Exercises To Tackle Rotator Cuff Pain And Keep Your Shoulder Pain-Free

Exercises To Tackle Rotator Cuff Pain And Keep Your Shoulder Pain-Free

10 Exercises To Tackle Rotator Cuff Pain And Keep Your Shoulder Pain-Free

Exercises For A Rotator Cuff Injury

Exercise is an effective non-surgical way of managing rotator cuff pain and preventing further episodes. Incorporate stretches like pendulum, passive internal, and external rotation to improve flexibility. Perform range of motion and strengthening exercises like elbow flexion, extension, and rotations with elastic bands to strengthen the shoulder’s supporting muscles.

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles – supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis – and their associated tendons that keep the ball or head of the humerus (upper arm bone) in the shoulder socket and form a cuff over the top of the bone – hence the name. The rotator cuff keeps the shoulder stable and helps you rotate and lift your arm.

If a persistent, troublesome, or sometimes crippling pain in your shoulder has led to a diagnosis of rotator cuff injury, you must be looking for effective, sustainable remedies. Rotator cuff injuries and the subsequent pain are not that uncommon. Even a minor injury or inflammation in the shoulder area can flare up this muscle group. An injury or inflammation could occur because of sudden falls and accidents, when you turn or lift your shoulder beyond its natural range, or if you move your shoulder roughly and repetitively. It might also result from a sport or work-related injury or even a health condition that forces you to use your arm and shoulder to bear your body weight, say while rising from a seated position. Sometimes, even sleeping too long on one side can give you a shoulder pain.

Exercise restores flexibility, increases your range of motion, and strengthens the muscles that support the affected joint, effectively easing the pain and stiffness and making them less likely to be injured.

So, what are your options if you have rotator cuff pain? For any kind of joint pain, pain relief medicines, hot and cold packs, and other quick fix measures may offer temporary relief but to be pain-free, you need something long-lasting. That is where a good exercise routine fits right in. While it may seem counterintuitive to move the part that hurts, regular exercise can strengthen the joint and even help you postpone or avoid surgery on a joint that has been troubling you for a long time. Your doctor will be able to confirm how soon and how often you should exercise if you have injured your shoulder.

Combine Stretching And Strengthening Exercises For A Perfect Antidote To Pain

So what kind of routine should you be looking at with rotator cuff pain? Your painful shoulder’s flexibility and range of motion can be best improved with stretching exercises. These need to be followed by strengthening exercises that will fortify the muscles supporting the shoulder. Strengthening exercises can help keep your shoulder joint stable and reduce your chances of future injury. Stronger muscles can also limit and manage pain, given that stronger muscles are more difficult to injure. Over time, the limitations you were beginning to live with because of the pain will slowly ease.2 3

Unless your injury is serious and requires complete immobilization of the part, a trained physiotherapist will sign off on a routine that helps ease your pain. But never jump into a new exercise routine for pain relief without proper guidance, especially if it is a severe or chronic pain or if you are recovering from surgery. The physiotherapist will analyze your degree of pain, your abilities, and limitations, and design an appropriate exercise routine. You will be made aware of the precautions you should take, proper and effective exercise techniques, and soreness and pain you should not overlook.4 In all likelihood, your routine will combine some of the stretching and strengthening exercises we’ve listed here.

Warm Up Before You Start Your Routine

If you are are recovering from shoulder surgery or cannot do standing exercises for any reason, many of the exercises listed below can be done lying down. However, make sure you exercise under medical supervision if you are in your post-surgery period.

A proper warm-up routine raises your core body temperature and warms up your muscles. That not only loosens stiff muscles, but also improves performance, muscle coordination, and muscle elasticity and contractibility. A good warm-up also makes your respiratory and cardiovascular systems function more efficiently. Skipping warm-up increases your chance of injury – not something you want to reckon with when you are already in pain! Also, if you stretch before you warm up, your muscles become tired early and easily.5

For an effective warm-up,

  • You could walk or ride a stationary bicycle for about 5–10 minutes.
  • You could take a warm bath or shower for 10–15 minutes. That will warm up your shoulder area as well.6

Start With These Stretching Exercises

Take care to stretch to the point of tension but stop before you experience any pain.

Stretching can help boost flexibility and increase your range of motion. It makes the muscles more supple and ready for the additional stretching that results from any exercise.7

It is always advisable to exercise both shoulders though only one may be affected. That way you can prevent injury to the unaffected shoulder.8

The exercises listed below are not in any particular order. They are exercises that will stretch the shoulder and back muscles so that you can regain your range of motion and get the muscles ready for the strengthening exercises.

1. Pendulum Exercise

On average, do the stretching exercises 4 times across the day, with 4–5 repetitions on each side.

  • Stand near a counter, a table, a chair back, or a railing. Lean forward, placing one hand on the table or counter for support. Let the other arm hang free.
  • Swing the arm gently forward and backward. Next swing it side-to-side, and then in a circular motion.
  • Repeat the same sequence with the other arm.

Remember not to lock your knees or round your back when you do this stretch. Avoid the exercise if you have back pain.9

There is another way to do the pendulum exercise.

  • Bend your knees and use one knee to prop up your hand. Essentially, you bend over at the waist to rest one arm on the knee on the same side. For example, place your right arm on your right knee, making sure the arm is straight and sturdy.
  • Now gently swing your left arm forward and backward, and in a circular motion.
  • Change sides and swing the other arm gently.10
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2. Passive Internal Rotation

You will need a light stick to do this stretching exercise. This will stretch the front of your shoulders.

  • Without bending your arms, hold the stick behind your back with both hands.
  • Pull the stick horizontally to one side, hold for 30 seconds, and then relax. You must pull the stick without twisting or leaning over. When done right, your shoulder will be passively stretched and you will feel a pull without any pain.
  • Repeat the step on the other side.11

3. Passive External Rotation

This will stretch the back of your shoulder. You will again need a light stick.

