How to Reduce Your Risk of Ankle Sprains

Have you every sprained your ankle?  If you played sports at all growing up or now, you likely sprained an ankle.  Ankle sprains are reported as one of the most common sports-related injuries (Herzog et al., 2019) accounting for over 50% of basketball injuries (Fong, Hong, Chan, Yung, & Chan, 2007).  Playing soccer mostly as a child through college, I had a few along the way.  For some people, they seem to get ankle sprains more easily than others.  Let’s look into some of the reasons why and what causes ankle sprains in the first place.

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Ankle sprains can occur on the middle and side part of your foot.  73% of ankle sprains occur to the lateral aspect of the joint (Raghava Neelapala et al., 2016).  Sprains occur when your foot turns inward during a step with enough force to cause a trauma to it.  This can be done while walking and tripping, making a cut during an athletic activity, or instability in your footwear (high heels).  You know it the instant the sprain happens.

Typically resting, icing, compression, and elevation (RICE) is an acceptable treatment for a sprain.  After a few days you test how much stress the ankle can take and make your best judgement on when to resume sports participation or wear those stiletto heels again.  Without proper healing time and making certain adjustments in your training, you can develop chronic ankle instability.  Several risk factors for ankle sprains and chronic ankle instability have been identified, including previous sprain (Morrison & Kaminski, 2007), increased arch height, or a supinated foot type as well as footwear, intrinsic muscle weakness, and even glute weakness (Friel, McLean, Myers, & Caceres, 2006), according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

The way to build up ankle strength is doing exercises that increase proprioception.  Proprioception is how your body reacts to various stimulus in space, like standing on one foot with your eyes closed.  Anyone can increase foot and ankle proprioception by working on their balance doing simple tasks like washing dishes.  In the gym, try doing your normal standing type exercises on balancing on each foot for a set.  You can also do these activities barefoot to force the muscles in your feet to react and strengthen. Single leg balance and other types of proprioceptive training have been shown to be effective at enhancing ankle joint stability (DiStefano, Clark, & Padua, 2009). Barefoot stimulation and intrinsic foot muscle strengthening has also recently gained attention as an effective way to enhance ankle joint stability and position sense (de Villiers & Venter, 2014).

From experience, these small changes in your workout routine pay big dividends!  Older populations lose their balance more easily and are susceptible to broken hips and other broken bones in the arms and shoulders from impact.  Once you fall, your chances of falling again are guaranteed.  Build balance movements into your routine for all ages.  The same exercise has a completely different feel when you do. 

Working with a trainer or corrective exercise specialist like myself can help you integrate these types of movements safely and effectively.  To learn what a comprehensive corrective exercise program can do for you, contact me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com, and go to mattpeale.com.  Who is a corrective exercise program good for?  Everyone!  We are all athletes in the game of life, it’s time you treated yourself like it!

How to Reduce Your Chances of Shin Splints

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome is pain in the front of the tibia caused by an overload to the tibia and the associated musculature.  MTSS is more commonly known as shin splints.  Athletes and weekend warriors of all ages have experienced shin splints at one time or another, and I’m one of them.  In high school I had shin splints playing soccer at various times, and in training for soccer during distance running regimens I also had the pain.  For most cases, simply buying newer and better supporting shoes can solve the problem.  Let’s look more in detail at how you can prevent MTSS without spending money on footwear.

The science behind shin splints from the National Academy of Sports Medicine says (Moen, Tol, Weir, Steunebrink, & De Winter, 2009), it is an overuse injury thought to be associated with the improper loading of impact forces and a more rigid foot type (Hubbard, Carpenter, & Cordova, 2009).   In regular English, this is referring to how your foot strikes the ground with each running step or jump landing on one foot, typically during sports.  Most athletes and common gym members don’t train, or think about, how they land during a jump or how their foot impacts the surface as they run.  Without a professional to analyze your gait for improper muscle function, why would you?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

When you land from a jump or running step, your lower leg absorbs all the forces from your body.  Your hamstrings and glutes play significant roles also, we are focusing on the lower leg, specifically the tibia, for this blog.  Your lower leg muscles stiffen up to protect the tibia from bending upon impact.  Depending on the angle, shoes you wear, and force your produce upon landing, the body automatically stiffens appropriately to avoid injury. 

