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August 2, 2021

Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation: The Nitty Gritty with Lee Ann Dinofrio, PT

 

Afraid to do jumping jacks at the gym? 

Scared to sneeze or cough in public? 

Always scouting for a restroom?

If having a weak pelvic floor is preventing you from having fun and getting the exercise your body needs, then this article is for you. 

 

This interview with Lee Ann Dinofrio will clear up questions about pelvic floor dysfunction that you are too timid to ask. 

 

Time to Share the Best Kept Secret in Midcoast Maine

Pelvic floor

Lee Ann Dinofrio is a physical therapist at Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, Maine. She specializes in pelvic floor rehabilitation.

Lee Ann is known as the best kept secret in Midcoast Maine because most people do not know that there is this kind of valuable help available for those suffering with pelvic floor dysfunction.  

First, your pelvic floor is often referred to as the bowl or sling that holds the bladder, vaginal cavity, uterus (women), prostate (men), and rectum, which is the end of the large intestine that stores feces. 

Lee Ann explained that pelvic floor rehabilitation is a treatment plan to strengthen the three layers of pelvic floor muscles to address issues such as, urine and fecal leakage, pelvic pain and postpartum issues. 

Yes, you read that correctly. There are not one, not two, but three layers of muscle that make up your pelvic floor whether you are female or male. That anatomy is the same. 

All three layers need to be strong for easy daily function to prevent embarrassing, inconvenient and possibly even painful incidents. 

 Disclaimer: If you feel you are in need of pelvic floor rehabilitation, please seek professional advice before following the information provided here to address your particular issues. 

Visits with a Pelvic Floor Therapist  

pelvic floor therapist

The first step to rehabilitation is evaluation. The evaluation visit is about 90 minutes and is an intimate procedure to assess the pelvic floor issue. 

We say intimate because the only way to assess pelvic floor issues is vaginally or rectally.  

Visits following the evaluations are about 45 minutes once per week for approximately 6 weeks. If more time is needed, then a patient’s health insurance is contacted for an extension. 

Be ready for some homework 

Pelvic floor exercises

For progress to occur patients need to do their homework. Maybe you thought you were done with school, but now you are given what may be the most important homework ever to help you function easily in daily life. 

Fortunately, this homework is very different than the high school algebra you speculated never using in “real” life. 

This homework will help you EVERY day and involves exercises to strengthen, or even relax in some cases, the muscles of your pelvic floor. 

Contracting these muscles with specific exercises for your pelvic floor are essential for addressing pelvic floor dysfunction. It works just like if you perform bicep curls to strengthen the bicep muscles of your arms only it’s muscles you cannot see. 

Pulling the Drawstring

kegel exercises

You may have already guessed that Kegels are the go-to exercise for pelvic floor strengthening and you’d be right for most cases. 

Think of it as using your pelvic floor muscles to pull up and in as if lifting a drawstring bag in your abdomen. 

What’s marvelous about Kegels is that you can do them anywhere at any time because nobody can tell if you are doing them. The muscles are internal. Nobody notices. 

There are many variations to contracting your pelvic floor muscles. 

1) Your therapist may suggest doing what is known as quick flicks, which are contracting your pelvic floor muscles quickly and letting them relax without holding them contracted. 

2) Another option is to contract the muscles and hold for a few to several seconds before relaxing. 

An A+ pelvic floor student

pelvic floor strengthening

Lee Ann and other pelvic floor therapists prescribe exercises that benefit each patient depending on their specific needs. 

To get on the honor roll with your therapist and benefit yourself the most, it’s imperative that you perform your therapist’s prescribed exercises correctly and consistently.  

For Lee Ann’s recommendations for exercises fill out the form below!


No Squatting Allowed? 

squats for pelvic floor strengthening

Some exercises may have to be put on the back burner for a while. Your therapist may suggest being careful with squatting because your pelvic floor muscles relax when performing a squat. 

You may be thinking, “How am I going to build my quads and lift anything if I’m not supposed to squat?”. 

Well, to be more precise, if you can contract your pelvic floor by performing a Kegel while simultaneously squatting, then you may be good to go. 

Until then, working on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles needs to happen before squatting in the gym. In lieu of squats, consider wall sits and glute bridges. 

Check out how to do proper glute bridges in our free guide (just fill out the form at THIS LINK to gain Instant Access)

Why do you have a weak pelvic floor?  

pelvic floor organs

You can experience a weak pelvic floor for a multitude of reasons.  

Is it in your genes? 

There isn’t significant research to support that having a weak pelvic floor is genetic. However, Lee Ann has seen in the history of her patients that there does seem to be a connection, such as a daughter, sister, mother, aunt, grandmother, etc. who all have suffered in some way from weak pelvic floor muscles.  

Have you housed a human?

Pregnancy certainly can take its toll on pelvic floor muscles while carrying a child and whatever happens during the birth, either vaginally or cesarian section. 

Muscles that are torn, cut or damaged in some way can mean that those muscles are not as strong as they were prior to pregnancy. 

Retired muscles?  

Our age may be another factor contributing to a weak pelvic floor. As we age our muscles get weaker due to wear and tear and overwork. 

How is your fitness level? 

Similar to all other muscles in our bodies, muscles that we do not use and do not continue to strengthen get weak and cannot perform their responsibilities appropriately. 

Sufficient exercise each day is important for the muscles of your pelvic floor and your overall health.

What can I do to prevent weak pelvic floor muscles?

Fitness for pelvic floor

 

Exercise can make a significant difference in how well your pelvic floor muscles perform. The phrase “use it or lose it” comes to mind. If you do not exercise the muscles in your body, including your pelvic floor muscles, then the strength of those muscles can decline over time. 

An option for preventing severe issues as a result of a weak pelvic floor is to seek out a therapist before the situation interrupts your daily living activities. Maintenance and consistency are key to keeping the pelvic floor strong.

I want results today!

pelvic floor therapy

Once patients take the leap and initiate a visit with Lee Ann, they tend to want results on the first visit. However, pelvic floor issues take time and dedication to remedy.  

That said, most patients feel better emotionally and mentally after the first visit because they now know what the issue is and that there are steps to follow to strengthen their pelvic floor.

Many patients haven’t confided in anyone about how they are suffering in their daily lives with their weak pelvic floor. Once in Lee Ann’s office, the flood gates open through sharing their experiences and asking a plethora of questions. 

Do not be nervous to ask any question of your therapist. It’s best to throw it all on the table, so to speak. 

Yes, but I’m a man… 

strengthening male pelvic floor

We associate weak pelvic floor conditions with women, but, as mentioned above, all the pelvic floor muscles are the same for both women and men. 

For the most part, men seek Lee Ann’s help for incontinence and issues that may be related to their prostate. 

Again, Lee Ann and other pelvic floor therapists have heard it all. They can provide the answers you seek or refer you to a specialist in another area that can help.  

It Depends 

incontinence

Clothing and other products to help with weak pelvic floor issues are not necessarily helpful. Let me explain. 

Lee Ann revealed that even though there are items that work very well and provide an element of confidence for going out in public, they may not instill the urgency necessary to remedy the underlying concern of weak pelvic floors in a timely manner. 

Some folks tend to rely on these products, such as incontinence pads and underwear, and this can decrease the incentive to do their homework to improve the primary problem. 

Understandably, you need to function in public life with confidence. It depends on how much you rely on using these products. 

Going under the knife 

pelvic floor surgery

 

There are scenarios when Lee Ann recommends a consultation with a surgeon. 