  • Hold the stick in front. Hold one edge firmly with one hand while you use the other hand to lightly grasp it on the other side
  • Now push the stick sideways, toward the side that you have just lightly grasped, until you feel the stretch without pain. While doing this, don’t twist your body and make sure your hips face forward.
  • Hold the stretched position for 30 seconds. Then relax for another 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the sequence with the other arm.12

4. Crossover Arm Stretch

This will also stretch the back of your shoulders. You can sit or stand to do this exercise.

  • Begin by relaxing your shoulders.
  • Pull one arm across your chest as far as possible, and hold the upper arm with the other arm until you feel a gentle stretch across your shoulder.
  • Hold for about 30 seconds, then relax for another 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the sequence with the other arm.
  • Be careful not to pull hard or put extra pressure on your elbow while doing this.13 14

5. Towel Stretch

This exercise stretches most of your muscles in the upper back. You will need a three-foot-long towel for this stretching exercise.

  • Hold one end of the towel and drape it over your good shoulder.
  • Hold the bottom of the towel with your affected arm.
  • Now pull the towel toward your lower back.
  • Next, use your good arm to gently pull the affected arm upward to your maximum pain-free point. Hold for 20–30 seconds and gently release.
  • You can also repeat this on the other side.15 16 17

6. Finger Walk

This will help increase the flexibility of your shoulder joint, which in turn will help reduce pain.

  • Stand about three-quarters of an arm’s length away from a wall.
  • Stretch out your affected arm and with your fingertips, touch the wall at waist level.
  • Keeping the elbow a little bent, walk your fingers up the wall. Continue until your arm is raised as much as it possibly can without pain.
  • Slowly walk down.
  • Repeat the sequence several times and on the other side as well.18 19
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Follow Up With Strengthening Exercises

Add strengthening exercises to your routine as your range of motion increases. Don’t forget to first warm up and stretch. As mentioned earlier, the strengthening exercises will make your muscles strong and prevent future injury, reducing your chances of rotator cuff pain.

7. Standing Row Exercise

You will feel the effect of this exercise at the back of your shoulder and upper back. The exercise requires an elastic stretch band that will offer you comfortable resistance. If you are exercising in a fitness center, you can use a weight machine instead of the band.

  • Make a three-foot-long loop with the elastic band. Tie the ends together and loop it over something stable such as a doorknob or handle.
  • Hold the band with your elbow bent and held against the side of your body.
  • Now pull your elbow straight back, all the while keeping your arm close to your body. While pulling your elbow, remember to squeeze your shoulder blades.
  • Return to the starting position slowly.
  • Repeat the sequence at least three times at first, slowly increasing the number.

This exercise has several variations with different effects.

In the external rotation exercise, step 1 remains the same.

  • Stand such that the doorknob is on your right side, assuming it is the unaffected side.
  • Now bend your left elbow and hold it close to your body. Grasp the band with your left hand.
  • Still keeping your elbow close to your side, push your arm outward. Hold for a few seconds. While pulling your elbow, squeeze your shoulder blades.
  • Return slowly to the starting position and repeat the sequence.

In the external rotation with arm held abducted at 90 degrees, step 1 again remains the same.

  • Grasp the band with one hand. Now bend your elbow at 90 degrees and raise the arm to shoulder height.
  • Pull the band such that your elbow and shoulder are level, and your raised arm is in line with your head. Remember, your elbow must remain in line with your shoulder throughout.
  • Return slowly to the starting position and repeat the sequence.

The internal rotation exercise works on your shoulder and chest. The first step again remains the same.

  • Hold the band with your elbow and stand such that the doorknob is on your affected side.
  • Keeping your elbow close to the body, pull the band while bringing your arm across your body to the unaffected side. Pull about 2–3 inches and hold for a few seconds. Make sure you keep your elbow pressed to your side throughout.
  • Return slowly to the starting position and repeat the sequence.20 21

All the four exercises can also be done lying down, with or without a band.22

8. Wall Push-ups With One Or Both Arms

This will stretch as well as strengthen your shoulder joint.

  • Stand in front of a wall with your arms raised to shoulder level and both hands and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lead with your forehead (and not your chin) and perform a push-up on the wall. Keep your hands on the wall at all times and your shoulder blades aligned.
  • Repeat the push-up sequence 5–10 times and try and do 2–3 sets in a day.23

9. Elbow Flexion

You will feel the effect of this exercise at the front of your upper arm. You will need weights that you can lift comfortably without pain to complete at least three sets.

  • Start by standing tall such that your weight is distributed evenly between both feet.
  • Keeping your elbow close to your body, slowly raise the weight forward to your shoulder level.
  • If you can, raise the weight up to eye level and then above your head. Take care not to swing your arm or do the exercise very quickly.
  • On reaching your desired level, hold for about 2 seconds and then slowly lower your arm.
  • Repeat the sequence 5–10 times per set.
  • Once your shoulder gets stronger, you can increase the weight in increments of 1 pound. It is best not to exceed 5 pounds.24 25

A follow-up of this is the elbow extension.

  • The first step of this exercise is the same as that of the elbow flexion.
  • Keeping your elbow close to your body, slowly raise the weight backward as far as you can without bending forward.
  • Hold at the farthest point for a few seconds and then slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the sequence 5–10 times per set.26
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A variation of the elbow extension affects the back of your upper arm. The first step of this exercise is the same as that of the elbow flexion.

  • Raise your arm and then bend your elbow so that the weight is behind your head. You can use the other arm to support the raised arm.
  • Slowly straighten your elbow and hold the weight above your head for a few seconds. Don’t arch your back and make sure your abdominal muscles are tight.
  • Lower your arm again behind your head with the weight.
  • Repeat the sequence 5–10 times per set.
  • Once your shoulder gets stronger, you can increase the weight in increments of 1 pound. It is best not to exceed 5 pounds.27
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10. Scapular Retraction/Protraction

With this exercise, you will feel the effects in your upper back at your shoulder blade. You will again need weights that you can lift comfortably without pain to complete at least three sets.

  • Begin by lying on your stomach on a table or bed, with your affected arm hanging down.
  • Keeping your elbow straight, slowly lift the weight by squeezing your shoulder blade toward the other side. While lifting the weight, don’t shrug your shoulder toward your ear.
  • Hold the furthest position for a few seconds and slowly return to your starting position.
  • Repeat. Once your shoulder gets stronger, you can increase the weight in increments of 1 pound. It is best not to exceed 5 pounds.28
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A variation of this exercise is the bent-over horizontal abduction. Step 1 is the same.

