Flexibility: How it Impacts More than Your Muscles

Flexibility: How it Impacts More than Your Muscles

by Nick A. Titley, M.S., NPI-Certified Posture Specialist

Whether you attend the gym or sit in the office daily; you probably have tight muscles and may know little about flexibility. Do you experience neck or back pain? Do you feel aches and tightness when moving your arms and legs? Many people are unable to perform simple movements and thousands are suffering from back and neck pain. Please keep reading; your flexibility is more important than you realize.

In the Foundations of Strength Training and Conditioning book, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines flexibility as a joint’s ability to move through its full range of motion (ROM). Enhanced joint flexibility can reduce the risk of injuries, improve your muscle balance and function, increase performance, improve posture and reduce the incidence of lower back pain.

According to the Human Kinetics website, a fitness and human movement organization, flexibility is necessary to perform your daily activities; getting out of bed, lifting objects and sweeping the floor require some level of flexibility, but unfortunately it deteriorates with age. Over time you create body movements and postural habits that can lead to reduced ROM in your joints, but staying active and stretching regularly can help prevent the loss of mobility. Being flexible significantly reduces the chance of experiencing occasional and chronic back pain.

Poor flexibility means more difficulty when performing your daily activities and can cause joint stiffness, muscle tightness, lower back pain and other postural, and health related problems. A study posted in the American Journal of Physiology has associated poor flexibility with arterial stiffening. Arterial stiffening is called arteriosclerosis and it influences how hard your heart has to work to pump blood through your body. Myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke are both a direct consequence of atherosclerosis.

Flexibility training can help you maintain appropriate muscle length. According to the ACSM, muscle shortening can take place over time and flexibility training helps improve muscle balance. If you’re sitting for long periods daily then you may have tight and shortened hamstring and hip flexor muscles that could be causing you lower back pain. Flexibility training helps improve muscular weaknesses and is thought to reduce the risk of injury. It can also improve your posture and your ability to move, relieve stress and reduce the risk of low-back pain.

ACSM suggests the best method for improving flexibility is to perform activities in their full ROM and to engage in a safe stretching program. It’s ill-advised to stretch when you haven’t warmed up, so stretching after your body is warmed up or at the end of a workout is ideal. A simple warm-up could consist of running in place for a few minutes, or by performing some other low level activities that increase your body temperature.

According to Full-Body Flexibility, the book explains how static and dynamic stretches are the most common techniques you can use to improve your flexibility. For static stretching, you merely stretch your muscles by holding the position for 10-30 seconds. Stretching should be done carefully, and with proper technique and breathing; never force yourself into positions or hurry through your routine. Take your time.

Dynamic stretching is another form where you mimic the patterns and movements of the exercise or sport you’re about to perform. If you’re about to play a sport or lift weights you would perform the activities with low resistance first to get your body ready for the real work.

Static stretching and dynamic stretching are your safest options. You can perform stretches alone or have a trained partner take you through the movements. I suggest you stretch your entire body, but pay special attention to your tighter muscles; for many of you this means your hamstrings, hip flexors, rear, lower back, wrists, shoulders, rotator cuffs and neck.

Flexibility means moving a joint through its full ROM and improving flexibility is also strongly associated with managing back pain. Warm up before you stretch and try using dynamic and static stretching techniques. Flexibility means balance; poor flexibility could result in loss of basic function and could lead to health and posture related problems.

 References:

  • Ratamess, Nicholas A. “Warm up and Flexibility.” ACSM’s Foundations of Strength Training and Conditioning. Michigan: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012. Print.
  • Yamamoto, K., Kawano, H., & Gando, Y. (2009). Poor trunk flexibility is associated with arterial stiffening.American Journal of Physiology, 297(4).  doi:10.1152/ajpheart.00061.2009. Epub 2009 Aug 7.
  • “The Importance and Purpose of Flexibility.” Human-kinetics. Can-Fit-Pro. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.   humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/the-importance-and-purpose-of-flexibility.
  • Blahnik, Jay. “Stretching Basics.” Full-Body Flexibility. 2nd ed. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication. 2011. Print.
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Overtraining: Are You Exercising Too Much?

