Posts tagged back pain

Tough Love From Back Spasms

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The other day I was all excited about my workout. I couldn’t wait to take a trip to Muscleville, population me.

I’m just a few sets in to my very first exercise and it happens. Stinking back spasms.

Not sure if you have ever had back spasms before but they are not much fun. The bad part is that is was completely my own fault that I got them.

If you were making a formula to give yourself back spasms, I came up with a pretty good one. First you get about 4 hours of sleep the night before, then, you drink lots of coffee to make up for that, do NOT rehydrate with water, eat not so great foods, sit a lot working on a project, rush through your warm-up, and then go too heavy too fast doing squats.

That will pretty much do it if you are looking to experience some sympathy back spasms with me. And I knew not to do all of these things, but I still did them. Do you ever get yourself in those situations where you know better, but do it any way?

The first lesson here is to always prepare for your workouts. If you are tired, dehydrated, your nutrition has been terrible, you’ve been sitting all day, and you halfway go through your warm-up chances are good you could injure yourself.

The second lesson was what I did after I got the back spasms. I obviously was finished with my heavy squats and deadlifts for the day, but that did not mean my workout was finished. I found some things I could do (wall sits, bodyweight squats, rear foot elevated squats) and not be completely miserable. Then the next day, I found upper body exercises I could still do.

When you have an injury, you can choose to give up or adapt. I always choose to adapt and you should too. It’s not time to throw in the towel because you are uncomfortable or it’s too hard. What CAN you do? Put the focus there.

Maybe it is time to clean up your nutrition, decrease your stress levels, or improve your sleep quality. If your lower body, upper body, or core is injured find what you can still work on and do that! Studies show doing something works 100% better than feeling sorry for yourself.

If you need help on finding what exercises you can still do, some lifestyle changes you can make, or anything else feel free to reach out to me. Don’t give in, awesomeness is still attainable at all levels of life.

Second challenge in the free 13 week challenge program

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Thank you for the picture Wikipedia

You see that red part? That is where the rhomboids are located. Why do you care? Because one of the main functions of the rhomboids (rhomboid major for you sticklers) is retraction of the shoulder blade, AKA keeping your shoulders from slumping forward like a caveman and/or cave woman. The more we sit (more on that below), the more our rhomboids weaken and the more our shoulders round forward. Look at the majority of people who work at a computer all day long. Or even look at yourself. If your shoulders are slumped forward there is a good chance you have weak rhomboids.
What one thing do we do every day that kills our metabolism, kills our immune system, makes muscles tight and stiff, and eventually kills us earlier than most people?
Sitting.
We sit at the house, we sit in our car on the way to work, we sit at work for 8 hours, get back in the car and sit, go home and sit on the couch for a few hours and do it all over again the next day. It's a big reason we have an epidemic of overweight people with back problems.Too much sitting shortens your hip flexors, short hip flexors cause back pain, back pain sucks. The circle of life.
I saw a study a few years ago this airplane scientist did. He probably had a name and a cooler title than airplane scientist, but I forgot it. Sorry I know you were all wanting to run out and thumb through airplane research.  This guy normally studied the effect of wind on airplanes, but he took his scientific thingies (name, forgot, sorry) and put them on people to study their movement to discover why some people were overweight and some people were not. Do you know what one activity the people who were overweight did more than any other group? Sat. The normal weight people sat a ton less and moved a lot more. Now I'm sure nutrition played a big role as well, but so does moving and standing. You can burn 100 calories just standing for an hour. So cut that sit out!
So here is my challenge to you. 
For the next week do not sit down for more than 15 minutes at a time.
Set a timer, watch the clock, do what you have to do, but get out of your seat every 15 minutes. Now there will be exceptions (orthopedic or circulatory issues, driving or riding in the car, if I'm on a basketball team, etc...) where it is not possible to get up every 15 minutes. Just get to it as soon as possible.
You can walk around, stretch, or anything you like. Just don't sit so much. After awhile you will notice a lot of lower back and neck pain going away, you will feel more energized and less tired, and you will feel better overall.
If you are reading this on a computer, take a second and realize how your body is positioned. Are your shoulders slumped? Lower back rounded? Head pushed forward, putting your neck in an unnatural position? Did you straighten up as you read this?
Humans are not built to sit in a chair for 40 hours a week or 30 hours on a couch per week. It will be hard to remember to get up every 15 minutes, so make it a priority. You don't forget things that are a priority, so make it important to you because it will help you get healthier overall.

My high heels made me fat

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Don't ever go to the web site where I got this picture (shudder...)

Well not me personally (as far as you know), but is it possible for high heels to cause you to store fat? You have probably heard about the other damage that high heels can do. For instance, a study in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that women who wore high heels 5 days a week for 2 years had much shorter calf muscles and Achilles tendons than women who did not wear the high heels. Why do you care? If you're a guy who doesn't wear stilettos you probably don't. But for those that do (men and women) it means when you shorten those muscles you can't move your feet up and down like a normal person. This leads to more low back and knee injuries. Most injuries are not caused by a weakness in the muscle that gets injured they are caused by a weakness in another muscle. Ever had "bad" knee or ankle? Did you end up eventually hurting the other one as well from overcompensating for the injury? It is very common. So the real question, how can they make you fat? The body is an amazing thing and is built to work around whatever barriers you put in front of it. So when you go tipping around on those towering shoes for extended stretches the body send out a signal that you need a counter balance. I'm no engineer, but where would be a great place to add weight to anchor the body? The backside! Add a little junk to the trunk to counter balance the shoes that are so tall you can dunk. That is poetry right there. This was about high heels, but I mainly want you to just think about tuning into your body. Listen to the warning signs when it gives you warning signs that you are doing something wrong. When you are exercising be in tune with proper form and proper joint support at all times. And use your stilettos sparingly.
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