If you want to know the basic kinesiology of the biceps muscle and how to maximize it’s use for bigger more proportionate muscle, check out this short video on how to curl properly.
Many times your knee problems can be caused by improper techniques used while exercising. Some of those include bad form while exercising and others could be as simple as not wrapping your knees properly while leg pressing or squatting. These mistakes, when repeated over and over, can lead to larger problems like chondromalacia, a degenerative knee disorder that many times can be prevented with some minor changes. See the video below. Remember that if your experiencing pain never self diagnose and always see your physician for a treatment. This video is for informational purposes.
Fibers are the structural parts of plants. Most are complex carbohydrates. Fibers can also be classified according to their solubility in water. The two types of fibers include soluble and insoluble.
In general, water soluble fibers dissolve in hot water and occur in high concentrations in fruits, whole grains, oats, barley, legumes, and some vegetables. Water insoluble fibers are found in higher concentrations in vegetables, wheat, and cereals.
Water soluble fibers delay the stomach’s emptying and the transit of “chyme” (Gastric juices mixed with your food) through the intestines. They have also been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Water insoluble fibers accelerate the transit time of chyme and increase fecal weight. In the body both types of fiber slow starch breakdown and delay glucose absorption into the blood. Most healthy adults require approximately 21-40 grams of fiber a day. Men generally need more fiber than women and once we hit 50 years of age the requirements drop slightly. It is important to include both types of fiber in your diet.
Fiber has so many benefits too especially when it comes to weight loss. It makes you feel full longer, helps maintain blood glucose levels by making carbohydrates more complex and also helps to prevent diverticulitis, a debilitating digestive disease. A diet low in fiber is a contributing factor that increases your risk of developing it.
What I found to be been very helpful to prevent late night snacking is to eat Red, Yellow or Orange Bell peppers. What most people don’t realize is that those forms of bell peppers have more vitamin C and less calories than an orange. I actually eat them like an apple. They are sweet, filled with fiber and water, which helps relieve occasional… cough cough constipation.
Hope that helps and as always, this is for informational purposes only and in no way should be taken over the advise of your doctor or other healthcare provider.
Many of you have trouble getting in all your protein during the day or you seem to be hungry late at night or you just crave something sweet. I found that this little trick really helps me stay on track as well as provide slow digesting protein while I sleep. It’s a pudding made from 100% Casein protein, a slow digesting protein that’s great to use before bed. It can also be used if you know you may have to go more than 3 hours without eating. So check out my youtube tutorial on how simple it is to make it.
Over the years between sports and exercise, I had developed many nagging aches and pains that I accepted as “part of the process”. I went to see all the medical specialists and guru’s about how to relieve the pain. No one could give me any concrete solution or diagnosis, other than, “Quite working out so much”. Wow, I paid you how much to have you tell me that!!!!
So for years I would take my ibuprofen, my glucosamine and ice it. Nonetheless, I still had pain including an unnecessary surgery on my knee to have what’s called a “Lateral Release”. After suffering from back pain that was starting to effect my job as a personal trainer a friend introduced me to “Trigger Point” therapy, which helped me more in one treatment than everyone else combined.
So I put together some information to help everyone become familiar with it.
What is Myofacial Pain Syndrome?
A condition affecting the muscles and fascia surrounding it, in which there is not complete relaxation of the individual fibers in some muscles due to local chemical changes and trigger points. This in turn places stress on the muscles and joints, causing local or referred pain. Referred pain can be felt in a far distant area away from the actual site of the trigger points.
Why don’t more people and health care practitioners know more about Trigger Point Therapy?
Most healthcare professionals use conventional diagnostic equipment like, x-rays, MRI’s, CT scans and other radiological devices. Trigger points can only be detected by an individual who is trained in the Travell – Simon’s protocol. Most all-healthcare practitioners are not trained in this field because it takes time to evaluate the individual with symptoms and takes time to treat each muscle affected by trigger points.
What happens if goes undiagnosed?
