Archive for Stretching and Flexibility Exercises
Many health and fitness professionals design exercise programs for older women that progress at a slower rate than exercise programs for their younger clients. They believe that the possibility of injury is higher in older clients during exercise. This thinking has solidified the assumption that as you get older, you cannot possibly keep up with younger people.
Thankfully, a new study published in this month’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research(1) has been turned this assumption upside down. Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine in Brazil conducted a study “to examine the possible influences of age on exercise intensity progression in healthy women.”
The study determined that healthy women, without previous training, can exercise safely and improve the strength of their muscles and heart at any age.
In other words, age is not a barrier to a progressive exercise program for women.
Fit Past Fifty
At times, I also train young athletes (often the sons and daughters of my “50 plus women”). I frequently guide both groups through similar programs and set progress targets that are very much alike for both groups. Like the authors of the study, I have found that both groups can progress at a similar rate of improvement.
I must note that I often get clients who are older, de-conditioned and have a medical issue that requires attention. As a Physiotherapist, my medical background allows me to assess their unique situation (such as diabetes or recovery from an injury, etc) and address their specific health concerns. As a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, I am able to design an exercise program that allows them to attain their fitness goals.
I believe that older clients can safely achieve their fitness and health goals while taking into account their unique medical profile.
Two groups of women underwent 13 weeks of exercise training. They both followed the same exercise program and results documented and recorded during the study period. The two study groups were:
- Seventeen young women (29.1 years old, plus or minus 5.7 years)
- Sixteen older women (64.5 years old, plus or minus 4.5 years old)
The 13 week exercise program (for both groups) consisted of :
- Stationary cycling (known as cycle ergometry)
- Whole body resistance training. Specific exercises included bench press, leg press, seated row, knee curl, shoulder press, calf raise, triceps push-down, bicep curls, and abdominal exercises.
- Stretching exercises
The exercise program for women was designed to develop aerobic capacity, muscle mass and strength, and flexibility and was performed twice a week during the 13 week study period on all participants. The exercise intensity of the aerobic and resistance training was increased whenever an individual displayed improved performance.
A comparison of the progressions across all of the individual exercises between the two groups was not significantly different – meaning that the performance improvement of the older group was not that different than that of the younger group.
I believe that the implications of this study are very significant.
- As a society, our population is aging and inactivity can lead to significant health problems and have a detrimental affect on an individual’s independence as they get older. I believe many “older” people do not exercise because they think “If I am not going to make significant progress in an exercise program, why bother?” This study challenges this thinking. If we can get more of us onto a safe exercise program, the payoff to society (in terms of reduced long term health care costs) will be significant.
- As an individual, you now know that when you exercise properly, you can progress as well as your younger friends. You can take this new found learning into the New Year and start an exercise program. You may be surprised by your progress!
- Ciolac, EG et al. (2010) Age Does Not Affect Exercise Intensity Progression Among Women. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Vol 24, Number 11: 3023-3031.
Flexibility is a core component of the Personal Training exercise programs that I prescribe for my clients and is composed of stretching exercises appropriate for the individual client’s needs. I assess each client’s needs (including their flexibility) and then I work with them on the exercises I think will help them achieve their fitness goals.
During the assessment phase I ask my clients to show me the stretching exercises that they currently practice. The majority of them are using “static” stretching exercises where they keep the targeted muscle in a passive mode and hold a pose for an extended period of time.
I recommend that my clients practice active or dynamic stretching. In this case, the muscle that is opposite to the targeted muscle is activated. This sends a message to the brain to relax the target muscle.
Research has shown that this type of stretch is more effective than the static stretch when it comes to getting the maximum power out of the muscle. This is particularly true for the first 15 to 20 minutes before you start your exercise workout.
In this video, I demonstrate the two types of stretching exercises and discuss the effects in more detail.
This is the second part of my video presentation on how to build strong hand grip. Part 1 focussed on flexibility exercises for your hand. In this second video, Adrian Das brings us through his exercise program to build strength in your hands and massage techniques to reduce pain and discomfort.
Since posting the first video, I have had several clients approach me about exercise programs for their hands – in other words a personal training or Physiotherapy program for their hands. Many people experience hand problems because of extended use of their hands when gardening, working at the computer, or playing their favorite musical instrument. Repetitive activities can lead to imbalances and injury. That was why I asked Adrian to show me his program and share it with you. I hope you enjoy both videos and start using some of the exercises, stretches and massage techniques.
We use our hands everyday of our lives in our work and play. Hands that have a strong grip, are flexible and mobile can significantly affect the quality of what we do and the quality of our lives. I asked Adrian Das, an Ottawa Massage Therapist and rock climber, to share with me (and you) his workout routine for his hands. The video is the first of tow that I have for you. Part 1 is focussed on exercises that promote flexibility of the hands and Part 2 is focussed on exercises that promote strength of the hands and hand massage techniques.
As a Massage Therapist, Adrian’s strong hands are his livelihood. As a rock climber, Adrian’s strong hands allow him to enjoy what he loves, safely. Adrian calls his exercise program a “pre-hab” program that promotes flexibility, mobility and strength in the hand.
Although many of us will never need the hand grip strength Adrian has, we all can learn from his program. Your work or play can cause imbalances in your hand. Repetitive strain through activities such as golf, tennis, gardening, piano and guitar playing, computer keyboard use and other hand intensive activities can lead to problems down the road.
I highly recommend that you look at these videos. You probably not use all of the exercises, but I can guarantee that there are a number of them that you will find will help you improve the quality of your activities and reduce your chance of hand injury.
Happy viewing. And if you are in need of Massage Therapy in Ottawa, I strongly recommend Adrian!
Who doesn’t like to take it easy every once and while, especially after working all week, attending to your domestic affairs and working-out on a daily basis? However, you should view rest as an important part of an overall health regimen, encompassing specific programs that allow your body (and mind) to renew itself on non-workout days
What kind of activities should I do on my rest day?
The following activities help your body to prepare for your next workout and recover from the last one.
Remember : Work + Rest = Success.
1. Hot / Cold Contrast: If you do not have access to a hot tub you can get the same benefit by switching the shower settings. Alternate between 2-3 minutes of hot and 30 seconds to 1 minute of cold. Repeat 3 – 4 times. If you do this at the end of the day you may want to end with the hot setting. However, if it’s early and you are looking to start the day invigorated you can end with cold.
Why it works: In a hot tub or a hot shower your blood rushes towards your skin and away from your internal organs to help keep the internal organs from overheating. By contrast, a cold shower or plunge will cause your blood to rush away from your skin to keep your internal organs warm and safe.
2. Active-Isolated Stretching: Your rest day is a good time to spend extra time on your flexibility. This will optimize your muscle length, reduce your chances of injury and assist with recovery. Remember that AIS stretches are only held for 1-2 seconds and that you exhale with each assistance portion of the stretch. The rope should only add 10% range to your stretch. The movement should be very active.
Why it works: Improves oxygenation and nutrition to the muscles promoting growth and repair; stimulates your circulation and lymphatic drainage which helps eliminate metabolic wastes. Improves flexibility and health of muscles, tendons and ligaments.
3. Foam Roller: As per instructions use the foam roller for your quads, IT bands, quads, gluts your back and your lats. Talk to me about this if I have not covered it yet!
Why it works: Rolling your muscles acts as a gentle massage helping to increase the blood flow to the muscles, nerves and connective tissue.
Should I avoid all physical activity on my rest day?
No. I recommend that you have an active rest day: Go for a walk, an easy bike ride or a light jog. And remember to sleep and eat well to support your goals!