|Posted on June 21, 2016 at 10:25 PM||comments (0)|
Fascia — the body's connective tissue that wraps around muscle — can be trained, just like muscle.
Like muscle, fascia can be stretched or trained to be made stronger. This makes sense when considering the function of fascia: to transfer stress to the skeletal system. When we lift something heavy, in many cases we use more than a single muscle group. It's the job of the fascia, or connective tissue, to redistribute the force onto the skeletal system. Fascia allows us to use our whole body, while at the same time saving us from injury. By making our fascia stronger, we can lift more weight and lift for longer durations.
One of the ways we manipulate fascia is by using the foam rollers to relieve tension in our muscles. However, stretching and relieving tension is not the same as strength-training.
I use three different techniques to train fascia.
- Old School Kung Fu Method: extend our joints and make forceful circles around our joints. These movements are used in Wing Chun, Tai Chi and Ba Gua, for example. While executing these rotations, you will hear cracking and popping. This is normal. This is the sound of the fascia stretching.
- Centifugal force: keep relaxed as possible, lift your arms overhead and let them drop naturally. As your arms fall, drop your body weight and relax. The speed of the drop is enough force to create a sudden lengthening of the fascia. With practice, this will make fascia stronger and more supple. Use this same technique at varying angles: take your arms and throw them to the side or behind you. The key is to stay relaxed. Do not use too much force, or your joints could hyper-extend and become injured.
- Use weights: grab a light barbell (or two dumbbells) and execute a hip hinge, ending at the back, but making sure the core is engaged) Then, totally relax the body and let the weight add tension to the fascia. If you do it correctly, you should feel a bit of stress on your joints — and not your muscles.
When you train hard, remember to train the fascia to become stronger and lower your risk of injury. Also when stretching, foam roll first. This will create less resistance around the muscle allowing for a bit more stretch
|Posted on April 13, 2015 at 12:20 AM||comments (0)|
April 25 is World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, and a number of events are planned worldwide — including in Northern Virginia, where I'll conduct demonstrations at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Va.
My workshop is part of Peaceable Dragon's Tai Chi and Qigong Day event from 10 am to noon April 25. The event will feature demonstrations, as well as mini classes and lectures on Tai Chi, Qigong and more.
My activies are a board break and "Intent: Mind Leads the Chi."
You also can e-mail me with questions.
Hope to see you there!
|Posted on December 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
Some of you may be into extreme exercising, trekking for miles in cold weather no matter the conditions. Others might take winter as a sign to hibernate. Exercising during the winter can be fun. Just be sure to be safe and smart.
First of all, choose your weather carefully. We could toss around some numbers for optimal temperature limits, but if you're like my wife and other dedicated runners, you won't listen. These people will run when it's snowing, when it's raining, no matter how hot or cold. The only things that will keep my wife off the road are ice and lightning.
I don't know if I would recommend this approach for everyone, but I do recommend that athletes be smart. Refrain from playing tennis in a blizzard, even with neon yellow tennis balls. But don't stay indoors all winter — remember, 20 minutes of sunlight can provide the daily recommended amount of vitamin D. Even in the winter, go for a run if you're comfortable. Take a brisk walk at lunchtime to break up the workday and revive yourself. Just be sure to dress in layers for the weather: wear a hat, consider gloves (or tuck your hands in your sleeves or pockets) and wear a layer or two on top and bottom. If you can, warm up with a nice warm shower upon your return.
Extend your warm-up. Make sure you're warmed up before you start. Spend a little more time loosening your muscles before exposing them to the cold because it will take longer to get from zero to 60 in cold weather.
Finally, keep an eye on your surroundings. Watch where you're going when there's ice on the road. When you go off-trail in the snow, be careful to avoid even the smallest of snowpiles, which could be covering roots and other road hazards. Remember that low-hanging branches could be frozen solid or harbor ice that can scratch and cut. Trust me, it will take quite a while to recuperate from a bad fall or an ice cut.
If the great outdoors is too much of a challenge, don't take it as a sign to slack off your fitness. Take a brisk walk around the mall or walk the stairs at work or school. Go to the gym or work out at home. Find opportunities — they exist.
