Lumbar Disc Injuries and Exercise Benefits

Lower Back Pain Author: Tedd Falk

Let’s first begin with the fact that all lumbar disc injuries are different and can create many different symptoms. Always consult your physician before you start any rehabilitation. That being said, any careful exercise that can safely be performed will be extremely beneficial to the healing process of that disc. Personally, I was a collegiate hockey player who ended up with two bulged discs and DJD (Degenerative Joint Disease) at the L-4, L-5 and L-5, S-1 sections of the spine. 3 months and 2 epidural shots later, I was lying in bed thinking my life was over. Unbearable sciatic nerve pain, muscle spasms, and the inability to bend over to even brush my teeth, I did not see any light at the end of the tunnel.

Luckily, I am back to the point where I can play the sport I love pain free again. Here are a few exercise related tips that I believe can help you too:

1. Move, move, and move some more. Whatever movements, stretches, exercises you can do, do them! Being a couch potato is one of the worst things you can do with a disc injury but it is unfortunately, sometimes the only thing we feel we can do. Our muscles eventually get used to that lack of movement, which will in effect tighten them up and make us less flexible. And tight muscles (hamstrings, quads, back, etc…) mean more pressure on our joints and disc!

2. So what can I start doing? Typically, walking on a treadmill, riding the exercise bike, or maybe even using the standing or seated elliptical is a good place to start. You will probably find one to be more comfortable or enjoyable than the others, but this low impact exercise should not agitate your symptoms any more than they already are. You will probably find that when you are done, the increase in blood flow, and heat in the muscles will decrease your symptoms. The increased blood flow will also hydrate your discs with the necessary nutrients to aid in healing.

3. Now that I am starting to feel a little better, how can I continue to progress? Core strengthening is very important when it comes to the healing process. A strong core will help protect the area around the spine, so when you do bend over to pick up that heavy box on the ground those core muscles will kick in and make sure you don’t get injured again. Grab an exercise ball, medicine ball, or Bosu ball to really work those small stabilizer muscles around the spine. I recommend the static plank as a great core exercise to work on and eventually master.

4. I’ve lost some flexibility since my injury, how can I get it back? A stretching regimen can work and your physician will most likely recommend a plan for you, but one thing I found to be totally lifesaving is YOGA. Yoga is all about the lengthening of your muscles and spine and this will ultimately take pressure off of your back. Yoga can seem a little intimidating at first, but every instructor I have ever met is always willing to help you through a practice if you ask. Just make sure to start slow and avoid any painful forward bending.

5. I sit all day at work and it is the worst! What can I do to make work more tolerable? I recommend sitting on an exercise ball to help keep the core engaged and to work on good posture. Also, I would strongly consider the LifeSpan treadmill desk so you can walk and work at the same time.

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LifeSpan Treadmill Desk Rethinks Work Environment

LifeSpan Treadmill Desk Author: Jeff Hahn

Feeling time crunched? Putting too many hours at the office to get to the gym? Here is how to burn some calories WHILE at work!

The treadmill desks by LifeSpan Fitness are specifically made for walking while you work, and come in several affordable options. The treadmill is different from traditional treadmills in that unnecessary components like the elevation motor are eliminated, saving cost. They are also optimized for walking at slow speeds using a high torque motor geared for the intended use. They max out at 4 mph, but I rarely go above 1.5 mph because it is hard to get any work done going faster.

There are 3 different desk options you can pair with LifeSpan’s most popular treadmill, the TR-1200. The desk components available are the DT3, DT5 or DT7.

If you already own a standing height adjustable desk, the TR1200-DT3 is for you. This is the treadmill base, connected by a piggy-tailed control board that simply sits atop your desk. This system is on sale for $999 ($1499 MSRP).

The TR1200-DT5 is a pop-pin, manually height adjusted desk with the control board embedded in the front lip of the desk. If you don’t have a desk yet and are looking to keep costs down, this model goes for $1499 ($1999 MSRP) and is the most popular version of the treadmill desks.

The TR1200-DT7 is an electronically height adjusted desk with the control board embedded in the front lip of the desk. This is the version I use on a daily basis. It goes for $1999 (MSRP $2499) and is the most flexible option. I prefer this because I change positions throughout the day – sometime walking, sometimes just standing, and sometimes sitting on an exercise ball on top of the treadmill. Each of these activities is most comfortable in a different position so I like having it be so easy to move the desk height as needed with just the push of a button.

Both the DT5 and DT7 are designed to be a functional desk. They are large enough for me to have 2 computer screens, a phone, and writing space in addition to my keyboard and mouse. I also love the ergo pad on the lip for resting my wrists while I am typing. There are racks built in underneath and an adjustable hole in the back of the desk to make managing cords and power supplies a snap. If you need more space, there are specialized monitor mounting systems, and additions for desk sides available to customize your specific setup.

