Proprioception

Proprioception is defined as the body’s ability to sense stimuli with regard to position, motion and equilibrium. It is the sense of the orientation of one’s limbs in space; the ability to know where a body part is without looking at it.  Therefore, the body is able to sense the position of its parts, analyze it, and react with proper movement. Without proprioception, we would have to constantly watch our feet while we were walking.

Balance and proprioception are not the same things. The sense of balance originates from the fluids in the inner ear. Proprioception is provided by proprioceptors, which are sensory receptors. These nerves are located inside the body and transmit information from the muscles, joints, tendons and skin to the central nervous system.

Proprioceptors control balance, coordination and agility, and by training proprioception, we can improve balance, coordination and agility. Balance is a basic skill needed in practically every activity.  The key to efficiency is changing your center of gravity to match your moves. Agility is what allows us to move gracefully without wasting motion.  It allows our joints to move through the full range of motion smoothly and confidently. Proprioception also reduces the risk of injury. For example, ankle sprains are a fairly commonly injury for athletes.  These are often caused by a lack of balance or proprioception.  Even if a runner has strong lower limbs and good endurance and flexibility, slight deviations in the terrain during running require adjustments in balance. If the athlete has not trained the neuromuscular system to react appropriately when running on uneven ground or when they have a misstep, they may be injured.

Just like any other motor activity, proprioceptive ability can be trained. Any new motor skill that involves precise movement of our arms and legs– from baseball to painting to skiing – involves training our proprioceptive sense. And just like any new skill or exercise, it requires a progression during training. Start with simple exercises and make them more complex as the individual improves.

Proprioception can be tested by standing on one leg for 30 seconds with both eyes open and then standing on one leg with both eyes closed. Beginners should start with static balance activities and advance to agility and coordination activities. Balance exercises should start on the floor and progress to unstable surfaces, such as stability trainers or wobble boards. On the stability trainer, you can perform lunges, mini-squats, etc and progress to using a resistance band and then further progress to one leg. Wobble boards are good for static balance training and can be made more difficult by using a weighted ball. Be sure to exercise caution when using unstable surfaces.

After mastering balance, you can move on to more advanced proprioception for agility and coordination. Activities used to improve agility and coordination including pivoting, twisting, jumping and cutting. Progress jumping from two legs to one leg.

It is important to use correct technique when performing proprioceptive exercises. Reduce the intensity or level of activity if you cannot perform the exercise with proper technique. In order to reduce the risk of injury, perform these exercises before you are too fatigued. It is important to consider age and body weight when engaging in proprioceptive exercises. Performed correctly, this type of core stabilization or stability training is an invaluable tool to enhance overall fitness.

 

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NAC

What is NAC and where is it found?

N-acetylcysteine is both an antioxidant supplement and a pharmaceutical drug. It is also referred to as N-Acetyl Cysteine or NAC. NAC comes from the amino acid L-cysteine, and it is a precursor in the formation of the powerful antioxidant glutathione. Glutathione plays a key role in regulating the immune system and many cellular functions in the body, and it can protect against a wide range of health problems.  Glutathione cannot cross the cell membrane, but NAC can cross and be converted to glutathione and reduce cell damage.

What are the benefits of NAC?

NAC is used as an antidote for both acetaminophen (Tylenol) and carbon monoxide poisoning.  Additionally, it is used as a cough medicine to break up mucus, and to treat neurodegenerative conditions (nerve related health problems). It is used in the treatment of autism, bronchitis, COPD, cirrhosis, cystic fibrosis, high cholesterol, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and HIV and AIDS. NAC is important for the brain, liver and lungs; it supports normal detoxification in the liver, protects the kidneys, and protects blood flow to the heart. NAC may aid in diabetes management and help treat polycystic ovary syndrome.

In summary, NAC is an extremely powerful antioxidant that may affect a wide range of health issues. This is because many of these health conditions are caused by free radicals that damage our cells.  NAC is one of the most effective ways to help the body get the antioxidant army into each of the cells to fight off the scavenging free radicals.

Are there interactions with food or medications and NAC?

NAC may interact with nitroglycerin and increase the effects of the medication. It also may affect some blood pressure meds, meds that suppress the immune system, some cancer drugs and drugs that treat chest pain.

Are there side effects from taking NAC?

NAC may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. It also may increase blood homocysteine levels, so this should be monitored. Seldom, it may cause rashes, fever, headache, low blood pressure, drowsiness and liver problems.

To order NAC – Click Here

 

Baby On The Way? Exercise Away!

