Big Backside = Long Life

Can we all agree that we get weaker as we get older? I'm pretty sure common sense would say your muscles don't hang around if you aren't using them.

In the science world strength declines at a very fast rate after the age of 40. So for example, a man 55 years young, even if he was an Olympic gold medal winner in weightlifting at 24, will typically lose 30-33% of the strength levels he had three decades before.

Your backside. Your rump. Your bum. Your derriere. Your backside.

When you neglect to save the largest muscle of the body we create some major issues.

The biggest reason why the glutes shut down is due to inactivity. A muscle will quit working properly if you fail to consistently activate it. It will also stop working suitably if you fail to regularly activate it to its capacity.

If your glutes are not strong, your entire lower body alignment may fall out of balance. Have you ever seen anyone walking bent over? Or how about anyone that sits in a chair and their lower back is screaming in pain?  Weak glutes can lead to issues such as ACL injuries, Achilles tendinitis, shin splints, runner’s knee and IT band pain.

If the glutes are not strong enough to do their job then something has to do it for them. Other muscles will take over that work load. Which is not a good thing. The hamstrings, low back, quadriceps and calves may become over active and that can increase your risk of injury.

Strong glutes support the back. When your glutes aren’t activating as they should, your psoas muscle, a hip flexor muscle that runs from the spine to the legs, takes over. An overstressed psoas causes back pain and compression in the lower lumbar vertebrae of the spine.

Not all back pain is a result of weak glutes, but it can be a contributing factor.

I love the hip thrust exercise. It can be scaled to any fitness level and can activate glutes through a full range of motion.

One thing I like about them is that there’s a fast learning curve so clients tend to pick them up fast. They can be a little awkward at first but I’ve found some ways to improve the experience that I hope you’ll find helpful.

Pause each rep for a second at the top to help ensure that you're coming all the way up and achieving full extension. Pausing will also ensure that you’re using glutes to do the work instead of the lower back.

Position your feet in such a way that when you're at the top of the movement your shins are perpendicular to the floor.

Sometimes you will push through your toes which don't activate glutes to their full capacity. Instead your quads take too much of the load. To ensure that you are targeting glutes you should try to lift your toes off the ground. Or try to pick your toes up within your shoes.

Here's a video of a perfectly performed hip thrust.

Exercise Is For Long Term Health

Exercise is important for all stages of life. In my experience young people exercise because they want to look good in a bikini, have six pack abs, or better arms. Middle age people exercise because things are starting to hurt, the doctor told them to, or because body fat levels have gotten out of hand. Older individuals exercise because they want to improve there quality of life, be around for grandkids, or to reinvent themselves.

Those reasons are valid. But the true positive essence of exercise is suffering because of the superficial attitudes.

Yes, exercise will take up some of your free time.

Yes, exercise will not always be what you want to do.

Yes, exercise is a process so visual changes come with time.

Exercise Is For Long Term Health
Exercise Is For Long Term Health

Everyone will not share the same view on exercise but the research is clear. If you lead a lifestyle that includes exercise, you will reap the rewards as you age. If you haven't started yet, you can still benefit by starting now.

One of the key benefits is to make you steadier on your feet and reducing your risk of falling.  Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. It’s estimated that one out of three adults aged 65 or older will fall each year.

An indicator that you are at risk of an injury causing fall would be if you are shaky when you try to balance on one leg. Starting a functional training program right away is important.

Research shows that physical activity can reduce your chances of falling. If you do fall, people who are physically fit are less likely to become injured. According to a study done in 2013 by BMJ, older adults who took part in an exercise program were 40 percent less likely to suffer an injury during a fall compared to non-exercisers. This included a 61 percent lower risk of having a fall-induced broken bone and a 43 percent lower risk of sustaining a fall-related injury serious enough to need admission to a hospital.

After fall prevention, the next key benefit to exercise is to help preserve muscle mass. Use it or lose it applies to muscle tissue.

Did you know by the time you are 30, age related muscle loss may have already begun. It is possible for it to begin even sooner if you've neglected to take proactive steps to prevent it.

Without any sort of intervention, you can lose an average of 7 pounds of muscle per decade. The result of this is catastrophic and include: * Impaired ability to regulate body temperature * Slower metabolism * The loss in ability to perform everyday tasks.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, much of this is preventable. But you have to challenge your muscles with an appropriate workout program.

