Aches and Pains – What to look out for

iStock_000009735766XSmallThis last Tuesday, I wrote a bit about why you get aches and pains after a hard day at the gym. If you worked out the right way, those aches and pains are a good thing! It’s the way  your body tells you that you exerted yourself more than you usually do, and your muscles will start to show results.

But sometimes, our body aches for the wrong reasons, and those aches and pains might not be telling you such good things. But how can we tell a good ache from a bad ache?

There are many, many bad aches and pains you need to look out for. Many more than can be outlined in a single blog. But I have three big sources of aches and pains that you need to look out for when going to the gym, and are completely preventable.

Pain from Bad Posture

Bad posture is something I have seen throughout gyms, even among professional bodybuilders. We might start off a workout session with the best form possible. But by the end of the session, you might be tempted to lift with your back, instead of your legs.

As we get tired, our body naturally tries to take shortcuts to make it easier for ourselves. Like I have said before, think about your body as a river. Instead of moving the boulder, a river will simply flow around it.

Thats why when your arms start to get tired from doing push-ups, you might start arching your back. Your body isn’t trying to hurt you – it just doesn’t want to change.

When I’m working with a client and I see that their posture starts to slack, I stop that particular workout set immediately. Working out with bad posture is asking for injury, and can be extremely damaging if done over long periods of time. Instead of pushing yourself toward injury, it’s best to stop the exercise and move on to another set of muscles.

Localized Pain

If you’re working out correctly, you’re going to feel a burn across a wide spectrum of muscles in your body. Every muscle is interconnected and work together to give you your range of motion. So if you’re doing bench presses, you’re going to feel a burn in your arms and your chest.

Thats why you should not ignore aches that are in a localized, specific part of your body. For example, if your knees really seem to ache after doing squats, you might need to readjust how you perform the exercise.

If you are experiencing pain like this during a workout, stop immediately! You are here to work out your body, not hurt your body. We will readjust your posture, or we will find other ways to work out that set of muscles.

Connected Aches

Dedication is great, but do not allow yourself to ignore an injury when you go to the gym. Working out on an injured ankle will not only make the ankle worse; you’re going to start feeling pain in your knees, thighs, lower back, and beyond.

Because your muscles are interconnected, pain in one part of your body is going to radiate outwards to other parts of your body. Think about it this way: If you injure your big toe, you might think it’s no big deal. It’s just a toe, right?

But when you spend some time on a treadmill, you’re going to walk on your foot a bit differently to avoid putting pressure on your toe. That’s going to cause your ankle to roll a bit more, which will add some more pressure to your knee. After 10 minutes, that slight issue of a stubbed toe isn’t going to be that slight any longer.

Don’t ignore pain. Recognize it, and treat it before it can get worse. Missing one day at the gym and resting an injury is better than spending 2 bad days at the gym and making it worse.

Feeling the burn at the gym is great, but only if it’s the right kind of burn. Make sure you recognize the difference between good aches which are caused by a good workout, and bad aches which are caused by other problems. Make sure you talk to our team of personal trainers so you know how to recognize the difference.

Taking Your Fitness Outdoors

Senior Couple In Fitness Clothing Running Along BeachI love spending time in the gym, and my hope is you enjoy your time coming to the gym as well. But that doesn’t mean our fitness is restricted to weights and machines. One of the key success factors of a fitness plan is enjoying yourself as you do it.

To me, good weather is the perfect opportunity to take your fitness outdoors. It gives us a chance to go out and soak up some vitamin D, breath the fresh air, get some great pictures, and get some real-life fitness in at the same time.

But March is always a grab bag when it comes to good weather, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s in like a lion, out like a lamb. Other times the lion seems to stick around for a while. But when the forecast is good, It’s a great chance to enjoy our first taste of spring and summer, especially in the Pacific Northwest.

On the rare day we get a nice day outside, I want to make sure you can enjoy the great outdoors and get some fitness in at the same time. Here are a few ideas so you can enjoy the great outdoors to its fullest:

Cycling

If you know me, you know I have some very strong feelings about spin class. You end up burning some calories, but you’re doing the same action over and over again. And at the end of the day, you haven’t travelled anywhere, have you?

Real world cycling is a little different. You’re going to encounter some more variation in resistance and, best of all, you’re going to see a lot more scenery! The best part is the Portland/Vancouver area is a great place to cycle, no matter your skill level. So whether you’re an avid cyclist or just jumping on the bike for the first time, you will have plenty to do on the next beautiful day.

