Fitness Program

Previ Fitness: What Is Foam Rolling?

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Foam rolling has become commonplace among professional athletes and fitness newbies alike. You can now go into almost any gym and see people using a foam roller as part of their routine. So what exactly is it and why is it beneficial?

Foam rolling is one of the modalities used to perform self myofascial release (SMR)– a stretching technique.

SMR targets the nerves and connective tissue beneath the skin that attach, stabilize and separate muscles in the body, which can be negatively influenced by poor posture, repetitive motions, or dysfunctional movements (1). These stressful actions are recognized by the body as an injury, causing it to initiate a repair process (1). This cycle leads to inflammation, muscle spasm, and the development of soft tissue adhesions that can reduce the elasticity of the soft tissues and eventually lead to muscle imbalances and a permanent change in the soft tissue structure. All of this to say that many of our day-to-day activities can eventually lead to reduced flexibility and the potential for injury.

Foam rolling focuses on alleviating these adhesions (also known as “trigger points” or “knots”) to restore optimal muscle motion and function (1, 5). The basics behind utilizing foam rolling is to pick the body part you feel tension in, roll that body part, and when you feel a “knot”,  hold the pressure on that spot for 30 seconds to 2 minutes until a release is felt.

One of the great things about foam rolling is that it is relatively inexpensive and convenient since it can be done at home, the gym, or even your office. Do be aware there are contraindications to practicing foam rolling altogether or avoiding certain areas such as a recent injury site, any joints or bony prominences, or if you have circulatory problems or chronic pain conditions. Always check with your doctor if you have any concerns about utilizing foam rolling.

So where to begin? Our follow-up post will review a few techniques to help you get started. And if you’re interested in more specific suggestions, we encourage you to meet with one of our PreviMedica exercise specialists to receive a personalized stretching and exercise plan. Contact us at 855-773-8463 or by email at hello@previmedica.com. Happy foam rolling!


References

  1. Clark MA, Lucett SL. NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training, Baltimore, MD:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2011.
  2. Clark MA, Lucett SL. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training 4th ed. Baltimore, MD:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2012.
  3. Edgerton VR, Wolf S, Roy RR. Theoretical basis for patterning EMG amplitudes to assess muscle dysfunction. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1996;28(6):744-751.
  4. Janda V. Muscle weakness and inhibition in back pain syndromes. In: Grieve GP (ed). Modern Manual Therpay of the Vertebral Column. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1986.
  5. Reid DA, McNair PJ. Passive force, angle and stiffness changes after stretching of hamstring muscles. Med Sci Sports Exer 2004; 36(11):1944-48.

Previ Fitness: Choosing the Correct Size Stability Ball

Stability (or exercise) balls have become extremely popular for workouts and even to use while sitting at your desk! While they come with many different names, they are an inexpensive piece of equipment that can ramp up all of your exercise efforts. The instability caused by the round surface makes your entire body work harder to maintain balance no matter what exercise you are performing. However, most people are not aware that effectively performing stability ball activities requires the correct ball size.

There are several guidelines to use when selecting the proper stability ball. When sitting upright on a stability ball:

exercise ball

  • Feet should be flat on the floor – with weight evenly distributed.
  • Knees should be level or slightly lower than the pelvis – creating an angle of 90 degrees or slightly greater at the hips and knees (thighs parallel to ground or pointing down slightly).
  • Pelvis, shoulders, and ears should be in a vertical line – the body should not be leaning in any direction (acting as a counterbalance). Try lightly bouncing up and down it will usually produce this alignment.

Stability balls generally come in five different sizes, according to body composition. Height alone is not the only factor in determining ball size! Stability balls are flexible and therefore when selecting a ball, body weight is another important factor to consider.

A general guideline for using height to determine the correct diameter of the stability ball is as follows (this is assuming average body weight that is proportional to height):

STABILITY BALL CHART

If your body weight to height is larger than average, sitting on the stability ball will compress it more. To prevent this, try using the next larger ball size in order to maintain the 90-degree rule.  Another thing to keep in mind is that stability balls do have some adjustability to them. If the angles at the hips and knees are  greater than  or less than 90 degrees, some air can be released  or added to obtain the proper 90 degree leg angle.

You should remember that releasing air from the stability ball will cause the ball to flatten. When the ball has a larger contact area with the floor and the body it becomes more stable. This means that balancing exercises become easier and lose some of the desired effectiveness. Alternatively, adding  more air to the exercise ball will increase the difficulty of balancing and stabilizing, as the contact area decreases;  just be sure not to over inflate your ball (each manufacturer will have suggested guidelines). Additionally, stability balls tend to lose pressure with regular use due to stretching so keep an eye on the inflation level and adjust as necessary.

