The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati
Health

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Question: I know you said that scales are for "idiots" but what about scales that figure body fat percentage/composition? How do they work and do they really work? Or are these scales for idiots, too? And if they're not a big scam, what are good things to search for when purchasing one? Thanks a bunch!
– Kay

Answer: Scales are for idiots because most people on a fat loss program look too often to the scale for their progress. If you are in a fat loss program that combines exercise and sensible eating then the scale is not an accurate measure of progress. With that said, I am for measuring body fat to lean mass ratio and most body fat scales do that to some extent. Most body fat scales such as Tanita® use a technology called Bioelectrical Impedance.

A completely harmless electrical current is passed through your body, usually your legs. The electrical current passes more quickly through fat free tissue like muscle than it does through fat or bone tissue. The amount of resistance to the electrical current relates to how much fat-free mass a person has on their body.

Like all body fat tests, body fat scales don't actually measure your body fat percentage. They measure your body density, the scale then uses a formula to calculate body fat percentage based on your body density.
Unfortunately, there is no one formula that accurately predicts body fat for everyone. Differences in age, gender, ethnicity, body size and fitness level can have a significant affect on the results.

Most scales can account for some of the basic differences such as age and gender, but take the actual body fat percentage they give you as just a number and that’s all. Whether body fat scales measure your exact body fat percentage or not doesn't really matter! As long as they can accurately show changes in your body composition over time, that's all you need. The real trick is to just be consistent with your monitoring. If you step on the scale naked at 7:30 am the first time then every time after that you must step on the scale at 7:30am in your birthday suit.

Is it the best way? I really can’t say, but it is a way to help measure progress. I personally like a tape measure and a photograph, but that’s me.

 

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We all experience life events that shatter our sense of reality and force us to redefine our lives. Some of us are impacted by widespread tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina or the September 11 terrorist attacks, and nearly all will face heartbreak as the result of a broken relationship or death of a loved one. Whenever tragedy of any magnitude occurs, we must let go of our current, comfortable lives and learn to face an uncertain future.

Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross defined the “Five Stages of Grief” as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. While these phases are common to most everyone, grief itself is unique to each of us. There are no rules about the order in which you will encounter the stages or the amount of time it will take to move through them. You may revisit anger a few times, and depression may last five times as long as bargaining. But in order to one day arrive at acceptance, you must allow your psyche to go through the healing process without rushing.

As you experience all the normal stages of grief, you may wonder whether your feelings are healthy or if you need to seek professional help. Take stock of yourself. You know how you feel during life’s typical ups and downs, as do your friends and family. If you, or those who love you, notice behaviors that seem compulsive, are extreme from your norm or interfere with your ability to function on a daily basis, consult a doctor.

While coping with tragedy, finding ways to express yourself is imperative. Release emotions by journaling, writing music or creating art to gain a rational perspective on your grief. Furthermore, you will discover that you’re not alone when you share your feelings with others. Confide in friends and family, find a support group or talk to a therapist. The Internet also offers a wealth of discussion boards and support resources for virtually any type of tragic situation.

Furthermore, maintaining your physical health during the grieving process is important to surviving a tragedy. You won’t want to, but forcing yourself to eat well, sleep properly and exercise will help make you strong when you feel very weak. Just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise can release enough endorphins to trigger feelings of happiness and confidence, and even that temporary burst of energy can be a welcome reprieve from constant feelings of despair.

As you begin to move beyond the numbing pain of a recent tragedy, begin to devote a small focus to positive things. While going through a divorce and experiencing a series of unfortunate (and costly) events with my car and house, I tried to gain perspective by reminding myself that things could be worse. After all, I wasn’t facing a terrible illness; I had a safe place to live and a family I loved dearly. I also began volunteering my time with several local groups. By finding a cause that needed me, I was able to turn my focus outwards beyond myself. Many survivors of tragedy find that religious faith and spiritual practice also help them to consider a larger purpose for their suffering.

Finally, celebrate small victories as you continue to recover from tragedy. Set goals, even if they seem as mundane as forcing yourself to get out of bed and do the dishes. When you succeed, congratulate yourself for being stronger than your pain. Splurge on a new pair of shoes as a reward, and take your special confidant to a movie to thank her for being a good listener. These little “hugs” for your soul will help ease your suffering and allow you to focus on rebuilding a life in your new reality.

