Monthly Archives: September 2011

Five Exercise Mistakes/Myths that Should Change: PART 3

And last but certainly not least, the fifth Mistake/ Myth:

Mistake/Myth #5. When you lift draw in your abs

The claim: You’ll increase the support to your spine, reducing the risk of back injuries.

The truth: The statement is true but the interpretation is misleading. That is because muscles work in teams to stabilize your spine, and the most valuable players change depending on the exercise. The transverse abdominis isn’t always the quarterback.

In fact, for any given exercise, your body automatically activates the muscles that are most important for spine support. So focusing only on your transverse abdominis can over-recruit the wrong muscles and under-recruit the right ones. This not only increases injury risk, but reduces the amount of weight you can lift.

The new standard: If you want to give your back a supporting hand, simply “brace” your abs as if you were about to be punched in the gut, but don’t draw them in. This will fire all three layers of the abdominals and improve stabilization and performance.

In conclusion, there is room for some of these mistakes or myths but the problem is they are general statements or misinterpreted. For any exercise program, incorporating variety is key.
When starting a new exercise or movement, always consult a qualified professional but not on who recommends 3 sets of 10 reps!

By: Rocco Ferraiolo PTA, NASM-CPT


Is Stress Making You Fat?

Sometimes work and family obligations make it difficult to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.  As your stress levels increase, you may notice those few extra pounds are creeping up on you or you just can’t get rid of those love handles.  Research has shown that during periods of increased stress, your body increases its release of a hormone called Cortisol.  This hormone is responsible for the regulation of energy metabolism and can contribute to weight gain.  Cortisol release also stimulates increased appetite which is why many people tend to eat when they are stressed out.

Moderate exercise on a regular basis appears to be the best way to lower your body’s Cortisol levels.  To date there is still no proven supplement on the market that will help to lower the presence of this stress hormone, so beware of claims from vitamin makers.  Other productive ways of dealing with stress include meditation, spending time with family, friends, and pets and making sure you get adequate sleep at night.  So remember, fighting stress will help you fight off the fat!


Steven L. Bernstein PT, OMT

Five Exercise Mistakes/Myths that should Change: PART 2

Welcome back to the article, hoping to debunk five of the longest running myths or mistakes involved with exercise programming.
Mistake/Myth #3. Do 3 or 4 exercises per muscle group
The claim: This ensures that you work all the fibers of the target muscle.The truth: You’ll waste a lot of time. Here’s why: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s four-decade-old recommendation is almost always combined with “Do three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.” That means you’ll complete up to 144 repetitions for each muscle group. Trouble is, if you can perform even close to 100 repetitions for any muscle group, you’re not working hard enough. Think of it this way: The harder you train, the less time you’ll be able to sustain that level of effort. For example, many men can run for an hour if they jog slowly, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who could do high-intensity sprints—without a major decrease in performance—for the same period of time. And once performance starts to decline, you’ve achieved all the muscle-building benefits you can for that muscle group.

The new standard: Instead of focusing on the number of different exercises you do, shoot for a total number of repetitions between 25 and 50. That could mean five sets of five repetitions of one exercise (25 repetitions) or one set of 15 repetitions of two or three exercises (30 to 45 repetitions).
Mistake/ Myth #4. Never let your knees go past your toes
The claim: Allowing your knees to move too far forward during exercises such as the squat and lunge places dangerous shearing forces on your knee ligaments.The truth: Leaning your torso too far forward, so that your knees stay back, is more likely to cause injury to the back. Research has confirmed that knee stress is greater when the knees were allowed to move past the toes during the squat, placing stress on the patella-femoral joint. Proper mobility and flexibility, from the ankle to the hip will allow an individual to perform a safe, effective squat.

The new standard: Watch a toddler squat. Push your hips back as far as you can, while keeping your torso as upright as possible. This will reduce the stress on your back and knees.

To be continued . . . .

By: Rocco Ferraiolo PTA, NASM-CPT

Kinesio Tape: What Does It Do?

