Brother we can’t quit until we get our share

This post has nothing to do with health and fitness. It has everything to do with loving our fellow human being no matter who they are.

I’m lost. I’m consumed by emotion that I can’t really deal with in that I’m overwhelmed by it. It started with what happened in Central park. A white woman knowing the privilege she held in her hand. Unable to deal with confrontation in the form of someone, a black man, telling her that she was breaking the law by not having her dog on a leash she did what she does best. She played the helpless white woman card and called 911 explaining that a black man is threatening her and her dog. You could tell she was well aware of the power she held in her hands, She knew what the outcome would be, the police siding with her and the black man arrested. And to add to it she was sure to use her hysterical voice, rising up a couple of octaves, reeking of fear that she was about to lose her life as the black man stood 20 feet away from her. She tried to ruin a man’s life because she could not handle a black man telling her she was in the wrong. And fortunately, luckily, this was recorded and when the recording went viral she then cried that her life is in ruins. How hypocritical that she is upset that her life is in ruins as she tried to ruin someone else’s life by lying. Just to get her way. She was willing to ruin someone’s life just to get her way, because she would not have a black man tell her she was in the wrong.

And then On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, an African-American man, died in Powderhorn, a neighborhood south of downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. While Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on a city street during an arrest, Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds; 2 minutes and 53 seconds of which occurred after Floyd became unresponsive. I watched the video of this and I wish I hadn’t. I had to. I’m not sure why but I had to watch it, maybe so I could understand what happened, so I could see what happened so when the reports of him resisting would undoubtedly come out I would know what really happened. I wish I didn’t watch it. At first seeing George restrained I thought this is not unusual in the sense of keeping someone contained. I watched and waited for the scene to change, for Derek Chauvin to pick him up and put him in the cruiser. He never did. He just kneeled there, keeping his knee buried into George’s neck. George kept saying he can’t breathe. I could see a white coating on the outer part of his lips and I started to panic a bit, I really started to get scared. And then George cried out for his mom, ‘Mom, help me’ and I lost it. I cried and I cried. A 46 year old man crying out for his mom. And nothing changed. Nothing.

Derek Chauvin kept the same posture, ensuring his knee kept burrowing into George’s neck. Minutes went by as George laid lifeless. People yelling to take his pulse, to get off his neck, that he can’t breath but Officer Tou Thao would have nothing of that: ‘Hey, back on the sidewalk’ he would yell as someone would go on the road to help. And then he died. And then later the ambulance showed up. They dragged his body onto the gurney and loaded it in. That’s it. Just like another day. No one batted an eye. No one really cared.

So I get it. I do. I get the protesting, I get the rioting. If no one listens after you walk down the streets of Selma-to-Montgomery 60 years ago asking for the same rights as other humans that happen to be white then I get it. When after the LA riots following the acquittal of the officers that beat Rodney King nearly to his death I thought things would change. People talked about stopping racism. Police departments, governments talked about reform, about stopping systemic racism and that things would change.

And here we are. 2020. Nothings changed.

Protests. Riots. Talk will be next. Things have to change and it has to start with the top. But after reading his tweets that isn’t going to happen.

But if we change, things will change. Now’s the time to make a change. Do it. Make things change. There are millions of us. We can do this.

 

Darryl

 

When routine bites hard…

If you are sitting for a good portion of the day because your work requires you to, or you find yourself sitting a lot of the days or evenings because ambitions are low, you very well might have tight hip flexors.

What

What are our hip flexors? Hip flexors are muscles at the top of your legs that play a key role in moving your lower body. Walking, bending, kicking, swiveling the hips are done using our hip flexors. If your hip flexors are tight and you make a sudden move, or an explosive move they might stretch too far, or even worse, tear.

