Tag Archives: injury

Starting A New Program

Whether you are new to the gym or a seasoned gym-goer, beginning any new exercise program should start the same way – safely.  There are a few different things you can do to ensure that you are working out in a safe manner.

1. Don’t copy what you see someone else doing.  You don’t know why they’re doing it, You don’t know if they’re doing it correctly, or if they have modified it for any reason.  Just because someone who looks “fit’ is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right for you and your body.  Proper execution of an exercise trains the targeted muscle(s).  Improper execution can create imbalances and lead to injury.

2. Ask us!  Staff in gyms are extroverts, we want to talk to people.  We thrive on sharing our energy and enthusiasm for wellness.  We’re looking for you and want to answer your questions; we want to see you succeed.

3. Work on the basics – posture, body alignment, core engagement.  If you want to do an exercise correctly, these are part of the package that reduces the risk of injury.

4. Get the Sets and Reps right.  The number of repetitions within a set, and the number of sets completed makes a huge difference from one program to another.  Learn what the difference is between low reps heavy weight, and high reps lower weight – dialing in the correct combo will guide you towards your ultimate goal.

5. Stretch!  Most of us are in a rush and want to get as much packed into our workout time, then off we go to the next part of our busy days.  Take the time to cool down and stretch, it increases range of motion, reduces soreness in the day(s) to come, and reduces risk for injury.



The Functional Movement Screen

In the interest of serving our members better, and at the same time remaining in line with the best practices in our industry, the Eau Claire YMCA recently sponsored the four full time staff members of the strength and conditioning department to attend a 3-day certification course on delivering and programming the Functional Movement Screen (FMS).

What is the FMS?

The FMS is a quick and easy tool comprised of 7 movement patterns which identify deficiencies, asymmetries (left/right imbalances) and indicators of pain across multiple joints and planes of movement e.g. shoulder issues that may be causing low back pain or vice-versa. It was developed in the late 90s by Gray Cook and Lee Burton, both physical therapists, and has since been adopted by professional sports teams, the military, police and fire services, EMS, and a growing number of commercial fitness facilities.

What does this mean for my training?

Primarily, it empowers your trainer to identify and work towards correcting deficient patterns in your everyday movement that if unaddressed may lead to injury, or most likely re-injury, since we typically develop asymmetries during injury recovery. Overall, it means that your trainer is better equipped to make you stronger, leaner and more fit to keep you running, swimming, biking and hiking for many years to come.

Where do I go from here? How do I get involved?

To get screened, register your interest with one of our member services staff*. You can also contact Geoff Starling (see below) or speak to one of the weight floor staff.

For more information on the FMS, check out: www.functionalmovement.com

*Please be aware that as a pilot program only full time staff of the Eau Claire Strength & Conditioning department are presently capable of delivering the FMS. Other branches will likely complete the necessary training as demand grows.


Geoff Starling
Strength & Conditioning Director
Eau Claire YMCA

Do you skip workouts because you’re too sore? Consider including Aquatic Fitness in your program.

