Prevention of Stroke (Part 1)

Definition

Your brain needs a lot of oxygen and nutrients being carried by your blood, and your blood reaches it through a network of blood vessels which  serve as its passageways.  When one of these passageways is blocked, thereby preventing the arrival of blood in a certain area of yourbrain, stroke takes place. Deprivation of blood is not the only cause of stroke. When a particular blood vessel in your brain ruptures, and the blood goes into its substance,  this is also called stroke.

Types of stroke

Due to cerebral thrombosis

Your blood vessels in the brain are not spared from the deposits of cholesterol and other forms of fats. If you are prone to having these deposits, all your blood vessels will have the same tendency to have them. Hence, when the opening of your blood vessel in the brain is narrowed by these deposits which have been accumulating for years, these blood vessels are prone to be blocked by blood clots which have been traveling in your bloodstream. Since the opening of the blood vessel is narrowed, it could easily be plugged by a clot which had been admixed with your blood.  With the blockage, blood could not pass through, and a certain area of your brain is suddenly deprived of blood, resulting in stroke, which is now considered as due to a cerebral thrombosis. Had it not been for the narrowed blood vessel, stroke could not have happened.

Diagrammatic representation of a blood vessel in the brain which has been deposited with cholesterol and fats (A) and then a blood clot that plugs its opening (B). Figure 1. Diagrammatic representation of a blood vessel in the brain which has been deposited with cholesterol and fats (A) and then a blood clot that plugs its opening (B).

Due to cerebral embolism

While your brain is left undisturbed for so many years, in other parts of your body, blood clots may have been formed. Some of these are attached to the inner structures of your heart.When your heart is behaving properly, they remain where they are, without producing any trouble at all. However, when it suddenly misbehaves, its rhythm is greatly disturbed that it is now out of sync. Consequently, its pumping becomes erratic and produces vibration that it is now medically described as fibrillating. When this takes place, blood clots from its inner chambers are thrown out in the blood which goes into circulation. When these blood clots reach the brain, they could block a blood vessel, resulting in stroke which is due to a cerebral embolism.

Figure2.Diagrammatic representation of a blood vessel in the brain which was never deposited with cholesterol and fats (A) but then a blood clot arrives plugging its opening (B). The diameter of the opening decreases as its location moves away from the heart—hence, very much prone to plugging.

Figure2.Diagrammatic representation of a blood vessel in the brain which was never deposited with cholesterol and fats (A) but then a blood clot arrives plugging its opening (B). The diameter of the opening decreases as its location moves away from the heart—hence, very much prone to plugging. 

Due to ruptured blood vessel

The wall of the blood vessels in your brain is very thin. This structural design is meant to allow easier transfer of oxygen from the blood to yourbrain and the transfer of carbon dioxide from yourbrain to the blood. In short, it is meant to allow easier exchange of gases. With this design, however, it cannot withstand high blood pressure. Thus, it is necessary that you always maintain your blood pressure at normal level because if you do not, a blood vessel in your brain could rupture, and you will suffer from stroke.

Figure 3. Diagrammatic representation of a normal blood vessel in the brain (A) and the ruptured blood vessel in (B) where the blood goes out  through the leakage.

Figure 3. Diagrammatic representation of a normal blood vessel in the brain (A) and the ruptured blood vessel in (B) where the blood goes out  through the leakage.

(To be continued)

What is metabolic syndrome?(Part 4)

Management

Changes in lifestyle

The underlying factors that contribute to the development of MS are obesity, physical inactivity, and atherogenic diet[1]. If you analyze closely   the three factors, they can be mitigated by lifestyle changes, such as engaging in more physical exercises, taking the right number of food calories,  and shifting to non-atherogenic diet. Some of these were discussed in Powertec (170).

Attain ideal body weight

Depending on your height, sex, and degree of physical activity, you have what we call as the ideal body weight (IBW). IBW refers to your body weight which is good for your health. If your weight is higher than your IBW, then you can be classified as overweight. If less than yourIBW, then you can be categorized as underweight. Being overweight or underweight is bad for you! You need to correct it as soon as possible! In line with the present topic, being overweight is more of your concern because it will lead to obesity, or you have been obese for some time now. If you are obese, then you are prone to develop metabolic syndrome (MS).