Shin splints occur when the lower 1/3 of the medial tibial area cannot absorb landing forces appropriately.  If not treated, you could cause stress fractures to your tibia and possibly further damage.  According to NASM, risk factors for MTSS include improper footwear, over-pronation, rigid foot type (supinated), glute weakness, and delayed stabilization on impact.  Stretching and strengthening muscles around your ankle and in your feet are the best ways to prevent shin splints, besides replacing worn out shoes.

Calf stretch

What muscles need to be stretched?  Before athletic activities, use a foam roller along your calf muscles, and/or roll a frozen water bottle with the bottom of your foot.  Hold your body on the roller for 15-20 seconds on each tender spot of your calf.  Do not roll along your calf like rolling out dough.  Yes, it will hurt, and that’s part of the roller breaking up knots in your fascia.  Spend a couple minutes on each leg.  When you finish rolling, spend 20-30 seconds holding a calf stretch on each leg.  Do not bounce!  Repeat this process before every run, workout, or sport practice.  Also stretch after your activity.

What muscles need to be strengthened?  The muscles along the bottom of your feet and in the shin.  The anterior tibialis is the muscle that draws your foot up.  You can attach a band to a bench and pull your toes toward you.  Another alternative is to walk like you have swim fins on and deliberately point your toes up as high as you can, placing your heels on the ground with each step for 20-30 steps.  Do this for 1-2 sets.  Perform a short foot movement like the picture shows: bring the ball of your foot towards your heel without using your toes.  It’s tricky and takes practice. 

Short foot start
Short foot finish

To learn what a comprehensive corrective exercise program can do for you, contact me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com, and go to mattpeale.com.  Who is a corrective exercise program good for?  Everyone!  We are all athletes in the game of life, it’s time you treated yourself like it!

How to Avoid Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis plagues many people from all walks of life:  gym rats, weekend warriors, overweight populations, and seemingly just the average Joe and Jane.  You’re not sure why or how the bottom of your foot burns from not doing anything outrageous, but it just does. 

Plantar fasciitis

Let’s talk about what plantar fascia is.  The plantar fascia is a thick, fibrous band of connective tissue that runs from the calcaneus (heel) toward the base of each toe.  It spreads out into three bands on the bottom of your foot to help support the middle arch.  When you don’t have enough elasticity in this tissue as it spreads and recoils naturally during movement, micro tears occur causing the burning sensation aka plantar fasciitis. 

Injuries like plantar fasciitis often result from overuse, it doesn’t happen after one game of tennis or kickboxing class.  Over weeks and months, the tears begin to occur until one day you feel the sharp pain when you stand up in the morning or after standing for a long period of time.  My clients don’t realize plantar fasciitis is self-inflicted from a lack of foot and Achilles mobility.  To often people rush into a workout or sports activity without properly warming up.  As you age, lack of warm up time catches up to you with nagging injuries like plantar fasciitis.  Even then, some people are to stubborn to adjust their routines and are forced to stop exercising for weeks or months.  When one part of the body is hurt, other surrounding joints and muscles compensate for the injury leading to more injuries and dysfunction. 

Standing calf stretch

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) says to focus on increasing ankle mobility through myofascial release on the bottom of your foot and stretching the calf muscles.  Myofascial release is using a tool such as a foam roller, to roll and apply pressure on the tight and affected areas.  Using a baseball, for example, by rolling your foot and applying pressure on the ball can help restore mobility.  Also using a foam roller and stretching your calf muscles before and after exercise and physical activity improves flexibility of the ankle to alleviate pain symptoms. 

Foam rollers

Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include limited mobility in the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon (Hedrick, 1996), excessive impact forces (overuse), an everted foot type (Patel, & DiGiovanni, 2011), increased body mass index in a nonathletic population, and insufficient ankle mobility.  If you fall into any of these categories, it’s best you take a few minutes as I mentioned, and reduce your chance of injury through proper self-care.  People are always in a rush and don’t spend enough time for warm up and cool down.  I was one of those people until studying more about corrective exercise and becoming a personal trainer in 2008.  Now in my mid 40’s, taking the extra few minutes pays off by keeping myself in the best shape of my life.

