Jan
31
2012
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I'm not sure how many of you get a chance to read Competitor Magazine, but I just wanted to make a quick post to share an article I did for them in December of 2011.

 

If you spend your day at a desk, here's a great reminder on how to get out of pain, or to keep yourself from having pain.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

And of course if you're interested in reading the original article --

 

The 7 Most Important Stretches If You Spend Your Day At A Desk

 

What you focus on is what you create.  That being said, be aware of challenges, but focus on the success!

Happy July 4th.  As promised here you go!

I feel like it's time for this post.  Whether it's in person at the gym, or through email, people often ask me, "what are the things I absolutely have to do to get my body to change quickly".  Now 9 times out of 10 I usually try to avoid this question because if I give you the 5 things that absolutely need to be done, most people do 3.  And then they wonder why they aren't getting results. 

But, I figure I've been asked enough at this point that it's about time to give you the secrets to getting the body you want in as short a period of time as possible.

Ready?

There are literally 5 things that you absolutely have to do to get your body to change quickly.  You follow these 5 rules and I can virtually guarantee you will get the body you want in as short a period of time as possible.  This isn't based on theory, these are the techniques I use with my clients that get results fast!

1.) Warm-up:
Take the time to do a good 10-15 minute warm-up. And I don't mean going to jump on some piece of cardio equipment. Research shows that's a waste of 10-15 minutes.  Instead, do some self massage.  It will serve the same purpose of getting your body ready for exercise, and even better, it helps to alleviate the knots and tight muscles that come from sitting or standing all day long.  Truth be known, it will also decrease your chances of injury dramatically.  Need a little reminder (self-massage warm-up)

Follow this warm-up with some good old fashioned stretching.  Yes, the jury is still deliberating as to whether stretching is beneficial, but my experience has been it works wonders to prepare your muscles for the workout ahead. Here's a quick reminder on the stretches (warm-up stretches)

2.) Core:
From what I can tell too many people leave training their midsection to last, when they are tired from their workout.  And then if they do actually train their abs/core, it's half-hearted at best, usually only doing some kind of crunches, and thus get little to no benefit.  Training your core is as important, if not more important, than any other body part. Here's couple to get you started (core exercise examples)

3.) Resistance:
If I haven't done a good job of it before, let me clarify now, if you want to change your body and get lean, resistance exercise is the absolutely the best way to do this.  And to the women out there who think lifting weights will make you bulky, not so. Women typically do not produce enough testosterone to even come close to creating the bulky physique they worry about.

That being said, resistance training doesn't have to be lifting weights.  You can use bands, suspension straps, or traditional weights if you prefer.

Circuit                                                                                 Circuit   
Squats (with flavor -- see my you tube channel)                Squats (with flavor --you tube channel)
Lateral Raises                                                                     Chest Press (dumbbell)
Split Squats                                                                        Rear Deltoids
Push ups                                                                             Lunge (back) to Bicep Curls
Deadlifts                                                                             Deadlifts
Back (seated row)                                                               Triceps
Step up to balance and shoulder press                                  Pull-ups
Bicep Curls (dumbbell)                                                         Lunge (back) to Shoulder Press
Tricep Push-downs                                                               Breast Stroke (see you tube channel)
Jump Rope --- 70-100 times                                                 Jump Rope -- 70-100 times
                                                                                        
Circuit_3_Cheat_Sheet.pdf                                            Circuit_3a_Cheat_Sheet.pdf

4.) Cardio:
If you've been following my blogs for any length of time you know I'm big on doing intervals for cardio.  Because it gets the job done quickly with minimal damage to the knees, hips, and lower back.

Equally effective and a big favorite of mine is kettle bells.  With some proper instruction, this activity is the absolute best for burning calories, strengthening your core, as well as building some solid muscle in the hips and glutes (butt).

Follow this program with a good cool down stretch (the same movements you did to warm-up) and you should be on your way to a transformed body in a few weeks.

