Tag: balance

Health Professional Events at The Seattle Athletic Club

Health Talk Topic: “ Healthy Living to 100! ”

How to Eat, Move, and Think Well

Tuesday, May 24th  | 6:00pm in the front lobby

Presented by: Dr. Traci Grandfield DC

Please contact Kendra Kainz at kkainz@sacdt.com or sign up at the front desk to reserve a seat. Reservations are first come first serve.

Summary:

Most of us might be afraid to live to 100 years old because of the fear of a decreased quality of life or living with aches and pains. But if we could feel good and still do the things we love to do like playing with our grandchildren, then I’m sure most of us would want to stick around. What we don’t realize is that arthritis is not inevitable. It can be avoided if we make the right choices now. We have the ability to age well despite our genetics. Healthy lifestyle choices are key to not only live well now but in our later years too. This class will pin point the major culprits contributing to bad health and illuminate the tiny tweaks you can make now to make huge changes to your elder years.

 

SDT_May_2016_DrTraci_Blog_IMAGE

 

Bio of Dr. Grandfield: Dr. Grandfield offers gentle and unique Chiropractic care with a focus on correcting the cause rather than the symptom. Dr. Grandfield utilizes NUCCA, a specialized adjusting technique, to correct misalignments. This focused adjustment is very light and effective to restore normal body balance and function. No cracking, popping or twisting kind of adjustments. With precision and specificity, NUCCA adjustments last longer which results in fewer visits to correct the problem.

 

Properly Program Your Assistance Lifts

When developing a proper strength program you need to have lifts that are classified as either main lifts or assistance lifts. Main lifts are what your program is focused around and what takes the most effort. For me and the majority of my clients these main lifts are; squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press. Choosing main lifts is relatively straight forward but assistance lifts are usually where people go wrong.

The most common mistake people make with assistance work is simply doing too much. They do too many sets or too many exercises trying to train each muscle individually. Just like the main lifts, assistance lifts should be large multi-joint movements that can be progressed over a long period of time. People also tend to put way too much emphasis on their assistance work, or as strength guru Jim Wendler says it “majoring in the minors.” Simply put, you do not want to work so hard on your assistance lifts that your main lifts suffer.

Assistance lifts should serve to:
1. Increase the main lifts
2. Build muscle mass
3. Provide balance and body symmetry
4. Strengthen weak areas

All of this can be accomplished with a few large assistance lifts each day. The way I like to build a program is to pair the main lift of the day with a corresponding assistance lift. Here is an example:

Main Lift Corresponding Assistance Lift
Squat Hinge Movement (Snatch-Grip Deadlift)
Deadlift Squat Movement (Front Squat)
Bench Press Horizontal Pull (Barbell Row)
Overhead Press Vertical Pull (Pull-ups)

If you pair the main lifts with a corresponding assistance lift all you have to do is fill any gaps in the program or work on weak areas. Generally on lower body days I will program abdominal work and on upper body days I will program some extra upper back and shoulder work.

It may seem too simple but if you are doing the right things there is no reason to have more than 2-3 assistance lifts on a given day of the program.

Here is a list of my favorite assistance exercises in no particular order:
1. Pull-ups/Chin-ups
You can and should use a variety of grips and hand widths when performing pull-ups. You can switch them up every week or even every set. It really doesn’t matter; just pull yourself up to a bar.

2. Dumb Bell Rows
These can be done for straight sets or in “Kroc Row” fashion where you do a couple warm-up sets then perform an all out set of high reps (my favorite way to do rows). These are great for back development as well as grip strength.

3. Barbell Rows
There are many different ways to do these but my preferred method is to let the bar rest on the floor between each rep so you’re pulling from a dead stop each time. When doing these be sure to keep your back level and flat. Use a grip that is the same width as your bench press grip.

4. Front Squats
These are great for building up your squat strength as well as quad size. Whether you use a “clean grip” or cross your arms like a body builder, the bar must be resting on your shoulders just behind your anterior deltoid muscle (weight is not held by your hands). Take a stance slightly narrower than when you back squat and drop your hips straight down until they are below your knees. Keep your elbows high and chest up.