There are many benefits to exercising during pregnancy; these benefits last throughout the duration of the pregnancy, the labor and delivery, and the recovery period. Pre-natal activity leads to improved muscular strength and endurance, increased cardiovascular fitness, better posture, and an improvement in circulation, energy levels, and self-esteem. Additionally, exercise can decrease or prevent constipation, leg cramps, insomnia, fatigue, back pain, anxiety, depression, varicose veins, and extremity swelling.   Research also shows that women who exercise through the full term have shorter labors and easier deliveries. After delivery, studies show that fit women recover faster than unfit women and return to normal activities 40% faster.

Healthy women who do not have complications do not need to limit their exercise routines. There is no data to suggest that pregnant women should limit exercise intensity and lower target heart rate. ACSM only recommends that women continue their pre-pregnancy exercise routine, but not increase the intensity. However, there are certain medical conditions which are contraindicated to exercise, and pregnant women should be evaluated and obtain permission from their physician before a trainer begins to work with them or before they start any kind of cardiovascular program. Additionally, pregnant women should avoid any type of exercise that may have a potential for impact or that has a high degree of balance or agility needed, such as ice skating, horseback riding, or skiing.

One of the concerns about women exercising during pregnancy had been that the fetus was at risk from overheating. Under normal resting conditions, the fetal temperature is 1 degree higher than the mother’s. Current research does not show that the fetus is at risk from women who exercise vigorously early in their pregnancy. Actually, it seems that the pregnant woman’s body adapts to regulate their body temperature and dissipate heat. Pregnant women should still stay well hydrated, wear loose fitting and lightweight clothing and avoid exercising in hot and humid conditions.

While exercising, women should gauge their intensity by using RPE (rating of perceived exertion), which should be between a 5-8 on a scale of 1-10. If exercise results in increased fatigue, then intensity and/or duration should be decreased. Modify exercises that feel awkward or uncomfortable, and report any unusual discomfort or symptoms to your trainer. Focus on posture and maintain good alignment.

Pregnant women can safely perform resistance exercise, but heavy weightlifting that requires straining should be limited. It is also important to avoid lying on your back during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. This is because the extra weight of the enlarged uterus may compress the vena cava, which is the main blood vessel, which returns blood to the heart. If blood flow is restricted, blood pressure and fetal blood supply and oxygen may be decreased, which may affect fetal growth and development.

In addition to a regular exercise routine, pregnant women should do pelvic floor exercises, called kegels. Kegels are a very important exercise for pregnant women because they strengthen and protect the pelvic floor muscles. They help decrease urinary stress incontinence both pre and post partum. Strong muscles also prevent pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic pain, and misalignment of some joints in the hip area. It also helps with the pushing phase of labor.

Diet is also extremely important during pregnancy. Pregnant women need to eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and complex carbohydrates. It is best to eat small frequent meals and drink fluids regularly to avoid dehydration, decreased blood sugar, and to ensure adequate nutrients. They should eat a pre-exercise snack and drink plenty of water – 6-8 oz for every 15-20 minutes of activity. Pregnancy requires an additional 300 calories per day. A woman who exercises should add 150-250 more calories on top of that. However, the best way to gauge whether a pregnant woman is eating sufficient calories to ensure adequate weight gain. Pregnancy is not a time to diet or restrict calories!!! It is also not a time to binge and eat whatever you want!

Physical activity appears to benefit both mother and baby, and as long as pregnant women realize their restrictions, they may continue their exercise regimen without any negative consequences.

New Gluten-Free Labeling

New gluten-free labeling went into effect on Tuesday, August 5th. Per the FDA, any packaged food with a label of “gluten-free” cannot contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten. However, the use of the label is not mandatory. Therefore, people with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivities still must be avid food label readers since it is not a requirement that companies put the label on their packaged goods. This is a very good first step to ensure that individuals are not misled and are provided with accurate information.

Time for TV? Then Time to Get Moving!

The average person watches 34 hours a week of live TV plus 3-6 hours of recorded TV. Average excuse for not exercising? Not enough time (from T Nation (Twitter)). To make sure that you exercise, first consider what days best suit your schedule, given your other commitments. Next, choose a time of day where you find exercise enjoyable; some people are more motivated in the morning while others prefer the afternoon or evenings. Make sure to put your  first exercise appointments on your calendar, until it becomes routine. Also, exercising with a friend helps you stay focused and motivated!

Rest to See Better Results

It is common knowledge that exercise and physical activity are beneficial to your health. But how much is too much? Many people don’t take any days off from exercising, and therefore they don’t allow any time for recovery. Too much exercise can be just as dangerous as not exercising at all!!! It is important to remember that exercise can prevent injuries, but it can also cause them! Rest and recovery is an essential part of any exercise program. In order to train more effectively, you need a recovery plan. This will have a significant impact on your fitness gains and sports performance.