Overtraining: Are You Exercising Too Much?

by Nick A. Titley, M.S., NPI-Certified Posture Specialist

Our exercise goals are important to us. We strive and struggle through so much to reach our markers. Many believe that no pain no gain is the answer and the more you train the better your results. The problem with this belief is that you could be putting your body through more stress than needed and you run the risk of sickness and overuse injury.

Are you overtraining? How would you know if you’re overtraining and just exactly what is it? In an article by University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM), overtraining is described as burnout, staleness, a term used by professionals to describe fitness enthusiasts and athletes who suffer impaired performance and increased fatigue due to excessive training routines

 Overtraining is often confused for overreaching; according to Overtraining Syndrome: A Practical Guide, overreaching refers to an accumulation of training loads that lead to performance decrements that require days to weeks for recovery. Overreaching is sudden, it can be as simple as drastically increasing your workout load and feeling exhausted to the point where you need to take some serious down time.

Overreaching followed by rest can be positive, but when it’s extreme and combined with additional stressors then Overtraining syndrome (OTS) can occur. OTS usually occurs as a result of rigorous training schedules that dramatically or suddenly increase, lasts for sustained periods of time and are performed at high volumes or high intensities without a sufficient recovery period.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), one of the best ways to avoid overtraining is to pay attention to your exercise program. Excessive volume or intensity may produce less than optimal results and could impair your performance. If physical performance continues to suffer for extended periods of time and you require long recovery periods then overtraining has occurred.

While increasing exercise intensity and volume are positive for your development, ACSM stresses that you adhere to a proper exercise program that provides sufficient volume and intensity i.e. following a workout program that meets your needs, but allows for recovery time and respects your current fitness level. While there are phases within your training program where you may experience short-term performance decrements these can be overcome with several days of decreased exercise stress.

You know you’re overtraining when you can’t seem to perform right, you’re excessively tired, you need longer periods of recovery between workout routines and just don’t feel like exercising. Overtraining syndrome comes with the risk of injury and illness and ACSM says that overtraining has other physiological effects also. Altered resting heart rate, blood pressure and respiration patterns, decreased body fat and post-exercise body weight, chronic fatigue, menstrual disruptions, headaches, muscle soreness and damage, joints aches and pains, and gastrointestinal distress are a few of the effects listed.

While overtraining syndrome is the extreme, many overreach and burn out after going for weeks without proper recovery. There are many exercise programs that have risen to fame because they boast about the fat blasting effects of their workout, but many of the people who need to lose the weight and get into shape can’t aptly perform these programs. Some avid exercisers have also found these programs to be too much and after a few days fall off the program. I watched a personal trainer put his clients through a popular routine and it was cringeworthy watching their body language after barely making it through a routine that wasn’t designed for their fitness level. Some of those clients no longer work with that trainer.

Overtraining yourself is a real dilemma; you’re exposed to so many stimuli and made to believe that harder, faster, heavier are better at the expense of proper nutritional habits, proper alignment and body mechanics and adequate rest time. The results of this are usually suboptimal; if you’re not careful you could become sick and/or injured. Please consult a professional about designing a workout program that fits your needs and pay close attention to the way you’re feeling during and after a workout. You don’t have to train seven days a week to see results and despite what popular voices may say you must ultimately follow a program that suits your specific needs.

References:

  • Kinucan, Paige, and Kravitz. “Overtraining: Undermining Success.”Overtraining: Undermining Success. University of Maryland Medical Center. Web. 28 July 2015.
  • C. Fry Ph.D., Andrew. “Overtraining with Resistance Exercise.” Current Comments. American College of Sports Medicine. Web. 28 July 2015.
  • Kreher, Jeffrey B., and Jennifer B. Schwartz. “Overtraining Syndrome: A Practical Guide.” Sports Health 4.2 (2012): 128–138. PMC. Web. 27 July 2015.