5. Snatch-Grip Deadlift
These are performed exactly like a conventional deadlift only you are using a very wide grip (as you would in a snatch). Your grip should be wide enough that when you finish the movement the bar is at the crease of your hips. These are great for developing the posterior chain and upper back.

6. Close-Grip Bench
Grip the bar with your pointer fingers just inside the smooth part of the bar. Focus on keeping your elbows tucked close to your torso while lowering and pressing the weight. This is one of the premier lifts to improve your triceps strength and bench press.

7. Dips
Great for developing pressing strength and muscle mass. Dips are very straight forward, just be sure you are using a full range of motion. These can be done with bodyweight for high reps or with weight added for strength work.


If you have any questions about programming your assistance lifts please contact:

Sticking with your New Years Routine

Yo-yo dieting does not work and neither does yo-yo exercise. A lot of people start out the New Year with good intentions but quickly fall out of a new exercise routine shortly after the year starts. Most fitness gains are cumulative. For example: the more you lift weights, the more weight you can lift; the more often you walk or run, the farther you’ll be able to go and the stronger your heart and lungs will become.

So if you typically go gangbusters every New Years with a new fitness regimen, only to stall out within weeks, here are some tips for sticking with it:

1. Pick something you really enjoy. Hate running? Don’t do it! There are lots of fat-burning aerobic activities to choose from. Try the rowing machine for low impact but great calorie expenditure or a spin class with inspirational music.

2. Make it a date. Treat your power walk/ kickboxing class/ weight circuit session as an appointment. Write it in your calendar or plug it into your smartphone, and you’ll be more likely to follow through. If you need more reinforcement, schedule a few months’ worth of these dates, so that you’ll have to make your other plans around your exercise. Forming a new habit will take at least 3 to 6 weeks so plan your exercise as far out as possible.

3. Buddy up. Commit to a routine with a friend or two. Whether you’ll be embarking on a regular bike ride, splitting the cost of a personal trainer, or planning to meet up for a yoga class, it’ll be harder for you to make up excuses to get out of your workouts if your friends are counting on you to be there. The Seattle Athletic Club has a variety of fun and inexpensive fitness classes that you and your friends can join together and keep you all on track. Finding a fun class like Will Patons’ Circuit Training class or Amber Grugers’ Insanity class will allow you and your friends to have fun in a group setting with lots of other energetic people.

4. Keep it fresh. Make it a goal to try a new activity every six weeks or so to keep from getting bored. Think of the different areas of fitness you would like to improve and when it is time to try another activity make the switch to something your body needs. If you feel you’re strong but not as flexible as you would like to be then a Pilates or Yoga class once or twice a week may improve your overall fitness level. Come into the Seattle Athletic Club to see what new and exciting classes fit your New Years goals. Trying a new class just might be that extra piece of motivation to keep you going this New Year!

Improving Balance – Not Just Standing on One Leg

Peggy Protz, Feldenkrais® Practitioner

What comes to mind when you think of balance? Perhaps it’s your ability to stand on one leg for a length of time, or the fact you don’t trip or fall when stepping off a curb or running to catch the bus. Actually, the simple fact you don’t fall over when just standing still is testament to the fact that the balance system in your body is working. It’s when you ask your body to do more intensive activities – various sports, dance, or yoga – that your balance is challenged. By taking the time to enhance your body’s balance system, even in the simplest of activities, you’ll be able to perform the more intensive ones with a lot more ease and skill, and a whole lot less effort.

The Feldenkrais approach to balance is unique in that it takes what you do when you are upright and moving around and works with it while you are lying down. In this situation there is no danger of falling over (you’re already lying down so there is no where to fall to) and habitual tensions that help you stand upright, many of which you aren’t even aware of, have a better chance of letting go. From here we can introduce and explore various innovative movements designed to stimulate your balance system. When you stand up afterward your body’s in a different place and you have a different experience of how to balance yourself. Often, this new experience, in itself, is all it takes for your balance to improve. As we consciously apply the new experience to simple activities, however, like walking and yes, even the feat of standing on one leg, the learning is further enhanced. Then, the next time you go to play your favorite sport, or go dancing, or run to catch the bus, your balance system will be working well in the background, so YOU can be paying attention to other things.