However, before seeking out a surgeon to address your weak pelvic floor, please see a pelvic floor therapist. Take their advice to heart and give their recommendations your best effort. 

In Summary 

If you have any issues related to your pelvic floor that affect your daily living…

1)   Please see Lee Ann Dinofrio at Pen Bay Medical Center or a therapist near you that specializes in pelvic floor rehabilitation. It can change your life for the better!

2)    Do your pelvic floor homework EVERY day

3)    Eat a balanced diet with fiber, exercise, attain adequate sleep and enjoy life

There is hope and help to address pelvic floor dysfunctions. You do not have to constantly worry about embarrassing situations, finding a restroom in public or jumping jacks at the gym. 

Lee Ann Dinofrio currently practices at Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, Maine and has over 36 years of experience as a physical therapist. She received her training to specialize in pelvic floor therapy at the Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute and has been practicing pelvic floor rehabilitation since 2014. 

She addresses urinary and bowel issues, pelvic pain and postpartum pelvic issues. Lee Ann helps women AND men and includes any necessary orthopedic steps in her treatment plans, as well. 

Lee Ann is also certified in Integrative Dry Needling and finds this to be a very useful tool in the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunctions. (please note, no “private parts” are needled!). 

To see Lee Ann, all patients need to be referred by their primary care physician, certified nurse practitioner or certified midwife. 

 

June 8, 2021

Top Beginner Boxing Mistakes!

5 TOP BEGINNER MISTAKES WHEN BOXING!

 

If you’re new to boxing, or you just want to clean up your form and prevent yourself from injury, then this article is for you! 

 

I’ve taught beginners boxing for several years now, and I see the same small mistakes with almost everyone. When punching a 70-100lb bag, form is very important. Proper form and technique ensure that you don’t injure yourself, and you get the most out of your workout.

 

Let’s take a look at the top 5 beginner mistakes when boxing!

 

MISTAKE #1: OVEREXTENDING THE ELBOWS!

    One of the leading causes of injury in boxing comes from hyperextending the elbows when throwing punches. This often comes from misjudging your distance between yourself and the bag you’re using, or just downright improper punching technique. 

 

Always make sure you’re close enough to the bag (or opponent) so that you can hit them with a fully extended jab. Using the jab to assess distance is ideal because if you can hit the target with the extended jab, you’re at a good distance to land all the rest of the punches. 

 

Another common issue is punching with a chopping motion rather than punching straight forwards. A good way to work on this is to imagine punching through a pipe. The punch will have to go straight forwards through the pipe to miss the sides, and will help throw straighter punches. 

 

Make sure to fully extend your punches, as well. Failure to do this will result in far less power/force. 

 

MISTAKE #2: NOT SNAPPING THE PUNCHES BACK AND DROPPING THE HANDS!

    Another mistake I see all the time is throwing punches forwards, and letting them linger out in front. Every punch should be snapped back to the chin right after it’s thrown, as fast as possible. The motion is very similar to that of whipping a towel.. Throw the punch forward, and immediately snap it right back. 

 

This increases the power of the punch, helps make your technique more efficient (getting the punches back quickly is important so you can throw them again if needed), and is also very important for defense. The longer your arm stays extended, the more time your opponent has to come in with a punch to your face/head which is vulnerable. 

 

Always snap the punches back to the chin. Also, if your fist isn’t throwing a punch then it should be besides the chin protecting the head. Oftentimes, I see dropped fists after punches or while slipping. Never let your hands drop down and always bring them right back to that defensive position. 

 

MISTAKE #3: NOT TURNING THE HIPS OR USING THE CORE!

    In regards to punching, the majority of your power is generated from the hips. It’s crucial to turn your hips and transfer your weight around to get a lot of power through your punches, and to have efficient technique (especially with the cross and hooks). 

 

When you’re throwing punches, make sure to rotate through your shoulders, AND hips, as well. 

 

This is where hooks can be awkward punches to master at first. I like to  think of your core and torso as a spring. When you’re throwing the hook you want to almost load the spring before coming back around. Load the spring by rotating slightly to the opposite direction of the punch, then use the momentum through your core rotating back to add power to the punch. 

 

This is easier and more effective if you throw the hook after another punch that already sets you up in that position (i.e. throwing a 2, then coming back around with a 3).

 

MISTAKE #4: FEET CROSSING OVER WHEN MOVING AROUND!

   Crossing your feet over one another is never a good idea!. It throws you off balance, and makes you very easy to push over. 

 

You should start a move to any direction with the foot that’s closest to that direction. For example, if you’re a righty and set up in an orthodox stance (left foot out in front, right in back) and you want to move to the left, start by stepping to the left with your left foot then follow with the right.

 

Opposite to the right, start with the right foot which is already closer to that direction then follow through with the left foot. Moving forwards should always start with the front foot and backwards should start with the back foot. 

 

MISTAKE #5: BREATHING INCORRECTLY!!

    Lastly, I want to talk about something I see most often and commonly overlooked, but is incredibly important. Holding your breath should NEVER happen. Holding your breath through a punch, or through a series of punches is never a good idea. 

 

This will make you winded very quickly. Not something you want to happen in a real fight, or even in a 45 minute class where you throw a TON of punches. Conserving your energy should be one of your top priorities.. You should take quick, small breaths with EVERY punch. This way you’re constantly moving air so you don’t get tired too quickly and it also helps with adding power to the punches. You have deep core muscles that only contract when you forcibly exhale so if you want to use your core to its highest potential…. BREATHE!

 

Now that you’re aware of some of the top mistakes beginners make when just starting off in boxing, it’s time to get to work! Fixing these up early on is very important. If you can master these 5 key issues with boxing early on, your boxing journey will be much more rewarding.

You’ll be significantly less likely to injure yourself, and you will have the tools to develop great boxing techniques and will solidify them throughout your experience. It’s much better to master the basics early  rather than later  when you’ve practiced the incorrect way for so long that it’ll take forever to unlearn everything, then retrain. Now that you know these 5 top beginner boxing mistakes and how to correct them, practice, practice, and practice some more, and I look forward to seeing you in boxing class!!

April 30, 2021

Best Exercises To Fix Neck Pain

What a Pain in the Neck!

 

If it’s not your boss with a last minute request on a Friday afternoon, or your in-laws showing up unexpectedly for the weekend, or even your dog shredding your couch cushions while you’re out on a hot date, then maybe the pain in the neck in your life is just that…pain in the neck. 

If your neck is annoyingly sore, especially by the end of each day, let’s dive into why that is, and what you can do about it. This article shares a few simple tips, tricks, and the best exercises to fix neck pain. 

Before following any of the suggestions in this article, please consult your physician if your neck pain:

  • Is getting significantly worse.
  • Exists for more than 6 weeks. 
  • Comes on sharp and quickly.
  • Is accompanied by nausea.

 

Do You Really Have Rocks in Your Head?

 

One reason why your neck aches is that it may feel like your head is filled with rocks. Not necessarily true in most cases, but your head is HEAVY! 

Weighing in between a whopping 10-12 pounds, your head not only affects your neck, but it also has a significant impact on the rest of your spine. Envision trying to balance a bowling ball at the top of your spine! 

Seven small vertebrae in your neck, as well as, muscles, ligaments and tendons all working together support everything you do with your head. It’s a big job and something that most of us take for granted. So, making sure you maintain good posture is key to putting less torque on the neck. 

 

The Impact!

 

The position of your head impacts the pressure on your spine, meaning that for each inch your head moves forward, an additional 10 pounds of weight is felt on your spine.  

