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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Important Stretches For Runners

Happy Easter Everyone! 

What a great opportunity to talk about a few important stretches for runners, especially since many of you are either tapering for races or ramping up mileage for ones this summer. Stretching is the "lost cause" of everyone sport. Nobody likes to do it, yet, EVERYONE knows better not too. 

Stretching plays a vital role in your success as an athlete, whether you swim or run. It can be very tempting to skip your post workout stretches, but in doing so you are putting yourself at HIGH risk for developing nagging or potentially dangerous injuries. Stretching improves your range of motion and also neuromuscular control of proper parts of your body. It allows agonist and synergists(main and opposing muscle groups) to work properly with one another.

Also, it has been shown that those who stretch on a regular basis recover from injuries up to 40% faster than those who do not. This is simply because those who do are more receptive to glycogen replacement. 

Now, since running places HUGE amount of force on your body( Up to 7 Times your body weight or 1000 Newtons of Force!! ), it is crucial to keep your lower limbs flexible and strong. With that being said, here are my favorite and most important ones!


Hamstrings Stretch
Runners are notorious for tight hamstrings that can cause lower back problems and lead to pulled muscles. Tight hamstrings also limit your range of motion, which can affect running stride, form and speed. To improve hamstring flexibility, try this lying hamstring stretch, which keeps the spine neutral whereas basic toe touches (forward bends) do not, thereby reducing risk of low back pain.





Quadriceps Stretch
Stretching the quads forces your hamstrings to contract, helping them get stronger. It's important to have strong and flexible quads since these muscles help lift your knees and increase your speed. This standing quad stretch is into to incorporate after a run, and once you master this, you can carefully pull your thigh and knee slightly behind your body (not pictured) for a greater hip flexor stretch at the same time.



Piriformis Stretches
Your piriformis muscle is responsible for the rotation of the hip. Although it's very important in activities that frequently change direction, it tends to tighten up in runners. If the piriformis becomes too tight or spasms, it can irritate the sciatic nerve, which causes pain in the glutes, lower back and thighs. To prevent these issues, try these two stretches:




Calf Stretch
Flexible calf muscles can improve your ability to increase the length of your stride, which results in increased speed. Loose calf muscles also take some of the burden away from your shins as you bring your trailing leg forward when running, helping prevent shin pain or shin splints. This basic calf stretch is an easy one to incorporate. 



Iliotibial (IT) Band Stretch
The illiotibial band is part of a muscle that runs along the outside of the knee and can create pain when it starts to rub on the kneecap. This is typically an overuse injury (trying to do too much too soon or not giving your body adequate time for rest and recovery). Stretches that target the IT band, like the example below, can reduce pain and prevent future knee problems.



Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
The stretch is critical for hi mobility and increasing range of motion. Perform this after runs to help re-activate the hip complex to prevent injury!

There you have it! A few important stretches to make sure you do on a daily basis to keep you running strong and injury free!

Don't forget, this is piece of the puzzle! You also must join Rush along with the other runners to learn how to properly resistance train and prevent "running" injuries! We work every session to get stronger, faster, quicker all by incorporating key exercises and injury preventive tactics to keep you running strong forever!

Until Next Time,

Stay Strong and Stretch Away!

Do everything you can to help make other people more successful. Massive generosity is your mission. The more you help others, the more you will succeed. You cannot out-give the universe.

Mike Over
CPT / Strength & Conditioning Specialist
www.mjofitness.com
(717)658-4299

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Best Injury Preventive Exercises For Developing Power in Runners and Athletes

As you ramp up your training to get that body you want for summer, keep in mind that preventive tactics will play a key role in your success at reaching your goals!

No one likes getting hurt! Little nags, strains, and pains are not fun to deal with and can be upsetting to many who are training hard and working towards a big accomplishment.