Now that you know how to pick the proper size stability ball you can feel confident making a selection!  They come in a wide variety of colors, not to mention they are great for increasing balance, strengthening the core and make every exercise (or sitting at your desk!) seem a little more fun. Happy exercising!


If you are interested in learning more about our exercise program and how it can complement your nutrition plan, please contact us at 855.773.8463 or email us at hello@previmedica.com.

Previ Fitness: Exercising for Fun and Fitness

Remember as children when we would play for hours: kick ball, tag, bike riding, baseball, basketball, swimming… The games we played were limited only to our imagination and we never perceived it as exercise. As adults, we tend to look at exercise as a strenuous chore we know we should do, but don’t particularly enjoy. It doesn’t have to be that way!

Fitness fads come and go, but if you make fitness fun, people will come! Think back to past trends such as: Wii Fit, Zumba, Hip Hop Dancing, and Aerial Yoga. Some of these are still popular because they feel like play versus and exercise routine.

One of these “fun” exercises is hula hooping! Hula Hooping classes have many different names and can be found at your local gyms. They are popping up all over the place and what a fun workout it is! Now this isn’t the hula hooping we did as children just standing in one place, rotating your hips (though this is still a good exercise) for a half an hour. These classes integrate moves that tone your entire body.

Basic moves you may encounter:

The basic move:

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Standing with feet next to one another, shoulder width apart give the hoop a spin bracing your abs, stand up tall and rock your hips side to side to keep the hoop moving back and forth on the sides of your waist.

Split Stance:

1Standing with your left foot in front of the right, hold the hoop against your lower back, give the hoop a clockwise spin and spin your waist to keep the hoop parallel to the ground, while shifting your weight from the front to back leg, when you get tired switch your stance so the right foot is in front of the left and spin the hoop counterclockwise to begin.

Arm Circles:

5Grasp the hoop with your left hand and turning it clockwise using your hand to move/rotate the hoop in a back and forth motion so the hoop alternates between hitting your palm and the back of your hand, slowly bringing the hoop up over your head. Then repeat with using your left hand, moving the hoop in a clockwise direction. Tip: keep your thumbs pointing out so the hoop doesn’t slide down your forearm.

On the Move:

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Begin in a split stance with left foot in front of right foot, begin spinning the hoop moving your hips to keep it parallel to the ground and take a small step forward with your right foot, alternate legs continuing to take small steps forward. The hoop will alternate hitting the front of your stepping foots hip. Feel adventurous? Try walking backwards starting by holding the hoop and pushing it against your lower back, move hips to keep the hoop parallel to the ground and take small steps backwards, alternating feet. Want more of a challenge? Begin with feet parallel to one another and spin the hoop pushing the hoop with the sides of your waist while taking small steps to the left and then repeat moving to the right.

The Body Circle:

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Grasp the hoop in your left hand palms facing down and begin swinging the hoop clockwise while keeping it parallel to the ground. As you swing the hoop behind your back pass the hoop to the right hand to bring it back in front of your body. Continue passing the hoop from one hand to the other. When you get comfortable try adding squatting or lunging while passing the hoop around your body.

The Jump Rope:

hula jumping

Grasp the top of the hoola hoop and use it as a jump rope.

These moves are definitely not what we did as children but the routines are so much fun you will feel like a kid again and definitely not think you are exercising! There are so many different moves to learn so find a class at your local gym and start enjoying your exercise. The best part: hula hoops are inexpensive and once you get the hang of the moves you can do the routines at home. Or as we did as children, use your imagination and make up your own moves.


Other fairly new calorie burning classes you may find at your local gym that seem more like entertainment than exercise are:

SurfSet Classes: A full body workout which offers several different types of classes. Classes can focus on yoga, cardio, muscle building or all three. In these classes you paddle, jump, squat, all while balancing on an uneven surf board that is balanced on 3 stability balls.

Sky Robics Classes: A low impact class that incorporates calisthenics, core exercises and strength building. How is that fun you may ask? It is all done on trampolines! Jumping and rebounding also improves overall coordination, flexibility, timing, reaction, agility and balance.

Pound Drumming Classes: combine Pilates, isometrics, plyometrics and yoga based moves. Integrating drumsticks and drumming moves turns the class into a full body, cardiovascular, strengthening and sculpting workout.

Star Wars Classes: In this class you perform choreographed routine sword fights utilizing light sabers with a partner.

Michael Jackson Thriller Classes: In this class you learn and perform the moves of the Thriller video.

Regardless of what type of class you participate in, it’s all about learning to love exercise again. Have fun!


If you are interested in learning more about our exercise program and how it can complement your nutrition plan, please contact us at 855.773.8463 or email us at hello@previmedica.com.

Previ Fitness: Why Functional Fitness?

plank NataliIt seems the term “Functional Fitness” is the new catch phrase. You see it everywhere. So what really is this method of training?