Trigger points are not life threatening, we all have them, but if left untreated when painful, they can lead to chronic myofascial pain syndromes, which severely reduce the quality of life. In addition, the presence of trigger point pain and dysfunction mimics many well known and accepted conditions. This can lead to misdiagnosis and unnecessary surgeries for pain problems that are actually just caused by trigger points. Having these procedures can lead to large medical bills and complications from surgery. Two such examples are pain in the fingers and wrist diagnosed as ‘Carpal Tunnel’ when this pain could be caused by trigger points in a neck muscle, and ‘Low back/ Sciatica Pain’ diagnosed as needing surgery when the pain may just be getting referred from trigger points in a tight muscle in the abdomen or buttocks. .
Is it a safe form of treatment?
Yes, but there are certain areas on the body that the practitioner needs to take additional care in treating, but overall it is a highly effective, low cost, drug-free option for relieving pain and muscular problems. This form of treatment also improves muscle function, improves strength, sports performance and allows people to have pain free full range of movement.
Some conditions treatable by myofascial trigger point therapy include (but are not limited to):
- Lower and upper back pain
- Arm, elbow, hand & thumb pain & dysfunction
- Repetitive overuse injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tennis & Golfers Elbow, tendonitis and bursitis
- Overuse trauma from repetitive hobbies or careers ranging from musicians to construction workers to the keyboard warrior.
- Shoulder pain and dysfunction including rotator cuff ‘injuries’, frozen shoulder, winged scapula & thoracic outlet syndrome.
- Chronic head, neck and jaw pain & dysfunction including TMJ, tension headaches and migraine headaches
- Fibromyalgia and complicated regional and myofascial pain syndromes
- Knee pain & dysfunction
- Leg, ankle, foot and heel pain & dysfunction including plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and shin splints.
- Sports injuries
What is a typical treatment like and how soon can I expect results?
A typical office visit involves an in depth structural evaluation of the an individual’s body mechanics and symptoms as well as identification of perpetuating factors that may be aggravating the condition such as posture at the work place, sleep posture, general nutritional deficiencies, levels of stress and driving posture. Once these factors are identified and corrected, trigger point therapy uses a form of pressure point therapy involving heat, pressure during muscle lengthening and shortening for several seconds, each followed by light stretching and full range of motion. All therapeutic interventions are designed to get the muscle fibers and fascia to completely relax and be strong and pain free. Self-care compression and a daily home care program are taught to each person to maximize the muscle recovery.
How do I find a professional Trained in Trigger Point therapy?
Here in Illinois we have the Myo Pain Relief Centers that specialize specifically in Trigger Point Evaluation and therapy.(www.myopain.com)
If you want to search further you can go on the National Association of Trigger Point Therapists (NAMTPT) web site (www.myofascialtherapy.org) and do a search for your area. Many massage therapists are trained in Trigger Point Therapy but just be sure to verify they are certified in it and didn’t just do a weekend workshop. I am fully trained in Myofacial Trigger Point Release at the Myo school of Pain, in Chicago IL.
Hope that helps.
Remember to always check with your doctor first. If you don’t get any concrete answers, diagnosis, treatments or cures it’s time to look at other options. I’m so glad I did!
Pelvic pain, for most of us we have no idea what it means and if so be glad. It’s excruciating pain deep in the pelvis area that can be unbearable with almost no hope in sight. There are some new procedures and techniques out there that have been great at helping people with this problem and several web sites are helpful as well. A friend of mine has become very familiar with this subject and has dedicated herself to helping others with this pain. Her name is Elisabeth Oas.
So what are the pelvic floor muscles? Together with the muscles of the low back and abdomen they make up the core muscles and act like the strings in a hammock to support the surrounding structures of the pelvis. These muscles are also responsible for cutting off the flow of urine from the bladder and support the bladder and intestines. In women they are especially important because they support the uterus. One of the muscles, the Pubococcygeus or PC muscle is responsible for stabilizes the openings of the urethra, vagina and anus. These openings can be compromised if the PC muscle is weak or in spasms which can be very painful. Now can you image what childbirth can do to them. Other things that can cause problems are excessive coughing, aging and inactivity. Not to mention holding your pee or poop which many woman are known for. Sorry ladies, I said it and I went there. So some of the problems that can occur from a weak pelvic floor are incontinence, pain during sex, and a prolapsed uterus or bladder, which is the dropping of these organs into the pelvic muscles. Ouch!!! Another thing I noticed woman tend to do (I have two sisters and have been married for 7 years) is if they are wearing an outfit that reveals their tummy in any way, one tends to flex or flatten their stomach out the entire night. Not only is this bad for the pelvic floor it’s bad on many other levels. That lack of oxygen causes muscles not only in the pelvic floor to have problems but the diaphragm and heart as well. An entirely new blog on that one.
