Thursday, September 24, 2009

Self-Myofascial Release Techniques or Foam Rolling

Self-Myofacial Release or SMR is simply a self deep tissue massage on a round foam roller. This will work out the knots in your muscles, improving muscles imbalances and reducing injuries.

By performing the SMR techniques on a simple piece of foam, you will improve flexibility, correct muscle imbalance, increasing joint range of motion, develop proper length tension relationship of your muscles throughout your body, and decrease risk of injuries. In a nutshell, you use your own body weight to roll on the round foam roll, massaging away restrictions to normal soft-tissue extensibility. And you can perform this program at home as well, maximizing your recovery time.


  • Correct muscle imbalances

  • Reduce risks of injuries

  • Reduce muscle soreness and relieve joint stress

  • Increase joint range of motion

  • Maintain normal functional muscular length


  • Spend 1-2 minutes on each side (can do more)

  • If there is a tender spot stop rolling and hold on that area for 20-45 seconds or until the muscle relaxes.

  • If you continue to roll when pain is present you will activate the muscle spindles casing increased tightness and pain.

  • On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain you want to stay between a 3 and a 7

  • Maintain proper Draw-In Position to support the to the spine and hip complex

  • Draw-In Position: Simply pull your belly button in and towards your spine. Try to get your belly button all the way to your back hold this while foam rolling in every position.

  • Can perform 1-2 times a day


  • Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    Good Form = Great Results!

    It seems in this great nation of ours, volume is the flavor of the week. More reps and more miles = better results right? This isn’t always the case. No matter your goals or activity quality of movement is paramount.

    Volume without proper form can lead to overuse injuries. Every time you squat and every stride in your run that you do incorrectly slowly damages your joints and soft tissue. The idea of “no pain no game” isn’t always the wisest path to follow. You may burn some calories by limping through your long run and busting out 20 more squats but the price you pay down the road is hardly worth it.

    Doing a quality sprint of 400 meters and doing 10 picture perfect squats is far more beneficial than doing 3 miles of inefficient and joint pounding jogging and 20 partial range and ugly squats.

    Whatever your sport of choice is (eg: weight lifting, running, swimming, squash, etc) learn how to do it right. Efficient movement results in healthy tissue. Find a coach, trainer, or anyone with a deep understanding of your activity and let them guide you to healthy and lengthy future of fitness.

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    How to Properly Timetable Exercise

    What are your goals? Are you training for an event? Trying to stay healthy and fight off coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes? Or are you training to excell in whatever life hands you? If you are training for a particular event you will want to be on a program designed specifically for that event and hiring a personal trainer might be the best option. But if you are training to stay healthy and combat life’s tasks, let us help you organize your schedule.

    It can sometimes be difficult finding the time to incorporate exercise into our everyday lives, but by scheduling your workouts you are more likely to stick to it. It’s just like that “to do” list you make everyday for chores or errands and appointments. Exercise needs to be a incorporated into this schedule. Seasons are changing once again, it’s getting cold outside and everyone is running back indoors. Work schedules change, kids head back to school and before we know, the holidays are here. Once you reorganize these seasonal changes and set your new schedule your set for months. Now is the perfect time to integrate healthy goals and commit yourself to adding workouts into your new schedule. To get started, focus on the basics: strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility. It's recommended that you incorporate 2-3 cardiovascular sessions per week, 2 or more strength sessions per week and flexibility work as often as you can!

    Below are some scheduling examples you can use to make sure you are working to the recommended minimum. Be sure to make time for flexibility as much as possible along with your cardiovascular and strength workouts!

    Using our group exercise schedule, below is a sample of a good program getting in all the basics.

    Check out our newest articles, tips and videos in the Resource Center

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Why Organics?

    Why should we choose organic?

    Choosing organic products may offer superior health benefits and safety than conventional products. Organic farmers use methods that grow plants with lower levels of nitrogen and nitrate. High levels of these compounds have been linked to the development of cancer in animals (though research is not yet conclusive of the effects on human health). It has also been shown that plants with lower levels of nitrogen tend to have higher amounts of antioxidants!

