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Friday, November 26, 2010

Functional exercise.

My PT was speaking to me about a "functional exercise program"... which I then came home and googled. (I LOVE google!! LOL!)

Basically- when I decide on exactly what I want to do, my program is tailored to get me there. "When an exercise is truly functional, it is sports-specific and must fulfil very specific criteria. The exercise will then have an immediate and often dramatic effect on skill performance." Problem is I really have no idea on what I want to do! Do I want to run a half marathon? Yeah, probably. Do I want to bench press 20kg dumbbells? Yeah, probably. Can I do both? I'm not sure!! Some would say no but I seem to be doing ok working my way up on both at the moment!! LOL!

Probably exactly how my face looks!!

Oh yeah... definately me. LOL!

"There is a difference between general training and specialized (functional) training. Biomotor abilities are strength, power, endurance, flexibility, coordination, balance, agility and speed. An exercise is most functional when the biomotor profile most closely approximates the ability lacking in the athlete’s body (that's MINE! LOL!) or when it most closely resembles the task being trained for. Functional training is geared to produce greater and more useful gains in less time". Sounds good to me!! Hehehe...

I think I am happy with the general training at the moment - perhaps if I start to stall in my numbers improving or if I develop a huge passion for a particular sport then I can look at functional training... Hmmm... Not sure... Something to keep in mind. I suck at making decisions!! LOL!

Components of a functional exercise program. (See web pages below).
To be effective a functional exercise program should include a number of different elements:
Specific to the sport - Any program must be sport specific, working to develop and maintain sport specific strength.
Integrated – It should include a variety of exercises that work on flexibility, core, balance, strength and power.
Increases Core Stability – Core stability is crucial for any sport or activity. A stable core allows for more efficient transference of power from the lower to upper body, and an increased ability to maintain correct athletic posture over long periods of time.
Progressive – Progressive training steadily increases the strength demand from workout to workout. While most people are aware of the need for this in relation to traditional strength training, it is sometimes overlooked in functional training. For functional training is also means varying speed of movement to make it more sport specific.
Periodized – Functional training for competitive athletes needs to fit into their competitive cycle of competition. In broad terms this means that they will vary their program throughout the year to achieve optimal results, peaking for competitions or races and building in recovery time also.
Individualized – An athlete’s program needs to be designed for them. The only way to do this is to work with a coach or trainer who specializes in the particular sport and can custom design a program. A qualified personal trainer can easily include functional training in their clients' exercise programs, whether they are recovering from an injury or preparing for competition.

More training ideas...

Side Plank

Push-up / plank idea.
10 push-ups.
20 sec front plank
20 sec side plank
20 sec other side plank
Repeat once or twice without coming down in between anything.

Squat idea.
Do 20 squats. On the last rep:
Squat down and hold the squat for 10sec. Come back up.
Sink straight back down and hold the squat for 9sec. Come back up.
Sink straight back down and hold the squat for 8sec. Come back up.
etc... All the way down to 1sec!!  OOWWW!!

Plank idea.
Everyone lies around in a circle. Everyone holds a plank position and you go around the circle and count out load. (First person says 1, second person says 2 etc) Keep counting until you get to 100!! WOO! It is fun but also challenging.

Circuit idea.
In our group PT session we did a couple of circuits; one of which was particularly fun!! Two words which I think are my new bestest friend (even MORE than burpees!!):
Commando Crawls.
But not just your ordinary everyday commando crawl.... nope - a commando crawl under a bench where only your feet and arms are allowed to touch the ground!! BAHAhahaha!! Very FUN! Hard - but fun. Apart from the carpet burn which one of the group got - that was not fun... LOL!! Note: have a mat under the bench when crawling through.
Not quite sure how she makes this stuff up but the other 3 parts to this particular circuit were things called the "fountain", the "turtle" and the more common "windmill".... (We also had another creation called the Platypus but we will save that for another post!! LOL!) Basically I think she just sits there and thinks about what would be a really hard thing to do... and do continuously for a minute, and then makes it up and calls it something!! Hehehehe...