Now that I have either thoroughly scared you or grossed you out, I will explain how to keep these muscles healthy and happy.
1) Do not force going to the bathroom.
2) If you are experiencing any pain I just described, avoid abdominal exercise like crunches or crunches combined with leg lifts. This forces pressure down onto already overworked pelvic floor muscles and can add to trigger points or spasms.
3) Avoid exercise that force excessive downward pressure into the pelvic floor and cause the stomach to bulge at the same time. A good example of this are wide feet squats and deadlifts. Basically any movements that require one to wear a supportive abdominal belt.
4) Avoid excessive coughing.
5) Inactivity or sitting for lengthy periods of time on a hard cold surface. Can you say your kids soccer game or football game. Those bleachers are brutal.
6) Constipation or diarrhea. Overworks the muscles and places excessive strain on them.
1) RELAX!!! Stress is the number one reason for many of our health problems. Breathe deep and exhale slowly whenever you’re stressed out. This alone helps more than anything because it creates an overall calming effect. Muscles run on oxygen and feeding them helps them function properly and relax properly.
2) Eat good fibrous foods and drink plenty of water. This will help with constipation and I don’t need to say more.
3) Exercise properly.
Below are some ideas regarding exercise. There are some things you can do to help these muscles stay strong without over working them.
a. Kegels exercises. Created by Dr. Kegel they were originally used to help woman recover muscle tone after pregnancy in that certain area. I won’t go there on this one. It involves a series of flexing the muscles that stop the flow of urine. Although it seems like a good idea to do this while going to the bathroom it is not. See this link for more on Kegel exercises: NOTE: If your pelvic pain is caused by Myofacial Trigger Points, you may aggravate your pain. So be careful and check with your doctor before self-diagnosing.
b. Stomach draw or vacuum. Start by lying on your back. Exhale all your air and then try to pull your stomach in like your trying to touch your belly button to your spine. Hold for 5 seconds and rest. Do this 7 times. That’s 1 set. Do one set in the morning and one in the evening before bed. This exercise is also great for flattening the stomach as it works the Transverse Abdominis, which acts like a natural weight belt to hold the stomach in.
c. Planks. Some people may argue with me on this one but I believe they work great as long as you do not over due it by making them too hard. The safest way to make it work is to just hold a push up position on your hands or elbows for 30 seconds. Be sure to tuck your butt down and flatten your back to support your spine. Breathe in and out slowly and controlled.
If you would like to see some of these exercises demonstrated click here.
It’s important to have a well-rounded core-training program that strengthens all the muscles. If you are not familiar with this, hire a personal trainer or a physical therapist.
It’s also important to remember that if you are experiencing pain in the pelvic area not to brush it off as weak muscles or spasms. There are many other diseases that can be under lying such as IC (Interstiital Cystitis of the Bladder), PFD or Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, Endometriosis, Prostaitis, a bladder infection, Cancer and many more. So always consult with your doctor first before self diagnosing yourself.
I’ve been a personal trainer for well over thirty years and it never ceases to amaze me how some of the mainstream media and public still believe certain myths about diet and exercise as fact. So what I will try to do here is “debunk the funk” about some of the most common myths that many people believe to be true. We all have our excuses not to workout or to stay out of the gym but in order to see great results, we need to STOP making excuses, and as my company slogan says- “Get over it”.
So I decided to list the most common exercise myths in the order of what I believe to be the most rediculous.
1) “Lifting heavy weights or lifting any weights makes you bulky.”
