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Joint Mobility

What is Synovial Fluid?
Synovial fluid is a fluid-like material that is present in many of the joints of the body. It serves the purpose of lubricating and nourishing certain parts of the joint. The joints in which synovial fluid is present are known as synovial joints, and these include the elbow, knee, shoulder, and hip joints, among others.

Synovial fluid has a thick consistency, somewhat like an egg. It is not like most other fluids present in the body and elsewhere, partly because it does not flow like a liquid. It may be more accurate to think of synovial fluid as a type of connective tissue, because of its composition and because of the work it performs.

Each synovial joint in the body is somewhat like its own organ, with needs and nutritional requirements that differ from other areas of bone. Synovial fluid performs certain mechanical functions, such as cushioning joints and making it easy for bones and cartilage to move past each other. It also has the job of bringing oxygen and other nutrients to the cartilage and other areas of the joint. In addition to providing nutrients, it also removes carbon dioxide and other waste products from the cartilage, and takes these back into the bloodstream to be removed from the body.

To keep the synovial fluid in the same place around a joint, it is contained within the synovial membrane. The way in which the fluid is contained in the joint may be responsible for a phenomenon quite familiar to most of us, namely the “cracking” of joints. When someone produces a cracking or popping sound from one of the synovial joints, whether intentionally or not, it is popularly theorized that synovial fluid plays a role in this. When the two bones of a joint are pulled away from each other, the synovial membrane expands, but the fluid volume does not. In order to fill the empty space, gases dissolved in the fluid are pulled out, and when they fill this new empty space, a popping sound is made.

It is common in the medical field to remove a sample of synovial fluid for testing. There are various parameters and attributes which are analyzed in such a test, such as color, clarity, and white blood cell count. The observation and testing of this fluid can aid in the diagnosis of dozens of different ailments, from rheumatic fever to scurvy. The fluid is obtained by inserting a syringe needle into the area of the joint where the fluid is, and extracting a small amount into the syringe. Needles used in this procedure can be somewhat large, so the area is usually anesthetized beforehand.

Joint Rotations/ Pre Exercise Warm Up
Joint mobility exercises is, and should be, an important part of your overall physical fitness regiment. There’s the traditional warm-up- maybe jogging on the treadmill, or on the spot (and that’s fine for getting your cardio engine started)-but your joints need to be warmed up as well. But, you should include joint rotations in your pre exercise routine.

Why Do It?
Well, simply put, it’s care and maintainance for your joints. Our joints allow our arms, legs, hips, ankles etc. to move freely. In between the bones we have something called cartilage, which prevents the bones from grinding against each other. Cartilage also helps to absorb physical shocks, but it doesn’t have its own blood supply so it relies on a fluid that the body produces called synovial fluid.

As we age this fluid, and therefore our joints, begin to fill up with toxins, which compromises the health of these joints by causing damage and even infection.  The way to create clean synovial fluid is simply to move the synovial joints. This is where this kind of training comes in. These exercises move the joints in different patterns, thereby helping to lubricate the areas and keep them healthy.  

Benefits

• Can help to repair and even regenerate parts of the body- As I mentioned earlier, cartilage doesn’t have its own blood supply so it relies on the synovial fluid to bring the amount it needs
for good health. Regular movement of the joints helps to ensure that there’s enough clean fluid.

• Helps to slow down aging of the joints-With a healthy supply of synovial fluid your joints will have all the nutrients they need to help repair damage due to normal wear and tear.

• Increased mobility-Being able to move when you want to move, and with the least amount of effort, doesn’t just make life better and pain free for athletes but also for the average person
whether there’re physically active or not.

Parts of the body that can benefit from this type of exercise:

• Neck

• Shoulders

• Wrists

• Elbows

• Hips

• Knees

• Ankles

Joint mobility exercises are easy to do and they can be performed every day whether you’re actively training or not. This will help to ensure proper range of motion and good health

No Escalator!!!

Kettle…What?

What is a kettlebell?
A kettle bell sort of looks like an black steel bowling ball with a thick handle and come in various sizes usually ranging from 8kg to 48kg.