How

Getting into the lunge

So how do you know if you have tight hip flexors? Stretching muscles for the sake of stretching is not always a good idea. If your hip flexors are long already, there really is no need to make them longer. The more you know about how your body works the more this makes sense. No one’s body is perfectly balanced but for health and well being this should be a goal. Muscles pull, they don’t push. That is how we move. The muscle that pulls is referred to as the prime mover, or agonist. The bicep is the prime mover when doing bicep curls. The opposite muscle, or the muscle that opposes the movement,  is referred to as the antagonist. In the example of a bicep curl, the tricep is the antagonist. Have you ever seen someone may be at the gym who when standing their arms are always overly bent at the elbows, hands no longer at their sides but near their belly? This is usually because they have paid too much attention to the biceps and not enough to the triceps, the triceps are too long and are not able to pull the lower arm back. This is a case of muscle imbalance.

Let’s get to the test to determine if you have tight hip flexors:

      • You’ll need a table strong enough to support your body weight and ideally high enough to let your feet dangle. Lay down on the table on your back having the underside of your knees at about 2 inches from the edge of the table so your legs can dangle. While laying down, keep your lower back close to the table so your pelvis is at the correct position. Now, bring up one of your knees towards your chest trying to get to 90 – 120 degrees. Keep the other leg relaxed, on the table, aiming for an 80 – 90 degree bend in that knee. If while having the one knee close to your chest at 90 – 120 degrees the other upper leg hasn’t moved, raising off of the table than we are off to a good start. If not, then either your quad or hip flexor is tight. Knowing this, with the leg that is dangling down, straighten it and see if it will now lower down so your upper leg is back on the table while having it relaxed. If the leg lowers without issue, the tightness was in your quad. If the leg doesn’t lower, than it’s your hip flexor. Be sure to do this with both legs.

Stretch

      • Kneeling lunge:
          • Kneel down on one knee. With that leg, the one that has the knee on the ground, keep the knee aligned with the hip, not to the outside or inside, and same with the lower leg, keep everything straight behind the hip. Now with the other leg, keep a 90 degree bend in the leg, and keep it also forward of the hip.
          • Keep the upper body upright, don’t lean forward. Leaning forward changes the position of the hips, pelvis. You can put both hands on your knee and upper leg if you so choose.
          • Now, with the knee that is on the ground, move it back a bit so your the bend in that leg is no longer 90 degrees. Move it back to about 70 – 80 degrees. The tighter your hip flexors are the less you will want to move that knee back. You’ll see when you start the stretch.
          • Now press your hips forward keeping your upper body upright. You should feel this in the upper leg area of the leg that has the knee down. Move your hips until you feel the muscle start to stretch. Hold for 30 – 60 seconds. Now do the other side.
          • While doing the stretch be mindful of the knee on the forward leg. Don’t let the knee overshoot the toes.
          • Do this stretch 30 – 60 seconds, 3 – 4 times on each leg.

Finally

That’s it. This one stretch will help to lengthen your short, tight hip flexors. Remember to push the stretch a little further as you feel the muscles relax, usually at about 30 seconds.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

it feels like yesterday was a year ago

I guess it’s about time I apologize for the titles of my posts. They are not always relevant to the content of the post, sometimes, but not always. When I write, things come from deep within me. I’m not that person who would title a post ‘Grow your arms bigger’, or ‘Strengthen those abs’. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it’s just not me. My blog titles are derived from things I like, sometimes songs, sometimes poetry or quotes from books. The words I use in my titles I find interesting and I hope you do too. I do my best to use keywords for my posts so if you have trouble finding something, I do apologize but also try to look under the keywords that the post should belong to.

Having said that, let’s get to it, shall we?

What

Let’s talk about a stretch, a stretch that most of us get wrong partly because we tend to overdo it. But it’s one of my favorite stretches as it releases tension from a lot of muscles especially our abdominal muscles.

The cobra stretch. Mainly an abdominal stretch but you can also use this to stretch out the anterior neck muscles, shoulders, and chest. If your someone who is hunched over most of the day (now that some of us are working from home and maybe not the best home office setup) then you’ll benefit from this stretch.

How

Laying on the floor legs together and arms out in front of you, raise your upper body up using your hands to support you. Bring your shoulders up, feeling the abs stretch while keeping your hips down on the floor. Ease into it. Don’t rush it by raising yourself up too high. By doing this stretch we are putting our spine into a position that is not neutral so don’t overdo it. Feel the muscles stretch, think of them as they stretch.

