Month: July 2017

Brain Boosting Lunch Ideas

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Last week we reviewed some tips for creating ergonomic workspaces and the associated somatic benefits. This week’s blog post is inspired from another Washington Post Article that suggests certain foods that boost brain-power. In addition to making sure you are moving throughout your workday, aslo making sure you fuel your body with foods that provide mental clarity as opposed to fog can create a healthier and less stressful workplace experience.

Foods to Eat More

DHA – Coldwater Fish Oils

Think mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, and salmon. DHAs support brain development, reduce brain inflammation, and may aid stress management.

Protein

Think chicken, turkey, eggs, beans, avocado and again salmon! Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, facilitate neurotransmitter activity.

Antioxidants

Think blueberries, purple grapes, raspberries, strawberries, green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables, nuts, and green tea. Antioxidants strengthen the blood vessel walls in the brain and help mitigate oxidative stress which spikes cortisol levels.

Water

Think more viscous blood flow = less brain fog.

Foods to Eat Less

Sugar and caffeine, which of course are the two things you are most likely to reach for when you are feeling stuck in a rut. Remember these two foods may help very temporarily, but the crash following will leave you feeling worse off than before.

 

How Posture in the Work Place Effects your Workout

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This Washington Post Article provides some great tips for easily creating a more ergonomic work space. Generally, the primary benefit of an ergonomic work environment is that it assists workers in correcting posture which prevents the types of aches pains which tend to nag people, such as neck, back, shoulder, and hip pain. In conjunction with reduced aches and pains, improved posture also facilitates more biomechanical efficiency.

“One of the things that separates elite athletes from the rest of us is that they move efficiently, Fidler says. Top athletes can generate twice the force with the same body. Or they might use half the energy to stand up straight. In other words, they can use the remaining energy for the task at hand, such as winning an NBA title.”

Achieving postural integrity and biomechanical efficiency are two of the core tenets of Pilates. In addition to a Pilates class, try these tips for creating a more ergonomic work environment:

  • Sit/lean back in chair, remind yourself to maintain a lumbar curve.
  • Keyboard placement should allow for straight wrists and elbow at sides while typing
  • Place monitor so that it allows good neck posture, not too high, not too low, straight ahead. Hint, most laptops sit too low, shortening the anterior neck muscles and lengthening the posterior neck muscles.
  • Move around! Don’t stay in one position for too long.

The 5 Primary Roles of Muscles

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In my previous post there was brief mention of agonist versus stabilizing muscles. When referring to agonist and stabilizing muscles we are referring to the type of action the muscle performs. When it comes to this level of functionality, there are five primary roles that are referred to:

  • Agonist
  • Accessory
  • Antagonist
  • Stabilizer
  • Neutralizer

Agonist

Agonists are the primary muscles responsible for movement via isotonic or isometric concentric contractions. Isotonic contractions create a movement, isometric contractions maintain a position. A concentric contractions refers to a muscle that is producing power as it’s fibers shorten versus eccentric contractions where a muscle produces power as it’s fibers lengthen.

Example: The hamstring isotonically and concentrically contracts to flex the knee joint.

Accessory

Accessory muscles assist agonist muscles.

Example: The quadricep is an agonist knee extensor and an accessory hip flexor.

Antagonist

Antagonist perform the opposite action of the agonist.

Example: If the hamstring is the agonist for knee flexion, it acts antagonistically to the quadricep as it eccentrically slow down knee extension. Think about what it feels like to slowly rise up from a squat.

Stabilizer

Stabilizers prevent movement of a joint, usually via an isometric contraction

Example: the quadriceps may stabilize the knee in an extended position of permit plantar flexion of the ankle. While standing, rise up on to your tippy toes, do you feel how your quadriceps work to stabilize your knees.

Neutralizer

Neutralizers prevent a motion, so another specific motion can occur. Unlike stabilizing muscles which act on joints, neutralizers act of other muscles.

Example: The biceps can flex the elbow and supinate the forearm. If only elbow flexion is wanted, the supination component must be ruled out. Therefore, the pronator teres, which pronates the forearm, would contract to counteract the supination component of the biceps, and only elbow flexion would occur. Neutralizers act to cancel out an unwanted movement. Try doing some biceps curls in your palms facing up versus facing down, notice the difference.

Stabilizers and Neutralizers both use co-contraction to prevent motion and have an antagonistic relationship.

 

Is Pilates Easy? Will Pilates Give Me a 6-pack. Plus More, Answered.

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“I read an article several months ago where a few celebrity trainers were spouting off about workouts that they hated. Pilates made the list with one trainer even claiming that most Pilates teachers wouldn’t be able to handle the monkey bars. Well, as a physical therapist and Pilates teacher, I’d wager that he’d probably have difficulty handling my resistance bands and 1 pound weights because I can pinpoint someone’s weak-spots pretty quickly, but that’s besides the point.” (Wells, 2016)

Yes. So much Yes.

Wells discusses some interesting Pilates/fitness misconceptions in this article. She defines the core, static versus dynamic stretching (holding a stretch versus moving stretches), and agonist/accessory muscles versus stabilizing/neutralizing muscles.

Read more here!