Oh no! My knees went over my toes!

In Fitness by AngelaLeave a Comment

How often have you heard that statement in regards to exercise? When squatting, lunging or anything else that involves bending the knees “make sure not to let the knees go over the toes.”
This is NONSENSE.  Forget about it, because if that were true, we would not be able to climb stairs!  Alwyn Cosgrove, a man who KNOWS his stuff, wrote this recently about the myth that won’t die:

Have you ever heard someone warn you, “Don’t let your knee pass your foot during lunges?” Well, as you might’ve guessed, it’s a load of crap. What about the other knee? In a lunge, it’s supposedly “too dangerous” for the knee of the front leg to extend past the toes. Meanwhile, the knee of the back leg is past the toes the whole time.

I’ve had people respond to that by saying there’s no load on the back leg during a lunge. Okay then… put 135 pounds on your back and go down to the bottom of a lunge. Now lift your back foot off the floor. I rest my case.
When we look at the science regarding the knees going forward, one study jumps out. Fry, Smith, and Schilling (2003) examined joint kinetics during back squats under two conditions.

The first condition placed a board in front of the participants’ shins, which restricted forward displacement of the knee. In the second condition, movement wasn’t restricted at all. They squatted normally and the knees were allowed to pass the toes.

The researchers found that restricting the forward excursion of the knees during the squat increased anterior lean of the trunk and promoted an increased “internal angle at the knees and ankles.”

The results showed a 22% decrease in knee torque and a 1070% increase in hip torque! That stress has to go somewhere. Keeping the knees behind the toes definitely reduces the forces on the knee, but those forces were transferred more than tenfold to the hips and lower back.

Obviously this study was in regard to squatting. However, the knee angle in a lunge is similar and we could expect similar findings. So, intentionally keeping your knees behind your toes during squats or lunges might be a little better for your knees, but it’s much, much worse for your lower back and hips.
(Alwyn Cosgrove)

And with that….I rest my case.

Foam Rolling

In Fitness, Flute by AngelaLeave a Comment

Foam what?  I’m sure most of you have no idea what I’m talking about, but everyone should.  Ever had a massage?  I mean a good, deep tissue massage?  It hurts like mad while it’s being done, you’ll find tight and knotted muscles you didn’t know you had, but when you are done, don’t you feel so much better?  Possibly a bit sore the next day, but much looser, and if you got them frequently, you would probably move a lot more freely, your clothes might fit a little looser due to less knotting of the muscles and water retention and as an added bonus you would probably sleep a lot better.  So why don’t we get massages more often?  Well, cost can be an issue as can having oil/lotion worked into your hair.  We want these benefits….but what do we do?

My friends, let me introduce you to the foam roller; the poor man’s massage.  It comes in varying sizes and lengths but in general, it’s about 36 inches long, looks like a pool noodle but is as hard as a brick.  Roll yourself strategically back and forth over this device and when you are done screaming in pain (especially over the IT band and calves) you will be surprised how much better you feel.

In athletic work, this helps muscles repair, facilitates stretching, promotes joint flexibility and stimulates blood flow/toxin flushing.  In musicians, all of the above are just as true.  With musicians, a tennis ball may be more of your friend, as it is easier to access your upper body muscles.  Please see the attached videos and articles for descriptions.  Rolling out the lats, upper back and thoraic attention will help a lot with musicians, because we tend to slouch over to our instruments and this can roll out our weak/tight muscles.

A note to those who have either low muscle density, are out-of-shape or overweight: you should know that the arms are heavily involved in foam rolling as they support your body weight while you are rolling.  You should also know that foam rolling can be painful and you should be able to distinguish the difference between pain and injury.  If you are not sure, go get a deep tissue massage with trigger point therapy and that will give you a better idea of what to expect.  Foam rolling should never cause bruising.

Other articles you might want to investigate:
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Where, oh where has my energy gone?

