by Norma Spencer
The importance of posture is not one that can be downplayed in any way. This is mainly because your posture would very much determine how much comfort you get right now and in the later years as well.
If you’ve got bad posture, there’s no escaping the pain and deformation that comes with it. In short, maintaining a good posture goes beyond just plain looking good.
While it does help you look good, core elements like strength, balance, and flexibility can all be easily developed depending on your posture. This way, you can spend a productive day completely free of pain and filled with bubbling energy.
In addition, the right posture can alleviate the amount of stress that your muscles and ligaments feel thereby significantly toning down injury risks. The unfortunate part about having a bad posture is that more often than not, you would not be conscious of it.
However, working on improving your posture helps you become conscious of your muscles, aiding your quest to correct your posture. If on the other hand, you have good posture, then all you have to do is take it a step further to maintain it.
If you were working out at a gym prior to the lockdown, it may be quite difficult knowing exactly what to do at home but there are ways to get past this.
In line with this, here are four essential exercises for maintaining good posture, as well as developing a good posture, and what’s more, they can be easily done at home.
When it comes to maintaining good posture, having a strong core is very essential. The plank exercise is a great core exercise that engages a mass of muscles in the body at the same time. A host of abdominal muscles, as well as muscles in the shoulders and back, are usually the recipients of a strength boost if the plank is done right.
There are several variants of the plank and they all focus on strengthening various muscles. The most common version involves raising yourself on to your forearms with your spine straight in order for it to be effective. When starting out, 30 seconds is a great idea, but further, down the line, you could go for stretches of a minute, 2 or even 3.
Another variant which is the high plank helps to ease pain and stiffness in the muscles while strengthening the shoulders, hamstrings, and glutes. It also helps with developing balance and strengthening the core and back as well.
Here are the steps to successfully executing this exercise:
- Go down on all fours with your legs straight and stretched out, lift your heels and elevate your hips.
- Ensure that your back is completely straight and then focus on your arm, leg and abdominal muscles.
- Stretch out your neck so that the back is lengthened, soften your throat and then look down at the floor.
- Make sure that your shoulders are back and your chest open.
- Maintain thy position for about 45 seconds to 1 minute.
2. Chest Opener
Your chest plays a vital role in your posture and this exercise is aimed at strengthening it. If you spend most of your day sitting, your chest would tend to move inward.
Increasing chest strength invariably helps you stand up straighter and more upright.
Here are the steps to successfully executing this exercise:
- Stand straight and then extend your feet until they are about hip-width apart.
- Let your arms go behind you and then interlace your fingers so that your palms press against each other. (If your hands cannot reach each other, make use of a towel)
- Ensure your head is straight with your neck and spine in line while you stare straight ahead.
- Breath in as you raise your chest toward the ceiling and bring your hands toward the floor
- Hold this pose for about 5 breaths with each breath being deep ones
- Relax and release continuously for some breaths
- Repeat this exercise 10-15 times
While you may only be familiar with pull-ups for building upper body strength, it actually works wonders for the posture.
It helps to maintain an upright and neutral body, keeping the lungs open and aiding easier respiration. In addition, regular pull-ups help to keep your shoulders from hunching or rounding and eliminates soreness in the neck and upper back.
The great thing about pull-ups is that it can be done at any time and simply requires a simple high-quality pull-up bar. The pull-up bar also somewhat guides your posture during your pull-ups.
Here are the steps to successfully executing this exercise:
- Grab the pull up bar firmly with your palms down while maintaining a shoulder-width grip
- Hang on to the pull-up bar with your arms straight and your legs off the floor
- Pull yourself up by pulling your elbows downwards to the floor
- Go all the way to the top bar until your chin passes the bar
- Lower yourself slowly so that you feel the knots easing in your muscles
- Repeat at least 10 times if you’re a beginner
4. Cat-Cow Stretch
The cat-cow pose is a unique yoga pose that serves to improve posture and strengthen the back and neck as well.
Constantly practicing this stretch also helps to massage the spine and ease tension in the shoulders, neck, and torso while promoting continued blood circulation in the body.
