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Shakira said it best. “I’m on tonight, and my hips don’t lie, and I’m starting to feel it’s right.” Your hips really don’t lie. They are the most central vortex of your entire body, and when they are hurting, chances are the rest of your body will follow suit. Structurally speaking, your hips are smack dab in the middle of everything else. Therefore, if your hips are out of whack, your body will be forced to compensate and end up in pain and out of alignment. 

The everyday lifestyle choices that we make in the western world often involve jumping from one extreme to another, as far as our bodies are concerned. For example, you most likely spend most of your day working at a desk, on a computer. Maybe you try to keep yourself in shape by hitting the gym super hard or playing an intense sport or even going for a long run. After that, you are tired, so you retire to the couch with a cold one and your favorite show or movie to unwind before hitting the hay and repeating the same cycle the next day.

With a routine like this, you ask your body to ping pong from sitting to partaking in an extreme activity, and then back to sitting or laying down. Add alcohol into the mix (which causes dehydration of the joint tissue and everything else), and you are not helping the situation.

Let’s face it, in this day in age, we are not partaking in the constant and consistent fluid motion that our hunter-gatherer ancestors endured to stay alive. Here’s the problem with this lack of motion, followed by intensity: you will lose your hip mobility, which can contribute to pain in the knees and the lower back. Luckily, there are some reasonably simple hip mobility exercises that you can do to limber up your most central joint system and potentially prevent injury. If you are wondering how to increase hip mobility, read on to learn more.

HOW TO IMPROVE HIP MOBILITY

First and foremost, when doing these hip mobility exercises (and any other feats of the body) you should not push yourself to the point of pain. The goal is to loosen up and increase your range of motion. The goal is not to push yourself past the point of your body’s capacity and cause injury.

Related:
Restorative Fitness: You Don’t Always Need to Max Out Your Capacity

So, if something is beginning to feel unpleasant in any of these exercises, slowly back out of it and regroup before attempting it again. Without any further ado, here are some of our favorite hip mobility stretches.

3 Easy Hip Mobility Stretches

1. PIGEON POSE

Yogi or not, pigeon pose (or any figure four position) is where it is at for opening up your hip flexors. To get into pigeon, you will want to place your right ankle directly behind your left wrist and your right knee directly behind your right wrist.

Be sure to flex your right foot (by pulling your toes back toward your shin) to protect your knee. Your left leg will be extended out behind you. You can either remain seated in an upright position, or you can fold forward over your front leg. Be sure to practice these hip mobility stretches on both sides to maintain balance.

2. BUTTERFLY STRETCH

Butterfly stretch earns its place on our list of favorite hip mobility stretches because it is an excellent opener for hip flexors. Sit on your butt and draw the “palms” of your feet together so that they are touching. Open them as if you were reading a book. Sit up as tall as you possibly can, elongating your spine.

While maintaining the length (and without slouching or rounding the spine), begin to hinge forward at the hips over your feet and folded legs. You can clasp your hands around your feet and use your elbows to push your legs and knees down, closer to the ground. If you feel your spine beginning to round, come out of it, reconnect with your length, and start again.

3. FROG STRETCH

Another one of our favorite hip mobility stretches is the frog position. Warning, this one is not for the faint of heart. It is a deep stretch, so as we mentioned before, be sure to listen to your body and not push yourself past your limit and into pain.

For this stretch, you may want to put a squishy mat or cushion underneath your knees. You will begin on your hands and knees in a table-top position. From there, you will widen your knees as far as you can from each other while lowering down onto your forearms. You will want to turn your toes out, away from each other. Once you are as low as you can go, you can experiment with the positioning of your pelvis. You can try tucking your tail bone down and under your rear end. You can also play with slightly arching your lower back. Even slowly and gently moving back and forth between the two positions may feel nice and will enable you to stretch different parts of your hip joints.

It would be best if you aimed to do these three stretches as often as possible, but at least once every day. If we take advice from Shakira, the key here is really to do them, “whenever, wherever!” Seriously – take care of your hip joints, and they will take care of you.

These hip mobility stretches don’t take very long, and the benefits are undeniable. Having healthy hip joints will help you combat natural aging, a sedentary lifestyle and will aid your athletic performance. As you age, the longevity of your body and all of its mobility and functionality becomes the name of the game. If you live in the Greater Boston Metro area, consider scheduling a session with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPT) to work on your hip mobility training. We offer in-home treatment and can facilitate your schedule.


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March 19, 2021 Fitness0

After over a year of lockdowns and “staying home to stay safe,” we are collectively feeling the need to regain our strength, fitness and to shed those extra quarantine-induced pounds. With that mindset, it is easy to push ourselves to and past our physical limits. Let’s just call it “damage control.” The problem is, so-called “damage control” can actually be very, well… damaging. You see, if you are constantly pushing yourself to your maximum capacity without any room for muscle and joint recovery, you are going to cause your body severe harm over time. Exercise breaks down your muscle fibers, and when they naturally rebuild, they come back stronger. But if you never allow the process of rebuilding to occur, you are going to deplete your muscle tissue, and your joints will be over-compensating. This is in addition to the potential damage to your tendons and connective tissue. Remember this: exercise is not a form of punishment. It is not meant to be penance for eating a donut or for an all-day couch-centric Netflix binge, or even for a year of “falling off the wagon.” (Don’t worry, you are not alone. We are all feeling the same way.) 

