What is Osteoporosis and how to prevent it

Introduction

Human aging is inevitable. While we are aging, many things start to deteriorate. It is an outcome that cannot be avoided. Our hair starts falling out, we start to have less collagen and our skin becomes wrinkly. Memory starts to get worse and worse, we start to lose control of our bowels and we gradually become weaker. These are some of the effects of aging. Another big part of aging is osteoporosis. Today I’ll go through what is osteoporosis. And even though we cannot avoid any effects of aging, we can have some measures that delay the onset and consequences.

 

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is when the quality or density of the bone diminishes. This causes the bone to become brittle and weak. As a result, we end up being more susceptible to fractures. The health of bones is dependant on two cells; osteoclast and osteoblast. The osteoclast is the cell that takes bone away and osteoblast are the cells which lay down bones. Throughout our lives, both of these cells work in harmony. However, as we age they do not work as well together as they should. This results in the osteoclast removing more bone than osteoclast forming bone. Thus causing bone density to decrease.

 

Collagen and calcium to fight the osteoporosis

Our bones are living tissue that can grow to different sizes. Just like other parts of our body, our bones need nutrients and stimulation to grow. One nutrient that can promote healthy bones is collagen. Our bones are actually made up of the protein called collagen. It provides the body with the effect of cushioning and strength. This protein can also be found in our skin, muscles, ligament, and tendon. Unfortunately, once we hit the age of 25 the production of collagen starts to decrease. Naturally, our bones start becoming weak due to the lack of this protein. Alongside collagen, calcium is also used to strengthen bones. Calcium solidifies the structure in our bone so it becomes stronger and less brittle. In order to strengthen the structure of our bones, we need to increase or keep up our collagen and calcium intake. This can be through natural sources such as different types of meats, beans, eggs, and dairy products.

 

The effects of weight training on the osteoporosis

Another way to delay the onset of osteoporosis is to exercise, more specifically weight training. Weight training can help with the prevention of osteoporosis. Every time we strength train, we actually stress the bone by pulling and tugging it through the lengthening and shortening of the muscles. So once we put stress on the bone, it stimulates the bone-forming cells into action causing more bone growth. It is strongly encouraged to do some sort of weight training at a young age as once we discover we have osteoporosis it is always too late for recovery.

 

Conclusion

Aging is something that we cannot prevent, however, we can delay the onset and minimize the effects it’ll have on our body. One consequence of aging is osteoporosis. Although we can’t prevent it from consuming plenty of food with high amounts of collagen and protein and doing regular resistance exercise can help us minimize the effects of osteoporosis!

 

The issue of osteoporosis

 

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Cool Down: Why or Why Not

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about the importance of warming up and how it was crucial before we jump into our workout. So today we are going to skip the workout and head straight into the cool down and why it’s important to do a cool down after. Some of you may think cool downs are a waste of time and it is extremely boring. I was on that boat myself not too long ago until I decided to give it a go and see what the difference was. So let’s go through a couple of important reasons why you should always cool down after a big workout.

 

  1. It can lead to a reduction of lactic acid build up. After a big workout, our muscles secrete a large amount of lactic acid. It is this lactic acid that causes our muscles to be sore. So to prevent muscle soreness it is best to reduce the amount of lactic acid continually building up. Research has shown that doing a warm down such as a slow paced walk or a gentle stretch is the most effective way or reducing lactic acid. So if you don’t like sore muscles the next day, do a warm down!
  2. A warm down prevents venous pooling of the blood in our extremities. This pooling of blood in the extremities may lead to dizziness and fainting. This is because when we are exercising our sympathetic nervous system comes into play. When we are in this state, our blood pressure and heart beat rises. When we stop moving, our body switches over to the parasympathetic state. In this state our blood pressure drops. Because of the sudden drop of blood pressure, the blood will have gathered into your extremity and not enough blood would’ve been pumped into your brain. Due to the lack of oxygen in the brain, it can cause dizziness and fainting.
  3. It’s a great time for reflection. After every sports game or workout, it is a good time to reflect on how well you did and what you can improve on. Of course, you always deserve a pat on the back as well after working out. Cooling down is a great way to calm your mind while still being engaged at your previous task.

 

Cooling down is just as important as warming up. It allows us to decrease the likelihood of muscle soreness, prevents dizziness and fainting and allows us a good time to reflect. There are also many great reasons why cooling down is a must after every workout! So remember to spend 5 minutes to either go for a small walk, a stretch or something with low impact after your next work out!

 

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Fit For Life

Ready to workout? Think again…

 

Warming up before a workout is even more important than you think!

 

How many times have we just jumped into exercising without warming up properly? How many times have we got injured? Well, the two things mentioned above, warming up and getting hurt, go hand in hand. Warming up is extremely important due to a couple of reasons. Firstly, it can help loosen up our joints, muscles, and ligaments. Secondly, it can raise the body temperature and increase blood flow to muscles. Finally, it can help improve our performance in whatever form of exercise.