5.) Nutrition:
I'll keep this short, as this is becoming a bit long.  Whether you call it the Paleo diet, Mediterranean diet or anything else, staying with lean meats, minimal starchy carbs such as breads and pastas, plenty of veggies, and some nuts is the best way to go.  Need a little more clarification?  Here you go (nutrition made easy).

Get on Track and Stay on Track!
Dec
10
2010
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This month I want to make sure to have those of you who enjoy winter sports activities like skiing, snowboarding and ice skating to be prepared to enjoy your season.  I can't tell you how many times I watch "regular" members come in on crutches after a weekend away of enjoying their sport.  If it's something you truly enjoy, then let's make sure you can do and not get injured. The whole idea of working out and keeping healthy is so you can participate and enjoy the activities that make the daily grind all worth it -- right?

Well, last week I shared with you the first part of an effective warm-up -- self-massage.  We all know you cannot effectively stretch a cold rubber band fresh out of the refrigerator (which would represent your muscles).  You have to first warm it up properly, before engaging in stretching.  That way you can avoid injuring yourself during stretching, and definitely decrease the chances of injury while engaged in your favorite activity.

This week I want to share with you the second part of an effective warm up -- stretching.  I want you to do this after you have completed the self-massage.

When considering winter sports we want to be sure we have your body ready to handle the pounding of the slopes.  Balance is a big factor considering the instability of ice and snow.  So ankle, knee, and hip flexibility and stability are very important. We want to prepare your entire body, for sure, but we will give extra attention to the lower body because you will be using it so much more.

Since we all know time is of the essence please find below the stretches I've found most important in preparing for a safe and fun winter season of activities on the slopes or ice.

Be sure to check back next week as I will share with you the important exercises that will get your body strong and help you avoid injury.

This is Stretch#1 (1/3).
This stretch is often called Child's Pose. From a kneeling position, toes pointed straight back, sit backwards so that you are sitting on the heels of your shoes. Reach forward with both arms, far enough to feel a stretch in the lower back and shoulders. 
Hold for 7-10 seconds


This is Stretch #1 (2/3)

Keeping your legs where they are at, engage your abs and move both arms to the right until a stretch is felt on the left side of the body. Think of making your body into a half circle. Be sure to remain seated on your heels.  Hold for 7-10 seconds.


 
This is Stretch #1 (3/3).
Now do the same process you did for the above picture for the left side. 
Hold for 7-10 seconds
 

This is Stretch #2
From a seated position place your hands behind you, approximately shoulder width, with your fingers pointing away from your body. Slowly slide your body forward, away from your hands, until a stretch is felt. Be sure to keep your chest up and gently squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift your chest. Hold this position for 7-10 seconds.  Repeat 2-3 times.


 

This is Stretch#3.

(face down image) Position your body with your right leg bent at a 45 degree angle. Straighten your back leg with the toe facing the floor. Position your upper body so that your knee is in line with your sternum (chest bone). Hips should be parallel to the floor.  You should feel no pain in the knee. If you do stop immediately. This pose is also know as Pigeon.  Hold position for 7 breaths.



(face up image)

This is a slightly less aggressive form of pigeon from the lying position. Lay flat on your back.  Bring your right leg towards your chest. Grasping your knee and ankle gently, pulling the leg towards the left side of your chest (so you are moving the leg across the body) until you feel a stretch in your glutes. You will create a very gentle stretch in the hip. You should feel no pain in the knee. Repeat this process 3-7 times on both sides.



 

This is Stretch #4

Begin on your knees, with your knees out wide, resting on forearms. Then straighten one leg out to the side. Be sure that the toe of the straight leg is in line with the knee of the kneeling leg. If possible, reach out to touch toe of straight leg with same side hand.  Repeat movement 3 times on both sides.



