity to maximum exertion, e.g. middle distance running)

A risk that many are not aware of…

…is that supplements can be contaminated with doping substances. In the past, athletes were banned because of doping – they had ingested undeclared illegal substances by using contaminated supplements. The Cologne List, which regularly lists new products, is helpful for knowing what you are taking.

Advantages and disadvantages of supplements

Supplements are a controversial topic. There are a lot of products on the market, and the sports industry promotes many performance enhancing substances without any scientific basis. As a result, there are arguments for and against supplements:

  • Pro:
    Nutritional supplements are generally good way to balance out nutritional deficiencies in order to stabilize the performance level.
    They can support the recovery process if monitored by a health professional.
  • Con:
    If you take dietary supplements without consulting a health professional, you risk overdoing it. This can have negative effects on your body.

Conclusion

Many people underestimate the health risks of taking supplements incorrectly. Often a balanced diet is all you need – most supplements then become unnecessary. However, if you consult your physician and use them properly, they can provide helpful support, especially for athletes who are focused on improving their performance.

***



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5 Unique Push Up Variations to Increase Your Strength

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When it comes to any sensible strength training program it is hard to neglect adding in the almighty push up to produce a formula for developing strength and lean muscle gains. This dependable calisthenic has always been a staple for my programming and my athletes. There is a very good reason as to why you see the use of the push up throughout the military, fight gyms, and nearly every independently owned box gym around the globe.

 

Even though we can probably agree on the value and power of the standard push up once you develop a high level of proficiency for this movement, there are ways you can take this powerful drill even further for greater strength gains and achieve other strength objectives with some creative movement variations. 

 

 

The push up can be done almost anywhere and at anytime with very little space. It’s probably the most resourceful movement that can deliver you results for strength with little time and space to spare. There is just simply no replacement for the bodyweight push up.

 

The Walkout Push Up

One commonly ignored element involved in the push up is understanding hand placement and how to go about activating the push-up movement through your hands as you work against the ground. The walkout push-up is a method I like to use to help my students to grasp this concept.

 

Hand activation is crucial for wrist stabilization and understanding how the force of the movement is generated from the point of contact at the ground up through the wrists, forearms, upper arms, shoulders, and even the lats.

 

If you want to see whether a person is inhibited in their push-ups look at their hand placement on the ground. If their fingers are close together they’re weak in activation. If their fingers are flared apart like they’re trying to grip the ground then they’re going to be able to develop a higher level of proficiency in the movement.

 

By training with the walkout push up, you will learn how to handle the ground at the point of contact with your hands. I always tell my students to imagine how a cat stalks its prey. It doesn’t plod along on the ground when it moves towards its target. Instead, that cat moves with intention feeling the ground beneath its feet having total control over its body. This all starts with the feet, or in this case your hands.

 

As you perform the walkout push up you want to feel the ground at each point of contact when your hands touch the ground with each arm stride. Give these a try and I promise they’ll change the way you think about and execute your push-ups.

 

 

Hindu Push Ups

As a strength and conditioning coach, I’m a huge proponent of this push-up variation because we can kill two birds with one stone. With the Hindu push-up, you are able to mobilize your shoulder girdle by training to get your shoulders into flexion, giving the lats a bigger stretch to open up the movement.

 

This push-up variation is performed by you starting out in the downward dog yoga position and then performing a swooping motion as if you are diving under a fence post. This variation is very dynamic and you’re able to both strengthen and stretch. This push-up variation will also aid in improving your overhead lifting movements.

 

 

 

Push Up Dumbbell Drag

This push-up variation does require the use of a dumbbell or kettlebell. By performing the push-up and then dragging the dumbbell across the body you’re immediately intensifying the movement and forcing your body to create more static core stability and engagement.

 

Moving the dumbbell across the body adds in shoulder adduction and while moving the dumbbell you need to resist the urge to twist your trunk. When performing the drag portion of the movement you’ll feel a line of tension run diagonally from the grounded hand moving down your midsection to your opposite leg.

 

This anti-rotational type of resistance during the dragging portion of the dumbbell will significantly enhance your core stability and will improve on your ability to actually perform other rotational movements better. 

 

 

Glide Disc Push Up

This variation requires the use of a glide disc or a furniture disc mover that you can pick up at your local hardware store. With this push-up variation, you’re essentially going to be obtaining the benefit of performing a couple of different movements within a single push up.