The fact is, if you want to extend your life with quality years, you've got to exercise. It acts on every area of your body. Exercise can ignite the body's immune system, improve mental function, boosts energy, strengthen muscles and bones, and reduce the risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, come cancer and diabetes.

If you do not move, one day you will not be able to move. I promise you that you will never say, "Man, I am sorry I exercised today."

How To Mentally Deal With Injuries

At some point in our life we all face some kind of injury. Though I don’t know the statistics on injuries sustained at work or during exercise, I’m going to figure that a substantial portion of people sustain a serious injury at some point in their careers. When I was a personal trainer in corporate clubs I regularly worked with people of all sorts helping them recover and return to their exercise regimen or work better than ever. Finally, having recovered from a serious injury during my own career as a torn ACL, I learned first hand how difficult recovering from a serious injury is.

Accept that getting hurt sucks and you will feel bad at times, especially early in your recovery when you’re more disabled than working toward recovery. You will not be able to do the normal things to which you are accustomed. You will be in pain. You’ll feel frustrated, angry, and depressed. You’ll want to curl up in a ball and withdraw from life. These reactions are normal and, to some degree, healthy, as you have to allow yourself to grieve for your loss.

At the same time, if you allow yourself to stay in that funk for too long, you will surely slow your recovery. So, after a short time, get over your “pity party” and get your mind on your recovery; keep focused on the present and the future. I remember being so torn about my injury but my trainer told me, "It's not about how you get hurt, it's how you come back from being hurt." The day after my surgery I showed up for therapy and had no idea what to expect. The problem is that rehab hurts (a lot!), is boring, tiring, monotonous, in other words, it gets old fast. That’s why so many people that have injuries end up either shortening or skipping rehab sessions, or not putting in their best effort. The result: slowed or incomplete recovery.

I have seen injuries save a lot of people as well. It seems weird right? Think of it this way. Getting injured can teach you to be tough, endure hardship, and really find your motivation for goals. Injuries can also enable you to focus on areas of your body that have been weaknesses, but you simply haven’t had time to work on them. Your low back injury may cause you to focus on strengthening your core, and stretching your hamstrings. Your knee injury might slow you down so you work on your quad strength and ankle/calf flexibility. The goal is for you to return to your job or exercise program physically better than you were before.

Mental imagery can also play a major role in your mental recovery from an injury as well. Imagery is not just something that goes on in your head. In fact, it connects your mind and your body and, amazingly, activates muscles in the same way as when you are actually performing exercise or physical labor on your job. Research has shown that you can improve your skills without actual training by engaging in regular mental imagery.

The bottom line is when you get seriously injured, it is a real bummer. But what is an even bigger problem is not returning fully or as quickly as possible to your exercise program or job. For you to return to better than before, you need to do everything possible to facilitate your recovery. That means following your physical rehab program to the letter. But you also need to develop a habit of conjuring up healthy thoughts to foster a full recovery as well. This will allow your body and your mind to be fully recovered and prepared for your job and exercise program.

Tips for helping your shoulder problems

One of the issues being a modern human is that you end up living in the front of your shoulder capsule. If you spend any amount of time driving or working at a computer, chances are good that your shoulders have been resting in the fronts of the capsules to such an extent that your posterior shoulder capsules are extremely tight. This causes two problems. It makes it difficult to pull your shoulders to the backs of the sockets (achieve correct posture), and causes you to lose the capacity to generate effective rotation in your shoulders (achieve a full range of motion). This video just shows some simple mobilization techniques that help loosen bad tissue in your lats, traps, triceps and pecs so you can get back into those basic shapes that the shoulder makes pain free. [embed][/embed]

Why I don't believe RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) works

For most of my career as a health and fitness professional, the acronym “RICE” was thrown around by my professors, therapist, and physicians as a method of controlling inflammation and preventing injury. This post explores what I believe to be one of the biggest issues in the health and fitness industry. Lifelong learning is what I am about and with that, I am eager to change my approach if the science supports it. And if that means proving myself wrong at times, then I am okay with that. Icing areas of the body that have too much inflammation has been the norm for a long time. Growing up as an athlete, we were always told to go to the trainer’s room to ice down a sprained ankle or other minor injury. Soon after that we are popping over the counter fixes to speed up the healing process. Fast forward and now we have new ideas on inflammation and how our bodies naturally heal. Why are we using ice? The goal is to reduce inflammation right? But inflammation is the latter portion of a multi-step process. So are we saying that we are better at regulating the inflammatory response than the body is naturally? This is where science meets logic and I began to question these methodologies as I looked into more recent research on the inflammation process and its role in the healing process. Let’s talk about the inflammation response so we can gather a little background.