National Posture Institute’s 2015 State of Industry Survey

Hi everyone,

I had the privilege of working on the National Posture Institute’s 2015 State of the Industry survey. For all the fit professionals who want to see the review, I’ve posted the link and the information below.

National Posture Institute (NPI) Survey Report

2015 State of the Industry Survey:  Posture, Health, and Fitness Report

The National Posture Institute (NPI) believes that posture, exercise performance, injury prevention, and education surrounding body alignment and exercise selection are important areas of concern for fitness and allied-health/medical professionals. NPI created its 2015 State of the Industry Survey to determine whether professionals were prepared to work with clients on posture correction/exercises and to review the current state of the industry and upcoming trends. This report will review NPI’s State of the Industry’s 2015 Survey results.

NPI surveyed personal trainers, physical therapists, physiotherapists, group exercise instructors, athletic/sports performance specialists, P.E. teachers, chiropractors and other allied-health, medical and fitness based professionals for this study. The majority of our respondents work as personal trainers/exercise professionals in settings such as health clubs/fitness facilities, home-based training, private practice training, corporate offices/fitness centers and college/universities. An additional group of respondents work as physical therapists, chiropractors, ergonomic specialists, athletic trainers and other allied health/medical professional in hospitals, medically-based fitness sites, sports performance sites and private clinics.

Respondents indicated that they work with a diverse client age group from young children (29%) to (80+) older adults (51%). Respondents stated their client base includes children/adolescents, stay at home moms/dads, corporate executives, office workers, athletes, academics, retirees and health/medical professionals.

As indicated on the survey, clients/patients “sometimes” inquire about posture and body alignment and 78% of professionals are actively educating them on the subject. Professionals also indicated that they generally conduct assessments on their clients. When asked about conducting posture assessments, 75% say they conduct posture assessments on a regular basis. Balance/agility skills, muscular strength and endurance assessments are also predominantly being used by professionals. When asked about corrective exercise programs, 53% say they use them. However, when asked whether corrective exercises for posture related injuries are being administered the responses were almost tied.

The survey shows that 69% of respondents have received training on how to conduct and create programs that focus on posture and body alignment. While some received little training from personal training organizations, others note that they learned some information about posture through books and/or magazine articles. The majority of respondents received educational training from the National Posture Institute (NPI); It was listed as the primary organization to learn about posture education, assessments and exercise movements.

Professionals indicated that they prefer using free weights, suspension and body weight training as opposed to commercial strength training/circuit training equipment when working with their clients/patients. The most popular exercises mentioned were: squats, lunges, step-ups, bicep and triceps curls, back rows, push-up variations, frontal/lateral raises and planks. It should come as no surprise then that exercise tubing, stability balls, body weight exercises and free weights/dumbbells took top spots when asked about the modalities being used while training.

Professionals believe that the most prevalent postural deviations seen in their clients are “forward head posture,” “rounded shoulders,” and “muscular imbalances”. They also indicated that the most common injury sites are the “lower back,” “rotator cuff,” and the “knees”. Respondents believe that the programs that could most likely cause an injury are power lifting, heavy lifting, Olympic style lifting, Crossfit and plyometrics.

Summary

The results show that fitness, health and allied-health/medical professionals are becoming more aware of posture, body alignment and exercise selection. They are actively developing programs for their clients/patients with posture and body alignment in mind. Professionals are predominantly working with clients/patients that range from ages as young as 5 (five) to 80+ years old. Respondents stated their client base includes children/adolescents, stay at home moms/dads, corporate executives, office workers, athletes, academics and health/medical professionals.

Professionals are conducting fitness and posture assessments; many of the respondents have learned to perform postural assessments and corrective exercises from the National Posture Institute. Clients/patients “sometimes” inquire about posture, but professionals that responded to this survey are actively educating them on the subject.