Instead, exercise should be an essential and consistent part of your lifestyle. It should be a way to maintain your body and keep your mind and body connected. Holistically, this will yield better lifestyle habits overall. When you are in tune with your physical self, your diet and sleep patterns will improve. You will be less stressed. Your focus will likely shift from mindless consumption (spanning everything from food, to alcohol, to garbage television) to a self-care regimen. No, we are not saying you shouldn’t challenge yourself. We are saying that after intense workouts (i.e., heavy weightlifting or HIIT training), you should also plan for workout recovery. Learn how to speed up muscle recovery with restorative fitness techniques and exercises. Keep reading to learn more.

WHAT IS RESTORATIVE FITNESS?

Simply put, restorative fitness is exactly what it sounds like. It intentionally focuses on letting oxygen flow to muscles and joints after an intense workout to let them heal and recover. This can be done in several ways (via stretching, breathing techniques, and relaxation exercises – more on that later). 

Oxygen is what helps muscle recovery the most. It helps to cleanse the body by flushing out toxins and bringing new cells to targeted areas. Restorative fitness also allows you to access your parasympathetic system (AKA the rest and digest system). This is the same system activated during Savasana in yoga, meditation, or when you get a massage or float in a sensory deprivation tank. It encourages the regeneration of cells and promotes workout recovery.

HOW TO RECOVER POST-WORKOUT:

If you are wondering how to speed up muscle recovery, there are two main components to restorative fitness. They are active recovery workouts and relaxation for muscle recovery. Ideally, both should be incorporated into your restorative fitness plan.

Active Recovery Workouts:

Active recovery workouts involve positioning your joints and muscles in ways that allow stretching and releasing and promote blood and oxygen flow to targeted areas. One of the most popular forms of this is gentle yoga. (If you are new to the Yoga scene and aren’t sure where to begin, try attending a Hatha Yoga class – virtual or in person, whatever makes you feel comfortable.) LCG Boston offers Yoga Physical Therapy (which can be scheduled in your own home, one on one.) If you are not ready for in-person contact and proximity, check out our Virtual Physical Therapy program.

If yoga isn’t your thing, but you are wondering how to recover post-workout, it is still entirely possible to achieve this simply by stretching. Try to include both active stretches and passive stretches. It is extremely important to bridge the gap between your passive and active flexibility ranges to prevent injury. You will also be able to target your joints’ inner workings to send blood flow to those areas. All too often, those are the areas that are neglected and weak (sometimes without us realizing it), ultimately leading to injury.

Related:
Four Tips to Improve Flexibility

Relaxation for Muscle Recovery:

Another means of muscle recovery is by intentionally relaxing the body and its muscles, joints, and connective tissue. This can be done in many ways. Massage is usually a crowd favorite. Who doesn’t love a good rub down, wherein your muscles just melt into putty? Given the contagious nature of the Coronavirus, we totally understand if massage therapy is outside your comfort zone at the moment. But, if you are up for it, Percussion Massage is one of our favorite alternative therapies here at LCG.

Another favorite method is to float in a flotation therapy tank. If this concept is new to you, flotation therapy involves a solo trip inside of a single-person-sized flotation tank. The tank is filled with a foot or less of very salty water that is maintained at perfect body temperature. It is completely dark inside and also soundproof. The idea is that while inside, you will have basically no sensations. Your experience while in the tank should be free of sounds, smells, touch, and vision. This allows you to tune entirely into your own body and mind. They call this “REST,” which is an acronym for restricted environmental stimulation therapy. The sensation of being weightless and in dark silence is very therapeutic and induces profound states of relaxation.

If you aren’t too sure about flotation therapy, another easy and more accessible way to achieve muscle recovery is simply to take a hot bath, which can be done in the comfort and safety of your own home. Feel free to add in Epsom salts and essential oils. Light some candles for ambiance, and relax!


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February 26, 2021 Fitness0

As we head into spring, get ready to take your workout outdoors! The pandemic has rendered many gyms and athletic facilities closed or open with restrictions, such as limited capacity and equipment. Most gyms require masks at all times (which can be challenging when you are breathing heavily), and some have shuttered their locker rooms and showers. With all things considered, outdoor workouts are extremely appealing these days. Plus, who doesn’t love a good mood-boosting dose of sunshine? Vitamin D and fresh air are what the doctor ordered! So, read on for our favorite workouts and exercises to do outside. 

1. Bodyweight Park Calisthenics 

If you want to break a sweat outdoors, workout equipment isn’t even necessary. Most of what you need to get a solid calisthenics-derived burn session can be found at any park. You can get really creative, but even the basics should keep your physique in check. Calisthenics utilizes your body weight for resistance. With these types of movements, you will burn fat, build muscle, and increase your endurance at a rapid pace.

A children’s playground can actually function as the ultimate outdoor workout park! You can use the monkey bars (or any overhead bar) to complete pull-ups. Find a park bench and use it for doing triceps dips as well as push-ups. For a lower body burn, you can use the same bench for box jumps, lunges, and lateral step-ups (with hip abductions). If you want to work your core, you can find a swing (or tire swing) and use it to prop up your legs and feet. Position your body in plank with your wrists stacked beneath your shoulders and move your feet up toward your wrists in repetitive inchworm motions. 