The first step then is to find out if you have the right body weight by computing for your IBW. The formula to be used in computing for this is well discussed in Powertec (20). If you are overweight, you need to shed off your excess weight through physical exercises and modification of your diet. The different methods of doing these strategies are well discussed in Powertec (21 and 22).

Treating and preventing  aggravating diseases

If you have elevations of  LDL-Cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose, then treatments need to be directed to these abnormalities. If you still do not have medical doctor at this stage, then you need to find one. Look for a  family doctor for initial evaluation and management; and if hefinds  that you need to be referred to other medical doctors, he might advise you to see a cardiologist  and/or an endocrinologist. If your problem is more on the LDL-Cholesterol and blood pressure, he might refer you to a cardiologist. If you have elevation of blood glucose, he might refer you to an endocrinologist. More often than not, especially if you were caught at the earlier stage of the diseases, your family doctor could very well manage your problems.

If your fasting blood glucose  is still normal, then you need to observe dietary regimen geared  towards the prevention of  diabetes. Firstly, avoid simple sugar and take more of the complex carbohydrates with fibers, such as bread and brown rice. Secondly, take more of vegetables and fish. If your blood pressure falls in the borderline values, then avoid meals high in  salt and fat. Avoid saturated fats which are  found in meat and cooking oil derived from animals. In addition, avoid trans fats which are found in cookies, doughnuts, and frozen pizza. You can read more on transfatsby consulting Powertec (103, 104, and 105).

Implications of MS

The recognition of MS at the earliest possible time is of utmost importance because, if unchecked and untreated for a considerable period of time, it will lead to heart diseases, bleeding in the brain (stroke), or diabetes. To avoid having these complications,   you should reduce your weight if you are overweight, increase your physical activity, and  eat a heart-healthy diet which is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish. In addition, you need to take medications to control your blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and your blood sugar[1].

(End of a series of 4)

Reference:

  1. AHA/NHLBI Scientific Statement. Diagnosis and Management of Metabolic Syndrome. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/112/17/2735.full

What is metabolic syndrome?(Part 3)

Diagnosis

There are several ways of diagnosing metabolic syndrome (MS). However, the criteria being used by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III, otherwise known as ATP III, starting in 2001 is the simplest and best understood. In this criteria, if you have 3 of the 5 abnormalitiesfound in MS, then you can be considered as suffering from the syndrome[1]. This means that if you will not seek medical consultation as soon as possible, you may suffer and die from the so-called atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), such as heart attack (myocardial infarction) and bleeding in the brain (stroke). These medical problems could kill you; therefore, if you are diagnosed as having MS, your medical condition needs periodic medical attention and your utmost cooperation.

ATP IIImentioned the following abnormalities as the components of MS:

  1. Abdominal obesity
  2. High triglycerides in the blood
  3. Low HDL-Cholesterol
  4. High blood pressure
  5. High fasting blood sugar.

If you have at least 3 of the above abnormalities, then you are suffering from MS[1].

Management

Changes in lifestyle

The underlying factors that contribute to the development of MS are obesity, physical inactivity, and atherogenic diet. If you look closely at the three factors, they can be mitigated by lifestyle changes, such as engaging in more physical exercises and shifting to non-atherogenic diet.

Increase physical activities

It is a well-known fact that physical exercises are needed by your body. If you engaged in it, among other beneficial effects, your high blood pressure will go down, and your body weight will not increase that much as compared to not having physical exercises at all. By not having excess weight, you will be removing one of the components of MS which is abdominal obesity.

The least that you can do is to have walking for at least 30 minutes—daily. If you cannot do this, then you need to contrive on having physical exercises, such as parking a little bit far from your point of destination, then walk! Have shopping then while transferring from one place to another, you do a brisk walking! You can think of other ways of giving yourself physical exercises. However, ensure that you can afford to do them.

Shift to non-atherogenic diet

A diet is said to be atherogenic when it is rich in saturated fats (SFs). They are found in meats, coconut, palm oil, palm kernel oil, butter, egg yolks, milk, and milk products (except fat-free) [2]. It has been established from researches that if your diet is high in SFs, the level of your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is also high [3]. You should remember that LDL cholesterol is also known as the bad cholesterol, because it carries cholesterolmolecules away from   your liver and deposit them to far-away structures, such as the blood vessels. When LDL cholesterol is deposited in the internal lining of the blood vessels, atherosclerosis takes place, and the blood vessels become inelastic, leading to the development of hypertension. {You can read on Powertec(144)}.