So, for example, looking down at your phone (45 degrees) elevates the pressure on your spine from about 11 pounds (neutral) to 48 pounds. That’s huge!

If your neck and back are painful, what is happening at the top of your spine may be a contributor. 

Let’s talk about perfect posture: 

  • Hold your phone up in front of your face instead of looking down
  • Make sure you are looking straight at your computer monitor with your head neutral over your shoulders
  • Ears over the shoulders by pulling chin in slightly and lengthening the back of the neck
  • Shoulder blades pulled together and down slightly
  • Chin parallel to the floor

 

Stretching Your Sore Neck Muscles

 

There are a variety of stretching exercises that you can do to alleviate and avoid neck pain. Here are some of my favorite:

Chin Tuck:

  • Standing or sitting tall 
  • Chin parallel to the floor 
  • Pull chin in with ears over shoulders
  • Hold 1-3 seconds
  • Repeat for 10-15 repetitions

Wall Slides: 

  • Standing against a wall
  • Pull chin in and lengthen the back of the neck 
  • Place arms laterally against the wall bending at the elbow for 90 degree angles 
  • Keeping your back against the wall by engaging your abs
  • Extend arms directly over head by sliding arms up the wall to feel a stretch in your chest
  • Return your arms to the starting point
  • Repeat for 10-15 repetitions

Shoulder Blade Squeeze: 

  • Standing or sitting tall
  • Ears aligned over your shoulders
  • Squeeze shoulder blades together keeping shoulders down 
  • Hold for 1-3 seconds
  • Repeat for 10-15 repetitions

Look Both Ways:

  • Standing or sitting tall
  • Ears aligned over your shoulders
  • Slowly look directly left over your shoulder 
  • Return to center 
  • Slowly look directly right over your other shoulder
  • Repeat for 5-10 repetitions each side

 

Beware of Traps!

 

Is your neck sore because you are holding a lot of tension in your trapezius muscle?

It’s the large triangle shaped muscle that runs from the base of your skull (occipital bone), down the center of your back (thoracic vertebrae), and laterally to your shoulders (scapula). 

Simple Suggestions to follow to avoid being tripped by your traps are: 

Shoulder shrugs: 

  • Hold arms down by your sides
  • Lift shoulders up and back in a circular motion
  • Repeat for about 10-15 repetitions

Trap stretch:

  • Interlock fingers behind you and pull your fist to the left side of your waist
  • Hold your left elbow out laterally away from your body
  • Slowly lean your left ear to your left shoulder toward your elbow. 
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Repeat on your right side 

If interlocking fingers behind you is a challenge:

  • Simply lean your left ear toward your shoulder
  • Loop your left hand over your head
  • Apply light pressure to the right side of your head, increasing the intensity of the stretch slightly
  • Hold for 30 seconds 
  • Repeat on your right side

The above exercises not only help to increase neck strength and flexibility, but help improve posture, too! 

 

Postural Kyphosis, Say What?

 

Postural kyphosis is curvature of the spine that forms a hump on the upper back. The hump can be located at the base of the neck, or slightly lower between the shoulder blades. Because of this, the hump is referred to as buffalo hump, round back, hunch back, as well as the outdated and offensive term dowager’s hump. 

Accordingly, contributors to the formation of a back hump are: 

  • Carrying extra weight – extra pounds are a challenge for the skeletal structure of your whole body. However, fat also accumulates on the spine as protection and increases the presence of a hump 
  • Poor Posture – allowing your body to slouch can create physical misalignment 
  • Lack of Fitness – keeping your muscles strong and your limbs mobile allows your body to hold it’s frame properly
  • Injury or vertebral compression fractures in which part of a vertebrae collapses
  • Degeneration of the spine, a.k.a osteoarthritis, in which function and ability are impaired

 

How You Can Prevent or Correct Your Hump 

 

You can prevent the formation of a back hump or decrease the hump you have by making some changes that involve more than just exercises for your neck and back, such as: 

Sitting and standing tall, as well as sleeping with appropriate support – Your posture determines how your tissues support your bones in proper alignment – see the Hybrid Fitness posture article HERE

Stretching the pectoral muscles of your chest to allow the front of your torso to open, and your shoulders to move back and align with your hips. To do this: 

    • Stand in an average doorway
    • Place arms at 90-degree angles on either side of the door frame 
    • Step one foot forward and lean forward with your sternum while relaxing the muscles of your chest
    • Keep your head aligned with the spine, with ears over shoulders
    • Increase the stretch by leaning forward a little at a time as you inhale and exhale
    • If the doorway is too wide, do one side at a time
    • If this stretch is easy, raise arms higher against the door frame
    • Hold for 30 seconds

Stretching the muscles of your upper back to pull the shoulder blades together broadening the chest. To do this: 

    • Face a wall standing a few feet away with feet at least shoulder width apart
    • Place both hands flat against the wall above head height
    • Keep your neck and head aligned with your spine
    • Slowly push your butt back as you lean into the wall
    • Inhale and with each exhale sink a little deeper into the stretch
    • Hold 30 seconds

Building strength in your back, shoulders and arms by doing a variation of a push-up.

*Note – before you discount this exercise thinking it’s too hard and no fun, see the Hybrid Fitness article on how to get your first push-up and variations of push-ups HERE.

 

The Miracle of Massage

 

best exercises to fix neck pain

Another option is to receive a massage from a licensed therapist in order to help target muscle “knots” specifically. It’s beneficial to relax as much as possible while the therapist is massaging the muscle. Slow inhales and exhales can help here. 

In a pinch, an alternative to a massage:

  • Place a tennis ball in a long sock and hang the ball over your shoulder
  • Stand with your back to the wall with the ball between your body and the wall
  • Locate the ball just below your neck to left side of your spine
  • Bend your knees to roll your back over the ball in a vertical line between your shoulder blades on the left side of your spine. 
  • Then, move the ball to the right side of your spine and roll vertically again. 
  • Concentrate longer on areas where you have muscle soreness or pain until the muscle relaxes. 

Be sure to hydrate with water after any massage in order to help your body flush toxins that have been released into your bloodstream. As if you needed another benefit to drinking more water!

 

The Next Step!

 

There you have it! The best exercises to fix neck pain.

These exercises will help you stretch parts that are sore, and build strength in your neck and back muscles to prevent the pain from returning. 

You don’t need to large chunks our of your day to do these. Implement them slowly, and one at a time. Build a habit of doing them, and I promise, you’ll see relief!

I would even recommend adding them into your routine even if you don’t experience any pain currently. This will help prevent any soreness or pain from even starting!

If you found this article helpful, please check out the other articles from Hybrid Fitness coaches HERE

Hybrid Fitness YouTube Channel

 

April 22, 2021

Boxing Basics: Knowing Your Punches!

 

    You’ve learned how to wrap your wrists to protect your hands, you’ve learned about setting up your boxing stance and you saw the video about how our Hybrid boxing class works… As you’re walking into your first class, you see all these stations with random numbers and have no idea what they mean. This article is going to dive into the 6 main boxing punches and how they’re integrated into each station we offer here.

 

Left Handed vs Right Handed

 

    There are 6 basic punches we use in boxing class here at Hybrid. Each punch corresponds with a number and each station has a combination of those numbers to form a boxing combo you use to workout with.

 

    If you’re right handed, any odd numbered punches are thrown with your left hand. Even numbered punches are thrown with the right.

    If you’re left handed, any odd numbered punches are thrown with your right hand. Even numbered punches are thrown with the left.

    Think about your non-dominant hand matching up with odd numbered punches. Dominant hand matches up with any of the even numbered punches.