2. Walking 

It sounds basic, but walking is fantastic for your mental and physical health. It can be really helpful when you are anxious, stressed, or have a lot on your mind. Walking is also great exercise because it is low impact on your joints and can be good cardio. If you live in an urban area, try to walk as much as possible instead of relying on transportation. By making it a consistent part of your routine, you will be setting yourself up for a long-term lifestyle change. That can be one of the most rewarding and impactful choices you can make for your health.

3. Stand Up Paddleboarding

Okay, we are transitioning from our most basic pick (number 2, walking) to one of our more unique choices. Stand-up paddleboarding (or SUP) is a terrific way to get out and enjoy a body of water while also getting a total body workout. This outdoor workout involves standing on an oversized surfboard (SUP boards are specific to the sport, we don’t recommend trying this on any random board) and paddling in water with an ore (also specific to this sport). If you live near water and enjoy outdoor recreation, you are going to love this! You can beat the crowded beaches by paddling out from the shore and relaxing away from populated areas. Just be sure you don’t forget sunscreen (we are serious, lather up and pack extra). With the water reflecting the sun’s rays as you paddle around, you could be in for a serious burn if you aren’t diligent about reapplying.

If this all sounds great, but you are concerned about the hassle factor of obtaining, storing, and transporting a board, we have a great solution. Since stand-up paddleboarding has really made a splash in recent years (see what we did there?), lots of innovative products have hit the market. Check out this inflatable board by Hydro-Force. It is completely inflatable and folds up into a backpack (which is included). You may be thinking that because it is inflatable, it isn’t durable or sturdy. Think again! This board fills up to a rock-hard 15 PSIs. 

Pro tip: if you don’t want your arms to be tired before you even begin paddling, ditch the manual pump that comes with the board and purchase this electric pump that hooks up to your car outlet. In about twelve minutes, your board will be ready to roll.

4. Hiking

Speaking of outdoor recreation, who doesn’t love a workout with a view – especially in beautiful New England? Hiking is an amazing way to get a great workout and to enjoy the day. Anything with some challenging uphill terrain will get your heart beating and blood pumping. Plus, being out in nature can be very therapeutic and beneficial for your mental health. If your anxiety has been more prevalent than usual this past year, we can’t blame you! We have been living through groundbreaking and unprecedented historical events. Cortisol and adrenaline levels are through the roof for most. Getting exercise outside, especially some that involves being in nature, away from the hustle and bustle, will be incredibly beneficial.

5. Outdoor HIIT Workout

In case you have been living under a rock, HIIT workouts are at the forefront of every fitness magazine, blog, article, and even celebrity tabloids. What is a HIIT workout? HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. You do extremely challenging (high intensity) exercises for short intervals. The idea is that when you train in intervals, you train your metabolism to rev in this pattern throughout the day. HIIT is an amazing way to burn fat and get your cardio in without having to spend a lot of time.

Why not take it outside? One of the coolest things about HIIT is that there is no exercise equipment necessary. You will be doing spurts of exercises (such as burpees, squats, variations of jumping jacks, mountain climbers, etc.), so all you really need is a flat surface. Your outdoor HIIT workout may actually be ideal in a grassy field because it may offer a softer impact for your knees and other joints.

 


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February 12, 2021 Fitness0

The year is 2021, and we are rapidly approaching our twelfth month of the pandemic. For some, getting to the gym is out of the question. Heck, for some, getting off of the couch is out of the question at this point! It has been a long (Covid-laden) run, and the finish line’s location is vague. Some days, it even feels like it might be a mirage. That being said, it can be exceedingly difficult these days to find motivation for maintaining fitness, health, and nutrition. So, what is one to do?

If you have noticed that your waistline has… well… changed, or that your pre-pandemic fitness routine has been pushed to the wayside, perhaps it is time to consider the use of technology to help you get motivated and help you to reach your goals. You can track your fitness progress and health stats with wearable technology. This is super helpful in achieving your goals because most fitness trackers will send you reminders if you fall behind and help hold you accountable. They also may give you a sense of accomplishment by showing progress over time.

You can also explore and partake in various fitness classes, workouts, and the like with fitness apps. The best part is that these can be done at the gym or in your living room, so there are no excuses! Some of the best fitness apps on the market are literally at your fingertips, making your health and well-being pandemic-proof. Read on to learn more.

BEST FITNESS TRACKERS:

1. Fitbit Inspire 2

If you are reading this article, chances are you have wondered, what is the best fitness tracker? The market is saturated with a wide range of options that have a wide variety of features and price points. We have landed on the Fitbit Inspire 2 as our top pick because it covers a lot of ground without breaking the bank. For under $100 ($68.95, to be exact), you get all of the essentials, such as tracking heart rate variability, sleeping respiration, and activity. It is also super sleek and attractive. You can easily change the band from silicone to something fancier and get this – the battery can last as long as TEN DAYS. Yes, you read that correctly. The only thing the Inspire 2 appears to be missing from its competitors is GPS, but who doesn’t already have that on their cell phone?

2. Garmin Vivoactive 4

Okay, so if you can’t live without the GPS feature and have a bit bigger of a budget, maybe the GPS device pioneer is more your speed. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 rings in at $349. So, you could buy nearly five Fitbit Inspire 2 fitness trackers for the price of a single Vivoactive 4. What gives? Well, it does come with a ton of fancy features. To say that this device is made to track fitness is kind of like saying your iPhone is made to make phone calls. It doesn’t really tell the entire story.