 

To execute this one you’ll want to place one hand on the ground and one on the disc. As you descend into the base of the push up you’ll want to actively slide the disc hand above your head bringing your shoulder into flexion.

 

As you ascend back up you’ll want to push with the grounded hand while pulling the disc back in front of your body bringing you back into the upright starting position for the movement. This is where you’re essentially performing a push and pull type of movement within a single push up.

 

Of course, you can add in additional variation with the movement by sliding the disc out to the side and abducting your shoulder as you descend into the base of the push-up. The glide disc is going to force you into performing the movement with a high level of controlled tension. Believe me, these are a lot more challenging than they appear.

 

 

Plank to Push Up

I will warn you that this one is probably the most advanced variation of this article. This unique push up variation is a beast.

 

By starting this push up from the plank position it automatically makes performing the movement tremendously more challenging. The reason for this is because you’re already restricted on leverage and for building much momentum to sprint yourself from the plank position up onto your fists to perform the push-up portion of the movement.

 

To execute this one you want to start out in the plank position resting on your forearms. Next, you’ll want to rock your chest forward bringing your chest out over your forearms.

 

From here you want to create what momentum and strength you can to spring up out of the plank and up onto your fist bringing your body into an upright push up position. From here, simply complete the movement by performing a standard push up on your knuckles. These are great for everyone but can do wonders for advanced martial arts and fighting athletes.

 

 

The Takeaway

At the end of the day when it comes to building real-world fitness and strength, you’ve got become proficient with the push-up. The good news is that once you can do them, you can readily ratchet up that intensity by varying and building off of the foundation of that movement with some additional drills.

 

Challenge yourself with these and I guarantee you’ll transform your strength and conditioning. What type of push up variations are you including in your training at the moment? Post and share here. If you need additional help please make sure to visit my profile and website. I’d be glad to help.

 



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What Cools You down Better After Exercise, Hot Drinks or Cold?

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Cooling down after exercise, especially in the summer heat, is an important part of recovery. What is the best way to do it – do you go for an ice cold drink or one that’s very warm?

Does consuming hot beverages in warm weather have counterintuitive cooling capabilities? What about during and after exercise?

Women looks exhausted after her run

It’s late afternoon, you still have to work out, and you’re really craving that large coffee or tea.

However, it’s the middle of summer; so do you get it iced or hot?

A hot beverage could actually cool you down – here’s how it works.

How a hot drink can cool you down

Here’s what happens when you consume a hot drink on a hot day:

  • Your core temperature initially rises (you are adding heat to your body)
  • The sensors in your mouth, throat, and digestive tract send a signal to your brain to produce more sweat
  • This increase in perspiration is the key to cooling you down

While lots of sweating may feel uncomfortable or seem undesirable, sweat is beneficial and helps cool you down when the sweat evaporates from your skin.

green tea

Keep in mind:

For this cooling effect to take place, you need to be in an environment where the sweat can evaporate.

Does this mean that in hot and humid conditions, when sweat evaporation is limited, you should drink cold drinks?

Not so fast.

Let’s take a look at how drinks affect temperature after exercising in different weather conditions.

Staying cool during exercise

A study compared body temperature after exercising for people who were drinking either a warm drink or a cold drink during exercise. It showed that drinking a 50˚C drink, which is even cooler than the temperature of the usual takeaway hot drinks, reduces the overall body heat storage more than drinking cold drinks.

And what happens if you drink a cold drink?

cold drink

Effect of cold water on the body during and after exercise

Drinking cold water or ingesting ice after exercise can shock the organs and doesn’t help the body with its natural cooling process.

What happens when you drink a cold drink during exercise?

  • During exercise your internal body heat moves to your body’s surface, while your inner temperature actually decreases.
  • Ingesting too much cold food or drink will cause the blood vessels to tighten (restrict blood flow) and make the body retain heat. This will make you feel warmer, not cooler. 

So, what is the best choice of drink depending on the weather?

These simple guidelines will show you how to choose drinks when exercising in hot weather.

Guidelines on how to stay cool when exercising in warm weather

1. Is the weather hot and humid?

  • Yes, then stick with room temperature drinks
  • No, go for the hot drink to increase your sweat rate and help cool you down

2. Are ice and cold water available?

  • Pour cold water over your head and shoulders
  • Wrap a wet, cold towel around your neck and/or wrists
  • Rub ice on the inside of your wrists

Takeaway

Drinking hot beverages to cool down has been conventional wisdom in many societies for centuries. Many of the largest tea drinking societies are located in warm climates. Science has shown that it does in fact work.  