The Fountain.

Stand on one leg. Squat down and reach forward walking your hands along the ground. When you are in the push-up position (still on one leg) - do a push-up and then walk your hands backwards and stand up (still on that same one leg). Do not touch that second leg on the ground! Repeat from beginning. You may change after 30sec and give the other leg a little work.

The turtle.

Like a snow angel but on your

Forget the wave! This is the
position of your body.


Think "burpee" but not quite. Lie on the floor on your tummy like a star fish. Move your arms and legs as if you are doing a star-jump 4 times. Jump up as if you are jumping up onto a surf board squatting down wide legs and low. Jump your legs back out and back down onto your tummy. Keep on repeating.

The windmill.

This is a well known exercise... It was just thrown in there to make us sweat that little bit more I think.
Legs wide. Left arm up, right arm down. Bend at the hips, squat down a little and touch your left toe with the right hand. Stand up straight. Right arm up, left arm down. Bend at the hips, squat down a little and touch your right toe with the left arm. Stand up straight. Repeat!

The Commando Crawl, Fountain, Turtle and the Windmill all for a minute each... Three or Four times around!! Yep - that certainly produced some sweat!! LOL! Especially when time kept getting added on everytime someone didn't do it right, touched their thighs on the ground in the commando crawl, stopped to early or didn't start when they were supposed to!! Hehehe... I love it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Catching the mind up to the body.

I am always improving in numbers fitness wise… increasing the distance I run… etc.. But I am just starting to get intimidated and freaked out and think - when is it enough? I know I CAN run 10km but does running 10km instead of 8km really make any difference in the scheme of things? Surely you get to a stage where you do stop improving? I am enjoying what I am doing at the gym and I like to push myself and be challenged - but the end result is me freaking myself out!! I keep on smashing any sort of goal I set for myself - which just blows me away! I have been feeling quite overwhelmed with what my body can do these days. I know it's not all that great compared to some people - but compared to what I have been able to do in the past it's HUGE!! Freakily mind blowingly huge TO ME!!

I just think my head has not caught up to my body yet… My body can do all this cool stuff and my head is like SERIOULSY??
I need to figure out how to catch my head up!… I can decide to do something and then do it (ie. fun runs, lifting certain weights etc) - better than I would ever expect to do it… But it doesn’t help my mind still being stuck in “I’m fat and unfit”, and "Did you just run 8.5km? In that amount of time?? Don't believe it!!" land…

I did get some good advice on how to help catch the mind up which will hopefully work but it makes me laugh!! I need to say a mantra over and over - something like “I am an athlete!”  “I am a runner!”  BAHAHAHA!!! I have done something like this in the past during the early gym days when I was REALLY hating squats and lunges… I read somewhere that instead of thinking about how much you hate squats and lunges… think about all the good things they do for you and then follow it up with “I love squats and lunges”... Used to make me laugh every time at the stupidness of it… BUT my hate has indeed lessoned… LOL!! Wouldn’t say I love the things - but at least I don’t feel such a passionate hatred for them!! LOL!! The mind is a funny thing.

Some of the advice I have gotten to keep my body going till my mind catches up is to keep re-assessing my goals and make new ones. ie. next year I will move on to the triathlons, and I am thinking about a half marathon. Also, change it up to do different things - perhaps do some rock climbing or hiking in there too.

So, as well as convincing myself I am an athlete and runner I need to keep re-assessing my goals and figure out what it is I want to do.... Hope it catches up soon - it would be nice to enjoy what I am able to do these days without getting freaked out about it!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This will be my motivation.

The last video I did was a bit of fun! I did realise that I didn't have many photo's of how I used to be in it though... I put this together to remind myself of where I have come from. I will be watching it every so often as a motivation for me to never go back there... It really was horrible to be so big - this video will remind me of that!! LOL! Hopefully it can also act as a motivation for you guys who are still getting to where you want to be.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What kind of encouragement do you prefer??