Life is never the same after a tragedy, but the lessons you gain while going through one are invaluable. You learn just how strong you really are, and you realize just how deeply you are capable of feeling.

Writer and director Nora Ephron said, “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” You may discover that you are one of those exceptional women who uses her tragedy to help others, and in return find peace and meaning beyond any known before.

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Question: Rocco, Due to a car accident I am in a wheelchair. I am only partially paralyzed (I can stand and walk short distances) but will need the use of the wheelchair for the rest of my life. I am still young (19) and want to be otherwise healthy for the rest of my life. What exercises can I do to keep my heart and lungs health?
-Brei

Answer: At 19 years old you have your whole life ahead of you. It sounds so friggin’ cliché, but sometimes there is real truth in clichés. The accident robbed you of your legs but not your spirit and that’s really where life is.

Your attitude will take you to experiences that you may never have gotten the chance to take part in otherwise. Keeping your body fit and well enough to take part in those experiences is the smartest thing you can do. I hope to meet you someday so I can shake your hand and meet a real life inspiration. Now that my eyes have welled up and I can’t see my computer keyboard, I’m just going to have to wing it.

Actually, using your wheelchair can be a great exercise tool. It can give you incredible arm, shoulder, chest, back and midsection strength. If you vigorously push yourself around the track or up and down small hills to start, and then move up to larger hills when you can.

I also recommend getting out of the chair and doing negative push-ups, walking crabs (walking on your hands out in front of your body, in an upright position). If you can grab a bar and pull yourself up into a pull up position for repetitions, have at it. An exercise I call “reach for the sky” is excellent for the shoulders and arms (go to askROCCO.com to view the video of this exercise). I hope this helps and write me back with your progress.

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Some women think of chocolate as the oh-so-delectable enemy. One second of luscious chocolatey goodness can expand even the most careful dieter’s waistline. However, chocolate isn’t all bad. In fact, chocolate can positively affect your health in many ways. Read on to learn how to reap chocolate’s healthy side without losing your figure.

Antioxidants, Please!

Chocolate contains antioxidants that prevent heart disease, according to a 1996 study conducted by Andrew Waterhouse of the University of California, Davis. These potent antioxidants, called phenols, are the same health-benefiting type found in red wine. These cocoa phenols prevent bad cholesterol from causing plaque buildup in the arteries. Waterhouse also found that the darker the chocolate, the more phenols it contains, so the purest and darkest chocolates are the most likely to provide health benefits.

Not So Fatty

Cocoa butter, one of chocolate’s main ingredients, is high in saturated fat. However, one-third of chocolate’s fat is stearic acid. However, stearic acid does not raise LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) like other saturated fats because it is converted in the live to oleic acid, a heart-healthy, monosaturated fat. Another third of fat found in chocolate is already the unsaturated fat oleic acid, the same type of fat in olive oil, which raises good cholesterol (HDL).

Take a Pass on Coffee, Not Chocolate

Although chocolate does contain caffeine, it only contains about 10 mg of the stimulant, as opposed to the 137 milligrams of caffeine in a 5-ounce cup of regular automatic drip coffee or the 30 to 46 milligrams in a 12-ounce can of cola.

 

Mood Pleaser

Good fats and antioxidants aside, chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a chemical related to amphetamines, raising blood pressure and blood glucose levels. The result? It makes the consumer feel more alert and gives a sense of well being and contentment. This chemical makes the brain release b-endorphin, an opioid peptide, which elevates the mood, or mimics the brain chemistry of a person in love, one reason why chocolate is said to be an aphrodisiac.

Moderation, Ladies

Before you rush to the grocery to buy the cartload of chocolate you’ve dreamt of your whole life, remember that while eating chocolate does benefit your health, it can, like all indulgences, become too much of a good thing. (Especially when your bridesmaid dress doesn’t fit a month before the wedding.) Sugar and milk are also ingredients in chocolate, and even though most of the fat in chocolate is good fat, the fat is still there.