During a workout, muscle fibers are damaged. When resistance is placed on a muscle through running, weight training, etc, the muscle develops tiny microscopic tears, which activate muscle building. The tears cause the formation of new muscle protein strands which increase the strength and size of the muscle. Additionally, the tears start the process of healing by creating new cells to heal the damaged tissue and relieve any soreness. This alters the homeostasis in the body, which creates stress. The greater the tear in the muscle, the more likely it is to have muscle soreness and an altered homeostatic state.
After exercise, recovery is essential to muscle and tissue repair and strength building. Muscles are repaired and rebuilt only during the recovery period. Without proper recovery, especially after a workout that is too strenuous or prolonged, the body stays in the altered homeostatic state for longer than it should, which may lead to injuries. A muscle needs anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild, and working it again too soon leads to tissue breakdown instead of building.

Recovery should take place both during and after workouts. It is important to rest between weight sets or cardiovascular intervals as well as between workouts in the same week. For weight training programs, never work the same muscles groups two days in a row. Rest helps replenish your energy stores, which get depleted during workouts. People often don’t find the time to rest and relax, but it is one of the easiest things to do to promote recovery and repair. One easy way to recover faster is to design a smart workout routine in the first place. You will limit your progress and undermine your recovery with excessive exercise, heavy training at every session or a lack of rest days.

Stretching is another way to aid the recovery process. It prevents the muscles from becoming knotted and helps improve flexibility. Additionally, it is important to remain hydrated to aid in muscle recovery and to keep heart rate and blood pressure stable. Water supports every metabolic function in your body and must replaced when lost through sweat. A lot of fluid can be lost during strenuous workouts and it needs to be replaced both during and after exercise. Endurance athletes who sweat for hours and lose large amounts of water especially need to replace their fluids for optimal performance and recovery.

Sleep is also extremely important. It is imperative to get between 7-9 hours of sleep to ensure hormones and chemicals like growth hormone and cortisol are produced and in balance. GH is largely responsible for tissue growth and repair. Sleep also enhances protein synthesis, boosts immune function, and helps relax the nervous system. Optimal sleep is essential for anyone who exercises regularly.

The most important thing you can do to improve fitness, prevent injury and speed up recovery is to listen to your body. If you feel tired or sore, take a break or rest. Your body will tell you what it needs if you pay attention to it, rather than ignore the warning signs. The best way to ensure you are training and resting optimally is to consult with a personal trainer to design an effective exercise program and help prevent you from overtraining.

Exercise, Health and Lifestyle Factors May Affect Memory, Even in Young Adults

A recent study published in PLOS ONE found that lifestyle factors and health issues may contribute to memory complaints, even in younger adults. Researchers at UCLA examined known risk factors for dementia, including depression, lower education levels, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and smoking. They found that depression, low levels of education, physical inactivity and high blood pressure increased the likelihood of memory complaints in younger adults (ages 18-39), middle-aged adults (40-59) and older adults (60-99). In all age groups, depression was the strongest single risk factor for memory complaints. Regardless of age, even just one risk factor significantly increased the frequency of memory complaints. Memory complaints rose when the number of risk factors increased. This is just another reason to eat well, exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle and decrease stress.

Decrease Stress to Stay Slim

Chronic stress can have both negative physical and negative mental effects. A new study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology showed a direct link between chronic stress and the body’s metabolic response. The study showed that women who ate the same high fat and sugary foods  had more weight gain, fat deposit, and  insulin resistance when their chronic stress was elevated.  Therefore, these women were more prone to  health risks than low-stress women who ate the same food. There is no magic pill to decrease stress levels, but exercise, meditation, yoga and deep breathing techniques can help. Get adequate sleep and eat a diet filled with nutrients to help combat disease.

New Tool Calculates Belly Fat

Most Americans know that unwanted weight and obesity have negative health consequences, especially if the weight is centered around a person’s midsection. A new tool, called “A Body Shape Index” or ABSI, calculates your relative risk of premature death based on your belly fat and age. If you go to www-ce.ccny.cuny.edu/nir/sw/absi-calculator.html and put in the required information you will determine your risk. Less than 1 indicates less risk, 1 is average risk and over a 1 is a greater risk. If you score greater than a 1, it might be time to hit the gym and start a healthy balanced diet!

Exercise Beneficial to Pre-diabetics

Healthcare tends to focus on treating diseases and conditions rather than preventing them.  Most people are aware that chronic diseases increase the risk of death. In fact, research has shown that people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease. On a positive note, exercise and diet changes have been shown to decrease all chronic diseases by 80%.

A new study decided to examine whether people with PREdiabetes had benefits from diet and exercise.  The findings showed that those who changed their lifestyle decreased their risk of dying by almost half of those that did not engage in lifestyle changes. So don’t wait to start eating better and getting healthy! Start today!