Archive for month: July, 2014
The lower back is one of the easiest parts of the body to injure, whether at the gym or at work. So when it comes to this particular body part, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. These guidelines will help to strengthen the lower back with minimal risk of injury, but as always, ask a physician before engaging in any new exercise program.
First, Stretching Exercises
Stretching exercises are a good idea before the start of any physical activity, especially a workout, but the lower back isn’t the easiest party of the body to stretch. Sometimes we have to get creative.
- Lay on your back on the floor with your buttocks pressing against a wall and your legs flat against it pointing up. This stretch relaxes the lower back and drains excess fluid from the knees, ankles and feet.
- Now lay on your back with your knees bent toward your chest. Put your arms out straight against the floor in a T form for balance and lower your knees, legs still bent, to the floor next to your left arm. Hold this post for a minute or two and then repeat on the right side.
- Finally, lay on your stomach, legs straight behind you while propping yourself up on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders. Press forward with your pelvis while pressing down with your palms and the tops of your feet. Your pose will resemble the Sphinx. If you are doing it right, you will feel the sensation in our lower back. Hold this pose for as long as it feels comfortable and remember to breathe.
Get on the Ball
These dynamic stabilization exercises will help to strengthen the secondary muscles of the spine.
- Lay on your stomach over a large exercise ball. Raise one arm at a time over your head and then lift one leg at a time a few inches off the floor. Do not arch your lower back during this exercise.
- Now walk your hands out until the ball is under your legs instead of your stomach, then walk back till the ball is back under your stomach.
- Advanced users can do a few push-ups while the ball is under their legs.
Walk the Plank
The side plank is a great way to build strength for the core muscles that support your lower back.
Lay down on your left side, leaning on your elbow with your body in a straight line. Tighten your stomach while lifting your hips from the floor and keep your body in a straight line. Hold this position for half a minute and lower your hips back down. Complete three sets and then repeat on your right side.
Bridge the Gap
Lay on your back again with legs bent up and feet level against the floor about as wide apart as your hips. Tighten your buttock muscles while you lift your hips for a slow count of a few seconds. Do ten reps. Once you need more of a challenge, lift one leg straight up toward the ceiling while holding the pose. This is very challenging.
Don’t Forget to Work on Your Core
Exercises that strengthen your stomach, back and leg muscles will make you less vulnerable to back injury. It is most important to trust your body. If you are feeling back strain, it is best not to do straight or bent-let sit-ups, leg lifts or lift heavy weights above your waist until you feel better.
One of the best things about working out in a pool is the deceptive ease of movement. Since the water effectively reduces your weight, exercises done in a pool can feel less strenuous; but make no mistake – your muscles are getting the full benefit of the exertion. If you doubt this, take a look at Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps – he eats 12,000 calories per day and yet pool work keeps him lean and strong.
Water: Nature’s Strength-Trainer
Of course, you’re probably not an Olympic-level athlete, and so the workouts you’ll be doing won’t quite be on Phelps’ level. However, you can most certainly use the many advantages water has for both muscle-toning, strength-building and enhancing your cardiovascular strength. Water offers a natural resistance, without the joint stress of weight-lifting. It’s practically impossible to injure yourself when shoulder-deep in a pool and jogging. In fact, it’s a good idea to run flat on your feet and not on your toes, because the all-encompassing, smooth resistance of water can be deceptive; you may find yourself unable to walk without extreme calf-soreness the next day if you don’t jog to moderation your first time.
Benefits of Running in a Pool
Running in water will build your endurance up to levels you didn’t think they could reach – all without stressing your knee joints or adversely-affecting the tender joints in your ankles. A single day of moderate running around the pool for 20 minutes will have an effect comparable to at least an hour of open-air running – without any joint pain. Additionally, your lung capacity will increase.
Body Workout Exercises
The natural resistance of water easily lends itself to toning and strengthening exercises. An inevitable consequence of these strength-training workouts is that you also burn fat, because of the continuous exertion. Even in-between sets, your body doesn’t get a total break because the water’s resistance is always in effect.
Strengthening the Arms
The biggest muscles on your arm are your triceps, and you can get them stronger by simply extending your arms straight out in front of you, palms flat, and pushing down on the water’s surface. Once you reach your hips, rinse and repeat for three sets of 15-20. To work out your smaller biceps, just perform the reverse motion: start with your arms straight at your side underwater. Raise them up with the palms facing the sky until they are out of the water and parallel to your shoulders. Perform this for at least three sets of 15-20 reps.
Strengthening Your Back
This workout also works the shoulders: underwater pull-ups. Using the edge of the pool to hold onto, lower yourself into the water and use your arms to pull yourself back up. Find a number that’s comfortable for you and do 3-4 sets of this number of water-aided pull-ups.
Strengthening Your Legs
In water, you can even jog in place to get a better workout than on any treadmill. Once you graduate from that, running around on your tiptoes will really get a burn going in your calves and develop great strength in them. For your gluteus maximus and hamstrings, underwater body-squats are highly-effective – and remember, they almost certainly won’t hurt your knees. A more fun exercise is also very effective for developing strength in the lower extremities – the kickboard. Borrow one of these flotation devices and hold onto it while kicking in a scissoring motion.
Losing weight can be extremely difficult and usually involves a combination of regular exercise and eating the right foods. A simple plan that incorporates both exercise and eating lean foods can help you to lose weight while also providing you with more energy. Lean proteins are especially beneficial in that they keep you feeling full and have high nutritional value. Here are some of the best low fat foods that will help with weight loss:
- Egg Whites
For years, eggs have been wrongly dismissed as unhealthy because of the saturated fat in the yolk; however, the fact remains that they are an excellent source of protein. A boiled egg contains only two grams of saturated fat but if you want to eliminate saturated fat from your diet, you can have the egg whites, which are fat free. Whole eggs or egg whites for breakfast can help you to feel full for longer when compared to eating refined carbohydrates.
A single cup of lentils provides 35 percent of your iron for the day; that iron content helps to provide energy for exercise since iron is an important component of the hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Their fiber also helps to lower your blood sugar. Aside from that, lentils are fat free and contain complex carbohydrates that slow down digestion and prevent your body from storing fat.
In addition to being compact and portable, apples come with a number of benefits for those seeking to lose weight. In addition to being low in fat and carbohydrates, one study published in the journal Appetite found that apples can suppress appetite due to their pectin and soluble fiber content.
Along with offering a variety of important nutrients, tuna has a lot of protein. As with egg white, the protein in tuna helps to keep you feeling full for longer. Tuna also contains much less fat and calories compared to other protein sources like beef or chicken. One serving of tuna packed in water contains 73 calories but beware of adding mayonnaise; a single tablespoon contains more calories than the serving of tuna.
Along with its cholesterol-lowering benefits, this super food has a lot of fiber, which can help you to feel full. Because oatmeal contains complex carbohydrates, it does not spike blood sugar as high as foods with refined carbohydrates. The result is that insulin levels do not spike as high either; this can help to keep your body from storing fat.
These are just a few of the foods that manage to pack a lot of nutritional value into each bite. You can combine and modify lean foods in your meal plan to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients you need.