Whether it’s muscle soreness from a vigorous workout, joint pain from arthritis or tension caused by stress or musculoskeletal imbalances, many people find themselves skipping workouts or avoiding even basic physical activity due to feeling sore. If you’re trying to establish a regular fitness regimen, missing even one workout can cause a domino effect that makes it easier to skip subsequent workouts as well, especially if you are new to fitness and haven’t yet made exercise a habit.
If this sounds like you, Aquatic Fitness – in shallow or deep water – may be the solution to help you stick to a regular program and keep moving in a way that works you out while  helping to ease any discomfort.
Scroll down to the end of the article for a list of Aquatic Fitness Programs offered at Saddletowne YMCA or keep reading to learn about the benefits.
Aquatic Fitness uses the unique properties of water together with movements through different plains of motion to create resistance for the whole body while simultaneously giving you a fantastic massage! Buoyancy reduces the impact on your joints while immersion & movement through water create a therapeutic ‘hugging’ and massaging effect that feels great on the muscles and assists circulation to reduce swelling. If you are sore from an intense workout or feel stiffness & tension for other reasons (like stress, arthritis, pregnancy or injury), the water can sooth your muscles and help work out the ‘kinks’, restoring you to your regular fine form.
Many people mistakenly believe that Aquatic Fitness classes are only for older adults or people wanting a gentle workout however these classes offer a host of benefits for all populations, especially when used as part of a cross-training program. What makes these classes appropriate, even for people with vastly different fitness goals, is that participants are completely in control of their own intensity level and can increase or decrease the intensity simply by modifying lever length, surface area, speed and force. In other words, the harder/faster you push the water and/or the longer you make your limbs, the more intense the workout will be and vice versa.
Aquatic Fitness classes are different from swimming in that most of the exercises are performed vertically. In shallow water workouts like AquaFit or Aqua Bootcamp you are exercising at mid-chest depth and are able to touch the ground. In deep water classes like Deep Water Workout,Tethered Deep Water Workout or Tethered Deep Water Running, participants wear a flotation belt that helps them stay afloat so they can focus on maintaining proper form and performing intentional movements rather than struggling through the class to keep their head above water. In Prenatal Aquatic Fitness which is also a deep water class, participants sit on a ‘noodle’ instead of using the belt to avoid the pressure of the belt on the abdomen. This means that no swimming skill is required and you don’t even have to put your face in the water which makes these classes a great option for people who want to enjoy the benefits of water but don’t know how to swim.
When done properly with attention to good form Aquatic Fitness tests one’s core strength & stability, making you aware of imbalances that may be contributing to your movement issues and offers an avenue for correction. Most people are surprised by the amount of core activation required and how challenging it can actually be, even for those who thought they were well-conditioned. Aquatic Fitness can also help to maximize lung volume and improve breathing patterns because the pressure of the water on the submerged chest causes one to work harder to fill their lungs. This in turn helps to strengthen respiratory muscles and can lead to greater ease in breathing throughout every life. Better breathing = increased energy, reduced stress, better mood & mental clarity, etc, etc, etc.
If you’re looking for way to be consistently active and be kind to your body, avoiding the pitfalls of both over and under training, I challenge you to give Aquatic Fitness a try – you will be surprised, guaranteed.
Saddletowne YMCA offers the following Registered & Drop-in Aquatic Fitness Programs:
Aqua Bootcamp (Shallow) – Registered
Mondays 7:00-7:45pm
Beginning January 6
Tuesdays 9:15-10:15am
Beginning January 7
Tethered Deep Water Workout – Registered
Tuesdays 10:30-11:30am
Beginning January 7
Wednesdays 7:00-7:45pm
Beginning January 8
Pre-Natal Aqua Fitness (Deep Water) – Registered
Wednesdays 6:00-6:45pm
Beginning January 8
Call 403-237-2393 to register or visit our website for more information: www.ymcacalgary.org
Drop-in Programs:
AquaFit – Monday, Wednesday & Sunday 12-1pm
Deep Water Workout – Friday 10:30-11:30am

Toddlers & Biting

Check out this article by Stacey Stein on the Canadian Living Moms website entitled Child behaviour: What to do when your toddler bites. The article breaks down why biting happens, and provides tips & tricks for getting your little chomper to quit biting.

“As distressing as this situation can be for parents, biting is perfectly normal among the toddler set. “They explore their environment through their mouth, and biting really is a part of that process,” says Montreal-based child psychologist Julia Daki, who emphasizes that biting is normal for children under the age of three, who still don’t fully understand that the act hurts others.”

Read the article in full on the CDN Living Moms website.

How’s Your Fitness Form?

In an article on the Chicago Tribune website, writer Dorene Internicola takes a look at how form can impact your workout:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – From jumping rope to swinging a kettle bell to pounding a treadmill, a finely-tuned form can spell the difference between a sound body and a sore knee.

Experts say often a professional tweak can go a long way towards firming up your workout.

Click here to read the full article on www.chicagotribune.com.