The role of inflammation in the process of healing has been misunderstood for many years. Recent neurological and immunological research has shed light on its importance in the human healing process. A clear shift in science is taking inflammation away from being the enemy of health and a condition to be suppressed and/or eliminated, to one in which its importance and role is allowed to proceed. The inflammatory response is a natural defense mechanism that is triggered whenever body tissues are damaged in any way. Most of the body defense elements are located in the blood and inflammation is the means by which body defense cells and defense chemicals leave the blood and enter the tissue around the injured or infected site. Inflammation occurs in response to physical trauma, intense heat and irritating chemicals, as well as to infection by viruses and bacteria. The inflammatory response:

(1) prevents the spread of damaging agents to nearby tissues (2) disposes of cell debris and pathogens and (3) sets the stage for the repair process.

The inflammatory process begins with chemical “alarms” - a series of inflammatory chemicals that are released in the extracellular fluid. Consequently, exudates - fluid containing proteins such as clotting factors and antibodies - seeps from the bloodstream into the tissue spaces. This exudate is the cause of the local edema or swelling that in turn, presses on adjacent nerve endings, contributing to a sensation of pain. Pain also results from the release of bacterial toxins, lack of nutrition to the cells in the area. If the swollen and painful area is a joint, normal movement may be inhibited temporarily in order for proper healing and repair to occur. Although at first, edema may seem to be detrimental to the body, but when you look at the science it clearly isn’t. The entry of protein-rich fluids into the tissue spaces (1) helps to dilute harmful substances, which may be present (2) brings in large quantities of oxygen and nutrients necessary for the repair process, and (3) allows the entry of clotting proteins which form a gel-like fibrin mesh in the tissue space that effectively isolates the injured area and prevents the spread of bacteria and other harmful agents into the adjacent tissues. It also forms a scaffolding for permanent repair.

So what should we do? We have to first understand that ice does not get rid of inflammation. It can bring core temperature down so we feel less pain but it also impedes the process of healing the affected tissue. We need to allow the lymphatic system do its job and restore our tissues to normal function. The lymphatic system serves several functions but the most important in this case is that it controls fluid balance by draining and cleansing the fluids that leave the circulatory system to deliver nutrients and gases to the tissues. In the circulatory system, our blood passes through the arteries, arterioles, and then the capillaries. The capillary walls allow the fluid portion of the blood to exit the capillaries into the surrounding tissues. Once the fluid leaves the capillaries, it is called interstitial fluid. About 90% of this fluid will diffuse back into the capillaries because of the difference in concentrations of the fluid. However, about 10% of the fluid will enter the open-ended lymph vessels. These vessels eventually deliver the lymph to locations where it can be cleansed of debris and checked for the presence of pathogenic organisms. How the lymph gets there is pretty amazing. There is no heart for this system of vessels to pump the lymph around. So, the lymph moves throughout your body by moving your skeletal muscles. The contraction of skeletal muscles squeezes the nearby lymph vessels, “pumping” the lymph through these vessels which helps us get rid of inflammation naturally.

Based on this recent research and approaching inflammation as a natural part of the healing process, here are some things that are actually effective in helping the body respond naturally:

1) Compression: Wrap the injured area in a light ace bandage. Doing this will help with stability of the area and also increase the body's ability to filter good oxygenated blood to the area. 2) Heat: Sitting in a hot tub or using a mild or low heat heating pad will also assist in filtering good oxygenated blood to the area. 3) Using Skeletal Muscles to your benefit: If the area is able to work under little to mild restriction of range of motion, try performing some very light exercise. Utilizing our ability to squeeze skeletal muscles at or around the injured area can also help the body deal with the inflammation naturally. 4) Electrical Muscle Stimulator: The use of these devices has increased dramatically in the last 15 years. They are now sold almost everywhere and can be beneficial in helping the body use skeletal muscles to help the lymphatic system do its amazing job.

References Wassung, K. (n.d.). The Role of Inflammation in the Healing Process. Retrieved from