Used previously by old time strong men and popularised by Russian athletes, the kettlebell is now used by top sports teams, martial artists, athletes, Hollywood celebrities and everyday trainers throughout the world, due to the outstanding results people are getting.

The foundation kettlebell exercise is the kettlebell swing. The swing can be done with 1 or 2 hands. It involves hiking the kettlebell between your legs before using your hips and posterior chain to propel the kettlebell forward and up in a circular swing movement before it drops under control back between your legs. The following great benefits can be gained by training with kettlebell swings.

 What is the benefit?
1). Kettlebells are highly efficient and allow you to do fitness and weight training in one workout at the same time.

2). Swings develop the important posterior chain muscles of the body such as the hamstrings, glutes, core and back. These muscles are often overlooked with traditional weight training but they are crucial for a large number of sports as these muscles are heavily involved in sprinting, jumping and tackling movements.

3). A kettlebell swing is a perfect choice of exercise for tabata training. This very short but intense style of training is ideal for kettlebell swings as they hit a lot of muscle at one time and get the heart rate soaring. Although Tabata training only involves work periods of 20 seconds with 10seconds of rest it is very brutal but very effective.

4). Swings work the abs and strengthen the core muscles as they provide a stable platform for other muscles to pull from. Traditional crunches are useless and do nothing for you, hit your abs with functional abdominal training that actually has benefit in the real world.

5). A key benefit of kettlebell swings is that they train all parts of the back from the lower back all the way to traps. They train all the muscles together giving you a great functional workout

6). High rep swings also develop back endurance which Professor Stuart McGill a leading spine/back expert considers has a very positive effect on the reduction of back injuries.

7). Swings are a fantastic conditioner and body fat burner. More and more studies are concluding that greater body fat burning occurs when training is performed at higher intensity levels rather than long slow endurance type training.

Although it sounds too good to be true there is a downside of kettlebell swings … they are hard work. However, if you build into your program gradually, a program based around kettlebell swing movements will provide fantastic workouts to get you fit, lean and healthy in a surprisingly short amount of time.

How to Swing a Kettlebell Correctly!

The kettlebell swing is the foundation movement for a large proportion of kettlebell exercises. The swing utilises a hip thrust that is fundamental to other kettlebell exercises such as the kettlebell clean and the kettlebell one arm snatch.
The swing maximizes muscular endurance in the back and waist, is a great lower body strength builder and is a highly effective conditioning exercise.

1) The starting position of the Two Arm Kettlebell Swing is with the kettlebell on the ground in front of you, knees bent, your weight centered towards your heels and your back flat

2) Start the movement by hiking the kettlebell behind you and then drive your hips forward to propel the kettlebell through its arc. The movement is similar to performing a standing broad jump, but of course you stay in the same spot

3) Your arms are just hooks and the power comes from the movement of the hips and the muscles of the posterior chain ie, hamstrings, glutes, lower back.

4) Swing the kettlebell to about chest height. At the top of the movement breathe out whilst contracting your quads, glutes and your abs (by tilting your pelvis up).

5) Breathe in and hold your breath as you let the kettlebell free fall back between your legs so that it passes through your legs as high as possible (to keep the arc tight and to stop unnecessary pulling on your back). Aim for your groin and then get your groin out of the way by taking you hips back

6) Although different trainees will have varying amount of knee bend the important thing is that the hips go back and thrust forward and that the quads do not take over the exercise. You should feel the movement in your hamstrings. If your quads are instead fatiguing then you are not taking the hips back at the bottom of the movement.

Dumbbell Benefits

Dumbbell training is one of the most common courses in fitness and weight training. It is not generally better than all the other weight training courses, but it has some of the advantages that other weightlifting trainings lack. For example, dumbbell training enables you to exert more force on your muscles especially when doing unilateral training. When using only one arm, the muscles on the other side of the body are recruited to help stabilize the weight. It produces more force on the side that is being trained. Thus, you can lift more than what you normally can with that limb than what it can lift in bilateral training. You can lift 40 or 50 pounds on one limb easier than you can lift the same weight simultaneously on both limbs. With this advantage available to dumbbell training, you build stronger and bigger muscles. Unilateral training with dumbbells also help increase metabolism to burn more fats. The routine is twice as long and each side is given enough focus one at a time. The exercise on one side is repeated on the other side. This helps develop not only the muscles but also power and endurance of the body.