So if you’re heading out into dry heat for that run or workout, go for the hot drink to cool yourself down.

Just be prepared to sweat!

About Jennifer Rhines:

A woman in running clothes smiling

Jen Rhines has competed on 3 US Olympic teams, 6 World Championship teams and 5 World Cross Country teams. Her international career spanned 17 years where she competed in everything from the 3k to the marathon. Jen continues to compete as one of the top masters runners in the world. She currently lives in San Diego, CA, where she is a running & health coach. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

***



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The Keto Diet: Cajun Salmon with Cactus Avocado Salsa

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The Keto Diet: Cajun Salmon with Cactus Avocado Salsa - Healthy Eating, nutrition, protein, family, meal planning, recipe, meal prep, balanced diet, ketogenic diet

 

The ketogenic diet is on a roll and there’s really no question why it has gained so much momentum both inside the athletic world and out. Dubbed the keto diet for short, this low carb, high fat diet supplies the body with a plethora of healthy fats which are used as energy for our body instead of carbohydrates. This way of eating provides a nutritionally dense vegetable and protein base with high fat energy for us to perform our best while maintaining a slim physique. A keto meal in its most simple form combines a protein, paired with a green vegetable (or other low carb veg) and fats. This series of ketonic diet will provide a more inspired approach to these combinations that you can mix and match for a unique ketogenic eating experience.

 

 

Rich with omega 3s, salmon’s healthy status among meats reigns supreme. Choose your salmon fresh caught that day from local fish monger if you have that option available. If you can’t get it fresh, buy it frozen. Frozen wild caught salmon is superior to any farmed salmon as farmed salmon tends to carry a higher toxin load. Wild caught sockeye or Chinook king salmon are the highest in fats but any wild caught salmon will work well.

 

Cajun seasoning is an excellent pairing with the rich flavor of salmon steaks. A simple marinade in olive oil and lime brings a touch of acidity and helps the Cajun spices penetrate the meat. Rounding out this dish is a topping of cactus avocado salsa. Cactus is also known as nopales or nopalitos. The cactus paddles come from the prickly pear cactus. Grilled until it’s soft, nopales has a slight vegetal flavor somewhat like a green bean. Nopalitos are a pickled or prepared version of the cactus and using these brings a unique tang to the salsa.

 

Cajun Salmon with Cactus Avocado Salsa

Cajun Salmon with Cactus Salsa

Calories 390, Protein 25g, Total Carbs 14g, Net Carbs 8g, Fat 29g

 

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 15 min

Serves: 2

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 salmon steaks, skin on
  • Cajun seasoning blend
  • Pink himalayan or smoked salt to taste (omit if Cajun seasoning contains salt)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

 

Cactus Avocado Salsa:

 

  • 1 avocado, peeled pitted and diced
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup nopales (cactus), diced (you can use either fresh grilled until soft about 5 minutes or use the pickled nopalitos in a jar, rinsed)
  • 1 tablespoon onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preparation Instructions:

 

  1. Sprinkle salmon with a generous amount of Cajun seasoning.
  2. Place salmon in a baking dish and drizzle with the olive and lime juice. Let marinate 30 minutes.
  3. While salmon is marinating, make the cactus avocado salsa by stirring together all the salsa ingredients and set aside.
  4. When ready to cook, heat a grill to medium high heat or use a grill pan on the stovetop.
  5. Oil the grill or grill pan and sear the meat side of the salmon about 4 minutes.
  6. Flip over so the skin side is down and continue cooking about 10 minutes until it flakes easily. Exact cooking time with depend on thickness of the salmon.
  7. Remove from grill and serve with cactus avocado salsa on top.

 

Download the full keto recipe book.



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10,000 Steps a Day & a Healthy Lifestyle with These 7 Tips

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We are supposed to take 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy – that’s the standard recommendation from the World Health Organization. This may sound impossible at first, but if you change a few of your daily habits, it won’t be hard to get more exercise.

Get More Movement into Your Day with These 7 Tips

1. Walk while brushing your teeth

Do you have trouble getting going in the morning? Instead of sitting on the edge of the tub when you brush your teeth, walk around the apartment. You will see that the three recommended minutes of teeth brushing fly by in no time.