Dr. Kenzo Kase a Japanese chiropractor invented Kinesio Tape in the 1970’s. In the first decade it was used by Orthopedist, Chiropractors, Acupuncturist, and other medical professional in Japan. Then in the second decade it became popular with Japan’s Olympic team and other professional athletes. In the United States it gained popularity after the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Kerri Walsh, Lance Armstrong, and Serena Williams are a few of the professional athletes who have used Kinesio Tape as modality and benefited from it.

Kinesio Tape is made of soft cotton and contains no latex or medications. It has a light medical-grade adhesive made from 100% hypoallergenic acrylic. The adhesive is heat-activated, you simply apply to the skin and rub briskly to activate. It is easily removed and leaves no sticky residue. Moisture dissipates quickly through the porous material of the tape, allowing it to withstand sweating, showering, and even swimming without coming off or irritating skin. This tape can be worn without binding, constricting or restricting movement.

Kinesio tape helps a variety of injuries and inflammatory conditions. It can be used to correct a movement deficiency, brace an unstable joint or assist with muscle re-education. Kinesio tape can either provide support or prevent over-contraction of muscles. When used for support, taping allows the patient to retain his full range of motion and normal mechanics and provides all-day facilitation of lymphatic drainage.

Kinesio tape is available in various cuts and colors to treat several different muscle groups, including neck, shoulders, knees, wrists, back and other common areas where injuries occur. These cuts, in shapes such as X, Y and I, are designed to mimic the structure and the makeup of the muscle fibers, so the tape can be placed along the length of the muscle and provide extra support for faster healing.

Besides using Kinesio tape for structural purposes, it can also be used to eliminate pain. When you apply Kinesio tape to the structure before beginning a strengthening program it can help recruit muscle groups to fire through the tactile feedback the tape provides. In turn, this can help correct poor neuromuscular firing patterns. Kinesio tape used along the spine can significantly help with postural corrections. When you move into an improper postural position the tape will become tight which will cue the muscle to maintain proper positioning.

Kinesio tape can be used post-surgically to help reduce swelling. When the tape is applied in a grid or lattice pattern it causes the skin to dimple in the small squares not covered by tape. In turn the dimpling creates alternating spaces of increased and decreased pressure, which creates a flow of fluid allowing the lymph system to better absorb it.

Patients with shoulder impingement or tendonitis typically also have a component of altered neuromuscular firing patterns causing poor glenohumeral and scapula thoracic mechanics. Kinesio tape can help provide a tactile feedback sensation which helps the patient feel how the shoulder should or should not be moving. The patient becomes more aware of their shoulder issues after the tape is worn for a few days and more in tune with their body mechanics. It is the tactile sensation of the tape on the skin when either activating or inhibiting that influences the muscle or muscle group.

Kinesio tape can be place over a bad bruise. You apply wide strips of Kinesio tape stretched in a spider formation which allows a breather under the skin. This allows the lymphatic system to do its job of removing the fluid.

Patients normally understand the benefits of traditional taping and do not need to be educated. On the other hand with Kinesio tape patients do need to be educated on what it is and how it works. There is a tendency for patients to be skeptical, but after using the tape several times they see the benefits. Kinesio tape is user friendly and can be easily removed. It can be applied in hundreds of ways and assist in returning the body to homeostasis.

By Rita Zimmermann

Five Exercise Mistakes/Myths that should Change: PART 1

Quick! Complete this sentence . . . .  ____ sets of ____ reps

Now, the majority of readers plugged in 3 sets of 10.  I know you did, don’t lie! After all, it is the most effective and fastest way to build muscle. Wrong! In fact, this most sacred guideline originated in the 40’s and 50’s. A little has changed since then in the realm of exercise and medicine. For instance, it was thought that endurance exercise was harmful for women and castration was cutting-edge treatment for prostate cancer.  What is just as bad as those aforementioned thoughts is that “fitness experts” are still barking out the old wisdom, despite research that proves these “experts wrong”.  So, there is a good chance that your workout is need of a 21st century makeover.