This is Stretch #5.
I call this Windshield Wipers. Lay flat on your back, arms out wide, knees bent 45-90 degrees, feet flat on the ground. Take your left ankle and place it on your right knee. Drop both legs to the left side to feel a stretch in the right hip. The goal is for the stretch to come from the hip and NOT the lower back.
Hold for 5-7 breaths. Repeat on other side.


This is Stretch #6.
With your calves against the supporting surface take a medium to large step forward. Place one foot, shoe strings down, on the stable support surface behind you. Kneeling down bring the back leg knee to the floor. Now if you're just beginning you may need to place a pillow under your knee for cushion and to decrease the intensity of the stretch. Be sure that the front leg knee is bent at a 90 degree angle and the shin is perpendicular to the floor.


Well there you go.  So self massage first, followed by the stretches above and you'll be ready to tackle the exercises I will show you next week.  Remember, each part of the warm-up is important.  Do not skip steps, you'll only pay for it in the long run. 

Let's be sure this season you can enjoy your chosen winter activity for all it's worth.  See you next week.



After last Friday's post I received quite a few emails regarding which were the most important stretches. "I don't have time to do them all Kurt, c'mon."  So I thought it might be a good idea if I broke the stretches down into groups so that you can use them more effectively.

By and large most of my clientele spend the majority of their day sitting at a desk.  They tell me that they have few if any opportunities to get up from their desk for any length of time. And if they do, it's usually to go to a meeting where they spend anywhere from 2-4hrs sitting again. 

As all of you know, who have been following my posts, sitting for long periods of time has significant consequences to your body.  Especially your lower back, knees and sometimes wrists (depending how much time you spend on the computer).  So let's get rid of that pain and discomfort.

Below I have listed the 7 most important stretches if you're a person who is stuck at a desk for most of the day.

I would encourage you to do these stretches a minimum of 1x/day. They will take you approximately 15-30 minutes to do.  Not much time to invest to get out of pain.  Think about it for a second.  You spend 4-8 hours sitting.  I'm just asking for 30 minutes a day to get you out of pain, and help you decrease your stress level. Sounds like a good investment to me.

 This is Stretch#1.

Position your body with your right leg bent at a 45 degree angle. Straighten your back leg with the toe facing the floor. Position your upper body so that your knee is in line with your sternum (chest bone). Hips should be parallel to the floor.  You should feel no pain in the knee. If you do stop immediately. This pose is also know as Pigeon.

Hold position for 7 breaths.
 

This is Stretch #2.


Begin on your knees, with your knees out wide, resting on forearms. Then straighten one leg out to the side. Be sure that the toe of the straight leg is in line with the knee of the kneeling leg. If possible, reach out to touch toe of straight leg with same side hand.


Repeat movement 3 times on both sides.


 This is Stretch #3.

With your calves against the supporting surface take a medium to large step forward. Place one foot, shoe strings down, on the stable support surface behind you. Kneeling down bring the back leg knee to the floor. Now if you're just beginning you may need to place a pillow under your knee for cushion and to decrease the intensity of the stretch. Be sure that the front leg knee is bent at a 90 degree angle and the shin is perpendicular to the floor.

Hold for 5-7 breaths. Repeat on other side.



This is Stretch#4.

Begin with your head, forearms, shoulder blades, and butt against the wall.  Feet should be 6-8" away from wall. Make sure there is minimal space between your lower back and wall.
 


Ending position for Stretch #4.

Extend your arms up and out into a 'Y' position. Be sure to keep forearms and hands in contact with the wall at all times.

Repeat movement 7-10 times.


This is Stretch #5.

Taking a lunge position halfway through a doorway, use this inverted 'V', place your hands on a door frame and gently lean forward until a stretch is felt in the shoulder, chest and/or arms. Make sure your weight is evenly balanced between the front and back leg.

Hold this position for 5-7 seconds.  Repeat 2-3 times.


This is Stretch #6.


Stand straight and clasp your hands behind your back.