In Fitness, Nutrition by AngelaLeave a Comment

tired woman
Some questions that I get frequently from people are 1) I want to lose weight, but it never seems to work, why? 2) what do I eat? and 3) I never seem to have any energy, what can I do?  Well, there are a lot of answers to all these questions and the simple (and annoying) answer is “it depends”.   Annoying, but true.  It depends on your situation.  Let’s focus on the main reasons:
1) you have no energy because you don’t eat well, don’t know really what eating well means, don’t exercise, or you exercise too much.  Lots of different variables here.  If you want to break it down into what you should eat, let’s keep it simple: eat things without packaging and labels.  Eat lots of high quality protein.  High quality protein is a chicken breast, pork tenderloin, lean sirloin, etc.  Low quality would be a Special K protein bar.  Things with lots of ingredients (and I don’t mean as part of a recipe) should NOT be a staple in your every day diet.  A sample balanced simple meal?  Chicken breast, kidney beans, steamed broccoli with olive oil.  Not a lot of calories there, but a lot of nutrients.  If you would like help setting up a plan and have no idea where to start, please see my webpage, because I’d be happy to help you meet your goals!
On a second note about energy, if you don’t exercise, well, food is used for fuel and if you don’t use it, you store it.  So you may have lots of stored energy but no circulating energy.  There is nothing more rewarding than building your body and taking care of your muscles and joints.  Even if you just start with walking every day and maybe doing some pushups or bodyweight squats, you’ll notice an increase in energy and ease of breathing and joint mobility.
2) If you have been dieting for any longer length of time without a break, then your metabolism has reset to your lower caloric intake.  If you have hit a plateau, and you WERE losing weights, one of the best things you can do is to take a while and eat at maintenance calories, thus resetting your metabolism to burn calories back at a higher rate, so that when you do resume dieting, you will make progress again.  If you continually drop your calories, and when that doesn’t work, you increase your output (exercise/move more) eventually, your metabolism will bottom out and have no where to go.  By continually resetting your metabolism, you will have a steady drop.  If you over exercise you are likely to experience a myriad of symptoms: tiredness, fatigue, muscle pain/weakness, slight depression, racing heart in the morning, decreased interest in the gym, stalled weight loss, injury, etc.
My quick suggestions?

  • Focus your meals around high quality lean protein (the less packaging the better), fresh vegetables and healthy fats.
  • Take a dieting and workout break every 8-12 weeks.  Bring your calories back up and stay out of the gym for a whole week.  Do nothing besides normal activities, and instead, get a massage, foam roll, stretch, visit the spa and take care of yourself.
  • SLEEP.  It’s underrated and highly needed.  Get at least 8 hours of sleep a few nights a week, until you can stretch that to every night and from then on, listen to your body.  Don’t set your alarm clock and see how many hours you sleep until you wake up naturally.  This will naturally give you more energy (baring any kind of other health issues).
  • Drink water, LOTS!  You can be amazed how much water makes a difference.  Replace your juice, energy drinks or coffee with water and see what a difference it makes.  If you drink enough water you won’t have the caffeine withdrawal headaches.

There are a lot more variables here, but this is a quick over view.  If you would like help setting up your nutrition or workout plan, please check out my webpage for packages, I’d love to help you achieve a vibrant life!

Welcome to my blog – music, flute, fitness, and anything else that crosses my mind!

In Fitness, Flute, Motivation and Success by AngelaLeave a Comment

I finally have a blog and I’m excited for you to share in it with me!  Welcome to my reality.  Between working as a personal trainer, a health enthusiast at Vitamin Shoppe, cooking, practicing and working on my website, articles, recitals and presentations, I workout and spend time with my husband, that’s about all the time that’s left!
I have just returned from the National Flute Association’s annual convention in New York City as of Sunday night.  It didn’t have a great start (81/2 hour delay, on my birthday!!!) nor a great ending (a 3 hour delay due to a flight attendant not showing up, getting in at midnight and coming into town during a tropical storm) but the actual convention was marvelous!  So many good things happened.  Besides getting to see some great presentations and exploring the city, I walked away with a ton of music, a ton of inspiration and two new instruments!  I am now the proud owner of a brand new Hammig 651/4 cocus wood piccolo with solid silver keys and wave headjoint.  It is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever played, in both tone quality, easy of playing and looks!  There was no comparison between this instrument and any other.  I also was fortunate enough to purchase an alto flute from J.L. Smith and Co. for an amazing price because my new alto….is a prototype!  Apparently, the company that made it decided against making the rest of them, so it is the only one in existance….and it sounds marvelous!
My inspiration has come in the form of needing to unite my two passions: music and fitness.  Flutists are HORRIBLY out of shape – and I don’t just mean physically, but mentally.  We get so wrapped up in our own heads with the music, it’s easy to stop paying attention to our posture.  We love what we do and end up playing for hours without a break; locked into a posture that one can at best describe as awkward and at worst possibly as debilitating.  And yet we press on, oblivious to the pain and contortions into which we form our bodies.
This is why I believe methods like Feldenkrais, Dynamic Integration, Alexander Technique and even Dalcroze Eurythmics are so vitally important.  These methods take us out of our heads and into our bodies where we can finally notice what’s going on, we can become more self aware and THIS makes us better musicians.
I walked away from the convention with plans to write articles about these issues, and give presentations on dynamic warmups/stretching and postural improvements to help these problems, give recitals with my new instruments, compete in the piccolo artist and young artist NFA 2010 conventions, expand my flute studio in 100 different ways (not just offering lessons but other classes, like self awareness, posture, music history, flute choirs, etc) and have even been prompted to think about going back to school to pursue my DMA in this area.  I love flute and fitness and the two together seem to be a vastly underexplored area, to which I feel I owe it to my fellow musicians to help them.
Stay tuned for more….and welcome to my world!