Posts Tagged ‘back pain’

Throw Gravity Out the Window!

November 14, 2008

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about gravity. I suppose it’s only natural given the gravitas of the current economic situation.  It could also be the fact that as an aquatic therapist, I spend many hours a week speaking to clients about gravity’s counterpoint – buoyancy. Apart from outer space, deep water is the only place where we can literally throw gravity out the window and free our bodies (and our minds) of its heavy influence.  

Did you ever consider the negative connotation of the words and expressions that stem from gravity? There’s the aforementioned gravitas, there’s grave – as in “going to an early grave” or thegrave expression on his face“, not to mention the “gravity of a situation“. Buoyancy, on the other hand, coveys lightness, cheerfulness and exuberance – “he was buoyant in his attitude” “the fans were buoyant after the big win“, “she gave him a buoyant hug and kiss at the airport“.

Of course we need gravity to anchor us to the earth. Often, though, we are too weighted down by it – whether it be physically with musculoskeletal pain from injuries or surgery, or emotionally with worry and stress. Certainly our country is anything but buoyant economically right now. Lately it feels as thought we’re sinking rather than floating financially (unless it’s after being given a life raft like some of the banks and mortgage lenders). But maybe it’s time to literally and figuratively “throw gravity out the window” . Smile, breathe, laugh, hope and if possible, emerge yourself in a body of water, trading buoyancy for gravity.

As she was quietly floating upright in the deep end of my warm swimming pool at the end of her workout the other night, my client Cathy said to me, “everyone should have a few minutes a day without gravity”.  I couldn’t agree more!

Be well,

Carolyn

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A Few of My Favorite Things…

November 14, 2008

I’m always looking for great wellness products for myself and my clients, so when I find something that works for me – I like to share the information. One of my must-haves is Traumeel, a homeopathic anti-inflammatory tropical ointment. For acute, minor muscle aches and pains, nothing works better. I first discovered Traumeel years ago when I was racing marathons. The difference in the soreness of my legs post-race was remarkable. These days I always carry a tube in my purse or gym bag – something I was very glad of 18 months ago when I was in a bad car-accident and suffered pretty severe whiplash. Personally, I find the ointment more effective than the gel – as it’s more penetrating. Both the ointment and the gel are odorless and they won’t stain your clothing. Traumeel is available at most health food stores and Whole Foods and these days you can even find it on Amazon.com for a great price. It’s also helpful in preventing bruising if you bump yourself or take a fall. My sister was recently in the hospital and also found it effective in healing from the pain of surgery and IVs. Note:  it should never be used on broken skin. The makers of Traumeel also make Zeel – a similar product for chronic pain and inflammation – great for those with arthritis.

Here are a few more of my favorite things:

Recharge – a natural electrolyte replacement drink alternative to Gatorade for active people especially during the summer months. Try it at Whole Foods and then to buy in bulk I found this great offer viaAmazon.

Chicken of the Sea Salmon Cups – a convenient way to get your Omega 3s on the go. Great for taking with you in the car, on the airplane – or just brown bagging at the office. Available at most grocery stores in the canned tuna section.

Water Warmup Jackets – made of special stretchy, comfortable and most importantly warm neoprene fabric. These jackets are a must if you workout in an outdoor pool during the winter months. Find them atwww.waterwarmups.com and tell Sally that Carolyn sent you.

H20 Wear Swimsuits – are made of a special blend of polyester and are guaranteed to last a year. They offer traditional-style suits as well as swimsuit tanks and shorts. I’m still wearing some that I bought years ago.Check them out at www.h20wear.com.

Xyflamend– a natural anti-inflammatory supplement for those with arthritis, sports injuries or chronic pain. It contains organic herbal anti-inflammatory formula with powerful anti-oxidative agents, including Holy Basil, Turmeric and Ginger. Find it in most health food stores and Whole Foods.

Be Well,

Carolyn

Healing Waters: Aquatic Workouts for Injured Athletes Part I

October 5, 2008

As we all know, sports- and fitness-related injuries are all too common. Fortunately, the water is an ideal environment for athletes to not only rehab their injuries, but also maintain or even increase their conditioning and their performance. In fact, the biggest misconception about aquatic sports training is that it’s only useful when injuries prevent land workouts, when in fact it can be a valuable, year-round cross-training tool for almost any sport or fitness activity.

My work as an aquatic therapist came directly as a result of my own success with aquatic rehab as an athlete. As a former competitive marathon runner, I discovered the performance benefits of aquatic athletic conditioning more than 20 years ago. Unable to train on land for several months because of injuries, I began deep water running. It allowed me to work out as hard as I wanted to without exacerbating my injuries and it saved my sanity in the process. Whereas most athletes give up aquatic training when their injuries heal, I continued training in the deep water with great results. In fact, I knocked 20 minutes off of my marathon PR (personal record). Furthermore, I was not only faster, but a stronger, more resilient runner.

From that point on I continued my aquatic cross training, had no serious injuries, knocked another eight minutes off of my marathon PR and qualified for the 2000 Olympic Marathon Trials where I placed 31st with a personal best time of 2:47:08. I truly believe aquatic athletic conditioning gave me an edge over my frequently-injured competitors by both improving my overall fitness and preventing injuries.

WATER WORKOUTS DEFINITELY AREN’T FOR WIMPS

Aquatic cross-training not only keeps you cool, it provides an intense, no- or low-impact, pain-free workout. It is the perfect complement to running, tennis, aerobics, basketball and other high impact activities. Famous athletes who have used aquatic training with great success when recovering from injuries include: heptathlete Jackie Joyner Kersee; baseball/football player Bo Jackson; tennis player John Lloyd; runner Mary Slaney; and basketball player Wilt Chamberlain.

Whether you choose swimming, deep water running or shallow water plyometrics, you can get both cardio and muscular endurance training in one workout. Furthermore, water enhances your flexibility so you’ll never leave the pool with tight, sore muscles. In fact, many people find they are able to stretch further in water as it promotes range of motion of joints and ligaments. Never flexible even as a child, I’m now – at age 41 – able to do the splits thanks to my aquatic exercise!

In my next blog I’ll focus on aquatic therapy workouts for specific sports.

Until then…Be Well!