Saw this picture somewhere and thought I'd re-post it... PT's are all so different. Hard, Soft, Tough, Nice, Friendly, Professional, Motivating, Fun, Firm... a mixture of some or all of the above...

Personally I think during the actual training sessions I respond better to the "suck it up and get stuck into it" attitude. In the last group training session I did we were doing a circuit thing. On the shoulder press thingies I was doing I was finding it hard and so I started doing single ones instead of double ones. The PT told everyone they had to do an extra 15 sec because I was not doing them right!! BAHAHAHA!!! Everyone told me how dead I was because they were going to kill me!! LOL! I quite like that style of coaching/leading (whatever you want to call it).... it's fun but in a serious kind of way - because you have to pull something from somewhere and perform or other people suffer!! I told the PT she was going to be fired after the session but she just laughed!! LOL! I enjoyed it... (does that make me really sadistic or something??)

There was another exercise where we got into a push-up position and had a weight under our toes. We had to walk with our arms across the floor and our feet pressed into the weight and drag it along.. A couple of the people in the group were finding it difficult. The PT mentioned how happy she was she might have found something to break some of us. Her saying that was enough to get us all to move our butts and finish it off!! You will NEVER break us!! MWAHAHAHAH!!! (And no - if you are reading this - that was NOT a challenge!! LOL!)

I am a believer in that saying "Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right." If I even entertain the thought that I can't or if I know I can get away with not doing something - then I won't!! Lazy butt me!! I am only motivated to a point - then it's all about not wanting to do it!! Hehehe... I believe 95% of this whole exercise thing is in the mind - I say 95% because there are things which I just physically can't do.. ie. Those silly un-assisted chin-ups I have been trying forever to do. But one day I will be able too!! But most things - if I apply myself and focus and be determined that I am going to do it - I can!

So - during the session the commando style is going to get the most out of my lazy butt...  But, having said that - I also think it's good to have the friendly type!! How much quicker does the session go if you can talk (or gasp) your way through it!! LOL!!
So, a little from column A and a little from column B works for me!!

How about you ?? A little something to think about!! :-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

8.5km fun run.

Before the run

I did the 'spring into shape' fun run on the weekend and I am feeling a little overwhelmed at my time. Seems to be a theme lately with me feeling blown away, overwhelmed and freaked out by the various numbers I seem to be pulling. Anyway - that's a thought for another day!! LOL.

It was perfect weather for the run. The 2 practice runs I did over 8km were both warm days which made it REALLY hard... so I was a little stressed about my ability to run it all!! But, as seems to be the pattern I totally smashed any of my previous numbers!!

I ran the 8.5km in about 53min. The official time was 53:53, but I found out this is taken from the time the gun goes!! DOH! If I had have know that I would have pushed my way further up to the front!! LOL!

Just over 4km into the run.
Still looks like I have some
energy to burn!! LOL

In the results it has your time for 4km (which was about 25min) and 8km (which was 49:45)... So, my pace was about 6:13min p km... so about 53min for the 8.5km.

It was good to look at the splits too in terms of my pace... I was consistent from the first half to the second half which I like - not sure if that is the way you are supposed to do it - but it sounds good to me!! Means I didn't go out too fast!! LOL!

Anyway, 6:13 min per kilometre??
!! I can't believe that... that is seriously insane!! Absolutely a personal best in terms of the pace for any of my runs!! (Apart from those 1km sprints I have to do).

Just over 8km into the run. Yep - Am tired now!!
Just about to sprint to the finish line!!

Really felt for a girl who was running in front of me. She kept pulling over to the side and using her asthma puffer.. I was worried about this happening to me but I was fine - but I really felt sorry for her. She would stop and use her puffer then keep running and pass me again... then stop and need her puffer again. I was getting a little worried about her and I kind of slowed down at one stage and asked her if she was going to be ok. She gave me the thumbs up so I kept going but I did wonder if I should be getting someone to go rescue her.

There was this other really annoying lady who was running in front of me for ages. She was going slightly too slow, but whenever I would try and pass her she would speed up so I would just fall in behind her again - but then she would slow down again!!! I reckon this happened at least half a dozen times. I was seriously ready to smack her down - lady, it really is NOT THAT COMPETATIVE!!! Give it up!! Anyway, I over took her on the hill!! Hehehehe...