The Vivoactive 4 also has music functionality (including Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer) and a color touchscreen display. You can (manually) track your hydration and liquid intake. In conjunction, the device automatically estimates your sweat loss post-workout (cool!). Like the Inspire 2, the Vivoactive 4 includes tracking your respiration rate for the day and sleep metrics. Additionally, it has breathwork exercises, workout animation functionality, built-in Yoga and Pilates workouts, blood oxygen tracking, and of course, GPS. The battery life averages about eight days. Not bad!

3. ŌURA

For some, no matter how great the features are, wearing a watch (especially while working out) is just too much. We are about to blow your mind with this one. Did you know that health tracker rings are now a thing? How cool is that?! If you are intrigued, you need to check out the Ōura. This sleek and custom-sized titanium ring looks like any other ring band on the outside. The inside, where it makes contact with your finger, is equipped with advanced sensors to capture your resting heart rate, HRV (heart rate variability), body temperature, and calorie burn. The price point is $299, and it comes in silver, black, or diamond. All finishes are scratch-resistant and water-resistant.

BEST FITNESS APPS:

Fitness trackers are awesome, and can easily be used in conjunction with workout apps. Below are three of our favorites.

1. Alo Moves 

Alo Moves gets our votes because for $20 per month (which is about the cost of just one yoga class at a studio), you will get unlimited access to yoga, fitness, and meditation classes led by pro instructors. The fitness classes are actually pretty diverse and include strength, barre, Pilates, HIIT, and more. You are given enough content to never be bored and always try something new. That ought to help with fitness motivation!

2. Obé

If you came into the pandemic as a group exercise enthusiast, Obé might be just what you need to keep up your workout routine. This fitness app is awesome because it offers live and on-demand classes so that you will be working out with actual people and actual instructors in real-time. Class offerings include Pilates, yoga, barre, cardio dance, cardio boxing, HIIT, and strength training. The price point is a bit higher ($27 per month) but still less than most gym memberships or the cost of dropping into in-person classes at a studio.

3. Seven

If you are “too busy” to exercise, we have got some great news for you! The Seven app was designed to make every minute count. Every workout included in the app is just seven minutes long and requires no equipment. The exercises are all rooted in HIIT (high-intensity interval training), which has been proven to be extremely effective, as it trains your metabolism to be revving all day long. The price point is great! (Only $9.99 per month, with an option to purchase for the year at just $59.99).


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January 29, 2021 FitnessHealth & Wellness0

Making a human is hard work! Your body is going to change dramatically over the course of your pregnancy, and most likely thereafter as well. (Hello, mom bod!) You have probably heard stories (or even know women personally) who became pregnant and never, “snapped back.” If you are expecting, you may be wondering can you exercise while pregnant. Getting fit while expecting a baby is not only entirely possible but also a great idea! The healthier a mother-to-be, most likely, the healthier her baby will be. Exercising while pregnant is also a great way to prepare for the marathon that is labor and delivery. Plus, if you maintain your fitness routine while pregnant, chances are that you will have an easier time with the postpartum fitness journey and losing the weight gained over those long nine months. Read on to learn more.

Of course, the most important advice around anything involved with your pregnancy will come from your doctor or OBGYN. Always check with a qualified professional before partaking in anything strenuous or new while pregnant. In general, if your pregnancy is healthy and exercise was part of your routine before you became pregnant, you should continue (within reason) the same workouts as you were doing. As you get further along with your pregnancy, you will likely need to make modifications for safety. Especially because your body is going to drastically change. As your belly grows, it will become increasingly difficult to execute certain movements, which will yield exercises to avoid while pregnant.

For example, bending forward will become more challenging and less comfortable. As you gain weight, anything that involves jumping, bouncing, or the sudden impact of gravity is going to be not only uncomfortable because of the pressure of the baby on all of your organs, but it may also lead to unintended urination. Gross, we know. (But try having 30 extra pounds pushing on your bladder.)

At a certain point in the 40 weeks, you may also feel discomfort in positions that require you to lay on your back. Again, this is because of all of the extra weight crushing your organs. So, no bending forward, no jumping, bouncing, running, and nothing involving laying on the back. You are probably thinking, “what kind of exercise can I do while pregnant?” Keep reading for some of our favorite suggestions for getting fit and maintaining your health while pregnant.

  1. SWIMMING

Swimming is the perfect pregnancy exercise. Trust us, when you are heavy, bloated, and as big as a house (okay fine, as big as a skyscraper sideways), you are going to love the weightless sensation and buoyancy of being in the water. Water can be therapeutic, especially for those who experience swelling of the legs and ankles during pregnancy.

Swimming is also amazing because it is a low-impact form of cardio. You can really raise your heart rate and get your blood flowing while gliding through the water. This poses very little strain or impact on your joints, which are already working overtime to carry the sudden increase of weight in your body. Anything that increases your heart rate is going to increase your circulation, which will increase your blood flow and oxygen to your fetus. This is extremely beneficial for both your health and the health of your baby.

Water-resistance is a great way to get in shape. If swimming laps isn’t your thing, try taking a water aerobics class. We are sure you are going to find great comfort and strength in moving in the water.

