Muscular Imbalances suck

We all have muscular imbalances. No one is perfectly symmetric. We probably aren’t aware of our imbalances because most of us have never had a posture evaluation. It wasn’t until I was on my personal trainer course that I realized I have the classic ‘chicken wings’ imbalance due to my serratus anterior muscles. Muscular imbalances can be the cause of day to day physical problems, manifesting themselves in discomfort, or the worst case, injury. And it sucks! We don’t realize it but we develop these imbalances because of the things we love doing, not knowing any better. But there is hope! Trust me, I know! I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

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I think most of us that are physically active prefer one activity be it running, walking, cycling, etc. But, if we only do these activities, we are prime candidates for developing muscular imbalances. I include myself in this category. Years ago when I took up running, I didn’t do anything else. I was like Forrest Gump, run Darryl, run! That’s all I did. Did I develop IT band issues? You bet. Why? Because all I did was run! I didn’t bother developing, building the other muscles in my legs that were being neglected. I paid the price in having to deal with discomfort and injury because of this.

Another example is some of us have shoulders that are anteriorly rotated due to day to day activities that develop our anterior deltoid muscles, and neglect our posterior deltoid muscles. Things such as carrying heavy bags (groceries, etc.), working with our hands out in front of us, such as keyboard use. A good way to develop this imbalance is doing a lot of pushups (great for developing pectoral muscles and anterior deltoid muscles) and neglecting exercises that develop the posterior or lateral deltoids. Sound familiar? How many of us are engaged in activities that are strong on pushups, but not any activity that work the neglected muscles. Yeah, I hear you.

What can be done?

Ahh, so you are interested in knowing what can be done to address the imbalances. Good! That’s the first step! Good for you!
What you can do is see your personal trainer, and have an assessment done. Your personal trainer should be able to identify the imbalances, and recommend activities that can be done to address these imbalances. With a proper program to work on these imbalances, it will just be a matter of time and work to neutralize the imbalances. It can be done! I know, I have been there! Trust me.

So don’t worry. The beautiful thing if you are reading this is that you are ready to address your imbalances! Like I said at the beginning, we all have imbalances. The important thing is being ready to identify them, and work to fix them. Once you do this, you are on your way to minimizing imbalances, and minimizing injury, discomfort due to these imbalances.

Yours in good health,

Darryl

Cooling Down – Do it!

Even though most of us who exercise don’t warm up before we start, we are aware of what warming up is. But, how many of us know about cooling down? Just like the importance of warming up (read my post here), cooling down is a very important part of your workout. Your decision regarding cooling down will directly impact how you feel after your workout, be it immediately, or days later.

Why cool down?

Think of your body as your car, it allows you to move from here to there. Your driving along at 110 km/h. Would you stop your car suddenly, applying maximum pressure to your brakes, or do you gradually slow down, gently applying the brakes? Have you ever had to apply your brakes really hard, either to avoid a collision, or for another reason? Do your brakes work the same afterwards? I know myself when I have had to stop suddenly, the brakes ended heating up, and warping the brake rotors. After that, my brakes pulsed whenever applied. The same goes for your body. Working really hard then stopping suddenly puts unneeded strain on your body. This may cause problems immediately, or, years later.
The main benefits of cooling down are to prevent blood pooling, and to gently bring your heart rate back down to a reasonable level. Think about it, you have just completed an intense Tabata session, your heart rate as high as 90 -95% of your max. The Tabata session was comprised of movements that primarily involved your leg muscles, exercises such as lunges, burpees. A lot of blood needed to go to those muscles to bring oxygen to them, and to take away waste product, lactic acid as an example. If you suddenly stop, your blood pressure will also suddenly drop, and you could get very dizzy. Not something you want to happen.

Why don’t we cool down?

After an intense workout like this, the body, or mind, doesn’t want to do anything, so the impulse is to lie down and catch your breath, or just not do anything. It was a tough workout! I’m just going to lie here for a few minutes! Don’t do it! Resist the urge to stop and do nothing. Instead, walk around, keep your limbs moving and let your heart rate return back to a normal rate slowly, and allow the blood to flow from your muscles, taking away that waste.

