By Dr. Tom Kleeman, an orthopedic surgeon and creator of MDFitness: The Doctors Workout, a 3-DVD workout available at TheDoctorsWorkout.com.
Your alarm goes off. You pry your eyes open, swing your legs over the side of the bed, and take those first morning steps. That’s when the real alarms go off. Your back and joints cry out in anguish. For a moment you are frozen like the rusty Tin Man wondering how to lubricate all of those joints. You remember reading somewhere that it was important to stretch in the morning, but what does that mean exactly?
For years static stretching has been the mainstay of the early morning routine. As it turns out, research doesn’t support a benefit from static stretching. Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, has been shown to have many benefits including warming up your muscles, increasing blood flow, and jump-starting your metabolism. The idea is to obtain the most benefit in the least time using compound exercises that work multiple joints or muscle groups at the same time. Check out these four dynamic stretches and see for yourself. It’s like having a can of lubricating oil at your bedside.
High March with Arm Swings
This is a great beginning move. It’s easy on your joints while warming up both the upper and lower body. Start by marching in place bringing your knees up higher as your hips warm up. At the same time, stretch your arms out to the side and bring them forward wrapping them around your chest then back out in the tempo of the march. Keep going for about 30 seconds. This exercise gets your hips, shoulders, and chest warmed up and limber. (more…)
Five years ago, almost to the day, I was diagnosed with pretty severe knee osteoarthritis. I was a on the young side for this condition: I was still in my late 20s although my doctor said my knees were more like those of an 80-year-old. The good news was, and still is, that while I suffer from occasional swelling in my joints I don’t really experience much pain. This is part luck, and part careful planning. If you’re been feeling any extra aches or have a diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis here are some tricks that have helped me minimize any discomfort and will allow me to put off treatment (i.e., a knee replacement) for as long as possible:
1. Ditch the high heels. Funny but true: This was probably the hardest lifestyle change to make. I was living in New York where shoes are a real part of the dress code. But I had flashes of pain each time I walked down the stairs in them, or stood for long periods of time. If osteoarthritis is a wearing down of the cartilage between the bones I realized that this was one thing I needed to avoid in order to give my knees TLC.
Vigorous exercise has the potential to add unnecessary wear and tear on the joints of the body. While weight bearing exercises are a must to keep bones strong and healthy, sometimes our knees, hips, and spine can take a beating if we don’t find balance with some gentle activity.
Ancient Taoists refer to certain types of exercises or super-active behaviors as Yang, known as the energetic life force that facilitates change, growth, and get-up-and-go for the mind and the body. Yang exercises include running, high-impact aerobics, weightlifting, and even certain styles of yoga such as Ashtanga or power vinyasa.
It is surprising that yoga is referred to as a Yang activity, but many styles require a high level of vim and vigor to practice. Sometimes, as a result of pushing, striving, and working too hard in yoga, injuries can incur and joints can be compromised. Even a yoga class must be balanced out with some slower moving and deeply relaxing activity. (more…)
Some of us want to be fitter, more flexible, have better balance and a stronger core. While these desires are obtainable with a little hard work, no matter how hard we try, the wish to be taller just cannot be granted, at least not until now.
Christopher Harrison, a competitive athlete, dancer and former gymnast, turned his love of aerial arts and performance into the first complete program in the emerging exercise field called “suspension training.” Defying the laws of physics, AntiGravity Aerial Yoga is about having fun while learning how to fly. It is a hybrid class that involves a variety of physical disciplines such as dance, Pilates, acrobatics and aerial arts practiced within the context of yoga. Harrison claims his revolutionary system of yoga can make you taller by decompressing the spinal column and aligning the body from head to toe.
For most, impact exercise is a good thing. The more force you apply to your bones, the stronger they become. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the population is physically falling apart due to being sedentary, overweight, and all around just plain horrible to ourselves.
To be fair, many have legitimate joint and bone injuries, or are recovering from surgeries that also require them to stick to low and no impact modes of exercises. There is no shame in that. Low or no impact doesn’t have to mean taking it easy- it just means working out differently. You can get just as intense of a workout while still being mindful of your limitations.
Low Impact Cardio
To determine if something is high impact, ask yourself if your feet leave the floor, and how hard they come back in contact with it. Your bones and joints are required to absorb the shock, and the impact of this can be too much for many.
There are two things I’ve learned since moving into my new home.
1. I had no problem meeting my step goal from Miss Courtney Crozier’s summer challenge since I now have 3 sets of stairs to go up and down all day.
2. The creaking noise I’m hearing is not from my stairs, it’s from my knees.
I’m not sure what caused it: whether it’s my years of sports playing goalie and catcher in high school or rugby in college. It could be the stress on my body from the extra 120 pounds of weight that I had less than a year ago. Maybe I’m just getting, dare I say it, … getting old??
The good news is I’m not in pain…yet. However, this could be the warning signs of something greater and as a health care professional I should not be ignoring things. I am considering taking some supplements to help lubricate my joints like I’m the tin man in the Wizard of Oz.
Yoga has many long lasting health benefits when practiced on a regular basis. It is proven to lower blood pressure, increase flexibility, strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular health. As we get older, it is important to continue an exercise program that is appropriate for our bodies. Most styles of yoga are gentle enough to practice through a lifetime, however there are a few considerations we must honor to avoid unnecessary strain or discomfort.
A proper warm up makes a tremendous difference in the way we carry our bodies in yoga. A loose and limber spine is paramount for getting into and out of poses with ease. Simple flexion and extension movements of the spine increase its fluidity by lubricating the spaces between each vertebra, allowing the adjacent muscles to release stiffness. Spinal mobility is a key component for a fit and healthy body, especially as we age.
Arthritis is a condition defined by inflammation in one or more joints, coupled with stiffness, soreness and a limited range of motion. According to the Center for Disease Control, arthritis affects nearly 50 million Americans, and that amount is expected to rise. There are over 100 types of arthritis and the causes include but are not limited to obesity, lack of exercise, improper auto immune response, and the overuse of a misaligned joint.
However the painful condition has come about, the treatment and management of it is very important. Doctors recommend that arthritis sufferers get some moderate exercise and eat right to maintain a healthy weight.
Yoga, because it is a non-impact activity, is a very beneficial way to get some moderate exercise. Yoga poses strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints in a gentle way so the rate of progression of arthritis is slowed and moving becomes less painful. As a result, the symptoms of soreness and stiffness are more properly managed.
Read on to learn about a few basic guidelines to adhere to when practicing yoga with arthritis. Always remember to check with your doctor before embarking on a new type of exercise. In addition, speak with your instructor to learn about modifications you might find useful.