All fun in the fun run... and I got through it alive!! Big thanks to my friend Jo who came and stopped me from turning around and running home before the race began!! LOL! "I gave up my sun morning sleep in for you Kelly- you are NOT going home!!" Thanks Jo!!

Glad to be finished!

Was stressing about this little shoe thing...
I was worried I wouldn't attach it
properly and it would fling off into the Yarra!!
But Jo did an awesome job attaching it
- this baby is not going anywhere!! LOL

Massage and exercise.

I got a massage the other day. Our gym was having half price massages so I thought I'd try it out. I had read that massage might help my knee problem and that it can help runners so I gave it a go.

It was great!! A little ouchie in some parts and I kind of have some fingerprint bruises on my leg, (think I bruise REALLY easy LOL!!) BUT my knee didn't hurt for a few days afterwards!! WOO! I am really excited to find something to fix my knee which does not involve me working! LOL! (I know, I know, I should keep doing the leg exercises for the VMO - they are seriously SO boring).

Also, Anne and I did a practise run the next day for the "spring into shape" fun run I am doing. She usually runs a couple of meters ahead of me when we run and I am usually trying to keep up with her pace (which is good - stretches me). This particular run I was running in front of her which was weird. At the time I was wondering what was wrong with her.... was she ok?... why was she really tired? etc... But when we got back she said I was running faster than normal. I really didn't feel like I was - but when I got home I worked out the pace; AND I WAS!! BAHAHAHA!! Cool! I was running at around 6min30sec per kilometre. Usually on our longer runs it is around 6min40sec. Pretty excited to find something which can help me run faster too - especially since (again) it doesn't involve me working any harder!! (Can you see a pattern here?? Massage = less work for me!! WOO HOO!! LOL).

Told my husband I need a regular massage - all in the name of fitness of course!! He was not convinced!! Hehehe...

Some information on massage and running.

Sports Massage can improve a runners power and performance and is important to runners for many reasons:
Sports massage helps reduce soreness by flushing out the lactic acid that is produced while running. Lactic acid can build up in muscles and cause soreness over time.
As blood brings oxygen to the muscles, the veins remove waste products more efficiently.

Removing lactic acid through massage increases recovery time. Running causes micro damage to the muscles which if left untreated, can eventually result in a build-up of scar tissue and injury. Massage increases blood flow and realigns muscle fibers. It also breaks up adhesions, which are formations of scar tissue made up of collagen that appear during the tissue healing process. By stimulating and then relaxing the system, massage flushes toxins from these healing muscles, which speeds recovery. It works by clearing the way for fresh blood to bring oxygen and nutrients to rebuild the tissue.

Ok. This lady is a little TOO

The more activity a muscle undergoes, the greater its tendency to contract in a resting position. These tight muscles are injury prone when the next vigorous workout arrives. Sports massage promotes muscle flexibility and proper muscle and tendon functioning by increasing their mobility and range of motion.

Probably one of the most underrated tools available to runners is utilising the services of a good sports masseur regularly.  It's useful both before and after competitive events, although those new to massage should avoid having one the day before a race because of the possibility of mild soreness. If you're not used to sports massage, you should allow five days or even a week between the session and the next race or hard workout. Runners accustomed to the rigors of massage can leave three days for recovery before the event. Wait at least a day after your race--and up to a week after for marathons--before returning to the therapist.  Given the range of potential benefits, all serious runners should consider incorporating massage therapy into their training regimens—and hitting the table before problems strike, not after. These sessions can be intense but need not be painful. Work with the therapist to find a level of discomfort that is tolerable yet effective.

A healthy body is approximately 72% water. In order to get the most out of your massage, you must come hydrated and must hydrate when you leave. Myofascial release and deep tissue massage will release waste products into your bloodstream. These waste products are usually acidic in nature, dropping the pH of your blood. You will want to increase your blood volume by adding to your water intake in the days before, of, and after your massage to dilute your blood. This will help your body maintain a healthy blood pH level and flush all those unwanted toxins from your body.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fitness Test #3. Starting to Freak myself out!!