Sources:

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Question: Rocco, I have always stayed in good shape, my husband has not. Last year he had a heart attack (at age 46, eeeek!) and on his doctor's recommendation, he started running. I have never been a fan of running but decided to take it up and support my husband. After nearly a year, I still do not like running and he is more in love with it than ever before. Recently, he asked me to train for a marathon with him. I want to support him in his new healthy life style but I do not want to train for a marathon, plus running long distances make my nipples hurt even bleeding at times (is that normal?). How do I bow out and pursue my own interests without discouraging my husband? I just want to return to my bike and enjoy exercising again.

Thanks,
Michele

Answer: These types of questions have broken up many households. I hope I can discourage any forthcoming carnage with my answer.

There are many ways to handle this situation, but for the sake of time, I will give you my preferred solution. First, you need to realize that you and your husband are not attached at the hip. You are not Siamese twins, you are husband and wife. With that distinction you need to broach the subject of being a supporter and not a participant with that in mind.

I personally hate running, and many of my friends love running marathons. I like cycling, they don’t. And guess what… We all co-exist. It’s amazing but true.

Ask your husband to discuss this issue at a designated time and location that both of you feel comfortable, and without distractions (cell phones, kids, brother or sister-in-laws…you get the picture). You can bring up the fact that you thought it was a good idea to start running with your husband in his quest for good health but it just hasn’t been what you thought it would be. Suggest that he join a running club to help him train for the marathon and find comrades in arms better suited for distance running than you.

You can explain that 26.2 miles is really not something that you would enjoy doing and maybe on occasion you’ll go on short runs with him. You need to get on your bike and ride and begin enjoying exercise for your own sanity. If your husband gets discouraged from you bowing out from training for 26.2 miles of ass-breaking training, then divorce him and find someone a little more understanding.

And yes many people do experience bleeding nipples. To combat that, use Vaseline, or place a band-aid over them.

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1. Speak your heart. This is the most important guideline, hands down. But, it's the most horrendously difficult, especially when we've been hurt or triggered by something your friend has said or done.

This guideline comes with a helpful little rule: make "I" statements rather than "you" statements. For example, stray from comments, such as, "You’re a thoughtless, selfish jerk for forgetting my birthday." Instead, use constructive language, such as, "I felt so hurt and not cared for when you forgot my birthday." If you're really brave, dig even deeper and say, "It reminded me of being forgotten when I was little, and it felt really bad. I got scared that you didn’t love me." Big difference there.

2. Empathize. Just because you show empathy, it doesn't mean that you're conceding to your friend's opinion. Empathizing does not mean you agree; it just means you care enough to listen and hear what your friend is saying. Allow your friend to speak his or her heart. Detach enough from your own feelings about the situation so you can listen without judgment. Mirror back what you think you've heard until you get it right. Then try to imagine how they must have felt and feel it, too. Share it. Hearts may open, yours included.

3. Maintain your beautiful self. Friendship should never change the fiber of what makes you "you." It should be a complementing accessory to your fashionable outfit. Miracle-Gro for your garden. Coffeemate in your coffee. It supplements what's already there.

Keep that in mind when you enter a new relationship, or evaluate your existing ones, and feel like the outfit is being overhauled instead of accessorized, your garden is being uprooted or your coffee is turning into an iced mocha. Unhealthy relationships often cause one to change too much of who you are to make the other person happy, assimilate to their lifestyle or agree with their views. Some change is to be expected, but too much is not too good.

Here's a test. Ask them to do something you like to do that may not be "their style." Such as going for a run, scrapbooking or going to your poetry club meeting. If they completely turn you down or make fun of you for asking, they aren't respecting you or the things that make you unique. If they express to you that your chosen activity isn't something they're used to, but ask you to teach them sometime, that's a good start! If they want to compromise and try something completely new for the both of you, that's good, too. If they try it once just because they know you enjoy it so much, and want to fully understand it too, you know you have a high-quality friend on your hands.

4. Avoid the blame game. Blaming every little glitch in the friendship on your friend is so temptingly easy, but it's a crock, as well as a brilliant way to avoid looking at your own painful stuff. It might help to keep this little maxim in mind: Where there is judgment, there is fear. If you're feeling judgmental, take it as a golden opportunity to look more deeply into what's really eating at you. What triggered you? What old feelings does this situation bring up? When something hurts or bothers you in the relationship, see no. 1 above and speak from the heart about it.