  • Keeping your arm straight, raise the weight up to eye level.
  • Hold the furthest position for a few seconds and return to the starting position. Lower the weight carefully without any jerky movements.
  • Repeat about 5–10 times per set.
  • Once your shoulder gets stronger, you can increase the weight in increments of 1 pound. It is best not to exceed 5 pounds.

There are many more exercises, with variations, that can stretch and strengthen your rotator cuff and help manage the pain. Our list is by no means exhaustive but it is a compilation of some of the most recommended exercises. And remember, the old adage “no pain, no gain” is not always true. Stretch and strengthen only until you feel no pain!

7 Best Exercises To Get Rid Of Underarm Flab

Best Exercises To Get Rid Of Underarm Flab

Underarm flab can be difficult to tone. But a combination of upper-body workout for triceps, cardio, and strength training with proper diet can help you get optimum results. Triangle push-ups, dips, and triceps kickbacks and yoga asanas like the plank, the side plank, the dolphin plank, and the crow pose can work the muscles and also build overall strength.

Flabby underarms can ruin your summer look. No matter how well-toned the rest of your body is, if you have underarm fat that flaps around, you’ll feel you need to do more!

So why does fat end up right there? Is there some way to target this tough spot?

Why Does Stubborn Fat Accumulate?

1. Lack Of Exercise

It is easy to end up with excess fat on your arms, especially if you don’t use those muscles much. Unless you’re in a job that requires you to lift heavy weights, it’s unlikely that you are active enough to stay naturally toned.

Of course, this is not the case if you workout, dance, do pilates or yoga, or any other physical activity that exercises your arms.

2. Overall Excess Weight Gain

If you’re overweight in general and need to lose excess weight everywhere, your underarms are of course included! But are women really especially vulnerable to fat accumulation in the underarm area?

According to the American Council on Exercise, women’s bodies tend to store fat in the upper section of the arms, including the underarm area. Men tend to have higher overall muscle mass in their body, so fat accumulation is a bigger problem for women.

Tackling The Underarm And Overall Flab

Arm fat can be dealt with by toning your arms and working your triceps – not in isolation but along with other muscle groups. Women may feel that this is extremely stubborn fat to lose. But experts note, men feel exactly that way about belly fat.

All it takes to remove the fat is a little determination and lot of hard work. It isn’t the fat that’s stubborn, it’s the willpower that can be a little iffy for some of us!

Weight training or resistance training helps you retain the lean muscle mass, so you don’t shed muscle along with fat as you lose weight.

Spot reduction or targeted fat loss may not be realistic. While specific exercises can help work a certain muscle group, if you really want to tone up properly, combine this with high-calorie-burn workouts like cardio. 2

According to the Health Information Center of the The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, for general fitness and weight loss, you are on track if you can get around 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Combine this with muscle-strengthening exercises, such as any of the following, on 2 or more days to hit your overall fitness goals.

  • Weight-bearing activity, even heavy gardening
  • Weights at the gym
  • Using your body weight in pull-ups and push-ups

The more muscle you build, the more calories you burn, and consequently, the more weight you will be able to lose.3

This should help tone your arms if you include some arm-muscle-strengthening workouts along with the exercises for other muscle groups in rotation.

And of course, it goes without saying that you should follow a healthy diet with plenty of lean protein, vegetables, fruit, and fiber-rich foods and get recommended levels of nutrients through healthy snacks like nuts. Experts suggest a comprehensive fitness and diet plan with a tricep-focused upper-body workout twice a week to improve the strength, shape, and tone of the upper arm, including the underarm area.4

Exercises Targeting The Underarm

While a holistic approach is critical, you must also ensure that your regimen has some exercises designed to work your arms. The American Council on Exercise conducted a study to zero in on the best exercises for beating underarm flab.

Among the evaluated options were dips, bar push-downs, lying barbell triceps extensions, triceps kickbacks, rope push-downs, overhead triceps extensions, closed-grip bench press, and triangle push-ups. Their tests revealed that dips, triangle push-ups, and triceps kickbacks were the most effective.

About 2–3 sets of between 8 and 12 reps each should be challenging and achievable. Here’s how you can do them too.5

1. Triangle Push-Ups

triangle-push-ups

Experts call this the “gold standard” of triceps exercises, requiring the most muscle activity of all. This is a modification of the original push-up.

  • Place your hands so that your forefingers and thumbs make a triangle shape below your shoulders.
  • Keep your torso stiff by contracting your abdominal and core muscles, taking care to keep your head aligned with your spine throughout.
  • Put your feet together with the toes pointing at your shins.
  • Begin by lowering your body to the ground, keeping your back straight with no sagging in the lower back and ensuring that the hips are tucked away in position, not pushing upward.
  • Once your chin or chest is in contact with the floor, begin pressing up with your arms.
  • Do this till you once again have your arms completely extended from the elbows.
  • If you find this too difficult, place your knees on the floor for a modified triangle push-up.
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2. Dips

dips helps you to get rid of underarm flabs

You will need a ledge or a low bench, or even a chair that’s stable and heavy enough to not topple when you lean on it.

  • Stand with your back to the bench and your feet together.
  • Bend down to a seating position, so that your hands are on each side of your hips and resting on the bench.
  • Your fingers should hang over the edge.
  • Lift your butt off the bench without shifting your hands.
  • As you lower your hips down toward the floor, your arms should slowly be parallel to the floor.
  • Once your upper arms are both completely parallel to the ground, start pushing back upward with your hands/arms.
  • Make your arms work for this and not your legs!

3. Triceps Kickbacks

triceps-kickbacks

You’ll need a dumbbell for this exercise.