Dumbbell training is also one good way to shape up our abs. When doing exercises with the dumbbells, the muscles of the abdomen are also recruited to help maintain the balance. As the upper limbs carry out the training, the muscles from the body are also used to provide greater force and maintain balance so they are also included in the training.

Power and endurance are increased as both muscles and cardiovascular organs participate in the training. The other training courses in weightlifting may require another course of training for cardiovascular workout but if you are not at liberty to do all the courses, the cardio workout of the dumbbell training may be enough. Probably one of the best advantages of dumbbell training is that a lot of the routines are applicable in everyday life. Some of the range-of-motion exercises using dumbbells follow the natural movements of our upper limbs as we normally move. With dumbbell training, the everyday activities of sports, work and just ordinary movements are made easier.

Sprinting as Workout

If you’ve been doing long, slow cardio, such as jogging, cycling, or swimming, for awhile without losing much weight or becoming much leaner even though you keep increasing your workouts, there is a simple explanation: too much cardio actually makes you fat. Excessive cardio increases stress hormones and down regulates the hormones, such as growth hormone and testosterone, that preserve muscle. In additon, elevated stress hormones make you insulin resistant, which leads to overeating as well as to eating foods that contribute to insulin resistance, such as sugars and starches.

Despite their appearance, many joggers and cyclists are not really lean. They may be slender because they have little muscle mass, but their body fat percentages are often surprisingly high.. In contrast, sprinters are lean and muscular with low body fat percentages. They have high human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone levels–good for both females and males. Think back to the last track meet you saw. Who would you rather look like: the sprinters or the distance runners?

Benefits of Sprinting
1) Sprinting will reduce body fat and strengthen you far more than long, slow cardio because sprinting requires maximal recruitment of muscle. After about 8 seconds, sprinting sends acid signals to the muscles, which activates the fast twitch fibers. Fast-twitch fibers are thicker than slow twitch fibers, and it is fast twitch fibers that grow in size when activated by the right training.
2) Sprinting naturally increases human growth hormone. Human growth hormone increases muscle mass, thickens and adds flexibility to the skin, enhances the immune system, promotes weight loss through fat redistribution and loss, and increases stamina.
3) Sprinting strengthens your cardiovascular system with brief bursts of high intensity followed by long periods of recovery. You strengthen your skeletal muscles by doing heavy, low-repetition sets with long recoveries. You should strengthen your heart the same way. Sprinting doesn’t cause the continuous stress on the heart that long, slow cardio does.
4) Sprint workouts are short and a lot more fun than long, boring cardio workouts.

The Definition of Sprinting
Based on the misleading articles and workouts I’ve seen posted all over the web, I’d better define what sprinting is. Sprinting is not just running faster than a jog. You cannot “sprint” for 30-60 second or even more with an equal recovery for 6-10 repetitions as some fitness “experts” advise. This is an anaerobic or interval workout. It’s far better for you than plodding along the road or on a treadmill, but it’s not sprinting and won’t give you the benefits mentioned above. Sprint means “to race or move at full speed.” Think playing tag or running to first base after a hit. Sprint workouts feature short, high-intensity repetitions and long, easy recoveries.

Where to Do a Sprint Workout
A track is the best place to do sprints because it’s marked (in meters), and its surface is ideal for sprinting. A grass or dirt surface is next best; however, check your course for gopher holes and such before starting your sprints. Twisting an ankle will end your sprint workouts for awhile. The one place not to do your sprint workout is on concrete. Your back will thank you.

How to Do a Sprint Workout
Start your workout by warming up for about 5 minutes. Measure out a course from 50-100 yards (or meters) long. Remember that you need to sprint at least 8 seconds before your body sends the signals that produce human growth homone. Do 5-10 repetitions. The total distance of your sprints should not exceed 400-800 yards or meters. Between repetitions, walk slowly at least twice the distance that you ran. This should take from 1-2 minutes. Don’t jog to “keep your heart rate up.” You need to recover so that each repetition can be run at close to full speed. No matter what workout you planned, if you reach a point where you can’t sprint because of fatigue, quit. Jogging to “finish” the workout won’t do you any good since intensity is the objective, not volume.