The Power of Proprioception

All athletes will face the danger of getting injured during their sport. This is why we train the muscles and practice the movements. By practicing, we help provide the body and mind with the confidence that we can perform the tasks required of us. One of the largest components to this sense of confidence is proprioception. Proprioception refers to the sense of a joint position in relation to the rest of the body. This allows our body to know where we are in space; more specifically, while we are moving in relation to the rest of the body as well as the environment. The more balanced our body becomes; the more efficient our movements will be, making ourselves stronger. Once the body can control the hips and spine, the primary muscles can take over to perform the power required. The true key to any sport is efficiency. Can I prepare my body for any type of movement that may occur during performance? Can I avoid getting hurt while still going all out and not holding anything back?

Balance training will do much more than make you less clumsy. Along with strengthening your hip and ankle stabilizers you will become more agile, developing the ability to control and change your center of gravity throughout movement. Again, this is why we train and practice just shy of maximum effort. The body loves to learn through trial and error. You have to start to lose your balance before the body can learn where it needs to step up and activate. Hiking provides a perfect example of this type of proprioception. While the start of the hiking season might require that your entire attention remain focused on the trail to avoid falling, after a few hikes, you start to notice that you are more confident in your ability to adjust to the terrain by foot feel alone, thus making you less focused on the trail below you and allowing you to look up and enjoy the scenery. This helps to establish your connection with your surroundings and will, in turn, help with your balance.

Proprioception can be incorporated into your regular workout routine easily. When standing performing front raise exercises, try standing on one foot. This causes the body to become more unstable and will recruit different muscles to help find the balance point. When that becomes too simple, try closing your eyes. Try keeping your eyes closed through an entire yoga class, or pilates mat session to see if you can feel where your body is in space, focusing solely on your movements. Try a yoga class that focuses on balance training or arm balances. This will teach you which muscles to engage and which muscles to relax to help become more successful. Once the neural pathways are developed, the body can use these movements as tools to help their efficiency on the court, out in the woods, or even in the pool!

Meditation and the Brain

OHMMMM… With the stress of modern life most people seek some sort of retreat. Often times this manifests as a vacation adventure, internet search, blog or book, television show or movie. This does in a sense allow a break to enjoy life, but have you actually allowed your brain to completely shut off?

Meditation is said to help us realize our emotions as we deal with the suffering and joy of life, bringing to the middle (a balance in the present moment). Meditation is seeing the mind and differentiating parts of an experience (the present and the perception). Many cultures have a form of meditation, most are familiar with Buddhist meditation. Brahma meditation focuses on loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. Vipassana meditation quiets the mind through concentration and mindfulness.

When we intentionally shape our attention through mindfulness, we induce long-term changes in brain function and structure. This is neuroplasticity- how the brain changes in response to repeated experience.

Psychologically, there are often problems stemming from too much rigidity or chaos that meditation can bring balance to. Common psychosomatic disorders that are alleviated through a meditative practice are: anxiety, binge eating, mind chatter, compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, drug addiction, chronically relapsing depression, and perceived stress (to name a few).

Through regular practice, there is improved self-perception, confidence, optimism and self-control. Look at meditation as kindness to yourself and your own life experience. When it comes to choosing a meditative practice that is appropriate for you my advice is to explore options. There are several guided meditations (visual- i.e. chakra meditation), focus meditations (for example candlelight and Hamsah- third eye meditation, or breath meditation), also deity meditations (for example Brahma or Jana- nature meditation). Chanting is often times used to maintain or heighten a meditative state, and yoga asanas and breath work are used in preparation. Zen meditation is one of the most disciplined styles, and you can always start with disconnecting with outside distractions by being outdoors in nature away from other people.

However you choose to start a regular practice is your choice and comfort level. There is always room for your practice to deepen and take new forms. In modern society, meditation may be one way to bring harmony and balance to your busy life.