    In addition, organic products are almost always a safer option and significantly reduce your exposure to pesticide residue. Conventional products contain levels of pesticides and hormones that may pose health risks. New studies have shown that certain pesticides are linked to ADHD, obesity, diabetes, and learning disorders; but at this time there is no concrete evidence.

    Choosing organic in the supermarket

    Sometimes labels in the supermarket can be confusing. We see "all-natural", "free-range", or "hormone-free" and immediately think organic. These terms are still important, but are not synonymous with organic. There are also different levels of organic material in products. Here is a quick guide to interpreting the term "organic" on food labels:

    • "100 percent organic": Products that are completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.

    • "Organic": Products that contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. The other 5 percent are ingredients that aren't available in organic form or that appear on an approved list.

    • "Made with organic ingredients": Products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. The organic seal cannot be used on these packages.

    Whether you choose organic or not, here are some things to consider:

    • Buy in season and local produce whenever possible

    • Reduce the amount of pesticides on food by washing and scrubbing all produce under running water

    • Pealing fruits and vegetables (just take note this reduces the fiber and vitamin content)

    • Discarding the outer leaves of leafy vegetables

    • Trimming visible fat and skin from meat and poultry (pesticide residue can collect in the fat)


    By Alison Wilson, Wellness Director / Nutritionist - Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

    Friday, September 11, 2009

    How To Recover From an Exercise That Makes You Sore and/or Stiff!

    Many people ask “why am I so sore and stiff after some of my exercises?”The soreness or stiffness we feel after performing an exercise we are not used to doing; or from pushing our muscles to their limit is called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). People usually feel a decreased range of motion in their joints, as well as pain and discomfort with DOMS. The soreness and discomfort usually is delayed and peaks 24 to 48 hrs after the exercise. The discomfort will begin to decrease and subside completely in about 7 to 14 days.

    How can I get back to functioning status or lessen the discomfort before it starts?There are many techniques that will help someone get rid of the discomfort associated with DOMS. These techniques are inter-individual and vary, meaning what works for one person might not work for someone else, so try each one and figure out what works best for your body.

    • Stretching after the exercise and/or while you have any discomfort allows the muscles to get the range of motion back as well as helps to break apart the damaged muscle faster, aiding in the repair process.
    • Massage/Foam Rolling is much like stretching in that it makes the joints, as well as muscles more pliable and flexible. It also removes any waste products from the muscle while supplying them with the nutrients that they need to recover and repair themselves.
    • Ibuprofen will decrease the swelling and help ease the discomfort.
    • Hot Tub/Sauna will help loosen up the muscle and increase blood circulation; increasing nutrient supplies and takes away the toxins.
    • Use those same muscles, yea that’s right, using the same muscles and doing light exercises will get the muscles moving and more pliable as well as circulated that healing blood. It will also cause you to stretch and contact the muscle in some of the same movements, which caused the discomfort, allowing for faster results.
    • Water is utilized by the body for almost all of its actions and processes. More specifically the muscles use it for burning energy as well as during muscle contraction and structure. Drinking plenty of water during the discomfort stage should help in the muscle repair process.
    • Ice packs help decrease the swelling of the affected area, while heat packs help increase

    The discomforts of DOMS can be discouraging, making you want to quit doing that exercise, but DON’T. The benefits of getting these discomforts out weight the negative aspects because it means that the muscles are being repaired and built up, creating that toned and defined body most of us are seeking. Using one or more of these techniques could help your body get back to normal quicker, allowing you to be stronger and more comfortable in your next workout or daily activities.

    By Jacob Galloway, Fitness Director - Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    What’s All This Talk About My Core?

    You may have read an article or heard people talk about the importance of exercising your core. That sounds like something we should be concerned with, but what does that really mean? What is your core? How do you want to exercise it?
    To truly understand how to exercise your core, it helps to know what your core is and what it does for you. Your core is fundamentally your torso or trunk. This basically means your spine and ribs, as well as the major joints attached to them—your hips and shoulders. Your core’s primary function in exercise is to safely transfer force from your feet to your hands and vice versa. Forces acting upon your body travel through your arms and legs and into your core. Your core is also from where your body produces force through your arms and legs. Your core is also your center of gravity and plays a significant role in your posture and balance.