 

The Punches

 

1- The Jab

    The jab is a light punch that will be thrown with the non-dominant hand. It’s the first of the punches that are straight out and should be lighter.

 

2- The Cross

    Next is the cross! A powerful punch that is thrown with the dominant hand and the second punch that is thrown straight out.

(Straight out punches are quick and need to be snapped back to the chin after. Kind of like a towel whip)

 

3- Non-Dominant Hook

    This punch is thrown with the non-dominant hand and comes in from the side. Think about cutting the bag completely horizontally. Elbow & forearm stay parallel to the ground. Palm face down or face in towards yourself (whichever feels better to you, doesn’t make a big difference)

 

4- Dominant Hook

    This punch is thrown with the dominant hand and comes in from the side (same as above).

 

5- Non-Dominant Uppercut

    This punch is thrown with the non-dominant hand and is thrown straight upwards. Elbow/forearm should be perpendicular to the ground. You can get underneath the bag with our wrecking ball bag (Station 3) but if you’re throwing an uppercut on a regular heavy bag, think about cutting the bag diagonally from low to high.

 

6- Dominant Uppercut

    This punch is the same as above except with the dominant side.

 

Four Things To Watch Out For When Throwing A Punch!

 

-No hyperextended elbows!! Also, always assess your distance from the bag before you throw a punch.

-Make sure to keep wrists tight and don’t let them extend when making contact with the bag.

-Step in to get underneath the wrecking ball bag.

-Make sure to take a short quick breath every time you punch so you don’t get winded!

 

    Practicing these 6 punches, and using the combinations of them will help you remember which number matches up with which punch. Shadowboxing, or boxing and throwing the punches in the air (not on a bag) is a great way to practice the punches and help memorize them. Now the more you practice them, the easier they will flow and once you’ve mastered the six basic punches you can start to work on adding more power to your punches, harder combinations and adding things like kicking in!

 

Check out all of our other boxing, fitness, and health articles here!

 

Check out our YouTube channel here!

 

And remember….

 

Small Steps, Big Results!

April 21, 2021

Top Tips for Beginner Weightlifters

 

The first time you step into a gym can be very intimidating and confusing. Free weights everywhere, Machines that look like death traps, and a lot of people with headphones in that obviously don’t want to be bothered. 

 

Where do you start?

 

How do you do it safely? 

 

How do you not look like a newbie?

 

These are questions that every person ponders when they first start weightlifting.

Looking back to when I first started lifting, I realize that there are a lot of things that make me shake my head at, and wonder to myself “What was I thinking!?”. Clearly, I wasn’t

I usually come to the same conclusion that I simply just didn’t know what I was doing. I made a lot of mistakes, and it makes me think of all the people that are starting out who may be making those same mistakes. 

Below are my top tips for beginner weightlifters influenced by my mistakes as a beginner, and if I had a time machine, would go back and do differently.

 

Tip #1: Forget Everything You Think You Know

Top tips for beginner weightlifters

There are a lot of people in gyms who believe they have enough knowledge to do it for a living. Usually, they are wrong. Because of this, a lot of bad information tends to seep into peoples minds, and gets stuck there. 

Over time it turns into concrete, and you find people all throughout gyms doing things they shouldn’t be. If you want to see changes in the gym, and become stronger and healthier, it’s sometimes best to forget everything you’ve been told, and seek advice from someone who has the knowledge and experience to help you reach your goals.

Always going into something new with an open mind is going to give you an advantage later on down the road. This is applicable to almost anything in life!

 

Tip #2: Learn the Basics and Progress Them Slowly

Top tips for beginner weightlifters

This has got to be the number one thing that keeps people from being consistent over a long period of time. If you are brand new to weightlifting, and are starting out with Barbell Back Squats, or Barbell Deadlifts like so many people do, then there is a massive problem here. While I am a huge advocate of the big barbell movements, they should only be performed after you’ve learned how to properly squat, hinge, and press. 

There are great alternative exercises to all of the big barbell movements that will keep you safe, and lifting for a long time to come. 

Below are just a few of my favorite moves to perfect before someone moves on to the barbells.

Back Squat: 4 Point Squat, Goblet Squat, Split Squats

Barbell Deadlift: Good Mornings, RDL, SL RDL

Barbell Bench Press: Push-Ups, Floor Press, Flat DB Press,

 

Tip #3: Forget about your Ego

This is a tough one for me personally, and really hits home. I was the biggest ego lifter out there. Each workout was about getting more and more weight on the bar. 

After time, the extreme stress I was constantly putting my body under began taking its toll. This is because I was never giving my body the rest it required. As a result, all of my lifts started getting weaker and weaker, even though I was working harder and harder. 

The human body is incredible at adapting to stress, but at a certain point it just can’t keep up. This is where intensity sometimes has to take a back seat in order to allow your body to recover properly. This is also when the risk of injury can be significantly higher than normal. 

Deload!

 

The term “deload” gets tossed around a lot in training circles, but most people are either unsure how to properly program one, or they just don’t understand the importance of them. 

Deloads give your body a chance to recover from the constant stress that working out places on it. A common mistake made while deloading is going too far in the other direction, and putting your body under almost no stress. They should still have a certain level of toughness.

An example of a good deload could simply be doing less sets than normal. If you normally do 4 sets of Squats per workout, do only three on your deloads. What you don’t want to do is something like 60% of your one rep max for 3 sets of 3-5 reps. Generally, 60% of one rep max can be completed for 10-15 reps per set. 

Although, it may seem like good idea, you’re mostly just wasting time. A deload should still be challenging but not to the degree your typical workouts are.

 

Tip #4: Ask for Advice

One thing I have found in gyms is that most people don’t mind helping out. Even the “gym bros” I mentioned earlier who always have headphones in, generally don’t mind answering questions. Most people would prefer a “newbie” ask for advice instead of just going with what they think they know, and getting hurt. 

The training community is generally very accepting and willing to help. Be careful who you take advice from, though. Just because someone may have a good physique doesn’t mean they necessarily should be giving advice to others. 

And on the flip side, I’ve met casual gym goers who have more knowledge than professional trainers. Find people you trust, and soak in all the knowledge you can.

 

Take Action!

There are many things I wish I could go back and do differently. Learning these  lessons earlier on in life would be one of my first do overs if I were given the chance. I could’ve avoided injuries, frustration, and wasted time. 

If you are just starting out in the gym, or have been working out for years, these top tips for beginner weightlifters will aid you for many more years of training to come.

If you found this article helpful or informative, please check out our other articles HERE

For more fitness, health, and lifestyle tips, check out our YouTube channel HERE

And, as always…

Small steps, BIG results! 

April 2, 2021

Ideas for Relaxation to Use Anywhere

Incorporating ideas for relaxation in your busy life is simple.

How many times have you heard someone say that they just want to chill out and relax?  Why do we crave relaxation? Because, when we are relaxed we feel calm, well, mentally settled, and comfortable. Keep reading to find out how you can be relaxed in your daily life. 

 

The Benefits of Relaxation

The benefits of relaxation go above and beyond just being comfortable. Moments of relaxation in our fast-paced world actually make us healthier humans. 

Just to name a few, relaxation has physical and mental benefits for your whole being by: 

 

  • Lowering blood pressure & heart rate
  • Decreasing anxiety
  • Aiding digestion
  • Brightening your mood
  • Reducing aches and pains
  • Improving concentration
  • Enhancing sleep
  • Reducing negative feelings (anger, frustration)

Let’s move on to find out how to apply ideas for relaxation to your life to get these benefits.