Ending position Stretch #6.

Tuck hips underneath you (by flexing your butt) and tighten your stomach, move clapsed hands towards floor, while pulling shoulders back and lifting chest. This should create erect posture. Be sure not to arch lower back.

Hold for 5-7 breaths. Repeat 3-5 times.


This is Stretch#7 (1/3).
This stretch is often called Child's Pose. From a kneeling position, toes pointed straight back, sit backwards so that you are sitting on the heels of your shoes. Reach forward with both arms, far enough to feel a stretch in the lower back and shoulders.

Hold for 7-10 seconds
 


Stretch #7 (2/3)

Keeping your legs where they are at, engage your abs and move both arms to the right until a stretch is felt on the left side of the body. Think of making your body into a half circle. Be sure to remain seated on your heels.


Hold for 7-10 seconds.



Stretch #7 (3/3).

Now do the same process you did for the above picture for the left side.

Hold for 7-10 seconds.

Well, there you go.  The 7 most important stretches for those of you who spend way too many hours seated at your desk.  These quick 7 should get you out pain and help you stay that way. 

As always let me know what you think.
Since May of this year, I've been sharing with you various stretches and exercises to help you get out of pain and stay that way.  From the questions and emails I've been receiving it seems as though a reminder of the blogs would be really helpful.  As I promised early on in my blog post, I am committed to providing reliable, useful, practical information that will assist you in getting out of pain and staying that way.

If your having Shouler Pain:

Try these stretches and exercises to get rid of pain and stay that way:

Shoulder Stretches Group 1

Shoulder Stretches Group 2

Shoulder Exercises Group 1

Shoulder Exercises Group 2

Having Wrist Pain, don't forget these tried and true movements:

Painful Wrists Stretches and Exercises

Lower Back Pain, remember these stretches for the hip and lower back:

Back Pain Stretches Group 1

Back Pain Stretches Group 2

Back Pain Stretches Group 3

Knee Pain have you limping around? Try these:

Knee Pain Exercises

So there you go. The bodypart where you're experiencing pain listed just above the stretches and exercises. It doesn't get much easier than that.

With this well outlined group of stretches and exercises you should have no problem getting out of pain and staying that way.  But I feel I have to remind you, you have to do them consistently if you want them to work. Doing these movements once in a while will not get you results. Make the committment, get out of pain and go do what you already enjoy doing . . . . better!

Have a great Labor Day Weekend.
Shoulder Pain must be the second largest complaint I hear about outside of back pain. Whether it's from doing too many bench press exercises and skipping rotator cuff work, or spending hours in front of the computer, shoulder pain . . . . is a pain!  Much like back pain, it is related to repeated poor posture, either sitting or standing. The purpose of these stretches is to get your body back in alignment and decrease the stress the poor posture has placed on your muscles and joints.

If the pictures and description are still a little confusing, I've included a freebie -- a Shoulder Stretch Sheet; that you can download and take with you to practice.

The first three stretches will be performed in a doorway. The images will demonstrate the proper set up position. In each of the doorway stretches be sure to engage your stomach muscles and tuck your hips underneath you to avoid arching the lower back.
 height=
Stretch #1 
As I stated I would like for you to do these first 3 stretches in a door way. Taking a lunge position halfway through the door, reach up and out to a 45 degree angle. Gently lean forward until you feel a stretch. Make sure that your weight is balanced evenly between your front and back leg. Hold the position for 5-7 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.


Stretch #2
I've turned just a bit to the side so that you can notice the lunge position and the position of the hands (forming a 90 degree bend at shoulder and elbow). As in the first stretch, gently lean forward until a stretch is felt. Make sure that your weight is evenly balanced between the front and back leg. Hold this position for 5-7 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.


Stretch #3
Again, using this inverted V, place your hands lower on the door frame and gently lean forward until a stretch is felt. Make sure that your weight is evenly balanced between the front and back leg. Hold this position for 5-7 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.