One final note: numbness in your extremities is bad. It may take a few minutes to get warmed up during a hike or run — however, if you can't feel your feet or hands even during rigorous exercise, come in from the cold. Frostbite is very dangerous and can do permanent damage.
|Posted on November 30, 2014 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
In the United States, we have come to the "thankful" portion of the year.
As the days grow shorter and colder, we stay indoors more — and eat. Holidays during this time of year focus on food, even more than in other times of the year. Indulgence is seen as a right, if not an obligation.
How do we find a healthy, happy medium?
Here are a few ideas:
- First of all, recognize that you will indulge. Whether it's the cookies that remind you of the holidays at home, or the special brisket your mom makes, you will eat it. And that's not a bad thing. Eating is more than food consumption: it's socialization, celebration, experimentation (if you try something new). Food can be an important part of our lives. Be honest about your activities, and set your expectations accordingly.
- Do not refuse yourself every single indulgence. Give yourself permission to have a taste or small portion of the items you like the most. Set a reasonable limit — one cookie, for example, or a small piece of pie — then allow yourself only that item or two.
- Choose indulgences carefully: if this is the only time of year your friend makes that rockin' fruitcake (it could happen!), then skip the chocolate chip cookies they bake on a regular basis.
- Schedule your indulgences when possible. On a day you plan to splurge, eat lighter and choose nutritionally dense but lower calorie foods.
- Do not start a restrictive diet this time of year (unless instructed to do so by a trusted, licensed physician). Forbidden foods have a way of winding up in your system, sometimes in greater quantities, as soon as you deny yourself. As soon as you "can't" have something, it becomes more desirable.
- If you plan a social event this season, don't build it around food. Plan an activity that includes a little exercise or movement. Have an ice skating party that just happens to include hot cocoa and your world-famous blondies. Go caroling in your neighborhood, then top off the evening with hot cider.
- Exercise. No matter how busy you get, always include this in your day. Every bit helps, even a stolen half-hour with your pilates DVD. Park further away from the shopping center or restaurant (but in a well-lit, well-traveled area of the parking lot). Spend part of your lunch break on a brisk walk along a safe route. You don't have to run a marathon to receive the benefits of exercise, but you have to put in some time and effort.
These are just a few ideas to help you keep your holiday indulgence under control. What do you do that has worked for you?
|Posted on November 27, 2014 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
Retailers are encouraging consumers to "shop small" and "shop local" on Shop Small Saturday, November 29. It's a great idea — and you can make it benefit your health and fitness.
Gym memberships are a great gift. Many fitness centers are locally owned and operated. Find the one that fits your needs, or the needs of a friend or family member, and help them achieve their goals.
Personal trainers are a great resource, even for the fittest athletes. See if your local personal trainer offers gift certificates for training. (I do, so I suspect others may, too.)
Give the gift of fitness gear: not only shoes and clothing, but weights and mats are good investments.
DVDs are popular options, and offer an additional gift of flexibility. Consider the recipients' fitness level and interest — maybe even drop into a class to try it out before picking up the DVD.
If you're ambitious and have the space, consider equipment, gently used, for in-home training.
Finally, one of the best gifts is time. If you can give your friend or family member the gift of a workout buddy, you'll benefit, too.
What fitness gifts have you given over the years that have been gratefully received and successfully used?
|Posted on November 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
While giving fitness workshops for seniors, often I am asked how to succesfully lose weight.
There is no easy way to lose weight — but someone once told me, "If you work to increase your fitness every day, you eventually will get the body you want."
This means if we eat a little better at every meal, sit a little less each day and sleep more at night, we will become more fit. This gives us what we strive for: a healthier body.
A few small lifestyle changes can bring about excellent gains in health. They could take a little bit of planning and effort, but such a small sacrifice is well worth it in the long run — and in time, these changes become habit.
- Pack healthy, low-fat and high fiber food to take with you, especially if you expect to have a long, busy day. This will cut down on fast-food consumption and unhelathy snacks.
