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Posted by on Jun 27, 2012 | 0 comments

There’s No Excuse To NOT Exercise Anymore!

Our lives are so busy these days. We have so many hats that we wear on a daily basis and so many responsibilities to tend to – job responsibilities, family commitments, taking our children to their respective sports or music practices, and so many more. We hardly have time anymore to ourselves, let alone to exercise. Who has time to get to the gym anyway?

Well, guess what – we’re telling you that there is absolutely NO excuse for you to NOT exercise any longer!

If you happen to be sitting down for 15 minutes staring at the wall or the television, then you definitely have time to exercise. The best part of it is that you don’t even need a gym or any equipment to exercise. Let your body be the only exercise equipment that you’ll need!

If you’re at a loss as to where to begin, think back to your high school P.E. days. Remember all the “warm up” exercises that your coach had you do before you engaged in any sports. That’s right – we’re talking push-ups, squats, and other basic (but incredibly useful) exercises.

See PT Mark Slaughter’s video below to check out some of the bodyweight exercises you can do right in your home at any time!

Got any questions? Curious about a technique Mark used? Call us at Fitness4Life at (618) 656-5433 or visit our website at www.fitness4lifept.com to learn more! Don’t let excuses rule your life any longer – get up and EXERCISE!

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Posted by on Jun 8, 2012 | 0 comments

“Look, Ma! No Injuries!” Five of the Most Common Bicycling Injuries and How YOU Can Avoid Them

Do your dreams of winning the Tour De France seem like a pipe dream?

Well, it doesn’t matter if you can best Lance Armstrong in a race (let alone your nephew!) – biking is STILL a great way to get out of the house and stay fit this summer.

But be aware – just like any other form of exercise, injuries can still abound from biking.

Before your wipe off the dust on your trusty ol’ bike and take ‘er around town, check out these five most common cycling injuries and what you can do to prevent them from happening to you!

Back/Neck Pain – If you experience pain in your back or neck, it could be an indication that your bike is not the correct fit for you or that you’re sitting on your bike improperly. Be sure that your handlebars are about an inch lower than your saddle on a normal bike and two-four inches lower than the saddle on a mountain bike. Also, make sure that you can reach the handlebars without much strain. To help relieve any tension in your neck, try doing shoulder shrugs and neck stretches.

Knee Pain – Pain in the knee is perhaps the most common ailment that occurs with bike riding. Sadly, this type of injury can be the cause of many different issues such as riding too hard or riding too many miles, improper positioning on the bike, or riding with low rpms (rotations per minute). Like the rest of your body, the knees need some time to get in shape and build muscle for longer durations of bike riding. If they’re pushed too hard too quickly, serious knee damage can occur.

If you aren’t used to bike riding, try not to go too crazy at first. Simply start slowly and build up resistance, stamina, and strength to go longer distances. Lay off the steep climbs, especially at a low rpm, if you’re not used to it. Remember – your body is NOT a machine; it needs time to heal and recover for subsequent workouts!

Cramps – Cramps are common in nearly every exercise in which one does not properly prepare for the activity at hand. This injury is a result of your muscles constantly repeating the same motion over and over and over again, which causes the mechanism that tells the contracted muscle to relax to tire out. Luckily, if you simply warm up before you bike or ride for shorter periods of time, you can easily prevent cramping from occurring.

Wrist and Forearm Pain or Numbness – Injuries to the wrist or forearm usually occur when the rider locks his or her arms while bike riding. Never ride with your arms locked! It’s best to ride your bike with your elbows slightly bent, that way when you hit bumps in the road, your bent elbows can safely absorb the shock and avoid injury. In fact, two common wrist overuse injuries 0 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Cyclist’s Palsy – can be prevented by simply alternating the pressure from the inside to the outside of your palms and by making sure that your wrists don’t drop below the handlebars. You can even try changing hand positions to reduce pain or numbness and stretch your hands out before you go riding.

Head Injury – Head injuries are probably the most serious sort of accident that can occur to a bike rider. Injuries can range from a simple cut or lesion on the cheek to traumatic brain injury. Riders can be prone to receiving concussions or head injuries that may even result in death. One of the best ways to prevent head injuries is by wearing a helmet, which can reduce the risk for head injury by a whopping 85%!

So what are you waiting for? Stretch, grab your helmet, and take your bike out for a spin today to stay fit and enjoy the sunshine! For further tips or questions, be sure to call Fitness4Life at (618) 656-5433 or visit our website at http://www.fitness4lifept.com to see how we can help you!

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Posted by on May 16, 2012 | 0 comments

You’d Better Slow Down if You Want to Avoid Swimming Injuries!

Summer is almost here, and when the temperatures rise, you’ll want to do an exercise that not only gets the job done but also keeps you cool.

