Sunday, November 30, 2014

Exercise & Pregnancy: Why it’s beneficial and what you can do

Exercising during pregnancy can be beneficial in many ways, not only by keeping certain pregnancy conditions at bay but also by making you feel better about yourself. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t put away the gym sneakers just yet.

  • Energy Booster- Pregnancy can wipe you out, consuming most of your daily energy to complete tasks. Even small bouts of exercise can make you feel energized. With muscles that are strong and toned, you need less effort to engage in any activity, whether that means grocery shopping or sitting through meetings at the office.  According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), you can safely take part in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise every day, as long as you don't have a medical condition or complication that your doctor or midwife has told you rules out exercise or limits your activity level.

  • Better Sleep- When you're carrying an extra 15 pounds (or more!) in front of you, finding a comfortable sleeping position can be a real challenge. But exercise will help you work off any excess energy and tire you enough to lull you into a more restful sleep.

  • Reduce Discomfort- Stretching and strengthening can better help the body adjust to the normal aches and pains of pregnancy. For example: Stretches ease back pain, walking improves your circulation, and swimming can strengthen your abdominal muscles.

  • Preparation for childbirth- The better shape you’re in, the better off you’ll be when you go in to labor. The birthing process takes strength, stamina and determination.  Exercising while pregnant can ease and shorten the length of delivery.

  • Reduces stress- Having a child is a life changing event that brings about so many emotions, experiencing highs and lows. It’s been found that exercise boosts levels of serotonin, a brain chemical linked to mood, putting you in better spirits.

  • Improving self-image- Staying active helps you feel better about yourself and improves your odds of gaining a healthy amount of weight.

  • Your body after childbirth-When you've maintained your strength and muscle tone all through your pregnancy, your body will have an easier time bouncing back after you give birth. You’ll also gain less surplus weight if you exercise during your pregnancy.

Some of the best exercises to start or stick with are walking, low impact aerobics, swimming, prenatal yoga and stretching, whether you’re a beginner to the exercise world or have been active all along.

If you exercised regularly before getting pregnant and your pregnancy is uncomplicated, you can most likely continue working out as before. In some cases it's not okay to exercise during pregnancy, though, so talk to your doctor or midwife about your fitness routine to make sure your activities don't put you or your baby at risk.

Blog post by Farran Jalbert.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fighting Falls

Falls are a huge public health problem.  1 out of 3 older adults (age 65 or older) fall every year.  Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls.  The good news is most falls can be prevented.  Follow these guidelines.

  • Activities such as walking, water workouts and yoga can improve strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
  • Wear proper footwear: properly fitted shoes with non skid soles.
  • Know your surroundings:  Wet leaves, black ice and uneven surfaces such as cobblestone walkways can be a fall hazard.  (BE AWARE!)

What can you do at home to prevent falls?
  • Remove electrical cords and phone cords from walk ways.
  • Secure loose rugs with double sided tape.
  • Install non slip mats in the shower.
  • Turn on lights before going up or down stairways.
  • Install a grab bar at the bathtub entrance.
  • Do not go up or down stairs in stocking feet.

BASIC EXERCISES: For improved balance and posture the following exercises can be done using a folding chair. Stand behind the chair holding on with both hands.  Start with a goal of performing 10 repetitions.  Stop the exercise and see a physician if you feel any pain or discomfort.


Stand with legs shoulder width apart.  Bend knees as if you are sitting in a chair until knees line up with toes and return to start position.

Knee Raises

Stand up straight and alternately bring one knee up to a 90 degree angle.  Return to start position and repeat with opposite leg.

Heel Raises

Stand flat footed and raise up on toes.  Return to start position.

Hip Abduction

Begin standing on both legs and slowly raise one leg out to side.

Leg Swings

Stand on one leg.  Swing other leg forward and backward.  Repeat with other leg.

In addition light weight training using dumbbells can help improve overall body strength which can help you maintain a correct posture. Overhead press, chest fly, bicep curls, triceps extensions are some of the effective exercises.