  • Hold the dumbbell in your left hand and get into a split stance position, with your right leg forward.
  • Ensure that your weight falls on the heels of both feet equally so that you’re stable.
  • Contract your core and abdominal muscles, so your torso stiffens.
  • Your free hand, the right one here, must be placed on your right knee or thigh.
  • Now start to lean forward, shifting your upper body weight to the right side.
  • Now begin pulling your shoulder in/down and backward, aligning your head with your spine. This is your position for the exercise, so be sure your torso doesn’t rotate as you do the movements.
  • Don’t let your back arch as it can hurt your spine.
  • Begin by keeping your left arm close to your torso, ensuring they are parallel.
  • Bend your elbow so that your forearm is vertical to the ground, with the elbow at 90 degrees.
  • Exhale as you slowly straighten your elbow, contracting the triceps.
  • Throughout, your upper arm should be immobilized close to the torso without rising.
  • Next, inhale as you come back to the starting position, with the upper arm parallel/close to the torso.

Yoga For Underarm Flab

Certain asanas target your arms and help tone your underarms as well. Keep in mind that these asanas need to be learnt correctly under the guidance of a trained practitioner to avoid any injury and to achieve optimum results.

Once you master them, or if you have already trained under a professional, keep up the practice at home.

1. Bakasana/Crow/Crane Pose

crane-pose

Bakasana, also called the crow or crane pose, is a challenging asana that requires you to perch on your bent arms with your knees tucked in under your torso and feet extended backward. You support your entire body weight using your arm muscles and core.6

2. The Plank

plank-pose

Used in the sun salutation or surya namaskar, this is not unlike the plank in conventional workouts.

  • Your palms are open and flat on the ground.
  • The elbows are straight and arms extended.
  • You lift your torso and hips off the ground, neatly tucked in, keeping the spine straight.
  • The toes touch the ground.7

3. The Dolphin Plank

dolphin-plank

The dolphin plank is a modification of the dolphin pose.

  • Place your forearms, right up to your elbows, on the ground, with palms open and touching the floor or clasped together.
  • Raise your feet with the toes lifting them off the ground, as with a plank.
  • Lift your upper arms off the ground, straightened out and perpendicular to the floor.

As you hold this pose, with your body parallel to the ground, you need to summon the strength in your arms and thighs as well as the core.8

4. The Side Plank Or Vasisthasana

side-plank

  • Hold your body raised sideways off the ground, with the outer edge of the left foot at an angle to the ground and the right foot stacked over it.
  • Put your right hand on your right hip.
  • Your body weight should be supported by your left hand and the left foot.
  • The left hand must be slightly in front of the left shoulder, not lined up beneath it.
  • Feel your triceps and thighs firm up as you hold your body diagonal to the ground.9

Advance-level asanas include poses like the upward- and downward-facing dog and the peacock pose.

6 Simple Exercises To Strengthen Your Fingers

Ways To Make Your Fingers Stronger

  • Fist flexes
  • Stress ball squeeze
  • Finger lift
  • Thumb touch
  • Thumb curve

Finger exercises are great for strengthening your digits. It’ll be easier to do daily tasks like writing and opening doors. You can also release tension by repeatedly making a fist or squeezing a stress ball. Placing your palm on a flat surface and lifting your fingers will increase their range of motion. To exercise your thumb and improve your grip, repeatedly touch your pointer finger or the base of your pinky.

Your hands are susceptible to a little wear and tear over the years. Think about it. The amount you spend doing work on the computer and household chores without maintaining the right posture can seriously damage your personal powerful tools. Besides this, there are other reasons why you could experiencing discomfort, pain, or a tingling sensation in your hands.

Hand or finger problems can be a result of repetitive hand movements, osteoarthritis, trigger finger, carpal tunnel syndrome, or even your hand and wrist position. That’s why it’s crucial to build the strength of your fingers. It helps to reduce pain and discomfort.

Having strong fingers will make everyday tasks easier. This can include anything from holding a pen to write to chopping veggies for your meals. Even opening jars will come with ease. You’ll also be able to relieve tension from your hand, wrist, and arm. Here are 6 exercises to work out and strengthen your fingers.

1. Fist Flexes

Fist flex: exercises to strengthen your fingers

Make a fist so that your thumb wraps around your fingers. Do not squeeze your hand into a tight fist. Keep it relaxed and comfortable. Hold it for 30 seconds then extend all of your fingers. This completes 1 rep.

Reps: 10

2. Stress Ball Squeeze

stress ball Squeeze

Tightly hold a stress ball. Squeeze it as hard as you can! This type of grip will be a workout for the muscles in your fingers. But, be sure to avoid using hard ones like tennis balls. Hold for 5 seconds. To complete 1 rep, release.

Reps: 5 each hand

3. Finger Lift

5 Simple And Effective Exercises You Can Do With A Chair

Place the palm of your hand on a flat surface. Lift your fingers one by one, holding each for 5 seconds. Focus on keeping the rest of your hand perfectly flat. Once you’ve lifted all your fingers, you’ve completed 1 rep. Another variation is to lift all your fingers at once.

Reps: 5 each hand

4. Thumb Touch

thumb touch exercise

Relax your hand. Bend your thumb and pointer finger so that the tips meet. It should create an “O” shape, similar to the “OK” hand symbol. Hold for 30 seconds. Return to the original position to finish one rep.

Reps: 5 each hand

5. Thumb Curve

thumb curve exercises to strengthen fingers

Turn your hand so that your palm is facing you. Extend and separate all of your fingers. Bend your thumb so that it meets the base of your pinky. It will look like you have counted to 4. Bring it back to the starting position to complete 1 rep.

Reps: 20 each hand

6. Wrist Extension

Let your forearm rest on a rolled-up piece of cloth on a table. Your hand should be hanging off the edge of the table. Now, raise your hand up slowly and bring it back down. Feel a good stretch? This is 1 rep.

Reps: 10 each hand

For best results, do these exercises 3 times a week. You can do them on the bus, at work, or while you’re watching television. It’s a great way to decrease muscle tension and relieve pain!

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

5 Simple And Effective Exercises You Can Do With A Chair

Effective Chair Exercises

  • Slanted push-ups
  • Side leg lift
  • Arm reach
  • Knee crunch
  • Leg stretch

While standing up, hold the back of the chair to do leg lifts. You can also do push-ups by placing your palms on the seat. Support yourself by stretching out your legs behind you. To release shoulder tension, sit in the chair. Extend your arms outward then up over your head. Your stomach muscles can also get a workout by raising your knees at the same time. If you need to stretch, extend your legs and touch your toes.

