Strength Training

Strength training is vital to our quality of life for numerous reasons…

– It enables us to do activities we love for a longer time period!

– It allows us to keep us with our kids!

– It helps us prevent injury.

– It helps regulate our weight – more muscle on your frame = more calories burned at rest ( a higher metabolism!)

Generally we all know this – it is not news, however if you are like me, I sometimes struggle to find blocks of time in which to do a full strength training workout.  Therefore in the last few years I have become quite good at fitting it into my life – into the nooks and crannies of my day.

I try to start out with a plan at the beginning of  a new week.  I have a calendar that is used only as my work-out calendar.  I will write down what I want to achieve each day of that week or even 2-3 days of that week.

For example:

Monday – lower body weight workout including squats, lunges and heel raises.  4 sets of 12 reps each.  Also will do abdominal/core exercises.

Tuesday – Upper body workout including push-ups, bicep curls, shoulder exercises and rowing(back).

Wednesday – rest

Thursday – same as Monday

Friday – same as Tuesday.

I try to mix it up the following week so my body doesn’t get too familiar with the workouts and I will more likely see results – we can talk about that in another blog post.

Going back to fitting it in – so now you have a plan.  Think about how your days will go to figure out where you can fit it in.  I know this may sound tedious at first but you will become very good at knowing you can fit a whole workout in your day without feeling like you had to set aside a chunk of time.  The result will be you, being able to exercise more and being fitter and healthier!

Think about your morning – are you always rushing off to work?  There are likely a couple of spots in which you can fit a set of squats.  These are very easy to do just about anywhere.  In the morning, because your body is just getting going do some easy 1/2 squats – this will wake up your legs and get your circulation going to help push you into your day with energy.  When you are getting your breakfast prepared, do 1-2 sets of 10-12  1/2 squats.  I like to do my squats on a 2-count.  2 seconds down, 2 up!     There you go 2 sets already done!   You can also do them when you are brushing your teeth!

At work you can do 1-2 sets in the washroom.  You can do a set or 2 of lunges in the elevator or the stairwell if you want to do them privately.  You could share your plan with your co-workers and they can do the exercise with you!!??

Sometimes in the rush of our day we will forget, so I honestly have sticky notes around my house and sometimes at work with the words ‘abs’ or ‘squats’ to remind me.

Once home you can do heel raises or lunges while preparing your dinner.

One of the best places is the playground- a lot of parents utilize playgrounds these days to fit in their own exercise!  My husband and I often do our upper body workouts when my son is playing.  My husband does chin-ups and I try some push-ups using the equipment at an angle or assisted chin-ups with a lower monkey bar!  Make sure you warm up with arm circles and stretches!

Your day is almost done so fit in the last few sets, if you have any left to do, while you are brushing teeth or your kids are getting into their jammies!

If you are watching a movie in the evening – this is an awesome time to fit in any sets you didn’t get done during the day!

Once you feel strong enough to increase your weight  – have weights around your house.  I have my 10 lbs dumbbells in our family room so that if my son is playing or drawing/doing a craft I can play with him and get up periodically to do sets of exercise.  This will also help when you are doing upper body as you need a bit of resistance for bicep curls, rowing and shoulder exercise.   If you don’t want dumbbells around your house invest in some stretchy resistance tubing – it is easy to hide away when you have guests!

It is very important a person uses the proper technique for whatever exercise they are doing so here is a quick review of squats and lunges.

 SQUATS

When teaching a person how to do squats – especially if you are not familiar with them I often tell a person to practice with a chair behind them so they can reach for the chair with their buttocks and have arms out in front or by your side if you are holding a weight.   To activate the quadriceps and glutes in the manner I would like to achieve stronger legs and glutes it is best to squat so your knees don’t go past your toes (see picture).  There is a lot of talk in exercise articles about squatting techniques – generally we do squat often throughout our day without worrying about the “knees over toes” rule.  However if you squat properly when you are trying to strengthen and adding weight to your squat you will most likely avoid creating knee problems and have nice strong legs and glutes!

LUNGES

In doing lunges have your legs in a walk stance and then spread a bit farther apart – when I look at how far apart my feet are and then spread my arms out directly above and parallel to my legs, my feet are placed about where my wrists are – if that makes sense!!

Once you have attained the proper stance lower your body, don’t lean forward or move your hips forward just lower your body.  It might feel awkward but you will feel both legs working not just the front leg!  Again your front knee should not go past your toes!  Lower your body until your front knee is at 90 degrees.  You do not need your back knee to touch the floor.  Raise your body – that is 1 repetition.

In the blog posts to come we will explain proper techniques for numerous exercises but in the mean time please feel free to come in and see us to create or review your exercise program and help you succeed in becoming a stronger and fitter you!

Physiotherapy and Osteoarthritis

Arthritis is one of Canada’s most common chronic conditions and is a leading cause of pain, physical disability and use of health care services (Arthritis in Canada Report).  Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting an estimated 10% of Canadian adults.  Osteoarthritis results from the deterioration of the cartilage in one or more joints.    This deterioration leads to joint damage, pain, and stiffness.  Unfortunately, there is no cure for OA. Treatments exist to decrease pain and improve mobility, and include medication (e.g. analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs), exercise, physiotherapy and weight loss.   In severe cases, the entire joint – particularly the hip or knee – may be replaced through surgery.   Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to treat osteoarthritis.  Unfortunately, these medications can be harmful to your stomach and you should talk to your doctor for more information.

Fortunately, a Physiotherapist can help.  Physiotherapists are university trained health professionals that treat a variety of musculoskeletal injuries/conditions.  Physiotherapists have advanced understanding of how the body moves, what keeps it from moving well and how to restore mobility.  Physiotherapist’s treat osteoarthritis of the knee through a variety of methods including specific exercises to strengthen the knee and leg, mobilizations of the knee and surrounding joints, pain-relieving modalities such as interferential current, acupuncture etc.

There has been recent scientific evidence to support the use of physiotherapy for people with osteoarthritis of the knee.  The study consisted of 83 men and women with knee pain and osteoarthritis that were randomly allocated into two groups.  Patients in group 1 received manual therapy/mobilizations of the knee and specific exercises all provided by a Physiotherapist.  Group 2 received placebo ultrasound of the knee.  All patients in each group attended 2 times per week for a total of 4 weeks.

After 1 month, 2 months and 1 year, the physiotherapy group had significant improvements in their knee pain and walking tolerance as compared to the placebo group.  Also, 20 % of the patients in the placebo group had to undergo a total knee replacement (8 of them) as compared to 5 % of the patients in the physiotherapy group (2 of them).

Therefore, only 4 weeks of manual Physiotherapy and a supervised exercise program by a Physiotherapist may delay or prevent the need for a knee replacement.

You can see a physiotherapist at either a hospital or private practice.  Physiotherapy is a direct access profession therefore a doctor’s referral is not required.  However, some insurance companies may ask for a doctor’s referral in order for you to be reimbursed.