If you’re looking for something to ease into, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail is a part of a non-profit effort to repurpose unused railways called “Rails to Trails.” The path used to be a part of a railway system from Portland to Seattle, and is now a 21 mile trail. Cross waterways like Beaver Creek and the Nehalem River, and view the massive trestles used during the heyday of the railroad. Take a look at the trail here.

If you’re looking for something a little more advanced, consider enjoying the wonderful sights of the Gorge by taking a ride paralleling the Columbia Historic Highway. One of my clients, Chris, took this trail by starting at the Eagle Creek Trailhead. She took the trip about 2 years ago, and still talks about it!

Taking this trail will give a great view of Bonneville Dam and passes by a fish hatchery. Stop by the Bridge of the Gods to see the Mural, or support the locals selling smoked salmon. You can find a detailed map of the route here.

Remember – before going out on bike, make sure you bring water and trailmix, plan the trip ahead of time, and always wear a helmet!

Hiking

If you’re looking for a whole-body workout, there is nothing that caters to the human form more than hiking. While you get the work-out in your legs, you’re also going to be working on your core and your balance. You’re also going to be building bone density, lowering blood pressure, and enjoying the beauty of the Pacific Northwest! What’s not to love?

One of my favorite places to go hiking in the Pacific Northwest is the gorge. There are tons of hiking trails that range from easy-going to seriously steep, and all provide a great view.

If you’re starting out, think about going to the Elowah Falls trail, near Dodson. The trail is fairly short, but offers some great viewing opportunities for those looking for a vista.

If you’re looking for something unique, take a look at Beacon Rock on highway 14. The hike is a little steep, but the many switch backs give a beautiful view the entire way up the summit. And when you’re at the top, what a view!

Another one of my favorites is the Multnomah Falls trail. It gives a great opportunity to view the beautiful falls while enduring some moderate steepness on the switchbacks.

Like I said for bikes, remember to bring water and trailmix and plan your trip ahead of time. Remember there’s no shame in turning around if the trail just seems to difficult. It just gives you a reason to come back when your more prepared for the trail!

When you’re out on the trail, be sure to take some pictures and share with Boomer Fitness! We love to stay updated on how you’re getting fit in the outdoors.

Routine, and Why We Break it Up.

iStock_000004151784XSmallRoutine is something we all have. We all get up in the morning, shower, brush our teeth, grab some breakfast, and proceed to our daily lives. It’s the easy path. It keeps us on track through our busy schedules.

So as you head to the gym, you might have your own routine you go through. You spend 20 minutes doing cardio, work the same three or four exercises at the free weights, maybe 10 minutes on the row machine, and then stretch out and cool down. Day in and day out.

Let me share something that might change your perspective on personal fitness. The more you do something over and over again, such as riding that bike machine during spin class, the more efficient your body becomes in performing the activity. In other words, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Sounds good, right?

Well, not exactly. The more efficient your body gets at doing the same activity over and over again, the less energy you’re going to be expending while doing it. You’re going to be getting faster and faster the more times you hop on the bike machine, but your body is going to be doing less and less work.

To use an analogy, think of your body as a river. When you’re working out, your body, like a river, wants to take the path of least resistance. Your body will try to go around excessive burning of energy like a river flows around a rock. Your body isn’t trying to sabotage your fitness; it’s just trained to do things the easiest way possible.

Think about what that means for your body. When you’re expending less energy, you’re getting less out of your workout. Your body is going to be able to store more energy because you’re expending less. And even more importantly, you’re only going to be working out a few different sets of muscles if you only do the same six exercises. What about the other 650 muscles we neglect?

If you want a routine, there are several corporate gyms in the area that can set you up with their one-size-fits-all classes. You will get your spin class, your row of treadmills and ellipticals, and a generalized fitness plan that can be applied whether you’re 16 or 60. But we both know a one-size-fits-all plan is not the way to get results.

So why don’t I have spin class? Because I’m here to help you reach your fitness goals, not to train you in becoming a master cycle-machine user! Routine isn’t what we do at Boomer Fitness because routine doesn’t work.

This Thursday, check in with my blog, where I’ll tell you about how we escape routine, force the river to change its direction, and how we do fitness the right way.