In the recent Fighting Falls class offered by Mashpee Fitness all four of the participants that took the Berg Balance test before and after the program showed improvement in basic balance in the areas of: stand from a sitting position, leaning forward on toes, picking items up from the floor, standing with feet together, standing on one leg and stepping up a simulated flight of stairs.  Balance can be improved.  Are you ready to start fighting falls?

Blog post by Alan Harrison.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Foam Rolling

Improving flexibility and joint function is a common goal for many fitness programs. Flexibility is defined as the mobility within a joint or groups of joints, directly reflecting the ability of muscle-tendon structures to elongate. Two ways to improve flexibility are 1) by restoring length to the tissues surrounding muscles and bones and 2) by releasing fibrous adhesions that lead to range of motion restriction and restoring health to tissues. With the improved understanding of human anatomy and physiology we have come to realize the benefits of self-myofascial release.

There are many modes used to perform self-myofascial release including deep tissue massage, massage sticks, lacrosse balls, and the mode I will be addressing the foam roll. Foam rolling has become increasingly popular in the fitness realm, appealing to clients/patients of all ages and ability. This piece of equipment is a cylindrical piece of hard-cell foam best used on a flat surface. By applying pressure to these fibrous adhesions (web-like connective tissue surrounding human anatomy in response to trauma) we are able to reduce the level of restriction by restoring muscle length and taking pressure off of pain sensitive structures (i.e.- nerves, pain receptors). This in turn allows for a wider range of motion and therefore improved flexibility.

Foam rolling is a particularly attractive option because all you need is the roller itself. By altering your position on the roller you are able to adjust the pressure throughout the targeted musculature. The general instructions for foam rolling are to try and hit all the large muscle groups. This includes the quadriceps, hamstrings, back muscles, calves, and glutes. It is advised that you experiment with foam rollers of different densities to find one that is comfortable for you. A softer foam roll is recommended for beginners and those with nerve issues or a low tolerance to pressure. As your body begins to adapt to this process you should increase the density of the roller.

Foam rolling can be utilized as part of a warm-up because of the isometric positions you must hold while performing. These isometrics, similar to a plank position, improve blood flow to musculature and improves neuromuscular facilitation better preparing you for your workout.

Start by rolling along the entire muscle finding tender spots. Roll each desired area 5 times per minute (slow and steady pace) and switch to the next position. As always remember to work within a comfortable range and ask questions if needed!

For examples of foam rolling view:

Blog post by Evan Healy.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Why do you exercise?

Last month we asked our members, trainers, physical therapists, and office staff “Why do you exercise?”  We received numerous responses.  Everyone has a different reason and motivation to work out.  Some of us love it.  Some of us hate it.  We know we have to do it.

Below is an essay Anna Cavanaugh, a Cape Cod Rehab Physical Therapy Aide, shared with us about regarding the topic…

Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience

“Physicist Sir Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion states: An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion, unless acted upon by an external force. When this law of motion was first introduced in the 1600s, Newton used it to explain how mass behaves in a system free of external forces such as friction or gravity. As a recent graduate interested in physical therapy, I view this law not only applicable to physical objects and systems, but also to the work of physical therapists in rehabilitating, managing and preventing of injuries for people in our society.

As an athlete, I fully appreciate the need to stay active, flexible, and strong for muscle and joint health. I am committed to improving the human body and how it moves and stays mobile at any age in order to empower individuals to be able to lead independent and dynamic lives, especially with the sedentary lifestyle of many today. As a future physical therapist my goal is to embody this philosophy through education, commitment and innovation.

Education is the foundation to a successful recovery and enhancing a patient’s wellbeing. I want to help people heal, but first, I want them to understand how they became injured. Making this a more active process, I want us to work together to restore their health and prevent future injuries and complications through proper demonstration and practice of exercise techniques. To establish this plan of action, I plan to treat the people I work with as "students" interested in learning about their body and injury prevention, as opposed to "patients", where they might think of it as a one-way experience.  In doing this, I hope to create a different level of engagement and involvement, which allows them to continue independently long after their treatment is complete. It is critical to empower a patient with knowledge and confidence in order to encourage them to take charge of their own therapy.    