Yep - it's time to try and kill myself again and beat my already insane (in my opinion) numbers I got last time. I am actually really starting to freak myself out with the reality that I need to beat my old numbers all the time. Surely it gets to a point where you are doing enough?? Can I really keep on getting faster and stronger?? I really don't like to fail at things so I keep smashing my previous records!!! But surely it has to stop at some point and get to the point where I can't do any better... SURELY!! I just am absolutely gobsmacked AGAIN (and slightly freaked)! LOL!

Call an ambulance!!!

My 1km time trial I did in 4min 37sec (previous time was 5min 03sec). Are you serious?? I did it around a running track outside but when I worked it out... that is like running around 13.5km/p/h on the treadmill - that's a SPRINT!!! Really?? BAHAHAHAHA.....
I did not feel very well when I finished though. I seem to be making a habit of almost giving myself a heart attack during these fitness tests! All that gasping for breath seems to set me off on an asthma attack too!! LOL! I actually had a sore throat for about 20min after the run which I presume was from all my gasping for air!! Hehehehe...  BUT I BET MY TIME!!

Push-ups in 1min. The last 2 times I have done them on my knees and gotten 42 and then 49. This time I was inspired to try it on my toes (Thanks Michelle F S!!) I did 33 on my toes in one minute. Not sure if that is good or not - but will have to try and beat it next time... LOL!

Wall sit for 7 mins.. Yes - that does say SEVEN!!! I was determined to beat my time of 5min from last time, and then when I got to 6min I remembered hearing someone say there was a record at the gym for 7min... so I held on till 7min!!! BAHAHAHA!! WOO! Let's just say that when I collapsed down onto the floor I was curled up in the foetal position for a good min or two! LOL! I really didn't think I could beat my time when I started but I held on and pulled it from somewhere! Now, I just have the problem of having to beat it next time!! OH CRAP!

Ab test. Still on stage 2. LOL! Been stuck on stage 2 since the beginning! I HATE AB'S!! I have to say I am almost on stage 3... but my feet come off the floor a tiny bit when I am doing it - so to be honest I put stage 2. Next time perhaps I can graduate. No promises though because I STILL do hardly ANY ab work. BORING!!
The sit up needs to be done without your feet hooked under anything. When your heels start coming off the floor then you are not up to that level. Your stage is the highest stage you reach while your heels stay on the floor:
Stage 1: Wrists to kneecaps

Stage 2: Arms folded across your chest. Full sit up, Elbows to thighs

Stage 3: Hands linked behind head. Full sit up. Note your elbows must stay wide, don't let then swing close to your head. It's the elbows wide thing which kills me!! Can't quite get up with my elbows wide and my heels still on the floor..

Flexibility test. Last time I got +9 in the sit and reach test. This time I pulled a +11!! I actually did it 3 times and got +11, +10 and +12... So, I think I'll just say +11. LOL! How this is improving I really don't know! What is it that improves a persons flexibility? I didn't expect any change on this because I don't think I've been doing anything to try and improve it.... I'll put that question on the investigate later list..

So I am still advanced in everything except ab's.... I just need to stop freaking myself out about trying to beat my old numbers all the time!! But I seem to be able to - which is even MORE freaky!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A common cause of knee pain.

I have been reading up on my problem with my knee and I thought I'd share my findings ... although most will probably be bored silly - someone may find it useful!! LOL

The vast majority of patellar tracking problems are related to tight iliotibial band or strong, tight vastis lateralis (outside quad) and a weak VMO (inside quad).

The vastus medialis (VMO) is a TERRIBLE muscle, it is the first one to become atrophic whenever you have knee pain. It is the most difficult to recover because it is the most difficult to isolate. There is lots of debate over whether or not it is possible to isolate and strengthen the VMO, and whether this will even help.