Thus, you need to avoid taking a lot of foods rich in SFs; instead, shift to the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are found in canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, nuts, avocados, sardines, safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, soybeans, tofu, and fish [2]. Hence, you need to use the cooking oil as prescribed and stated in the preceding so that you will take more of the unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). In a nutshell, avoid using cooking oil derived from animals and take more of fish, instead of meat. {You can read on Powertec (63)}.

(To be continued)

References:

  1. AHA/NHLBI Scientific Statement. Diagnosis and Management of Metabolic Syndrome. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/112/17/2735.full
  2. Roth, Ruth. Nutrition and Diet Therapy. Singapore: Delmar Learning, 2007.
  3. Siri-Tarino, P., et. al. (2010). Saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease: modulation by replacement nutrients. http://www.ncibi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc2943062/

Importance of hydration in physical exercises (Part 2)

Determinants of intravascular volume

Amount of water being taken in

The intravascular volume (IV) refers to the total amount of fluid that is in your blood vessels. If you are dehydrated, resulting from either severe physical exercises or severe loose bowel movement, otherwise known as diarrhea, your IV shrinks, and your blood pressure decreases. Thus, when you are sweating a lot as a consequence of doing physical exercises, you need to take in waterregularly so that the water that you lost will be replenished.If you have been suffering from severe diarrhea, you need to take in water as needed, or to be inserted with intravenous fluid so that your lost water will be replaced. This process of replacing your lost water is called hydration.

Amount of salt being taken in

When you sweat as a result of doing physical exercises and of hot weather, salt in your body, otherwise known as sodium chloride (NaCl), is lost. Sodium chloride is also lost when you have diarrhea for some time. For this reason, when you do intense physical exercises, or when you are exposed to hot temperature in your work, or when you are having diarrhea, you need to take some amount of salt. For strenuous sport like tennis, there are special drinks which are recommended, and these contain some amount of sodium chloride. For hot temperature, in your work or in your place of residence, it is enough that you take diet with adequate salt—not low or high. For diarrhea, there are tablets containing electrolytes, such as sodium chloride and potassium, that you can take.

The importance of sodium chloride in the maintenance of intravascular volume can be explained through the biological mechanism known as osmosis. The principle of osmosis states that in a compartment where the concentration of sodium is high, much water will go to that compartment until such time that the concentration of the said salt is equal to the other compartments. The net effect is that with high concentration of sodium in a compartment, such as your blood vessels, much water will be retained, increasing your intravascular volume.

 

 

Need for hydration

From the preceding discussion, it is clear that hydration is very important while you do physical exercises. To avoid dehydration and other complications of intense physical exercises, you need to observe and remember the following:

  1. You must drink, drink, drink—before, during, and after doing any physical exercise and throughout the day[1];
  2. When the temperature of the day is higher than usual, you need to take more water and other forms of fluid[1];
  3. If you lack carbohydrates and other sources of sugar, you may slow down in your movements; but if you lack water, you may die from it[1];
  4. If the pacing of your physical exercise is more intense than usual, you will lose more water than you used to be[1];
  5. If you physically exercise in a windy place, lowering the environmental temperature, you will sweat less[1];
  6. If your fitness level is high, you will have more and enlarged sweat glands producing more sweat to cool your body. You also perspire sooner compared to others with low fitness level[1];
  7. Genetics has role in your degree of sweating. If your family members have been sweating a lot, it is greatly possible that you will also have the same predisposition[1];
  8. If you have a bigger body, you will sweat more than those with smaller ones [1];
  9. If you are a man, expectedly, you will sweat more than a woman[1].

 

(To be continued)

Reference:

Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Hydration for Running. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:300-315.