Now, while you have your shoulders up off of the floor, think of your chest expanding. You have to think of this to bring out your chest. It won’t feel like a big stretch but you will feel it if you think of your chest as you do it.  Now, bring your head back. You may not realize it but you could be spending a lot of your day with your head tilted forward. This is a great way of releasing the stress that that causes. Again, it won’t be a huge stretch but it’s enough to help negate the forward position your head is in most times.

Hold for no less than 2 minutes. Repeat 3 times with a 1 minute break. I want you to set your timer for this because I know your 2 minutes is not 2 minutes. We all hate stretching and tend to rush it. Set your timer and do the 2 minutes. You’ll feel better for it, I know you will. One more thing, when you are about 30 – 40 seconds into it, feel your muscles relax and extend the stretch a little more and then maybe later a little bit more.

Finally

Take care of yourself and try this to stretch out your abs but to also help relieve some of that stress we accumulate. Put yourself in child’s pose for the 1 minute break in between sets and if done right, you might just find it can loosen up the lower back and help with back pain.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

To the seat with the clearest view

How are you hanging in there? I hope everyone is doing well in this trying time. Stay busy, I think that’s the trick, sort of. But we can’t escape those surreal moments of our new reality.

Over the last few weeks I have given you exercises to build what are for the most of us weak areas on our body. Now it’s time to look at how we can also stretch those areas, or lengthen the muscles.

What

Most of us, a very high percentage of us, have tight anterior deltoids, also known as the front shoulders. So knowing that, lets start stretching them.

How

        • Chest Reach Back: Lay on your stomach, legs together and hands by your side. Now, extend your left arm out perpendicular to your torso, PALM down, in other words make half a T with your left arm. Now, gently roll your whole body to your left side. Keep that arm perpendicular and feel the front of the shoulder stretch. Hold it, hold it. Hold for at least 90 seconds and try for 2 minutes. As you get into the stretch, and things loosen up, increase the stretch, lengthen the muscle. Now do the other side. Here’s a bonus, you just also stretched your pecs.
        • Chest Expansion: Think of the classic pose when someone yells: ‘Put your hands up!’. Hands up, but bent at the elbows, making a 90 degree angle with your arms hands aligned with your head, like a blocky capital Y. Make sense? Know, bring your elbows back and really stick out your chest keeping good posture, bringing the shoulder blades back like you are trying to make them touch. Again, hold for 90 to 120 seconds expanding the stretch as muscles loosen.
        • Hand Grab: Reach behind your back and clasp your hands keeping your arms straight. Focus on your posture and keep upright. Now bring your arms up behind your back, keeping them straight. Ease into it and when you feel the tightness, that’s when the stretch begins. As always, hold it for 90 – 120 seconds.

Those muscles that we work constantly especially need stretching. Don’t neglect them.

Finally,

Stay strong, grow, and lengthen.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Keeping yourself upright and steady

This will be my last post on how to train muscles we tend to neglect.

Having a positive mindset and realizing there are things we cannot change might just help you deal with what everyone is having to deal with now and for the foreseeable future. If you have more free time on your hands then you normally do and are taken out of your routine by not being able to go to the gym use this time to work out at home and work out those muscles we have neglected.

Take the time to read my recent posts on this and strengthen the weak areas of your body and then notice the difference. Pain in places you haven’t had pain before, good muscle soreness, the subtle change to your body seeing things that weren’t there a month ago.