Contraindicated Exercises: Risk VS. Benefit of Certain Exercises

As sciences go, exercise science is relatively young on the family tree.  That being said there is always new and exciting information coming out in the world of exercise science.  Sixty years ago when physicists were splitting atoms and making nuclear bombs, the few exercise professionals that did exist, were making people do some pretty crazy exercises that you would never see in a program designed by today’s trainers. Even today there is always new information coming out stating that that certain exercises are not good for you, and that you should avoid them to avoid injury.

The whole idea behind contraindicated exercises is the risk to benefit ratio.  How much risk is involved in a particular exercise vs. how much benefit you are going to get out of that exercise.  For many of those higher risk exercises that place undue stress on a joint, tendon, ligament, or muscle there are alternate exercises that are just as, if not more effective, but involve a lot less risk and a lot less potential for injury.

A good example is behind the neck pull-downs. Gym goers have being doing this exercise for a long time but recent evidence suggests that it puts the shoulder in an unstable position which could lead to injury. There is the potential to hit you C7 vertebrae while doing the movement and damage it.  As well the exercise is not functional; you don’t mimic that exercise in everyday life. If you do behind the neck pull-downs the exercise are you going to injure yourself? Probably not right away, but there is potential. Could it lead to shoulder problems down the road? There is the potential for a chronic shoulder injury down the road.  Are there other exercises out there that work the same muscles with less risk of injuring yourself? Yes there are.

There are many exercises out there that do have the potential to cause injury, either acute or chronic. If you are unsure about some of the exercises in your current program seek the advice of one of YMCA’s trained staff.

Avoid Injury: Yoga for Sports

A lot of sports injuries come from repetative motion or from imbalance in posture. Writer Tiffany Cruishank tells about different yoga poses that can help avoid injuries on her posting on YogaJournal.com:

“A yoga practice encourages you to take inventory of your body as you practice. The more awareness you have of how your body feels from day to day or from pose to pose, the more likely you are to notice tight or injury-prone areas of the body that need attention before full-blown injuries can occur.”

Click here to read the full article on www.YogaJournal.com.

Pronation Explained

In this article on RunnersWorld.com, writer Bob Gavin provides insight into how our feet work in regards to pronation. There are three videos to explain the different ways our feet hit the ground. The videos make the page take a bit longer than normal web pages to load—but your patience will be worth it!

“If you have a normal arch, you’re likely a normal pronator, meaning you’ll do best in a stability shoe that offers moderate pronation control. Runners with flat feet normally overpronate, so they do well in a motion-control shoe that controls pronation. High-arched runners typically underpronate, so they do best in a neutral-cushioned shoe that encourages a more natural foot motion.”

Click here to view the remainder of the article and watch the videos.

Is it better to train with free weights or use machines?

When it comes to safety, machines are the better option. It is very hard to do exercises incorrectly with machines and most of the time you won’t be crushed by weights if something goes wrong. You don’t need a spotter or any experience with movement to get the hang of machine exercises. Many trainers are big promoters of getting beginners to start with machines until they are a little more comfortable around the gym.

When you use free weights, you end up using more stabilizer muscles. You require more coordination and concentration to execute the movements properly. Using free weights can be more dangerous but with all of the added stabilization you have, many trainers agree that you get a better workout when using free weights.  

What about if you are trying to build muscle?   Muscles cannot tell if you are on a machine or using free weights. All your muscles know is that they’re being stressed and if you are using enough load to stimulate the muscles you can get results with either machines or free weights.  

What if you are training around an injury? Depending on the injury, you can use a machine to isolate a specific muscle.  To train better, you can use the machine to avoid brining in stabilizer muscles into a movement. For other injuries, you may want to recruit stabilizer muscles or modify the movement pattern so training with free weights is preferred.

If you’re talk about functional training, free weights and other body weight movements are the best way to go. A machine does not simulate real life very well.  

Both machines and free weights have their benefits and their drawbacks. To get the most out of your workouts, use variety of equipment with a variety of techniques to keep your body guessing. This will make sure that your body never adapts to a particular training style and it keeps getting stronger.