NO WORRIES! I am here to give you a few GREAT exercises to help prevent any injury a runner, biker, or everyday fitness enthusiast might battle. See, when you run, you miss IMPORTANT muscles. Actually, the most most and strongest ones in your body, the glutes! So forgoing any preventive exercises can quickly put you on the injured reserve list for a few weeks!

So, the exercises all revolve around bridges! Yes, simple exercises such as bridges are the foundation to a strong running form and desired core strength to keep you pain free! I will list a few in order of difficulty, and hope that you will take a few minutes each day to try some!

That way, once you ramp up your training, you will be stronger than ever while your training partner who didn't do any preventive exercises is battling IT problems and a bad hamstring strain. Take them seriously, and please let me know if you want more, because I spend a good amount of time in my Rush sessions going over these tactics to keep my runners strong and injury free!

With bridging, it’s important to use the glutes and hamstrings to raise the hips and not flex the lumbar spine. If you feel a lot of pressure in your lower back when performing these exercises, then you are most likely flexing the spine instead of firing the glutes and hamstrings, which are the muscles that you should be using to keep your hips up.

Isometric Bridge

Lay on your back with your hands at your sides and palms facing down. Bend your legs so that your feet are flat on the ground.

Fire your glutes by driving your heels into the ground to raise your hips. Your hips should create a straight line from the knee through the hip and shoulder. Again, maintain this position by firing the glutes (driving the heels into the ground) and not flexing the lumbar spine. You should feel it mainly in your glutes and hamstrings, not your back. At the top point, draw in the abdominals (pull your belly button toward your spine) and hold.

Do three sets of 30 second holds. If your legs fatigue and your hips drop before the 30 seconds, reduce each set to 15 seconds.



                                                                   
 Single Leg Bridge

Do not attempt this exercise until you can consistently complete the Isometric Bridge for 3 sets of 30 seconds.

Start in the same position as the Isometric Bridge, except you are going to extend one leg off the ground, straight out in front of you. Fire the glute by driving the heel into the ground. Raise your hips so that you create a straight line from the knee to the hip and through the shoulder. Draw in your abdominals and hold this position by continuing to drive the foot down like your were trying to put a hole in the floor. Keep the outstretched leg in a stationary position.

Do three sets of 15 seconds with each leg. If your legs fatigue and your hips drop before the 15 seconds, reduce each set to 10 seconds.


The next two exercises progress to using a Physioball to aid in the bridging exercises. The use of a Physioball increases the difficulty of the exercise by requiring higher levels of balance and stabilization within glutes, hamstrings and hips.

                         
Stability Ball Bridge

Lie on your back with your feet on the ball, with the toes dorsiflexed. Fire the glutes by driving your heels into the ball. Raise your hips so that only your head, shoulders and arms are touching the floor. There should be a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Draw in the abdominals and hold this position.

Do three sets of 20 second holds. If your legs fatigue and your hips drop before the 20 seconds, reduce each set to 10 seconds.


                             
Alternating Bridge
Do not attempt this exercise until you can consistently complete the Stability Ball Bridge for 3 sets of 20 seconds.

Follow the same procedure as the Stability Ball Bridge. Once your hips are elevated, lift one leg so that the heel is an inch or two above the opposite toe. Hold each lift for 2 seconds.

Do three sets of 10 2-second holds (5 each leg). If your legs fatigue and your hips drop before you complete the entire set, then reduce each set to a total of 6 2-second holds (3 each leg).


                                                                
There you have it! Keep your "powerhouse" of your body nice and strong with these simple exercises!

Remember, these are a FEW of the many I perform in Rush to help prevent injuries in my runner so please message or call and get started this week!


Admit to – and learn from – your mistakes. Mistakes must be viewed positively…because with the knowledge you gain from them, you are able to achieve the best things in your life. Without the lows in life, the highs would never really seem that high.



Mike Over
CPT / Strength & Conditioning Specialist
www.mjofitness.com

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Most Common Exercises People Perform Incorrectly and How To Fix It!

Sunday! The day for relaxation, and some good insight on a few things that may be hindering your progress at the gym!