Fitness, health and medical professionals must continue to learn about posture and body alignment. As professionals, being aware of these areas allow for greater vigilance when selecting programs, methods and exercises for clients/patients. Professionals must continue taking the initiative and actively discussing the subject of posture with their clients/patients. Though their current responsibilities are great, professionals must not overlook the negative effects of poor posture and body alignment. Lastly, professionals must take an active role in becoming strong role models that can educate the public about proper posture, alignment and exercise performance.

http://www.npionline.org/survey/2015 (For more information on posture, certifications related to fitness/nutrition/posture and more, check out the rest of their website.)

Why sitting for too long is killing you

Well, by now you’ve heard of this…right? If not, this brief video is a must watch on the reasons why sitting too much is a killer.

 

Accountability: Even the Fitness Industry Needs It

Hi everyone, hope your 2015 is turning out well. If not, hang in there and work for what you need to happen. Here’s a good one for you. How do you when the fitness pro is performing the technique correctly? Generally, you won’t. So even the fitness industry and its professionals need to be held accountable. I discuss this in my first article this year, published on the National Posture Institute website here, but you can read it below also:

Accountability: Even the Fitness Industry Needs It

by Nick A. Titley, M.S., NPI-Certified Posture Specialist

It’s the start of a new year and many of the old year’s habits need to be left behind. How do you know when a fitness professional is performing an exercise in good form and body alignment? You don’t; If you’re not exercise savvy then the likelihood of being misled is high. Fitness organizations and professionals need to be more aware of form and body alignment when posting exercises.

Last year, after opening a monthly newsletter from a major fitness organization I noticed the model’s posture and body alignment was off. Her head and neck were lurching forward as she sat up, frozen in place. The fitness model from the newsletter was trying to work her abdominals while simultaneously putting her neck and spine at risk. It wasn’t the first time I saw something like this; I’ve seen professionals performing techniques with improper form and body alignment. It’s time that organizations and professionals in the fitness industry take account for these problems. The public will emulate these techniques.

According to an article by Nikitow Chiropractic, one of the most common posture problems is forward head posture (FHP). Repetitive computer, TV, video game, phone and backpack usage, alongside poor exercise form can force our bodies to adopt this problem. Repetitively lurching the head and neck forward can strengthen nerve and muscle pathways to move that way more readily. In short, repetition of forward head movements combined with poor ergonomic postures can lead to FHP. Was the professional, and the organization, aware of FHP when they posted that image?

Incorrect Correct

Dimitri Onyskow and I spoke about the problem. As the Educational Fitness Solution’s Director of Academic Relations, he deals with these issues: “I think most organizations do not want to acknowledge the fact that they have been promoting poor technique,” he says, “If they did, they would be admitting they were wrong. Instead, they choose to ignore it in hopes that no one else will notice.”

Dimitri says that the problem exists in major fitness organizations that offer corrective exercise programs: “What most don’t understand is if a client is doing a ‘corrective exercise’ movement in poor alignment, all they are doing is adding strength to an already imbalanced frame. And this will lead to injury down the road. It is imperative that proper technique is taught throughout.”

Michele, a fitness club manager, also had a similar experience and shared her utter distaste for some major fitness brands. She says that people are quick to follow these teachings even if they are dangerous. She believes that one of the major problems with these brands is the bad form of their followers: “They often have people doing pointless motions with incorrect form and at ridiculous weights.”

Michele believes that many of the people following routines from these brands have no clue what they’re doing and they think their form is correct. Many are closer to a hospital visit than achieving their results and refuse help when approached about their form.

So can you tell when you’re being misled? It’s difficult to tell, so sometimes you need to seek a second opinion. Keep in mind that every trainer and fitness organization isn’t trying to mislead you, but even the experts get it wrong sometimes. If you’re unsure about a technique, don’t feel it working, or you’re concerned about the danger level then by all means ask questions. Always ask questions, research the topic and pay attention to who is providing the advice.

Good form and proper body alignment should be the goal of every exercise. Organizations and professionals in the fitness industry need to be aware of their form and body alignment while performing exercises. The public won’t know the difference between right and wrong. It’s up to the fitness industry to teach the public the correct methods and to be accountable for their actions.