    What does this mean for exercise? Aside from “targeting” the core with abdominal and back exercises, you actually train your core whenever you do “full-body” and “body-weight” exercises. This includes exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups and pull-ups. Even lifting free-weights while kneeling or standing trains your core. Because exercises like these train your core’s role in arm and leg movements, they are the best exercises to improve your arm and leg strength. You also use your core extensively with common aerobic activities as well. Imagine how your core controls the rotation through your body as your arms and legs swing when you run. Or consider the way your core alignment affects your stroke and kick when you swim.

    Your core is also essential for preventing injury while imposing the stresses of exercise and activity on your body. This is where things get complicated fast, because your core’s function involves the coordinated actions of scores of different muscles. Physical therapy research shows that imbalances of these coordinated muscle actions lead to poorly aligned joint movements, which in turn can lead to wear and tear in the joints. Poorly balanced movements in your core can injure not only your back, hips and shoulders, but also your knees, neck, elbows, hands and feet. The core is also implicated in many cases of soft-tissue injury like hamstring tears.

    If you experience pain or discomfort while doing common exercises like squats and push-ups, you core’s function may be an issue. If this is the case for you, it’s best to get the problem evaluated by a medical professional or physical therapist before exercising. Not all core exercises are appropriate for all kinds of core-related injuries. As you can see already, the core’s function involves an incredibly diverse number of movements. What this means is that abdominal crunches, for example, are only one of many exercises for your core. In fact, doing too much of one exercise for your core can throw its function out of balance. This is what lies behind many, if not most, non-contact related injuries. Since a great many orthopedic injuries have their root cause in poor core function, often these problems don’t seem to resolve without addressing the core.

    By Eric Pranzerone, Personal Fitness Trainer - Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    Am I Too Old for Swimming Lessons?

    The obvious answer is no! As we age, we tend to forget what the benefits of a “helpful eye” from a qualified teacher can be. Such as what muscles we have favored vs. which one’s we’ve neglected, changes in body type, and range of motion.

    Over the last 10 years alone there have been major modifications in the evolution of the swimming stroke, as well as what is currently legal/ acceptable in competition. One look at 42-year-old Olympic medallist Dara Torres, and you can see how dry land drills, diet, training techniques, and improved stroke analysis can aid even the most seasoned vet.

    Allow our WSI certified swimming instructor’s help you regain some of the past, improve for future competitions, or simply change your workout regimen with a non-impact high cardiovascular exercise routine.

    By Dan Lavin, Aquatics Director - Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

    Friday, September 4, 2009

    The Real Cost of Not Exercising

    With the current financial epidemic our country is facing, it seems practical that we go through our bank statements and cut back on any extra spending. But, should your gym membership be one of them? Many publications have been suggesting that the gym is one luxury that you can do without. Although, canceling your membership may seem to save you money, it will cost more than you can afford in the long run and not only in terms of your bank account.

    On the surface, an “at-home” routine may appear like a good idea. Before you make the leap, you need to consider the complete ramifications of your actions. After all, a gym environment has a lot to offer. The gym offers structure, and the motivation you get from working out in a group. Exercising with and around others can greatly improve your exercise adherence. Accountability comes from your trainers, friends, and peers, and they often push you during your workout as well. Your home workout will inevitably become less of a priority since you “can do it at any time”. We all know this leads to one place: procrastination. The gym also provides a great deal of equipment that will not be available to you at home. Attempting to replicate your routine outside the gym will leave you without the motivation, community, and the expertise provided by a professional exercise facility.