2. Get off one stop earlier

Do you take public transportation to work? Then you could try getting off one stop earlier and logging some steps on your way to work. Plus, the fresh air boosts your immune system.

3. Ditch the elevator

At the mall, in your building or at the office… almost everywhere you go, there is an elevator, and it is costing you valuable steps. So, from now on, take the stairs.

Eine Frau geht die Treppen hinauf

4. Walk and talk

Have you ever considered how many hours you spend a day on the phone with business partners or friends? These conversations are surely taking up a lot of time, most of which is spent sitting in your chair at the office or at home on the couch. Therefore, from now on, you should try walking and talking – both in your free time and at work. There’s bound to be a quiet place at work where you can walk around a bit and still carry on your phone conversation.

5. Make it a habit to walk at lunch

Taking a walk after lunch makes a big difference – even if it is only for a few minutes. You will see that it not only helps to clear your head but gives your body a much-needed break from sitting.

Ein Mann überquert auf dem Zebrastreifen die Straße

6. Get your steps in at the store

Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have a grocery store within walking distance. If you have to drive to the nearest supermarket, you should park a little farther away and walk to the entrance. This is a good chance to increase your number of steps per day.

7. Meet friends outdoors

A coffee klatch with friends is always a good idea. Although it won’t help you to reach your 10,000 steps a day, seeing as you will spend most of your time sitting. The next time you want to get together, go for a walk with your friends: get a cup of your favorite coffee in a reusable travel mug and explore some new places in nature.

Benefits of a healthy lifestyle:

These tools and features will help

Do you want to be more active and change your diet, but you don’t know where to start? Get a Runtastic Premium membership. Premium gives you numerous plans to help you with running, bodyweight training, and even your nutrition. Whatever your personal goal is – we provide you with all the tools and features you need to reach it.

***



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10,000 Steps a Day & a Healthy Lifestyle with These 7 Tips

rsz_2017-11-04runtasticdayeb-1431.jpg


We are supposed to take 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy – that’s the standard recommendation from the World Health Organization. This may sound impossible at first, but if you change a few of your daily habits, it won’t be hard to get more exercise.

Get More Movement into Your Day with These 7 Tips

1. Walk while brushing your teeth

Do you have trouble getting going in the morning? Instead of sitting on the edge of the tub when you brush your teeth, walk around the apartment. You will see that the three recommended minutes of teeth brushing fly by in no time.

2. Get off one stop earlier

Do you take public transportation to work? Then you could try getting off one stop earlier and logging some steps on your way to work. Plus, the fresh air boosts your immune system.

3. Ditch the elevator

At the mall, in your building or at the office… almost everywhere you go, there is an elevator, and it is costing you valuable steps. So, from now on, take the stairs.

Eine Frau geht die Treppen hinauf

4. Walk and talk

Have you ever considered how many hours you spend a day on the phone with business partners or friends? These conversations are surely taking up a lot of time, most of which is spent sitting in your chair at the office or at home on the couch. Therefore, from now on, you should try walking and talking – both in your free time and at work. There’s bound to be a quiet place at work where you can walk around a bit and still carry on your phone conversation.

5. Make it a habit to walk at lunch

Taking a walk after lunch makes a big difference – even if it is only for a few minutes. You will see that it not only helps to clear your head but gives your body a much-needed break from sitting.

Ein Mann überquert auf dem Zebrastreifen die Straße

6. Get your steps in at the store

Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have a grocery store within walking distance. If you have to drive to the nearest supermarket, you should park a little farther away and walk to the entrance. This is a good chance to increase your number of steps per day.

7. Meet friends outdoors

A coffee klatch with friends is always a good idea. Although it won’t help you to reach your 10,000 steps a day, seeing as you will spend most of your time sitting. The next time you want to get together, go for a walk with your friends: get a cup of your favorite coffee in a reusable travel mug and explore some new places in nature.

Benefits of a healthy lifestyle:

These tools and features will help

Do you want to be more active and change your diet, but you don’t know where to start? Get a Runtastic Premium membership. Premium gives you numerous plans to help you with running, bodyweight training, and even your nutrition. Whatever your personal goal is – we provide you with all the tools and features you need to reach it.

***



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5 Healthy Summer Potluck Dishes to Please Any Crowd

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Whether you’re headed to a picnic, a pool party, or a barbeque, one thing is for sure – potluck season is in full swing! And while everyone loves a tray of bars or the midwest classic “snicker salad”, potlucks are a great place to try new, healthier recipes. Below are five options to shake up your summer potluck soirée!

