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Learn Your Body

© John Abdo

So as I conclude this article, I encourage you to submit your questions for my suggestions and commentary. The publisher and editorial staff here at Healthy & Natural have demonstrated an immeasurable concern for their readers and have assigned this column to myself to service your personal needs. So please write, I’ll enjoy hearing from you.

Learn Your Body
If our financial leaders are preaching knowledge is the key to success, then athletes, coaches, fitness and longevity enthusiasts alike can use the same formula to attain their fortunes of health. So let’s begin the pursuit toward a healthy, productive and long life. Get it in your head first and watch your body take the shape of your thoughts. See you next issue!!!

Questions & Answers Forum
Q: I have long known that one should always stretch before (and after) a workout. But now I am reading that one should warm up before stretching. Is there any truth to this?

A: Absolutely! Warming-up the body in general fashion helps to increase heart rate and core body temperature. This thermogenic (heat producing) response is stimulated by the increased action of the heart which circulates warmer blood throughout the body, hence warming the tissues. By, let’s say, riding a stationary bike prior to performing flexibility (or stretching) movements, you will casually begin to accelerate cardiovascular activity without testing the elastic characteristics of the tissues. Muscles possess elastic energy but stretching them before they have had a chance to warmed-up can cause injury by tearing the tissues. However, once the tissues have been warmed-up [generally speaking] your stretching movements will be easier, safer, and more productive with enhanced flexibility of the joints and muscles involved. General activities include walking, stepping, rope jumping, calisthenics, rowing, jogging, swimming, etc. When the general warm-ups are completed (usually 5-20 minutes), specific warm-ups should follow which are normally comprised of movements designed to loosen, or enhance the flexibility, of the muscles, tendons and ligaments and prepare these tissues for more rigorous activity. Here’s my two world famous analogies on elastic energy. The first refers to a balloon. One does not attempt to blow air into it without first pulling on it a few times, which we all know, allows that balloon to expand to its flexible potential without bursting. The second example applies to a pair of socks. Tugging on a new pair of socks before putting them on loosens the elastic material in the fabric making them easier to slip over your feet, ankles and calves. This tugging action is symbolic of a general warm-up which activates the elastic energy held in human muscle tissue enabling a greater range-of-expansion [flexible capabilities] and workout performance.

Q: I have arthritis in my knees and ankles. I was told that swimming would be a good way to strengthen the muscle tissue around these joints and perhaps improve my condition. But in the past, when I have attempted this, the arthritis pain only got worse. What’s your advice?

A: Swimming offers some interesting safety aspects that no other form of exercise can. The buoyancy of being in the water reduces gravitational stress while the floatation enables an ease of bodily movements. However, traditional swimming techniques do not allow the knees and/or the ankles to bend or rotate throughout the complete range of motion they are capable of. Look at the shoulder joint for instance; This joint revolves in an almost 360O circular fashion completely isolating most (if not all) of the surrounding muscles. Now looking at the knees and ankles, their motions are usually limited to short quick fluttering movements which creates continuous stress and an accumulation of excessive heat in specific areas of the joint. Utilize ways to work the entire range of motion of these joints and this heat buildup would be more evenly distributed throughout the entire joint, and may prevent, or alleviate, your arthritic condition. My suggestions are to continue swimming but intermittently break up your routine by including some lower body aquasize movements that incorporate full range of motion knee flexion and ankle rotation actions.

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About The Author
JOHN ABDO is regarded world wide as an authority on life motivation, health, fitness and athletic conditioning. As a former Olympic trainer, John has trained numerous Olympic and World-Class athletes, including Bonnie Blair, multiple Gold Medal recipient. From 1985 to 1997, John Abdo produced and hosted his own weekly syndicated television series called Training & Nutrition 2000,......more
 
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Disclaimer: The information provided on HealthWorld Online is for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.