Improve Your Balance, Stability and Strength with a Bosu Ball

The Bosu ball is an excellent piece of equipment that can be incorporated into any exercise routine. Whether you are an elite level athlete or simply want to increase your balance and stability, the Bosu will help in a wide variety of ways.

As with any balance exercise, make sure that while using the Bosu ball you have something that is anchored to the ground close by. You will be purposely placing your body in unstable situations and you may lose your balance throughout the exercises. Having something close by will make you feel more comfortable and progress more smoothly through the exercises until you develop the needed strength. Remember, safety first.

Bosu stands for Both Sides Up, meaning you can stand or place your hands on either the black side or the blue side. Both sides change the degree of instability in different ways.

When standing on the blue side of the Bosu you recruit more ankle and foot stabilizing muscles since the foot does not have a solid place to make a balance point. This is great for runners who are training on variable of surfaces or people who may be worried about falling or twisting an ankle. By subjecting the foot to the instability of the Bosu you will train it to be prepared to react quickly when placed in a similar situation. This can be anything from hitting a rough spot in the ground, a tree root, or, of course the worst of all, holes. The Bosu will help you train for injury prevention as well as treatment of ankle or knee injuries.

The black side of the Bosu focuses more on the knee to hip complex and less on the ankle (the ankle will still be very much active). Since the black surface is perfectly flat, the ankle no longer has to struggle for stability. However, since the blue side is now touching the ground, the rest of the body must work together to maintain balance.

Exercises to Try:
Single Leg Step-up (blue side first then progress to the black side)
Place the foot directly in the center of the Bosu on the blue side. Let the circles on top of the ball guide you to proper foot placement. Contract the muscles through the leg that is on top of the Bosu and step up bringing the opposite knee up to assist with balance. When you first start, the goal is to get up and touch back down in the same spot. As you get into a rhythm, start holding longer at the top of the movement, testing your balance.

Basic Squat (blue side first then black)
Blue Side Facing Up: Stand on top of the blue side of the Bosu with both feet. You want your feet a little less than shoulder width apart. Find your balance by relaxing your legs and extending your spine up from the crown of your head. Maintain this spine length as you bend at your hips and knees to lower down into a squat.

Black Side Facing Up: While holding on to a secured object place one foot on the black side of the Bosu, fully tilting it to one side. Contract the muscles of that leg as you press yourself up and place the opposite foot on the other side of the Bosu. Your toes should be pointed forward and your feet should be a little wider than hip width apart. Relax the legs and extend the spine up. Maintain this spine length as you bend at your hips and knees to lower down into a squat. Your legs will most likely shake as they struggle to find stability (this is why we stay close to an anchored object) but as you progress in the exercise your muscles will calm down and the shaking will subside.

Heave and Ho – What are Sandbags Doing in the Gym?

Sandbags, what and why is this in the gym and not at a construction site? Sandbags (which are literally just bags filled with sand) are an old school tool that are getting a lot of new publicity as of lately. You see them being used by NFL players, by UFC fighters, by that guy at the park. Why are these bags so utilized by highly powerful athletes and those looking to gain that explosive edge?

Here are just a few reasons to use a sandbag instead of a conventional dumbbell or barbell:

  1. Because the bags are filled with sand the weight is constantly varied and no rep will feel the same. As the weight moves around in the bag you’ll have to balance it out as you move explosively through exercises.
  2. Balance, ripping a 45lb bag filled with loose sand off the floor to your chest will require much more full body balance and coordination than a unified barbell would.
  3. Real world training. It’s cool to bicep curl 50lbs but if you are looking to gain an athletic advantage on the soccer field (increasing your take off speed, jumping, quick turns, etc) or looking to be able to work in the yard without throwing out your back every other weekend, you’ll find that sandbags are as real as it gets.
  4. Unique exercises, sandbags are diverse and will challenge you with full body power movements as well as with stretching and core work. The possibilities are endless with this tool.
  5. Fun! The bags are diverse, challenging, and can be used just about anywhere. You can build an intense workout with 4 basic exercises, sounds more fun than sitting on benches doesn’t it?!