- Every hour or two, get up from your chair and and do a handful of push-ups or jumping jacks, or even a brisk walk up and down the stairs or around the block. This will help keep your metabolism up during the day and help burn more calories all day long.
- Get more sleep at night: a minimum of 6.5 hours is recommended for maintaining health. However, always schedule eight hours' worth of sleep every night. (If you fall short of eight hours, you have a better chance of making the minimum. However, if you fall short of the minimum, you lose the benefits.)
These three changes are easy to achieve and reap great benefits. Make them habit and watch your extra weight disappear.
What are some other habits you've adopted that have worked for you?
|Posted on November 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
Cancer survivors may have a better health rate and reduce their chance of recurrence if they practice Tai Chi, according to a new report from UCLA.
The test involved 90 breast cancer survivors over a five-year period who also were experiencing insomnia. In breast cancer survivors, insomnia may cause inflammation, a "significant risk factor... known to make a cancer's recurrence more likely," according to UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center member Dr. Michael Irwin.
Some participants participated in a three-month Tai Chi course, while others were given congitive therapy for their sleep disorder.
The findings were significant, according to Southern California Public Radio:
[Irwin] said those who participated in a three-month Tai Chi course experienced significant reductions in inflammation compared with those who received cognitive therapy designed only to help them sleep better.
"What’s really surprising about this study is the magnitude of the change we’ve found with Tai Chi within a very short period of time," Irwin said.
The difference appeared to be that while cognitive therapy is designed to address psychological issues that may make it hard for someone to fall asleep, Tai Chi targets the body’s stress system, which is more directly linked to inflammation, he said.
Irwin noted that Tai Chi practitioners experience a decrease in the stress hormones produced by the sympathetic nervous system.
The study, published November 4, 2014 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is available online.
|Posted on September 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
Learn more about rooting and improve your skills at a workshop set for 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, October 4, in Fairfax, Va.
The workshop will be on rooting; external and internal, importance of structure as it pertains to fajin, and "four ounces moves one thousand pounds."
Also learn about loading your root and your opponent's root for strength and martial application.
The workshop will be held at Green Acres Center, 4401 Sideburn Road, Fairfax, VA 22030.
Cost is $30 per person.Click the "workshop sign-up" tab at the top of this page to join us for this workshop.
For information about this workshop or other Tai Chi programs and classes, e-mail David.
|Posted on August 15, 2014 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
Recently, I have seen an upswing in knee injuries — or knee pain, at the very least.
Whenever I have a client with chronic pain or an injury, the first thing I do is a squat assessment and a gait analysis.These assessments allow me to look for imbalances in the body. The key is to recognize the imbalance, then strenthen or stretch properly to correct the imbalnce and restore normal funtion and range of motion to the joints and muscles.
In almost all cases, when it come to knee pain, people are not training their inner thighs and not stretching their I.T. Bands(Iliotobial Band).
If your a regular weightlifter or runner, the I.T. Band gets stronger and shortens in length. The hip joint then can tighten as the IT Band pulls form its origin (the hip). This can also shorten the miniscus.
As this occurs, the leg starts to pull the knee to the outside because we haven't strengthened the inner thigh enough to balance the strength and tightness of the I.T. band and miniscus. This becomes a classic example of "runners knee."
Here are a few tips to add to your training to avoid runners knee.
- Strengthen your inner thighs. Try performing squats with legs wide and feet pointing outward (holding weight in your hands for more resistance). Or, kneel on a stability ball and squeeze with your inner thighs (like riding a horse).
- Use a foam roller to roll out the I.T. Band. Or, stand aginst the wall and hold your foot in both hands — then, with the knee bent at 90 degrees, lift your foot in front of you, and hold the stretch for about 40 seconds. Repeat three times.
- Anchor a band at knee-height, then place the other end around your knee. Place that foot behind you so your in a split-stance, with the back heel off the floor and knee bent. Then extend the knee pushing the heel to the floor. Repeat for three sets, 15 reps each.
Follow these tips and you should be able to keep your knees healthy.