The specific role of VMO is to stabilise the patella within the patella groove and to control of the 'tracking' of the patella when the knee is bent and straightened. When the VMO is weak the patella becomes laterally displaced with the pull of the vastus lateralis. Mis-firing and weaknesses in the VMO cause mal-tracking of the patella and subsequent damage to surrounding structures and aching pain. Greater pain is usually experienced during leg extension activities in which the knee is a greater than a 20 to 30 degree angle.

To fix the problem:
- stretching and massaging the glutes, outer quad muscle(vastis lateralis) and ITB.
- strengthening the VMO (inside quad muscle).

Standing ITB stretch.
Place the leg you want to stretch behind the other one.
Keep the foot on the floor and push your hips out to the other side.
Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 5 times and do this at least three times a day.

Sitting ITB stretch.
Start in a push up position on your hand and toes.
Slide your right knee forward toward your right hand. Angle your knee so the outer ankle is touching the floor (see picture).
Slide your left leg back as far as comfortable.
Keep your hips square to the floor.
You should feeling a deep stretch in your right hip and the outer thigh.
You can either stay up on your hands, or fold forward and let your forearms rest on the floor in front of you or fully extended your arm in front of you.
Repeat on the other leg.

Glute stretch.
Lay on your back with one leg flat on the floor.
Pull the other knee up to your chest.
Then pull it across your body until you feel a stretch in the buttock and outer hip.
Hold for 30 seconds

Using Massage to stretch.
Use a foam roller. Lie on your side with the foam roller positioned under your ITB and roll backwards and forwards on it. Roll over and do the same with your quads. WARNING: This may hurt!!

To foam roll the quads and hip flexors, lie on your stomach, supporting yourself with your elbows. Place the foam roller directly on your quad. Roll back and forth 10-20 times. Be sure to concentrate on any “sticky” points. Turning your foot in and out will help to get all the areas of the quad.

Some strengthening exercise ideas for the VMO.
1. Sit in chair, put fist between knees, squeeze together knees. Hold for count of 10. Relax for count of 3. Do 10 repetitions.

2. Lie on floor on your right side, shoulder and hips aligned. Use your right hand to prop up your head. Place the left hand on floor in front of you to help balance yourself. Bend left leg and bring it to the floor in front of you. Slowly raise your right leg about 10 inches off the floor then, hold for a second, then slowly lower leg to ground. Lift 10 times on each side.

3. Sitting on a chair with the knees bent, palpate the VMO. Start to slowly straighten the knee and ensure the VMO contracts. Maintain the contraction throughout the movement as you fully straighten the knee and bend it again. Repeat this twice daily until you can maintain a strong constant contraction 10 times in a row. Turning your toes and pointing them out can help.

4. Using the weight machine at the gym - get on the leg extension machine and do the same as above. Begin on a low weight. Turn your feet outwards to engage the VMO fully. This same exercise can be done with a resistance band also - either standing or sitting.

5. Once you can hold the contraction of the VMO, start to integrate this into functional movements such as lunges.
With a split stance initially place one or two fingers on the VMO of the front leg
Perform a lunge by bending the front knee and dropping the back knee towards the floor
Maintain VMO contraction throughout the lunge
Initially perform as many as you can while maintaining a strong constant contraction and gradually increase the number up to 20
Repeat this process in step-up exercises too (although you may not always be able to reach to feel the muscle contract!)

6. Try performing a squat against a wall by sliding your back down the wall until your knees are at a right angle (your shins should remain vertical)
Place a large ball (such as a football) in between your knees and squeeze it
This activates the Adductor muscles and because VMO arises from the tendon of Adductor Magnus, also stimulates VMO to contract
Hold for 3 seconds and repeat 10 times, gradually increasing to 5 second holds and 20 repetitions

7. Fit ball squeeze. Lie on your back with the fit ball between your knees/legs. With straight legs, lift the fit ball off the ground and squeeze it between your legs.