Warming up is extremely important for the body to prevent injury. Having a good warm-up can help loosen the joints, muscles, and ligaments in our body and stimulate our nervous system. Before we start exercising, our body is stiff, and we cannot move as smoothly as we would like. This puts us in a state which is more fragile. As we warm up, our joints, muscles and ligaments begin to have more laxity gradually. This is because warming up can stimulate the body to create more synovial fluids around the joint, which means we will not be suddenly overstressing any part of the body.

Additionally, it will also increase the speed that nerve impulses travel, leading to improved balance, motor control, coordination, and proprioception. All those components are crucial for doing any sports as it helps with performance and avoiding injuries. As a result, warming up can decrease the likelihood of overstressing your body and minimize any falls or accidents.

 

Functions of Temperature 

 

Warming up our bodies before we exercise can also raise the core body temperature and increase blood flow to muscles. When the body transitions from everyday life to high-intensity physical workout, a host of biological changes happens to our body. That’s why it’s good to ease into it. During our warm-up, breathing and heart rate gradually rise, leading to an increase of energy increase. Due to the increase in energy exertion, the body gradually warms up. Additionally, with heart rate rising, the muscles will be supplied with more oxygen. This results in a higher metabolism as the body will need more energy to function at its capacity. Having a warmer body temperature for our muscles can lead to increase elasticity in the muscles again, this can result in decreasing the chances of any injuries

.

Effects on workout

 

Finally, warming up can increase our performance. This is due to two reasons; the alterations in the body and the change in mentality. As mentioned in the paragraph above, a good warm-up can increase our metabolism, helping reach one’s performance potential. A thorough warm-up can change our mindset and mentally prepare for the upcoming task. With most sports and workout, it requires high levels of alertness and concentration. This adjustment in mindset can enhance the concentration on technique. With better technique again, it can lead to a decrease in injury. Andrea Pirlo, a famous footballer once said, “We play football with the head. Your feet are just tools.” This quote cannot more relatable with any sports or workout. The first change that occurs should be in your mind before you start performing. This is where an excellent warm-up comes into play.

Warming up is often overlooked by many amateurs or people who have just started to exercise. It can be argued it may be one of the most important aspects of the workout. Warming up properly can help loosen the muscles, ligament, and joints in the body, and it can help raise our core body temperature. Both of these can diminish the chances of injury. Most importantly, though, it can help mentally prepare us for the workout, exercise, and game that’s coming up. So before jumping straight into it next time, arrive 15 minutes earlier to prepare and get a good quality warm-up.

 

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Deadlift Technique (Part 2)

Last week I talked about the deadlift stance. This week I want to cover another significant error I see in deadlift technique that can lead to injury and give this great lift a bad name. Properly performed deadlifts are great for strengthening the lower back and glutes. Performed poorly they can lead to significant lumbar injury.

When starting my strength training journey in 2010 I injured my lower back by making the foolish mistake of adding too much weight to the bar too soon, causing my lower back to round partway through the lift. Bang, my back went into spasm. I sheepishly put away the weights and limped to the shower and was forced to take a few weeks off to recover. Since then I have been meticulous about working on my deadlift technique.

After I recovered I spent months drilling the technique by having my training partners hold a broomstick along the length of my spine while I would perform my deadlifts. The goal is to keep three points of contact with the broomstick:

Broomstick-Deadlift method

  1. The back of your head
  2. Your midback between the shoulder blades
  3. Your tailbone

Image result for deadlift 3 points of contact

This drill will help you stay aware of what your back is actually doing during the lift and not fool yourself into thinking your form is good.

Filming yourself during deadlift sessions is paramount when starting out, and even for more advanced lifters to keep an eye on your form especially during your heavier sets. Review the footage between sets and don’t keep adding weight if you notice your form is looking rubbish!

Excessive rounding of the lower back, technically called lumbar flexion, puts a lot of strain on the back of the discs of your spine. Repetitively loading your spine in a flexed position is a great way to increase your risk of a disc herniation. Repetitively loading the spine in a neutral position (within a properly designed training program) is a great way to strengthen the spine and reduce low back pain and injury risk.

So grab a broomstick and a camera and work on your technique so you can build a strong, healthy spine!

 

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Deadlift Foot Placement (Part 1)

Background

There is nothing quite like the feeling of picking up a heavy weight in your hands. As with any movement or exercise in the gym, when repeatedly done incorrectly the deadlift can lead to some issues.

Although the deadlift appears simple, there are a few things you need to pay attention to. The first is foot position. It’s not uncommon for me to see people in the gym deadlifting with their feet in too wide a stance. I’m referring to the conventional deadlift here, not the sumo deadlift where the feet are supposed to be placed in a wide stance.