    There is a cost associated with not exercising! Physical activity is necessary for life’s everyday functions, as well as stimulating the body’s own natural maintenance and repair system. By not exercising you increase your risk for many health issues. Research shows individuals who are physically active have substantially lower cancer rates, have fewer heart attacks, are less likely to develop diabetes, have healthier blood pressure levels, lessened risk of stroke, and overall are generally healthier. A variety of studies have shown that exercise combats low energy, stress, and depression and those who participate are more optimistic, sleep better, have stronger bones, and are less likely to be overweight or even catch a cold or the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), inactive adults have considerably higher direct medical costs than active adults, and the costs associated with physical inactivity increase with age. If you take into consideration the costs of maintaining your health without the help of exercise, you are factoring in increased health insurance costs, food costs, pharmaceuticals, and visits to the doctor. The costs of exercising are unmistakable: exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy body can save not only your life, but your money as well.

    So, even though your gym membership may cost you every month, think about the savings your membership is actually providing you. If cutting back expenses is what you are attempting, try cutting back on your morning coffee or save by packing your lunch regularly rather than buying. Most importantly, cut back on the things that will not short-change you in the long run. You cannot put a price on your health and personal well-being.

    To learn more on these health issues or for info on how to improve your medical situation please download our free e-books in our Resource Center

    By Christine Moore, Personal Fitness Trainer - Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    Experts Debunk Myth About Exercise Weight Loss. Research Proves Value of Exercise, Nutrition

    INDIANAPOLIS – Leading experts in exercise and weight management have taken strong exception to assertions that exercise can inhibit weight loss by over-stimulating the appetite.

    According to John Jakicic, Ph.D., FACSM, “There is strong evidence from the majority of the scientific literature that physical activity is an important component for initial weight loss.”

    Responding to a statement recently published online and in print, Jakicic added that “The statement ‘in general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless’ is not supported by the scientific evidence when there is adherence to a sufficient dose of physical activity in overweight and obese adults.” Jakicic chairs a committee on obesity prevention and treatment for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and helped write an ACSM Position Stand on strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults.

    According to Jakicic and other experts, overwhelming evidence belies the assertion that exercise doesn’t necessarily help people lose weight and may even make the task harder.

    “Again, it is clear in this regard that physical activity is one of the most important behavioral factors in enhancing weight loss maintenance and improving long-term weight loss outcomes,” Jakicic said. In fact, his own research, published in 2008, showed a high dose of physical activity ( 275 minutes above baseline levels) contributed to the greatest observed weight loss after a 24-month intervention. He noted that the scientific literature includes additional evidence to support physical activity, adding that a growing body of literature suggests the importance of physical activity to improve long-term weight loss following bariatric surgery.

    Another noted expert and ACSM member, Timothy Church, M.D., Ph.D., described how his professional opinions were misrepresented in a recent news article. According to Church, the article should have touched on the following key concepts:
    • Weight maintenance is different from weight loss, and should have been discussed. Virtually all people who lose weight and keep it off are exercising to maintain weight.
    • Comments about children and physical activity were misleading. Studies have shown that kids are not necessarily more active after school (and therefore need good in-school physical education program), and that the focus with children should be on physical activity and prevention of excess weight gain. (Adults, however, more often must deal with losing excess weight.)
    • Exercise and diet go together. Weight management is most successful when careful attention is given to both physical activity and proper nutrition.

    Janet Rankin, Ph.D., FACSM, an expert in nutrition and exercise, supplemented the bountiful scientific evidence with a simple observation: “A practical response to the claim that exercise makes you eat more and gain weight is to look around. If this were the case, wouldn’t those who regularly exercise be the fattest? Obviously that isn’t the case.”

    ACSM experts stressed that, particularly when so many struggle with the health consequences of overweight and obesity, it is important that Americans have accurate information based on science and evidence.

    The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 35,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

    Is Exercise for Weight Loss Really Pointless?

    Doctors React to the Claim That Going to the Gym May do Nothing for Weight Loss

    By LAUREN COX ABC News Medical Unit Aug. 11, 2009—

    The idea that the way to lose weight is through diet and exercise is ingrained in our society.