 

Exercise!

As a matter of fact, you do not have to become an athlete to reap the relaxation benefits of exercise. To begin with, simply moving your body in some way every day will get you in the groove of relaxation. Exercise can be low- or high-impact depending on what creates that feeling of relaxation for you.

Examples of aerobic and anaerobic exercise to reach a state of relaxation are: 

 

  • Walking – Preferably outside, but even around your house or up and down stairs works
  • Biking – Preferably outside, but a stationary bike gets the job done, too
  • Dancing – In your living room, while washing dishes, anywhere, just shake it!
  • Yoga – All you need is a mat and an app with follow along guidance
  • Tai chi – Google ‘tai chi for beginners’ and choose a video to follow
  • Qigong – Google to find a video that calls to you
  • Pilates – Start with a mat class or join a Pilates studio to use equipment
  • Stretching – Check out theflexibilityguru.com, Hilery Hutchinson and her 10-minute stretching book

If attending a class in person is not your thing right now, have no fear. The web is exploding with fitness classes to fit anyone’s preference. 

You can choose a previously recorded program to practice whenever you choose, or a live practice where you interact with instructors and participants in real time. Furthermore, being part of a community online or in person will encourage you to stay consistent in keeping this idea of relaxation in your daily life. 

 

Tense and Release

Another technique to activate your muscles is progressive muscle relaxation. It’s a practice involving tensing muscle groups, and then releasing the tension by relaxing the muscles. 

Here is how you can use the tense and release technique:

 

  • Start from your toes, move to your calves, then your thighs, working your way up to your head. Don’t forget your face!
  • By focusing on each muscle group individually, it is easier for you to target areas that may be more tense or sore than others. 
  • Tense for 5 seconds 
  • Relax for 30 seconds
  • Repeat

While this idea for relaxation is easy, in order for any relaxation technique to work fully you must be MINDFUL

 

What does being mindful have to do with relaxation?

Being mindful is a mental state of being consciously aware of what is happening in the present moment. 

Mindfulness is created by focusing on, calmly acknowledging and accepting:

 

  • How you are feeling
  • What you are thinking
  • Physical sensations of your body

Focusing on your breath is one way to create mindfulness, because you are paying attention to what is happening to your body as you breathe. This focus makes it easier to notice if you have shallow breathing, if you are holding your breath, or if your breathing is faster than normal.  

 

Breathe!

Yes, breathe to relax your body. It’s that simple. Believe it or not, a lot of us do not breathe fully, especially when stress is present. If we are not mindful of our breathing we tend to hold our breath or take shallow breaths. 

Options to release stress, relax muscles and cleanse your body with essential oxygen are: 

 

  • Focusing on taking slow, deep breaths for a few minutes, a few times per day. Be it in the car, washing dishes, folding laundry, raking leaves, etc. 

 

  • Using a square breathing technique where you inhale to the count of 4 (or whatever # works for you), hold for a count of 4, exhale to the count of 4, hold for a count of 4, and repeat for a few minutes.

 

  • Breathing from your diaphragm by placing your hand on your abdomen and taking slow, deep inhales focusing on your abdomen expanding followed by a longer exhale. This stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system to calm your body and reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. 

 

  • Meditating while focusing only on your breath by being mindful of the oxygen entering your body and the carbon dioxide leaving your body. Closing your eyes can help keep the focus on your breath. 

Transferring this mindful practice to other things in your life by focusing on one thing at a time will make it easier to be present in the moment instead of allowing your mind to be scattered. 

 

Need a visual to be mindfully present? 

Use your imagination. Yes, the game of pretend from when you were young. 

Envision calm and serene images. Many people find it helpful to include nature in their visualizations.

Ideas to consider are: 

 

  • Sitting in a comfortable lounge chair on the beach with the sun shining and the temperature is perfect. Watch a wave swelling toward the shore as you inhale expanding your abdomen and every time you exhale imagine the wave breaking slowly across the shore.

 

  • Gently swinging in a hammock on a fall day with the leaves floating down around you. With each sway of the hammock your body is sinking deeper into relaxation as you inhale and exhale. 

 

  • Hiking on a trail in the woods meandering between the trees, hearing the birds chirping, the squirrels chattering and the sun’s rays peeking through the leaves and branches. 

 

  • Choosing your favorite place surrounded by all the things that make you feel calm, happy, and whole. Wherever that may be, how do you feel when you are in your favorite place? 

You can have a lot of fun with these ideas for relaxation because you can let your imagination run wild and transport yourself anywhere.

 

Relaxation made easy

There’s an app for that! Consider choosing from the plethora of apps for download, free and otherwise, that provide ideas for relaxation. They offer everything from listening to music or nature sounds to hearing a voice guiding you by story or through visualization and much more. 

A few internet favorites are:

 

  • Calm
  • 10% Happier
  • Insight Timer
  • Headspace

It is easy to see that these apps take the thinking out of the practice allowing you to just follow along. 

 

To Recap

Practicing these ideas for relaxation will: 

 

  • Keep your mental state balanced
  • Keep you physically fit
  • Improve your inclination to see the bright side 
  • Manage your fight-or-flight response in stressful situations

In short, the trick is to choose a relaxation technique that works for you, and not one that will add to your stress by trying to accomplish it in your busy day. Consequently, you may have to try a few to find the one that works easily. 

If you enjoyed this article please check out other helpful articles by our coaches here:

Hybrid Fitness You Tube Channel

Remember…small steps, big results. 

March 25, 2021

Top Women in Strength Sports

 

Strength training equipment and gyms started to gain in popularity in the 1960s with a big leap throughout the 1970s. It was in 1977 when the legendary Pumping Iron documentary was released following the training of legends such as Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbo and of course Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as other greats from the “Golden Age”. 

But strength training dates back much further into history than just the 1960’s and 1970’s. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese and Scottish, as well as others had some form of strength training for their warriors. Obviously strength training has evolved into much more than it was in ancient times. 

 

A New Era

One thing that has grown in the strength world is the involvement of women. Women have been documented as exercising since the times of the ancient civilizations listed above, but real strength training wasn’t a popularized thing among women until the last 20-30 years, with a great influx over the past 10-15 years. 

Today you can walk into just about any gym and find women throwing around chalk, and blasting Metallica. But, there is still a long way to go before women’s strength training and sports becomes as popular as it should. 

Below are just a few of the top women in strength sports, and really pushed the boundaries for what we thought was possible.

 

Donna Moore

Donna Moore was the first strong woman I remember watching and my personal favorite strongwoman. She has won the 2016, 2017 and 2019 World’s Strongest Woman competition, as well as wins at the Arnold’s Strongwoman competitions in 2016, 2017 and 2018. 

Donna has set numerous world records including an incredible 171kg (377lbs) Atlas Stone Over Bar record set back in September of 2020 at the age of 40. Donna is also one of the only women to ever successfully lift the legendary Dinnie Stones!

 

Andrea Thompson

2020 was a rough year for most people. Not Andrea Thompson, though. Andrea set three world records in 2020 which included:

  • 281kg (621lbs) elephant bar deadlift
  • 135kg (297.7lbs) log lift
  • 290kg (638lb) deadlift for the strongwoman deadlift world record.

Andrea just turned 37 years old in 2020, but with fellow strongwoman Donna Moore staying strong in her 40’s, I expect a few more records from Andrea before her career is over.

 

 

Rhianon Lovelace

Rhianon Lovelace is a little bit of a unicorn. While small in stature she brings a very rare blend of strength, power and quickness that is completely unmatched in male or female strength sports today. 