Now, I am not a stiffler when it comes top form on certain exercises, however, I would like to talk to you today about a few exercises that, if performed incorrectly, can negatively affect your training progress and could even land you in IR for a while with bad tendinitis or strains.

Actually, for a couple years, I was even guilty to improper form. Sometimes I would use momentum to assist in getting reps, I would not extend or flex through the desired range of motion, and it ultimately gave me HORRIBLE elbow tendinitis and shoulder pain.

Once you fix your form and execution, you may first take a big ego hit, because you will be stuck doing less reps or weight(I went from doing 100 push ups at once to 65), BUT ultimately, you will become stronger, activating the proper muscles, and burning more fat which build nice LEAN muscle.



See, when performing exercises the wrong way, you most likely are putting stress on tendons and ligaments, not the muscles. So it makes fat burning and muscle building nearly impossible.

So, lets take a look at a few examples and try to get these mistakes corrected.

1.) Push Ups

The ever so loved push-up.  You probably have done these ever since you started gym class in elementary school, aspiring to become the next hulk hogan. However, you will never remember a time when your teacher or coach made sure you had correct form!

WHY?

Because they didn't know!

And you might be saying,

"Mike I keep my elbows tucked at 45 degrees and go all the way to the floor! My form is great!”

Well, that’s what I thought until I learned how I should really be doing them. I went from doing push-ups with a 45-lb plate on my back for sets of 12 to not even being able to execute five correct push-ups on the floor with just my body weight. Talk about humiliation!

  1. Chest out. Beware, this is harder than it seems. Most of us battle with weak scapular stabilizers and tight pecs because we’re constantly sitting—at work, in the car, or playing video games and watching television. In order to keep your chest out properly, you must seat your scapulae, driving them down and together. This puts your scapulae in the correct position to do their job during the push-up, which leads us to our next point.
  2. Scapular retraction and protraction during the push-up. When you go into the bottom portion of the push-up, your scapulae should retract or “come together.” When you push yourself up, your scapulae should protract or “come apart.”
  3. Low back neutral. This is one of the biggest issues I see whenever someone is doing a push-up. Everyone thinks she’s staying nice and tight in her core, but the truth is she probably isn’t. Get a video of yourself doing push-ups from the side and you will get a much more objective perspective of what your push-up really looks like! In order to stay neutral, draw your abs in tight toward your spine throughout the entire movement. This will take any unnecessary stress off the lumbar spine and actually turns the push-up into one of the best core strengthening exercises out there.
  4. Glutes tight. You should be squeezing your glutes like you’re holding a $100 bill in there! Keeping your glutes tight will help stabilize your core and pelvis while performing the push-up. I know it isn’t an easy task to concentrate on keeping every area of your body tight at once, but you will gain more strength with every tight push-up you perform than you would with ten mindless ones.
  5. Elbows at 45 degrees and go through the full range of motion. OK, this one might be preaching to the choir, but just to cover my bases, flaring your elbows out to 90 degrees is hard on the shoulders and should be avoided. If you aren’t getting full range of motion, you’re just fooling yourself. No one else in the gym is impressed with 100 elbow twitches or the physique that comes with it.
Good Push-Up




Bad Push Ups(And You Can Laugh, BUT I SEE THIS ON A DAILY BASIS)







 2. Lunges

The ever so loved lunge! There isn't an exercise that has the potential to make you sore time after time and as often as lunges! There are so many variations of the lunge, and with many variations, comes incorrect execution.