5. Own up when you’ve messed up. Many of us get so caught in the trap of striving for perfection that we can't even admit to ourselves when we’ve made a mistake. But perfection isn't the goal: authenticity is. And we can get pretty snarky when we sense a friend is still upset with us after we've apologized: after all, we said we were sorry, didn't we? But an apology without empathy is useless.

It's painful enough to deal with our own hurts, but really allowing ourselves to feel the pain we have caused someone we love is excruciating, which is why we avoid it at all costs. It takes largeness of heart and spirit to admit when you've been in the wrong, to empathize, apologize and really mean it.

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Question: I'm tall and athletic, but I'm trying to change my body image. I lifted hard for a long time and ate all the calories so I could add muscle. I have never been able to lose or add weight, it just shifts from one portion of my body to the other. I have taken up running because I would rather be thin than muscular and fat, but I cannot get rid of the layer of skin/fat that I got while trying to add muscle. Any suggestions?

Answer:
You haven’t told me where the layer of fat is. I’m going to presume that it is all over your body. If you are tall, then you have long muscles. And you know what they say about people with long muscles? That’s right, can’t get big muscles!

The reason it seemed like you weren’t gaining any size is due to the length of your muscles. The longer the muscles, the smaller they look. If your upper arm is 6 inches long compared to someone who has a 4 inch long upper arm, yours will look smaller even though it has the same meat on it. Think of it as a foot long hot dog compared to a 6 inch brat. They may weigh the same but, the brat looks bigger because it's thicker.

Although you can’t gain size like the rest of us midgets, you would still be better off putting together a program that works the muscles through compound movements. Compound movements are exercises that use two or more muscle groups to move a specific resistance. A Dumb Bell Bench Press would be considered a compound movement as would a leg press. This will insure that you maintain what muscle you have and it won’t melt away (atrophy) from all the running you’ll be doing. Keep doing something aerobic and the fat layer should come off and it would helpful if you stayed away from sugar, sugar substitutes and beer just as a precaution.

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Question: We all know that compound moves such as squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, dips and presses do the most for the body by working multiple groups at one time. Why do you so adamantly recommend isolated moves on machines over the beneficial compound moves performed with free weights? Also a machine dictates the range of motion and sets up a person for injury by not stressing the stabalizer muscles. Do you not think a workout with free weights is a better benefit?
– Robin

Answer: First, there is something called spell check on your computer. It would be wise to use before trying to reprimand me about “s-t-a-b-i-l-i-z-e-r” muscles. I don’t so adamantly recommend isolated movements, I specifically recommend “beginners" – did you read that? Here, let me write that again for you, “beginners” and now I will spell it for you, "b-e-g-i-n-n-e-r-s" – to not use squats or deadlifts in the beginning phases of their training because of the very same reason you’ve stated. Many stabilizer muscles are smaller muscles and would be benefited by working on a hip sled or leg press first before playing a balancing act with weight on your back.

And just to clue you in, cavewoman, most individuals don’t have the genetic make up (long legs, long femurs, longer torsos and the like) to be performing squats and dead lifts because of the nice array of injuries that can happen. The list is a little long to write so I’ll let you do that research. So, yes, I do and will always will advocate beginners to utilize machines to help get their bodies used to pushing weight. If I didn’t, I would absolutely be negligent in my practice, unlike the cave dwellers who hide in the gym and recommending irrevocable damage to youthful knees, backs and necks. Stop reading the glossy vitamin catalogues, posing as exercise magazines and get a clue. Thank you and have a nice friggin’ day.

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Did you ever daydream about having that healthy body and lifestyle, but just can’t seem to find the right plan? Does your weight go up instead of down? Jogging or facing the treadmill everyday just isn’t your thing? Hope is on the way. With the fitness boom, personal trainers are taking action and ready to mold your body and shape your lifestyle no matter what your goal.

The good? Gone are the days when only a certain financial status could afford a spandex-clad trainer. Today, personal trainers are accessible and affordable for everyone. The down fall? With every craze, many unqualified salespeople try to take advantage of those who are just looking for a motivator and partner.