In September of 2020, Rhianon won the first ever Pound for Pound World’s Strongest Woman, and many believe (myself included) she is pound for pound the strongest person on planet Earth today regardless of gender. A few of Rhianon’s accomplishments in 2020 included:

  • 600lb Deadlift
  • Overhead axle press of 202lbs
  • 312lb atlas stone
  • 800lb silver dollar deadlift (traditional deadlift with bar being raised up 18 inches) 

All four of these lifts were lightweight world records, and both deadlifts were also middleweight world records! She also completed those lifts while only weighing in at 138lbs! 

We’ve already seen some remarkable feats of strength from Rhianon, but the best is yet to come as she is only 24 years old!

 

 

Jill Mills

Jill Mills was a bodybuilder who pivoted to the strength world. She dominated the sport for much of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Jill won back to back World’s Strongest Woman titles in 2001 and 2002. She undoubtedly would’ve won more, had she not stopped competing.

Jill was an all around great athlete. She could lift heavy on static lifts, was quick on all moving events, and seemed unbeatable on any overhead lifting events with her broad and perfectly sculpted shoulders. 

Jill did an incredible job blending strength while keeping a physique with very low body fat. A lot of women in the sport today credit their love and desire for the sport to Jill Mills.

 

 

Rebecca Swanson

No list of strength athletes would be complete without Rebecca Swanson. Rebecca is simply the strongest woman to ever live. Even though she had a short but successful career in Strongman, most of her success came in Powerlifting where she holds records with:

  • 854lb Squat
  • 600lb Bench Press
  • 683lb Deadlift

Arguably her most impressive moment came in 2006 when she squatted 804lbs while only weighing in at 197lbs! More than four times her bodyweight!

 

What’s Next?

Strength sports have grown in popularity, and continue to grow with increasing turnouts each year. But, the growth and acceptance of women in the sport is what really fires me up! Strength sports need to grow into something more than just a day of entertainment a couple times a year. In order for this to happen, women need to be encouraged and more accepted throughout the strength world. 

Listed above are just a few of the incredible top women in strength sports that have, or continue to push the boundaries of the sport. If you are reading this and feel the fire in your belly to see what you can really push yourself to become then get into a gym, seek advice from others and be the best you can be!

If you enjoyed this article, please consider subscribing to the Hybrid Fitness YouTube channel, and be sure to check out all the other articles from our coaches.

Please check out our other fitness & health articles here – https://hybridfitnessgym.com/articles/

And remember…Small Steps, Big Results.

March 19, 2021

Your First Hybrid Fitness Boxing Class!

So, you signed up for a boxing class, but you’ve never thrown a punch before. We cover everything you need in order to prepare you for your first boxing class. You’ll be floatin’ like a butterfly, and stingin’ like a bee in no time! 

 

How Does The Class Work?

 

There are eight stations total, consisting of various types of punching & kicking bags, as well as a few exercise stations. Let’s take a look at what we have!

 

This Class is 45 minutes long, and consists of a warm up, rotation around each station, ~2 minute rest period, another rotation through each station, then a quick cool down/stretch to end the class. 

 

Everyone works at their own pace, and nobody is expected to be working as hard as possible the entire time (although you’re more than welcome to). If you need to take a break, please do! There are a ton of benefits to boxing, including increased stamina, endurance, and confidence (larger list below)! Plus it’s always fun to punch stuff after a long day at work!

 

THE STATIONS!

STATION 1:  

your first boxing class

1-2 Continuous Heavy Bag (Light, continuous punches – only 1’s & 2’s) Good for endurance, and gives you an easier bag/break from the combos & heavy hitting punches. 

 

STATION 2: 

your first boxing class

Wrecking Ball Bag (Uppercut-focused combinations on this bag) Great bag to practice uppercut punches. You can actually get underneath the bag, making it  a great addition.

 

STATION 3: 

your first boxing class

Kickboxing Bag (The only bag we use for kicking combinations) This bag is our kicking bag, and is perfect for adding some leg work into different boxing style combinations.

 

STATION 4: 

your first boxing class

Reflex Bag (Smaller bag on a spring so it’s one of the only bags that actually fights back!) Great for working on hand-eye coordination, and reflexes. The bag is on a spring, so it moves back and forth, and will come back at you just as hard as you hit it!

 

STATION 5:

your first boxing class

Medium Heavy Bag (This is a nice medium density heavy bag with a relatively easy combination) This bag has a combination that is easier, flows really well, and is a good density to build some strength & power into your punches.

 

STATION 6: 

your first boxing class

Exercise Station (This station always has an exercise that usually incorporates core or legs) There is some form of boxing involved in most of the exercises, but this station focuses on building core stability/strength, or working on legs to give the upper body a break while working around the circuit.

 

STATION 7: 

your first boxing class

Freestyle/Head Movement Bag (This bag has a rope hanging down in the middle forcing you to practice some head movement) There is a rope hanging right in the middle of the bag so you have to slip underneath and work side to side instead of staying stationary. This is also a freestyle bag you can practice whatever combinations you’d like on!

 

STATION 8: 

your first boxing class

Hard Heavy Bag (This is a harder heavy bag station) There is typically a tough combination on this bag and the bag is also a harder density so it’s                                    

You’ll spend about 1 and a half minutes working at each station, then have ~20-30 seconds to rest and rotate to the next station. 

Each station is numbered, and will have either a combination or exercise (usually core based) posted. 

 

THE PUNCHES!

 

There are 6 main punches that coach Mike will cover with you on your first day and they’ll be used with each combination. 

1: Jab

2: Cross

3: (Non-Dominant Hand) Hook

4: (Dominant Hand) Hook

5: (Non-Dominant Hand) Uppercut

6: (Dominant Hand) Uppercut

 

Why Should You Take Boxing Classes?

 

  • More stamina & endurance
  • Increase speed
  • Gain confidence
  • Improve core stability, and you’ll feel muscles burn that you’ve probably never felt before! Boxing is mostly rotational which is overlooked in exercise routines and not practiced much in day to day life but is incredibly important!
  • Cardiovascular benefit, and calorie burning (fat loss!). These classes are high paced but go by incredibly quickly because they’re so much fun!
  • Self defense! There aren’t many sports that directly relate to the ability to defend yourself, but this is definitely one of them.
  • Improving reflexes & coordination. We actually have a punching bag called a reflex bag because it’s attached to a spring, and moves around which is great for developing your reflexes! This station is most members’ favorite!
  • IT’S FUN!!!! But still gonna make you sweat and get a great workout 🙂

 

Other Equipment to Know!

 

Gloves

 

There are several different weight sizes you should know about.

10oz – very small and typically used by professional boxers in matches. There is minimal padding so they will hurt your wrists more as well as your opponent.

12oz – lighter option for gloves. If your weight is under 120lbs then these are what we recommend. They will also often be used by professional fighters who typically train with heavier gloves. This will give them quicker movement during a match.

14oz – Nice average weighted gloves. Recommended for those who are 120-150lbs. These provide a good amount of padding and are also slightly heavier which professionals will use to train and build strength.

16oz – Recommended for 120-180lb individuals. These provide a lot of padding and are also heavier in weight so are better for training.

18oz & 20oz – Heaviest style of gloves. We recommend these for anyone 150lbs+ and provide a lot of padding. They are heavier and harder to control but more suitable for anyone who wants a lot of padding.