  1. YOGA

Not only does Yoga require that you move and stretch, but you will also be practicing rhythmic breathing. This is going to help you navigate the waves of pain that are part of labor. Yoga can help you to be very in touch and in tune with your body, which will give you great confidence and serenity during the birthing process. Many studios offer pre-natal specific yoga. This is ideal because all of the Asanas (yoga postures) in the class will already be modified and suitable for your pregnant body. It may be a fun way to connect with other soon-to-be-mommies in your community as well.

If prenatal yoga isn’t offered where you practice, consider arriving early enough to inform your teacher that you are pregnant and may need guidance on how to modify some of the postures in class. There are also many resources available online if you are more comfortable practicing at home. Just be aware that during the later stages of pregnancy, your body will release higher levels of relaxin. This is a hormone that helps to relax the uterine wall and prepare the body for labor and delivery. Your hips may therefore be more flexible than you are used to. Just be careful not to push yourself too far, so as to avoid injury.

  1. WALKING

It sounds simple, but don’t underestimate the many health benefits of walking. Walking is a very gentle form of cardio. If done outside, the fresh air may be a great way to counter the hot flashes often experienced during pregnancy. Sometimes pregnancy brain can feel foggy or it can feel overwhelmingly chaotic and fast-paced. Going for a long walk is not only good for your body, but it has tremendous benefits for your mental health as well. You can sort through your thoughts or ease your stress and anxiety.

  1. ELLIPTICAL & SPIN BIKE

If you were a gym-goer prior to pregnancy, chances are that you started your workouts with some form of cardio warm-up. For many, this typically involves a fast-paced walk or run on a treadmill. When you have a giant belly that weighs 20-30lbs, nothing about running is going to feel good. All of the bouncing up and down and the impact is going to cause a great amount of discomfort.

Luckily, the elliptical machine and spin bikes offer worthy alternatives. The gliding motion is continuous, so you never have the abrupt impact of your foot hitting the track. Plus, most machines have many resistance settings so you can really up the challenge. This is perfect if the weather outside isn’t ideal for a walk, or if you are looking to break a sweat.

What is your favorite way to stay in shape while pregnant?


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January 22, 2021 FitnessHealth & Wellness0

Are you seeking the ultimate total body workout that can be done at home? Are you searching for the one piece of exercise equipment that does it all without breaking the bank? Do you need something effective but also low impact on your joints? Look no further – the search is over! You need to invest in a stability ball. Stability ball exercises offer the whole shebang! You can tone, strengthen, and stretch every muscle group in the comfort of your own home. The best part is that the cost for one is about twenty bucks. That is less than a monthly gym membership! In this article, you will learn about the benefits of using a stability ball, and we will even give you a starting point for a home stability ball workout. Read on for more! 

WHAT IS A STABILITY BALL?

Before we get into the many benefits of using a stability ball, as well as our favorite stability ball workouts, let’s review the equipment. You may have also heard of this very same exercise apparatus referred to as a fit ball, exercise ball, or Swiss ball. A stability ball is the same as any one of these. It is simply an oversized, inflatable vinyl ball that can be used to condition, exercise, and stretch your body.

Variety is the spice of life, right? Well, in this case, stability ball exercises are super spicy. Whether you slam it to the left or shake it to the right (yes, we went there. That was indeed a Spice Girls reference), you can strengthen and reshape your physique with this dynamic yet straightforward piece of equipment. The stability workout ball is extremely versatile and can be used in hundreds of ways. Workout balls also come in many sizes, which adds even more variety to your exercise regimen. When deciding what size stability ball is right for you, you will need to consider which exercises you plan to do the most. Perhaps investing in a set with a few options is a great way to go. After all, stability balls are relatively inexpensive compared to many other exercise equipment on the market.

THE BENEFITS OF USING A STABILITY BALL

As we mentioned above, the stability ball is a fundamentally simple object. It is a ball, plain and simple. Don’t be fooled, though; simple does not necessarily mean easy. Because the stability ball is round, it inherently “wants” to roll away. When you activate your body’s muscles to prevent this from happening, you target a particular (and seldom used) group of muscles, known as your stabilizers. Your stabilizer muscles are essential tools that your body uses to keep your joints correctly aligned. Injury occurs when your joints are forced out of alignment. The stronger the surrounding muscles (stabilizers) are, the less likely this is to occur and the better your balance will be. Therefore, stability ball workouts are excellent cross-training for any other sport.

In addition to strengthening your stabilizers, stability ball exercises target hard-to-reach areas (ahem, hello lower abs, mommy pouch, and saddlebags, we are looking at you). Because you are always fighting (and hopefully winning) a battle with gravity, you are partaking in the remarkably effective form of exercise known as plyometrics. According to Collins Dictionary, plyometrics are defined as “a system of exercise in which the muscles are repeatedly stretched and suddenly contracted.”

In many cases, when athletes or workout enthusiasts practice plyometrics, there is a substantial degree of impact. (We are referring to force on the joints in the body.) As mentioned above, this can easily cause injury. Consider jumping rope as an example. Every time your feet hit the ground, your ankles and knees are hit with force. Over time, this can be damaging. If any of the joints are out of alignment upon impact, the damage or injury can occur immediately.

With the stability ball, you make contact with the ball as it rolls, so you are basically gliding through the motions. While you are targeting and working your muscle groups effectively, you are doing so in a way that is very low impact on your joints.