Here are some guidelines for planning your search for the right personal trainer. Think of it as shopping for your new healthy lifestyle:

1. The Difference Between a Personal Trainer and a Sales Consultant

A personal trainer is an educated professional who is certified to help clients meet fitness and lifestyle goals, educate them on specifics like strength and endurance training or nutrition, motivates them for a progressive  plan while tracking progress and stands accountable for his or hers client's success. A consultant may see you once and not follow up with your plan or just pushes you into buying a program.

“Know what your getting,” says Rocco Castellano, Personal Trainer of AskRocco.com. “There are so many trainers out there, it’s important to do your homework. Find someone who knows what do do with the information you give them and sets a plan.”

2. What to Look For in a Personal Trainer

You found a prospective trainer through a referral or Internet, now it’s time to interview. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s your pocketbook, but even more importantly, your body.

  • Education: The resume doesn’t cut it. We all know these can be beefed up by fancy words. Check out the certification. Respected associations include the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Your trainer should have a continuing education and frequent practice. Notable organizations, such as, ACSM require certified trainers to have a formal education in an exercise science or related field. In addition, ask about their knowledge of specific training, such as, strength or endurance or nutrition.
  • CPR: A trainer must be able to perform CPR and present the updated certification.
  • Liability Insurance: Can they provide proof of insurance to cover any injuries?
  • Experience: A professional should be able to prove results from former clients and the proper plan based on experience and knowledge.
  • Good Listener: Make sure your prospective trainer asks specific questions on your goals, background, family history, medical conditions and current fitness activities. Do they offer a plan? Do they give you attention or talk jargon? If they ignore your questions or neglect to follow up with a plan-move on.
  • Appearance: Yes, appearance in this case reveals a successful trainer. Can they talk the talk or are they full of fluff? A trainer should exhibit a well-toned body and healthy lifestyle with a plan they followed personally.

 

 

3. Your Financial Investment:
According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association in a recent study, the average price of a personal trainer costs $50-$100 per hour. Make sure a trainer is within your budget. Is there a cancellation fee? Get everything in writing and compare it to your income. You don’t want to be stuck making payments and not seeing results. No fun on this one.

4. Your Plan:

Come prepared not only with the right questions, but also know what your goals and objectives are. Do you want to lose weight, gain strength or endurance, look like a dancer? Write down everything. Follow up with research on your medical history or important information. A visit to the doc isn’t a bad idea before getting started with your trainer.

Remember for any plan, it’s about you and your happiness. Stay consistent and don’t expect miracles in a day. With the help of a motivator and professional, you’ll get there with the lasting results. 

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The Stress-Less Stretch: A Two- to – Ten Minute Stretch Program for Stress Reduction

 

Why Do I Need to Stretch?

As some of you may already know, my background is in the spa industry. On paper, working in a spa sounds ideal—spending your days amid beautiful surroundings, soft lighting, soothing music and delicate breezes perfumed with aromatherapy, but the reality is that working in the spa industry is grueling. Those who do it may love the work, but eventually they will suffer physically from the demands of the job.

 

When I stopped working in the treatment room, I expected the aches and pains to go away. But, what I discovered is that all the repetitive tasks I had performed for years had taken a toll on my body. What repetitive motions produce, over time, is a shortening of the muscle and the fascia that surrounds the muscle. We refer to this as "hyper-tonicity," and what it eventually causes is a distortion of our bodies and our posture.

 

To address the specific physical challenges I encountered as a spa technician, I compiled a series of stretches into a short routine; and I taught these stretches to spa technicians all over the country. Even though I no longer work in a spa, I have found that the repetitive motions I carried out each day are not that different from the ones I now do at my desk and during my travels, which is why I still use these stretch techniques. These specific stretches address the main areas of hyper-tonicity in the body by providing a release that is in direct opposition to the motions we find our bodies having to repeat.

 

What is The Stress-Less Stretch Program?

I call this series The Stress-Less Stretch Program because this system of stretches helps to de-stress areas that are chronically over-worked, which in turn helps to combat the fatigue and postural dysfunctions that result from the repetitive movements. These stretches can be done by anyone according to their own level of flexibility.

 

How Do I Begin a Stress-Less Stretch Program?