 

Wraps

 

Traditional wraps come in either 120 or 180 inch lengths. 180 is recommended for everyone because it’s better to have too much wrap and do a few more passes around the wrist than to not have enough wrap to properly secure the wrist & hand.

Wrapping thoroughly around the wrist joint, knuckles, and hand will keep everything compressed, therefore reducing the risk of injury. Not only that, but it will help you punch harder, as well!

As you train more and more, your punching power will increase along with the amount of force and impact, so it’s important to learn how to wrap before even attempting something like boxing.

Wrapping your wrists will reduce the risk of hyperextending and injuring your wrists, and adds an extra protective layer to the knuckles as well to help keep them protected.

Boxing gloves should fit snug and not wiggle around too much, so wrapping also helps limit the space inside for a tighter fit. The wrapping process can be daunting where it includes numerous steps, but it’s important to learn early on, and properly, so you don’t injure or limit yourself along the way.

 

[LINK TO WRAPPING VIDEO/BLOG POST]

If you found this helpful, please consider subscribing to the Hybrid Fitness YouTube channel, and be sure to check out all the other articles from our coaches.

And remember…Small Steps, Big Results.

 

 

March 3, 2021

Easy Tips To Help Low-Back Pain

(From the Comfort of Your Own Home)

Are you in search of more easy tips to help low-back pain? Your requests for MORE tips prompted the creation of this article. And here at Hybrid Fitness, we give the people what they want! 

Not only are we going to provide you with suggestions that will help alleviate low-back pain that are within your control, we’re also going to dive into the risk factors of low-back pain. Warm up those heating pads, here’s Part II! 

DISCLAIMER: Before following any of these easy tips to help low-back pain, please refer out to a doctor or other medical professional.

When is Your Low-Back Pain Just Too Much to Address with Easy Tips at Home?

 

It’s probably time to seek the advice of a medical professional if you have:

 

  • Low-back pain that comes on sharp and quick
  • Pain that does not diminish within 6 weeks by performing strengthening and stretching exercises consistently
  • Pain that flows down one or both legs
  • Other symptoms that need medical attention that may be related to your low-back pain, such as if you have a fever accompanying back-pain that may indicate an infection of some kind in your body
  • Experienced serious trauma from a fall or another kind of accident
  • Any numbness or tingling
  • Bouts with incontinence
  • Pain at night that wakes you up from sleep
  • Limbs not functioning properly
  • Unexplained weight loss 
  • That feeling you get deep down in your center when your body tells you it’s trying to deal with something serious that needs professional medical attention.

 

What is Within My Control in Regards to Alleviating Low-Back Pain?

 

Your chance of having low-back pain at some point in your life is based on the following risk factors: 

 

  • Age – our strength and flexibility wanes as we get older
  • Stress – our bodies physically hold stress, and give us signs that it needs to be addressed through pain
  • Fitness level – as the saying goes, “use it or lose it”, a sedentary lifestyle is not your friend!
  • Prolonged poor posture
  • Disease, such as arthritis or cancer
  • Pregnancy – carrying another human inside your body is nothing short of a miracle in more ways than one!
  • Parenting – lugging not only young children, but all that goes along with them, can take its toll on your low-back
  • Weight gain – it’s a big ask of your spine and hips to carry more weight than is healthy for your body frame
  • Genetics – thank mom and dad for this one!
  • Occupational risk factors – work demands, including heavy lifting and repetitive motion
  • Smoking – People who smoke have more back pain as compared to those who do not smoke ~ maybe it’s from coughing? 
  • People who experience depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions tend to have more back pain than those without these conditions

Obviously, some of these things listed are out of your control (genetics), but others you have the power to address in order to eradicate pain and discomfort in your low-back. 

Here’s a few ways to alleviate that low back pain before even getting out of bed in the morning. 

Remember ~ if any exercise increases your pain, dial back the exercise or stop entirely. Preferably, you want to challenge your body in a pain-free way to right itself.

Easy Tip #1 From the Comfort of Your Own Bed

 

The “not-so-high” leg lift – To engage the abdominals for support of the low-back

 

Easy Tips to Help Low-back Pain

  • Lying on your back, bend one leg so the sole of the foot is on the bed
  • Keep the other leg extended and muscles engaged
  • Engage your abdominal muscles (Think laughing, or tensing up as if somebody is going to punch you in the stomach)
  • Keep your back on the bed (no arching)
  • Gently and slowly lift and lower the extended leg no higher than the knee of the bent leg
  • Start with a few repetitions, and increase to 15
  • Repeat with the other leg

If you can easily perform the above exercise, then try the next one. If not, stick with the one above, and check out the previous Hybrid Fitness article including easy tips to help low-back pain here – How To Improve Low-Back Pain 

 

Heels to the Heavens – To stretch the hamstrings and calves on the back side of your leg

 

Easy Tips to Help Low-back Pain

  • Lying on your back, fully extend your legs 
  • Lift one leg toward the ceiling, while supporting with hands (other leg can be straight or bent with the sole of the foot on the bed)
  • Try to pull the toes down toward your body
  • Push through the heels toward the ceiling
  • For more flexible folks, you can either lift both legs together, or
  • Using both hands on one leg at a time, slightly pull the leg toward the face
  • Keep your back on the bed (again, no arching)

 

Keeping the Hip Flexors “Hip” – To decrease the pull on your pelvis in the front of your body

 

Easy Tips to Help Low-back Pain

  • Lying on your back on the edge of your bed
  • Slide one leg off the edge so the lower leg and foot hang down
  • Lift your other knee toward your chest and hold
  • Start holding for even 10 seconds and ideally increasing up to 30 seconds based on your comfort level
  • Repeat on the other side

Be patient with your body as you get up and move about your day. Here are a few more exercises to stretch a tiny but mighty muscle. 

 

Easy Tip #2 – Priming Your Piriformis – The petite muscle that covers your sciatic nerve

 

The Figure 4 Stretch

 

This the most versatile and effective stretch for your piriformis, because there are 3 ways to perform the stretch depending on what works for your body.

Sitting 

 

Easy Tips to Help Low-back Pain

  • Sit near the edge of your chair/bed/couch with a straight back
  • Legs hip width apart and feet on the floor
  • Cross one ankle over the opposite knee
  • Be sure to have your shin aligned under your knee of the leg that is touching the floor
  • Slowly lean forward slightly with a straight back toward your crossed leg 
  • Feel the stretch along the side of your crossed leg and in your hips and buttocks
  • Hold for 30 seconds, rescind if painful
  • Repeat on the other side

 

Lying

 

Easy Tips to Help Low-back Pain

  • Lay on your back on a mat or floor
  • Bend one knee with the sole of the foot on the floor
  • Bend the other knee and place ankle on top of opposite knee
  • Gently grasp both hands behind the knee of the bottom leg 
  • Using arms lift the bottom leg towards your chest
  • Feel the stretch in your glute of the top leg 
  • Hold for 30 seconds, rescind if painful
  • Repeat on the other side

 

Standing 

 

Easy Tips to Help Low-back Pain

  • Stand where you can hold onto something
  • Place one ankle above the knee of the opposite leg
  • Brace yourself on something with your hands for balance
  • Try to keep your back straight and your chest upright  while slowly lowering toward the floor by bending the grounded leg
  • Bend down until you feel the stretch in the side of the leg and glute of the top leg

 

With any of these exercises make sure you are breathing. That’s right. Do NOT hold your breath. Your body needs fresh oxygen to move. Instead, start with an inhale and as you exhale try to increase the stretch. 

Following one of these Figure 4 stretches can help stretch the piriformis so it doesn’t aggravate the sciatic nerve, and cause pain in your low back or down your legs. 