Stretch #4
From a seated position place your hands behind you, approximately shoulder width, with your fingers pointing away from your body. Slowly slide your body forward, away from your hands, until a stretch is felt. Be sure to keep your chest up and gently squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift your chest. Hold this position for 7-10 seconds.  Repeat 2-3 times.

Try the stretches above to get rid of that shoulder pain. It's summer and most of us are more active than usual. Don't be sidelined by unnecessary pain.  I've had great results with my clientele in relieving shoulder pain, and I think you will, too.

As always, let me know how these stretches worked.  And here is the freebie!  Bonus_Shoulder_Stretches_Sheet.pdf
I've been receiving some really great responses from the last 2 posts regarding stretches for the lower back. I also received an inquiry for a few more stretches for those that travel and have to deal with long plane flights (sitting for extended periods of time).

So here are 3 more stretches to get and keep you out of pain, whether you're flying every week, spending too much time in front of the computer, or need a little help keeping the hips and back open after a rigorous workout.



Stretch #1 Pigeon
This is a slightly less aggressive form of pigeon from the laying position. Lay flat on your back.  Bring your right leg towards your chest. Grasping your knee and ankle gently, pulling the leg towards the left side of your chest (so you are moving the leg across the body) until you feel a stretch in your glutes. You will create a very gentle stretch in the hip. You should feel no pain in the knee. Repeat this process 3-7 times.



Stretch #2 Windshield Wipers
Here is another version of the windshield wiper stretch from the previous back stretch post. Laying flat on your back, feet slightly wider than hip width, bring your knees together so they meet in the middle. Hold this position for approximately 5-7 seconds. Return the knees out wide over the ankles. Think of the windshield wipers on your car. Repeat the process 3-5 times.



Stretch #3 Knees Out Wide
As the name suggests, this is a basic groin stretch to decrease inner thigh tightness.  Resting on your knees, move them as far apart as you can comfortably. Place your elbows underneath your shoulders for support and rock back and forth to find your tight spots. When you find a tight spot, stop and breath 5-7 breaths before rocking again. I would suggest repeating for each tight area 3-5 times.

You requested it, so there you go.  Use these stretches along with the other 2 posts on back stretches to get and keep you out of pain.

As always, let me know how they worked for you.


I've got to tell you, back pain has got to be one of the most common complaints I hear from my clients and from the people who work out at the gym. 

Today was a good example. A member I've seen countless times at the gym approached me today and told me he's had to give up surfing, which he loves, because of back pain. After a quick assessment, I showed him how to go through these stretches as well as the one's from my earlier post on back pain.

I think we can all agree, we either know someone who has back pain or have experienced it ourselves. And quite honestly it just plain sucks.

Let me show you some additional stretches to get rid of that pain now!


Stretch #1
I call this Long Lunge. Take a lunge position, being sure that the lead leg's knee if over the ankle. Back leg should be straight, with knee resting on floor. Both hands should be placed on the floor, inside of lead shoe. Stretch should be felt in groin area of lead leg and the quad (front part of leg) of the back leg. GENTLY push hips towards the floor and feel the stretch.
Hold for 10-20 seconds. Do 2-3 times on each side.


Stretch #2 (part 1 of 3)
This stretch is often called Child's Pose. From a kneeling position, toes pointed straight back, sit backwards so that you are sitting on the heels of your shoe. Reach forward with both arms, far enough to feel a stretch in the lower back and shoulders.
Hold for 7-10 seconds.


Stretch #2 (part 2 of 3)
Keeping your legs where they are at, engage your abs and move both arms to the right until you feel a stretch in the left side of your body. Think of making your body into a half circle. Be sure to remain seated on your heels.
Hold for 7-10 seconds.


Stretch #2 (part 3 of 3)
Now do the same process you did in the above picture for the left side. Hold for 7-10 seconds.