STABILITY BALL EXERCISES

  1. Stability Ball Plank: For this exercise, you will begin in a high plank, with your palms on the floor. Be sure to press evenly into all of your fingers. You want to visualize hollowing out your palms so that all of the weight is taken off of your wrists. Make sure your wrists are stacked directly underneath your shoulders. Rest your shins and feet on top of the stability ball. You may find that holding the plank position is enough of a workout for you. If you would like more of a challenge, you can practice a plank to jackknife motion. (You will bend your knees, rolling the ball forward toward your hands. Then return to plank.) Repeat 10-12 times for one set.
  2. Stability Ball V-Ups: Sit-ups have long been in the mix for working out. With the workout ball added in, you can really amp up the challenge and efficacy. You will want to lay on your back with the ball between your legs and your arms stretched out overhead. Squeeze the ball isometrically between your legs (hello stabilizers!). Lift the ball up with your legs and lift your arms to meet them (no bending, keep them straight). From the profile view, your body should make a V shape. Repeat this motion several times.
  3. Stability Ball Squats: For the ultimate lower body workout, squats have been on the agenda for all eternity. Ramp up the burn by doing them near a wall, with the stability ball between your back and the wall. When you are standing up, you will want the ball against the exact middle of your back. As you squat down, the ball will roll up higher toward your shoulders. Pressing into the ball will not only create resistance but will also help you to maintain proper form. Repeat several times.

 


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December 18, 2020 FitnessInjury Recovery0

While an injury may bench you from certain athletic activities, there are many low impact workouts and exercises that can keep you in shape and help speed up your recovery. If you are wondering how to speed up your ACL or hamstring injury recovery time, we are here to tell you that many of the exercises you likely already enjoy fall into the category of low impact exercises! Also, make no mistake, low impact does NOT mean easy. 

Suffering an injury can be an athlete’s worst nightmare. Training in the COVID-19 era, after several months of lockdowns and interruptions to our everyday lives, has left many with a higher propensity to get hurt. The more we stay put and the more we sit, the less we elevate our heart rate. The less blood flow we have to our joints, the more likely we are to get injured. No matter what level of pandemic restrictions are in place where you reside, make sure you dedicate time every day (and every hour, if possible) to move your body around. This will not only help you to stay in shape but will also help keep your joints healthy.

WHAT IS A LOW IMPACT WORKOUT?

To understand the benefits of low impact exercises, you must first know what they are. Low impact neither refers to how little your waistline is impacted nor how much muscle mass is gained. Phew! What a relief! So, where, then, is impact minimized?

Your joints! You can see all of the results that you usually see from exercising without the abuse and wear and tear on your body. Let’s face it, without healthy and fully functioning joints, you are going to be warming that bench indefinitely!

Joints get worn out both by overuse and as a natural part of aging. In ideal circumstances, all of the tissue that is damaged within a joint will naturally regenerate. Suppose you are an avid athlete with a training focus geared toward one sport (for example, a pitcher for a baseball team). In that case, you may experience pain, injury, or deterioration in your elbow joint. If you continue to train, even when the tissue has depleted, it will not have proper time to regenerate. Similarly, as we age, that very same tissue begins to wear down naturally and takes longer to heal and replenish. This is why you should cross-train with low impact exercises and give your joints a break so that they can recover.

So, without further adieu, our top three low impact workouts to help keep you in shape and for injury recovery and rehabilitation are yoga, swimming, and cycling. All three are excellent exercises to get your blood pumping without exerting much force on any of your joints. Read on to learn why we chose each of the three and how they can aid your road to injury recovery.

YOGA

Yoga is at the top of the list because who, especially in 2020, doesn’t love an exercise that also eases your anxiety? #amirite?? With yoga, you can improve both your physical and your mental well-being. By intentionally pairing your breath with your movement, you will increase your blood flow to your joints, which will help in the healing effort of any injury you may have.

Yoga is also a great way to target, activate, and workout your stabilizer muscle groups, which don’t typically get a ton of use otherwise. Your stabilizers offer a tremendous amount of support to all of your joints, so this may help you avoid injury in high impact sports.

You may also find that yoga can improve your flexibility and overall sense of well-being. While it may seem a bit “woo woo” for some, we are willing to bet that most serious athletes would find yoga to be far more challenging than expected. It is a great, low-impact way to stay in shape while you are rehabilitating any injury. An hour of yoga burns roughly 400 calories. If you are into hot yoga, that number can increase or even double.

Related: 

Yoga Physical Therapy: Healing From Within

SWIMMING

Another tremendous low-impact cardio workout is swimming. Exercising in water is fantastic because it not only provides resistance, helping you to build up muscle mass, but it also allows your motions to be fluid and weightless. This helps remove the impact from your joints. Imagine running on pavement. When your foot hits the ground with force, that sends a pressure shockwave through your foot, ankle, knee, and hip joints. That source of pressure can be damaging over time and can worsen an existing injury.

Now imagine swimming laps. You are kicking both legs repeatedly while your arms fluidly glide through the resistance that water provides. You are breathing heavily, in rhythm from side to side. All of this is increasing your heart rate, building muscle mass, and burning fat. Swimming is an excellent low impact workout to get yourself in shape! It is a full-body workout and can burn up to 700 calories in an hour.

