Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Corporate Fitness: Why Do Your Feet Go Numb During Workouts

 

ThinkstockPhotos-484968472.jpgRegardless of whether you're new to exercise or you've been sweating it out for years, there's a good chance you've experienced the sensation of one or both of your feet going numb during a workout. For me, it's most likely to happen when I'm on an elliptical machine in the fitness center, but it's happened when I was out on a run, too. And "Why do your feet go numb during workouts?" is certainly one of the more commonly asked questions posed by our corporate fitness members. This phenomenon is common (and annoying), but it's probably not a life-threatening medical condition. There are a few things you can try to get the sensation to go away for good.

Check your routine. If you find that you frequently experience numbness during a specific activity, try changing up your routine. Maybe that particular piece of equipment or class just isn't the right fit for your body. Who knows, it might be that you just need a break, and taking a little time off can allow you to come back refreshed and ready for a new start.

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Check your laces. You may find that a simple adjustment in how tightly you lace your shoes can help. Resist the urge to snug-up the laces for a tight fit, and instead give your foot a little breathing room. Feet sometimes swell during exercise, and if you lace up tightly before you start sweating, you don't leave much room for your foot to spread.

Check your shoes. Consider the width (brand) of your shoe. A medium-width shoe is not the same across brands, and the same make/model of shoe has a different width for men and women. Men's shoes tend to have a wider toe box than women's shoes. So ladies, if you don't need a wide width, but your women's joggers aren't cutting it, try the men's version of the same shoe for a more comfortable fit. If you haven't been professionally fitted for shoes, it may be worth that investment.

[Related Content: How to find the right shoe]

Check your placement. On an elliptical or a bike, where the tendency is to keep your feet in the same position throughout the workout, think about making slight movements throughout the ride/roll. Subtly shifting how you place pressure on your feet over the span of a 20–40-minute session can help minimize numbness in the feet.

Check your symptoms. If you can use one of the recommendations above and the numbness goes away, no worries. If you find, however, that the numbness persists through your day, always occurs in the same place on your foot, or is so severe that you have to discontinue your workouts, it may be time to see your doctor. You may be dealing with a pinched-nerve injury that will need more than the suggestions above to remedy.

 

Topics: shoes Fitness Center corporate fitness injury numbness workouts

The Senior Fitness Center – Physical Therapy Relationship

If you are a fitness professional working with seniors, you’d better have a good relationship with your physical therapy department. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three seniors over age 65 falls each year, with 20 to 30% of those falls resulting in severe injury.

After a severe fall the senior may need rehab, but there are times when they do not want to go. The three reasons I hear most often about why they’re not going to therapy are

  • “I’m not going to therapy because I can’t afford it.”
  • “I’m not going because I don’t have time.”
  • “I’m not going because you can do it.”
I feel we, as fitness professionals, should have a positive relationship with the therapy department, and we should have a basic understanding of physical therapy protocols, such as Medicare limits. Knowing this basic information may help change the mind of a person who is trying to avoid therapy for one reason or another. When fitness staff and therapy work well together, the client/patient always wins, and that’s our ultimate goal.

The next time you hear one of the aforementioned reasons for not going to therapy, here is some information you can provide that they may not have known.

“I’m not going because I can’t afford it.”

Physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy are covered under Original Medicare; the therapy caps for 2015 are $1,940. If this is the option they would like to go with, Medicare part B will pay 80% of the services and require them to pay 20%. Their cap resets after each calendar year, something many seniors don’t realize, so they may be fearful that they will have to pay 100% of the costs when in fact that isn’t true.

If the person has Medicare Advantage plan or any other detailed questions, I would suggest sending them to this section of the Medicare website, or to the therapy department. After all, we are laypersons in the field of Medicare, but our primary goal is to help them, so having this small amount of information along with other resources they can use may be enough to get them on the path to therapy.

“I’m not going because I don’t have time.”