Cooling down will help reduce muscle soreness after a workout. By not letting the blood pool in your muscles, cooling down allows the blood to continue to flow, taking away the waste material, such as lactic acid, and also to supply nutrients to those muscles, assisting in growth and repair.

How to cool down

Move! Walk around moving your arms more than you normally would when walking. This helps the blood circulating to remove waste, and to provide the nutrients needed to repair the muscles you just trained. Do this for 3 to 5 minutes. Do this before you finish off your workout with your stretching routine.

So do me a favour, and cool down at the end of your workout. You’ll thank me later for it I’m sure.

Darryl

Warming up – Nobody Does it

Most people are very busy today, and it’s hard enough to get a workout in when you would like. Things always seem to take priority over the workout. This also happens when the time is found for that workout. Yesterday, while running my training partners through the post workout stretch at the dojo, I did a quick survey of who warms up before a workout. One person responded that she does. That is one out of 8 people. Not very good numbers! Just like we don’t always have time for working out, it seems we don’t always have time to warm up, or people just don’t understand the benefits of warming up.
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The body is a complex machine. Fast twitch muscle fibers, slow twitch muscle fibers, the cardio-vascular system, the skeletal system all working together to keep us doing the things we want to do. But what happens when we get injured? Our day to day life is impacted as our range of motion is impacted negatively. We can no longer do the things we want to do easily, the things we take for granted. Worse than that is we may have to miss our workouts due to the level of discomfort. That can really be an annoyance for those whom working out is part of their lifestyle. I know. I have had my fair share of injuries over the last few years, and I am very stubborn to miss a workout.

But what can we do to prevent injuries? Warming up for 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning of your workout can go a long way to prevent injuries, be it muscular, joint, or connective tissue injuries. Warming up allows the heart rate to increase gradually, the circulatory system to speed up the flow of blood throughout your body. It also increases the amount of synovial fluid to your joints, lubricating the joints. And of course, it also warms up your body (muscles, blood). This increase in temperature increases the efficiency of oxygen getting to your muscles, and your muscles love oxygen! Makes a lot of sense to warm up, doesn’t it.

Warming Up

You can warm up on any piece of cardio equipment; exercise bike, treadmill, elipical machine. Or if you don’t have cardio equipment, a light jog on the spot or even jumping jacks. The goal is to get your body moving, and to keep your heart rate at 100 to 120 beats/minute, for 5 to 10 minutes. This is a warm up, not a workout. Remind yourself that, as you go through your warm up. How do you know if your heart rate is within the target range? You can check your pulse using two fingers and your carotid artery, or your radial artery. I will be posting an article soon on checking pulse. Of course, use your heart rate monitor if you have one.

So do yourself a favour, warm up at the beginning of every workout, even if it means cutting the resistance training, or cardio aspect short. You owe it to yourself to keep injury free, and this is one way to do that.

Darryl

Welcome to bFITsquared

Throughout my life I have always been active, and have had an interest in nutrition and healthy eating. I decided to take that interest and formalize it. Last year I registered for the Canfitpro Personal Trainer Specialist course that was offered at the University of Guelph. It’s a 3 day intensive course that covers everything from anatomy to the marketing aspect of a personal trainer. I wrote my theory exam in January and did fantastic. My life became very busy for the next few months, and wasn’t able to complete my practical test until just last week. Fortunately for me, I was given the opportunity to run groups of people through the exercise portion of the class where I train in Shorin-Ryu Karate. This helped to give me the confidence in working with people, and also the opportunity to pass on my knowledge to my friends and training partners. I believe this helped me to prepare for my test and it help me achieve a great mark and become a certified personal trainer.

My goal for this blog is to continue to pass on my knowledge to those looking to learn more about fitness, about nutrition, about getting the most out of the time you spend training. The body is an amazing thing and there is so much you can do with it. Most times it is knowing what to do and how to do it. A lot of people get discouraged because they don’t get the results they want to achieve. Sometimes that’s because they think they are training properly to get the results, but unbeknownst to them, they are not.

Putting in the effort is one part of it. Putting in the effort using the correct techniques and training methods is another. The former may get you the results, but the latter will. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

I am not a writer, and I don’t know if I will ever be one. I hope you can look past that, and find this blog to be valuable in the context of health and wellness. I hope you enjoy bFITsquared.

Darryl