How and Why

Having your feet too far apart will mean that your knees will cave inward to make room for your arms to grab the bar. This is not good as it will stress the ligaments of the knees, increasing your chance of injury or at the very least, decreasing your power output during the lift.

Exact foot position will vary slightly from person to person but for general consideration, if your stance is too narrow you may struggle to engage the glutes at the top of the lift. If the stance is too wide, as mentioned it will push the knees inward.

A good place to start is with feet hip width apart (please note that this is narrower than shoulder width apart!). With the feet in this position they will be directly beneath the hips, allowing you to grab the bar with your hands shoulder width apart.

Image result for feet hip width apart for deadlift

There are dozens of other things to look out for when deadlifting. But getting your feet in the right place is a good place to start.

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Should I Warm Up Before & Cool Down After Exercising?

Throughout any intense exercise session, the body is handling stress and has a risk of injury. This can be minimised by warming up and cooling down before and after your workout.

Before getting into your sport or strength training session, you want to get a warm up. This is going to prepare your body for exercise and increase your heart rate and breathing. Ideally, your warm up routine will consist of two-parts: a general warm up and specific warm up.

The general warm up

consists of jogging, biking, rowing or any other cardio exercise followed by dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is not your typical “touch your toes” stretching. It consists of movements that take your joints through their ranges of motion to warm up and stretch the muscles. For example, you can perform leg swings, shoulder circles and bodyweight lunges. The bodyweight lunges serve as a nice stretch for your hip flexors while also adding a little resistance exercise for your quads and glutes to warm them up.

The specific warm up

consists of specific exercises that closely resemble movements that you’ll be performing in your actual sport or training. For example, jumping exercises before getting onto the basketball court or some lightly weighted squats before your leg session in the gym.

The warm up is essential for your performance as it increases blood flow and oxygen to muscles, increases neural impulses to wake up your muscles and, most importantly, decreases the stiffness of connective tissues (ligaments and tendons) to avoid any muscle tears. Studies have shown that a structured warm-up can reduce your chance of injury by more than 50% and that’s on top of helping you perform better!

The cool down

is also important as it helps flush out any lactate (waste), prevent dizziness from blood pooling. It also decreases muscle soreness after your session. It consists of gradually decreasing your heart rate and stretching out your muscles. This also has two parts: general cool down and static stretching/foam rolling.

The general cool down

is similar to the general warm up since you can use jogging, biking or any activity at a progressively decreased intensity. Your aim should not be to sweat and go fast at this point, you just want to go through the motions and let your body slow down to a relaxing stop.

Following your general cool down you can get into some static stretching, which is the basic stretching where you hold stretches for around 15-30 seconds. You can also choose to use foam rollers or massage balls after your exercise to restore length in the connective tissues. The stretching and foam rolling helps reduce muscle soreness, increase muscle flexibility and stimulate circulation to flush out the lactate.

Be sure to hydrate well and eat a healthy meal after your workout to keep your body fuelled and recovering well!

Stay tuned next week for when we’ll take you through our ideal general warm-up and cool-down routine to cover all your bases!

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File:Man Doing Warm Up Exercise Cartoon.svg - Wikimedia Commons

 

The Daily Happy Feet Routine

Your feet are the 2 things that take you everywhere throughout your day. Imagine if they were in pain all the time and you couldn’t use them… Ask anyone who’s had plantar fasciitis or any other foot injury – it’s no walk in the park (pun intended).

Whether you’re an avid runner, working on your feet all day or even if you just enjoy the occasional stroll in the park, tension can build up in your feet that may lead to pain, discomfort or even injury. This is especially apparent in people today since more and more people are being put into shoes at a young age and the musculature in the foot begins to waste away since they’re not being used. This leaves the foot susceptible to injury

Getting in the habit of mobilizing your feet for less than 10 minutes a day can help prevent the pinch points in your feet from developing into problems. All you need is a ball and some space to stretch. The ball should ideally be hard like a lacrosse ball or yoga ball, but a tennis ball will do the trick too.

Ready? 3 simple steps.

  1. Start in a kneeling position and stretch the tops and bottoms of your feet.
    Focus on your breathing and go deeper in the stretch on your exhale.
    Do about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each stretch.
  2. Lift your big toe while keeping your little toes on the ground.
    Then reverse and lift all your little toes while keeping your big toe on the ground.
    If you have trouble doing this then you know you’ve got some tight feet. Try mobilizing your toes by separating them with your fingers but putting your fingers in between your toes. Spend about 30 seconds to a minute on each foot.  Watch this video.
  3. Take your ball and start rolling it under the bottom of your foot.
    Start with the ball at your heel and work your way through the arch to the toes.
    Spend extra time on the spots that feel more tense and alternate the pressure and speed. Spend about 1-2 minutes on each foot. Watch this video.

By doing this simple routine every day or as often as you can, you can help prevent overuse injuries in your feet to make them mobile and happy.

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