Swimming is a longtime favorite summer activity for children and adults alike. Better yet, swimming has the reputation of being a low-impact form of exercise and is kinder on the joints. But just because it’s a low-impact exercise doesn’t mean that injuries never abound, especially when done incorrectly, in excess, or in speeds that you’re not used to.

Four major injuries can occur while swimming – swimmer’s shoulder, breaststroke knee, neck injuries, and lower back injuries. Here are some tips to help you avoid obtaining these injuries!

Swimmer’s Shoulder –This is probably the most common injury found in swimming. Usually, it’s caused by the user implementing bad technique or by working out too quickly or too much or simply by overusing the muscles. Sometimes the injury can occur when swim paddles and pull buoys are used.

To prevent swimmer’s shoulder, be sure that you are using the correct technique when you swim. A qualified swimming professional or even an experienced swimmer can help you pinpoint your mistakes and show you how to properly stroke.  Don’t over train or work out with tired muscles since the stabilizing muscles in the shoulder could be injured or over-fatigued. Additionally, avoid suddenly increasing your speed or workload in your workouts. Remember, slow and steady ultimately wins the race!

Breaststroke Knee (a.k.a. Swimmer’s Knee) – As the name may suggest, this injury is generated by the stroke mechanics of the breaststroke kick. Whenever you extend your legs and then bring them back together during the propulsive phase of the kick, your knees are subjected to external rotation and the lower leg bending outward. Additionally, your inner ligament in your knee (known as the medial collateral ligament) is also put under stress.

Don’t want breaststroke knee? Try alternating your swimming strokes. Try doing butterfly strokes, backstrokes, or even freestyle. Perhaps give yourself rest periods during the year in which you don’t use breaststrokes. During that time you could engage in strengthening exercises for your quadriceps and your hamstrings. Additionally, try using swimming fins and they will help with resistance. And, most importantly, warm up and stretch before you swim!

Neck Injuries – Usually neck injuries occur because the swimmer is using incorrect technique while swimming. Neck injuries can be easily avoided in nearly all the different forms of swimming.

If you are using the freestyle stroke, be sure to keep your head in line with your spine as much as possible with your eyes looking straight down. Try not to look forward or lift your head to breath, and avoid over-rotating your head when you inhale. Instead, rotate your BODY more so that your head won’t have to do so much of the work!

When you use the butterfly stroke or the breaststroke, keep your head aligned with your spine at ALL times. Breathe while looking down so your head stays in a neutral position and is much less prone to injury.

Lower Back Injuries – These injuries are typically obtained due to incorrect technique. If you aren’t certain of how to properly use the correct technique while swimming, consider taking swimming lessons or talking with an experienced swimmer.

While using the freestyle stroke, you can get lower pack injuries if you swim with a high head position or if your hips and legs tend to sink and you kick hard to keep your legs up, overarching your back. Try working on your position and balance so you can find a relaxed horizontal position and provide relief for your lower back.

When using the butterfly stroke, poor technique and lifting your upper body out of the water with your back strength can lead to lower back injuries. If you happen to swim like this, try working on your body undulation and dolphin kick so that it’s the body wave, not your back, that lifts your upper body out of the water. And as always, warm up and stretch properly before doing the stroke.

What’s that? Want some more tips on how to prevent injuries? We’ve got you covered!

*Warm up/cool down and stretch before and after swimming.

*Take swimming lessons and swim under supervision. Never swim alone as this could lead to more serious injury or even death.

*Don’t swim if you’re overheated, too cold, too tired, have a fever, have an upper respiratory infection, or have an ear infection.

*If you’re diving, be sure that the water is deep and safe enough. NEVER dive in the shallow end of a pool (this also goes for lakes and rivers)!

*Not up to full-fledged swimming? No problem! Pool walking is an excellent form of water exercise, and you are much less prone to injuries!

For more tips or if you have any further questions, contact Fitness4Life at (618) 656-5433 or visit www.fitness4lifept.com!

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Posted by on Apr 2, 2012 | 0 comments

Always Having a Hard Day’s Night? Try Working Out in the Morning!

Sometimes we simply don’t have the time to work out in the afternoon, at lunchtime, or even in the evening. We work long hours and work ‘em hard, come home, cook dinner, take care of the kids if we have them, and finally, after doing all of our daily chores and duties, crash in bed (usually at a late hour).

Besides, who in their right mind would actually WANT to get out of bed in the morning to go exercise, especially when it’s so dark or gray or rainy out there? (Oh, gosh, I think we feel a nap coming on!)