Here are steps to successfully executing this exercise
- Go down on your hands and knees so that your weight balances out evenly on all four points
- Breathe in and look up, lowering your abdomen down are in the process and extending your spine
- Breathe out and arch your spine upwards while tucking your chin into your chest in the same motion
- Repeat this simple process for at least 1-2 minutes.
Good posture cannot be bought, it can only be worked for and consistent work is the best way to achieve this feat. Don’t stop!
Norma fully enjoys her editor career living an RV life with her family. Traveling with her parents and a 4-legged buddy Albert, she’s a devoted fitness, wellness, and tech writer freelancer. Norma is currently in Hungary, planning to spend at least a few more years in Europe.
We need to talk about this more during this time!Read more
What if you could accomplish six hours of strength and conditioning training in just 15 minutes? Before you write this statement off as something that is too good to be true, know this: It requires an electrical current.
Specifically, electrical muscle stimulation, otherwise known as EMS, which essentially makes muscles contract via impulses sent through electrodes placed on the skin. The muscles respond to electricity the way they would a neuron, except… well, more: When your brain sends an impulse, only about 60 to 65 percent of your muscle fiber responds. But when an electric impulse penetrates deep muscle tissue, it activates nearly all of the fiber.
It’s a science used frequently in rehabilitative physical therapy, where the technique is commonly referred to as “e-stim,” because it allows for targeted muscle penetration. More recently, though, this application has expanded beyond medicine, with some research suggesting EMS can help athletes both train and recover. And if it can help athletes, it can also help regular, everyday, healthy fitness enthusiats as well.
Manduu, an EMS fitness franchise, agrees. The Nashville-based company operates three locations in the area: Green Hills, Brentwood and Franklin.
“The whole premise is that we basically replace lifting weights with electricity,” said Wiley Robinson, a registered nurse and Chief Operating Officer at Manduu. “We put you in a specially designed, high-tech suit attached to a device with very advanced software, and we apply electricity to your body, and it makes your muscles work really hard.”
A type of high-intensity interval training, Manduu has an ultra-low impact on joints, muscles and tendons while enhancing strength and flexibility.
The trainers at Manduu have a minimum four year degree in exercise science or kinesiology and track progress by taking sophisticated measurements every time you step into the studio.
“When you leave, you’ll have more information about yourself than when you go to the doctor,” Robinson says. “We measure your body composition, fat, where it’s distributed and how healthy your cells are.”
The technology was developed in Europe and has quickly expanded over the past decade; there are 1,700 EMS studios in Germany and Austria alone.
“We like people to start off once a week until they become adapted. After that, clients can come twice per week,” Robinson said.
For contrast, experienced Manduu clients max out at two 15-minute sessions per week; beginners start at just once weekly.
The experience is tough to imagine if you’ve never tried it, but Manduu’s Robinson says our clients can expect to be in and out in less than half an hour.
Unlike traditional gyms where dozens to hundreds of people may be working out, only two people can do a workout at a time.
At Manduu, a trained professional monitors each private session – your first one is always free – which begins with an InBody scan that reports a series of clinical biometrics, from body fat percentage to resting metabolic rate. This is meant to give you a comprehensive picture of your current state so you can monitor your progress (a trainer will analyze your results at the end of the workout). I have been to three sessions, and in my experience, it was more difficult than I had anticipated.
When you arrive, first you suit up in a Manduu-issued workout outfit – not terribly unlike a Scuba suit – fitted with carbon-fiber electrodes. Don’t be alarmed when your trainer sprays you down with warm water next. Wetting down the suit’s electrodes makes you more conductive.
Next, you’ll be plugged into a battery-operated machine, but don’t worry, it doesn’t actually contain enough electricity to hurt you. The main EMS device is monitored and adjusted by the trainer, who leads you through a series of stretches and basic movements while slowly turning up the electrical current to find your threshold at each body part – biceps, triceps, pecs, abs, glutes, and quads.
Then, the workout begins. It’s low-impact and deceptively easy until the trainer starts upping the electricity. The pulses feel like tingles all over the body. It doesn’t hurt, but it feels like exactly like every fiber of your muscle awakens into action for the first time that day.
