Many people join a gym or buy expensive exercise equipment and begin strength training without knowing how to properly lift weights. Remember the cliché: “what you don’t know can hurt you”. The experienced weight lifter may be able to execute movements that may very well be dangerous for a beginner, therefore it is better to exercise a lot of caution if you are beginning strength training.
Below are some of the common mistakes people make when strength training:
Choosing the wrong weight
Using weight that is too heavy, especially in the beginning, can damage muscles and tendons and cause painful injury. If you have to strain to lift the weight then it is too heavy and you may find yourself gaining muscle and weight. For women this could be a deterrent to weight training. Weight that is too light may not give you the workout that you need and may only waste your time.
Doing the wrong number of repetitions and/or sets
If your goal is to lose weight, you should be able to do 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps comfortably. To gain muscle – and weight – you should use a heavier weight that will allow you to do up to 8 reps at most for 3 or 4 sets. If your goal is to build endurance you would use a lighter weight and increase the number of reps and sets.
Using incorrect form
Some people have a tendency to curve the back when bending over to lift a weight. This can injure your back. A better way would be to keep your back straight or bend the knees. Jerky, bouncing movements are another improper form that can place sudden stress on muscles and tendons, and cause injury. If you are bouncing, the weight is most likely too heavy. Locking the joints, especially knees and elbows, is another common mistake that can lead to injury. Also, some people tend to drop the weight instead of lowering it slowly. This does not allow the muscle to move through the entire range.
Doing too much too soon
You are anxious to get stronger, but in order to achieve the most from any form of exercise, muscles need to rest in order to be ready for the next round of exercise. This applies between sets, as well as to between workouts. If you are lifting light weights for endurance, you should rest 30 seconds to 1 minute between sets, if you are lifting heavy weights for muscle building you may need to rest up to 5 minutes. And take a day off between workouts.
As always, remember that these all vary greatly for each individual. Please consult a professional for advice specific to your needs.
For an athlete, getting injured is one of the worst things that can happen. Depending on the type of injury you may be out of competition for a long time. Instead of lying on the couch throwing paper balls into a bin, speak to your physiotherapist about other forms of exercise you can do that will not aggravate your injury and at the same time help you stay fit.
There are many types of low-impact exercises you can do while you are recovering. Your physiotherapist may advise on some or all of the following:
This is one of the best forms of exercise for injured athletes. The buoyancy of the water supports your weight so there is little force on your muscles or joints. Swimming recruits all the major muscles of the body – arms, abs and legs for a good, stress-free workout.
Whether you use a moving bike or a stationary one, cycling is a great form of cardio exercise which helps to burn fat, tone muscle and build endurance. If you have had knee surgery, cycling can lubricate the knee and improve flexibility and range-of-motion. Your physiotherapist will tell you how long you should stay on the bike and how much resistance is safe for your fitness level.
The rowing machine in the gym is a good form of upper-body workout for the athlete who sustained a leg injury. Rowing in a boat is also good and gives the added bonus of being outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. If your upper body is injured, this low-impact activity will not cause more trouble, however to be safe, consult with your physiotherapist as to how much and how fast you should perform this exercise.
This is a great way to keep the body toned, provide flexibility and increase range-of-motion. However, this should be done under the supervision of your physiotherapist. He/she will tell you what stretches to do, how many and at what range. If necessary, he/she will assist you to perform the stretches until you can do them safely on your own.
Exercises using your own body weight (such as sit-ups, push-ups and chin-ups) can also help you get some sweat and maintain fitness, just as long as you follow your physiotherapist’s advice. Becoming injured does not mean that you are bound to the couch to lose all the fitness you have achieved. Come in and see us; we will put you on a safe yet effective program.
The decision to return to sports after a knee replacement is one that should be made in consultation with your surgeon and physiotherapist. Your overall satisfaction with the outcome of the surgery and your pre-operative condition would have some bearing on whether you are able to return to sports or not.
Let us look first at what makes up a successful outcome to knee replacement.
- No pain during walking on flat surfaces.
- Return of mobility in the knee joint. You should be able to bend your knee to 105 degrees, which is sufficient for most daily activities such as getting in and out of a vehicle, climbing up and down stairs.
- A feeling of well being. Constant, nagging pain before the surgery may have resulted in a depressed mood. This changes as the person realises the surgery was successful.
- No pain with stair climbing.
If you were an active athlete before the surgery, you would expect to return to sport afterward. However, your doctor and physiotherapist may recommend that you switch from high-impact to low-impact sports such as cycling, swimming, skiing or golf. The reason is that high-impact sports such as running, jumping, soccer or tennis put a lot of stress on the prosthesis. This may lead to premature failure of your knee, loosening of the prosthesis and even fracture of the skeleton around the knee and other trauma.
Some athletes, especially the younger ones, may have had a knee replacement in hopes of increasing their level of participation and may not be satisfied with switching to a less strenuous activity. If that is the case, and they are training to meet that level, the surgeon should explain the risks involved in high-impact sports versus low-impact sports. He should also explain the risk of total knee failure in endurance training, although there are no statistics to support this view.