Well, truth be told, it’s recommended that we get at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise at least 5 days out of the week. So if you’re not getting enough exercise during the week and you find yourself unable to get to the gym after your working hours, then you should probably consider filling in time in the morning to do your exercising.

If you find yourself cringing just thinking about trying to transition to working out in the morning, fret no more! Here are five tips to help the transition go a bit more smoothly:

Go To Bed EarlierWe know, we know. No one wants to go to bed at the proper time. People want to catch late night shows, have time with their spouses after putting the kids to bed, or get more work done. And if you think that you can simply go to bed at the same time as you normally do (let’s say midnight), you are sadly mistaken! If you’re used to sleeping from midnight to 8 a.m. and then rushing out the door to get to work at 9 a.m., you won’t be able to make it through the day by getting up at 6 a.m. to exercise, shower, and all that jazz. If you want or need to get up to exercise at 5 or 6 a.m., you should get to bed by 10 p.m. at the absolute latest. Trust us – you’ll thank us later!

Get Up, Stand UpJust because you’re going to work out in the morning doesn’t mean you need to get straight out of bed, put your running shoes on, and exercise hardcore. That’s actually a good way to set yourself up for failure! Instead, why not simply stand up for a few minutes and do menial tasks? Make your lunch for the day, read the morning paper, take the dog outside to do its business. Simply stand up and start your day slowly so that you can adjust to doing more physical activities and not pass out while doing so!

Take a Hot Shower BEFORE Exercising – You might think that we’re crazy, but a quick hot shower in the morning could really help you get into exercise mode quickly and efficiently. Think about it – most people turn the heat down (or the air up) when they go to sleep, and well, it’s colder outside for the most part at night or in the early morning. If you simply take a short hot shower for about a minute, you will heat up your body and will be ready to go! Just be sure to take a “real” shower after your workout, lest you repel people around you for the rest of the day!

Warm UpThat’s right – stretch out those muscles before you go running off into the sunrise! You might be wise to add some more time to your warming up sessions since you’ll have just gotten out of bed and your muscles will need some stretching. Try warming up for ten to fifteen minutes before you start your workout. That may seem like a long time to warm up, but really, it’s better to spend an extra five or so minutes warming up than much longer time in physical therapy from an injury you sustained because you didn’t warm up!

Ask Someone to Work Out With YouIt’s easier to work out with a partner than solo, and this rings true even in the wee hours of the morning. Having a friend there to work out with you will give you another reason to get yourself out of bed early in the morning to exercise. You’re less likely to hit that snooze button if you know your friend is outside ready to go for a run with you or at the gym.

If you’re ready to start exercising in the morning, try using these strategies to help you easily transition to your new workout regime. And if you want more tips or need any assistance, don’t hesitate to call us here at Fitness4Life at 1-618-656-5433 or visit us at our website at www.fitness4lifept.com. Let us help you be the healthy, strong person you want and deserve to be!

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Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 | 0 comments

Work Out With Kettlebells and Deep Squats to Have Your Best Baseball Season Yet!

 

Springtime is now here in the northern hemisphere, and you know what that means? That’s right – baseball season is starting soon!

All over the country, both major and minor leagues have begun spring training and are warming up their throwing arms for this season’s games.

While baseball is not considered a contact sport, many injuries, both minor and serious, result from contact with the ball, improper form, or even one slight incorrect move of a limb. In fact, most of the common injuries include repetitive-use injuries in the shoulder and elbow, contusions, muscle pulls, black eyes, ligament injuries, lacerations, and even concussions.

Luckily, there are a two specific exercises baseball players can partake in to make themselves stronger, more flexible, and less prone to injury – kettlebells and squats!

Kettlebells, an all-inclusive exercise that originated from Russia, is a catch-all sort of exercise that benefits the entire body. Using kettlebells correctly can improve your strength, power, speed, and coordination all over your body, and it can also improve your performance in baseball. You can also increase the grip strength on the bat (which improves your speed), make your shoulders stronger, increase the mobility in your shoulders and hips, and decrease your chances of injury when you work out with kettlebells.

If you’re already familiar with the kettlebells, you can already start your workout! The best exercises to do to help you with your baseball performance include the power clean, front squat, kettlebell swing, shoulder press, and the reverse lunge.

Be warned, however – if you don’t know how to use the kettlebells, you should first consult with a professional on how to properly use them. Injury can easily abound from using kettlebells incorrectly, especially when picking them up and putting them back down. You can even check out our video of kettlebell exercises right here to see how it looks to use them correctly!

Along with upper-body injuries, knee injuries are also relatively common in baseball. In fact, some knee injuries can easily end one’s baseball career if they’re severe enough, so it’s exceptionally important to take care of your lower body muscles and joints.