To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!

Get Your Ass Into It! – Glutes Are Not Just for Sitting On

“Get your ass into it!” yells your coach as you half heartedly go through the motions of a workout or practice.  Does he really mean to use your butt muscles, or more metaphorically to put more effort into your movements?  The answer is likely a little of both, and you know that from way back when.

Let’s drill down into why “using your ass” in sports and gym exercises is critical to power, strength, and speed.  Regardless of your age and talent level, being able to successfully incorporate the glutes can transform your workouts, give you more distance off the tee, and allow you to hammer that ace first serve.  Unfortunately, most executives, professionals, and older adults use their glutes for resting their body weight on, aka, sitting a majority of the day.  Obviously sitting does nothing to make the glutes stronger.  Sitting makes your glutes lengthened and more difficult to generate power for working out and playing any sports.  Most people don’t know the potential that lies in the biggest muscle on their body.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

The main function of your glutes is to extend your hips.  The easiest way to explain it is standing up.  When you stand up from a seated position, your glutes contract along with your quadriceps, to get you off the chair.  Most people over rely on their quadriceps for these movements, which are shortened and tight due to sitting hours daily.  The quadriceps cannot generate the power and strength of the glute muscles when they are shortened, and often lead to knee-cap pain when they dominate in pushing movements. 

Training the glutes to be the prime power generator is not simply doing squats, lunges, and deadlifts till they fall off.  It starts with smaller isolated exercises like lying face down and raising your straight leg high as you can off the ground.  Another move called a bird dog helps to activate your glutes and your rear shoulder muscles.  Being able to contract your glutes for full hip extension takes the strain off your quadriceps and knees, allowing for more range of motion for any squatting movements.  This also means picking up a bag of mulch or dog food from the ground easier and putting less stress on your lower back.  Being an athlete in the game of life isn’t always about lifting weights or playing sports, it’s about doing life’s activities easier and more often.

Photo by Florian Doppler on Pexels.com

For women, they love training glutes for that curvy look.  Aesthetics are important and I’d be telling a lie saying I don’t look at a woman’s butt that’s shapely.  Ladies, you look at women’s butts too AND men’s.  Everyone knows it. From a functional standpoint, learning how to activate your glutes helps you to stand up taller, shift your weight in a golf swing for more distance, explode into an overhand smash and serve, and sprint faster in a race.  Look at a Thoroughbred’s rear legs and glutes.  That’s what powers those amazing animals to run at the speeds they do.  Once you learn to activate the glutes in a lunge, squat, and deadlift, your lifting amount increases while chance of injury decreases. 

To learn how to train your glutes as part of a total body exercise program, sign up for my executive or active aging coaching program at mattpeale.com.  I just scratched the surface in this blog on why getting your ass into it is the game changer your posture and athletic performance need.  You can take any tennis or golf lessons you want, unless you learn from me how to activate the muscles you sit on all day, you’re missing out on your potential.  Go to my site and invest a few minutes into what Competing as an Athlete in the Game of Life can do for you!

Attention Ladies Who Wear High Heels: Do Your Ankles Hurt? Let Me Tell You Why

Ladies can spend ungodly amount of money on shoes.  It blows my mind, honestly.  Heel sizes of all heights, shapes, and styles for a plethora of outfits to be worn once, multiple times, or a permanent fixture in the wardrobe rotation.  Not everyone has a separate closet dedicated to shoes, those that do are very proud of it.  Why do I choose to write a blog post on high heels?  Because the damage high heels can do for a woman’s ankles, knees, and hips can be detrimental to their fitness goals.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Elevating your foot in a high heel shortens the calf muscles and weakens the muscles of the shin (anterior tibialis).  Good posture begins where the body contacts the ground, and that’s at the feet and ankles.  Proper ankle mobility allows you to squat with more power, push off for running and cutting, and reduce potential injuries like a torn Achilles tendon and plantar fasciitis.  Often ankle joint dysfunction is seen in the position of the knees when doing any type of squat movements.  The knees turn inward putting pressure on the outer connective tissues which can lead to ACL injuries and pain in the knee cap.  Bet you didn’t know any of that!

