Exercise trends: Rucking

Have you heard about rucking? The word “ruck” is short for “rucksack,” a military backpack that soldiers use to carry supplies on their back. Rucking, or ruck marching, refers to walking over paved or unpaved terrain with a loaded rucksack for the purpose ofimproving your fitness.

The military often uses rucking to measure physical fitness. Many units require a soldier to complete a timed ruck march in order to qualify for the unit. For instance, the U.S. Army Special Forces requires potential recruits to be able to ruck 12 miles in 2 hours with a pack that weighs 65 pounds in order to be eligible for Special Forces Selection. Even after leaving the armed services, some veterans continue to use rucking as a way to remain strong and build social ties while exercising.

Rucking with even a modest pack strengthens the legs, back and core muscles, while improving your cardiovascular health.For most everyone else, rucking is a great way to add diversity to your training, regardless of whether you’re in or planning to join the military. Rucking with even a modest pack strengthens the legs, back and core muscles, while improving your cardiovascular health. And because you’re walking, it’s usually considered lower impact than running. Those who backpack or hunt in the wilderness can also benefit from rucking, as it provides a very functional way to train for such activities.

So how do you ruck? It’s pretty simple: Load a backpack up with some weight (not too much!) and go for a walk. It can be down the sidewalk or along the trails at the local park. Start with short trips — less than 30 minutes — and work up to about an hour. Then slowly increase the weight in your pack until you can do about 30% of your body weight.

The number one concern regarding these types of workouts is overexertion. Even with a lightweight pack and a short workout, this is still a very tough form of exercise.Dehydration can be a factor, as much of the time these workouts are performed in thewarmer months. Lower body injuries are also common with rucking, including such ailments as shin splints, knee pain, plantar fasciitis and ankle sprains. And don’t be surprised to you feel soreness in the shoulders and neck, as these muscles aren’t used to carrying a heavy load.

West Point rucking. Photo by Mike Strasser, West Point Public AffairsAs with any form of exercise, it is important to listen to your body. Start slow and build up your “ruck” stamina over time. Add weight and time gradually, and spread out the workouts with other activities — and rest. And if those aches and pains don’t go away within 48 hours of your rucking workout, talk to your physical therapist to discuss your exercise regimen and whether you may have an injury that needs to be treated.

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Injury prevention for dancers

Most dancers know that one of the challenges of the performing arts is to make it look easy, effortless – and painless. According to Elisabeth Wheeler, a physical therapist who works with dancers at Allegheny Chesapeake Physical Therapy in Pennsylvania, up to 90% of dancers will have an injury at some point during their training. So whether you are a professional dancer in a company, or one who takes classes for physical (and mental) activity, it is important to pay attention to your body in order to avoid injury.

Elisabeth notes that dancers can have a variety of injuries throughout the body:

A physical therapist can determine the causes of chronic pain and develop a treatment plan.Like any athlete, if a dancer begins to feel pain that does not go away after a day or two of rest, Elisabeth advises visiting a physical therapist to determine the cause of the pain. Physical therapy treatments may include strengthening or stretching exercises to address muscular imbalances; neuromuscular re-education during dance-specific movements; modalities, including ultrasound and moist heat; and manual treatments like joint mobilizations and massage. If physical therapy can’t eliminate the pain, she says, an x-ray or MRI may be necessary for a diagnosis, along with a trip to an orthopedic doctor for further advice and treatment, and possibly surgery.

A dancer’s body is her instrument.  Read More

 

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Working out while baby is sleeping

Any parent will tell you that taking care of young children can wear you out. They need constant care and attention, their schedule shifts from day to day and week to week, and their mood swings will definitely affect their parents’ demeanor.

While many moms (and dads) skip exercise because it’s too challenging to work into their schedule, as we’ve mentioned before, exercise can help parents lose excess weight, minimize depression and feel better.

“Finding time to exercise is one of the biggest challenges for parents,” says Rachelle Hill (a physical therapist at Moreau Physical Therapy in Louisiana), “along with finding the energy to get going.” She recommends setting goals to help you stick to a routine. Whether the goal is losing weight, improving your health, or getting rid of back pain, she advises posting goals in highly visible areas, like the bathroom mirror or the front of the refrigerator, so they are hard to miss.

As little ones settle into a sleep routine, parents can work out while they rest. To make the most of the time you have, says Rachelle, consider these options when building your regimen:

Challenge your core strength and balance to become a stronger parent.
  • Challenge your core strength and balance.
  • Exercises that involve your arms and legs at the same time will help work multiple body parts in a short period of time.
  • Utilizing a circuit training format will help keep your heart rate up and burn more calories than just performing isolated muscle movements.
  • Add challenges like plyometrics and interval training to increase your workout.

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Does the seven-minute workout work?

Last summer, yet another fitness fad/trend received some attention. It was first published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, and then it received coverage in a variety of newspapers and websites, including the New York Times. While high-intensity circuit training (HICT) is not new, the specific circuit training cycle discussed in the article received attention because the circuit duration lasted approximately 7 minutes. In addition, the authors theorized that it could also benefit “the masses.”

It is important to understand that this article was a case report on how the two authors manage limited training schedules and environments for their elite-level athletes: using body-weight resistance without any other equipment, in a seven-minute workout cycle, and repeated as many as 1-3 times based on time availability. For their purposes, the authors felt that this training tool was an effective way to help their athletes manage their workouts while maintaining intensity and improving aerobic conditioning in the presence of busy lives.

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Fitting exercise into your daily routine

We all know the health benefits of exercise: It makes you feel better. It helps you live longer. It reduces your risk of diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and even the common cold. It stimulates your brain. It maintains your weight and strengthens your heart, lowers blood pressure and improves muscle tone. It lifts your mood, leading some doctors to even prescribe it for depression.

But many people are daunted by the goal set by the American Heart Association of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. So how can you fit in enough exercise to reach that goal?

Kim Gladfelter, a physical therapist and owner of PhysioFit Physical Therapy (a Physiquality network clinic in California), says, “Exercising three to five times a week is enough to make a positive difference in your health.” If it’s difficult to begin an exercise program, she notes, start with shorter amounts of activity. “Even 10 to 15 minutes a day can improve your mood and reduce depression,” she points out. Read More

The Benefits of Pilates

For years now, Pilates has been touted by people ranging from health experts to celebrities, singing praises of how it sculpts the body without the bulk of weight lifting. But there are many benefits beyond that toned behind; here are a few reasons you should consider trying a Pilates class.

1. Pilates is three-dimensional, working the entire body.

Kim Gladfelter, a physical therapist and owner of PhysioFit Physical Therapy (a Physiquality network clinic in California), is a certified Pilates instructor. Kim notes, “Pilates is an overall body fitness system that addresses imbalances, core control, strength, flexibility, movement efficiency and balance.” Because it is low-impact and works multiple muscle groups at the same time, Kim’s clinic not only offers Pilates classes to the public through their wellness center, but they also incorporate Pilates into their physical therapy and post-rehabilitation programs.

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