One of the best ways to strengthen your lower body is by doing deep squats. This exercise, which we’re programmed to do properly from the time we were infants, strengthens the entire body. Sadly, though, as we age we lose the range of motion to properly execute deep squats because we stop doing them.

What’s worse is that we’re taught incorrectly on how to do deep squats using only a 60-degree range of motion with weights instead of the full 135 degree-range that the knees can handle. Using a limited range of motion will only cause wear and tear to your knees, ankles, and hip joints.

The proper way to do a squat, however, is actually to run through the FULL range of your knees’ bend and use the glutes to do all the hard work. If you do the exercise correctly, you will strengthen everything from your lower back to your ankles! Check out our video here to see how to properly do a full squat!

If you happen to not be able to do a squat in a full range of motion, there’s no need to worry (or avoid doing squats)! A physical therapist like Mark Slaughter can work with you and help you regain your range of motion!

Are you ready to get revved up for this year’s baseball season? Want to do the workouts, but you’re not sure how to start? No problem! Give us a call here at Fitness4Life at (618) 656-5433 or visit us at our website at www.fitness4lifept.com to see what we can do for you! We’ll get you started on the right foot this baseball season!

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Posted by on Dec 13, 2011 | 0 comments

Live Longer by Staying Active and Doing the Things You Love!

In the day and age in which computers, texting, Tweeting, and Facebook dominates our culture, it’s hard to refocus on the world before us. Televisions can be found in nearly everyone’s home across the nation, and after a hard day’s work, which tends to entail toiling tirelessly at a desk for at least 8 hours, people tend to come home, and plop on the couch for the rest of the night, remote in one hand and Blackberry in another.

Now, we’re not saying that people shouldn’t relax at all; that would be an insane declaration to make! It seems, though, as if there is so much insistence in keeping priorities straight – work and family usually dominate the top tiers, and rightfully so. What needs to be made a priority, however, is exercising and keeping active throughout the years.

“Yeah, very funny joke. Tell another!” you may exclaim. Guess what? We aren’t joking.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States during the past 20 years, and, as news reports inform us quite frequently, the rates remain high while exercising rates have decreased.

“Awww, but that means I have to actually get up and exercise, doesn’t it?” Why, yes. Yes, it does. And yes, we know that you’ve had a long day at work or that the kids have worn you down. It happens to all of us. But believe it or not, keeping fit and active doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, the hardest part is deciding what you want to do and just going for it!

So right now you might be wondering what workouts are the best to help you keep fit and stay active. Actually, the answer is simple. The best workout is the one that works best for you.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to join the gym or work with huge machines to stay fit. All you have to do is find a physical activity or two that you enjoy doing and be sure that you do it often! If you love running, then go jogging or play soccer or football. If you enjoy dancing, turn up your favorite tunes and dance in your living room or take Zumba classes. Are you a lover of things that require hand-eye coordination (hello, videogames!)? Why not shoot some hoops or play a few rounds of tennis? And of course, if strength training is your game, go lift weights to your heart’s content or try some kettlebells!

If you’re still not on board, consider this. There are so many benefits to staying fit. Of course there are the typical benefits that you can expect to receive from exercise such as losing weight and keeping weight off, lowering your blood pressure, gaining more energy, and sleeping better. But did you know that by keeping fit, you decrease the stress and anxiety in your life while boosting your libido and positive energy? And while you’re improving your blood glucose management and blood fats, you’re lowering your risk for other health problems such as heart attack, bone loss, stroke, and some forms of cancers.

Staying active will also keep you strong throughout your life by increasing your muscle mass and strength. It will also prevent you from becoming breathless during simple activities such as walking up a flight of stairs or walking quickly from one place to another when it’s cold.

And get this – staying fit and physically active will help you as you age! According to a new study, people over 70 who no longer remain physically active are more likely to develop physical problems within a few years. Other studies have found that seniors who remain physically active over 70 are less likely to experience age-related declines in functioning mentally. In a way, physical activity is just as important as taking your medicine when you’re older.

Sounds like an awesome deal, right? A little bit of physical activity for lifelong benefits… Oh, wait. You have to actually dedicate time do staying fit. Don’t sign off just yet! You don’t have to keep your nose to the grindstone all the time. You can workout in 10-minute intervals throughout the day or in one-hour blocks scattered throughout the week. As long as the schedule works for you and your lifestyle, it doesn’t matter how much time you do in one interval! See? Now you have no more excuses!

And just remember, your attitude will change how you view exercise. If you have a positive attitude toward exercise, you’re more likely to do it! Just keep doing the things you love, and you’ll be happier and more likely to do them in the long run!

Got questions? Want some advice on how to begin? Call us here at Fitness4Life at (618) 656-5433 or visit us at our website at www.fitness4lifept.com!

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