Other than injury or disease, the knee pain we face, the back pain, the shoulder pain can be addressed by strengthening our weak areas or our body and stretching muscles than tend to be tight. It really can be that simple but you probably have a hard time buying into that. In my opinion, we live in a world where we prefer a pill, a device, or sometimes surgery to fix what ails us. Think of it this way: Muscles attach to bone via tendons. We have muscles that are attached to our ribs, vertebrae, pelvic girdle, shoulder girdle keeping everything connected allowing us to move. Now, if you are standing straight up and someone were to exert force on the front of your left shoulder gently, and you were relaxed your shoulder is going to rotate back. Makes sense doesn’t it. Now, let’s look at your driveway that you park your car on or an old road. Do you remember when that driveway was brand new, or the road was freshly paved? Just a bit of curve on it for water drainage but mostly flat and smooth. Then, after maybe 5 or 10 years of use, parking your car in the same spot every day, cars driving in the same groove over years, thousands of cars. The driveway and the road are not what they used to be right? Your driveway has divots where your car tires sit daily. The road has become uneven, almost like there are grooves where the thousands of cars drive daily.

This is the same with your body. When that external force was placed on your shoulder temporarily your shoulder moved. But leave the force there, forcing your shoulder back and not able to return to its natural position. Leave it here for a year. Now remove the force. Your shoulder doesn’t return back to its natural position or the position it should be in as this is its new natural position. The muscles that would pull back your shoulder have shortened and tightened. The muscles that would normally pull back your shoulder have lengthened and become weak and cannot return your shoulder back to it’s ‘normal’ position.

This is an exaggerated example but applies to how we train our body, and how we interact with the muscles of our body. Sit in the same position day after day, week after week, year after year and certain muscles will get longer and certain muscles will get shorter. You have lost homeostasis (the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes).

It’s impossible to remain in homeostasis as there are too many influences on us such as work, the furniture we interact with daily, the bed we sleep in and so on. But, you can help offset these things by working those muscles that help us get back to homeostasis. The more you know about your body the easier it will be to identify what those muscles are that need to be strengthened and those ones that need to be stretched, or lengthened.

What

back muscles
Strong back

Let’s get to today’s muscle group. Yes, another group, the Erector Spinae. The Erector Spinae is comprised of 3 muscles: spinalis, longissimus, and iliocostalis. The role of these muscles are to keep the spine upright or erect. These muscles run on either side of your spine basically from your lower back up to your neck.

How

And let’s get to it. Here are some exercises you can do at home to strengthen these muscles:

        • Supermans: I’m sure you’ve seen this exercise before but I don’t want you to do it the way you’ve seen it. The typical way of doing this puts on too much of a load and instead of the Erector Spinae doing the work the glutes kick in and take over. Here is what I want you to do: Laying down on your front, legs together, put both hands under your chin and lift up your chin, hands and upper body about 1″ – 2″ off of the ground. As you do this feel the lower back doing the work. Hold this for about 30 seconds or a minute. Lower your head and rest for about a minute. Repeat for 3 – 5 sets.
        • Bird Dog: You may know this one too if you’ve ever done yoga. On all fours, your knees and hands weight evenly distributed, reach straight ahead with one arm like you are pointing to something ahead of you. Now, extend the opposite leg out behind you like you are pointing with your foot to something behind you. Both your extended arm and leg should be parallel with the ground. Hold for about 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat 3 – 5 times resting for about 1 minute in between sets. Now, when doing this if your shoulders or hips dip to one side, you need to take it easier. You need to keep the hips and shoulders in a neutral position and not dip to one side. When this dipping happens it is a sign of being tired or the muscles are tired. Ease off and keep good technique and through that, you will strengthen the muscles we are trying to strengthen.
        • Seated band pulls: This is a 2 for 1 exercise in that it also works the lat muscles, the muscles that give you back the wideness or wings if you will. You’ll need a band long enough to hold in both hands while seated and have it pass under your feet. Sitting with your back upright, legs straight and together with the band under your feet and in both hands, pull back with your hands keeping your elbows in and hands close to the centre line of your body. The inside of your arms and elbows should scrape by as you pull your hands back towards your stomach. Hold for 3 seconds feeling the Erector Spinae muscles along your spine contracting. Then as you let your hands go back to the starting position do not let your upper body move from the upright position. Some people will make the mistake of over loading with resistance and start to sway the upper body back to bring the hands back with them, or they let the upper body move forward past the neutral position then swing back as they start the exercise. Don’t do this. Let the back muscles do the work and again, as you bring your hands to your stomach think of the back muscles doing the work and squeeze those back muscles as you hold it for a few seconds. Do this 10 – 12 times for 3 – 4 sets.

