Is Your Workout Hurting You?

I’ve seen people at gyms workout as hard as they can, tongues waging and sweat pouring. I’ve seen people practice the same routine at their gym year after year with nary a thought of change. I’ve seen people lift weights on training machines while reading a book as if unaware of their physical presence altogether.

And most unfortunately, I’ve seen people finish their workout while learning absolutely nothing about themselves.

If you ask most people at a gym why they’re doing what they’re doing, they’ll shrug their shoulders and say, “I don’t know.” They learn by imitation, watching others who don’t know what they’re doing either.

Many gyms are set up with big weight machines, one size fits all. With minimal instruction and little follow-up support, gym members dutifully work their way around a training circuit, working to exhaustion, with the belief that this is a good thing.

To me, it’s like setting someone down in front of a piano, showing them middle C, then telling them to play. They bang on the piano keys and believe they’re playing music. It’s clear that they make sound but it will be a far cry from a beautiful, harmonious, sophisticated melody.

So it is with the human body. We can choose be uninformed and work the heck out of our bodies, just like banging on the piano keys. Or, we can learn about how the body should move to develop a higher quality of movement and enjoy the benefits of grace, balance and more youthful movement. Which do you choose?

Here are some important questions to ask yourself about your workout:

1. Do you know why you’re doing what you do in the gym?

2. Do you value exercise to develop the quality of your movement vs. pushing for more reps and heavier weight?

3. Do you pay attention to your posture and how your body feels while exercising?

4. Do you apply the lessons you practice in your exercise sessions to the way you move in daily life?

If you answered “No” to any of the questions, you’re just banging on the keys. You could be playing much more beautiful, harmonious music; the music of movement that flows from a sense of internal body awareness and intention.

Professional athletes know this, as do dancers, martial artists and others who study movement efficiency. Funny thing is that it’s just as important for the rest of us because without it we just exercise our worst movement habits. And, that kind of a workout ages and stiffens the body faster than any of us would like to admit.

So, to get the most out of your workout, slow down and listen to your body. Discover strength and flexibility imbalances between your left and right side. Tune in. It’s the first step towards developing the internal tools that will help prevent injuries and keep your muscles working best.


Feldenkrais Class 1 by Baby Liv: Rolling

Here’s a movement video that I can’t resist. It’s about a little baby doing what babies do during their first year of life.

Baby Liv is developing her sense of internal body awareness and learning how to move in her environment. At any age, we can learn a lot from babies.

Click the image to watch the video.


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Lymph? Oh, what a relief it is.

What ho! Me thinks allergy season doth approach, nigh unto a fortenight hence. Boldly then may I adventure and without feare steppe forth to offer that thy lymph and its drainage may conquer the plight that belies and well destroys our notion of spring-time bliss henceforth.

What? Ok, let me start again. Sneezy season is coming, drippy nose, burning eyes, tickly throat – not a breath of fresh air available until the pollen procession desists. What misery some will suffer forestalling the anticipated liberation from the long, lingering winter!

Hark! There is something to do other than just shut the windows, grab the tissues and wait it out! It’s got to do with lymphatic drainage and I’m not talking about calling the plumber.

Let me explain.

You’ve heard of lymph nodes, right? They get swollen and sore when you’re fighting an infection. Most of them are found in the face and neck, in the armpits, and in the groin folds where your legs attach to your body.
Your lymph nodes are an integral part of your immune defenses and belong to a larger, body-wide network of ducts, vessels and organs collectively called your lymphatic system. This system plays much more than its essential role in body defense and resistance to disease, though.

It also acts as a collection and drainage system for the overflow of fluids, proteins and fats that leak from your blood vessels – commonly about 3L of it every single day. Lymph, as the collected fluid is called, is pumped back to the lymph nodes to be filtered, purified and then recycled back into the bloodstream.

You can get puffed up like a water balloon if the system gets clogged and sluggish. And, right in line with what we do at GAF, exercise and breathing well is what keeps the lymph system flowing freely.

Now, let’s get back to allaying the misery of congestion, stuffiness and pressure caused by extra fluid build up in the head due to allergies. The lymph system comes into action again.

You can get relief, stimulate and assist fluid drainage from your head through a gentle process called lymphatic drainage massage, a manual technique that you can learn to do on yourself. Click on the video below to take a look and learn how. You really can do it yourself!

Happy spring and happy breathing. Oh, what a relief it is!


Self Lymph Drainage Massage

Learn to drain your own head! Use these lymphatic drainage massage techniques from Louisville massage therapist Heather Wibbels, LMT on yourself to reduce congestion and sinus pressure in the head.