References:

  • Nikitow, D. (2014). Damaging effects of forward head posture. Retrieved from denvertechchiro/files/fhp_revised.pdf
  • Michele. Personal interview. 7 January 2015
  • Onyskow, Dimitri. Personal Interview. 6 January 2015

Fitness Gurus and Self-Proclaimed Experts: Why You Should Avoid Them

Fitness Gurus and Self-Proclaimed Experts: Why You Should Avoid Them

by Nick A. Titley, M.S., NPI-Certified Posture Specialist

After having a conversation with a client I couldn’t believe what someone told her about nutrition and fitness. After speaking with a self-proclaimed fitness expert she felt more drained than enlightened. The conversation stuck with me; the last straw came when I saw an “expert” incorrectly instructing someone on how to perform an exercise. After reading this article I hope you’ll understand why you need to avoid these kinds of people.

 Fitness gurus and self-proclaimed experts are everywhere. Many believe that whatever works for them will work for you and they are often the first to offer advice. They flex muscles, revealing what’s under their shirts, eagerly showcasing what they’ve attained as the proof that their advice is legitimate. You’ll be so convinced that they are experts after an interaction that you might be open toward the diet plans and exercise programs they’re willing to prescribe you even when they lack the qualifications or research to substantiate their claims.

I sat down with Akilah to discuss her experience with one of these experts. Akilah explained that she’s been on a weight loss journey and in a recent conversation she was offered nutritional counseling when she never asked for any. She explained to the guru that she added plums to her diet and he told her that she shouldn’t eat them. “He told me at my weight, my body won’t break down the sugar.” He also told her to completely cut fruits from her diet.

Akilah wasn’t satisfied with the response so she questioned it. She mentioned the difference between natural and processed sugars and reasoned that a single plum, with low sugar but full of vitamins, wouldn’t have adverse effects on her body. After her response, the expert told her to eat whatever she wanted because she “knows it all.”

If you’re a fitness guru or self-proclaimed expert that’s offering advice without any real background or training, please stop it. If you’ve encountered people like this, be careful and have no fear in challenging them. If you receive a negative rebuttal or the answers seem far-fetched then do your own research. Always ask a trained professional; it won’t hurt and most times they will confirm, or deny, the information you’re receiving.

It doesn’t stop here; unprofessional behavior also exists in the fitness industry and unqualified fitness gurus are rampant. I interviewed Thomas Johnson, Certified Trainer and owner of GetupNGetFit, and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Brett Willmott, about the subject. Thomas explained that he’d seen his fair share of these “experts” and, like Brett, voiced traits that he felt make for “bad trainers.”

Lack of attentiveness, disregard for safety, improper technique, and a lack of qualifications, knowledge and experience were on the “bad trainer” lists for both Brett and Thomas. These problems are also seen in gurus and self-proclaimed fitness experts, but the main problem with these people is the advice they’re offering. The information, while sometimes correct, might not work for you and could be detrimental to your overall goals.

While the idea of this might make you cringe, Brett ended by offering some direction. He suggested that anyone seeking help from a fitness expert should research them first. Ensure they’re qualified in the area of their instruction and always be prepared to ask questions. “With a well thought out plan, you will be on your way to an educational encounter,” he said.

For qualified fitness trainers and self-proclaimed experts, this is a wake-up call for some and a reminder for others. Even if you don’t fit the category it’s always good to think twice about what you’re discussing with someone. For anyone else, this isn’t a call to dump your trainer or question every detail, but ask yourself if you at least feel comfortable discussing questions with them. They don’t know everything, but they should at least be professional in putting that point across.

Be careful when taking advice from people who aren’t qualified in the area they’re discussing. Self-proclaimed fitness experts are easy to find, but can impart misinformation. Seek a professional and ensure that you’re comfortable asking questions.

