Do you need a gym to exercise?
The short answer to that question is, no.
Going to a gym is nice because there is a large variety of equipment, lots of classes, social interaction and because misery loves company.
But, all that equipment may be sweat-stained by that dude that doesn’t know how to wipe things down. And, to be honest, you will not use most of the pieces of equipment anyway.
Sometimes people suck and having to be around them when you exercise just makes the whole experience worse.
Nothing will make you feel old like a bum pair of knees. Walking can be a laborious. Climbing stairs resembles climbing some snow-covered mountain. Even sitting and standing can become an Olympic event.
Maybe you want to start exercising to take off some lbs so you can save your knees. Not a bad plan until you follow a bad plan.
Following the wrong program when you have bad knees will absolutely make them worse!
I am going to go over each in more detail, but the 5 strategies are:
Remove/modify pain stimulus - this often means things like squats, lunges, running and jumping need to be tabled or altered.
Soft Tisse Mobilization (STM) - this is a $2 word for massage. Issues with your quads, IT bands, hamstrings, adductors and calfs need to be addressed.
Ankle mobility - when your ankles do not move, your knees try to move more to compensate. This is bad news for your knees.
Hip-dominant movements - this serves two purposes. It assists #1 and it builds up a part of your body that is probably weak to begin with.
Deloaded knee-dominant movements and controlling knee valgus - all the squats and lunges and running and jumping that we took away in the beginning are brought back to finish your rehab.
At some point you are going to deal some sort of an injury. Maybe you are already have. Maybe you are dealing with something right now.
I am going to walk you through some different ideas as you approach different scenarios or pain and rehabbing injuries.
There are going to be 6 parts to this post, with each part having its own video.
General guidelines for rehabbing injuries.
Your post-surgery home exercise program.
The idea of layers. Fixing one problem often reveals another one.
Modify your approach to sets and reps.
You are thinking about starting an exercise program. You are ready. You are motivated and you are going to dominate and accomplish all of your goals. How do you know what exercises to start with?
Is it some random drawing by throwing exercises in a hat and pulling them out? Do you hit up the internet and find the latest and greatest to follow? Do you turn to Instagram and the girl with the painted-on yoga pants or the guy-that-never-seems-to-wear-a-shirt-in-any-video?
Many of us know someone who seems to be a little more clumsy. Maybe they trip a lot, stumble often and sometimes even fall. Maybe I am describing you.
Occasionally losing your balance or stumbling here or there is not a balance problem.
Vertigo is a true balance disorder. Issues that involve the vestibular system (which is a fascinating system) are true balance disorders. These can be triggered by head, neck and eye movements and are often associated with nausea, dizziness and true loss of balance (LOB) which often results in a fall.
Balance is a difficult thing to quantify since it involves many systems and many variables. Your balance is maintained by a dynamic interplay between three systems in the body. In the ideal world, all three systems would work harmoniously together.
Low back pain (LBP) is common. Way too common. Treating it is difficult as there are often many factors contributing to your pain. The strategies I am going to share are meant to improve your situation. At worst, they should do nothing, meaning they will not make it worse.
All of the strategies will have multiple videos to help guide you through the process. These are strategies I have used with both clients and patients to not just manage, but ultimately resolve their LBP.
I am going to go over each in more detail, but the 5 strategies are:
Supine deloading - I will also share how to deload in sitting and standing
Core stabilization - it’s not so much what you do but HOW you do it
Glute exercises - in general, when the glutes are strong there are less issues with the knees and low back
Hip mobility - when the hips are tight, there tends to be more movement through the low back to compensate
Hip hinge - poor awareness and understanding of how to properly bend at the hips will routinely flare up the back
Low back tightness is common. Feeling some tightness in the low back is not uncommon. The reasons why the back can be tight are numerous. Most do not even involve the low back itself.
Other problems in the body (weakness, tightness and poor mechanics when moving) tend to manifest as low back pain. Sneaky sneaky.
Because of this, stretching the low back directly is often not the solution.
Don’t just start running. At some juncture, people realize they need to exercise. Or maybe they used to and they want to get back into it. They grab their favorite shoes and go for a run. Sounds harmless, right?
Don’t just start jumping. Maybe you were never much of a runner. You decide to join a gym. Or maybe you already belong to a gym but visit it “occasionally”. You think about taking some strength training class the gym offers.
It’s day one and you are squatting, lunging, pushuping and jumping more than you have in months. You feel like a dish rag when you are done. You are on your way, right?
LBP is complex. No one thing is going to resolve your back pain so stop looking for it. If you truly want to resolve your pain, you will have to tackle this on multiple levels. This means you will have to:
Back on Thanksgiving morning, I started sharing different ways to help get people through the holiday season without having to give up exercise.
I even suggested that it is NOT a crazy thought to begin doing some extra activity or exercise during this time of year.
Understanding that many people would view that as crazy advice, I gave examples of things you can do.
Single leg hamstring drops w/ ball.
For now, this one if the grand daddy of the hamstring drop family.
Set up with your feet under something that will not move. A dumbbell rack works great but not all are low enough to the ground.
I have used a standing hamstring curl machine to perform hamstring drops when the DB rack was not an option. See below.
Set up with your feet anchored under a dumbbell rack or other solid structure that will not move. Focus on bracing the abs, staying tall throughout the motion and not bending at the hips. Perform the hamstring drop with only one leg on the way down and both legs coming back up. Try to keep the emphasis on the hamstring, not the arms and shoulders. The upper body is definitely assisting the movement, but the hamstrings should be the focus. Enjoy.
This will punch your hamstrings right in the mouth. Set up with both knees bent, feet flat on the ground with a slider under one of your feet. Lift the foot that is not on the slider off the floor. Perform a single-leg bridge with the other leg. Once at the top of the motion, straighten the knee by sliding the foot away from the body. When the knee is extended, keep the hips on the floor, bend the knee and start again with the single-leg bridge.
This is a great alternative if using some attachment for the hands increases back pain or you find yourself pulling too much with the arms. Start by setting the pulley so it is around hip-height. Set the strap so it goes around the front of your hips. Set and brace your neutral spine position. Focus on keeping pressure through the heels and sitting back through the hips. To return to the start position, squeeze the glutes and push the hips forward. Avoid overextending the hips and straightening the body as this will cause you to lose your balance and fall back.
The fact of the matter is, pain can bring each one of these situations to a grinding halt. Even worse, if the pain is left unchecked it usually gets worse and can even cause pain in different parts of the body.
It is not uncommon for a right ankle or knee issue to cause pain in the low back or the opposite hip and knee. I will explain how at a later date. The short answer as to how this happens is that everything is connected.
One of the first steps in not bringing the temptation into the house. Unfortunately, the bad stuff is usually the easiest stuff to grab in a hurry and also things that you can eat a lot of before the brain triggers you to stop.
But, what do we do when we need a little something and we do not want to go face first into some ice cream, chips or cookies?
Check out this recipe.