Are you ready to get a treadmill desk? Contact 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment today!

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The New Octane Fitness Zero Runner

Are you ready for the biggest exercise equipment development in over 20 years? Octane Fitness has cracked the code to offering users the ultimate zero-impact running experience with the new Zero Runner. This machine is going to change the game for runners looking to maximize their training and minimize the negative effects of training on the body.

The Octane Zero Runner is different from any traditional exercise machine. It offers several key advantages over the three most popular training options—outdoor running, treadmills, and elliptical trainers.

When comparing to outdoor running or treadmills, the obvious advantage is no impact. Outdoor running on the streets creates a high level of impact and treadmills can mitigate that, but not eliminate it completely. While some impact can be good, and you might want to train on the surface you race on, giving your body a break with occasional zero impact workouts will allow for heavier training and less damage over time. The end result is better performance and less chance of injury.

When comparing to a traditional elliptical, you will see that the freedom of movement is much greater on the Zero Runner. Not only can you create your own stride length, but the key is the knee joint built into the machine. This allows the user to bring their heel up as they do in a natural running movement.

Check Out the Comparison Video:

The other question that comes up is, “Can you get a real running workout on the Zero Runner?” I can tell you from my personal experience, within 40 seconds of hopping on the Zero Runner I was at 150BPM using a heart rate monitor. I topped out at 164BPM when really pushing myself but was able to find a comfortable range of motion and maintain in the 150’s for a full workout.

The freedom of movement feels great, and you can really tell that your muscles are working. For the majority of my workout I was in the mid to high 40’s for stride length. That is amazing freedom of movement when considering most traditional ellipticals are 18”-21”. There is a bit of a learning curve with the Zero Runner because of the excellent free range of motion. Give yourself some time when first hopping on one.

How to Get Started on a Zero Runner:

To sum it up, the Zero Runner is a great new option for runners looking to train with zero impact. Go to your local 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment store and try it for yourself today!

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The TOP 3 things to remember before going on vacation

Vacation Workout The sun is out, the snow is gone, and school is finally out. It’s summer again and that usually means vacations and fun. But, before you replace your workout routine for an exotic resort, remember these 3 simple things to keep healthy and fit even when miles away.

1. Study your surroundings: Depending on where you are going, you might not have access to a local gym or machines. Be sure to check out where you will be staying on using it to your advantage. If you plan on staying in a hotel or on a cruise ship, does it have its own gym for you to use? Don’t just assume, this is a hit-and-miss and you’ll want to check. If it doesn’t, most fitness experts suggest doing basic body workouts in your own room. Being on vacation means you’re in a new place, so jog or run around! It’ll be both scenic and energizing.

2. Focus on your food: It’s easy to ignore diets while on vacation, with unhealthy snacks and going out to eat too much. Plan ahead: Figure out what will be served at the hotel, cruise, or in the area. Map out anything that fits within your diet. Pack ahead: If you’re traveling or afraid of your food options, pack healthy snacks that can replace the fast-food option.

3. Take advantage of mobile apps: Whether you count steps or calories, there’s a fitness app just for you. Take a minute to search around your app store and find that one meant for you. Calorie Counter, RunKeeper, and Lose It! are a few suggestions to help you get started.

Remember! You don’t have to let a vacation interrupt your workout routines or diets, nor do you have ruin the fun focusing on exercising. Just remember these simple things to keep you active. And most importantly, remember to have fun!

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Foundation of Fitness…Posture

Back Pain Posture Blog Photo

Get yourself BACK in the Game!

OK…raise your hand if you have ever had back pain!

Exactly as I thought…everyone with a hand.

Lets take a simple look at why most people have back pain. We know that it’s hard to avoid pain from an accident, injury or a genetic condition, so this is for the general public.

Just like anything, If you use it enough, you will wear it out. Your lower back is the region we are talking about, which is the OPPOSITE muscle group of your abdominals. Your low back keeps you from falling forward just as your abdominals keep you from falling backwards. The muscles must be in balance…but how many times do people complain about sore stomach?

Posture is the #1 reason most people have a problem. The average person sits over 50% of their waking hours…If you are hunched over then your low back spine is usually in an expanded state. This is where the discs are being “rest” on and are getting squished out of the bottom and back part of your spine.

While standing…most people have a posture issue that is the result of not actively engaging the core muscles in the abs AND glutes. This causes the pelvis to be anteriorly tilted to the front. This is when someone has an excessive curvature in the low back and hunched shoulders. It is a sign of weak abs and glutes and causes the disc in the low back to be squished or “compressed”. This is where the pain in coming from. If you were on the bottom of a 10 person dog-pile, you’d feel squished too!