The Stress-Less Stretch Program is an excellent way to begin and end your workday, or as a reviving tonic to relieve stress and strain throughout the day. The program works best if you can complete the entire cycle as described below. However, if you can only find two minutes for stretching, simply perform the stretches as noted (_) below. If you have 10 minutes, perform more repetitions and take a couple of extra deep breaths as you linger at the deepest point of the stretches that are held in place. By breathing into the stretch you will find that with each breath you can move a little further until you feel a "barrier" or a point of resistance.

 

During the stretch, focus on the sensation created as the muscle lengthens. Stretches will feel intense but should not burn, feel painful or cause tingling. If you have any injuries, medical conditions or physical conditions that substantially limit your range of motion, you should consult your physician before doing the Stress-Less Stretch Program.


The Stress-Less Stretch
º Denotes that this is a critical stretch for the 2 minute program

 

SEATED STRETCHES (You will need a chair or stool.)

 

1) Ankle Rotations

–From an upright, seated position, arms hanging at your side, rest your right ankle on your left knee

–Slowly rotate your ankle a minimum of 4 times and repeat the rotations in the opposite direction

2) Seated Forward Stretch (AKA: Piriformis Stretch)

–From an upright, seated position, with your right ankle still resting on your left knee, slowly bend forward, keeping your back

completely straight
–You will feel a deep stretch in the piriformis muscle in your buttocks and the back of your propped-up leg

(FYI: The pirifomis is the pear-shaped muscle, which is often responsible for that tingling and burning sensation down the back of the thigh called sciatica.)

REPEAT THE FIRST TWO STRETCHES ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE

3) Spinal Twist º

–From an upright, seated position, cross your right leg over your ¥ Draw your straightened right arm back behind you,

reaching and looking back until you feel a good stretch

REPEAT THIS STRETCH ON THE OPPOSITE

4) Upper Trap/Arm Stretch º

–From an upright, seated position, arms hanging at your sides, stretch your right arm toward the floor.

–Turn your head to the left side and without drawing your shoulder upward, try to touch your nose to your left shoulder
–You should feel an intense stretch in you upper traps on the right side of your neck
–Slowly raise your arm upward, inline with your body, until your arm is parallel with the ground and your palm is facing down
–Continue moving your arm in an arc until it is reaching outward, directly in front of you
–Turn your palm upward and re-trace the same path back to the original starting position

REPEAT THIS STRETCH ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE

5) Upper Trap/Neck Stretch

–From an upright, seated position, drop your head to the left side (left ear to left shoulder)
–To intensify the stretch, drape your left arm over your head
–Allow the weight of it to gently increase the stretch
–Hold for a minimum of 15 counts then release

REPEAT THIS STRETCH ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE

6) Chicken Neck

–From an upright, seated position, push your head forward, (face forward, not the top of your head) as far as you can go,

isolating the movement in the neck, keeping the shoulders in place
–Pull the head back as far as you can go allowing the chin to "double up"

(Tip: The head should glide back and forth like a drawer being opened and closed)

7) Anterior Neck Stretch (Hands Behind Head) º

–From an upright, seated position, interlace your fingers and put them behind your head
–Draw your elbows back, away from your face
–Then slowly tilt the head back slightly arching the upper back

(Tip: You should feel the upper chest open and a stretch in the area of the sternum.)

8) Arm Across Body Shoulder Girdle Stretch

–From an upright, seated position, draw the right arm across the front of your body, holding it just below the shoulder girdle REPEAT THIS STRETCH ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE

 

9) Twisted Forearm Shoulder Stretch

–From an upright, seated position, place your right elbow on the inside of your left elbow and twist your forearms around each

other
–Stretch you arms forward and upward, hold for a minimum count of 15

REPEAT THIS STRETCH ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE

 

10) Forearm Flexor Stretch

–From an upright, seated position, hold you right arm straight out in front of you
–With the left hand pull gently back on the right hand to stretch the flexors of the forearm

REPEAT THIS STRETCH ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE

STANDING STRETCHES (You will need a chair and a strap or towel.)

 

11) Hamstring Stretch

–From a standing position, place the heel of your right foot on the seat of a chair and lock your hands together behind your

lower back
–Bend you body forward, keeping your back straight (as if your hip joint was a hinge)
–Bring your upper body as close as you can to your straightened right leg without dropping or shifting the hips or bending the

knees

(Tip: You should feel the stretch down the back of your leg in your right hamstrings.)