8. The Peterson Stepup is a backwards step-up. It begins with one foot on a low platform. Lift the heel of the foot on top of the platform and position the toes so they are just behind the heel of the opposite leg as shown in the first picture. Now lift the toes of the foot you're standing on, as this will increase the emphasis on the working leg. From this start position straighten the leg on top of the platform while lowering the heel as shown in the second picture.

9. Backwards sled pulling (can use a tyre) gets them working as well, in a non-isolated way, with contribution from other muscles, but still works quite well.

10. To perform a Terminal Knee Extension, you must first wrap a band around a power rack or another stable object at knee height. Wrap the other end of the band around your knee. Walk back so that the band is pulling at the back of your knee. With your heel on the floor, bend and flex your knee. When you flex, make sure to contract your quad as tight as you can for a one or two count. Perform 15-20 reps for 2-3 sets each leg.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Physio and Knee Pain.

Went to the physio to get my knee checked out because it's been really sore lately! It's been really sore around the top and outside of the knee cap. Most pains I have had in various places over the time I just put up with and they go away but this has hung around for a few weeks now so I thought I'd go get it checked out. People have been scaring me with the stories of knee reconstructions enough that I did something about it!!  LOL!

Turns out there are a few things which could be contributing.

1. Tight IT band pulling on the knee cap - making it rub where it should not be rubbing. Trying to stretch this out more and possibly getting some massage on it could help.

2. Weak VMO muscle. The large outside quad muscle (there are 4 quad muscles) is really big and strong where as the inside one (VMO) is not very big or strong. This will also pull the knee cap to one side and have it rub where it should not be rubbing.
I am tending to point my feet outwards a little - even when I am just standing still... I notice it when I squat... When I squat I tend to point my feet outwards a little and then make my knees go in line with my toes which tends to engage the outside quad muscle and not the inside one. So the first thing I need to do is when squatting make sure my toes are pointing straight forwards and then make sure my knees still go in line with my toes.
He gave me a really basic exercise to try and strengthen the VMO which is surprisingly hard to do... isolating and tensing one part of the quad without the rest..

Static Inner Quadriceps Contraction 
Tighten the muscle at the front of your thigh (quadriceps) by pushing your knee down into a towel. Put your fingers on your inner quadriceps (VMO - Vastus Medialis Oblique ) to feel the muscle tighten during contraction. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times as hard as possible pain free.

3. Tight Glutes. He got me doing one leg squats and some other one leg hip liftie thing which he said most people could not do very well; but I could and so he said I have really strong glutes!! BAHAHAHA.... I got a strong BUTT!! LOL! The problem is that they are  also very tight glutes so he showed me some other stretch I have to do which will stretch them out.

Good news is that NOTHING SERIOUS is really wrong with my knee!! WOO!! I am very happy about that! And I am also excited to say that he said there was nothing I was really banned from doing in terms of exercise but just to realise that some things were going to make my knee sorer than others (until the VMO gets stronger...) YAY!

Will write a post shortly with various exercises to strengthen the VMO.

Running speed.

I seem to have developed a running speed. LOL. I have not been running much or for long - probably a couple of months now... but I am noticing that all the runs I do have a similar speed happening!! They vary slightly for different reasons - perhaps it was really sunny and hot or perhaps there were more hills than usual - but they are all quite similar in time which I think is cool!! It means I have developed a "running pace" for myself... I have read a little on increasing running pace but I am not sure I am up to that yet (given I have just figured out I have one LOL!!!).

The runs I have done over the last month or so are below...

5km in 34min = 6:48 (min per kilometre). My first ever 5km fun run!
4km in 26min = 6:30
6km in 40min = 6:40
8.8km in 59min = 6:42
7.3km in 49min = 6:43

I am doing the spring into shape 8.5km run next Sunday. It's good to know that I should be running for less than an hour!! LOL!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sore Knees in Spin??

It seems I am not the only one who gets sore knees after a spin class!! This post was taken off the 12WBT forum and is GREAT advice.. (Apart from the fact that it would take me half an hour to go through all the directions and make sure I had it all right!! LOL!!)