When performing a lunge, please think about:

  1. Railroad track steps. Begin with your feet no more than shoulder width apart. With each step, imagine a straight line going forward (or backward for reverse lunges) from your foot as if you were walking on railroad tracks. Your foot and knee should stay in line with your imaginary tracks. If you have hip stability issues, you will find that your legs will want to drift inward or outward from the “tracks” to compensate for the weakness and instability. Even if it means dropping the weight, keep your form. This will force the stabilizers of the hip to strengthen, allowing for bigger squat numbers.
  2. Square your hips. If you had headlights coming out of your hip bones, they should be facing straight ahead. This will get your pelvis in the proper position for a lunge and also ensure that you’re getting proper hip extension and a good hip flexor stretch.
  3. Get tall. That means chest up, abs drawn in, and spine neutral. Pull up with your body. This will ensure good posture during the lunge and engage your abdominals more effectively. Some people tend to arch back or lean forward to get tall instead of up. To prevent this, make sure there is a straight line from the hips to the shoulders.
  4. Squeeze the glute of the back leg. This ensures you’re getting extension from your hip, not your lower back. It keeps your pelvis stable and in the correct position throughout the lunge.
  5. Drop straight down. Most people have a tendency to lunge forward because they’re quad dominant. Your shin should be vertical and perpendicular to the floor. This will force you to engage your glutes and hamstrings more, but it will give you a better hip flexor stretch and take some of the shearing force off your front knee.
  6. Prevent knee cave. Keep the front knee toward your pinky toe. Forcing the knee out will engage the medial glute during the movement, providing stability and strength during the lunge.
Good Lunge:






3.) Chin Up :

The chin-up is one the the greatest exercises for strength and overall fitness. It activates muscles in your chest, back, biceps, and shoulders! With so many muscles being worked....you guessed it....comes incorrect form!

Here is what to think about when doing chin-ups.

  1. Eliminate any swinging of the body (assuming you aren’t performing a kipping chin-up). There is definitely an argument for using momentum (getting more reps than normal, blah blah blah). However, in this instance, you want to eliminate swing and momentum to perform a well executed chin-up. This ensures that you’re maximally engaging and taxing the proper muscles, not relying on momentum to get your reps. If you can’t do a chin-up without swinging, grab some band and use them to do assisted chins.
  2. Bring your sternum to the bar. Aiming for your sternum rather than your chin encourages you to pull more with your back and less with your biceps. This will also get your scapulae in that nice, seated position, reinforcing scapular stability.
  3. Stay as tight and stable as possible during the chin-up. This turns the chin-up into an incredible full body exercise that is fantastic for increasing core stabilization.
Good Chin-Up



 Bad Chin-Up




There you have it! A few BASIC exercises that MOST people perform incorrectly, and some nice insight on how to do them the right way!  Performing exercises correctly will ensure proper muscle activation which will lead to bigger gains and better fat loss! Which is what EVERYONE who resistance trains wants, right?

I hope everyone enjoys their Sunday fun day!

Mindset of The Day:

"Just do it. It’s less painful to do it than it is to sit around and think about it or feel guilty that you haven’t started yet. Once you get started, things will get done."

Get out there and start reaching for your dreams! If you get knocked down, GET RIGHT BACK UP!

NEVER EVER GIVE UP!

Stay Strong,

Mike Over
CPT / Strength & Conditioning Specialist
www.mjofitness.com

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dedication....Plus A free Gift To My Followers For This Crazy Snow Storm!

Well, Chambersburg is going out with a bang I guess! All winter we had cold, blistery weather but hardly any snow!

Until today, getting over 7 inches already by morning! Guess mother nature wasn't quite ready for spring after all! So I will post a special gift for those of you who cant get out of the house today!

But first, a little talk about some important factors of life!

Dedication.



Whether your goal is to land that business promotion, those last 10 pounds, or even just simply stay committed to an exercise program, it all takes dedication! Without any internal drive, it will be next to impossible.

Many factors help influence this dedication.  My biggest asset is my family and the positive outlook they bring into my life! No matter what I know they will always support my dreams and goals, and they will be by my side with a positive outlook on everything.  My injury has been the cornerstone for me in terms of this very topic. I can't explain how tough it's been for me to battle through a year of being off training. I feel awful, and miss everything about running, biking, weight training(using my legs), and being able to walk and get out of bed without pain!