This aggravates me more as a personal trainer than any of the other myths on the list. I can point out many men under 150 pounds that can lift far more weight than I can. They are actually skinny. So what makes someone bulky you ask? It’s simple: Your Fork! Weight lifting and the type of results you want to achieve all depends on how you workout with those weights. So many woman are tricked into this “bulky belief” which robs them of so many benefits, such as greater bone density to prevent osteoporosis, strength that helps them in everyday life and vital hormone and immune system stabilization that only hard work can attain as we age. Lastly, an increase in metabolism at rest, due to an increase in lean tissue (not bulky fat). Muscle cells have something called a mitochondria which is the powerhouse of the cell and uses energy. With an efficient mitochondria a person can burn more calories at rest. Here’s more info on weight training’s benefits.
2) “Too much muscle turns into fat”
This one is so crazy that it doesn’t even warrant much of an explanation. Muscle is muscle it can not turn into fat. What makes this seem true is many of the bodybuilders and football players continue to eat like they did when they were competing and put on weight when they quit because their eating habits do not change.
3) “If I don’t eat I will lose more weight”
This is true at first, however after 24hrs your body begins to slow the metabolism to accommodate for the lower caloric intake and before you know it you’ll find yourself putting weight on by eating just a Tic Tac. So try to aim for a daily caloric deficit of 300 calories below your maintenance. This will prevent the body from slowing the metabolism. As a general rule of thumb, a good way to find a starting point to determine your daily caloric intake is to take your body weight and multiply it by 15. Realize some people may require more or less. This is only a starting point and a safe amount of weight loss per week is 1-2lbs. If you lose more than 3 pounds in a week you run the risk of slowing your metabolism. Here’s some good information about nutrition and personal fitness.
4) “I just want to work my stomach so I can spot reduce”.
Are you sure??
The initial feeling of spot reducing that many new exercisers experience is the toning of a muscle that was not used for a very long time. After that, all one can do is build that muscle and not spot reduce the fat around it. Unfortunately when God created us, he made us all unique and we all deposit fat differently. Some around the stomach, some around the hips and butt and others between the ears. The ones that develop fat between the ears will never lose weight because they continually believe these crazy myths and try to replace hard work and dedication to a healthy lifestyle with fad diets, pills and potions and other drugs that make your stomach look…down right nasty.
4) “Stretch before you workout”
Although I am a big believer in stretching it is also possible to over stretch and impede performance. In sport a muscle requires a certain amount stretch reflex to attain maximum speed and performance. By over stretching an athlete can impede this reflex and slow his or herself down or worse cause injury. Light stretching on a daily basis before and after exercise or sport is best. Stretching should be relaxing and not painful.
5) “Don’t eat before you workout”
This school of thought is correct when it refers to a large meal, however studies have found that small feedings a half hour before exercise actually helps to limit fatigue and muscle tissue breakdown. Realize it is not advisable to eat prior to a competitive event and it’s a good idea to speak to your coach or nutritionist if you are competing in any activity.
6) “Don’t eat fatty foods”
This pertains mostly to trans fat or saturated fats. The fats contained in walnuts, seeds, avocados, fish and oils such as olive oil are excellent for maintaining health and should not be avoided unless there is a medical reason why.
Well I hope this information helps and as always if you are under the care of a doctor or nutritionist always ask them what to do before adding or changing your diet and before beginning an exercise program.
The alarm clock goes off: You hit the snooze knowing you have to go to the gym and throw around weights and move your body in ways that makes you want to hit the snooze again. Now it’s raining out, cold and you’re nice and warm in your bed… so… you hit the snooze again. Before you know it your Personal Trainer is calling wondering where you are. Or you make it to the gym hoping that he/she doesn’t show up; however if you workout with me you know that’s a fat chance.
Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone. Being in the fitness industry for over 30 years, I’ve seen every excuse to not workout. Some excuses are good but most are bad. I especially love the honest one’s like: “I got hammered last night on Margarita’s and pizza and I feel like crap.” (I won’t mention your name you’re secret is safe with me)
At any rate, lets face it we’re all human beings, we have emotions, desire’s, likes, dislikes and more importantly a lifestyle. If I sat here and told you working out is a blast and I love eating good all the time I’d be a liar with a nose the size of New Jersey. The truth is that I also constantly struggle, and everyday I have challenges. Every time I walk into Starbucks I can swear that the French Toast Muffin calls out to me, but I ignore it like a telemarketer and move on.