When I hear this, I often follow it with one of my favorite fitness quotes from Edward Stanley:

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

We make time for the things in our lives that we view as most important. All we can do as fitness professionals is stress how important their body is; it’s their choice to agree and make the time to take care of it.

“I’m not going because you can do it.”

This might be the reason I hear most often. It is definitely flattering to hear the faith they place in your abilities, but we are not therapists and we must not overstep the scope of our training. Some people are really resistant to change, and their comfort level with you may be the reason they ask you to perform their therapy. I have found that if you show faith in therapy, and can suggest a therapist who you know is liked and gets positive results, it goes a long way in getting the person to consider therapy.

***

Neither department is more important than the other, but both are necessary for a successful and lasting recovery. The best fitness-therapy relationships are symbiotic, with both sides helping one another and referring clients. For more on strengthening this relationship, get this Quick Read.

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Topics: active aging physical therapy senior fitness injury rehab

Senior Wellness: Elder Falls Linked to Obesity

fall_riskObesity is an epidemic in our society today. Those who are obese have greater risk of diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, and arthritis.

This article discusses obesity in the elderly and how it increases their risk of falling. As might be guessed, the greater an individual's degree of obesity, the greater the risk of falling. A fall may also bring about greater disability for an elder’s ADLs (Activities of Daily Living).

The Risks of Falls for Elders

For more mild cases of obesity (BMI 35.0–39.9 kg/m (2)), an elderly person is at greater risk for long-term disabilities after falling. If an elder is more of a “weekend warrior” type, this claim makes sense. They are obese and need to make lifestyle changes, but they aren’t in such bad shape as to be completely sedentary (inactive). If they attempt a very strenuous activity, they could very well cause themselves a long-term disability.

One claim the article makes is that obesity may reduce an elder’s risk of injury from a fall. This claim doesn’t make sense from an orthopedic perspective. What do most of us do when we fall? We put out our hands to try to catch ourselves, right? Imagine the shoulder and wrist injuries that even a healthy, active athlete could sustain in such a fall. An obese elder is most likely going to have been sedentary (inactive) for at least several months. Being sedentary will have caused atrophy (wasting of muscle tissue) throughout the person’s body. Wrist and shoulder injuries, and perhaps even head and neck injuries, could be expected in an obese elder suffering a fall.

Prevent Injuries Through Exercise and Diet

Practicing prevention is much easier than being laid up with an injury. Strength training, yoga, Pilates, and other forms of exercise, combined with a healthy diet, can help keep us all more fit and active in our later years.

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Topics: weight control senior fitness obesity yoga injury

NIFS: 9 Tips for Overcoming Shin Splints

leg_painDuring my days as a track athlete, I came to know shins splints a little too well.  The constant running and pounding will undoubtedly bring about some discomfort in your lower legs.   But I am here to tell you don’t panic!  There are ways to fight back against the pain you are feeling and get back to running that doesn’t require you to completely take time off.  Follow these tips to understand how to sooth your shins and get back on track!

  • Progress Gradually - This may sound like a no-brainer, but many people tend to dive in to running and do a little more than their bodies can handle.  Build strength and endurance first and slowly increase mileage.
  • The Shoe Matters - Make sure your shoes fit and that they have proper cushioning.  Yes, those minimalist shoes you wear may be the cause of your shin splints.  Shoes with improper support will cause over pronating and rolling of your foot.  Visit a local running store to get some expert advice on shoes and get the right fit.
  • Cross Training - This is especially important if you are already experiencing shin splints.  By cycling, swimming, or rowing you can maintain your fitness level and log miles while taking it easy on the shins.  If you currently run 5 day per week, try a 3/2 training ratio.  Run 3 times per week and cross train 2 times per week.  You will notice relief quickly!
  • Mid-Foot Striking - Resist the urge to run up on your toes or to heel strike!  Flat, mid-foot striking will encourage correct biomechanics, help you run with a proper gait and prevent injury.
  • Don’t Over Stride - The usual culprits here are people who tend to strike heel first.  Think to slow down your cadence and run with proper mid-foot striking form.  This will help you perform with proper body mechanics.
  • Use Ice - Ice those shins!  The ice will bring recovery to the area and help reduce swelling and discomfort.  You can ice for up to 10-15 minutes every hour.
  • Stretch and Foam Roll - Stretch out those calf muscles and get to work foam rolling them as well.  Tight muscles are going to contribute to the pain you are feeling in the shin.  Work on both loosening the calves and strengthening them.
  • Switch Running Surfaces - While recovering from shin splints, look for softer ground to train on.  Find a field and do running workouts in the grass to give your legs a break from the pounding taking place on the road and tracks.
  • Consider Orthotics - Consider visiting your doctor to get some recommendations on orthotics for your shoes.  These can sometimes be a life saver and can be customized to your feet providing that added support you may be missing!

