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September 25, 2007

Muscle Twinge To Injury

I worked out the other night and felt a little twinge in my shoulder. I stopped exercising, stretched a bit, then started again with other exercises. I didn’t feel much of anything later during the workout. But the next day, I couldn’t move my arm, I couldn’t believe it. do you by any chance know what happened?

Yes, most likely during your workout and any workout, we fatigue our muscles, temporarily making our muscles slightly weaker, which the body adapts and makes stronger. That’s the basic premise of exercising – stressing a body group, be it muscle group, tendons, ligaments, your heart, lungs, even connective tissues – stressing those body tissue to a point which they become fatigued and temporarily decreasing their strength, making them more vulnerable to injury in the next day or two. So when you exercise, you should ALWAYS make sure to take extra precaution not to overstrain those temporarily weakened body parts. And if you already have an injury, take extra caution.

Exercise To Prevent Injuries

I read in one of your articles that you had a client who was diagnosed by an orthopedic surgeon for total knee replacement, and after personal training with you, he didn’t need to go. How or what did you do to alleviate his condition?

First of all, you must see a specialized kinesiologist or someone with advanced training in biomechanics. Even physical therapists can help, but are often sadly limited in what they can do by insurance companies. Now, this won’t work for all, but will work for many, if not most people.

The exercises must be performed with extreme care and caution, and must never go over the threshold. See, when you workout, you stress a certain body part, lets say your muscles, to the point that the body reacts to the stress to become stronger. Our body’s ability to react is phenomenal. If you sit all day, your body will react to slow down your metabolism, not using your muscles, so your muscles atrophy. Since your muscles atrophy, they don’t need as much oxygen or food, so your blood system network or better yet, your capillaries decrease in size and number. For example, this is an extreme example, but the first astronauts to the moon were carried out in stretchers. Why? Because without gravity, their bodies adapted SO QUICKLY that in a few short weeks, the calcium in their bones were gone. X-rays taken before and after their trip to the moon showed extreme differences. That’s how quickly our bodies adapt to the environment. And on the lighter side, when a person starts training, their bodies adapt positively. First of all, when a beginner starts exercising, they sometimes may get winded. This is because their bodies blood oxygen level before wasn’t at the level required for exercise. Your body adapts, and increases red blood cells. This also occurs after a few day when you  travel to higher altitudes, since there is less oxygen in the air.

When a beginner client starts an exercise program, the muscles become ‘more active’, requiring increased oxygen and power. Because more power is required, more oxygen is needed to supply the working muscle cells. If the beginner continues the exercise program in a logical consistency, their body adapts and builds new capillaries which creates a more efficient blood supply network. I often use the metaphor “it’s like changing a Yugo into a Porsche, no disrespect to Yugos, but most people agree, the Porsche is an extremely efficient machine.

Yet our bodies are different than “just machines”. We are “living organisms”. We are alive. From engineering, if you look at a stress strain curve graph on non living materials, it has a downward curve. YET if you take a look at the stress strain curve graph on living systems, we have a positive curve. In other words, if you moderately hit a door, nothing will happen, except a knock. But if you keep on hitting the door, very small fractures will occur, and they will increase eventually to the point that you punch a hole through that door! The door has a negative stress strain curve.

Now, our bodies are living tissues. This actually is the basis of exercise: stressing a certain body part to the point, not too hard or injury will occur, and not to soft or you are just moving around, stressing that body part enough to “force it” to adapt and become stronger, more fit (with respect to the environment – another definition of fitness). When you “moderately hit your biceps muscles” in other words, workout your biceps, if done properly with correct from and technique, you will force your biceps muscle to react, become stronger, more fit. Your biceps will adapt to either increase or decrease in size, depending on what exercise program you are performing. . They will increase in size, if you want to build muscles, are a body builder, or are in to bodybuilding, or decrease in size, becoming smaller, harder, more dense, toner, if you are into weight loss, body sculpting, muscle toning.

Back to the question, with respect to my client’s knees, which were extremely inflamed and injured, he couldn’t even walk up the stairs without pulling himself up by a rail. Now, again with extreme focus, making sure the weights he was using were enough to get stronger, but not too much too much to get injured. His exercises were performed with the right sets, repetitions, durations between reps and sets to the point to achieve success. The exercises, him being on the right program for his body and his goals, I made sure that when he performed his exercises that his body was in alignments and his performance was such that the main stress was on the bell of the muscle, and NOT his knees. See, your body is as strong as it’s weakest link, the saying holds water.

Normally, in a healthy, balanced individual, your joints are stronger than your muscles. Your joints are held by ligaments, which are extremely tough and strong tissues. Yet, if injured via an acute strain like lifting too much or cyclic loading like running too much or past your joints threshold, or like in the old days, when farmers would hoe their own land, they would perform this activity for hours, good for their physical fitness, very bad for their bodies muscle balance, which created injuries, your joint is at the time weaker than your muscles. When you workout, the stress goes to your joints, which exacerbates your joint injury, and you don’t get the benefits most people want from just working a joint. This is one of the main reasons I see clients who have worked out on the own for years, if not decades, without much results, because the workout goes to their joints, not where it’s supposed to go, which is their muscle belly.

When I made sure my client was performing the exercise correctly, in other words, stressing his muscles, not his joints, his muscles became stronger, more fit,  and increased in ability to handle more stress. Plus by my client’s thigh muscles stronger, his knees indirectly become stronger, and after a couple of weeks, my client had zero pain going up the stairs, in fact, he was able to do lunges correctly in order to pick up stuff off the floor. I taught him the proper technique, No problem there anymore. And of course, he lost a lot of weight, fat that he had gained over the years, though that wasn’t his main concern, he got stronger in many other areas of his body, which he definitely needed, and felt more confident and better overall. Being physically fit is one of the best things life has to offer!

October 6, 2007

Marion Jones, a five time Olympic medalist winner, pleads guilty to taking steroids

a five time Olympic medalist winner, pleads guilty to taking steroids

Marion Jones, a five time Olympic medalist winner, three gold medals at the 2000 Olympics, admits to using steroids. This is shameful. I'm personally not against or for steroids, but for such an awesome feat as the Olympics, where everyone is “supposed” to be steroid-free and therefore ‘fair”, I think it’s awful.

This isn’t bodybuilding or a sport where people earn big bucks like baseball or football, although I’m not condoning it there, and I do know sponsors for Olympians give a nice penny. This is the Olympics, where the average Joe with talent, no professional sports players, although that’s been changing, are supposed to compete “fairly”. These athletes give a tremendous amount of energy and focus to even be able to make it to the Olympics, let alone win a medal. I can’t help but think of the competitors are thinking, especially the ones who got second place. If they actually one, the personal pride, family pride, sponsors, how different things would had been for them, what events would had come for if they won the gold. Obviously I don’t think Marion Jones deserves the medals and she should be stripped from them, and given to the second place winners. I'm not so sure about jail time, but a huge hefty fine should be in order.


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