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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top PT Tips Part 2: Taking advantage of every moment: getting enough rest

Part 2 of the Top PT tips series is about getting enough rest. Ironically, I am writing this at about 9pm and my bed is calling my name after a very long day. I am truly exhausted, so I will stop rambling and get started. 

  1. Sleep with a pillow between your knees- do this while sleeping on your side. It will keep your spine in a more neutral position and help you have a more restful night sleep.
  2. Use a towel roll in your pillow- a pillow can cause your neck to crane upward when sleeping. It can be very effective to use a towel roll in the part of the pillow that fits under your neck. That way, the cervical spine can be supported, and the head can rest in a more neutral position. For some, a down or memory foam pillow can work better since it will conform to the curves in your head and neck.
  3. Don’t go cheap on your mattress. If you are trying to save money, get a used car. Unless you are an over-the-road trucker or a salesman, odds are you will spend much more time on your mattress than in your vehicle. So, it is crucial to your well-being to invest wisely. Susan and I just ordered a new mattress that we are very excited about, although we have to wait six weeks to get it. When “trying on” mattresses at the store, we quickly realized how badly we needed a new bed. Our old one is 17 years old. Despite religious flips and turns every 3 months, eventually a mattress does not exert the same force on your body and will sag. This causes creep and strain on joints and ligaments over a long night. You wake up sore and tired because all night your body has been fighting gravity. So, look for a bed with a combination of proper support and one that conforms well to your body.
  4. Get to bed early and get up early to do your work out. It’s such a timeless phrase that it is cliché, but Mr. Franklin said it best…. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man HEALTHY, wealthy and wise.” Getting to bed early so you can work out early will help you beat the million distractions and other priorities that prevent people from accomplishing their goals. I know for me that if I don’t get a work out in early in the morning, then it just won’t happen. If you want a critical transformation, than a good, hard, productive workout has to happen!  

Nightime for my toddlers can be a battle because they don’t want to miss anything. But we should be older and wiser and know that if we don’t get enough rest we won’t have the energy to fight the battle of the bulge. Be sure to take advantage of every moment of the day, whether your eyes are open or closed.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Top Physical Therapy Advice To Fuel Your Exercise Program

Every day I find myself handing out advice. It also tends to be the same advice over and over. So, for the next few blogs I am going to share the “tips” I find myself giving out most often that could help with your workouts, keep you from getting injured, and help maintain your focus for hitting your goals.

Part 1: Lifting and body mechanics

  1. Knees behind toes- No, I am not suggesting you play Twister…although that sounds like fun. Instead, when doing squats or lunges, look down. If your knees are jutting out over your toes, there is likely undo strain being placed on your knees. Step out a little farther so when you squat your knees are behind your toes.
  2. Chest and head up when squatting- if you look down when lifting an object, the tendency is to flatten out the lumbar spine and place increased strain on the back. So, think “head and chest up” when lifting to keep the lumbar spine in its naturally curved position.
  3. Lift with your legs- everyone knows this one but so few do it! Perhaps it is because of lack of flexibility combined with lack of energy that people allow gravity to pull the trunk forward instead of lowering their trunk with their legs. You won’t lift with your legs if you don’t use them to get into position. You can start strengthening your legs by leaning against a wall and sliding down to do mini-squats. This can also help control dust around your house!
  4. Use a wide base of support- unless you are trying to balance on one leg in the yoga “tree” pose, spread your legs apart when exercising, especially when lifting weights from the floor. It will increase your stability and help you be able to lift more weight safely.

So, there you go. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bill you for a 15 minute therapy unit. This one is on me. But now, it’s on you. As you exercise to achieve your goal, remember to use good body mechanics so you stay healthy and injury-free in the process.