If you’re out of your teens and haven’t been sprinting for a year or more, you will probably not be able to sprint at full speed right away. You should allow yourself at least a week for every decade you’ve lived to build up to full speed sprinting. In other words, if you’re 40 and haven’t been doing any sprinting in the past year, allow at least 4 weeks of gradually increasing the speed of your sprints before trying to go full speed in your workout. Even then, it doesn’t hurt to hold back a little on the first repetition or two of each session.

How Often to Do a Sprint Workout
If you’re running, cycling, swimming, etc. in addition to sprinting, limit your sprint workouts to twice a week with at least 48-72 hours between. If you’re not doing anything else but strength training, you can go to 3 times a week if you want.

Sprinting is a natural and valuable human activity. If you think back to when you were a kid, how many times did you jog for miles? Almost never, right? On the other hand, you probably sprinted nearly every day on the playground, the athletic field, or just down the street. If you want to maintain a youthful body, you have to continue to do the things that youthful bodies naturally do. Sprinting is one of those things.

Sprinting Is Actually One of The Best Butt Exercises 
Do You Know What the Gluteal Fold Is? The gluteal fold is the area where the butt meets the hamstring. A person with a well developed glute-hamstring area would have a smooth transition between these two muscle groups. A person with less development here would almost be able to hold a pencil at the junction between the hamstrings and butt muscles. Sprinting is an amazing way to develop definition and firm up the glute and hamstring area. The nice thing about sprinting is that it seems to build proportionate muscles in the legs, hips and butt over time. I always recommend Sprinting builds great definition and tone in the lower body that can’t be duplicated with resistance training.

Tips On Sprinting Form
When you sprint, you need to relax your shoulders. There is a tendency to shrug the shoulders up as you sprint. The problem lies in the fact that if your shoulders start to rise, your hips lock up a bit…this decreases your ability to sprint quickly. Also, over time you will notice that your feet are barely contacting the ground for more than a split second. This is what you are aiming for. As you get better at sprinting, you will fly over the pavement in a way that is much different than jogging. 

Other Major Benefits of Sprinting
Sprinting creates major metabolic changes in your body. Research has shown that high intensity exercise will burn calories long after your workout is complete.  If you only do low intensity exercise, you probably won’t cause your body to increase HGH release. Consequently, you burn less body fat if you only include low intensity exercises in your workout routine.

Get In Lean Shape With Little or No Equipment

Two common barriers for people who want to exercise and get in shape are a lack of time and money needed for fitness.

Who has the time to go to the gym, or buy expensive equipment, or take long bike rides?

Well, if those are the things stopping you, you’re in luck.

It takes no equipment to get a great workout and get in shape, and with one or two pieces of simple equipment, you can turn that great workout into a fantastic one, you magnificent beast, you.

And with little or no equipment required for a fantastic workout, you can do it at home, or wherever you are. Even if you’re in solitary confinement.

It’s hard not to find time for this type of workout — you can do it while watching TV, for goodness sake!

The Pros and Cons of Bodyweight Exercises

Using just your bodyweight, you can do a large number of challenging exercises. I designed a workout that I do when I can’t make it to the gym, for example, and I can testify that it’s incredibly challenging (more on that below).

If you add just one or two pieces of equipment: a dumbbell, a kettlebell, a jump rope, a medicine ball, or a chinup bar, for example, you can increase the challenge even more.

