Saturday, April 1, 2023

TheraBand Routine for Improved Posture, Upper Back Health

This holiday, I gave TheraBands.  These are the bands you get at PT – they come in a roll and are cut.  I cut 5′ lengths.  But the main gift was the routine I designed for using it to improve posture and activate upper back muscles.  So much of our lives are spent in the forward posture that pulls us into dis-ease.  These gentle strengthening movements are the opposite of computer work, driving, forward everything.  Form is important!

How you hold the band sets the stage.

  • Choose the color band that allows light work to start.
  • Hold loosely with the thumb on the same side as your fingers (overhand grip).
  • As you have a slight tension on the band, look at your wrist.  Make sure it’s STRAIGHT.  This is the biggest mistake people make.  In order to straighten your wrist, you actually have to push your hand outward.

1. Straight Arm Pull Apart

  • Arms straight out in front at a slight angle
  • Start with gentle tension of the band
  • Pull the band outward keeping arms and wrists straight.
  • As you pull the band back towards you, it will come closer to your chest and you should feel the muscles behind and between your shoulders
  • This is an activation movement, not a body-building exercise.  Use only the tension you need to feel the shoulders pull together behind you.
  • To protect your low back, put one foot slightly in front of the other into a stagger stance.  Notice how this softens your knees and helps you maintain a neutral spine.
  • Do 8 to 10 reps
  • The light tension means you can do this once a day just to activate the upper back muscles.

2. Wrist Work

  • Do exactly the same movement as above, but when you get to about 45 degree outward with your arms (about half way), push your wrists outward and slowly return.
  • The arms stay still, just the wrists move
  • Do 5 to 10 of these

3. Anchor Series

  • One arm is STRAIGHT out in front (not angled off to the side or up) and holds the band
  • Holding arm – thumb up (this is better for your shoulder)
  • Relax both shoulders down
  • With the other straight arm, pull the band downward and behind the body – this engages the latissimus dorsi
  • do each side 5 to 10 times
  • You can also pull outward (similar to #1).  Notice how the holding arm works very differently in this movement
  • Another variation that I love is to do slow circles.  I prefer circles backward (clockwise on the R, counterclockwise on the L)

With all of these movements, if there’s any discomfort AT ALL:

  • slow down
  • make the movement smaller
  • stop doing it

Remember to walk with attitude, swagger and walk young!


Article: Daily walk cuts dementia risk, studies show

I’m copying this article to my blog because I focus on walking for exercise.  “They used to say – do a puzzle to keep your mental acuity.  Now, it’s TAKE A WALK.   Get blood circulating to the brain.  A client sent me this article.  It mirrors my mantra – Consistency vs. Intensity.   Now, go take a walk 🙂

Published: November 5, 2013   By MARNI JAMESON Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, Fla. — Everyone knows walking is good exercise, but it has another benefit: a daily 20-minute walk can also cut the risk of dementia by 40 percent, studies show.  Taking those findings a step further, neurologists at Jacksonville, Fla.’s Mayo Clinic are studying whether getting patients immobilized by disease to walk can also help stave off mental decline.

Dr. Jay Van Gerpen, a neurologist who specializes in gait, is recruiting Parkinson’s patients for a study to help them stay on their feet and retain brain health. “Walking is a window to the brain,” said Van Gerpen.  Regular walking not only helps preserve brain function in healthy people, but also protects against further damage caused by dementia, Alzheimer’s and diseases like Parkinson’s, a degenerative disease that causes tremors, motor impairment and cognitive decline.

When someone’s gait changes – steps get shorter or pace slows – that frequently indicates the brain is damaged.  Thus, walking problems are common in those with dementia and Parkinson’s, because these conditions cause brain cells to die.  Walking not only slows that progression, but helps brain cells recover by forming new connections, Van Gerpen said.   Van Gerpen invented a laser device several years ago that helps Parkinson’s patients walk better.

The device attaches to walkers or canes and shoots a red laser beam in front of the person walking.  Visual cues can help Parkinson’s patients walk without freezing.  When patients focus on stepping over the line, they access the visual part of the brain, which bypasses the motor output area that isn’t working, Van Gerpen said.  The device was a game-changer for Wayne Puckett of Clermont, Calif.   Four years ago, the 48-year-old started having tremors, followed by difficulty walking and memory problems.   Puckett said gait freezing was the biggest issue.

“I would just come to a halt, especially at doorways,” he said.   The former postal worker used to be able to memorize two zip codes worth of street addresses, but that ability was gone. In March 2010, he went to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, where Dr. Van Gerpen diagnosed him with a form of Parkinson’s and gave him a Mobilaser that attaches to his walker.

The first time Puckett used the Mobilaser, which is now distributed worldwide and costs $400, he couldn’t believe the difference.    “I was almost walking like normal.  I was in sheer amazement. It still amazes me.  “It helped in other ways, too.  “When I wasn’t able to move as much, I noticed my brain was much worse,” Puckett said. “With the laser I can move, get around, and am definitely able to concentrate better. ”

In a 2012 study, Van Gerpen’s team studied a small group of Parkinson’s patients who had difficulty walking. By using the laser, they cut in half both the time it took them to walk a course, and the number of times they came to a halt, said Van Gerpen. His new study aims to prove that the laser helps patients walk every day, over months and years.

“Getting these patients walking is extremely helpful because it helps the brain’s blood flow and reduces mental and muscle decline,” said Dr. Nizam Razack, a neurosurgeon at Florida Hospital Celebration Health who performs brain surgery on Parkinson’s patients to help improve their motor impairment. But beyond helping those with Parkinson’s, a daily walk has broader implications for Americans who are developing dementia at an epidemic rate, said Van Gerpen.