Another option is to get a deep muscle massage from a qualified professional to help muscles release tension.

 

Easy Tip #3 – Breathe!

 

Easy Tips to Help Low-back Pain

Yes, breathe to relax your body, including the tense muscles that may be contributing to your low-back pain. Believe it or not, a lot of us do not breathe fully, especially when stress is present. If we are not mindful of our breathing we tend to hold our breath or take shallow breaths. 

To release stress, relax muscles and cleanse your body with essential oxygen you can: 

 

  • Focus on taking slow, deep breaths for a few minutes a few times per day wherever you are in those moments; the car, washing dishes, folding laundry, raking leaves, etc. 
  • Use a square breathing technique where you inhale to the count of 4 (or whatever # works for you), hold for a count of 4, exhale to the count of 4, hold for a count of 4 and repeat for a few minutes.
  • Breathe from your diaphragm by placing your hand on your abdomen and taking slow, deep inhales focusing on your abdomen expanding followed by a longer exhale. This stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system to calm your body and reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. 
  • Meditate while focusing only on your breath. Be mindful of the oxygen entering your body and the carbon dioxide leaving your body. Closing your eyes can help you keep focus on your breath. 

 

Commit to Relieve Your Low-back Pain

 

Physical therapists hear some of their patients say that they are not getting better by doing the exercises prescribed only to find out they weren’t really doing those exercises enough at home to make progress.

 

To recap, for a pain-free low-back keep these guidelines in mind: 

 

  • Do your exercises! Faithfully everyday, even more than once a day if prescribed by a medical professional.  
  • Whatever exercise you do for one side of your body make sure to do the same for the other side of your body. Don’t just lift one leg, unless there is a medical reason for doing so. 
  • Don’t sabotage your efforts with poor posture. Make sure your work space is ergonomically correct. View the Hybrid Fitness Posture article for tips – Good Posture is Your Partner For Mobility.
  • Breathe! Handle your stress and get your lymph system flowing to cleanse your system. You can do that just by breathing properly and you will feel better. Lymph fluid that is stagnant is not your friend. 
  • Be social! Why? Because humans are social creatures and connecting with others makes us smile and increases our chances to see the bright side of any situation. 
  • Keep Going! Healing, recovery and realignment of your low-back takes time (weeks, months, and even years!). Be patient with yourself. Your body is doing the best it can with what it has to work with to relieve your low-back pain. 
It’s Time

 

Now that you have all of the tools you need, it’s time to put them to work! Take 1 or 2 of these easy tips to help low-back pain, and implement them on a consistent basis! Once you’ve done that, you should start seeing progress, and can trickle in additional tips over time!

If you’re looking for more easy tips to help low-back pain, check out one of our most popular YouTube videos here.

If you found this helpful, please consider subscribing to the Hybrid Fitness YouTube channel, and be sure to check out all the other articles from our coaches. 

And remember…Small Steps, Big Results.

March 2, 2021

How To Stay Active With A Desk Job

 

The Covid pandemic has impacted everyone, including myself. Since November of 2020 I have been working remotely from home. Some will say “that’s great!”. However, with working from home comes long hours of sitting at a desk and being indoors. Sure, I’ll get up from the desk every now and then, but definitely not as much as I did when I went to the office. Finally, I decided that enough was enough, and I needed to find ways to stay active with a desk job. 

So, if you’re working remotely like me, or if you are in an office all day, these 4 tips are for you. Make sure and read until the end! The last tip is one of the most important, and should be implemented inside and outside of the office!

 

Put It In Motion

how to stay active with a desk job

 

When we sit for long periods of time it can cause tightness in the hips, back pain, and a general feeling of tiredness from being in the same position.

The tips below will give you more energy, increased productivity, and better concentration. They are super simple to follow, and are guaranteed to make you feel more active throughout your work day. 

Without further ado, let’s MOVE on to the tips! (see what I did there?)

 

Tip # 1: Move On The Hour

 

Take a walk to the water cooler or the break room, grab some coffee or a snack. Go over and talk to your coworker in the next cubicle or office. Wherever you choose to go, be sure to do it every hour. 

Set a timer on your phone as a reminder to get up from your chair and away from your desk for even 5 minutes. You will come back refreshed and ready to keep working. 

When we move our bodies, it helps to get our circulation going, increases our heart rate, and stretches out our muscles. 

When we sit for long periods of time our bodies will feel it! Being too sedentary can come with aches and pains, feelings of fatigue, and it can even pose a risk of blood clots. 

So, make moving throughout the day a priority for yourself and stick to it by doing the following:

  • Make movement a daily habit
  • Set a timer for every hour
  • Commit to staying active 

 

Tip # 2: Do Chair Exercises & Stretches 

 

Although you’re in a chair and at a desk all day, there are still exercises and stretches that you can do that are not only beneficial, but simple, and don’t take a lot of time. This is a great way to get your heart rate up, and to stretch out your legs and hips!

Chair Marches

  • Bring one knee slowly towards chest
  • Slowly lower leg back down
  • Repeat with the other side
  • Complete 20-30 times total

Elevated Push-ups

  • Place your hands on a chair or desk and get into a high plank position
  • Don’t let your hips sag
  • Lower body by bending at the elbows and bring chest to desk

Standing Toe Touch

  • Take a deep breath in while you bring your arms straight overhead
  • Exhale and slowly try to touch your toes while keeping your legs straight
  • Repeat 10-15 times

Correct Posture

  • Sit with a straight back, shoulders down
  • Feet flat on the floor
  • Knees at a ninety degree angle

For more on posture, check out coach Cathy’s article here – Why Good Posture is Your Friend For Mobility

 

Tip # 3: Walk During Your Lunch Break

 

Get outside and soak up some vitamin D! Bring a coworker with you for some company. 15 minutes of brisk walking a day will help you stay alert and focused for the remainder of the work day. 

Studies have shown that walking during a lunch break can boost concentration, productivity, and happiness. So go ahead and get outside! You won’t regret it. 

Vitamin D is so beneficial, and can help promote better mood, helps to regulate the absorption of calcium, and assists with reducing the risks of heart disease. 

Getting outside during your lunch break will help break up the monotony of the work day, as well. You will return to your desk refreshed and renewed!

Speaking of walking, let’s talk about my next tip for staying active with a desk job. 

 

Tip # 4: Take The Long Way

 

When you get to work, park in the furthest spot from the building.. This will help you get those steps in before you get to work, and once the work day is done. It’s an easy way to burn extra calories, and can really add up! You can burn an extra 10 calories every time you walk from your car to the office.

Another way to add in steps throughout the work day, is to use the bathroom that is furthest away from your desk. Think of how many times you use the restroom in a day! 

In fact, anytime you get up from your desk, whether it’s to go to the printer, get supplies, or going to a meeting, take the long way. If there are stairs in your office, even better. Keep on moving and keep on adding steps. 

There you have it, four tools to throw in your toolbox to help you stay active with a desk job. Implementing these will make all the difference! To recap: :

  • Move away from your desk frequently
  • Do some exercises and stretching at different times of the day 
  • Get outside during your lunch break for some sun and fresh air 
  • Take the long way, and easily burn some extra calories. 

 

Following these tips will help you to experience increased mental clarity and more energy, while decreasing feelings of fatigue. Who knows, maybe your work day will go by a lot quicker! 

And remember…

Small Steps, Big Results!

If you enjoyed this article, swing over to our YouTube channel to check out our latest videos here – Hybrid Fitness YouTube Channel