Finally

Nothing says hard core like a strong back, well, of course hamstrings that look like biceps do this too. Keep excellent technique, don’t overload the resistance and your back will thank you.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

Sore knees, back pain and potential injury

I’m continuing my series of generally what has been identified as weak muscles. Today’s post will focus on a muscle group that you will want strong, but I believe is weaker than it should be due to the difficulty to train the muscle group unless you have equipment available to you.

Working our quads can be pretty simple: burpees, air squats, lunges, etc. But the ‘reverse curl’ motion of bringing your heel towards your bum is a little tougher to do without equipment made just for this type of movement.

What

Today I’ll be dealing with the muscle group called hamstrings. I call this a group because the hamstrings are comprised of 3 muscles:

Hamstring muscle group: Source: Muscles of the upper leg, posterior view by Rob Swatski
      • biceps femoris
      • semitendinosus
      • semimembranosus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basically these 3 muscles perform both knee flexion and are involved in hip extension and rotation of the femur, knee, and tibia.

Having weak hamstrings can result in knee injuries or issues like back pain. If you are involved in any activity that requires sudden stops, sudden acceleration or changing directions quickly you could be at great risk for knee injuries if your hamstrings are weak.

How

Let’s look at some exercises that we can do to strengthen the hamstrings:

      • Physioball Hamstring Curl: You will need an exercise ball to perform this. Laying on your back and put your feet up on the ball keeping them shoulder width apart and straight up. Your feet should be positioned on the centre/far side of the ball, and your legs will be straight. To start, lift your hips off of the ground like you are performing a bridge. Staying in the bridge position bring your knees into your chest. This requires the ball to move in towards you. Then, slowly straighten your legs back to the starting position. Maintain the bridge position the whole time. Do this for 3 sets of 10 – 12 reps.
      • Single leg bridge: Starting in the bridge position, using your nondominant leg, straighten your leg pointing upwards. Bring the leg back down and do the same with the other leg. Do 10 -12 reps on both legs for 3 sets. If you cannot complete 10 – 12 reps on the nondominant leg do not do more on the dominant leg. This will continue the muscle imbalance.
      • Bridge Walkout: Starting in a bridge position, walk your feet forwards on your heels to an almost straight position and then back towards your bum and keep repeating. Do this slowly and controlled. Do this until you start to lose proper technique then take a 1 minute rest and repeat. Try for 3 sets.

That’s it. 3 exercises you can do at home to help with back issues and knee issues. Feel free to modify some of these by adding pauses in at the difficult parts, slowing the temple to 1/4 speed.

Finally

Often times injuries we have are not caused by what we think. Work on those weak muscles you have and you may find your athletic performance has increased and your injuries have diminished.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

Neither parallel nor perpendicular

Staying with the theme of working out muscles we tend to neglect or ignore, I bring you the obliques. Your core will never be as strong as it should if you fail to work out these muscles.

What

Obliques for a solid core

The obliques, there are two of them the internal and external obliques cross diagonally from the bottom of your rib cage to your pelvis. They help us to stay stable while in an upright position. As the 0bliques play a key role in the function of rotating the trunk, you’ll want these to bring strong especially if you are a martial artist.

How

If you understand how you work out a muscle, then you know you do this with a concentric contraction, eccentric contraction, or an isometric contraction. The first two work when a muscle crosses a joint such as the bicep which we work out by doing bicep curls that incorporate the elbow joint. Also, you are working the muscle along its length, which runs parallel with our arm. So how do you work a muscle that crosses our body in the midsection from one side to our centre? With some movement and isometric (without movement) contractions. Since the obliques don’t cross a joint we are somewhat limited to the number of exercises for this. Let’s get to it.