Cucumber And Heirloom Tomato Salad

A refreshing alternative to the oily pasta salads or mayo filled cole slaw.

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

That cheesy barbeque staple everyone loves, with hidden veggies!

BBQ Black Bean Burgers

All the protein with more nutrients!

Deviled Eggs

A classic – with fewer calories.

Traditional Grilled Greek Kabobs

A colorful summer staple, that’s loaded with veggies!

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5 Healthy Summer Potluck Dishes to Please Any Crowd

print-button.png


Whether you’re headed to a picnic, a pool party, or a barbeque, one thing is for sure – potluck season is in full swing! And while everyone loves a tray of bars or the midwest classic “snicker salad”, potlucks are a great place to try new, healthier recipes. Below are five options to shake up your summer potluck soirée!

Cucumber And Heirloom Tomato Salad

A refreshing alternative to the oily pasta salads or mayo filled cole slaw.

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

That cheesy barbeque staple everyone loves, with hidden veggies!

BBQ Black Bean Burgers

All the protein with more nutrients!

Deviled Eggs

A classic – with fewer calories.

Traditional Grilled Greek Kabobs

A colorful summer staple, that’s loaded with veggies!

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Neck Pain Relief: 5 Best Exercises

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Most of us have experienced neck tension or pain at one time or another. These are often caused by poor posture or degenerative changes to the cervical spine. The result is stiff muscles in your neck and shoulders, pain and limited mobility. Neck tension and pain can occur for several reasons.

Causes of neck tension

  • Poor posture: constant strain on your head and neck due to incorrect positions, movements and permanent stress at work, in your daily life or when exercising
  • Mental stress: psychological strain
  • Weak immune system: for example, due to a cold
  • Accidents and injuries: for example, whiplash or a pulled muscle

In my opinion, and that of many experts, the main reason for neck tension and pain is often a lack of mobility of the thoracic spine. The thoracic spine is designed to move in the form of rotations (turning), flexions (bending) and extensions (straightening). However, the opposite is often the case in daily life. We have turned into marathon sitters and couch potatoes whose poor posture is increasingly limiting the functional mobility of the spine.

In the case of acute neck tension, there are a number of methods you can use to relieve the pain. The following five exercises improve the mobility and the flexibility of your thoracic spine. Giving yourself a myofascial massage with the help of tennis balls or fascia (foam) rollers is another good way to release muscle tension.

5 best exercises to effectively eliminate neck pain:

1. Fascia roll/tennis ball: Upper and middle back

Starting position:
Lie on your back. Place the foam roller under your back at the height of your shoulder blades. Raise your hips off the floor and engage your abs and glutes. Make sure that your hips, back and neck form a straight line. Put your hands behind your head to support your neck.

How to do the exercise:
Slowly roll back and forth to massage your back muscles and mobilize your spine.

Variation:
You can use a tennis or a golf ball to target specific painful spots. Maintain pressure on particularly painful spots for 20 to 40 seconds until the pain subsides.

2. Standing AWTUVI exercise

Starting position:
Stand with your back to a wall. Your arms and your entire spine should be touching the wall. Pull your shoulder blades back and down. Press against the wall with your shoulders, elbows and wrists.

How to do the exercise:

  • Move your arms through the various positions to form the different letters.
  • Start by bending your elbows and moving them up to chest level to form a W.
  • Stretch your arms out to the side at the level of your chest/shoulders to form a T
  • Bend your elbows 90 degrees and raise them to shoulder level to form a U
  • Straighten your elbows and raise your arms diagonally above your head to form a V
  • Stand with your arms raised directly above your head to form an I

Repeat the exercise several times.

3. Prone AWTUVI exercise

Starting position:
Lie on your stomach. Place your arms at your side with your elbows slightly bent.

How to do the exercise:
Perform the exercise in the same way as the standing position, but this time in the prone position. Repeat the exercise several times.

4. Sitting T-spine rotation with foam roller

Starting position:
Sit on a chair. Keep your upper body straight and lace your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing out. Put the foam roller between your thighs. Press your thighs together to stabilize your hips.

How to do the exercise:
Turn your head, elbow, shoulder girdle and thoracic spine to the side. While still in this position, tilt your upper body to the side. Repeat the exercise several times.