Remember that the key to getting past shin splints is patience!  Take your time, listen to your body, take steps to heal, and get back out there better than before!

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Topics: running injury health and fitness

Active Aging: Workout Technique - Form First

seniors lifting weightsWe have all heard the phrase “quality over quantity,” and most of us have even directed this adage at someone else. But do we really believe it? And if we do, why is every gym and fitness center in the country filled with people sacrificing form for a few additional reps and pounds?

Before you pick up a weight, start a treadmill, or begin whatever mode of training you have planned for the day, think about your technique. “Where should my feet be?” “Should my hips be under my torso or behind it?” and “How am I going to breathe?” should be some of the questions you ask yourself before getting started.

Common problems associated with poor exercise technique include injuries such as sprains, strains, and fractures. Decreased activation of the desired muscle is also common when performing an exercise incorrectly. I see this most often when people are doing exercises too fast and momentum begins to reduce the work the targeted muscle has to do. All of these technique-associated problems have one thing in common: time.

“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time,” said Jim Rohn. So stop wasting your time recovering from injuries you got only because you were doing exercises incorrectly or because you had to do extra repetitions since poor form caused the targeted muscle not to fatigue as quickly as it should have.

Here are some workout technique tips for making sure you take the time needed to do the exercises properly and safely.

Use Your Resources

There are countless fitness resources around us, some clearly better than others, that you can consult with to ensure that you are doing exercises properly. The first thing I would recommend you do is research the exercise technique on your own so that you have a general idea of what to expect. Then you should consult with the fitness professional in your active aging community, who can then provide you with cues and possibly hands-on instruction.

Proper Breathing During Exercise

Proper breathing can make the most difficult exercise seem easy. Or it can have the exact opposite effect, making a routine move seem like the end of the world. The most common method of breathing while performing resistance training is to inhale during the eccentric contraction (lowering weight) and to exhale during the concentric contractions (lifting weight). This method of breathing is not the only option an exerciser has, so do your research and find out what is the best method for you, but keep in mind that some variations carry risks. The Valsalva maneuver, for example, can be used when resistance training, but this method of breathing, exhaling against a closed airway, can cause dizziness as the blood levels returning to the heart drop.

Correct Body Position

Once you learn the appropriate body position for your desired exercise, pay attention to it as you execute the reps. The best way to do this is by watching yourself in a mirror. If you notice that your form is beginning to deteriorate and you are not able to correct it, stop the exercise and rest or reduce the weight you are working with. As I mentioned earlier, a few extra reps now are not worth the time you could miss as you recover from an injury.

This year’s tragic bombing of the Boston Marathon has sparked a new saying: “If you see something, say something,” reminding us all that we are the first line of defense when it comes to our own as well as our neighbors’ safety. This motto could also be used in the gym when you see someone demonstrating poor form; say something, but you better make sure you know what you are talking about first.

Topics: exercise injury Fitness Center weight training strength training

Employee Wellness: Healthy Joints, Healthy Body

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

healthy jointsYour joints play an important role in all of life’s activities. They connect bone to bone, which allows your body to move during everything from sports and exercise to everyday functions such as playing with kids, lifting groceries, performing yard work, and even sitting at a desk.