 References:

  • Johnson, Thomas. Personal interview. 7 November 2014.
  • Willmott, Brett. Personal interview. 7 November 2014
  • Akilah. Personal interview. 4 November 2014

Why Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) Doesn’t Equate to Physical Success

Here’s another one of my articles that’s posted on the National Posture Institute. It deals with the idea that some people equate being sore to overall goal success. It’s a false belief folks. Not every workout will make you sore, and you shouldn’t focus on being sore as the measure of a good workout. Focus on goal attainment, focus on performance, focus on a better body and a sound mind, and you’ll be much closer to your goal.

Why Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) Doesn’t Equate to Physical Success

by Nick A. Titley, M.S., NPI-Certified Posture Specialist

I recently read an article about muscle soreness as a new workout goal. It seems being sore after a workout is more important than the effectiveness of the workout in helping one achieve their overall goal. Muscle soreness doesn’t equate to an effective workout and it’s not something you should use to gauge your workout, or to strive to achieve in every training session.

When was the last time you performed an exercise or activity and woke up sore the following day? Did the soreness remain even after a few more days? Did your muscles feel achy and was it difficult to move? That sore, uncomfortable feeling when you move is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The soreness you feel doesn’t hit you until the day after a strenuous workout and that’s why it’s considered “delayed onset.”

An article written by John David Maes and Len Kravitz mentions that DOMS is typically experienced by all individuals regardless of fitness level; it’s a normal physiological response to increased exertion. Delayed soreness typically begins to develop 12-24 hours after you exercise and may produce the greatest pain between 24-72 hours

If you’re doing physical activities that are unfamiliar or more intense than your usual routine or you are just starting to exercise; then there’s a higher chance of experiencing DOMs. Alongside soreness you may also experience muscle stiffness, swelling, tenderness to the touch, temporary reductions in strength and in movement, and decreased joint range of motion.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) states that the exact cause of DOMS is complex; it’s commonly associated with lactic acid accumulation in the muscle, but it appears to be a side effect of the repair process that develops in response to microscopic muscle damage. In case you were worried about the microscopic muscle damage allow me to put your mind at ease, the micro trauma that happens in muscles after a workout isn’t dangerous and it’s actually a part of the process for building them.

So how did DOMS and feeling achy become the gauge for a workout’s effectiveness? There are many fitness professionals, trends, fads and programs that advocate for higher intensity routines. These programs boast phrases like: “gut busting,” “fat torching,” “muscle building,” “hardcore” and “high intensity” in their descriptions. These programs can make you so sore you’re unable to walk or move properly the next day, but is that really the goal and is it helping the general exerciser achieve their goals?

Muscle soreness isn’t a gauge for success, but it’s common to hear people chatting about their soreness and discussing how they felt days after. While some programs encourage working till you’re sore and try to instill a “no pain, no gain,” mentality, they miss the point of why you’re training in the first place.

While constantly pushing yourself to the limit sounds ambitious, it’s dangerous if you push yourself too hard, too often; you may incur a serious injury in which case you won’t be training any time soon. Muscle soreness is just that; it doesn’t mean that your workout was effective toward achieving your personal goals. Think about the program you’re on and examine if it’s helping you achieve your results.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) website says that training more aggressively doesn’t equate to faster results. While the body does require a certain degree of overload to improve its fitness, training too much and too hard can cause lack of motivation, overuse injuries and overtraining syndrome.

So what should you focus on and how do you deal with it? You need to complete both a fitness and goal assessment first. Think about the reasons you’re doing your program and be open about your current fitness level. Make sure you warm-up before your workouts and seek to progress steadily through your program. If you do become sore, rest is your best option.

The ACSM website explains that you could use ice packs, massage and oral pain relievers while sore. Please understand that these methods reduce pain, but your body still needs to recover; don’t be afraid to take a day or two off if the soreness is too much.

Muscle soreness should never be the goal of a workout and doesn’t equate to an effective exercise session. Remember the reason you’ve started exercising and proceed at your own pace. If you do become sore, rest is your best option. Be honest and open about your capabilities and with patience you’ll be on your way toward goal achievement.

