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Monthly Archives: April 2017

Muscle Cramps

A muscle cramp is defined as a painful, involuntary, spasmodic contraction of a muscle. The muscle remains contracted and may last for a few seconds to several minutes. The muscles most prone to EAMCs are those that cross two joints – for example the calf muscle called the gastocnemius (crosses the ankle and knee joint) and the hamstrings (cross the knee and hip joint).

There are many theories surrounding the cause of muscle cramps. Some proposed causes are fluid loss and dehydration, electrolyte imbalances (sodium, potassium, magnesium), heat and congenital/inherited conditions. Recent evidence collected by Professor Martin Schwellnus at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa indicates no strong relationship between these causes and exercise cramps. After completing several studies and studying the results of other experiments using electromyography or EMG (measures muscle nerve electric activity), Schwellnus has proposed a novel model of the cause of EAMCs.

Dr. Schwellnus identifies two possible factors that may affect nerve activity – causing excessive muscle stimulation to contract and resulting in a cramp. The first suspected factor is fatigue; since motor nerve firing patterns have been demonstrated to be irregular during conditions of fatigue. The second factor is proposed as resulting from the muscle working too much on its “inner range” or “on slack”.

To explain this concept it must first be understood that a muscle cannot work efficiently if it is not at its optimal length – a muscle works progressively less efficiently when overly stretched or overly loose/on slack. The protein filaments (actin and myosin) that make up muscle fibers require an optimal “overlap” to be able to generate force.

The position of the body’s joints determine muscle length, so it follows that muscles that cross two joints like the gastroc and hamstrings might be more likely to operate in the slackened position and experience a cramp. For example, consider a free-style, swimmer who performs flutter kicks at the ankle with a slight knee bend. The flutter kick involves the ankle flexing and extending in a small range very near the plantarflexed (toes pointed) position. Couple this with a slight knee bend, and it makes the gastrocnemius muscle even more “passively insufficient”.

Muscle physiology plays crucial role in the understanding of EAMC’s. Most significantly, the small cellular bodies of the muscle spindle and the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO). The muscle spindle is a tiny cellular structure usually located in the middle portion of each muscle fiber. Very basically its role is to “switch on” a muscle and determine the amount of activation and the strength and speed of the contraction. The GTO is a small structure located in the tendon that joins the muscle to a bone. This structure senses muscle tension and performs the opposite role of “switching off ” the muscle in order to protect it from generating so much force as to rip right off the bone.

Dr. Schwellnus suggests that when a muscle works within its inner range and/or when fatigued, muscle nerve activity shifts progressively toward muscle spindle activity (contraction) and less toward GTO activity (relaxation). More specifically, the nerves that control the muscle spindle (Type IA and type II nerves) becomes overly active while the nerves that controls the GTO (Type Ib nerves) become under active or inhibited. The result of this nerve activity imbalance is an uncontrolled, painful cramp.

Salsa Dancing

Salsa’s popularity began to percolate beyond the borders of the Latin neighborhoods in the early Seventies, spreading into New York’s ballrooms and dance halls. Although somewhat formulized when practiced by those who favor profession competitions, salsa dancing in its most traditional form is typically spontaneous and extremely energetic. Dance movements alternate between the very slow and the furious, an embodiment of its lively musical style.

From a strictly athletic point of view, a night of dancing is a superb workout. It merges aerobic and anaerobic training, working your stamina and leg strength. Any kind of dancing is a great way to build the perfect body shape. The continual movements build up aerobic stamina while steadily burning calories over the course of the evening. This helps to strengthen and tone your legs at the same time you lose weight. But salsa excels at this.

Experts say that dancing salsa can burn up to 10 calories a minute, without the negative side effects of high impact exercises such as running. You can learn salsa dancing in the privacy of your home or in a studio, with or without a partner and it’s a fitness program that can easily be integrated into your social life. By using salsa dancing to get fit, you will not only look great, but you’ll have no excuse not to get out more and improve your social life.

The sudden bursts of frenzied dancing in Salsa also can help to improve the anaerobic fitness essential to sports like sprinting, swimming and basketball. Equally important to the aerobic paybacks are the improvements in flexibility and dexterity, a commonly overlooked facet of fitness. Elasticity from dancing will help your swiftness, power and co-ordination by growing your overall range of motion.

Rid of Belly Fat

One of the major reasons for fat accumulating around stomach is processed carbohydrates. However you can counter this with some fat burning foods. These are foods which will actually help you lose stomach fat when coupled with exercise. These are foods with a high protein content which use up for fat while being processed. Another good thing is drinking the right quantity of water because water helps you in removing the harmful things from your body and some toxins. This refreshing effect the water has on your body is very useful during exercise if you are trying to lose stomach fat.

Also, again, keep in mind that doing abs exercises does not mean the fat around your belly will go away faster. Since the weight is lost from a body from all parts at once all exercise will help if they lessen your weight. Your body burns the fat as a whole, not from specific areas. Belly fat hides your abs so if you are doing abdomen exercises you will not see your abs until you have lost the fat which has accumulated over them.

If you are doing exercises one thing you should keep in mind is that your posture is good during the exercise. If you keep your body in the right posture while exercising you will see better results because setting your posture straight will also use many muscles. It will also help your body seem leaner and fitter if you manage to keep you posture straight all the time.

Precision Abdominal

Everyone has performed the crunch at some time, many have not only performed the crunch, but have performed hundreds of thousands or more of them. Through emg studies it has been proven that this exercise directly targets the rectus abdominus or the front of the abdominal wall. However, in lab studies, the most reliable way to injure disks was to expose them to repetitive end range flexion in a cyclic manner. This means that the thousands of crunches you do in any strange variety of directions, with the feet fixed or not, holding weights or body weight, places a serious and very dangerous damaging force on the disks of the spine. A review of the literature reveals that it is likely that the disk must be bent to full end range of motion to be herniated,[7] and that the risk is higher with repeated loading.[8,9] Maybe the crunch is not as good as most would have you believe.

Another dinosaur that will not die is the leg raise, be it lying on your back, seated on a bench or suspended from the roman chair. Data indicates that the main muscle activated in this exercise is the psoas, not the muscles of the abdominal wall. The psoas muscles main role in this motion is as a hip flexor, not an abdominal or trunk flexor. Almost all of us suffer from tight hip flexors and weak lower abs, all this exercise will accomplish is further tightening the psoas and weakening the lower abdominal wall. So why would anyone select the straight leg raise to improve core stability when this exercise mostly challenges psoas ( hip flexor) which appears to play no role in the stability process of the spine / core and at the same time applies extremely high loads to the spine?.
So what are the best safest exercises for the abs that also strengthen the core and build spine stability? Believe me when I tell you that to perform these safe and efficient exercises that activate the core, abdominal and spinal muscles no equipment is required, all you need is your body and the floor.
The first place to start is the Plank aka. Prone bridge. Perform this exercise like a push up only on your forearms.

Preparation

o Position yourself face down (prone) on your toes and forearms.

Movement

o Brace your abdominals, and retract the cervical spine.

o Maintain the plank 2 position for as long as you can squeeze
your glutes.

Tips

o Keep the glute muscles engaged and legs straight throughout
the exercise.

o When you can no longer fire the glutes, rest and repeat.

The second exercise is the lateral plank or Side Bridge.

Preparation

o Position yourself laying on your side, propped on the foot and elbow. (frontal plane)

o Maintain a ridged body alignment with proper head position.

Movement

o Brace your abdominals, and maintain spinal alignment.

o Raise your torso up off the floor, hold and repeat. Continue on
the opposite side.