When the ankle joint doesn’t work right, other areas of the body must compensate to produce normal movements.  Over time, these compensations are seen in how a person stands (static malalignments), and in their movement patterns (dynamic malalignments).  According to the NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist textbook, “Joint dysfunction is one of the most common causes of pain in an individual.  Static malalignments are frequently the result of pattern overload from either chronic sedentary positioning or repetitive stress injury. The most common example of this is seen in people with computer-based jobs.”  If you’re reading this blog, typically that means you.  Pain felt in one area of the body does not mean it originates from that spot.

As a personal trainer, I see many women perform squats with their heels elevated on a weight plate or other small platform.  Why?  Because they read somewhere in Shape Magazine, or another women’s focused source, that raising your heels can activate the glutes more.  Women love working their glutes!  The truth is elevating your heels with already tight calf muscles, reduces the amount of weight you can squat, increases potential for injury, and exasperates already tight and weak muscles from your daily routine.  Typically, you shift forward during a squat and your feet turn out, which causes pressure on the knees and hips to compensate for the lack of ankle mobility.  These issues are not mentioned in said periodicals and media sources catered to women.

To ensure the muscles around your ankles work in good order, begin a workout using a foam roller on your calf muscles.  “The myofascial roller (or other myofascial tool) should be held on the tender area for up to 60-seconds then perform 4 – 6 active movements. The intensity should be such that there is some discomfort felt, but the user should be able to relax and breathe. Lastly, total rolling duration should last for between 5 – 10 minutes, with 90-120 seconds per muscle group,” says NASM. 

After foam rolling, stretch the calf muscles lightly.  You can hold a stretch for 20 seconds.  Besides stretching the tight muscles, it is important to strengthen the weak muscles of the shin (anterior tibialis).  You can use an elastic band tied around a bench and around your toe area.  Pull your toes toward you and away from the bench to activate the anterior tibialis.  You can also do ankle flips, which is like walking in swim fins.  Walk your regular stride and point your toes up as high as you can with each step, pausing briefly to only have the heel contact the ground before completing the step.  Integrating these stretches and movements into your warm up and/or cool down routine can give you the results you’ve been missing in the gym and in any sport you play.  Don’t believe the hype of women’s fitness magazines.  They write articles to sell magazines, not necessarily to help you truly get the most out of your fitness routine.  Want more specific help?  Sign up for my coaching program at mattpeale.com. I promise you’ll be glad you did!

Why Your Hips Hurt From Sitting at Your Desk

Men and women exercise very differently even though the biology and anatomy of muscle functions are exactly the same.  Men focus on the upper body, and mostly the “show’ muscles of chest, shoulders, and biceps.  Women focus on glutes, quadriceps, triceps, and anything abdominal related.  The real story relates to the muscles often forgotten, hamstrings and hips.  For older adults, and successful executives and professionals, sitting dominates a large portion of the day.  The muscles that become weak and cause pain in other parts of the body from hours of sitting are the hamstrings and hips.

I have an amputee client who is a successful medical professional.  Her left lower leg was lost in a lawn mower accident when she was a child.  In her medical profession, she sits while assisting for surgeries the majority of her day.  Even when not in surgery, she’s sitting a lot!  As a Corrective Exercise Specialist, I can assess and work with the dysfunction in her hips and hamstrings that result from prolonged sitting and a propensity to not be as active with her prosthetic left lower leg. 

After a training session in her home, she showed me an article in the magazine Amplitude, which is dedicated to helping amputees in all aspects of life.  The article, “Which Muscles Are You Forgetting?”, discussed all the exercises I had her do in previous sessions to increase mobility and strength in her hamstrings and hips.  It was validating and refreshing to read from a corrective standpoint, the importance of hip and hamstring mobility for amputees.  Without previously researching specific movements for amputees, I used my knowledge and experience from people who sit long periods daily to correct her imbalances and dysfunction. 