Functional Fitness started out as a tool for Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists to rehab clients. The concept being: instead of using gym machines, which are often isolating one muscle at a time, utilizing various muscles in both the upper and lower body while also stabilizing the core to focus on retraining a client’s muscle to move in the correct pattern. It trains muscles to work together to prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements that one might perform at home, work or in a sport. Many proponents say it is “working out for real life”.

While traditional workouts focus on building muscle it is important to remember movement patterns are vital.  Altered body mechanics and the resulting movement compensations often lead to injury.

How does this tie into Functional Fitness?

When designing a workout, instead of only considering the imminent injury or compensation and how to singularly fix it, our PreviMedica exercise specialists consider how the person’s entire environment might be contributing to these movement limitations or adaptations. As Dr.Gary Gray (considered the “father of function”), said in a recent post, “in my opinion, if the individual doesn’t have a past medical history or pain with movement, I would encourage you (the Personal Trainer, Physical Therapist etc.) to change the environment first.”

If you consider the person’s environment as a combination of lifestyle and the fitness program they prescribe to, do trainers regularly inquire about lifestyle factors? For example, does the person sit at a desk all day, wear high heels, or are they constantly on a telephone? Our PreviMedica  exercise specialists make it a point to view each client as a whole and take all of these (and more) daily activities into consideration.

In a study published in May of 2010 in “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise”, researchers found that men who spent more than 23 hours a week watching TV and sitting in their cars had a 64 percent greater chance of dying from heart disease than those who sat for 11 hours a week or less. That statistic is distressing but what was astonishing was that the risks were relatively unrelated to how much the subjects exercised. Many of the subjects worked out often, but then sat for hours and, despite the intermittent exercise, their risk of heart disease increased. The study showed their workouts did not counteract the ill effects of prolonged sitting. In other words, adding the positive habit of exercise was not enough to counteract the negative effect of sitting for extended periods of time.

To truly make positive changes, our PreviMedica team looks at not just adding positive habits, but removing negative habits. In addition to working out, some suggestions for small sustainable changes are:

  • Getting up every hour and taking a brisk walk break,
  • Drinking plenty of water throughout the day
  • If your job allows, invest in a standing desk which increases your heart rate and in turn, burns more calories versus sitting.

Our PreviMedica exercise specialists conduct movement assessments at your first fitness session to isolate limitations and recommend exercises that focus on function and moving more authentically. This will help stop your body from compensating with inefficient movements which most often decrease performance and increases risk of injury. Every little bit helps in the quest for health!


To learn more about functional fitness and get your own assessment, schedule a consultation with an exercise specialist by contacting us at 855-773-8463 or emailing hello@previmedica.com.

Previ Fitness: Summer Total Body Routine

Summer is right around the corner and that means plenty of time outdoors! Try this quick total body routine to tone up and feel your best this summer.

Stability Ball Dumbbell Press

Targets: This exercise works the Abs, arms, chest and shoulders. Your legs will even benefit from their role of stabilizing the body.

Push Up and Row:

Targets: This exercise works all the muscles of the upper body: pecs, back, biceps, triceps and abs. Your legs will even benefit from their role of stabilizing the body.

Wide Stance Plank with Leg Lift:

Targets: This exercise works the abs, obliques, delts and hips. While the added leg lift component strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors.

Elbow to Knee Crunch:

Targets: This exercise targers the internal and external obliques and abdominals.

Perform this routine using dumbbells heavy enough to allow you to keep correct form. Perform 12-20 repetitions and complete 1-3 sets with 30 seconds- 1 minute of rest between exercises.


If you are interested in learning more about our exercise program and how it can complement your nutrition plan, please contact us at 855.773.8463 or email us at hello@previmedica.com.

Get Fit with Your PreviMedica Exercise Specialist

Are you ready to join us in creating a healthier you? PreviMedica provides nutrition and lifestyle counseling through video conferencing and our online services. Our team of registered dietitians/nutritionists, professional chefs, exercise specialists, and a patient navigator all work together to create a program personalized for your health goals.

When you work with one of our exercise specialists, a fitness plan will be tailored to you based on your fitness level, goals, available equipment, exercise restrictions, and interests. Throughout the program, your dedicated exercise specialist will be available to answer questions, assess your improvement, review your form, and teach you how to adjust your plan for continued progress. You will also be provided with an introductory fitness booklet and access to a library of exercise videos to refer to after your sessions. Best of all, your sessions will take place from the comfort of your own home since you will be meeting via video chat!

Click on the video above for more information about our PreviMedica exercise specialist. If you are interested in learning more about our exercise program and how it can complement your nutrition plan, please contact us at 855.773.8463 or email us at hello@previmedica.com.