BUT, with that being said, I have made it 7 months so far, and a large a part of that is due to the amazing family I have!

Everyday you need to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you are GREAT.  I'm dead serious! It works! You need to remind yourself what your trying to accomplish and the steps you need to take to get there!

Back to my example, if you want to lose weight for that wedding or vacation this summer, you have to be DEDICATED, and commit yourself to fitness. You can't give yourself excuses to fail. That is what "that little man" in your head is telling  you, but you must fight it!

I have clients who word 14 hour days but still come to see me three times a  week! There are just no excuses for a lack of fitness! You must make it a priority, and let it be known to EVERYONE around you!

Personally, I try to be as helpful as I can in my business! I try to be there for every client and help each one individually because I genuinely care about them all and want to see them succeed! Its one thing to help another, but it must start with helping yourself!

Make that step today and make a change in your life to stop letting those hurdles in life hold you back from achieving your goals! If you need help, I will be glad to do it!

You just can't have excuses!

I had a fractured femur, torn acl, mcl, partial tear of my patella tendon, sprained shoulder, concussion, and dis-located knee-cap from my accident.

Two weeks later when I could get up off the couch on my own I was swimming & lifting weights with one arm. I didn't want a man who was impatient and careless ruin my life. I considered myself as lucky to be alive and took the first step forward! You can't let ANYTHING get in your way if you want to be successful!

Again, if you need help making that first step, or need help with a new aspect of your training....contact me! I will be more than willing to help! I won't give you some program and say, go to it! I will BE THERE every step of the way to see you succeed! Ask Anthony Nori, Owner of Meadows Ice Cream. His dedication and internal drive inspires me on a daily basis!

But that's not it!  HOW ABOUT A FREE BODY WEIGHT WORKOUT FOR YOU! I know some of you may be trapped inside in this crazy storm today, so here is a workout that is sure to get you soaked in sweat and feeling great! 

Repeat This Circuit 4 Times, Resting 90 Seconds After Each Round: (Perform Each Exercise for 45 Seconds)

- Prisoner Squat
- T Push Up
- Plyometric Quick Feet on Steps
- Dive Bomber Push Up
- Burpee
- SpiderMan Plank

**Added Finisher
Perform Each Exercise For 2 Rounds Of Tabatta Intervals(20 Seconds Work, 10 Seconds Rest x 2)
- Stair Runs or Jumps
- Mountain Climbers
- Lunge Jump Burpee
- Decline Close Grip Push Up

There you have it! Done and soaked in under 30 Minutes! Can't beat that for a cold, snowy day! Now get to it and remember, to be great, yo must TRAIN GREAT!

Success is simple, once you accept how hard it is. The secrets to success are not complex. They are right there for all of us to see. Dedication, commitment, discipline, hard work, adding value, and connecting with others – those are things you must have and what you must do.

Mike Over
CPT / Strength & Conditioning Specialist
www.mjofitness.com

Sunday, March 3, 2013

New Core Exercises and Why Crunches are Outdated


In the sports society today, an athlete’s foundation has been discovered to revolve around the core musculature.  Many of you want that lean and sculpted six-pack, while the others would rather have their core strong and functional adaptive to their sport.

Well, today is your lucky day! You can have BOTH! That’s right, with the information I will discuss today, you will change your routine and develop a well-rounded core program that gives you every ounce of expectation you desired!

So yes, that means you can now put down the cell phone and forget about calling to receive your guide to washboard abs in 5 minutes a day for $99.99. 

With all those gimmick ads and promises, it’s easy to fall into the trance, BUT it is important to first know exactly what the core comprises of, right? If you want to spend the money, you should at least know some background.
  • The diaphragm on the top
  • The pelvic floor on the bottom
  • The abdominals (rectus abdominus, TVA) in the front
  • The back muscles (spinal erectors, multifidi) in the back
 
The lateral stabilizers (quadratus lumborum, internal and external obliques) on the sides.
So, that now means I convinced you that your core is more than your rectus adominus, or 6-pack muscles.  I also just relayed information important to the aspect of stability! Parts of your core play key roles in maintaining proper posture and alignment!