Among many goals that people have in their lives, the ultimate goal is to live a pain-free life, and I am committed to making that happen for people as the second step in my vision as a physical therapist. As a competitive swimmer, I learned the best way to stay pain and injury free is through self-discipline in developing good technique. I want to help my "students" live their lives without restrictions or pain. Knowing effective techniques of any exercise is vital in order to be able to practice and perform effectively.  My approach to this is to be positive and encouraging to make therapy and exercise enjoyable without pain so they do not avoid workouts.

A third component of my philosophy is to incorporate innovation into my practice. The body is fascinating with its ability to perform complex and connected moves as one through whatever motions we desire. When the body is not able to perform the motions that were so effortless in our youth, problem solving is key to finding the route of the issue and figuring out ways to strengthen and rehabilitate the individual back good health. An important consideration for this is that we live in a society where advancements in science and medicine are constantly changing.  It becomes our responsibility to stay abreast of this new information and to incorporate it into new treatments, techniques, and exercises. By incorporating more innovative and individualizing techniques, I will help my patients move toward better functional lives. 

In Newton's third law, he stated: “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Concluding with another fundamental physics law, it is important to help the patients become aware of the fact that the more work that one puts into his or her own recovery the greater the results he or she will see over a lifetime. While not everyone is, or aspires to be an athlete, a few minutes of exercise daily is a step on the road to higher mobility. In today’s lifestyle, where food is readily available and a high level of activity is not required to stay alive, many may atrophy into weaker versions of their intended selves, which is detrimental to their bone mass and musculature. In wanting to transform the health of society, one patient at a time, I hope to challenge and motivate individuals to lead more active lives and encourage people to invest in their own health and future. I wish good health and wellbeing for those I treat through our work together, and envision that I can make becoming strong and fit contagious.”

Think about it.  Why do you exercise?

Blog post by Jen Skiba.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

5 Burdenko Strength Exercises for Runners

All athletes need to strength train but it’s an element to your training that is often missed.  Strength training will make you a stronger, faster, and more efficient runner and most importantly—strength training will help keep you injury free.  Below you will find 5 Burdenko exercises that Eric Chandler, a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and Certified Burdenko Method Instructor, chose to target muscle groups important for runners. 

Begin with 10 repetitions of each exercise.  After a few sessions, try 2 sets of 10 repetitions and start adding speeds.  Do not perform any exercise that causes or increases pain.

Earth to Sky

Lunge to the side and “sweep the floor” with your opposite hand and continue to complete big circle overhead. Continue for 10 repetitions and repeat to the other side.

1/2 Roll Lunge Step

Stand on one leg with your foot in the middle of the half roll.  Use the other leg to step forward into a lunge and then step back into a lunge.  Repeat back and forth for 10 repetitions and repeat on the other side.  For a challenge, reach opposite hand to the front foot while lunging.

1/2 Roll Leg Swings

Stand on one leg while swinging the other leg forward and back. Swing the arms so opposite hand and foot are in front. Make sure to keep your body straight and swing the leg high back and forth. Continue for 10 repetitions and repeat on the other side.


Lay on your side with legs straight together. Support your head with your lower arm and position your top arm in front with fingers pointing towards the body for stabilization. Bend top knee towards the top arms. Extend leg straight at elbow level. Swing leg back to starting position. Continue for 10 repetitions and repeat on the other side. Progress to full leg extension behind the body, bend knee and bring forward to elbow again.

Rotate and Kick

Lay on your side with legs straight together. Support your head with your lower arm and position your top arm in front with fingers pointing towards the body for stabilization. Lift top leg straight up and bend your knee down bringing your heel to your buttocks. Turn knee up and extend your leg straight up. Return to start position. Continue for 10 repetitions and repeat on the other side.

Blog post by Jen Skiba.