So how does one stay motivated and still enjoy the finer things in life? It’s called balance and I’m not talking about the stability ball. Here are some helpful hints that help get me through.
For working out:
- I love working out so it’s not a problem for me. I can tell that many of you would rather have your toenails ripped out. To get over this tell yourself “You Like It”. If anyone remembers Freud from psychology class, we all know what a self fulfilling prophecy is. So make it a positive one and not negative by being excited to go to the gym and watch your body improve in regards to strength, coordination and endurance. Remember the old saying “Pain is weakness leaving the body”!
- Set clear attainable goals. Unrealistic goals like losing 4-5 pounds a week is not only crazy but unhealthy. Strive for 1-2 pounds a week at most, if you are under 30% body fat.
- Use visualization. Picture your body munching on all the fat cells while your working out. You can do this with your diet as well, whenever you eat good healthy food.
- Take a challenge from a co-worker who is harassing you about working out or eating better. No one wants to lose to the office loud mouth.
- Wear clothes that are not flattering to a body part you do not particularly care for. For example, if you hate your stomach wear tighter fitting shirts around your mid section while working out to remind yourself why you’re there. Who cares what other people think, they’re not you and honestly, are we all really that important to each other. Once that stomach shrinks down those same people will compliment you on your hard work and new appearance and that my friends is positive reinforcement!
For eating right:
- I always eat before I go out to dinner with friends, so I don’t go overboard on the pre meal snacks, like bread, garlic and olive oil.
- Out of site out of mind. I don’t even let them put the bread on the table. Once a week I reward myself with it though.
- Fill up on vegetables as much as you want you can, even put a little olive oil on them.
- There are 4 ways your body turns down the hunger signal.
1. Blood sugar rising is number one. So eat “slow burning” carbs chewed well. I.e. Any whole grain.
2. Warm foods- Heat things up.
3. Distention or expansion of the stomach wall. i.e. Fiber
4. Hormones- Ghrelin is a hormone the body secretes in response to mealtime or starvation. By eating smaller more frequent meals you can keep this hormone from going haywire. Another thing to keep it at bay is to eat protein with every meal and surprisingly, getting 8 hours of sleep.
- Don’t drink water or any fluids with meals. This dilutes digestive enzymes and can lead to malabsorption of nutrients; which in turn can cause nutrient imbalances leading to cravings, bloating and gas.
- Balance your intestinal flora. Certain bad bacteria can overcome our gut from antibiotics, alcohol and poor diet. These “Bad Bacteria” set up shop in our intestines and stomach and some of them can cause cravings such as sugar. So try to limit your alcohol consumption and bad eating habits. A good coarse of probiotics won’t hurt either, so talk to someone who is knowledgeable in supplements.
- Lastly, I always think health first whenever I am deciding what to eat. Too many times many of us do the opposite. We eat first, think about it after and get depressed. It’s a vicious cycle because after a while you feel defeated and the road ahead looks long, so we give up. What you need to realize is that if you are not seeing benefits in your body fast enough, there are significant changes going on inside that will help you live a longer healthier pain free life. One thing you must remember, weight gain not only can shorten your life it can also make the quality of it bad as well. Excess weight causes strain on the joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. That can lead to arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis and a whole list of itis’. So when I am looking at food, many times I say to myself, “Self- is that piece of cake worth the regret I’m going to feel not to mention what it’s going to do to my insides.”
So there you have it in a nutshell. Eat, live and be healthy all.
Cancer kills more than 500,00 Americans each year, and I said only Americans! Many of us know how to decrease our risks and the most popular way is to quit smoking; however that decreases 1/3 of your risk. Another 1/3 is genetic disposition and another 1/3 is through diet and exercise. So if my math serves me correctly, by exercising properly and and eating right, you can diminish your risk by approximately 33%. Combine that with putting down the cigarettes and you cut your risk by approximately 66%. If I told you that you had a 66% chance to win the lottery would you buy a ticket? We shell out money routinely for that with far less chance of return. Do you know how much cancer treatments cost? Sometimes more than a lottery can pay out. Do you know how painful cancer can be? Can you turn back the hands of time? No, but if you are diagnosed with one of the many forms of this debilitating illness, you’ll wish you could and correct all those bad habits that contributed to it’s development.