Now, don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer that complex movements such as squats, deadlifts, press, rows, and cleans are all ESSENTIAL to a well-rounded core.  However, well-rounded is the key term here!  

When I say well-balanced, I simply mean:

  • The muscles of your lower back are working at 100%
  • Your abs are working at 100%
  • Your left lateral stabilizers are working at 100%
  • Your right lateral stabilizers are working at 100%
Now, I rarely EVER see this, but having both complementary and supplementary core work is crucial to developing a balanced mid section!

So before I get into some great exercises for each part of your core system, I would like to get something off my chest!

PLEASE, if you are still one of those trainers or fitness junkies still advocating crunches, just STOP already! If you haven't realized they are dangerous and counterproductive by now, I don't think you should be in the gym to begin with.

If you want to get your lower back healthy and back in line, there are safer alternatives than crunches that put the risk of a herniated disk at ease. Now, I may agree with you that in terms of the lower back, crunches are not all that bad, BECAUSE a proper crunch puts more emphasis on the thoracic and not the lumbar spine.

HOWEVER, think about what a crunch does. It trains the rectus adominus to pull the rib cage down.
When we pull the rib cage down, we increase the thoracic kyphosis. This sets off a cascade of events

– we increase the kyphosis, thus losing t-spine extension. This consistently puts our scapulae in a poor position, not to mention putting our gleno-humeral joint at an increased risk for impingement as well.

So now our "not so bad exercise" has compromised our ability to safely overhead press, back squat, or basically do any exercise where we have a barbell on our back or overhead.

That's why you wont see me doing them anytime soon!

So, with that being said:

The New Era Of Core Training:




I'm currently breaking all my core training down into four categories:
  • Anti-Extension
  • Anti-Lateral Flexion
  • Anti-Rotation
  • Hip Flexion with Neutral Spine
Anti-Extension:

  •  Ball/Ab Dolly rollouts
  • Ab wheel rollouts
  • Blast strap/TRX fallouts
  • Blast strap/TRX Miyagis 



These exercises are all great for stability of the core, lumbar spine, and pelvis! You will work your obliques and rectus adominus to a good extent if they are done PROPERLY.

Just remember:


  •   DB/KB windmills – (see video below)
  • Offset waiters walks (walking with a dumbbell by the side in one hand ONLY)
  • Offset farmers carries (walking with a dumbbell pressed overhead in one hand ONLY) 
  • Suitcase deadlift
These exercises are great for the lateral core section, quadratus lumborum, and the internal and external obliques.

Anti-Rotation:

  •  All Pallof Press Variations
  • Tornado Ball Exercises
  • Renegade Rows
  • Farmers Carry 
  • Anti-Rotational Chops


Anti-rotation exercises train virtually every component of your core: internal/external obliques, rectus abdominus, TVA, etc.

The most challenging components of these exercises are actively keeping everything tight and not allowing any rotation at the lumbar spine.

On the Pallof press exercises, focus on keeping the core and glutes tight, and maintaining a tall posture throughout – don't "crunch" over to stabilize.

Hip Flexion With Neutral Spine:

This exercise category consists of any exercises where you're actively bracing your core/lumbar spine while bringing your knees to your chest. Examples include:

  • Prone jackknifes on a physioball
  • Band resisted jackknifes 
  • Alternating band resisted jackknifes
  • Decline Spider man Plank
  • TRX Pikes
  • Hanging Knee Raise




Now, of all these new exercises, these ones will be the toughest.  They focus on the lumbar spine and keeping it neutral! 

Remember:

  • Lock down your core/midsection – allow as little movement here as possible.
  • Use your hip flexors to "pull" your knees to your chest. Pavel talks about this with squatting, and exercises like this can help improve your setup/tension in the hole when squatting and pulling. Maintain neutral and "pull" your knees to your chest.