    But an article in last week's Time magazine created a buzz in the blogosphere by questioning the value of the exercise part of the weight-loss formula.

    Doctors who treat overweight and obese patients were not pleased -- even if there was evidence to support the claim.

    "Yes, we have a magic drug for cholesterol, we have magic drugs for high blood pressure, but we don't have a magic pill for weight," said Dr. Martha Gulati, associate director of the Women's Heart Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

    "To bring out a public health message that we should not exercise? That's absolutely the wrong message," Gulati said.

    The article, "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin" by John Cloud, argued that in the real world, exercising vigorously may just increase a person's appetite and use up their natural reserves of self-control. After a hard workout, it's just human nature to eat back those calories with an extra treat, or burn fewer by taking the elevator instead of the stairs, Cloud argued.

    He pointed to a study published in February in the online journal PLoS One to back up his claims. The study followed 411 women who were divided into four exercise groups -- no exercise required, 72 minutes per week, 136 minutes per week and 194 minutes per week of monitored exercise.

    Doctors found that at the end of the six-month study, the women who exercised the most didn't lose as much weight as the researchers predicted. The group with the moderate amount of exercise lost an average of 4.6 pounds while the group with the most vigorous of exercise lost just 3.3 pounds, though they had been predicted to lose an average of about 5 pounds.

    "No matter how much exercise you do or don't do, your diet matters -- it's extremely easy to eat back more calories than you burn," said Dr. David Katz, "Good Morning America" medical contributor and director of the Yale University of Prevention Research Center.

    But Katz said the "ah ha, exercise is not good for weight loss" idea troubles him and many other doctors who counsel people trying to lose weight.

    Is Weight All Americans Care About?

    "What do people care about? Do they simply care about their dress size or do they care about their health?" Katz said. "If you care about your health, exercise is your best friend."

    Katz pointed out that three behaviors -- not smoking, exercising and eating right -- have "a massive influence on your medical destiny."

    If people care only about losing weight, Katz quipped, "Why don't you just infect yourself with cholera? It would work for weight loss."

    Katz and many others who treat obesity agree exercise must not be ignored because of its importance for overall health, even if it doesn't make as big of an impact on the scale as people believe.

    Exercise for Weight Loss or Weight Maintenance?

    "The diet has the biggest bang for the buck initially, but when it comes to weight maintenance, but there's no doubt that exercise keeps it off," said Gerald Endress, a clinical exercise physiologist and fitness director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C.

    "I exercise so that I can eat more. I think a lot of us do exercise so we can maintain our weight," he said.

    Yet while Endress could see why excessive exercising may lead some people into a tailspin of overeating to compensate for hunger, he has seen the opposite in his fitness center every day. The people exercising there, Endress said, always lose weight.

    "If you look, shows like 'The Biggest Loser,' they're overexercising them [the participants] tremendously and they're losing weight," Endress said.

    Even if the people in Endress' fitness center didn't lose weight by exercising, diet and nutrition experts point out that the gym-goers would likely be losing fat and gaining muscle.

    The Scale Is Not the Only Measure of Health

    "It's one of those things where everybody would like to believe that, people will say 'I don't lose weight but I'm exercising,'" said Keith-Thomas Ayoob, director of the nutrition clinic at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

    "I say, 'Are you losing inches?'" Ayoob said.

    Ayoob and Katz pointed out that many people gain weight when they embark on an exercise program because they are gaining muscle.

    Katz recounted the story of a man who weighed 400 pounds when he first came to him for a fitness regimen.

    "He'd work hard and the loss of body fat was huge, but he'd step on the scale and see no change," Katz said. "But if I am converting body fat into muscle, that's spinning straw into gold."

    Ayoob added that while exercise alone might not trim pounds as fast as diet alone might, the mere change in lifestyle when someone adopts a workout routine may lead to fewer calories ingested.

    "What exercise also does in terms of weight loss -- it can make you more sensitive to when you're hungry and when you're not," Ayoob said. "And it does something else: It gets you out of the house; it gets you off the sofa so you're not having the temptation of going back and forth between the refrigerator."