References:

  • Sforzo, Gary, and William Braun. “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).” American College of Sports Medicine. American College of Sports Medicine, 1 Jan. 2011. Web. 3 Nov. 2014.  delayed-onset-muscle-soreness-(doms).pdf>.
  • Maes, Johndavid, and Len Kravitz. “Treating and Preventing DOMS.” DOMS. University of New Mexico, 1 Jan. 2003. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article folder/domos.html>.
  • McGrath, Christopher. “Myths and Misconceptions: Muscle Soreness.” ACE Fit. American Council on Exercise, 9 Dec. 2013. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <acefitness/acefit/healthy-living-article/59/3654/myths-and-misconceptions-muscle-soreness/>.

Health articles

Folks,

I haven’t been completely open with you…so here goes ! I’ve been writing health articles for a magazine and for my organization for quite some time now and I haven’t posted any -hides-. My bad ! Here’s the latest one I wrote for the National Posture Institute about Osteoporosis and it’s effects on posture. Enjoy !

Nick

 

Effects of Osteoporosis on Posture

by Nick A. Titley, M.S., NPI-Certified Posture Specialist

Osteoporosis is one of the most common bone related diseases in the United States and it can have a direct impact on postural alignment as you age. The National Osteoporosis Foundation states that 52 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis and have low bone mass. One in two women and one in four men aged fifty and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Experts predict that by 2025 osteoporosis will be responsible for three million fractures and $25.3 billion in health care costs per year.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes you to lose bone mass, making the bones more fragile and weak. When placed under a microscope healthy bones have a honeycomb structure but osteoporosis makes the holes and spaces much larger.

If your bones lose their density then they become weaker and more susceptible to breaking. Osteoporosis is difficult to detect; breaking a bone may be your first sign of having the disease. If you have osteoporosis then it means your bones have lost density or mass and the structure of your bone tissue is abnormal.

Weak and thin bones could break from minor falls, or from simple actions like bumping into things or sneezing. Osteoporosis can cause areas like your hips, spine, and wrists to break, and can cause severe pain that may not subside. It can also cause you to lose height because it affects the spine bones. The spinal bones, or vertebrae, will break or collapse affecting your posture which will cause you to look hunched, or stooped over.

According to Dr. Kathy M. Shipp, without attention to good postural alignment the slumped forward, or stooped over posture that is often associated with older adults can happen to you. With this stooped/hunched over position, you could lose up to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) of height. If you have suffered a spinal fracture from osteoporosis then you are more at risk for developing this condition and this 1.5 inches, or greater height loss during your adult years could be an indication of an osteoporotic vertebral fracture.

Dr. Kathy also explains that spinal/vertebral fractures cause height loss because the fractured vertebral bodies compress. Most osteoporotic vertebral fractures cause height loss either from a full compression fracture ( i.e. where the entire vertebral body compresses) or from a wedge fracture (where the front of the vertebral body is most compressed).

With either of these fractures, the thoracic spine, or your mid back, increases causing  hyperkyphosis and the natural curve in your lumbar spine area, or lower back, decreases causing hypolordosis. After spine fractures from osteoporosis, the hyperkyphosis in your thoracic spine and the hypolordosis of your lumbar spine will result in your head, shoulders, and upper back being positioned more forwardly.

Neither the height loss in your intervertebral discs nor the height loss in your bones after a fracture can be recovered, but Dr. Shipp suggests that attention to posture and targeted exercises can prevent you from worsening your posture. The National Posture Institute’s Certified Posture Specialists are trained to develop targeted programs to help you with your posture so that you avoid such an issue.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) Senior Health explains on its website that Osteoporosis can be treated and prevented with healthy lifestyle choices. The NIH suggests that you maintain a proper diet, exercise, and consider medications, because these options will help you prevent further bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures.

The Mayo Clinic, a non-profit health organization, explains that adequate amounts of calcium, vitamin D, and regular exercise will help keep your bones intact. Strength training combined with weight bearing exercises, or exercises that involve lifting weights, helps improve your muscles and bones. Consider walking, jogging, running, stair climbing, skipping rope, and skiing to develop the bones in your legs, hips, and lower spine.