Now, I’m not putting down lifting weights — I truly believe in lifting heavy weights when you can, but there are tremendous benefits from bodyweight exercises as well:

No gym fees or need to buy expensive equipment.
You can do the workout anywhere, anytime.
Most exercises involve many muscles working in coordination, resulting in great overall fitness and strength.
For people who are just starting with strength training, bodyweight is often more than enough to begin with. And it gives you a good foundation of strength you can build on later.
Bodyweight exercises aren’t the only thing you should ever do, however, for several reasons:

After awhile (a couple months perhaps), they aren’t all that challenging. You’ll need to continue to build your strength by adding weights. You can do that with some simple equipment (see below).
If you don’t have at least one or two pieces of equipment — a chinup bar or a resistance band perhaps — some muscles don’t get worked out as much as others. That’s not a problem over the short term, but over the long term you’ll want to make sure you get a balance.
I suggest starting with bodyweight exercises, and then slowly transitioning to a combination of bodyweight and weight training to get a good balance. And even if you’re doing a complete weight training program, you can always use bodyweight exercises anytime you can’t make it to the gym.

A few suggestions:
Choose a variety of exercises that work out all the parts of your body. Don’t do all variations of pushups, for example. You should be doing some pulling exercises (like pullups), some lower-body exercises, like lunges and squats, and others that work out all of your body, like burpees.
If you want a real challenge, mix cardio exercises (see below) with the strength exercises.

If you have some of the equipment listed below, definitely use them. Or buy one or two pieces of equipment … but there’s no need to rush out and buy a whole bunch of things. You can get a great workout without equipment, at least for awhile.

If you’re just starting out, take it easy and gradually build up. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t overdo it!

As you get stronger, gradually add weights. Dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and medicine balls are some good ways to do that. It’ll take a couple months of bodyweight exercises, though, before you really need to move to weights.

Basic bodyweight exercises There are many, many variations of bodyweight exercises, but here are some of the more common ones:
– Pushups (there are many variations — Hindu pushups , dive bombers, diamond pushups  and others)
-Burpees 
-Squats  (variations: jump squats , Hindu squats )
-Lunges  (variation: jumping lunges, side lunges)
-Chair dips 
-Planks  (variation: side plank)
-Crunches – my favorite: bicycle crunches 
-Bear crawl – crawl quickly on hands and feet 
-Lateral barrier jump – jump sideways, over an obstacle 
-Isometrics
-Plyometrics

Exercises requiring minimal equipment
You don’t need to buy all of this equipment, but if you have any, these are great. Or buy one or two pieces in order to add an extra challenge to your workout:
-Pullup bar: Chinups, pullups, hanging knee raises (here’s the one I use)
-Resistance band
-Medicine ball
-Kettlebell 
-Dumbbells
-Tractor tires — there are lots of exercises where you flip tires, jump through them, etc.

Cardio exercises
Jumping jacks
-Jump rope – requires jump rope, of course, but it’s a great workout 
-Side shuffles
-Touchdowns
-Run 800 meters (or a mile)
-Interval running
-Rowing (requires a rowing machine)

The Thyroid and Metabolism

Metabolism is a word that the weight loss industry uses freely when pushing its various weight loss programs. What many of these programs do not tell you is how the endocrine system relates to our metabolism and how changes to that system can drastically affect our ability to lose or even gain weight.

At the center of the body’s hormonal system is the thyroid, a small butterfly shaped gland that sits atop the adams apple. The thyroid and the hormones it release’s control most of the body’s metabolism. When the thyroid begins to malfunction or a disease affects its processes the metabolism of the body can become seriously affected. One of the biggest changes that can occur as a result of a thyroid problem is weight gain or weight loss. With a weight gain because of thyroid problems one can find it that much more difficult to loose that weight.

What many people who are trying to loose weight do not take into account is how well their metabolism is functioning with regards to their thyroid. The main problem is most weight loss experts and programs recommend cutting calories. For many people this does work, but for those with a malfunctioning thyroid cutting calories can do more damage then good.

There are two forms of thyroid disorders, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Both conditions can have profound affects on a person’s metabolism.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid does not release adequate amounts of the hormones T3 and T4. When this happens the metabolism slows, causing fatigue, weakness and rapid weight gain. For people trying to loose weight an under-active thyroid can make attaining any sort of weight loss nearly impossible. Cutting calories will not help with weight loss when suffering from this condition. In fact, because of the already slowed metabolism the body will start hoarding what little calories it is getting, further exacerbating the fatigue and weakness associated with hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, occurs when the thyroid releases too much thyroid hormone. When this happens the person’s metabolism raises drastically. While this may seem like a good thing for someone trying to loose weight the truth is that both forms of thyroid dysfunction are extremely dangerous and must be treated with thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

For those with normal thyroid function loosing and gaining weight is a matter of calories in and calories out. But for those who are having difficulty loosing weight despite trying all the normal routes making sure the thyroid is functioning properly may be the first step to restoring the body’s hormonal balance.