Being fit doesn’t have to be about expensive gym memberships. You can do a home workout with a normal chair! This is a great way to use what you have in a productive way. Here are five awesome chair exercises you can try now.

1. Slanted Push-Ups

5 Exercises You Can Do With Only A Chair

Position both your palms flat on a chair. Your fingers should be spread apart. Place your feet behind you so that your body creates a flat, slanted plank. Keep your feet side by side. Extend your arms to start one push-up. Next, slowly bend your elbows until your face is hovering over the seat. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds. Lift yourself back up to complete one rep.

Reps: 10 to 15

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2. Side Leg Lifts

Leg Lifts: 5 Exercises You Can Do With Only A Chair

Stand behind the chair. Turn your body so that the right side is facing the chair. Place your right hand on the top while keeping your right leg straight. Point your left foot outward. Raise your left arm upward and over your head. You should look like a ballerina! Lower your left arm while raising your left leg. Keep going until they touch. Return to the starting “ballerina” pose to finish one rep. Switch sides and repeat.

Reps: 10 to 15 on each sid

3. Arm Reach

Arm Reach: 5 Exercises You Can Do With Only A Chair

Sit in the chair with your feet flat on the ground. Keep your knees about shoulder-length apart. Extend your arms to the sides as if you were going to hug someone. Face your palms upward. Raise your arms over your head, keeping them straight and parallel to each other. It should look like you’re almost about to clap. To complete one rep, lower them down to the “hugging” position.

Reps: 15

4. Knee Crunch

Knee Crunch: 5 Exercises You Can Do With Only A Chair

Sit near the edge of the chair and place your legs together. Raise your heels so that only your toes are touching the ground. For support, place each hand on either side of the chair. Using your abs, lift both your knees until they are parallel with your chest. Lower to finish one rep.

Reps: 15

5. Leg Stretch

Leg Stretch: 5 Exercises You Can Do With Only A Chair

While sitting in the chair, extend both your legs in front of you. Make sure they are side by side. Bend over and reach for your toes. It’s ok if you are unable to touch them. The point is to stretch your legs and arms. Hold for 30 seconds while breathing normally. Sit back up to complete one rep.

Reps: 5 to 10

As always, take your time with these exercises. Listen to your body. If it hurts or feels uncomfortable, take it easy. You can always modify each move!

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

8 Ways To Gain Weight With A Fast And High Metabolism

Ways To Gain Weight With A Fast Metabolism

A lot is said about being overweight, but being underweight can be just as tough. It’s especially difficult if you have a fast metabolism and your body burns through calories quickly. Upping your calorie intake with energy-dense foods, getting adequate protein, and backing that up with the right mix of exercises can help you gain a healthy amount of weight.

Most people you know are probably struggling more with losing weight than gaining it. But if you’re among the 1.4 percent of American adults aged 20 and over who are underweight, you’ll want to pay attention. You could be dealing with a high metabolism or fighting an unknown underlying problem that’s keeping you from gaining weight.1 Here are some tips on how to gain weight in a fast yet healthy manner.

Why Gain Weight And What Your Metabolism’s Got To Do With It

Anyone with a body mass index (BMI) of below 18.5 is considered underweight.2 While being overweight has its own health risks –- like increased chances of heart attack, stroke, or metabolic syndrome – being underweight is not without its problems. Not being able to hold enough pounds can weaken your immune system, leave you feeling constantly tired, and cause your bones to become fragile, putting you at risk of osteoporosis.3

If you’re underweight, you may have a high metabolism. High or fast metabolism refers to a high basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your metabolic rate tells you how many calories your body burns to keep you breathing, your blood circulating, and your body temperature properly regulated. In essence, it’s the minimal energy requirement for your body just to function. When you burn a higher than average amount of calories in this state, you have a high BMR.4 If you’re dealing with a fast metabolism, keep reading to find out the healthiest ways to pack on the pounds.

1. Eat More Than You Burn

Of course, food plays a vital role in weight gain. And just like how people trying to lose weight must be careful about what they eat, so should you. As a rule of thumb, you should consume more calories than your body burns every day. Get the help of a nutritionist to figure out how much you should be eating, or simply up your intake by around 300 to 500 calories a day. If you do this consistently, you should see the numbers on the scale slowly move up.5

2. Eat More Often

If you’re finding it hard to chow down more calories at each meal, try breaking them down into multiple snacks and meals. This will make it easier to consume those extra calories without making yourself feel sick. Aim to have three meals and three snacks a day if you can.6

3. Don’t Binge On Unhealthy Food

Yes, donuts, sweets, sodas and fried or fatty foods may help you gain weight, but it will ultimately be unhealthy weight. This will do you far more harm than good. If you gain fat rather than lean body mass you could end up with a cholesterol problem. And those sweets and candy can cause tooth decay, among other larger issues. Aim to have a balanced diet loaded with fresh vegetables and fruit, healthy lean protein, beans, fiber, and fluids, as well as more energy-dense foods.7

4. Have Energy-Dense Foods

High-energy foods that pack a lot of calories into each mouthful are perfect for someone trying to gain weight. These foods are typically easy to snack on or add to your existing meals to up the calories in a healthy manner. Good energy-dense sources include foods like beans, dried fruits, eggs, nuts, and peanut butter.8 Here are some ideas for you to try9 1011:

  • Dried fruits added to your porridge
  • Smoothies made with dried fruits and milk (avoid adding any sugar and don’t have more than 150 ml a day)
  • Eggs, poached or boiled, with wholegrain toast
  • Yogurt
  • Peanut butter on toast
  • Nut butters to replace regular butter
  • Flax and chia seeds added to whey- or plant-protein-based meal replacement shakes
  • Hummus and pita
  • Rice puddings
  • Unsalted nuts
  • Home-made granola bars, sweetened with dates or honey if required
  • Wholewheat crackers with cheese
  • Jacket potatoes
  • Pumpernickel, rye, and oat bran bread – visually, look for dense-looking bread instead of white bread that’s lighter and fluffier
  • Corn, peas, and tuna-based salads rather than watery, lettuce-based salads

