How to Avoid Becoming a Bobblehead

How to Avoid Becoming a Bobblehead

If older people paid half as much attention to the strength of their necks as they do to cosmetic issues like unwelcome wrinkles and double chins, the world would be a less injurious and painful place.

neck

Your neck has challenging 24/7 jobs to keep the head (heavy as a bowling ball) erect, mobile, and firmly attached to the torso, while also protecting your delicate spinal cord. All this is accomplished by a relatively small set of muscles that in older adults are shrinking along with all the other skeletal muscles due to aging.

Strangely, for many people, regardless of age, it’s also one of the most overlooked when it comes to exercise. Not surprisingly, the National Institute of Health Statistics says neck pain is second only to back pain as the most frequent chronic pain complaint heard by medical professionals. Much of this neck pain isn’t due to exotic diseases, just a lack of good posture and poor muscle tone in the neck muscles that are under-used and flaccid from hours in front of TV’s and electronic devices.

Older persons should pay special attention to neck strength and range of motion because it plays a critical role in fall protection (balance), every day activities (like looking over the shoulder for on-coming traffic), and injury prevention (falls and car accidents). The neck is a weak spot on the human body; it can become dangerously fragile due to aging IF the muscles are not routinely exercised.

You can keep your neck ready and able to perform with very simple and safe isometric exercises, like the ones in this video. Don’t worry, you won’t end up with a neck like this wrestler. Push gently at first, over time you can apply more pressure, longer.

Note: Talk to your doctor if you have osteoporosis or other problems in your cervical spine prior to doing these exercises.

After doing this routine twice a week for a couple of months, your neck bercomes much stronger and your head more stable. You won’t have to worry about becoming a bobblehead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please Help Me I’m Falling

Please Help Me I’m Falling

We all fall down. It’s just a matter of when and where. Whether or not you get injured is often a matter of how, as you’ll learn in our COCC workshop (The Art of the Fall CRN: 49237) from 9 – 10:30 am on Saturday, Oct. 10.

The techniques of safe falling are the same regardless of age or cause, whether resulting from an accidental trip on a rake in the back yard to a hard tackle in a world cup soccer match.

falling3

The persons in the pictures above and below perfectly demonstrate several  techniques to use in a forward fall that we’ll practice in the workshop.

falling-soccer

For example, they are using their knees to maintain space between their heads and the hard ground and begin to slow the fall.

We have a natural reflex to extend the arms and hands at the beginning of a fall. But the direction arms are extended and how they are used makes all the difference to the outcome of a fall. Too often the arms are locked at the elbows and held straight down in an attempt to break the fall, resulting in fractures to the wrist or upper arm.

In contrast to  the dangerous ”straight arm” approach, look at the position of the hands and arms of the women in the pictures – arms are reaching out and up. Note how the elbows are bent and away from their torsos, wrists are slightly bent, with the hands opening to make first contact with the palms, not the fingers. After their falls, they got up unharmed because their arms and hands were used like springs to slow (not stop) and guide how their bodies landed on the ground.

In most falls, you have about .3 to .5 seconds from starting the fall to hitting the ground. With a little practice, your body can work miracles with that short span of time. Most importantly, you can delay the time going down. When you slow the time, you will decelerate the fall.

You don’t need to be a world class athlete to do this. If you use these proven techniques, you will become a world class faller.

 

 

Great Muscle Expectations

Great Muscle Expectations

If the academic gurus could solve the problem of why muscle disappears as we age, they would likely solve the problem of aging itself. Until then, if you don’t want to be an incredible shrinking woman or man, it’s critical to do resistance exercise.

In fact, if you are an older adult, the old adage to “use it or lose it” must be modified to ”use it or lose it much faster,” right along with your mobility.

greatmuscle

In his excellent book Bending the Aging Curve, Joseph Signorile, PhD, presents a detailed discussion of un-young muscle and how to preserve and strengthen it. In short, the loss of skeletal muscle due to aging is caused by both neuromuscular (like loss of motor nerves and changes in neuromuscular junctions) and biochemical factors (such as declining levels of testosterone and human growth hormone).

But despair not. He notes you “could fill up a small warehouse with articles touting the benefits of resistance exercise” in reducing the causes of muscle loss in older adults. That’s why in the Younger Games we always do a lot of resistance exercises, whether body weight, bands, kettlebells, dumb bells or weight machine.

A key point for older exercisers to grasp is that improvements in muscle strength will occur mainly in the already existing muscle fibers rather than new ones. Don’t expect to get bulging muscles like body builders because the hormones required to produce them are not present unless you have them injected, a dangerous choice because the same hormones that promote muscle growth can promote cancerous tumor growth as well.

By doing vigorous resistance exercise, you will see improved muscle tone and body shape. You will also get measurably stronger, especially if you systematically increase the resistance over the weeks and months. In the case of the Younger Games, that means using a heavier band, going up a notch on the weight machine, or picking up a kettlebell that is 5 lbs. heavier than you’ve been using.

The rewards of resistance exercise go way beyond nice curves on your body. Muscle enables you to navigate the world, gracefully, competently and safely. It protects your bones and vital organs in a collision or fall. Equally important in an era of overweight/obesity, muscle devours fat for energy during any type of exercise, whether a leisurely hike or pounding the battle ropes in the gym.

We have over 600 muscles in our bodies. In the Younger Games, we aim to get every one of them strong, then stronger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Wanna Dance?

Do You Wanna Dance?

Centuries ago, Leonardi da Vinci  observed, “The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.” He would know, having himself been a great artist, engineer and anatomist.

feet1

It’s easy to forget this because we spend so much time on our butts, and when we are on our feet, we either torture them in high heels (similar to the ancient Chinese practice of foot binding), or numb them with overly engineered  footwear (making foot like a heroin addict on methadone maintenance)  to tolerate life on concrete and linoleum.

Being able to move upright on two feet is what sets humans apart, as much or more as our over-sized brains (surpassed by dolphins and sperm whales), from the rest of the animal kingdom. In fact, we are the only true bipeds.

At CBF, we share Leonardo’s awe and wonder at the miracle of our own feet. Usually that’s the last thing on the mind of exercisers trying to sweat away the bulge of belly fat, but foot fitness is critical to a happy, functional life because it is the foundation of mobility, balance, agility, power and lift.

Every standing movement we make originates from the 26 bones, 33 joints, and 100 plus tendons keep your body mobile and upright by an unbelieveably complex, responsive and efficient suspension system.

However, to offset the effects of aging  this system must be routinely exercised. Older people who don’t exercise their feet end up shuffling. Weakening feet lead to flat feet, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, knee and hip pain and a host of other life-limiting problems. They can’t dance or jump for joy.

That’s why we workout barefooted on mats. In every Younger Games, the feet and ankles are stretched and strengthened by quick movements and multi-directional loading, starting with the warm-up. Feet get worked out as hard as hearts.