The key to helping your back feel better is 2 things…

  1. Stand up straight…Keep your ears, shoulders, hips, knees all in alignment. See your mom was right. So call her up and tell her you’re sorry you didn’t listen…and she was right. (And don’t forget her Mother’s Day gift)

    Your muscles can make you taller and it takes the pressure off of the lower discs. When sitting, do the same thing. It is the most simple conscious thing you can do to feel better anytime!

  2. Strengthen your core! Keep your Abs in tight AND squeeze your glutes! When you contract your glute muscles, it helps to pull your pelvis into a “Neutral” position that allows your spine to rest on a more stable and flatter foundation. Your discs will not be so compressed.

Also…working on strengthening your abs and low back with either an exercise ball, inversion table or “roman chair” can help to keep the muscles awake and keep the spine more stable!

*Our in-store certified fitness consultants are here to help! We offer free training advice, proper techniques and more! This article was provided by Greg Lofgren at 2nd Wind Exercise in Lindbergh, MO. Stop in or call any 2nd Wind location and take advantage of our amazing team!*

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Is Heart Rate Important For Weight Loss?

Yes!! It’s a common misconception that if you’re looking for the best weight loss results you should workout in your “fat burning zone” at about 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate. However, the fat burning zone burns fewer calories than working out at the higher intensity “aerobic” zone (70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate). The body may burn a greater percentage of fat in the fat burning zone compared to higher intensities but in the aerobic zone you burn way more total calories AND more fat calories overall than at lower intensities. Of course, caloric burn also depends on a workout’s duration and it is easier to work out longer when exercising at a lower intensity.

Heart Rate Monitor

Electronic heart monitors, such as Polar products, typically consist of a wristwatch-like display and an electrode-studded chest strap that provide accurate, real-time heart rate information. Using a heart rate monitor can help you pace yourself and can also motivate you to exercise. With your heart rate monitor you can observe if your workouts are helping you to lower your resting heart rate. You can also monitor your workout routine to see if you can maintain the same pace but get your heart to pump more slowly or to see if you can shorten the time it takes your heart rate to return to normal after a workout.

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Common Running Mistakes

Running Mistake Blog Photo
  1. Pace: The key to starting a running routine is to Increase your mileage gradually, upping your mileage about 10% each week. Be sure to take rest days, they’re important to your recovery and injury prevention as your muscles build and repair during this time.
  2. Core: Runners who do core exercises four times a week run faster on average than those who didn’t according to a study done by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research so be sure to include some core workouts into your routine!
  3. Stretching: Stretching when your muscles are cold is not a good idea so instead warm up a little bit with a quick running then stretch and continue your workout. Sleep: Make sure you are getting enough sleep, your body needs rest to improve your recovery.
  4. Overstriding: Try to keep your steps light and quick, overstriding, or landing heel first with your foot well ahead of your body’s center of gravity wastes energy since you’re braking with each foot strike, and may also lead to injuries such as shin splints. Try to land mid-sole, with your foot directly underneath your body.
  5. Arms: Some runners swing their arms side-to-side, which makes your breathing less efficiently. Additionally, there is a tendency to hold the hands up near the chest, especially as you get tired, however this can actually make you feel more tired and creates tightness and tension in your shoulders and neck. Try to keep your hands at waist level with arms at a 90 degree angle and elbows at your sides. You should rotate your arms at the shoulder, opposed to the elbow, and keep your posture straight. If you feel yourself slouching poke your chest out!
  6. Nutrition: Nutrition is important for running performance and overall health. What and when you eat before, during, and after your runs matters. Eat a snack about 1 to 2 hours before a run that is high in carbohydrates and lower in fat, fiber, and protein such as a banana and an energy bar, or cereal with milk. If you’re going on a long run (over 90 minutes) you need to replace some of the calories you’re burning through sports drinks, or bars. You should be taking in about 100 calories after an hour of running and then another 100 calories every 45 minutes after that. Post run it is important to replenish energy quickly as studies have shown that muscles are most receptive to rebuilding stores within the first 30 minutes after exercise which means eating quickly after your workout can minimize muscle stiffness and soreness. Choose foods of primarily carbs, and protein with a ratio of about 1 gram of protein to 3 grams of carbs such as a fruit and yogurt smoothie. Carbohydrates are important to runners as a major source of fuel, so don’t cut them out of your diet! After hard runs, grab your post-run carb snack, and then follow up the evening with a meal of carbs and protein to rebuild muscle.
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