Patients should also understand that they may have to postpone their activities until the musculature around the knee is sufficiently strong in order to protect the joint and avoid trauma. If they are prepared to take that risk, then they should be allowed to play. Just as long as they keep in close contact with their doctor and physiotherapist.
NOW OFFERING SCAR TISSUE TREAMENT – With Jacquie
The development of scar tissue can cause pain, discomfort, limited range of motion, changes to sensation, heat, swelling, and sometimes distortion to the skin and surrounding structures. With my hands, I use gentle myofascial techniques to assist scar tissue and surrounding fascia to release, regardless of the age of the scar, to help you eliminate pain and ultimately regain normal movement.
There are many reasons why one may develop scar tissue. This may be trauma from an injury involving the breaking of skin, or the tearing of muscles, tendons or ligaments. Scar tissue may also form from surgery, radiation, the presence or past presence of cysts or tumours or from acute or chronic inflammation.
Scars are a normal process of tissue healing where the fibrous tissue replaces normal tissue as a part of the remodeling phase of wound healing. The collagen synthesized initially after trauma is random and disorganised, which eventually remodels along the lines of force. The integrity of the affected tissues and fascia can change from having elasticity to being rigid and immobile.
The way our scar tissue heals is dependent on how much we have rested the area after trauma and what sort of loads it has had to endure during the healing stage. Excess load on the scar, even from just our constant movement can cause the proliferation of more scar tissue to develop and can cause strain on surrounding structures.
The development of scar tissue can cause pain and altered sensation due to disruption to nerve supply, blood flow and lymphatic drainage. One factor behind intrinsic scar pain also appears to be the proliferation of C-fibres during the healing process, which can become a source of ongoing pain and inflammation.
Scars can also cause pain and limited range of motion due to the limitations in the scar tissue itself but also the adhesions it may develop. An adhesion is a band of scar tissue that joins two internal bodily surfaces that are not usually connected. Disruption of normal tissue fibres can result in them being replaced with relatively inelastic granular tissue.
Research has shown that the reasons myofascial techniques can be effective may be due to improving the local mobility of the tissues (including neural and visceral tissues), as well as improving underlying muscle activation through providing more afferent information to the affected area.
Myofascial releases can be incredibly effective for scars which have developed as a result of conditions such as:
- Muscle or ligament tears
- Caesarean and hysterectomy scars
- Orthopaedic surgery
- Oncology related surgery and effects of radiotherapy
- Abdominal surgery
- Endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Chronic inflammation in spinal ligaments, joints or intervertebral discs
- Chronic bowel conditions
- Brain surgery
- Pneumonia and other lung infections
- Surgery to eyes, ears, nose or mouth.
- Gentle myofascial techniques can help your body to release your scar tissue, ease your pain and help you to get back to the activities and sports you desire.
Jacqueline is a Physiotherapist here at Back in Strength. If you feel you, or anyone else, could benefit from scar tissue treatment, feel free to contact us to book an appointment.
One of the major contributors of back, neck pain and general fatigue is poor posture. This throws the spine out of alignment and puts added strain on muscles. Over time this may lead to a change in the anatomical structure of the spine, and affect blood vessels, nerves and other organs. Bad posture can be easily corrected, but first let us look at some factors that cause it.
People may develop bad posture through the following:
- Slouching with the shoulders hunched forward while standing or sitting in an office chair.
- Swayback (often called lordosis) – this is an increase in the natural inward curve of the lower back.
- Flat back – occurs during sitting when the pelvis is tilted too far back.
- Carrying a heavy bag or purse on one side of the shoulder.
- Cradling a phone between the neck and shoulder for long periods.
- Wearing high heels.
- Sleeping on a mattress that doesn’t provide proper support.
Many people slouch when sitting at a desk or computer for extended periods. Slouching strains the muscles between the shoulder blades, giving rise to back pain. It also increases the natural forward curve of the neck, resulting in neck pain. Slouching is often caused by fatigue and also leads to improper breathing and insufficient oxygen intake as the diaphragm is compressed. Getting enough oxygen relaxes the muscles and relieves stress and tension.
Sway back occurs when the pelvis tilts forward. This places extra stress on the ligaments of the spine and leads to back pain. Sleeping on your stomach shortens the back muscles and leads to back pain. Lengthening the muscles through stretching exercises can relieve this type of back pain. However, this should be done under the supervision of a physiotherapist as over-stretching or improper stretching can exacerbate the condition.
Flattened back, the opposite of sway back, is a decrease in the inward curve of the lower back. Muscles and ligaments are stretched and back pain is the result. This can be avoided by using an office chair with a good back support so that the pelvis is not tilted too far back. If you don’t have such a chair, use a small pillow for support. Adjust your monitor screen so it’s not too high or too low as this can lead to neck and upper back pain.
If you are suffering from any type of neck or back pain, see us for an evaluation. We will be able to determine if poor posture is the cause and give you exercises to correct it and get rid of the pain. We will also assess your living and working environments and make ergonomic adjustments that will help you avoid a recurrence of any posture-related back or neck pain.