Day: January 24, 2012

Spice up your workout!

Keep your New Years resolution alive by mixing up your workout and staying motivated. Group exercise classes such as Yoga, cycle, sports conditioning, dance or resistant classes are ways to liven up your workout while staying motivated and having fun. Before you lose site of your goals branch out into other areas of fitness training. Who knows, you might even enjoy it!

Group, by definition, is more than one person. Therefore, more conservative guidelines are set for group exercise than that of a personal trainer who works one-on-one or a coach who works with a well-trained athlete. Due to the nature of group exercise, an educated instructor will evaluate two main components-effectiveness and potential risk. With that in mind, the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America or AFAA, which is a nationally recognized organization for group exercise certifications, has developed five questions an instructor should consider when putting together a safe and effective workout for participants.

First, what is the purpose of the exercise? Consider muscular strength or endurance, cardiorespiratory conditioning, flexibility, warm-up, skill development, and stress reduction. Secondly, are you doing that effectively? Consider proper range, speed or body position against gravity. Third, does the exercise create any safety concerns? Consider potential stress areas, environmental concerns or movement control. Fourth, can you maintain proper alignment and form for the duration of the exercise? Consider form, alignment, and stabilization. Finally, for whom is the exercise appropriate or inappropriate? Consider modifications to increase or decrease the level of intensity based on fitness levels.

When choosing a class that suits your needs, consider your goals whether they are flexibility, cardio-fitness or strength training. Once you have determined this, grab a schedule and jump in! Before you begin a new class, it’s always a good idea to talk with the instructor before class. He or she can provide valuable information as to what you can expect and what you may want to do to modify. Keep in mind, the first couple of times you try anything new it will seem awkward. The key is to keep going back. The more you participate, the better you will become. The energy in the class provided from the instructor, the music and the workout will inspire you to return and reach your fitness goals.

If you are ready to branch out and try something new to help your fitness goals become a reality, try a group exercise class today!

Why icing may not be your best bet for sore muscles…

We all know the acronym RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) but is that really the answer to all sore muscle pains? Research in Ireland is showing a different case. Most athletes or active persons involved in an injury or sore muscle issues will immediately place ice on the injury sight.

As a professional athlete who spends most of her time racing on a mountain bike or on skis, get bumps and bruises quite often and sometimes a sore shoulder from falling off my bike and hitting a tree or from completely annihilating myself off a ski jump while trying to do a 360 on skate skis. I have had my fair share of injuries, mostly muscle or bone bruising and I most often would ice the sore area…it made it feel better. And, one of my favorite activities are ice baths the night before a race. The feeling of the blood leaving my legs in the cold bath and then re-warming as I snuggle into some cozy sweats is wonderful. But, I’m not sure it is always the best idea to ice and then be active.

It is difficult with icing and research because there is really no way to do a “blind” test. You can’t blind people to whether they are receiving a therapy or a placebo, and people mostly know if their muscles are getting cold or not. Current research has indicated that icing significantly reduced muscle strength and power for up to 15 minutes after the icing had ended, and it also lessened fine motor coordination. Impaired limb proprioception was also a symptom from people in the study.

One idea for this decrease in performance and power is the ice reduces nerve conduction velocity. The impulses from the nerves are slowed down within the muscle and tendon fibers, thus decrease their seamless functionality. So, with impaired function the possibility of injury can rise.

So what’s the point here? Basically icing limits your muscular functionality for a limited time. So, if you are injured and you choose to numb the pain with ice…do not return to exercise after icing. Icing is great for acute injuries, just don’t go back to your workout. Chill out, hydrate and plan your next workout in your head!