Importance of hydration in physical exercises (Part 1)

Physiological consequences of physical exercises

Burning of energy

When you physically exercise, your muscles will either relax or contract. However, not all muscles will contract at the same time, and not all muscles will relax at the same time. At certain point in time, some muscles will contract, and some will relax. The net result of this is the generation of movement, which could be in the form of breathing, running, walking, dancing, and many more. As the muscles contract and relax, there is burning of energy which is ultimately derived from the foods that you take. Without the foods that you take, the muscles could not efficiently work. Thus, when you exercise without previously taking your meal, you will feel weak and could not continue doing your workout.

Production of heat

When the energy is burned—and the burning is quite fast in physical exercises—there is heat production, as one form of energy is transformed into another. This biological event increases your body temperature.

Sweating

When your body temperature rises, there must be a biological mechanism of lowering it. Otherwise, your body will suffer from overheating, otherwise known as heat stroke. Hence, your body sweats; the more intense your exercise is, the more sweat your body will produce. As the water flows out from your sweat glands located beneath your skin, your body temperature goes down.

Water loss

When you sweat, water and some electrolytes, such as sodium, are lost from your body. If you do not replenish the lost water, you will suffer from a number of consequences.

Consequences of severe water loss

Dehydration

When water loss from severe sweating is so significant, you will suffer from dehydration if you will not have adequate hydration as you physically exercise. There are three gradations of dehydration. These are mild, moderate, and severe dehydration. Whichever the case is, you will need to take adequate water so that one gradation will not progress to a worse situation. If you have reached the stage of severe dehydration, and yet you do not have adequate water replacement, you may die from the so-called hypovolemic shock.

Hypovolemic shock

One of the vital signs of your body is yourblood pressure (BP). It has two figures written in a fraction form. The upper number, or numerator, represents the systolic blood pressure, and the lower number, or the denominator, represents the diastolic blood pressure. The normal systolic pressure ranges from 90 to 140 mm Hg, while the normal diastolic blood pressure is 60 to 90 mm Hg. When your blood pressure is lower than 90/60, you have low blood pressure; when your blood pressure is higher than 140/90, you have high blood pressure.

There are two determinants of your blood pressure. These are the cardiac output (CO) and the peripheral resistance (PR). Thus,

Equation 1: BP = CO x PR.

In turn, your CO equals the product of the stroke volume times your heart rate and the PR is the determined by your intravascular volume and the diameter of your blood vessels. If we summarize the relationships of the different variables, we have this equation:

Equation 2:BP = {Stroke volume x heart rate} {Intravascular volume/diameter of your blood vessels}

Based on Equation 2, even if we hold all the other variables as constants, and only the intravascular volume changes, you can conclude that the blood pressure changes. When you lose too much water from any form of physical exercises, the intravascular volume decreases, and your blood pressure drops. When the water loss is too much, your intravascular volume decreases severely and your blood pressure will drop significantly, leading to hypovolemic shock and then death.

(To be continued)

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 7)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Shins[1,2]

The shins refer to the front portions of your lower legs, and the largest muscle in this region is the tibialis anterior, whose main function is to flex your foot upward (dorsiflexion) and to extend your toes [1].Thus, it controls your foot and your leg as you strike the ground. When the muscles in the front portion of your lower leg is weaker compared to the calf muscles—which are located at the back of your lower leg and in opposite area relative to the position of yourshin muscles, you will suffer from the so-called shin splints[2].To prevent this potential imbalance between the shin and the calf muscles, thus preventing shin splints, you can perform the following physical exercises.

 

Strengthening exercises for the shin muscles using body weight

 

Toe lifts[2]

Sit on a chair, and then extend forward your legs resting on your heels until they are around one foot away from where they should be if they are immediately below your knees. Extend your toes until your feet are flat on the ground. Gradually flex your toes toward your knees while keeping your heels on the ground. When you feel that the muscles in front of the shins contract, hold it for 3 to 10 seconds, then relax. Do this 10 times[2].

Towel sweep[2]

Sit on a chair and then step on a towel with one of your feet and with your heel off the edge of the towel. Using solely your toes, move the towel outward, inward, and towards you with the heel planted and static on the ground. Do each movement 5 times with each foot [2].

Ankle band exercises[2]

Sit on a chair. With your ankles and knees together, tie a rubber exercise band around your feet in front of the ankles. Press outward with your feet then relax. Do this 10 times. After this, cross your ankles and then tie your feet with the rubber exercise band. Using one of your feet, push to the outside while your knees and ankles are kept together. Relax and then shift to using the other foot. Do 10 times with each foot [2].