5. Quadruped T-spine rotation

Starting position:
Get on all fours. Place your hands shoulder-width apart with your elbows slightly bent. Keep your knees hip-width apart. Your body should be parallel to the floor. Put one hand behind your head.

How to do the exercise:
Open up your upper body to the same side as the hand behind your head. Then lower that bent elbow towards the base elbow. Repeat the movement several times. Then switch sides. Make sure to keep your hips still and square to the ground the entire time.

My tip:

The mobility, flexibility and strengthening exercises described above can only effectively stretch and loosen up specific areas of your shoulders, back and neck if you perform each exercise through the entire range of motion!

Sleep good, eat clean, and train smart!
Your personal trainer and co@ch Sven

***



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Neck Pain Relief: 5 Best Exercises

upper_middle_back_pain_1.jpg


Most of us have experienced neck tension or pain at one time or another. These are often caused by poor posture or degenerative changes to the cervical spine. The result is stiff muscles in your neck and shoulders, pain and limited mobility. Neck tension and pain can occur for several reasons.

Causes of neck tension

  • Poor posture: constant strain on your head and neck due to incorrect positions, movements and permanent stress at work, in your daily life or when exercising
  • Mental stress: psychological strain
  • Weak immune system: for example, due to a cold
  • Accidents and injuries: for example, whiplash or a pulled muscle

In my opinion, and that of many experts, the main reason for neck tension and pain is often a lack of mobility of the thoracic spine. The thoracic spine is designed to move in the form of rotations (turning), flexions (bending) and extensions (straightening). However, the opposite is often the case in daily life. We have turned into marathon sitters and couch potatoes whose poor posture is increasingly limiting the functional mobility of the spine.

In the case of acute neck tension, there are a number of methods you can use to relieve the pain. The following five exercises improve the mobility and the flexibility of your thoracic spine. Giving yourself a myofascial massage with the help of tennis balls or fascia (foam) rollers is another good way to release muscle tension.

5 best exercises to effectively eliminate neck pain:

1. Fascia roll/tennis ball: Upper and middle back

Starting position:
Lie on your back. Place the foam roller under your back at the height of your shoulder blades. Raise your hips off the floor and engage your abs and glutes. Make sure that your hips, back and neck form a straight line. Put your hands behind your head to support your neck.

How to do the exercise:
Slowly roll back and forth to massage your back muscles and mobilize your spine.

Variation:
You can use a tennis or a golf ball to target specific painful spots. Maintain pressure on particularly painful spots for 20 to 40 seconds until the pain subsides.

2. Standing AWTUVI exercise

Starting position:
Stand with your back to a wall. Your arms and your entire spine should be touching the wall. Pull your shoulder blades back and down. Press against the wall with your shoulders, elbows and wrists.

How to do the exercise:

  • Move your arms through the various positions to form the different letters.
  • Start by bending your elbows and moving them up to chest level to form a W.
  • Stretch your arms out to the side at the level of your chest/shoulders to form a T
  • Bend your elbows 90 degrees and raise them to shoulder level to form a U
  • Straighten your elbows and raise your arms diagonally above your head to form a V
  • Stand with your arms raised directly above your head to form an I

Repeat the exercise several times.

3. Prone AWTUVI exercise

Starting position:
Lie on your stomach. Place your arms at your side with your elbows slightly bent.

How to do the exercise:
Perform the exercise in the same way as the standing position, but this time in the prone position. Repeat the exercise several times.

4. Sitting T-spine rotation with foam roller

Starting position:
Sit on a chair. Keep your upper body straight and lace your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing out. Put the foam roller between your thighs. Press your thighs together to stabilize your hips.

How to do the exercise:
Turn your head, elbow, shoulder girdle and thoracic spine to the side. While still in this position, tilt your upper body to the side. Repeat the exercise several times.

5. Quadruped T-spine rotation

Starting position:
Get on all fours. Place your hands shoulder-width apart with your elbows slightly bent. Keep your knees hip-width apart. Your body should be parallel to the floor. Put one hand behind your head.

How to do the exercise:
Open up your upper body to the same side as the hand behind your head. Then lower that bent elbow towards the base elbow. Repeat the movement several times. Then switch sides. Make sure to keep your hips still and square to the ground the entire time.

My tip:

The mobility, flexibility and strengthening exercises described above can only effectively stretch and loosen up specific areas of your shoulders, back and neck if you perform each exercise through the entire range of motion!

Sleep good, eat clean, and train smart!
Your personal trainer and co@ch Sven

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