Sandbags will push you to find new ways to use your legs and arms as one powerful unit and help you build full body strength. Give it a try, pick up a bag and see how unique it is. This is one time you won’t get in trouble for throwing sand around!

To learn more about sandbag training contact Personal Fitness Trainer, Adriana Brown by phone at 443-1111 ext. 273.

Yoga Pose: Baddha Konasana

Spring is here! With all of it’s fickle weather that will have you smiling into the sun one minute, and running for cover from a hailstorm the next. Spring is such a tease, and it’s a time of wild transition that leaves most folks feeling a little spacey.

Time to get grounded!
At this time of year, most of us are trying to quickly shed our winter coats that may have settled around the mid section and the hips, creating some stiffness and discomfort. Baddha Konasana is one of the most perfect poses to gently stretch your inner thighs, groin and knees that will keep you flexible from your mid morning run or post winter soccer try outs. This pose is also soothing for menstrual pain and sciatica.

Here we go:
I suggest that you warm up with a few down dogs or vinyasa first to heat the large muscle groups of the body. Then, before you sit down on your mat, grab a blanket and fold it up like a burrito. Sit your sit bones on the edge of the “burrito” so your pelvic bone can tilt forward and give the knees, hips and inner thighs more room to stretch, especially if you have a tight low back. Once you are in position, bring the soles of the feet together, and draw your heels up as close to the groin as possible. From there, you can grab your feet, shimmy your sit bones back a touch, and round forward over your feet.

All together now.
Let’s put this pose together with a few others now for a little feel good sequence, that includes forward bending to kick in the relaxation response, and a mini back bend to fire up your nervous system and bring your forward bends into balance.

1. Sit on your “burrito” blanket in a cross-legged seat, for a seated twist. Bring the opposite hand to knee, and exhale on the twist.
2. Bring the soles of feet together for Baddha Konasana and sit in this pose for a minute.
3. Then, plant your feet on your mat about hip width, palms flat on the floor behind you, and lift your hips for Table Top pose. It is a half back bend.
4. Drop your hips back down on your “burrito” and extend your legs straightforward, bending at the hips for a forward bend.

Do this sequence 3x slowly after a run, or your workout, and you will feel amazing. Guaranteed.

Spring Into Running with a Balanced Body


As spring approaches, we get excited about enjoying outdoor activities here in the Pacific Northwest, including running. It’s easy! Just grab a pair of running shoes and head out the door! But have you ever jumped into a running regime, only to find yourself nursing an injury a few weeks or months down the road? Whether you are new to running or training for yet another marathon, look for ways to cross-train for a balanced body so you can enjoy running all season long.

Most runners know that it is critical to have a strong core, back, hips, and pelvic muscles, but what is the best way to achieve that? One option for this cross training is Pilates. Pilates is a series of exercises given to you by an instructor who learns your weaknesses and tight areas, and then develops a program based on those needs of stretching and strengthening.

I’ve noticed that runners are generally good at Pilates; they seem to know how to engage their gluteals (bottom muscles) and are aware of their core/abdominals. However, runners also tend to have tight quadriceps (thighs) and hip flexors, as well as weak hamstrings (back of legs) and inner thighs. These imbalances in the muscles of the legs and hips can potentially cause pain and injury for runners, especially the knee, hip, ankle and foot.

Pilates helps to balance things out in the legs by strengthening the hamstrings, inner thighs, and gluteals to take pressure off the front and side of the leg, leading to better alignment and less chance of injury. Plus the hip, abdominal and back strengthening exercises help to maintain better stability and alignment through the entire body while running.

The best way to learn what your body specifically needs is to meet with a Pilates Instructor one-on-one. But, in the meantime, some at-home exercises you could start today include the following:

1) The Hundred
2) The Abdominal Series of five
Single leg stretch
Double leg stretch
Single straight leg stretch
Double straight leg stretch
Criss-cross
3) The Swimming

A balanced body will result in better performance, quicker recovery, and less chance of injury so you can enjoy running all season long.