Stretch #3
I call this Windshield Wipers. Lay flat on your back, arms out wide, knees bent 45-90 degrees, feet flat on the ground. Take your left ankle and place it on your right knee. Drop both legs to the left side to feel a stretch in the right hip. The goal is for the stretch to come from the hip and NOT the lower back.

In addition to the stretches from the previous post on back pain, try these and see how you can get rid of back pain.

Let me know how they worked for you.
If you have back pain, in most cases it has to do with tight hips. Whether it's from sitting too long, sleeping in an odd position or just feeling tight.  Try these 3 stretches to get rid of that nagging pain.

As always, let me know how they worked for you.

---------------------------------------------------------

 This is Stretch#1.

 Position your body with your right leg bent at a 45 degree angle. Straighten your back leg with the toe facing the floor. Position your upper body so that your knee is in line with your sternum (chest bone). Hips should be parallel to the floor. Hold position for 7 breaths. You should feel no pain in the knee. If you do stop immediately. This pose is also know as pigeon.

 

This is Stretch #2.


Begin on your knees, with your knees out wide, resting on forearms. Then straighten one leg out to the side. Be sure that the toe of the straight leg is in line with the knee of the kneeling leg. If possible, reach out to touch toe of straight leg with same side hand.


Repeat movement 3 times on both sides.

 This is Stretch #3.

With your calves against the supporting surface take a medium to large step forward. Place one foot, shoe strings down, on the stable support surface behind you. Kneeling down bring the back leg knee to the floor. Now if you're just beginning you may need to place a pillow under your knee for cushion and to decrease the intensity of the stretch. Be sure that the front leg knee is bent at a 90 degree angle and the shin is perpendicular to the floor.

Hold for 5-7 breaths. Repeat on other side.

Let's face it, being in PAIN SUCKS!!

I've had it and know first hand how uncomfortable it can be.
 
Being in PAIN puts you in a crappy mood and affects darn near everything -- from how you interact with your partner, friends, family, and even your co-workers.

Plain and simple -- being in pain makes you a PAIN to be around.  Sure you could take some aspirin or other "pain masking" agent, but that doesn't really solve the problem.  What you need is to kick that pain's butt and get it out of your life so you can back to doing what you enjoy doing.  Chances are your friends, family and co-workers will thank you for it.

The first thing I would ask you to do is figure out as close as you can, where the pain is located; is it in your lower back, shoulder, neck, the knee.  Now, the next I'm going to say is really going to throw you for a loop.  Chances are very good that the place where you are feeling the pain is not the actual problem.


Today, I'd like to use the shoulder as an example. Do you spend most of your day sitting at a desk hunched over? Do you stand hunched over? If you stand with your back to the wall so that your heels, buttocks, shoulders, and back of your head touch the wall, is this position REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE or challenging to do?

If this sounds like you chances are you having what known as Upper Cross Syndrome, where the chest and shoulder muscles have become so tight from the poor posture of leaning over that they've shortened. These muscles may even be pulling on your neck.

Here are some movements you can do while in your office to help you GET RID OF THAT PAIN NOW!


Let me know what you think. . . . did they work for you?
-------------------------------------

This is Stretch#1. Begin with your head, forearms, shoulder blades and butt against the wall.  Heels should be about 6-8" from wall.
Make sure there is minimal space between lower back and wall

Extend arms up and out into a "Y" position. Be sure to keep forearms and hands in contact with wall at all times.


Repeat movement 7-10 times

Stretch #2. Begin the same as Stretch #1.

Keeping arms (elbows at same height), rotate hands towards floor. Be sure to keep elbows and shoulder blades in contact with wall at all times.


Repeat 7-10 times

Stretch #3. Standing straight, clasp hands behind back.

Tuck hips underneath you, move clasped hands towards floor. This should create erect posture. Be sure not to arch-- keep hips tucked.


Hold for 7-10 breaths