One day I will take it along and check everything out to see if it makes a difference - but for now I think I may just take a rain-check from the spinning!! At least till I can go see a physio or something and find out what my knee problem is. They seem fine after running - which seems to be more associated with knee problems. It is definitely a problem after they have had to bend (like with lunges and cycling)... We will see. Anyway, here is that post:
As a spin instructor absolutely please, please ask us to check your bike set up before you ride!  We can check saddle height and distance fore and aft from the handlebars, these things can vary from bike to bike, so it is important that you get these adjustments checked by your instructor.  With your bike fit, once it is sorted you will get used to the discomfort and after a short while you wont even notice it!
This is how to check you have your bike set up correctly (it seems like a lot of steps but once you are used to it, it takes 30 secs):
1)  Make sure when you are sitting on your saddle, that you are sitting with your weight even across both butt cheeks (put your hands on your hips to make sure you are sitting even).

2)  Drop one foot (in the pedal cage) to the bottom of the pedal stroke, that foot should run about parallel to the floor and the long leg should be long but not locked - so there should be a slight bend in your knee.  This means you wont have to slip from side to side across the saddle to hit the bottom of your pedal stroke every time (so no slipping means no grating, less discomfort!).  To double check, you should be able to take your foot out of the pedal cage, let the pedal tip upside down and you should be able to scuff your heel over the bottom of the pedal and it will just scrape it.  Lift or lower the saddle height until you have the right height for you.  Note:  If you are using a gel set cover, it should be on the saddle when you check this, as it affects this height positioning.
3)  Next move your feet until they are both running parallel to the floor - so one foot is forward, one foot is back.  Tip from your hips (keeping your chest up, so you come forward with a long spine) and put your hands on top of the handlebars and look down.  You should see that your front knee lines up to the end of the front pedal crank (the pedal crank is the long bar that the pedal cage is attached to).  If your front knee does line up in this way, your front knee will be in a right angle position (like the corner of a square).  If your knee doesn’t come up to the end of the crank, then you need to move your saddle forward until it does.  If your knee is sticking forward past the end of the crank then your saddle is too far forward and you need to move it back away from the handlebars.

4)  Handlebar height.  Ideally the handlebar height should be about the same height as your saddle, unless you have back problems (then you will need to lift the handlebars up high enough to feel that you have taken the pressure out of your back).  When you are first starting, you may want to start with the handlebars a little higher than the saddle, but only a little.  Having the handlebars at the same level as your saddle means that your weight on the saddle is in the right position and you are less likely to bounce (and bouncing and jolting for 45mins is definitely ouchy) because your core muscles are engaged from the angle of your torso relative to your pelvis.  So if you are riding with your handlebars up higher, you need to be really conscious of drawing your bellybutton back towards your backbone, to engage your core and keep you steady.

5)  If your bike has a handlebar fore and aft adjustment, adjust it so when your hands are on top of the handlebars, you have a right angle at your armpit (so where your arm comes out from your torso, that’s what should be like the corner of a square).

Finally, make sure that when you are riding that you have enough resistance - as this will actually keep you connected to your bike more smoothly.  Too little resistance and you will slip through the front of the pedal stroke which makes you bounce.  Too much resistance and you will be swinging your upper body heavily from side to side to try and get the pedals to move around in time - and that seesawing action grates your hooha so badly it’s not funny.  Learning to feel what the ‘right’ resistance is as any one time is what takes the longest.  Even though I know it can feel intimidating, if you sit up the front in the front couple of rows, then the instructor can see you clearly and can give you instructions on how your resistance level is.  Too start with, find your ‘base’ resistance - this is the minimum resistance that you need to ensure you are engaging your muscles (and thus burning calories, controlling and stabilising your joints - all the important things!).  Turn the resistance dial back/off completely and start pedalling.  As you pedal, turn the resistance dial up/on until you just start to feel the pedal push back at you, underneath your feet (right at the ball of your foot, where your toes attach to your foot) and you get a light scraping sensation in the muscle.  This is your base resistance!  Then you just adjust your resistance as the instructor advises as you go through the class…easy !