Dementia is on the rise not just because Americans are living longer, but because they have so much vascular disease. “Dementia is related to obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes,” he said. All these conditions impair blood flow to the brain. “When blood flow in a large vessel to the brain gets blocked, a person has a stroke,” said Van Gerpen.  “When small vessels get blocked, brain tissue also dies. You just don’t notice it at that moment.

“Walking reduces the risk of small vessel damage. That will delay the onset of dementia and help protect what function is left.  The device has also helped Kenneth Sikora of The Villages, put one foot in front of the other again.  Sikora, age 66, has lived with Parkinson’s for more than 20 years.

He had been using a walker to get around “but not getting very far,” said his wife, Kathryn Sikora, who speaks for her husband because he has difficulty talking.  “Now, he’s up and moving hours a day now as compared to not at all,” his wife said. Puckett estimates he’s walking at least three times as much, at double or triple the speed than before he had the laser.  He and his wife now go to the theme parks and places like Downtown Disney, which was impossible before.  “I can’t believe how something so simple can make such an in impact,” he said. “Anything that gets you up and out and doing is worth it.

“ROBOTS AID PARKINSON’S – A surgeon at Florida Hospital Celebration Health is using a robotic device to treat patients with Parkinson’s and help them stay on their feet. Robotic surgeon Nizam Razack is using deep brain stimulation to help alleviate the tremors and rigidity that accompany Parkinson’s, and make simple acts of daily living difficult. Using a Mazor Robot, a smart device about as big as a soda can, Razack places electrodes inside patients’ brains to stimulate specific areas.  The electrodes, which stay in the brain permanently, have been shown to improve shaking and rigidity in many patients.

Razack, a neurosurgeon, has performed the procedure without robotic assistance more than 1,000 times, he said, and with the robot 10 times.The robot is another way of doing the procedure, and can aid precision by helping surgeons place electrodes within one millimeter of the target, he said. The benefit for Parkinson’s patients: Many who couldn’t walk or hold a cup before now can.

HOW TO GROW YOUR BRAIN – Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that walkers increased the size of their hippocampus, the region of the brain that controls new memories, by 2 percent after one year of walking 40 minutes three times a week.

The researchers divided 120 older adults, average age 66, who did not have dementia, into two groups: a stretching group and a walking group.  The group that walked increased their hippocampus, while the stretching group showed no improvement, according to the 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Normally, that area of the brain decreases about 1 to 2 percent a year in adults, said Dr. Jay Van Gerpen, increasing their risk for developing Alzheimer’s.

Here’s the link to the story

Shoulder Stabilizer: The Arm Bar by Dr. Allen Wood

Good Chiropractic is healthy for those of us who USE our bodies.   I’ve known this doctor  for about 15 years and love that he’s sharing his wealth of knowledge so I can share it with AdventureBuddies 🙂

Enjoy, try this and feel your power!  This movement helps to stabilize the shoulder joint throughout a range of motion.   Life does not happen in one plane.  Developing shoulder stability dynamically in a functional range can help your posture and the health of your shoulder joint.

The “packing” also helps you to be more aware of holding this very movable joint in a more mindful way.


Back Health & Your Feet – IMPORTANT

These 2 segments might change your life or at least your perspective:

ACE Trainers: POLES Seminar & Waterfall Hike, Rocky Mountain National Park

On June 11, 2011, I’ll be teaching a POLES for Hiking Field Seminar at Rocky Mountain National Park.  We’ll explore roaring waterfalls as we hike, learn and explore.  This is a magical trail and a wonderful place to learn skills that enable people to achieve the many benefits of hiking with poles.

This class is offered thru the Rocky Mountain Nature Association for anyone who loves to hike.  In addition, ACE-certified personal trainers can get .8 credits for this class by contacting me thru this blog for more info.

Endurance Tips for Hikers, Joggers & Outdoor Enthusiasts

Whether hiking, walking, jogging or biking, here are some tips to help endurance:

  1. Slow down before you need to stop.  It takes more energy to stop and start than it does to slow down.
  2. Anticipate the need to rest and rest before you need to.
  3. When hiking, try taking shorter steps.  This helps endurance as well as performance on steeper terrain.
  4. Focus on your breathing.
  5. Get out of your feet.   This tip is especially helpful for runners and joggers.  Bring your attention up towards your sternum or your heart or your ribcage.
  6. Create cues that help you focus on the incredible lightness of being.
  7. What works to create lightness and space and joy is different for each of us.  Plus having different ways of saying relatively the same thing enables us to consistently focus on our form and performance.  Good teachers know this.
  8. Roll your shoulders up around and back (see our post on scapular stabilization).
  9. Stay cool and hydrated.
  10. When hiking uphill, as you near the top, visualize the top of the hill.  This can help you get that last burst of energy to make it.  Once you get to the top, be sure to both:  clear the way for your buddies behind you AND “smooth it out.”  This means relax your breathing and your shoulders and walk it out.

What’s your favorite tip for improving/maintaining endurance?

Education for Fitness Professionals

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be in Washington DC – my first visit to our nation’s capital.

On Wed, September 22, I’ll present 2 free clinics at REI Bailey’s Crossroads.  At 3:30 is POLES for Balance, Mobility & Functional Walking.  This will be limited to 30 people – all of whom have some kind of mobility challenge.  If you are a fitness professional (trainer, PT, OT), please contact me for special access to this clinic.

If you have taken the Mobility Course you can receive continuing education credits for “helping” with this clinic.  Plus you’ll meet lots of potential clients 🙂

At 7pm I’ll present my regular clinic: POLES for Hiking, Walking & Exercise.

The next day, I’ll be at REI Rockville, MD at 6:30 with the regular clinic.

Then I’m off to sight see.  Tour Guides welcome 🙂