REPEAT THIS STRETCH ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE

12) Quadriceps Stretch

–From a standing position, lift the right foot up and hold your ankle with the right hand
–Try to straighten the body as much as possible so that your right thigh is in alignment with the other leg

(Tip: You should feel the stretch in the groin on the right and down the front of the thigh.)

REPEAT THIS STRETCH ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE

13) Shoulder Rotation with Towel or Strap

-From a standing position, grab the strap with both hands and holding your hands as far apart as needed to be able to draw

your hands up and over your head and behind your back
–To get the full benefits of this stretch, focus on lengthening your arms as if they were being pulled away from the body
–Repeat this motion slowly bringing your arms to the front then to the back
–Find the point where the stretch is the most intense and "hang out" there breathing into the stretch

14) Side Stretch with Towel

–From a standing position, (feet in a wide stance) still holding the strap, and keeping your entire body in line, allow your arms

to move be drawn to the side (as if someone was pulling the end of the strap on one side) j
–To get the full benefits of this stretch, focus on lengthening your arms as if they were being pulled away from the body
–Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side

(Tip: You should feel the stretch down your side in the Quadratus lumborum muscle between your hip and your rib cage. For this stretch to work it is important not to "collapse" the body by bending forward or bending your arms—just go as far as you can.)

15) Triceps Stretch Behind Back (Both Sides)

–From a standing position, hold one end of the towel with your right hand and bring that hand up behind your head and let the

strap hang behind your back
–Reach toward your lower back with your left hand and grasp the strap
–Inch your hand toward one another as far as you can go
–Hold in that position and take a couple of deep breaths

(Tip: You should feel the stretch in the triceps muscle on the back of your upper right arm and in the trapezius on the left side.)

REPEAT THIS STRETCH ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE

16) Helicopter Arms Horizontally

–From a standing position, (feet in a wide stance), hold your arms straight out to the sides, perpendicular to the ground.
–Swing the arms horizontally to the left then the right allowing them to be relaxed and gently slap the shoulders alternately

17) Windmill Arms Vertically (Both Sides)

–From a standing position, step the right foot forward into a slight lunge
–Swing the arms upward in an alternate motion in front of you for a count of ten allowing them to come to a slow stop
–Step forward on the left foot and repeat, this time swinging arms in the opposite direction

–And finally, another optional stretch that lengthens the posterior (backside) side of the body is…

18) Chair Hang º

–Standing behind a chair with a back, hold on to the top of the chair back
–Bend over and take as many steps back as needed to form a 45 degree angle with your body
–Relax into this stretch breathing deeply for at least 15 seconds

(Tip: You should feel this stretch in the arms, shoulder girdle, low back and hamstrings.)

Want to Know More?

When I originally developed this program I got a lot of advice from the folks at the The Rossiter System, www.rossiter.com. It is a Cincinnati-based organization that goes into the workplace to assist with ergonomic issues as well as coaching employee stretching programs.

 

There are also many good books on stretching; one of my favorites is "The Whartons' Stretch Book" which will give you a great understanding of the body's natural range of motion. If you are shopping for only one, narrow your focus to those that combat on-the-job stress and strain, such as "Stretch," by Mark Evans, as opposed to books that focus on stretching for sports related purposes.

 

Finally, for those who dare, yoga and Pilates, which both incorporate stretching and strengthening movements, are great ways to keep your body flexible, pain-free and working at its peak. Many YMCA's now offer yoga classes and so do chiropractors. For more options, the Yoga Journal has a state by state directory in every issue and a Web site that can also direct you to teachers and classes in our area: www.yogajournal.com. The techniques for both yoga and Pilates do vary, so call ahead to get the specifics so you'll know what you're in for.

 

Whatever method you choose, stretching is probably right up there with drinking water and consuming fiber as one of the simplest, cheapest and most effective ways to improve the way you look and feel. And while stretching is not the complete solution to pain and fatigue, I guarantee that if you do these stretches every workday for one month, you will notice a difference.

 

Click here to see a slideshow of Paula demonstrating various stretches you can perform at the office.

 

The Stress-Less Stretch Program is for informational and educational use only. The information contained in this site should not be construed as medical advice or instruction. If you need medical advice, contact your healthcare provider.