5. Eat Enough Protein

The recommended intake of protein is just 0.8 grams per kilogram of your weight. If you intend to add muscle mass or you do a lot of weight training, you could probably do with more protein. Some experts quoted in a Harvard Health Publication suggest trying to get between 15 and 25 percent of your daily calories through healthy proteins. While some believe that an increase in protein intake can actually help you lose weight, there’s still conflicting evidence to support that.12 Research has shown that additional protein intake can help with muscle-enhancement efforts.13

6. Don’t Eat Salads First

Consume the energy-dense foods and muscle-building protein before you eat the other food on your plate. That way if you don’t feel you can eat anymore, at least you have already eaten the most calorific foods. While you should be getting in your five fruit and vegetable servings every day, it’s just as important to have enough protein to power your workouts and help build muscle. It’s also important to maximize your calorie intake with each meal, so you can hit that additional 300–500 calories a day.

7. Lift Weights To Build Muscle

As you attempt to gain weight, doing cardio exercises like swimming or running can be counterproductive. Aerobic exercise or cardio burns a high number of calories and might negate that extra food intake. On the other hand, if you lift weights, your body will build muscle and the extra calories you consume will go toward those muscles. There’s an extra bonus to this: you’ll also get a sculpted, well-built physique.

Weight training or resistance training using resistance bands or free weights are your best bet for working those muscles. For optimal results, do short sets of exercises rather than long, drawn out ones. Train twice or three times a week and take rest days in between to let your muscles recover – that’s when they grow.14

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends certain exercises for hypertrophy or muscle building. Every time you lift weights, aim to do 6 to 12 repetitions of each exercise in each set. Performing about 3 to 5 sets is ideal. Take 30- to 90-second rests in between; ACE Fitness suggests 45-second breaks for optimal growth.

Some exercises for muscle growth include15:

Deadlift

Work the back of your thighs and glutes without straining your back.

  • Stand behind a barbell, your feet shoulder width apart and toes turned a little outward.
  • Bend down as if you’re sitting into a chair – the back straight and chest lifted up.
  • Now bend forward so you can hold the barbell, with the palm of one hand facing up and the other down. Squeeze it tightly in your hands and let your feet press into the floor, your weight sinking back into your hips.
  • Move up to stand by pushing your hips forward, the back flat.
  • End by standing upright with your legs straight and shoulders back.
  • To get back to your original position, shift your weight onto the hips again as your knees bend.

Where does it build muscle?: Full body16

Pull-up

You will need to use a chin-up bar for this exercise.

  • Stand under the bar keeping your arms stretched up, palms faced away from you.
  • Jump up to grab the handles, gripping firmly with your thumb around the handle.
  • You can cross your legs to bring stability to your body as you brace your abdomen. Align your head to the spine and keep your wrists straight and forearms neutral. Move your shoulders down and back.
  • Bend your elbows as you pull yourself up slowly. Your elbows should point down to the ground as you pull. Try and keep your body perpendicular to the ground and avoid swinging it as you pull up.
  • Carry on until your chin is at bar level or hand level. Hold.
  • Now slowly return to the original position letting your elbows straighten out.
  • Your abdomen must stay engaged throughout. Your shoulder blades must be pulled down.

Where does it build muscle?: Back and arms17

Barbell Lunge

Also called the Forward Lunge, this exercise requires a barbell and rack. Do this sequence of movements by alternating legs.

  • Stand in front of a rack and place the barbell at shoulder height.
  • Bend a little so you’re below the bar and position yourself so that the bar rests behind your neck extended across your shoulder blades and back. Grip it tightly with your hands placed just beyond shoulder width.
  • Now lift your chest up and feel your shoulder blades squeezed together. Your back must remain straight.
  • Stand and pick the bar up off the rack. Move two steps back with feet hip distance apart.
  • Next, step forward on your right leg and let your left knee drop almost to the ground, but without actually touching the floor.
  • Use your right foot to push into the floor and pull back up with your left leg to return to a standing position.
  • Alternate legs.

Where does it build muscle?: Hips, buttocks, legs, and thighs18

Standing Shoulder Press

The standing shoulder press requires a barbell and rack.

  • Put the barbell at shoulder height on the rack. Hold the bar firmly with hands kept shoulder width apart. Your palms must face up to the ceiling.
  • Now dip below the bar and pick it up off the rack, resting it across your shoulders with the palms still facing up and elbows ahead.
  • Ensure your back stays straight as you take a step back, pressing the barbell overhead.
  • Bring the weight back down to your shoulders to complete the sequence.

Where does it build muscle?: Shoulders and arms19

Bent-over Row

You will need a barbell for this exercise.

  • Hold a barbell firmly with your palms facing down. Your shoulders, elbows, and wrists must line up straight.
  • Raise the bar off the rack, bending forward from your hips. Your back must remain straight, your knees slightly bent.
  • Bring the bar down to the ground so your elbows are now straight.
  • Ensure your back is still straight as you pull the bar up close to your belly button.
  • Lower the bar back to the starting position again.

Where does it build muscle?: Arms, shoulders, and back20

Chest Press

To do this exercise, use a raised platform that allows you to lie back with your feet on the ground. A flat bench is ideal. If you hold the elbows out from the body, you’ll work more of the pectorals. If you keep the elbows in close to your sides, you’ll work more of the triceps. Get help from a spotter for safety.

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and keep your spine neutral.
  • Pull your shoulder blades back and down so that they’re firmly touching the bench along with your head and butt. Your feet must remain flat on the floor. All these points must stay in contact with the bench and floor throughout the set.
  • Wrap your thumbs around the dumbbells with palms facing forward.
  • Raise the dumbbells up to the ceiling while keeping your wrists neutral. Extend your elbows completely so that the dumbbells are just below eye level or over your eyes.
  • Inhale while bringing the dumbbells down to the mid-chest level with hands armpit width apart. Allow the dumbbells to gently graze the chest, taking care not to bounce them off the chest.
  • Exhale while bringing the dumbbells up just below or at eye level, elbows straightened.