        • Ab Bikes: If you have ever participated in one of my workouts then you are familiar with this exercise. Think of your body position when on a bicycle. Now, lay on your back and resume that position. Make fists with your hands and keep your hands at your ears, elbows in parallel with your upper body. Keeping a 90 degree bend in your legs, extend one leg while bringing the knee of the other in. As you bring the knee in, bring the opposite elbow to that knee. Think of the motion you are trying to achieve is bringing your lower ribs on the opposite side to the knee that is coming in. You can hold at the top of the exercise for 3 seconds and actively contract the obliques. Also to add intensity slow down the exercise keeping your core tight. Finally, do not grab your head. This is why you make fists with your hands and keep them at your ears. Don’t let your hands come away from your ears just to reach your elbow to your knee. The purpose is to do the rotation using your core and that motion gets your elbow there. Try to do 3 sets to fatigue.
        • Russian Twist (With and without medicine ball): Alright, lying on your back, sit up and make a V shape with your body, the lower part of the V being your hips. Your upper body is one side of the V and your upper legs are the other side of the V. The closer you bring your feet in the easier it is. If you need to, keep your feet on the ground to take some strain off of your lower back. Keep your core tight. Without a medicine ball, have your hands at your waist and reach to your left side with both hands and touch the ground. This gives you the rotation you need. Now do it to the right side. Keep going back and forth. With a medicine ball do the same while holding the medicine ball and try to touch the floor with the ball. To add intensity, you can also do this while lowering your shoulders back and extending the feet and then coming back up, think of this as a smooth in and out motion. If you have a hard time with this because your core is not developed enough then stop. As always if you experience any pain stop immediately! Exercise should never be a painful thing. Try to do 3 sets to fatigue.
        • Cable Woodchop: You’ll need a band for this, particularly a band that you can attach to something. For this exercise you’ll start on your right knee and on your left foo, a half-kneeling position. Think of your hands together raised up by your left shoulder like you are clasping a sword, ready to slice your opponent across their midsection and ending the movement to the right of your right hip. Don’t extend your arms, keep the elbows bent, and do this motion while rotating your upper body. Remember that to work obliques you need to bring your ribs to your hips. When placing the band for this exercise you will need to have it to one side and in front of your body a bit, about a foot. Same type of motion we are doing here as we did with the previous exercises. Do 10 – 12 reps then do the other side, know on your left knee and up on your right foot. Do for 10 – 12 reps and 3 – 4 sets total.

Finally

I hope this makes sense to everyone. Focus on proper technique instead of trying to achieve a higher number. Sacrificing technique to achieve another rep or two will not benefit you. And lastly, invest in yourself and book a few sessions with a certified personal trainer. Your trainer can correct your technique, ensure you are executing correctly, make adjustment recommendations based on your body and answer those questions you have while you are working out.

Yours in health,

Darryl

This may help you run again

You love running but you had to stop. The pain down the front of your shins was too much. If you suffer or have suffered from shin splints then you might want to try this and see if it helps enough to get back to running.

What

Tibialis anterior. Another one of those neglected muscles. This muscle runs along the bottom part of your leg next to the shin bone. The tibialis anterior plays an important role in not just running but also walking, sprinting.

How

        • Seated Toe Raises: This one is easy as most of us spend a fair amount of time sitting.  While sitting, keep your feet flat on the floor comfortably. Now keeping your heels on the floor raise up your toes. Hold and contract for 5 seconds. To add difficulty try balancing a small dumbbell on your foot. Do this 10 – 12 times for 3 sets for each foot.
        • Isometric Toe Press: Sitting, or lying down, put the heel of one foot on the front of the other foot. Now press upwards into the heal and hold for about 10 – 20 seconds. Switch it around and do the other side. Do this 10 – 12 times for 3 sets for each foot. Don’t let your foot you are working go below your heel.
        • Sitting Toe Push: While sitting on the floor with legs straight out in front, grab a band with proper resistance and place under the upper part of your foot. The work in on the downward motion so while holding the band, bring your foot as close as you can towards you while keeping your legs straight. Now, push down on the band with your upper foot. Do this 10 – 12 times, for 3 sets on both feet.