So how can you decrease your risk? According to the Food and Nutrition Science Alliance (FANSA) the following is a good start:
1) Eat plenty of Fruits, Vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
2) Avoid highly processed foods that are high in fat or sugar.
3) Chose activities that are moderate or vigorous exercise.
4) Limit or abstain from alcohol.
If you are not familiar with how to eat properly it’s always a good choice to hire a Dietitian or Nutritionist and exercise can be intimidating as well. A good personal trainer goes a long way for healthy long lasting results.
To learn more about cancer risks for men and women Visit health information at Harvard University.
Having been a personal trainer for over 20 years I’ve been asked this question many times. There are a lot of personal trainers out there and many are down right dangerous and can sometimes hurt an unsuspecting client. Do a Google search of “ Personal Trainer San Diego” and you will turn up hundreds. So how does someone know who is good, bad or “ugly”… so to speak? The best way is by a reliable referral but many times that can be wrong, especially if the source has different goals from you. You should start off by doing you’re own investigation if someone refers you to a Personal Trainer in Chicago or any other state for that matter.
I’ll start off by recommending you look at the type of certification your personal trainer has. I don’t like to talk negative about any individual or company; so I’ll just name the one’s I feel are top of the line when it comes to making sure your trainer is right for you. If a company isn’t listed it doesn’t mean they are not good, it’s just all a matter of opinion. My opinion was based on several factors:
- 1) What certifications my peers have, who do I respect as a good Personal Trainers.
- 2) What pre-requisites are required to obtain the certification? i.e. college degree or no background.
- 3) How long the company has been in business?
- 4) Is the company an industry leader in research and development when it comes to sports and fitness?
- 5) What credentials do most of the Athletic Trainers hold, who work for many of the professional sports teams?
- 6) Do they specialize in Personal Training certifications or do they dabble in many different areas related to fitness?
- 7) Are their continuing education credits accepted by the top organizations in the field?
Here are some of the companies I feel are at the top of the fitness field in what they offer:
The NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association)
This certification is widely accepted and known as the gold standard in sports and fitness. It has all the credentials I’ve listed above and most respected professionals in the field who work for sports teams or write for fitness journals or magazines have one of these certifications.
The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine)
This organization has many different types of certifications specializing in Clinical, Specialty and Health and Fitness. They are also known as an industry as a leader in Sports and Fitness. The ACSM is also a the top in the world of sports and fitness research and development.
The NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine)
This certification is one that can be obtained without having a college related degree and is in my opinion the best one for trainers that do not have an advanced education in health and fitness such a Bachelors, Masters or Phd. The NASM also offers a variety of certifications for the fitness professional.
Another credential worth mentioning is if your Personal Trainer has an advanced degree like a Bachelors, Masters or Phd. in a fitness related field or has clinical work in a hospital or organized athletic program, like a college or sports team. These individuals usually possess knowledge of periodizing a program through different phases of the clients fitness level or season.
There are many other signs of a good personal trainer but as many people don’t realize there are certain signs differentiating a professional from someone in the business as a hobby or side job:
Are they on their cell phone while you’re working out?
Do they care for you as a person?
Do they show up late or leave you standing?
Do they spot you on all overhead movements?
Do they have a game plan or show up with nothing in hand and and act like they have a game plan and “wing it”?
(Lets face it, if they are a busy trainer how do they remember all the exercises every client does as well as the weight lifted)
Do they explain why they are doing things and change it up if you’re not seeing progress?
Does their body inspire you or do they look like they need a Personal Trainer themselves?
They should be insured and CPR certified.
Finding the right Personal Trainer is hard to do, because they not only have to be good at what they do, he/she should be professional, courteous, friendly and have a good personality. Personal Training is a service related industry and does not have a governing body to regulate who can call themselves a Personal Trainer and who cannot. Until the state or federal government decides to monitor the industry, people will have to use due diligence in who they select to help them reach their fitness goals.
Thanks for stopping by.