 

Foot press[2]

While sitting down, put one of your feet on top of the other. Pull up with the lower foot and resisted by the other foot. Hold for 10 seconds. Switch the positions of your feet and do the same. Do 5 sets for each position [2].

Suggested strengthening workouts using body weight

To wrap up the discussion of the different workouts using your body weight, some of the most important strengthening physical exercises that you can perform are enumeratedhereunder:

  1. Squats, for quadriceps, hamstrings, and buttocks; {See Powertec (162)}
  2. Push-ups, for your upper body; {See Powertec (161)}
  3. Crunches, for your abdominals; {Powertec (157)}
  4. Sitting leg extensions, for your quadriceps; {See Powertec (162)}
  5. Reverse sit-ups, for your lower abdominals; {See Powertec (157)}
  6. Side leg raises, for your hip abductors;
  7. Chair press, for your hip adductors;
  8. Foot press, for your shins[2]. {See Powertec (164)}

If you do the enumerated physical exercises, start with the large muscle groups then go to the smaller ones. You can add some of the physical exercises that you want to include; however, for as long as your time permits and your body could afford, do all of the abovecited physical exercises at least 3 times a week. By doing these routinely, they will help you improve your performance and avoid injuries[2] while participating in some sport activities.

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 6)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Ankles[1,2]

The ankle refers to the joint where your lower leg and your foot are joined. Since the foot requires a number of movements—aside from flexion and extension—a number of muscles (more than 20) hold the two structures together. Largely, these muscles act as flexors and extensors that play a pivotal role in movements and balancing of your body. To provide stability and versatility in your movements, some of these muscles are so long that they are attached at a point as high as the back of your knee[1].

The muscles that greatly influence the movements of your foot are the following:

  • Soleus: This muscle is found at the back of your lower leg. It extends from the back of your knee to your heel. It is very much needed for your walking and standing. When you are falling forward, this muscle contracts so that your foot hits the ground, stabilizing you and maintaining your erect position[1].
  • Gastrocnemius: This is found at the back portion of your lower leg, and it runs over its entire length. It is connected at the back of your knee and to your heel. When this muscle contracts, your lower leg is pulled towards your upper leg, causing bending at your knees. More importantly, this muscle plays an active role when you walk because it extends your foot[1].
  • Other muscles: Other muscles that influence the movements of your foot are plantaris, abductor hallucis, tibialis anterior, extensor digitorum longus, flexor digitorum longus, fibularis longus, fibularistertius, andfibularis brevis[1].

Strengthening exercises for the ankle muscles using body weight

Ankle push[2]

You can sit down on the floor and then provide resistance to your foot with your hand as it moves downward, upward, inward, or outward—holding each movement for 10 seconds and doing it for 3 to 5 times [2].

 

 

Towel sweep[2]

Sit on a chair and then step on a towel with one of your feet and with the heel off the edge of the towel. Using solely your toes, move the towel outward, inward, and towards you with the heel planted and static on the ground. Do each movement 5 times with each foot[2].

Ankle bend exercises[2]

Sit on a chair. With your ankles and knees together, tie a rubber exercise band around your feet in front of the ankles. Press outward with your feet then relax. Do this 10 times. After this, cross your ankles and then tie your feet with the rubber exercise band. Using one of your feet, push to the outside while your knees and ankles are kept together. Relax and then shift to using the other foot. Do 10 times with each foot[2].

Arches[1,2]

When you look forarches, you are referring to the angles formed at the bottom of your feet by its bones and strengthened by its tendons, ligaments, and muscles. There are three: (1) the medial arch, (2) the lateral arch, and (3) the fundamental longitudinal arch. The arches are actually curves at the bottom of your feet, and they make your walking easier and less taxing for your body[1].

Strengthening exercise for the arches using body weight

Towel exercise[2]

Stand and place one of your feet over a towel. Curl your toes to put the towel under you, with your leg and your heel not moving at all. Keep on doing it until the towel is totally under you. Reverse the process by pushing the towel away from you. Do this for 2 to 3 times for each foot[2].