However, factors such as age, injury, diet, and lifestyle can negatively impact the joints over time, leading to stiffness, pain, and possibly even the onset of arthritis. Keep your joints mobile with the following tips:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Shedding a few pounds can help take the pressure off of lower-body joints, including the knees, which seem to suffer the most from weight gain.
  • Mix up the aerobic exercise routine. Running and playing sports can help build bone density, but too much impact can hurt your joints. Mix in lower-impact exercises such as biking and swimming.
  • Pump iron. Strength training builds up the muscles that support joint health. Mix together upper-body, lower-body, and core exercises.
  • Keep it moving. Sitting for too long invites stiffness. Take stretching or walking breaks at the office, when watching your child’s sporting event, or when watching TV or reading at night. When you do find yourself at your desk, practice good posture.
  • Stretch. Stretch after exercising. You may also find yoga, Pilates, and t'ai chi soothing for sore joints.
  • Eat for joint health. Consume foods rich in calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, C, D, and K.
Topics: nutrition injury stretching yoga arthritis weight management pain relief joint health

Corporate Fitness: Your Body Speaks to You. Don’t Ignore It.

This blog was written by Mara Winters. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

strain, backache, overuseFitness fanatics have all been there. You are so excited about working out, living the diehard active life. Who can give up running, aerobics classes, racquetball, and all the other fitness fun? Then you hear it, that voice that says, “This twinge you have had isn’t going anywhere.”

You know you feel aches but you ignore it. Nothing can keep you down. Not even a small limp on your right side. Soon you may feel that discomfort increasing and regret not listening to your body. If you feel pain (different from soreness) lasting more than five minutes after a workout session, or you have to alter your gait to complete an exercise, this may suggest you have sustained an injury.

There are visual indicators of injury, in which exercise should be stopped immediately. Swelling, discoloration, broken bones, or dislocations are causes for ceasing an activity.

While it can be a letdown, activity should be modified until the symptoms of the injury dissipate. This allows the body to heal and prevents further injury. Rehabilitation exercise and light limbering activity are acceptable during this time. Recovery times may vary depending on the severity of the injury.

As a corporate fitness trainer, I understand that people who enjoy physical activities are not thrilled to sit out for a while. Trust me, rest is the best. People who sustain reoccurring or overuse injuries usually don’t allow time for healing. Bones, ligaments, and muscles all need time to rebuild, which will make them stronger.

Another way to keep enjoying your favorite activity is to prevent injury altogether by doing the following:

  • Wearing protective equipment when necessary.
  • Avoiding overtraining. Vary your high-intensity exercise sessions throughout the week and give your body time to rest.
  • Always warming up before exercise and cooling down after workouts.
  • Cross-training to strengthen bones and muscles.
  • Building skills required for your favorite activity. For example, if you enjoy skiing, hiking, or surfing, you may want to add balance exercises to your training.
  • Eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to build a healthy body.  

Always listen to your body. Know what discomfort you can work through but also know when you need to take some time to rest.

Topics: corporate fitness exercise injury

Corporate Fitness: Stop Muscles from “Cramping” Your Style

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

stretching, muscle crampsWe’ve seen muscle cramps strike athletes on the basketball court, football field, and during running events, and many of us have experienced them first-hand. This sharp, sudden pain can be so fierce that it is temporarily crippling. A cramp may also be physically manifested by a hard lump under the skin.

While muscle cramps generally resolve themselves and don’t cause any lingering damage, their onset can be extremely frustrating, not to mention painful, when they choose to strike in the middle of a crucial game or important workout in the corporate fitness center.