Where does it build muscle?: Chest, shoulders, and arms

8. Kick Up The Weight Gain With A Few Easy Lifestyle Changes

When your own metabolism is quickly burning through calories, you have to be a little strategic in order to kick up the weight gain. Here are some simple, healthy tips to pack on a few more pounds.

  • Set alarms for meal or snack times: This will help you avoid missing a meal or snack.
  • Plan ahead: Making grocery lists and meal plans can help you stay on track.
  • Track and reward yourself: Track your resistance/weight training regimen and reward yourself for staying with the program. Have little treats for each milestone, whether it be a trip to the spa or buying that new book you’ve been thinking about.

Treat Underlying Health Problems Keeping You Underweight

Being underweight may not be about your metabolism, but could be a sign that something else is going on in your body. Certain health problems can cause weight loss, including depression, hyperthyroidism, undiagnosed diabetes, Addison’s disease, overtreatment of an underactive thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, lupus, stomach ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gastroenteritis, tuberculosis (TB), mouth ulcers, and dementia. HIV, AIDS, and cancer are also linked to weight loss. Watch for symptoms and consult a doctor if you suspect any of these may be associated with your weight.21

7 Effective Exercises For Your Lats (Latissimus Dorsi)

Exercises For Your Lats

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Your lats or back muscles play a more crucial role in your body’s stability and even your shoulder and back strength, than you may realize. The Latissimus Dorsi, as they are called, benefit from stretches and simple exercises like chin-ups or cat-cow. The superman, the seated lat pulldown, and even some simple yoga-based stretches can go a long way in warding off shoulder and back pain and keeping your lats strong and loose.

Your lats or Latissimus Dorsi muscles are two flat and large muscles on your upper back that connect the upper extremities and arms to your spine, giving stability to the trunk of your body. These muscles also help protect your spine and aid arm movement. So, why is it important to exercise these muscles? Working your lats can help improve your upper body strength and range of motion as well as balance and stability. On the other hand, tightness in this muscle can lead to chronic shoulder pain, chronic back pain, or tendinitis, an inflammatory condition of the tendon.1 Reason enough to take a serious look at these exercises for your lats!

1. Seated Lat Pulldown

Before you begin

  • Sit down on a weight machine and secure your thighs below the pad.
  • Stabilize your spine and grip the bar with hands held a little more than shoulder-width apart.
  • Your palms must face forward and your thumbs need to be wrapped around the bar. Keep your elbows straight over you and pull your shoulder blades back and down.Lean back a little but ensure your back doesn’t arch.
  • Your feet need to be flat on the floor and your head in line with the spine before you begin.2

Now you are all set to start!

  • Exhale as you pull down from your shoulder blades, bringing the bar to the mid/top of your chest. Your elbows should come to the sides of your torso toward the floor. Ensure you don’t lean back more than your start position.
  • Bring the bar down further so it touches your chest. Stop when you feel that your elbows are no longer in a downward motion but about to start going backward.
  • Pause and hold for a moment before slowly releasing the movement and straightening elbows to allow the bar to return to the start position. This must be a controlled slow movement to prevent injury.
  • Let your shoulder blades rise a little as you return to the start position.

2. Seated Row

The seated row makes use of the resistance in a cable machine.3

  • Sit down facing the cable, keeping your feet firmly on the ground. Your knees must be bent and your back should be straight.
  • Hold the straight section of the bar, keeping your elbows wide and the palms of your hands facing downward.
  • Start to pull the bar to the top section of your chest. As it touches your chest, pause.
  • Hold this for second before you straighten your arms, allowing the weight to come back to its start position.

3. Chin-Ups

All you need is a pull-up bar or similar equipment that allows you to do chin-ups.4

  • Stand below a pull-up bar with your arms above your head, palms toward you. Reach up or jump to grip the handles, thumbs wrapped around properly. Cross your legs and engage your abdomen to stabilize your body. Your wrist must be aligned to your forearms and the head aligned to your spine. Keep your shoulders pulled back and down.
  • Exhale as you slowly bend your elbows to pull your body up in a controlled manner. Your elbows need to be in front and should point down as you pull yourself up. Try and keep your body in a straight line, perpendicular to the floor.
  • Keep pulling yourself up until your chin is now level with the bar/your hands.
  • Pause and hold for a second before you release slowly and return to the start position in a controlled manner. Your abdomen must remain engaged throughout and your spine and head must stay in their alignments as your elbows straighten fully.

4. “Supermans” Or Trunk Lifts

This is an exercise for your lats that doesn’t need equipment. You will need to lie face down on your stomach on an exercise mat for this one. There are two phases to this exercise.5

  • Stretch your legs out behind with toes pointing to a wall that’s behind you. Your arms must be stretched out overhead with the palms facing one another. Your neck must be relaxed and the head aligned with the spine.

In the upward phase,

  • You should exhale as you stabilize your spine and engage your core and abdomen.
  • Reach your legs away from the torso of your body until they rise a couple of inches off the ground.
  • Let your arms “float” a little off the ground too and ensure they remain straight. Your legs must be straight too.
  • Your head should not drop down or be lifted up and your back mustn’t arch.
  • Hold this pose for a few seconds.

In the downward phase,

  • Inhale as you bring your arms and legs back down to the start position. Your hips and lower back must not move.

5. Cat-Cow Exercise

Cat-Cow Exercise

This stretching exercise for the latissimus dorsi muscles does not need any equipment.6

  • Go down on all fours in a kneeling position on an exercise mat. Your knees must line up below the hips and your wrists below your shoulders. Fingers must point forward.
  • Engage both your abdominal muscles and your core. Picture a corset around your midriff and imagine it tightening. Your spine must remain neutral – neither arched not sagging. Pull your shoulder blades back to your hips.
  • For the Cat part of this exercise, exhale and tuck your tail under as you engage your abdominal muscles pushing the spine up to the ceiling. You should resemble the outline of an angry cat. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, letting your head reach for your chest, neck lengthened.
  • In the Cow part of the movement, you should use your lower back and abdominal muscles to tip the tail to the ceiling. This will increase the arch of the low and mid back. The abdomen should stretch toward the ground. Pull shoulder blades down the back. Hold this for 10 to 15 seconds before coming back to the start position.