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 5)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Quadriceps [1,2]

Strengthening exercises for the quadriceps using body weight

Sitting leg extensions[2]

Sit on a chair or on the edge of a table. Extend your one leg and tighten it, holding your kneecap parallel to the floor. Tighten your muscles for 2 to 3 seconds in isometric contraction—wherein there is no movement at the joint but the muscle fibers are working or contracting. Complete 10 to 20 times. You can repeat the same procedure with the other leg. If you believe your legs have grown stronger, you can add a 2-pound ankle weight and do the physical exercise [2].

Squats[2]

Stand with your feet around one foot apart, and then slowly squat to one-fourth or one-third of the way down and hold for 2 or 3 seconds before slowly returning to the starting or standing position. Complete 10 to 20 times. Do not squat exceeding halfway down to avoid injury! To provide yourself with added protection, you can do chair squats wherein you can lower your buttocks slightly over the chair and proceed doing the full exercise as described in the preceding[2].

Buttocks[1,2]

The principal muscle in the buttocks is the gluteus maximus, and it is regarded as one of the strongest muscles in the human body. It is attached to the coccyx, otherwise known as tailbone, and to the nearby bones. It is responsible for the movement of the hip and the thigh. Specifically, it aids in standing up from a sitting position, climbing stairs, and in maintaining erect position[1]. Other muscles in the buttocks are gluteus minimus and medius[2].

Strengthening exercises for the buttocks using body weight

Butt raisers [2]

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. With your heels serving as the fulcrum, raise you pelvis one inch off the floor and hold it for 10 seconds, release and relax. Do this exercise for 5 to 10 times [2].

Pelvic tilt[2]

Lie flat on the floor in supine position, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Simultaneously tighten your butt muscles and your abdominals while raising your pelvis from the floor. While raising your pelvis, press your lower back towards the floor. Hold contracted muscles for 3 to 10 seconds while exhaling. You can do this for 3 to 5 times [2].

Hips and groin[1,2]

The most prominent muscle in the groin is the gracilis. It is quite a long muscle because it extends from the pelvic bone up to the bone of the lower leg. Its main functionsare to assist in knee flexion and to adduct the legs. Adducting the legs means bringing them from the outside toward the center; hence, it means bringing the feet and legs together at the center. It is also responsible for stabilizing and rotating the knee inward. Aside from the gracilis, there are other important muscles in the groin. These include the pectineus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, and the adductor magnus[1].

Strengthening exercises for the hips and groin using body weight

 

Inside leg raises (for the adductors) [1,2]

Lie on your right side with your head resting on the outstretched right arm and your left arm aligned with your body. Flex your left leg at the knee and place the left lower leg in front of the right upper leg. Slowly raise your stretched right leg as high and as far as you can and then slowly returning to the starting position. Complete 2 or 3 sets of 10 with each leg. If you feel that your adductors have gained strength, you can add weight in your ankle to increase the resistance[2].

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 4)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Upper body[1,2]

When you mention upper body, you are referring mainly to the arms. Thus, the muscles in this region will be discussed, and the most important ones are: (1) biceps brachii, (2) triceps, (3) brachioradialis, (4) extensor carpi radialis longus, and (5) deltoid muscle. The biceps is very much attached to the humerus, which is the bone of the upper arm. With that position, it rotates the forearm and flexes the forearm at the elbow. The triceps, on the other hand, is located at the back of the upper arm, and it assists in straightening the whole arm. The brachioradialis covers parts of the upper and lower arms, and it is mainly responsible for flexing the forearm at the elbow. In addition, it helps in the rotation of the forearm both outwardly and inwardly[1].

The extensor carpi radialis longus is located near the brachioradialis, and it is one of the five major muscles responsible for moving the hand at the wrist in different directions. When you clench your fist, this muscle becomes visible as it rises below your skin. The deltoid is the main muscle at your shoulder, and it controls all movements arising from the shoulder joint[1].

Strengthening exercises for the muscles in the upper body using body weight

Push-ups [2]                               

Lie flat with your face against the floor. With the use of your arms, raise your body from the floor until your arms are fully extended. When your arms are fully extended, ensure that your hands are parallel,while your arms are perpendicular, to the floor. From an elevated position, go down to your starting point. Complete two or three sets of five, having breaks in between sets to perform other physical exercises. Gradually, increase your daily goal to sets of 20 or so with the right form [2].