Foam rolling the priformis

Mobility in the hips is key to movement in all directions.  The glutes are the largest muscle of the body and responsible for producing power when you squat, lunge, jump, swing a golf club, pick up a bag of mulch, and all other movements related to bending at the knee and lowering your hips.  Without proper mobility, your lower back and quadriceps take on the load.  Have you thrown your lower back out?  Probably because your hips lack the strength and flexibility to function properly.  If you’re an avid gym goer and do deadlifts without good hip mobility (as I see most people do), your low back is a ticking timebomb to blow out.

Working from home over the past few months and sheltering in place exacerbated this already dangerous problem.  Older adults begin to weaken naturally, and hips become brittle from lack of use.  Balance issues are huge for older adults and anyone who sits for hours daily, which often stems also from weakness in the hips.  Pain can be felt in the knees and low back, even though it originates from weakness in the glutes, hamstrings, and hip rotational muscles.  One fall leads to another, and I see it in people starting in their early 40’s.

Bird dog

“Weak glutes can contribute to many issues such as tight hips and lower-back pain.  When we sit for long periods of time or hold poor posture, these muscles disengage,” says article writer John Pope CS, CSCS, MPO, in Amplitude.  Additionally, you can’t stand up straight and fully extend your hips because they are to tight.  Have you seen older adults shifted over and lose height?  This is a prime reason why, and it started decades ago in their 30s and 40s. 

Sitting lengthens the hamstrings and glutes, tightens the quadriceps, and hinders external rotation of the hips.  Focus on strengthening the hams and glutes while stretching the quadriceps.  Most people stand up after long periods of sitting and stretch the hamstrings, further pulling themselves out of position.  For more specific help, find a Corrective Exercise Specialist like me.  We can work with you to stretch and strengthen the proper muscles for improved movement quality in all your activities.  My website, mattpeale.com, has great info on the programs I offer for older adults, and executives and professionals.  You only have one body, and investing in it gives you the highest ROI for everything you want to do in life.

Social Distancing Can Be a Risk Factor All Its Own

Adult screen time is a term most adults don’t acknowledge as a problem. Ask a parent about their child’s screen time and frustration begins immediately! Has adult screen time during work from home and shelter in place negatively affected the physical and mental health of American adults?

Humans, as part of the mammal species, are social animals. Mammals live in families, packs, and herds, which make up a community support system. Any four-legged mammal taken away from its family, pack, or herd, doesn’t live very long. “… social species struggle when forced to live in isolation.”, says a study in Science Daily. As humans were forced to isolate themselves and use screen time more than ever, loneliness and physical health problems reared their ugly heads.

Brain scan of depression vs normal

Working from home was the dream for everyone! Wake up when you want. Wear your pajamas all day, maybe not even shower? Play with the kids at any time because the boss or your direct reports aren’t around. Have a lunch cocktail or two and start happy hour at 3:30. For the first week or two the vacation mentality was on, then reality set in and the same fun opportunities became fatigued and depressing. The same study from Science Daily says, “Loneliness directly impairs the immune system, making us less resistant to diseases and infections.”

Forward Head Position

From a postural standpoint, more adult screen time pulls your neck and head into a forward position. “Text Neck” is the term given to this dysfunction of the neck muscles and resulting muscle imbalances that cause headaches and disc compression. As an NASM certified Corrective Exercise Specialist, I’m trained to assess and provide an exercise type prescription helping people overcome these types of imbalances. A forward head position from looking down at a screen also contributes to rounded shoulders and a hunched over appearance. You know exactly what I’m talking about because you see it in the mirror every morning.

Gaining weight is a simple math problem, more calories in and less used equals a surplus of stored energy called fat. People don’t like to see themselves when they’re overweight. They have low confidence and self-esteem which can snowball into depression. Being overweight also wreaks havoc on knee, hip, and ankle joints to support the extra mass. More postural problems result for the low back to stay mobile for normal movements. Sheltering in place provides the perfect lab environment for math complete its natural equation and add 10 pounds or more over three months.

