Exercise And Our Strive To Optimal Health

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Overall health includes a wide range of different areas ranging from eating the right foods, taking in the right vitamins/minerals, getting enough sleep, and making sure we do enough exercise. The last area I mentioned is what I am going to touch base on today. I am going to describe the two main types of exercise we can do and give a few examples of how we all can become more active.

 Aerobic exercise means training or exercising with air or oxygen. This type of training strengthens your heart, reduces blood pressure, and can increase metabolism hours after you have completed your workout. This would involve a moderate pace for an extended period of time, usually twelve minutes or more, increasing endurance gradually within your target heart range, not fatiguing our muscles. If you are gasping for air or breathing heavy, you are probably working without a sufficient oxygen supply to the muscles. The following activities are all great aerobic activities that do not take too much to accomplish:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Bicycling
  • Hiking
  • “Fitness” or ”step” class

 The big question is how much should you do? This is important because each and every one of us has a different level of activity we can physically handle. To develop aerobic fitness, I would recommend working out a minimum of 20-60 minutes, 3-5 times a week. Start out at the low end of the time scale and gradually increase the time and number of days you spend exercising. During your workout session, work within your target heart rate which can be found on most machines at a gym or online if you google “target heart rate chart”.

 The next form of exercise is Anaerobic Exercise, which means training without oxygen. This means short sustained exercise bursts with high intensity, or repetition, usually lasting less than sixty seconds. Building muscle and creating strength, can enhance most athletic activities you may be training for. It also reduces the risk of injury to joints and ligaments, and even reduces the risk of osteoporosis. The following activities would be an anaerobic activity:

  • Weight Lifting
  • Sprints
  • Plyometrics
  • Racquetball
  • Tennis
  • Soccer
  • Basketball

 How much should we do? Anywhere from 2 - 3 days a week would be ideal allowing at least 48 hours of rest in between workouts to let our muscles recover. I would recommend 2-3 sets with 8-12 repetitions and starting on the lower end first, then gradually increasing sets, repetitions, and weight. Proper technique and warming up before doing anaerobic activity is the best way for injury prevention. A warm up would consist of a light walk, jog, bike, or stretching the targeted muscles. 

Exercise is very important in my life and it also plays a large part in a lot of our patients lives. From just a beginner who may only walk in their neighborhood, to the person training for an Ironman triathlon, exercise will jumpstart the body or continue it down the path to optimal health and let us live longer and happier lives!!

- Chris Gradoville, LMP, A.R.T.

Overhead Athletes– How much is too much when throwing?

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The question has been debated heavily for many years and yet there does not seem to be a clear answer.  With rule changes in little league baseball regarding limitations on innings pitched and pitch counts there has been a necessary shift to protect our young athletes.  Ever wonder how a softball pitcher can throw both games of a double header and still be ready the next day versus a baseball pitcher pitching 5 innings and needing 4+ days off to really recover?  The simple answer is that the overhead throwing motion is an unnatural motion for the glenohumeral joint (shoulder), and places extra stress on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  Over time, the repetitive stress of an unnatural motion leads to changes in the body most noticeably; increased external rotation of the throwing shoulder.

Another common question that arises when talking about overhead throwing is, how soon should kids start throwing curveballs and off-speed pitches in baseball?  When reviewing the current research on this, there does not seem to be any extra stress from throwing off-speed pitches or just fastballs, “when thrown with proper mechanics”.  Leading experts in the field seem to find that many kids are not receiving proper instruction and are damaging their shoulders, elbows, and low back by using poor biomechanics when throwing off-speed pitches.

You may wonder how some professional pitchers pitch, well into their 40’s, and others have career ending injuries in high school.  The main two reasons for this are:

1. Anatomical variation – While we all have the same major muscle groups differences in those structures and how they work together, vary in every single individual.

2. Biomechanical differences – Having poor throwing mechanics can lead to extra stress on specific tissues making the likelihood of injury much greater.  This can also hold true with muscle imbalances and joint restrictions.

The bottom line with overhead throwing and knowing how much is too much, is taking the proper steps before you begin a throwing program.  The following tips can help prevent injury and extend overhead athletes careers:

1. Receive proper instruction on throwing mechanics before beginning a throwing routine.

2. Get a proper physical examination to have your muscles and joints checked to make sure your body is ready to begin a throwing program.3. Allow adequate rest between throwing cycles so the body can recover.

3. Allow adequate rest between throwing cycles so the body can recover.

4. Have a solid strength program to help balance out the extra stress that throwing places on the body.

5. Listen to your body.

6. Have Fun!!!!

Cory Cooper, DC, ATC