Tuesday, February 23, 2010
According to Dr. David Musnick and Mark Pierce, A.T.C. (in their book "Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness"), "The goal of stretching is to lengthen a muscle and move the corresponding joints through the full range of motion, thereby allowing both the contractile (muscle and tendon) and the noncontractile (ligament and joint capsule) structures to lengthen."
Recent years have shown a lot of conjecture over the positives and negatives of the stretching process. This is warranted since evidence seems to suggest that the effect of stretching exercise on muscle performance depends on the type of stretching done (ie static vs dynamic) and the whether the activity is concentric or eccentric (ACSM). It appears that static stretching done prior to activity may decrease velocity, power, and force of muscle contraction, and dynamic stretching may lead to acute improvements. Stretching for injury prevention in the warm up seems to be more specific to exercise performances that require increased flexibility, such as gymnastics, rather than just rhythmic aerobic activity in which there seems to be no greater reduction in chance of injury than from just doing a progressively dynamic, activity specific warm up. Whether or not stretching is included in the warm up or not, it is widely accepted that a warm up should be done prior to stretching or competitive exercise, and also stretching following any conditioning activity is recommended.
Types of stretching
Moving the body into a position which creates tension of a particular muscle group, and the surrounding ligament and tendonous support, then holding it there for 15-60 seconds.
Moving selected body segments through their full active range of motion repetitively, often mimicking movements of the activity that are to be subsequently performed.
Is dynamic stretching done with more rapid contractions and stretches of the muscle group, this is not done as often due to the possible increased risk of injury with these activities, however if done when conditioned and warm, there is no reason why these cannot be performed, and may be beneficial for exercise that involves rapid high intensity movement.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
This is done by actively contracting a muscle group against resistance for six seconds, followed by a 10-30 second static stretch of those same muscles.
A regular stretching program recommended for most adults should consist of at least 10 minutes of major muscle group stretching including neck, shoulders, upper/lower back, pelvis, hips and legs, performed four or more times for each group, a minimum of 2-3days per week.
Some Do’s and Don’ts to think about
Warm up well before stretching
Start your stretching program off slowly
Focus on your breathing (breath in deeply through the nose and out slowly through the mouth)
Try and relax (find quiet spot, comfortable surface, etc)
Listen to your body and its limitations.
Hold your breath
Force a stretch to point of pain (should be steady tension)
Stretch injured muscles
Rush your routine (set aside the stretching time into your allocated program time)
Compete against others (our bodies are different and require personal treatment.)
American College of Sports Medicine 8th eds. (2010) Baltimore, USA.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
KEEPING YOUR HEART HAPPY AND HEALTHY
By understanding the risk factors of heart disease and making certain lifestyle choices, heart disease can be prevented.
Your heart is a veritable life-support machine. Love it and take care of it, and your heart should be good for a long and healthy lifetime. But abuse it and you may be in trouble.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, cardiovascular disease accounts for more deaths in Canada than any other disease. Recently, 35% of all male deaths were due to heart disease or stroke, and 37% of female deaths! So it’s a myth that women don’t get heart disease.
Here’s the good news… There’s a lot you can do to prevent heart disease.
Medical research shows that heart disease is primarily a lifestyle illness where the risk can be reduced by making appropriate choices. And it’s really not that complex. Healthy eating, exercise and not smoking can control many of the factors that lead to heart disease. The question is, are you at risk…and what can you do to keep your heart healthy?
WHAT IS CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE?
The Heart and Stroke Foundation defines cardiovascular diseases as diseases or injuries of the cardiovascular system, the heart, the blood vessels of the heart and the system of blood vessels (veins and arteries) throughout the body and in the brain. Stroke, which is also considered a cardiovascular disease, is the result of a blood flow problem to the brain.
THE RISK FACTORS
High Blood Cholesterol Levels – Too much “bad” LDL cholesterol is a risk factor for the development of “plaques” or blockages in the arteries , including the arteries which supply blood to the heart muscles. When these plaques rupture they may shut off blood supply to the heart muscle causing what we call a “heart attack”
High Blood Pressure – Puts unwanted strain on artery walls and on the pump. A reading of 140/90 or above is generally thought to put you in the risk zone. However, numbers can fluctuate so it’s best to talk to your doctor.
Smoking – Every puff of a cigarette reduces the amount of oxygen your heart receives. In addition, it exposes your lungs and heart to toxins created during the burning of tobacco.
Obesity – Obesity is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. People who are more than 30% over their ideal weight are more likely to develop coronary heart disease and stroke.
Diabetes – Puts women and men at a higher risk of heart disease. High blood pressure and high cholesterol go hand in hand with diabetes.
Stress – Stress, anger and feelings of hostility are often associated with unhealthy activities such as smoking, overeating and excessive drinking, all risk factors for heart disease.
Age – The older we get, the greater the risk of heart disease. But it’s different for men and women. Men start being at higher risk for heart disease in their 40s, while for women it’s usually in their 50s after the menopause. By age 75, the risk is about the same for both sexes.
Family History – If one of your close relatives suffered from heart disease early in life, you may be at greater risk. So, it’s particularly important to take preventative measures.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO REDUCE YOUR RISK:
Don’t smoke. If you stop, no matter how much you’ve smoked in your life, your risk is reduced over time until there’s almost no added risk at all. More good news! Not smoking may also increase the amount of “good” cholesterol in your blood.
Exercise. Your heart is a muscle, so the more you use it, the stronger it gets. And exercise is probably the best way to raise your “good” HDL cholesterol level, decrease your blood pressure, reduce stress and help you keep your weight down.
Eat healthy and well. A healthy diet can’t always replace pills or medical intervention, but it can help you reduce your risk of heart disease. Eat more fruits, vegetables and dietary fibre.
Opt for lean white meats and fish, which offer the added benefit of omega-3 fatty acids. Limit sodium intake to a level teaspoon, or less, of salt a day. If you use oil, choose monounsaturated fats, like olive or canola oil, rather than butter. And limit the amount of that, too.
Control your weight. But avoid fad or miracle diets. The best way to keep a healthy weight is to eat a balanced diet, control your portion sizes, reduce fats and sweets, and exercise regularly.
Drink alcohol in moderation. Some studies show that moderate alcohol consumption – no more than two drinks a day – can reduce the risk of heart disease. However, remember moderation is the key. Over-consumption can increase your blood pressure, the risk of heart disease, and may increase your odds of problems in other areas.
Reduce stress. If you have a lot of stress in your life, from job, family and other responsibilities, learn to let some things go. Cut yourself some slack. Get the support you need.
Investigate low dose ASA therapy. If you’ve experienced angina or had a heart attack or stroke, your doctors will most probably prescribe preventative ASA heart therapy. However, if you’re taking low dose ASA for your heart, many doctors recommend TYLENOL* acetaminophen for pain relief because it doesn’t irritate your stomach or interfere with ASA preventative therapy. Check with your doctor before starting a daily ASA routine.
Have regular medical check-ups. That’s when your doctor can measure your blood cholesterol, check your weight and blood pressure and test you for diabetes. Using a scoring system called Framingham Risk Scores, your doctor can assess your 10-year risk of developing heart disease. And if there are danger signs, you can start taking preventative action early!
Keeping your heart happy and healthy is all about making the right choices, how you exercise, what you eat and living a positive lifestyle. If you have questions, be sure to talk to your doctor. And for all kinds of great information about your heart, heart disease risk factors, and healthy living tips, you can also visit the website of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada at www.heartandstroke.ca.