Excessive adult screen time while working from home and sheltering in place is becoming its own pandemic. Zoom call after Zoom call with additional emails and presentations to make are now the new normal for executives and professionals. Netflix, Facebook, and Amazon Prime dominate the days for the over 65 population who aren’t working as much or are retired. Age accelerates the problems mentioned already, now cognitive decline is a serious concern added to the physical atrophy happening.

What about isolation and screen time for your children or grandchildren? A similar story results for them. Study coauthor Valerie Hruska from the University of Guelph writes, “Previous research has shown that high screen use is linked to health issues in children, including lower activity levels, obesity and even language delays in younger children because they engage in less back-and-forth conversation.” Can children take on the same postural issues as adults? Yes, absolutely. Look at the slouching junior high and high school student, forward head and rounded shoulders from staring down at their device hours upon hours daily. While teens are a different beast than adults, they are the same mammal.  

Working from home isn’t all it originally thought it would be. The mental and physical health effects are months and years away from being finished. Whatever your views on social distancing, science shows it is not a healthy mid and long term option for humans mentally and physically:

  • “social isolation is a significant predictor of the risk of death;
  • insufficient social stimulation affects reasoning and memory performances, hormone homeostasis, brain grey/white-matter, connectivity and function, as well as resilience to physical and mental disease” – The Neurobiology of Social Distance

Get out and meet people again. The economy is reopening, use your judgement on the extent of social interactions. Life is more fun with friends and your loved ones. If you need help with your postural sins and joint pains, go to my website and get a free report, “3 Tips to Reducing Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.” My coaching programs could be the answer your looking for to fix adult screen time pain. We all need each other face-to-face, make it happen!

1 – Causes of diabetes — AllAbout dot CF

Particular aspects that add to the advancement of diabetes are Genetics That diabetes can be acquired has actually been understood for centuries. Statistic indicates that those with a family history of the illness have a greater danger of establishing diabetes than those without such a background. One reason why diabetes, particularly type-2 diabetes runs in…

1 – Causes of diabetes — AllAbout dot CF

3 Upper Body Stretches to Loosen Up the Working From Home Executive

Working at home during the Coronavirus pandemic has executives and professionals all tensed up and feeling tight.  Not that it’s out of the norm to feel that way mentally, I’m speaking physically in regard to muscles from sitting and typing on your computer.  A whole host of movement dysfunctions result from hours of daily sitting that most people believe are their new normal.  This blog will help you with three specific upper body stretches to mitigate pain and discomfort in your upper body from working extended hours on your computer.

  • Stretch Your Biceps

“Stretch my biceps?” you ask.  Yes, your biceps!  Sitting with your arms bent at 90 degrees or more puts your biceps in a flexed position.  You don’t have to be in the gym pumping out barbell curls to have your biceps experience tightness.  The bicep muscles contract and bring your hand towards your shoulder, not much else purpose for them.  What is important are all the reasons why you bend your arm at the elbow to bring objects and your hand closer to you shoulder, face, and head (bringing food to your mouth is a vital function).  Being in a constant state of flex makes your biceps tight and over time, you can’t extend your arms fully without pain in your shoulder and elbow.  Stretching your biceps like the picture allows the proper length-tension relationship to return to your arms.  Pain in your elbow and shoulders, along with proper function, can extend your work life.

  • Stretch Your Pectorals (Chest)

Sitting with your hands on the keyboard, as I’m doing now, brings your arms together and contracting your pectoral muscles, also over stretching muscles in your upper back.  Over time, this position rounds your shoulders, makes you appear shorter, tightens your chest muscles, and reduces mobility of your shoulders and back.  If you workout, your bench press is impacted negatively from a reduced range of motion.  You literally become closed off and look unhappy even though you’re an upbeat person.  A simple stretch like the image below, is done with your arms in an L shape at 90 degrees leaning into a door frame.  It’s important to also stand up tall while leaning into the stretch for maximum effectiveness.  You will feel more open and give the appearance of more confidence with your shoulders back and head up!