Finally

The movements are all the same really, just different tools, or body positioning. The key is to understand that keeping the heal stationary and the lifting of the upper foot with resistance, or the pushing down of the upper foot with resistance is what works this muscle. Another key point is to not let the upper foot go below the heel. This will then activate your other calf muscles, the ones that may be strong enough already.

Work the neglected Tibialis anterior and enjoy the pain free running.

Yours in health,

Darryl

are you up for a challenge?

How are you doing? How are you handling the world we live in today? It’s pretty much impossible to go out and do the things we used to do, and this can impact your fitness. But let’s not let that happen.

Continuing with my theme of working out the muscles we tend to neglect, here is a post on working those muscles in our butt that typically are neglected. Remember, neglected, weaker muscles can end up in muscle imbalances that can lead to injury.

What

Squats build strong legs and glutes

Our butt, the gluteus maximus. It gets all the attention these days but cannot reach its full potential without the two muscles that stabilize the pelvis: the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. Looking at both words helps us understand a bit more about these muscles. Medius is the middle, the muscle between two others. Minimus is minimum, or small, the smaller of the 3 muscles. These two glute muscles are vital for athletic performance and crucial for walking and climbing stairs. And another benefit albeit a visual benefit is when strong they lift up the glutes.

How

Let’s get to it. Here are exercises to do to work the medius and minimus:

      • Sideways Squat Step: You’ll need a resistance band to do this. Using the correct resistance so it’s hard but not too easy, step inside of the band and position it around your ankles. Now, positioning yourself into a squat position, step sideways in one direction for about 8 – 10 steps, then go back in the other direction. That’s one set. When doing this keep the resistance high and do your best to not let your knees turn in. Do 2 – 3 sets.
      • Side Bridge Leg Raise: While in a side bridge position, lift the upper leg straight up, then bring back down not letting the leg touch the other leg. That would be a break and we don’t want that. Again, slowly lift the leg up as high as it can go then lower slowly, not letting it rest. Do 12 – 15 then do the other side. That’s one set. Do 2 – 3 sets.
      • Squat Walk: Try not to laugh when you do this one. Like the first exercise, Sideways Squat Step, put one band around your ankles. Now add another band just above the knees. Staying in a squat position you are going to ‘walk’ forward, then backward. Keep toes pointing forward and knees out. The band around the ankles keeps tension when walking and the band above the knees keeps pressure on the glute muscles we are working. Do 10 steps forward and 10 back. That’s one set. Do 2 – 3 sets.

And of course, don’t forget to stretch:

      • Figure 4 stretch: Lying on your back, bring your left knee towards your chest then grab that foot and bring that foot across your body so your lower leg is running straight across your body, knee on the left side, foot on the right, Know, bring your right knee back towards your body and have your left foot/ankle on your right knee. That’s the figure 4. you can gently push your left knee down a little bit so it doesn’t move as you bring your right knee towards your chest. You should absolutely feel this in your glutes.
      • Half Lord of the Fishes: Sitting on the floor both legs straight out in front, bring your right knee to your chest like you are hugging it and place your right foot on the outside of your left upper leg. Now bend your left leg and bring your left foot under your right glute. For a deeper stretch rotate your torso to the right.

When stretching there will initially be resistance by the muscles you are stretching. This lasts for up to 30 seconds. You should then feel the muscles to start to relax and that’s when you take the stretch a bit further. Now, hold for at least 60 seconds but if you can try to hold for 2 minutes. As the muscles relax a bit more take the stretch a bit further.

      • NOTE: Stretching should never hurt. You should be aware of the tension but it should never be painful.

Finally

The reps and the sets in the above exercises are general recommendations. Feel free to adjust based on your athleticism.

I hope you enjoy these exercises and if you do, keep with them. Your life might just be a bit better.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

It’s no use going back to yesterday

It’s a strange world we live in today. Our lives have been uprooted by a virus that has impacted us in so many ways that it’s unprecedented. I’ve read that the closest event that compares to the impact on people is 9/11, for us. Of course though this is a worldwide event impacting millions of people.

