Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Now a Personal Trainer

It's official- I'm now a Certified Personal Trainer!  The last few months have been busy with studying, but I have very happily passed my certification exam.  I suspect that no one reading this blog will be surprised by this.

My certification is from the National Academy of Sports Medicine(NASM).  I choose NASM because they have one of the best reputations, and they seem to be the best complement to my sports massage work.  The individual practitioner is always more important than the certification, but it certainly helps to have a good one.

Of course this is just another step in the never ending journey of learning about how to help people with their health goals.  Personal training is a natural extension of my current bodywork.  It will give me a way to better understand and advise my massage clients, make it possible for someone to receive both massage and training from me, or be a training only client.  The body is the same after all, and there's a lot of synergy possible by having both perspectives and approaches available.

It hasn't surprised me to see how much the most cutting edge exercise thinking has in common with bodywork.  More and more the top fitness experts are training for balance, symmetry, and mobility in addition to strength, speed, and endurance.  The idea of isolating one part of the body, either to treat or to train, is well discredited. (All part of functional fitness, already a favorite topic on this blog.)

Over the last week I've been giving practice sessions to experienced trainers.  The workouts have been going quite well, and I've been getting very positive feedback.  The main challenge I've had is finding the equipment or floor space I intend to use unavailable.  In my own workouts I adapt pretty easily, but I'm trying to make each session I give perfect, and the alternate exercises aren't necessarily as good as the one I want to offer.  In general, it's all the things other than choosing, demonstrating, and guiding the exercises that are challenging me.

A fascinating thing is observing the differences in everyone's abilities.  My practice clients have all been trainers, except for one yoga teacher.  They are in good physical condition and very knowledgeable about workout programming.  Yet for each person some exercise that would seem easy has been very difficult, either in strength or balance(or both, because the stabilizing muscles are weak compared to the prime movers.)  Incidentally, the yoga teacher was the best at doing all the exercises with good form except for a jumping movement- not much jumping in yoga!

This observation convinces me even more of the value of working with a trainer.  It is too hard to watch yourself, or sense your alignment proprioceptively, while doing an exercise(not that you shouldn't try.)  Even more, picking exercises to continuously challenge yourself needs an outside perspective.  Habits and opinions may be so well ingrained that a person is completely oblivious that their exercise routine is lacking.  I include myself here, and I'm sure that any of the pros I've trained would find things I don't do well.

Finally I'll mention that as a business, I'm not quite certain how I will represent myself yet, particularly in all things Web.  Positive Massage Therapy is very well established, but I want to have an identity that reflects both aspects of my professional practice.  More to come...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Runners' Knee Pain and Seeking Exercise Variety

News supporting exercise variety:  Hip Exercises Found Effective at Reducing, Eliminating Common Knee Pain in Runners, Study Suggests
ScienceDaily (June 7, 2010) — A twice weekly hip strengthening regimen performed for six weeks proved surprisingly effective at reducing -- and in some cases eliminating -- knee pain referred to as patellofemoral pain (PFP) in female runners.
Beyond the direct evidence of hip-strengthening for treatment of PFP in runners in this study, to me there are wider implications for training.  The body needs to be used and exercised with a wide variety of challenges for optimum fitness and injury avoidance.  This variety should include a number of ways.

First, no single exercise is so good that it's all you need.  Second, movement should occur in multiple directions, not just the predominant front-to-back(sagittal plane) motion.   Third, for a particular exercise use a variety of implements(dumbbells, medicine balls, etc.) or for running, a variety in environment, such as trail running. Finally, do exercises involving the entire body, not just one part.  Your body will adapt to the tasks you give it, either with increased strength and mobility, or loosing muscle mass and flexibility where it isn't used.  Don't let this happen.

These concepts are part of Functional Fitness, one of my numerous posts about it is Functional Fitness and Vitamin D in NYT.  For a simple home hip exercise see my post Just Standing- Back Health and Weight Loss

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sprouts and Sports

My best food discovery lately is growing my own sprouts.  The process is simple, takes only a few days for results, and the product is both great tasting and great for you.  Plus a sprouted seed is about as fresh as it gets.

The very complete and informative Sprout People states that alfalfa sprouts are 35% protein and a source of vitamins A, B, C, E, K plus calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc.  From it looks more like 50% protein.  Pretty good for a green plant in any case, and they're low fat.  The seeds of many different plants are available for sprouting with similar healthful qualities.  My favorite is the "spicy mix" mix of alfalfa, clover, radish, fenugreek, which has a delicious blend of sharp and mild flavors.

I use a half-gallon canning jars from Palo Alto Hardware for growing.  On top of the jar goes a metal screen and a plastic ring to hold it in place.  I got my first seeds from Common Ground in Palo Alto, then the rest of the seeds and the other supplies from Sprout People.

The growing procedure is simple.  In brief, put some seeds into the jar, put on the screen lid, and add water to soak.  Then for a few days rinse and drain- the screen lid makes this is very easy. Sprout People sells sprouters that make it even easier, although I like the glass jar so I can watch the seeds grow.

From a small amount of seeds a huge amount of fresh sprouts emerge ready for sandwiches and salads.  Once they're grown I put them in the refrigerator and just grab a ready-to-eat handful to use.

The photos are at 24 hours, 5 days, and 6 days.  Two spoonfuls grew that much sprouts.

Summer sports season is here, so a few words about sports massage.  I recommend that massage be between events or workouts to help with recovery and to prepare for the next time.  Massage immediately after heavy exercise can help with muscles that are tightening, but should be fairly light to not add any extra stress to the muscle tissue.  Note that "flushing lactic acid" is a myth.  A body that's tight and unbalanced doesn't perform well, and that's where skilled massage can make the most difference.

From the New York Times, Diet and Exercise to the Extremes is an article about an elite vegan marathon runner.  I'll bet he eats a lot of sprouts!