This is great for allergy sufferers and people with head colds.
Click the image to watch the video.



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Gross anatomy. . . bear with me if you can

Imagine a guy who’s never been to the dentist or brushed his teeth. He has cavities, pain, bleeding gums. He can’t eat his favorite Blue Ribbon Barbecue anymore because it hurts too much. His once sparkling pearly-whites look more like scum-covered pebbles in a stagnant pond. In resignation, he says, “I’m just getting old. I guess it’s normal for my teeth to look and feel so disgusting, but dang it, I just want my bbq’ed ribs!”

This scenario is ridiculous. Dental health is something that we take for granted around here – twice a year to the dentist with daily brushing and flossing. We all do it. It’s an accepted part of daily living.

Now, I’m going to swap out a few words in the above story to create another scenario. This should be just as ridiculous, but instead it’s really commonplace.

Imagine a guy who’s never been to the massage therapist

or foam rolled his soft tissue. He has trigger points, pain, adhesions. He can’t play his favorite sports anymore because it hurts too much. His once impressive upright stature looks more like Quasimodo hunched over in the bell tower. In resignation, he says, “I’m just getting old. I guess it’s normal for my body to be in pain, bent over and slow, but dang it,

I just want to shoot hoop with the guys!”

One day, massage therapy and a daily self-massage routine will be as normal as going to the dentist and brushing your teeth. I believe it’s the linchpin to healthy aging along with daily exercise.

Here’s the oral care/massage parallel in a nutshell. You know what dragon-breath is, right? As you sleep at night, saliva production slows down, gummy plaque forms, bacteria thrive and voilà – “dragon-breath” conquers by morning. Gross!

Well, the dreaded “son of dragon-breath” conquers your connective tissues when you don’t move enough, with aging and even more so in combination. That’s just as gross!

Your connective tissues get gummed up, dehydrated, stiff and less elastic. Tissues that are supposed to glide smoothly past each other get sticky and bind together. Muscle fibers that are supposed to contract and lengthen freely get stuck in the shortened position. Circulation and nutrient delivery slow down. Oxygen delivery plummets. Then you instinctually rub the resulting pain in your neck as you complain that you’ve lost the sway to your swagger.

Whoa! I see you’re doing massage and you didn’t even know it. Rubbing that sore neck – it’s an instinctual massaging reaction to get your body feeling better.

Did you know that Greeks in 300 BC used massage and exercise as a part of their daily routine? Soldiers were given regular massages to ease pain and fatigue during training, as well as before and after tournaments. In World

War II massage was used in English hospitals to treat injuries. Massage has been around as a healing practice for a long, long time.

Here’s my recommendation for both men and women. Make professional massage a vital part of your health plan. On your own, use soft tissue massage techniques with foam rollers and lacrosse balls to enhance the benefit – daily.

It only takes a few minutes once you know the drill. And it’s enormously beneficial to help you move well and move often. And who knows, maybe it’ll let you get back on the court again to drive, spin and go up for that long waylaid lay-up.

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What To Do With An Injury

I injured my left knee the other morning leading a group warmup. It hurt a lot when I did it, but the pain diminished as I quietly walked it off. Optimistically, I hoped that some super-healing power would stop by … Continue reading

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The Health Hazards of Sitting

This article, published in the Health & Science section of the Washington Post on January 20th, gives the best information I’ve seen so far about the health hazards of sitting poorly. The intro paragraph tells you how to download the … Continue reading

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How I Found My Balance When My Ankle Went Back to School

What’s your ankle’s IQ? Didn’t know it has one, you say? Of course it does! It’s called “Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence” (BKI) and it tells how smart your ankle is at figuring out where you are in space and time (where’s … Continue reading

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Firing Up a Long Lost Friend

I get a silly picture in my head when I visualize the body as a collection of individual pieces. Imagine, the biceps, the quadriceps, the pec major and minor all laid out in display like the special of the week … Continue reading

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Ode to Joy

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Physical Activity . . . How Do We Stack Up?

If you’re generally fit and have no limiting health conditions, these CDC guidelines apply to you. Also, include some exercises that challenge your balance skills. For important health benefits, adults (including 65+) need at least: Two hours and 30 minutes (150 … Continue reading

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Our Own Behavior Makes Us Sick

Currently, a whopping 78% of health care expenditures in the U.S. are consumed by the management of chronic diseases, many of which are caused or exacerbated by poor, yet modifiable, lifestyle behaviors such as choices around exercise, eating, smoking and … Continue reading

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