The pulses come in intervals, and, as you start to get the hang of it – remembering to never lock your knees, squeezing a stress ball in each hand, and timing your breathing to each contraction – the trainer challenges you to take on more resistance. It feels like you’re doing so much more than simply squatting, lunging, and reaching overhead.
And just like that, it’s over. Fifteen minutes flies by, and it’s time to disrobe and dry off. The trainer warns you that, much like a strength workout, you’ll likely feel pretty sore tomorrow, but you’ll really feel it the day after.
They were right. I worked out (though you’re still not convinced it’s fair to even call it that) on a Monday and by Wedesday, it hurt to sit down. By Thursday, I could barely raise my arms to put a shirt on. Any lingering doubt that this low-level electrical current didn’t really do anything vanishes when I tried to climb some stairs.
Feeling like you did seven million crunches when in reality you did maybe 10 has to mean something very good is happening, right?
Manduu is expanding rapidly and operates studios in Austin, Dallas, Chicago, Florida and California.
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Greens and Vegetables
Delvin Farms is a family owned and operated Certified Organic Farm in College Grove, TN with three generations of family living and working on the farm. They have wonderful farm products and are available all across the state.
Flying S Farms is in the small town of Woodbury, TN in the hills of Cannon County. In 2003, Ben and Catherine Simmons started with just a small garden plot. Now the Simmons’ Flying S Farms has grown into a 6-acre sustainable farm, growing a wide variety of open-pollinated produce. They are the kindest couple you’ll ever meet and their vegetables are nothing short of delicious
Norton Family Farms started out to support their family’s love for fresh vegetables. Jim with his Plant Science degree couldn’t get enough and grew the farm to more than they thought possible. They have thousands of square feet of greenhouses so you can get fresh greens through the winter as well.
Paradise Produce grows just about everything. They are dedicated to producing the highest quality and nutrient-rich food through the care of the soil. They use homemade compost to create ideal conditions for nutrient dense vegetables.
These are just a few of so many deserving farmers who work day and night to give us the most delicious and nutritious vegetables. Remember, the closer you are to the source the closer you are to the freshest and most nutritious products possible.
Protein: Chicken, Eggs, Beef
River Cottage Farms is a small family farm producing beef, lamb, veal, dairy, chicken, and eggs. All of their animals roam freely with constant access to all the grass, bugs, and clean water; a dream life for any animal. Brayden Apple never uses hormones chemicals and has a strict soil maintenance program. It starts with the earth and you begin taking care of everything from there all the way up. This ensures nutrient-rich and delicious proteins for everyone. They also do amazing private farm to table catering events.
Peaceful Pastures prides themselves on their dedication to producing the best meats possible naturally, pasture raised and ethically cared for. All of their sheep, goats, and cattle are 100% grass-fed and finished. Jenny and Darrin Drake offer beef, pork, lamb, goat, chicken, duck, and turkey and all are absolutely delicious and wonderfully good for you.
Bear Creek Farm raises grass-fed and grain finished all-natural Angus beef. They are some of the best when it comes to genetics and humane practices in the beef world. Some of their best beef is dry aged in their own facility created a truly unique and delicious flavor. Their beef is nearly always rated Prime, but always delicious and good for you.
Other Great Finds
Esstar Krista’s Healthy On-The-Go. Krista Anderson has an amazing story on how she fought off cancer with determination, faith, and a healthy diet. She noticed that for those who are always on the go, with little time to go to specialty stores, it was extremely difficult to eat healthily. So now, at small convenience stores across the country, you can look for a special rack labeled “Krista’s Healthy on the Go” full of snacks and quick bites that are guaranteed Organic, Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Kosher and Vegan.
Brother’s Health Foods – Bone Broth and Elderberry Syrup. Former Herban Market and Warren’s Post Chef, Tyson Ford, started Brother’s a little under a year ago. He makes nutrient dense Bone Broth for gut health that boosts your protein intake and provides great saturated fats. This is a Keto Diet essential. He also creates elderberry syrup which supercharges your immune system and is a great all-natural alternative to allergy medicine. Nearly everything he uses is procured locally and you can taste the quality.
Short Mountain Cultures. Hendersonville Produce at Herban Market in Franklin, Tenn.