It is millions, isn’t it. Borders closed for who knows how long. Social interactions such as going out for dinner, the pub, a sit down coffee, and even work are gone and for who knows how long.

It’s taken me to this morning to be able to focus on this post. I’ve been fortunate in the sense that I’ve been very busy with my full time job and it’s helped to keep my mind occupied. But then you leave work and stop to pick up some groceries and you see the impact. Simple things are no longer simple.

A recent post I wrote talked about how to exercise in a small area and be just as effective as going to a gym. Little did I know who relevant that post would be today due to social distancing. That post was focused on the physical side of fitness. Today I’ll focus on the mental side of fitness and health.

Health

outside
empty the mind

Without mental health we most likely won’t have physical health. Our brain is responsible for the things we do, the choices we make. Our brain chooses that today we stay in bed and do nothing absorbed by the negative events happening around us or half way across the world sometimes. Or, our brain chooses to get out of bed and do what’s needed to be done to keep us healthy. That’s very important.

There are a ton of books, videos, podcasts that focus on having a positive attitude. I have actually purchased a book on this topic, The PMA Effect by John Joseph. Read it if you haven’t. To me, it’s a clear story of how through choices his life could have ended up totally different than where he is today.

I train and teach martial arts. I have heard and use motivational quotes all the time: You fight how you train, each day is a new day, 90% inspiration and 10% perspiration, etc. But there is one that over the years I think is very important, maybe the most important:

“Don’t worry about the things you cannot change”

It’s easy to be consumed by various things that impact our lives directly or indirectly and that can be a bad thing. Today we live in a world that we know when something devastating happens thousands of miles away. Or it can be only 50 miles away. I see people commit time, invest their mental health over a murder that might have happened in their city. They get concerned, worried, spend a lot of time engaged in this event. But they fail to distant their engagement by not fully realizing that the murdered and the murderer knew each other. The vast majority of murders are perpetrated by people who know their victim. If you are concerned about violent crime than maybe you should be training 3 times a week on how to defend yourself and now you’ve turned a negative into a positive.

I’m not being crass here. Don’t confuse this as lacking empathy. We should care about each other, our family, our friends but investing your mental health in something you cannot change only hurts you. Stress is a good thing but negative stress or too much stress no longer motivates us to act but becomes a heavy blanket preventing us from moving forward positively.

Today

It’s a new world today. I know this because I can see it. I was downtown in the city I live in yesterday, Saturday just before noon and it was barren. Parking spots abundant on the usually full streets. How long will this last? No one knows for sure. Some say it maybe months.

But we need to be strong and not worry about what we can’t change. I can’t change the fact that I can’t go out and sit down and enjoy a pour over coffee. I can’t change the fact that some businesses will lay off workers, or close.

But I can make decisions that can help. I can patron local businesses more often and tip more than usual. I can reach out to friends and family and see that they are ok. I can do things that help me stay in a more positive mindset and not get dragged down.

zen
Zen Garden

Ever wanted to try meditation? Now might be the time! Do you have a body part that needs attention? Now might be the time! Instead of exercising the same muscles switch it up. Focus on the muscles you neglect, the inside of the legs, lower back, calves, etc. Not happy with the rear muscles of your shoulders now is the time to do something about it. Then when things do get back to ‘normal’ maybe your muscle imbalance will be the muscles that used to be predominantly stronger.

But be safe about it, especially if you are working out intensely. Have you ever wondered why elite athletes get colds more often? Because when you train intensely you compromise your immunity system. Research shows that more than 90 minutes of high-intensity endurance exercise can make athletes susceptible to illness for up to 72 hours after the exercise session. Moderate exercise, on the other hand, enables immune cells to circulate through the body quicker and are better able to kill bacteria and viruses. Generally, after exercise ends our immune system returns to normal within a few hours.

Finally

Be smart. Be safe. Take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Don’t focus on things you cannot change.

Focus on the things you can change. You owe it to yourself.

Yours in health,

Darryl