Sunday, June 23, 2013

30-Day Challenge - Day 14 - Regression

I think I have to set myself a 30-day blogging challenge sometime. lol. It's been a week since I last posted! It's been an intense week with everything going on here, so blogging was the least of my concerns.

I have, however, been sticking to the challenge and done my Pain Free sequence every morning. It's curious, though: while things were improving for a while, I seem to have taken a step back. There's one exercise that involves lying on your back and doing foot circles and flexes. The past couple of days, it's actually been harder. The wall bench is another I'm finding harder to do and I can't hold it to 90 seconds anymore. I don't know if it means that weak muscles that are supposed to be engaging are finall engaging or what, but it's just strange since there was a clear progression for the first while and now it's regression! I've had one day where my knees actually hurt, but other than that, my ITBS (iliotibial band syndrome) symptoms haven't been bothering me.

If you are at all curious to see these Pain Free exercises at work, here are some YouTube videos:

Foot Circles

3 Egoscue Exercises to Keep You Running, Walking and Hiking Pain Free

And, you know, there are 16 days left in my challenge. Why not join me with a 16-day or even a 2-week challenge? Let me know what you are challening yourself with!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

30-Day Challenge - Day 7 - Quick Check-In

I have been doing the challenge! (What about you? :) It's not too late to start! You could do a 21-day challenge instead!) I haven't updated in part because I had my laptop monitor start going which involved a mad scramble to try to transfer things and figure out how to use Gmail (and if it's worth using Gmail over Yahoo Mail) so that I can have everything web-based and not have to worry again about losing emails and such because of a faulty computer. (Although, I admit it, I still worry that Google could lose everything on me! :o )

In any case, I'll keep this short and sweet: I did my 7th day in a row of the last sequence in the Pain Free book. I'm amazed at how quickly the exercises work! I went walking up stairs and escalators the other day at a good pace and it was so much easier--and painless--than I so often experience. I couldn't do as many repetitions as he said to do on Day 1, but was able to do all of the reps today. Still can't get to that 90-second mark for the wall bench (and he wants you to actually hold it 3 minutes), but I remember a year and a half to two years ago, I could not even get into a proper wall sit it hurt my knees so much. I'm glad to see this progress! If you have any kind of chronic/recurring pain condition, I strongly urge you to get this book!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

30-Day Fitness Challenge - Day 4 - Are You Dysfunctional?

Yes, I missed posting for Day 3. It's not because I didn't meet my Day 3 goal, but because of the crazy day I had yesterday involving moving furniture around, some serious decluttering (working toward a clutter-free home!) and organizing that I spent probably a good 5+ hours on! I slept very well last night. :) And then there was the monitoring of the tornado warning situation and driving in hail... But that's another story.

I just wanted to take some time today to talk about how functional we are. Are you functional? Truly? Do you even know? If you are prone to stiffness, pain or injury (joint and muscles injuries, not being clumsy like me and having your leg hit the corner of the little table each time you go buy, leaving a large bruise), this is a good sign that your body is actually dysfunctional.

What do I mean by this?

Well, have you ever noticed someone walking kind of duck-footed? Or feet turned out even slightly? Or perhaps one foot turns out more than another? Or somebody whose shoulders aren't level or are slumped forward? There are many signs of dysfunction, signs that our bodies aren't in proper alignment.

I think most people have some sort of dysfunction and don't even realize it. I know someone who ended up having knee surgery. For years, he's blamed his knees as just being bad, especially the one that ended up having the surgery. Do you know what I saw when he was walking? One foot turns out more than the other. Guess which knee was the "bad" knee? That's right: the knee on the same leg whose foot turned out more. The knee itself wasn't bad, just stressed. Damaged through years of dysfunctional walking.

These dysfunctions are the result of imbalanced muscle use. What initially causes this can be different things and, really, doesn't matter in terms of fixing the problem. But think of what happens if you work toward higher and higher level of fitness and you have muscles working improperly? Muscles taking over where they aren't supposed to and muscles that aren't doing their part? What happens as you keep strengthening the dysfunctional state?

The muscle imbalance becomes an even stronger muscle imbalance. 
This can and does in many cases lead to some sort of joint, muscle or tendon problem.

There is a fitness place here in town where they do a full assessment of your gait and everything before they put you on a fitness program. They check the dysfunction and target balancing things out before they get you into serious fitness work. It just makes sense to do. Those who start running without tackling dysfunctions are probably at the most risk. And when you think of how many runners have problems with their hips, knees, ankles or feet, it's pretty easy to see that taking up running is detrimental when your muscular system is out of whack. Running isn't the problem; the dysfunctional system is.