Fermented foods are a necessity when it comes to gut health. They contain powerful bacteria that aid in digestion, boost immunity, and help maintain a healthy weight. The potency and quality, however, all depend on who creates the culture. Short Mountain is one of the best! They always use organic, all-natural, local ingredients, and they take the time and care necessary for wonderful products.
by Grady Cash
Summer is a great time to be outdoors, but the heat does pose challenges, specifically sunburn and heat illnesses that can be serious if not treated promptly. Here’s how to recognize these summer problems before it’s too late.
Recognize Heat Illnesses
It’s a good idea to increase fluid intake in hot weather to avoid dehydration, but if you’re constantly drinking water and still feel thirsty, it could be the onset of hyponatremia, an electrolyte imbalance caused by drinking too much water that may lead to organ failure or death. First aid for hyponatremia is to reduce fluid intake, take an electrolyte solution, and seek immediate medical attention.
Excessive heat can also result in heat exhaustion or heatstroke. These common heat-related illnesses are difficult to diagnose because dehydration, hyponatremia, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke have common symptoms: headaches, confusion, and nausea. However, there are some subtle differences. Profuse sweating and clammy skin are signs of heat exhaustion, but when sweating stops and the skin becomes dry, it could be a sign the problem has progressed to potentially life-threatening heatstroke. If symptoms are serious or persist after a half hour, seek medical attention. By recognizing the early signs of these illnesses, you can take preventive steps — get out of the sun into a cool place, wear a cap, use ice packs on your neck, and only drink fluids with an electrolyte solution, like a sports drink.
Here are some strategies to cope with hot weather.
One simple solution is to do your workouts indoors during extremes of hot or cold weather. I’m a member of three different fitness centers: Vanderbilt for its indoor 300-meter track, Boost FitClub for its indoor soccer field, and a third fitness center with equipment not available in the other two.
Of course, sometimes, we don’t have a choice. We might be doing a group run or an outdoor competition where the heat can’t be avoided. Here’s how to beat the heat in those situations.
Microclimates are regions with significantly different temperatures than nearby locations. One microclimate only a few minutes from downtown Nashville is Percy Warner Park, which can be 10° cooler than Vanderbilt. Shaded fields or trails near lakes, rivers, or forests are other examples of microclimates.
Wear loose-fitting, light-colored, sleeveless tops that cover the shoulders. If the top is long, get it hemmed to just below the waist so you can leave it untucked to provide more ventilation. This is amazingly effective. I just use scissors to cut off the top to the desired length. Wear a white cap with lots of mesh. Make sure there’s adequate room to allow air to flow between the cap and your hair. Use a nongreasy sunscreen. Oily sunscreens hinder sweating’s cooling effect.
Shave Your Legs
This may sound radical to guys, but hair is just a layer of fur. You don’t need fur in the summer! Many male swimmers and cyclists routinely shave their legs. It’s amazingly cooler. Try it. If you don’t like it, the hair will grow back in a couple of weeks. A beard trimmer is fast and effective.
Have Summer Socks and Shoes
We wear sandals in summer and boots with thick socks in winter, yet most runners wear the same shoes and socks all year around. After a hot summer run, I weighed my socks. They had soaked up over five ounces of sweat apiece! Gross! Plus, every added ounce of shoe weight slows your pace by one second per mile. The solution is to wear thin socks and shoes with lots of mesh in summer and thicker socks and shoes with very little mesh in the winter.
As your body gets hotter, blood flow diverts to capillaries near the surface of the skin to help you stay cool, but that adversely affects performance. Last year, at the National Senior Games in Alabama in July, I knew heat would take a toll over the three-day competition, so I stayed in the shade while my competitors stood in the sun. I wore a long sleeve, white compression top and put ice cubes on the inside of my elbow and wrists. I also periodically held ice cubes against the side of my neck where the blood vessels are closest to the skin. I wore a white cap until immediately before my events started. Then, I poured ice water over my hair and neck. Not only is this cooling, but the wet hair also acts as a wick to evaporate water and keep the head cool. If your hair is going to be wet with sweat by the end of the workout anyway, it doesn’t matter if it’s wet at the start!
These steps, plus drinking fluids with electrolytes, can help you beat the summer heat!
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