Osteoporosis is a serious disease that affects millions of Americans. With proper postural alignment, a balanced diet, and regular exercise you could avoid a painful future. Speak to a doctor if you’re unsure, or if you think you may have symptoms, and consult an NPI-Certified Posture Specialist to help you develop a program that will ensure you maintain good postural alignment.

References:

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2013, June 21). Osteoporosis. Retrieved from mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/basics/prevention/con-20019924
  • The National Osteoporosis Foundation. (n.d.). What is osteoporosis?. Retrieved from nof.org/articles/7
  • NIH Senior Health. (2013, March). Osteoporosis. Retrieved from nihseniorhealth.gov/osteoporosis/whatisosteoporosis/01
  • Shipp, D. K. (2011). Changing the way we age: Improve Posture. Functional U9(3), Retrieved from Improve_Posture_ICAA_FunctionalU2011_MayJune[1].pdf

You can find more of my articles here:

http://www.npionline.org/articles/2014-articles.html

Your health kick right here

Hey folks,

For everyone on their nutrition and fitness journey, here is your kick to motivate you to move forward. I’m a little raw and I may have hurt some feelings, but maybe that needed to happen for you to push forward.

I wish everyone well and hope you stay on your journey.

Nutrakick

Nick

The next day after training…

131230-111705

Hey folks,

Well ! It’s one of those days. It’s particularly one of those days that precedes a hard workout day. Last night was my 1st workout day of the week after taking a day to myself. I feel so busted up, I’m going to make it a priority to lay down after this very important message. The days after your intense workouts are the days where you have to be very careful about your overall health and posture. I’ll explain briefly what I mean…

Two nights ago I didn’t sleep very well and woke up with some back pain. I knew I had slept wrong, but the pain went away, because I took time to stretch it and take care of it. Last night, I had this incredible training session where I did 200 body weight lunges and 100’s of other reps in different exercises, including the TRX band and a little martial arts training. I wake up today at around 6:30 Am after hitting bed at 3:00 Am, couldn’t sleep properly and got disturbed a few times. When I woke up, I could feel the aches and pains of my body. My left bicep and left leg were sore and my legs as an entirety are sore and sluggish.

I woke up and had some internet problems and had to take care of a few other stuff. I leaned forward to nurse a swollen ant bite, not thinking about my body really, and felt a tinge in my lower back. So adding insult to injury, all day long i’ve had lower back pain from pulling that muscle. Why did I pull the muscle? It wasn’t the lean, but it was all the other factors that caused it. I wasn’t hydrated enough, I didn’t sleep well for 2 nights in a row, I slept funny a night ago and I had this intense workout the night before. I’ve had plenty of intense workouts so why did this one matter…?

It mattered because tight muscles can cause injuries or tightness in other areas. My glutes and hamstrings get so tight that it affects my lower back, so not stretching worked to my detriment. I’ve had this before, it’s nothing too crazy, but I wanted to type this, in case you ever had this issue, and to help you avoid what I’m dealing with.

Here’s how to avoid it in a nutshell:

1. Get a good nights sleep
2. When you sleep, pay close attention to your posture
3. Warm up, cool down and stretch properly after your workouts. Try to stretch the day after an intense workout as well if you feel tightness
4. Pay attention to your body, get enough fluids and take the adequate rest time needed.

Now here’s how to solve the issue if you’re like me:

1. Stretch your tight muscles
2. Rest. Whether it’s taking a nap or just laying with your feet elevated, it helps your back and muscles relax.
3. Get adequate hydration
4. Take it easy
 

Well ! Here goes ! Time to lay down and rest my body. I’ve found napping, even for 10 minutes to help, so long as I can fully relax my body, I can feel the tension escaping. Remember, stretch out, hydrate and take care of yourself. Pain is no joke and if you’re not careful, prolonged tight muscles can lead to postural problems. It could even lead to pulled muscles or problems caused as a result of  being tightly wound.

Take care folks,

Nick