I encourage you to check out your own state of affairs. Especially if you are suffering any kind of chronic pain. Have a look in the mirror. Are your shoulders level? Does one turn in more than the other? Do both turn in? What about your hips? Are they twisted? Uneven? When you walk, what do your feet do? Now, you can't just fix all these things by forcing your body into position. Yoga can help (if you make sure to be doing the positions right!). Chiro can help, too, if you follow up with the necessary activity to strengthen what needs to be strengthened and let weaken what needs to weaken. I have found Pete Egoscue's books to be a tremendous help (he also has a website). If you have a local place that does kinetic chain assessment or something similar, that would probably be the best thing to do--having someone who knows what is what and do a proper assessment.

My IT band problems are a result of dysfunction. It would be silly and even dangerous for me at this point, I believe, to get into some sort of hard core program to improve my fitness when I know I've got some serious muscle imbalances. I don't want to strengthen those muscle imbalances! And so, for the next while, my focus will be on "Pain Free" sequences from Pete Egoscue and yoga and some small things to help encourage cardio and strength in my glutes (my glutes essentially atrophied with my 2nd pregnancy and left me in a particular dysfunctional state where working on fitness just led to other parts getting stronger and my glutes staying weak--leading to the IT band syndrome). I finished Day 4 this morning and it's actually amazing how much the short program makes a difference. The sequence I'm doing involves a wall bench. I could not get to a 90-degree angle and last more than 30 seconds when I started on Monday. Today, I was at 90 degrees and held for 70 seconds. It's fantastic!

But enough of my babble, there's a whole day ahead of me to get moving on. What will you do for your fitness-or dysfunction--today?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

30-Day Fitness Challenge - Day 2

Did you start with me yesterday? If not, it's not too late! You can start your own 30-day challenge today and end a day after I do or you can start today and have a 29-day challenge. :D

As I mentioned yesterday, my main challenge is to do a sequence from a book I have Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain. I not only did that yesterday, but also did a few sets of stairs and ended the day with the yoga sequence in the video below (I see now I've been leaving out the arm stretch at the beginning! and I hold each stretch for several breaths, as they say to--don't actually do the sequence as fast as in the video).

I find this yoga sequence helps a lot with my IT band problems. If I haven't been doing it for a while and I have a day where I can feel everything around my knees tightening up or perhaps the IT band itself is hurting or tingling, I do this sequence and it feels sooo good. By last night, I was starting to feel things in some muscles. I'm feeling things even more this morning! I have already done my Pain Free sequence this morning and hope to remember to do the stairs and yoga later on.

What about you? What will you do today? Even if you aren't doing the 30-day challenge, what will you do to nurture your fitness level today?

Monday, June 10, 2013

30-Day Fitness Challenge - Day 1

Today is Day 1! Are you going to join me today in a 30-day challenge to improve your fitness?

My friend who set this challenge up is going to be doing Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred.

Given my knees are bothering me a bit from doing more stairs than usual in my house yesterday, I don't even want to know what this 30-day shred would do to me. So, I'm not going to try it.

But, I've been thinking a lot lately about how I do want to really be in good shape. In better shape than I've ever been in. I've never been the athletic type but I was watching something the other day and a person was running and it just somehow hit me that I would like to have the freedom that being in shape would bring: I can play physical games, run with my kids, run with the dog or chase after her and not get tired so quickly... So many things. I had never had the desire to really be in great shape before; just kind of fit was enough. That's changed.

Right now, I'm not free due to my IT band issues and knees. So, I'm starting with that by using sequences in this book:

I have found in the past that a combination of doing an appropriate sequence (could be knees or even shoulders or just the final sequence), some stairs repetitions and a yoga sequence focused on stretching the IT band have really helped me progress. I'm not sure I can commit to doing all 3 at the moment, so my commitment for the 30-day challenge is one of the Pain Free sequences, with the intention of adding in the others as I remember them.

 Do you have a fitness goal you will commit to for the next 30 days? Please join me and share in the comments!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A New 30-Day Challenge Starting Tomorrow!

A friend of mine says I inspired her with my previous challenges and she not only finished a 30-day fitness challenge just recently, she's starting up a second one and is inviting friends to join her. (Well, she's being a little stricter: You get one rest day a week and if you miss otherwise, you've got to give everybody else who's participating a $10 gift card! Yikes! lol)

I have not done any consistent exercise in ages and have decided that with things starting to calm down around here, I do have the motivation and the time to do it and post about it.

The challenge starts tomorrow. Do you care to join me?