CYCLING

While we are on the topic of gliding, cycling offers a similar low-impact exercise experience. Because the pedals move continuously on a circular track, your ankle, knee, and hip joints will experience a fluid range of motion. There is no forceful interruption of movement.

If you have ever ridden a bicycle uphill, you already know that cycling can be one of the most challenging cardio exercises out there. Propelling your entire body’s weight forward, plus the weight of your bicycle, will have you winded in no time. Plus, with the many resistance levels that bikes can offer, you will likely find that cycling builds muscle mass in the booty and legs very quickly. Unlike doing squats, which may strain your ankle, knee, and hip joints, cycling will keep the pressure off so that you can see results without experiencing pain. An hour of cycling can burn anywhere from 600 to 750 calories.


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October 23, 2020 FitnessHealth & Wellness0

Brrrr! The temperatures have recently dropped, and Baby, it’s cold outside! And you know what that means… The holiday season is on the horizon! You know what they say about gift shopping. The early bird catches the worm! (Or in this case, the better prices.) Folks, it is time to start making your list and checking it twice. After the recent lockdown, the general consensus is that mayyyyybe it is time to hit the gym a little harder, the kitchen a little lighter, and bounce back from the quarantine-fifteen (or twenty…okay, or thirty.) Not to worry! We’ve got you! Read on for our top health-related gifts and gifts for fitness.

1. Bluetooth Headphones

Let’s face it, having to navigate a workout is hard enough on its own. Add in the complication of wires strewn about your body when you are trying to move and all chaos breaks loose! Thankfully the technology gods have risen to the occasion and brought us Bluetooth headphones! Check out one of the best gifts for fitness lovers, this wireless, noise-canceling Jabra Elite 85h headset. One of its greatest features is the nano-coating, water resistant technology to wick away sweat and water. The material on your head will feel like cloth (instead of plastic) for ultimate comfort.

On top of that, these bad boys feature an automatic ear detection sensor, so when you remove the headphones your music will pause automatically. They are also capable of pairing with two devices at the same time, so you can listen to music without worrying about missing call or message notifications during a lunch hour workout. The battery life totally rocks! With just fifteen minutes of charging, you can yield a whopping five hours of playback time! Not bad!

2. LCG Gift Card

Give the gift of long-term health this holiday season! If your loved one lives in or frequents the Boston area, they are going to love a contribution to their health and wellness efforts in the form of an LCG gift card! Think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure, where the outcome is a combination of healing, longevity, and recovery. Your gift recipient can apply the card balance to Physical Therapy or Yoga Physical Therapy, or any of our alternative wellness & recovery services. These include Assisted Stretch, Strength & Conditioning, Golf Assessment & Mobility, Percussion Massage Therapy, NormaTec Compression Therapy, Photobiomodulation Therapy, and Dry Needling.

Related:
The Benefits of NormaTec Therapy

3. Personal Blender

The fitness-lover in your life will love having their own, single-serving blender. We like this Oster BLSTPB-WBL My Blend. Millennials have replaced “forty ounces of freedom” with 20 ounces of convenience. Health and fitness have never been more trendy with the 25 to 40-year-old crowd. Nothing beats a tool that allows you to prep breakfast for the next day and leave it in the fridge. The next morning, you can just blend and go. The blender is capable of crushing ice (with its whopping 250 blending watts of power.) The bottle itself is dishwasher safe, since it is stainless steel (BPA? No, thank you!) The bottle also comes with a shaker ball so if you are in a serious rush and only wish to mix protein powders or supplements, you can take and shake on the go, making it one of the best health gifts for busy people. For an added bonus, enjoy some delicious smoothie recipes, included in the manual.

4. Body Wipes

If you are looking for the perfect stocking stuffer, look no further! Millennials are busy people who often wear many, many hats. This means that they are very good at cramming a lot in to one day and are often on the go! Sometimes only an hour is allotted for an office lunch break, but a die-hard fitness lover will not let that get in the way of a dedicated work out regiment. With only an hour to break a sweat, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to hit the showers before returning to the office grind. Enter Goodwipes!

As the packaging touts, these are a “shower in a wipe!” Each one is jumbo-sized (9.5” x 11.5”) and individually wrapped so they won’t dry out in the package. They are 100% biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and biodegradable. The individual wrapper is awesome because you don’t have to carry around a whole pack in your gym bag or purse (unlike their predecessor, baby wipes. Plus, these won’t leave you smelling like you just had your diaper changed.) Each pack comes with ten wipes so you can divide them into in-case-of-emergency places (i.e. glove box, gym bag, purse, office desk, etc.) Not only are they great for the gym and quick workouts, but they can also be a saving grace for camping, between flights, or music festivals (if those ever happen again….Thanks, Corona!)

5. Veggie Spiralizer

If you haven’t heard, the low carb, gluten-free, and Paleo lifestyles are trending hard right now! In the name of weight loss, better skin and gut health, and more energy, lots of people are swapping out traditional dishes for their low carb counterparts. For example, “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) have become a popular substitute for spaghetti. So much so, that they can be found already prepped in the produce aisle or frozen section of most grocery stores these days.