Reverse push-ups [2]

Stand with your back facing a table or chair. Place your hands on the table or chair with your extended legs moved forward in front of you. Slowly lower your body towards the table or chair and with your legs slightly flexed at the knees and your heels serving as your fulcrum. After lowering your body as far as you can, you can return to your starting position. Do 10 to 20 times. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, you can select another support which is lower than a chair or table. A good suggestion is a bench. Before starting this exercise, however, ensure that your support is in good condition and stable so that you will not be injured. This specific exercise is intended for the triceps which are located at the back of the upper arms [2].

Quadriceps[1,2]

The quadriceps are group of four muscles located at the front of the thigh. These muscles are: (1) vastus lateralis, (2) vastus medialis, (3) vastus intermedius, and (4) rectus femoris. Each of the vastus muscles is attached to the femur, which is the primary bone of the upper leg, and is attached down under in the patella or the kneecap. The rectus femoris is also attached to the patella; however, in the higher portion, it is attached to the hip bone—and not to the femur[1].

As suggested by their location, the quadriceps are very important in extending the lower legs at the knees. In addition, these are used for walking, running, and other physical activities; hence, they are prone to injuries, such as strains, tears, and ruptures [1].

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

Symptoms that could prevent you from doing physical exercises(1)

The Symptoms

Back pain

If you have been experiencing back pain for the last few months, accompanied by some urinary disturbances, such as more frequent urination and low abdominal discomfort, it is possible that you have been suffering from urinary tract infection (UTI). You need to consult a medical doctor, and, more often than not, he will request you to have examination of the urine, otherwise known as urinalysis. If it turns out that you haveUTI, then you will be prescribed with the most appropriate antibiotic(s).

If your back pain, however, is acute—that is, it happened so suddenly—then you need to consider compression of your spinal nerves. This consideration is most probable if you have a history of trauma or injury at the back. However, even if there was no trauma, you need to factor in spinal nerve(s) injury, and you need to consult a medical doctor who is either a general practitioner, neurologist, or rehabilitation medical doctor. If you have spinal nerve(s) injury, and you insisted on having your physical exercises, it is possible that you will injure yourself all the more, and you will aggravate your medical problem. Hence, prior to totally ruling out the possibility of spinal nerve(s) injury, you need to refrain from having physical exercises.

If it is confirmed that you have spinal nerve(s) injury, resulting from compression, the basic management is for you to have bed rest for at least seven days. It could be longer, depending on the severity of your medical problem. In addition, you will have sessions under the rehabilitation medicine department, wherein traction and physical therapy will be administered to you. You will be asked to report for physical therapy for around ten sessions—each session lasting for at least one hour. You will be taught how to perform the different physical therapies, and you will continue doing them at home.

Joint pain

If you have been experiencingjoint pain—whether acute or chronic—you need to refrain from having physical exercises. You need to consult a medical doctor first to find out what is your problem, and you will be prescribed with the necessary medications. If the pain is gone, then you can resume your physical exercises. If you insist to do your physical exercises, in spite of your joint pain, then you will aggravate your problem, and it will be harder to treat it.

Sudden weakness of one or more extremities

Sudden weakness of one or more extremities is a symptom that cannot be taken for granted. It could be a symptom of stroke (bleeding in the brain), especially if you have a history of hypertension and you have been taking medications for it—and worse, if you have not been taking medications in spite of knowing that you have hypertension. Immediately, consult a medical doctor so that your medical problem could be diagnosed at once. Refrain from doing your physical exercises because, if you do, you might aggravate your medical condition. Much worse, you will die from it.

Getting tired so easily

If you have been well and good, then suddenly in the last few days you have been experiencing easy fatigability or getting tired so easily, it is possible that your blood pressure has risen. Refrain from doing your physical exercises. Instead, consult a medical doctor, and have your blood pressure checked. If your blood pressure is higher than normal, then your medical doctor will surely prescribe you with the right medications. Take them regularly and faithfully! Once your blood pressure is controlled, you can return to the gym, and resume your workouts.

                                 (To be continued)