Yoga also has exercises that loosen up your lats. The following stretches not only loosen your shoulders, they make other yoga poses like backbends easier. They are also useful to anyone looking at preventing tightness and strengthening this part of the body. Remember to learn these under the direction of a trained yoga practitioner.

6. Wall-Aided Stretch

This movement loosens your lats and helps strengthen them. It also gears your body up for asanas such as the upward bow pose or urdhva dhanurasana and the popular downward-facing dog pose or adho mukha svanasana.7

  • Stand straight, keeping your back against any wall. Rotate your arms outward as far as you can.
  • Next, reach your arms above your head, allowing the palms to press into the wall.
  • Walk forward a couple of inches, taking care not to alter your alignment, but so your hands no longer touch the wall.
  • Try reaching your arms even higher and even further back so they touch the wall again from this new position. Ensure you back isn’t arched and that your hips aren’t moving forward as you do this. Your lower ribs must also remain aligned and not stick out in front.

7. Yoga Block Aided Stretch

Another method to loosen tight lats is by using a yoga prop like a block.8

  • Kneel down on a folded blanket placed in front of a chair. Hold each end of a yoga block in your hands. Your forearms should be held apart and upper arms rotated.
  • Now bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle and put the back of each elbow on the front of the chair so that they are shoulder-width apart. They shouldn’t slide off. Alternatively, use a strap looped around your forearms near the joint.
  • Now walk both knees away from this chair so that the trunk of your body is now parallel to the ground, with the knees below your hip joints. Ensure your lower rib cage isn’t sagging.
  • Exhale ensuring your elbows don’t slip off the chair. Lengthen your spine and draw your head away from the seat of the chair. Let it hang between the chair and the trunk of your body.
  • Exhale once more, moving hips back even further. Feel your tailbone press to the ground as you stabilize your lower back and pelvis. Your ribs must be slightly lifted and your outer arms moved towards the floor to the extent possible. If you experience any discomfort in the shoulder, try backing up a little by raising your shoulders or squeezing tips of elbows to each other (not actually moving them closer).
  • Relax the sides of your trunk, outer armpits, and lower back surface all the way to just above the tailbone. You should feel your lats lengthen and feel a release.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

5 Ways To Workout If You Are Low On Time

No matter how hard you try, there will be some days when you’ll find it impossible to accommodate exercising into your daily schedule. Either you’re caught up with work, a party, or family responsibilities. But, skipping your exercise routine goes against your fitness and weight loss plans.

How about having the cake and eating it too? What you need are time-saving strategies that allow you to make time for scheduled workouts. And, here are six effective contingency plans that help you dedicate that crucial time for exercises.

1. Workout During TV Ad Breaks

Often, we don’t have enough time for exercises but somehow allocate time for our favorite TV programs. A win-win situation is if you can manage to do some intense exercises during the program’s commercial breaks. What do you think the breaks are for? To get up off your couch!

These breaks last anywhere between 2-3 minutes at least and that’s enough time to do some push-ups, squats, chin-ups, skipping, and many other exercises that you can accommodate within that time. You’ll be surprised how long two minutes feel when you’re working out as opposed to watching useless telly ads or making trips to the refrigerator.

2. Use Your Legs Instead Of The Car

We don’t suggest you walk to work if your office is an hour’s drive from home. But, there are many other instances when you can ditch the car and walk, like when you have to go to a supermarket a couple of blocks away or commute to the gym around the corner. If your office is not located too far, walking to work can often take less time than driving, especially considering the peak hour traffic.

Moreover, while walking to work, you can even plan your activities and prepare yourself mentally. You can’t risk that kind of divided attention while driving. Instead of taking the elevator or the escalator, climb the stairs. Besides burning calories, walking is also good for your heart.

3. Perform Short Burst Workouts

Some exercise routines are designed to burn more calories in less time. Studies have shown that ‘lack of time’ remains the most commonly cited obstruction to regular exercise participation.1

Research reveals that a high-intensity interval training (HIT / HIIT) can be just as effective as other traditional endurance-based training, and often provides similar or even superior physiological benefits. These workouts give you the same results in just half the time.2

Scientific evidence shows that low-volume HIT is effective in inducing both cardiovascular and skeletal muscle adaptations, which are closely related to improved health outcomes.

4. Try Circuit Workouts

When you’re running short of time, exercises that quickly shoot up your heart rate and burn more calories are ideal. Consider circuit workouts, which are specifically designed to improve your strength and stamina, while simultaneously elevating your heart rate.

This effective combination is great for burning calories in a short span of time. Many of these exercises focus on multiple muscle groups at the same time.

Simple exercises such as the step-up not only tone your back muscles but also makes a fantastic cardiovascular workout. Try a mix-and-match of different exercises like sumo squats, reverse planks, jump squats, toe-touch crunches, and mountain climbers, which don’t require any equipment.

5. Train With Weights Once A Week

Sometimes, in the enthusiasm to pack in all types of exercises into our regime for quick results, we often become overwhelmed. Weight training is vital for building mass and increasing the reps helps shape the muscles. But, doing this every single day is quite unnecessary, and more importantly, may not be possible considering how busy you are!

So, don’t combine too many exercises such as running, weight training, and endurance training all in one day. Separate the exercises and stick to one or two routines each day. This not only saves time but also ensures that you don’t miss out on the routine.

Tips To Keep Up With Your Workout

1. Plan Your Workout: Planning ahead saves time. Nothing new about that. A tiring day at work can fog your mind making you incapable of figuring out what exercises to do at the gym. So, instead of surprising yourself with unexpected tasks that interfere with your fitness regime, spend a few minutes to plan your workout schedule for the week.

2. Compensate For A Skipped Workout: If you fall short of your target one day, try and compensate for it another day or with HIIT workouts that are ideal for those with time constraints.3 Often, commuting to and from the gym itself takes as much time as you need to workout.

3. Make Your Own Gym: To save time, you can convert your living room or basement into your own personal training facility and follow any of the various workout plans chalked out by the American College Of Sports Medicine.4

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