Twelve Ways to Revive and Boost Your Metabolism – When You’re Hypothyroid, What You Can Do to Jumpstart Your Metabolism

When you’re hypothyroid, fatigue, difficulty losing weight, or continued weight gain can all be attributable to a drop in the metabolism that frequently accompanies hypothyroidism. Even after your hypothyroidism is properly treated with thyroid hormone replacement, you may find that your metabolism has not bounced back to where it was before. This sluggishness in your metabolism can leave you feeling exhausted, and finding that you can’t lose weight, despite a healthy low-calorie diet.

Here are some ways you can help revive and boost your metabolism.

Make sure you eat breakfast.  If you don’t eat breakfast, you slow down your metabolism and send the body into “hoard mode,” thinking it’s starving because you’re going a long period of time frequently 8 to 10 hours or more, without food.

Eat the majority of your food earlier in the day. Dinner should be your lightest meal, and some experts recommend you don’t anything after 8 p.m., or any later than 3 to 4 hours before bedtime. This helps your body process and burn the food when you’re aware and moving around and burning more calories per hour.

Don’t starve. Dropping your calorie intake below 1,000 calories a day will signal to your body that you are in starvation mode, and will slow down your metabolism.

Eat smaller meals more frequently. Smaller, more frequent meals keeps your blood sugar stable and provides a steady source of energy to fuel metabolism.

Get enough aerobic exercise. As much as you can is really a help for your metabolism, and if you do it in the morning, you’ll raise your metabolism all day.

Build muscle with weight training or resistance exercise. At least two to three times a week, you should add weight training or progressive resistance exercise that builds muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest!

Water, water, water!! You’ve heard it before, but drink those 8 8-ounce glasses of water every day. The energy burning process of metabolism needs water to work effectively.

Get enough B vitamins. Among supplements, if you are suffering from flagging energy, you need to make sure that you are getting enough B vitamins. Vitamin B-12 in particular is one that is essential for energy. To ensure you’re getting enough B vitamins, consider taking a B complex, plus a separate sublingual B-12.

Try a supplement for fatigue. Another type of supplement useful for fatigue is in the area of substances that the body naturally produces for energy production.
Supplements in this category include:
        – Co-enzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, which supplies energy to muscles 
        – L- Carnitine 
        – NADH (Nicotinamide Adenine Finucleotide) which helps cells convert food into energy 
        – Green Tea extract 
        – Try Chinese Herbs

In terms of herbal remedies, while you should avoid ephedra and ma huang stimulants, you can ask your practitioner about schizandra–a Chinese herb that is used for fatigue. Ginseng is also popular for energy. Before trying any herbs, supplements, or vitamins, you should of course consult with your practitioner to ensure they are safe for you. Ginseng, for example, is not recommended for someone with high blood pressure and many herbs and supplements are not recommended during pregnancy.

Try mate tea.  In the process of writing my book, Living Well With Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You…That You Need to Know, I had the opportunity to interview herbal and aromatherapy expert Mindy Green of the Herbal Research Foundation. I asked her what, as a person with hypothyroidism, I should reach for when I’m just completely out of steam, and am ready for a giant double espresso in order to make it through the day. Mindy, said, unquestionably, mate tea. Mate, pronounced, “mah-tay,” is an herbal tea native to South America. Mate is considered far more nutritious than black tea or coffee, and though it also has some caffeine, its effects are energizing, rather than making people jittery.

Consider Energy Work. Energy and bodywork , such as yoga, tai chi, qigong (pronounced chee-gung), and Reiki, can all help in adding and balancing energy. In qigong, tai chi, and yoga, gentle movements are used to move energy along the energy pathways of the body. In Reiki, a practitioner helps open up energy channels.