When mild cramps occur, the best treatment of the symptoms is to hydrate, rest, and stretch. But it's even better to stop them before they happen. Let’s look at the most common causes of exercise-related cramps and how to prevent them:

  • Cause: Dehydration
  • Remedy: Stay well hydrated during exercise (even during colder months) by drinking plenty of water. Consume a diet rich in fluids and fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

  • Cause: Electrolyte Imbalances
  • Remedy: Consume foods containing potassium (avocados, nuts and seeds, beans, dried fruit, bananas, potatoes), calcium (dairy, dark leafy greens; fortified cereals, juices, or grains), and magnesium (bran, nuts or seeds, dairy, fish and seafood, spinach, beans, whole grains). A sports drink may be appropriate, especially for high-intensity exercise lasting longer than an hour.

 

  • Cause: Environment
  • Remedy: Limit workouts in extreme heat and humidity. Take frequent breaks to hydrate and seek shade.

 

  • Cause: Fatigue
  • Remedy: Deconditioned individuals should start an exercise program slowly. Consult a doctor, if necessary.

 

Topics: corporate fitness exercise injury fitness hydration

Corporate Fitness: How to Pick a Personal Trainer

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

C  Documents and Settings kgootee My Documents Dropbox Images New personal training resized 600There are many reasons for seeking the help of a personal trainer. Corporate health and fitness specialists can introduce you to an exercise routine, help you break through a rut, or give you the extra boosts of knowledge, motivation, and accountability that you need to achieve the next level in your fitness. But how do you pick a trainer?

Check for Fitness Certifications

First, make sure that your trainer has the appropriate credentials. The most basic certifications on a personal trainer’s resume would be CPR, AED, and first aid; a four-year degree in the health and fitness field; and preferably a certification from a well-recognized organization, for example the American College of Sports Medicine.

While most corporate fitness companies will have already screened potential employees for this information, many commercial gyms require only minimal certifications or experience in the field. Knowing that your trainer has met these standards, you have a better chance of achieving your goals and staying injury-free.

Ask About the Personal Trainer's Background and Specialties

Ask about the trainer’s background and what his or her specialties are. While health and fitness specialists should have experience training with a wide population, most will be honest if they have a passion for certain demographics, for example children or senior citizens. Also, some trainers may be more inclined to work with people looking for specific athletic goals, while other trainers prefer working with those striving for everyday fitness or disease prevention.

Make Sure the Trainer Pays Attention to You

During your consultation and first personal training session, make sure that your trainer thoroughly listens to you and understands your goals. While you are exercising, make sure that he or she is watching your form and not gazing off at the TV in the corner of the gym or chatting with other people during your whole workout. Ask for feedback if they do not give it automatically.

Don’t be afraid to shop around for a personal trainer. Put your fitness into someone else’s hands only when they have shown the experience, interest, and encouragement that you deserve from a personal training relationship.

Topics: corporate fitness injury fitness success Fitness Center weight training personal trainers

Workplace Wellness: Prevent Injuries with Stretching and Ergonomics

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

relaxation, meditating, corporate wellnessCorporate fitness professionals as well as other health and safety organizations in the workplace stress the importance of preventing injuries, not just curing them. The recent strategy discussed among many worksites today is to engage employees in stretching and proper ergonomics training before an injury occurs.

The study referred to in this article found that just stretching alone was not as beneficial as incorporating ergonomic training as well. Teaching employees safe ways to sit, stand, and lift while at work, especially when doing repetitive motions, is the key to keeping proper musculoskeletal alignment and preventing overuse injuries. Stretching, then, plays a role in maintaining flexibility and releasing tension from muscles that have been held in a contracted state for long periods of time.

Most of our corporate wellness programming includes flexibility training, for example in the form of a yoga class or a stretching session at the end of a group fitness class. But, while we can provide programs like these, employees still spend the overwhelming majority of their workdays performing their actual job function, whether sitting at a desk, standing at a manufacturing line, or doing manual labor. So, the stretches and exercises they perform in their short visits to the onsite fitness center may be negated by hours spent in unsafe body postures.

Does your company or corporate wellness programming involve any new-hire training for proper ergonomics?

Topics: worksite wellness injury stretching ergonomics