The thing about buying the pre-made version is that zucchini and other veggies lose their structural integrity and texture very fast when stripped of their protective skin. Not to mention that prepped food is almost always more expensive than making it yourself. To combat the case of the soggy zoodles, we recommend gifting your health-nut this Brieftons 5-Blade Spiralizer. This puppy can handle more than zucchini (try sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and even beets!) The whole, “eat the rainbow” adage is decades old. What better way than to recreate traditional pasta dishes with all sorts of mineral-rich vegetables? This particular spiralizer comes with attachments to cut five different varieties of “pasta.” (It includes a flat blade as well as a blade for angel hair, spaghetti, fettuccine, and pappardelle.) Plus, it comes with a LIFETIME replacement guarantee. Yes, you read that correctly!

 


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September 18, 2020 Fitness

Halloween is next month, and you have spent all of September perfecting every detail of your costume. You will scare the world, dressed as Linda Blair in the acclaimed horror movie, The Exorcist. Before you can truly claim your fame as best dressed at the costume party, you better be able to walk down an entire flight of stairs in a backbend. Right? Weird flex, but okay. (See what we did there?) We will explain the difference between active and passive flexibility, why they are important, and give you some of our favorite flexibility exercises. Read on to learn our tips to improve flexibility.

To learn how to become more flexible, you must first start at the beginning. If you don’t go about flexibility exercises properly, you have a great propensity to get injured. So, on to lesson numero uno: What is flexibility? While you may automatically picture a gymnast or contortionist doing some crazy splits, mid-air, or pulling one leg six inches behind their head, that is not the definition.

Ordinary people, of all body types, have at least some level of flexibility. The definition of flexibility is the range of motion that is available to a joint. That being said, even a total couch potato could make a claim to flexibility fame if they can spread their toes wide apart from one another, or if they are double-jointed and can lift their pinky further back than ninety degrees. (Freaky, right??) Even if a range of motion is not initiated by an individual (for example, if someone moves your pinky back for you), it still counts as a range of motion to that joint.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty about how you can limber up your backbend, steal the show, AND win first prize for best dressed (and, of course, freak all of your friends out at the party), we need to make sure you fully understand the difference between active and passive flexibility. The reason why these are important is because the greater the difference between a joint’s active and passive flexibility, the greater the likelihood of that joint getting injured while traveling between the full range of motion.

PASSIVE FLEXIBILITY 

Passive flexibility is when the muscles that move your joints are held in place by an external force. This is typically another body part (such as your hand). For example, rest one hand flat on a table. Let it be completely limp. Using the other hand, pull your index finger back toward your forearm. (Don’t pull too hard. This is just a demonstration. There is no need for any pain.) Your index finger has moved away from the table passively. Other than the help from your opposite hand, your finger would be completely limp. This is an example of passive flexibility.

ACTIVE FLEXIBILITY

Active flexibility is when the muscles that move your joints are responsible for the joint moving, without the help of anything external. So, now place the same hand flat on the table. Without using the other hand at all, lift your index finger off of the table as far as you can. This is an example of active flexibility. The greater the difference between where your index finger was with help, and where it was without help, the greater the chance that your finger will be injured when in motion. This concept can be applied to any joint in your body. This is why it is essential to practice improving your active range of flexibility (AKA mobility). The more you can decrease the gap between active and passive flexibility, the safer you will be when engaging in any physical activity (or even just walking, sitting, and standing).

TIPS TO IMPROVE FLEXIBILITY

1. Be consistent.

While there are millions of different stretches to improve flexibility, the most important thing you can do is commit to being consistent. Like most body/mind feats, the journey to mobility is not one that can happen overnight. It takes a near-daily practice of strengthening and conditioning your muscles. Even thirty minutes per day can yield excellent results.

2. Warm up the right way.

Gone are the days of holding a stretch pose for minutes on end (AKA static stretching) to start your workout, activity, or training session. The right way (and we say, “right,” because it is most effective and the safest way) to warm up is by way of dynamic movement. Before you even think about dropping into a pose that may strain (or tear) your muscle, first get your blood pumping. A great first step to anything physical is to do at least 10-15 minutes of cardio. Jumping jacks, jumping in place, burpees, or even dancing really hard are great ways to raise your heart rate. This will increase blood flow to your major muscle groups, not only helping to prevent injury but ensuring that you will get more out of stretching.

If you are interested in Assisted Stretch service, click here.

3. Incorporate a short bit of static stretching. 

Once you are warm from the dynamic cardio workout, it is safe to go ahead and begin stretching. You may passively hold poses in positions that are available to you. Yoga straps and blocks are great tools to use when your limbs and extremities are out of reach. When practicing static stretches, it is of the utmost importance to maintain proper alignment. You will get more out of a stretch if you are aligned than you will by pushing yourself beyond what is available to you while your form is out of whack.

If you are interested in Yoga Physical Therapy, click here.

4. Focus more on dynamic stretching. 

Rather than sitting in one position, try instead to move slowly (back and forth) from one position to another, exercising your full range of motion. For example, begin in half pike position with one leg outstretched in front of you and your weight on the opposite knee, shift your weight forward, and bend the front knee into a lunge. Slowly move back and forth between these two positions. (Tip: If your front knee is passing your front foot in the lunge position, make the space between your legs greater to protect your knee joint.) Experiment with the active versus passive flexibility exercise from earlier. Seated on the floor, with your legs in as much of a straddle as is available to you, try lifting one leg off the ground with your hand or a yoga strap. Now put the strap down and try lifting the same leg with only the muscles in that leg. The more you can strengthen the muscles needed for active flexibility, the better your flexibility will be overall.


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