Mistake/Myth  #1.  Perform 8-12 repetitions

The claim: This is the optimal range for building muscles.Here’s the deal: Higher resistance—induces the type of muscle growth in which the muscle fibers grow larger, leading to the best gains in strength; longer tension time, on the other hand, boosts muscle size by increasing the energy-producing structures around the fibers, improving muscular endurance. The classic prescription of 8 to 12 repetitions strikes a balance between the two. But by using that scheme all the time, you miss out on the greater tension levels that come with heavier weights and fewer repetitions, and the longer tension time achieved with lighter weights and higher repetitions.
The new standard:Vary your repetition range—adjusting the weights accordingly—so that you stimulate every type of muscle growth. Try this method for a month, performing three full-body sessions a week: Do five repetitions per set in your first workout, 10 reps per set in your second workout, and 15 per set in your third workout.

Mistake/Myth #2. Do 3 sets of each exercise

The claim: This provides the ideal workload for getting the fastest muscle gains.The truth: There’s nothing wrong with—or magical about—doing three sets. Here’s a rule of thumb: The more repetitions of an exercise you do, the fewer sets you should perform, and vice-versa. This keeps the total number of reps you do of an exercise nearly equal, no matter how many repetitions make up each set.
The new standard:If you’re doing eight or more reps, keep it to three sets or less. If you’re performing less than three reps, you should be doing at least six sets.

To be continued . . . .

By: Rocco Ferraiolo PTA, NASM-CPT

Is Your Computer Causing You Pain?

Have you ever spent a few hours in front of your computer and walked away with a painful stiff neck?  How about achy shoulders or wrists?  It could be that your work space is not ergonomically correct.  Making a few simple changes can prevent excessive muscle fatigue as well as repetitive use injuries associated with typing.

First, be sure the chair you are sitting in has a comfortable lumbar support to prevent excessive slouching.  If your spinal alignment is not upright, your head will tend to travel too far forward and cause fatigue of the neck muscles.  The feet should be flat on the floor while the knees and hips are bent at 90 degree angles.  Your keyboard and mouse should be situated just above your thighs to allow the arms to relax by your side while keeping the wrists in a neutral position.  This will help to reduce shoulder fatigue, and prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  Finally, your monitor should be positioned at eye level.  If the monitor is too low, you will eventually move your head forward causing increased stress on the neck muscles and joints.

Once your work space is set up properly, watch your posture while you are working.  An egg timer set to go off every 10-15 minutes can act as a reminder to check your alignment in regular intervals.  It can also serve as a set time to stand up and walk around to prevent stiffness in your joints.

Taking the time to set up your work space properly will allow you to be more comfortable and efficient, so check your desk today.  Your body will thank you!

Can Achy Joints Predict the Weather?

Everyone has a friend or family member who swears they know when it is going to rain because of increased pain and stiffness in their joints.  Or maybe you have noticed increased symptoms in your arthritic hip or knee during a thunder storm or snow storm.  A scientific explanation exists as to why we become better weather forecasters when our joints become arthritic.

Inside all of our joints are nerve endings that are receptive to changes in pressure.  These baroreceptors will signal the brain to feel pain and stiffness as the pressure inside a joint increases, such as when the joint swells.  These receptors are very sensitive to changes in pressure.  Living in South Florida, we are aware that as storms approach, the atmospheric pressure begins to drop.  This change in pressure outside of our joints can cause an increase in pressure inside the joints signaling increased symptoms.

This phenomenon is also seen in reverse with water based exercise for arthritic joints.  By submerging an arthritic knee or hip in a swimming pool, you are increasing the atmospheric pressure surrounding that joint.  This will effectively decrease the pressure inside the joints causing decreased pain and stiffness.

So the next time you are wondering if it is going to rain, don’t bother turning on the news.  Just ask grandma or grandpa!


Steven L. Bernstein PT,OMT