  • Stretch Your Trapezius Muscles

Ever shrug your shoulders?  Of course you have, many times a day.  When you do so, your trapezius muscles pull up your shoulders to your ears.  With your arms elevated on your keyboard, your trapezius muscles are engaged to help keep them in this position.  Long hours of typing letters, presentations, and emails keep your trapezius muscles engaged.  Similar to your pecs, tight traps can give you the appearance of being shorter and hunched over.  Tight and consistently elevated traps pull your head forward extending your cervical vertebrae to potentially cause disc herniation.  Tension headaches also occur as a result of tightness in the traps and cervical spine area.  How can you stretch them out, place your body like the picture below.  Be sure to pull lightly on your neck to avoid injury.  Keep your back straight and upright pulling your keeping your head neutral with the ear lined up with the shoulder.  Do not pull your head forward or back, just directly to the opposite side of your extended arm.

Integrate these stretches a few times a day during your working hours.  Stretching these muscles makes a world of difference in how you feel and look.  During these unprecedented times of longer hours working from home, you need the stress relief!

Consumer Shift in the Fitness Industry as Gyms Reopen

Gyms, health clubs, and fitness facilities were among the first businesses, along with bars and restaurants, to be closed in March for the Coronavirus pandemic.  As a personal trainer working in gyms and health clubs since 2008, my world flipped upside down literally overnight.

Over the past few months, home gym equipment has leaped off the shelves of big box stores and backordered for months from online retailers.  Amazon delayed any shipping of fitness equipment until mid-May and into June.  Companies like Peloton are now having record breaking sales with people forced into purchasing higher priced items from continued gym closures and reduced capacity once reopening begins.

at home senior exercise

National and local gyms, and personal trainers of all types have taken to offering free or reduced-price classes to keep members and clients plugged in.  The health club I work at in the New Orleans area also took and is still taking part to an extent, with this model.  With a set of light to medium dumbbells, gym goers can do body pump, Zumba, yoga, cardio kickboxing, etc., from the comfort of their living room any time of day.

#Reopening.  Along with other businesses, gyms are now faced with decisions on how to reopen “safely” at 25-30% capacity in most states.  Some states as of this blog are already up to 50%.  Social distancing and sanitation/hand cleaning requirements also add into the mix for attracting members to come back.  To be honest, most of the sanitation issues have been rules posted in gyms for decades.  Members did not follow these rules and yet somehow aside from an occasional cold or flu, everyone miraculously survived over the decades.

While you may think people are lining up to pack the gym at its reduced capacity on day one, you are sadly mistaken.  Fear still dominates members’ minds even though guidelines are in place.  Realistically, it’s not possible for some of the guidelines to be implemented.  What do members do with all the home gym equipment and accessories they invested in?  Using their membership is great, yet a new routine has taken hold over the past 60 days and now is entrenching into a habit.  Free online classes are still available.  Older members are remaining at home.  Childcare is still closed for a little while longer.  Food services and gatherings for coffee or lunch are still off limits.  Personal trainers also remain furloughed in some health clubs or are making more money traveling to clients’ homes.

Fit and healthy people have stronger immune systems, regardless of age, and are more resilient to bounce back from illness.  Unfortunately, this was and is overlooked by public health, and an industry that literally can save lives, is currently in the doghouse as a den of Covid filth.  Many larger health clubs will feel the economic sting more than smaller ones.  Large health clubs have higher overhead, higher dues, and require more employees to operate.  Small gyms like an Anytime Fitness, typically have minimal to no staff, and at primetime, are still way under the fire marshal 25-30% capacity.  Could the fitness industry see a shift away from high-end, large footprint health club back to smaller boutique or franchised business plans?

A small footprint doesn’t require childcare, group classes, paid training staff, and food services.  Membership costs are low and 24/7 access from a network of locations may make these now more attractive than ever for investors, and members seeking to reduce personal expenses.  A market will always exist for higher incomes wanting perks and the latest in gadgets, classes, and equipment.  What happens to the remaining 80% of potential gym goers who are evaluating their options?  Time will tell the changes in consumer confidence and tastes for what they desire.  The gym landscape has shifted indeed.