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The Bullhorn, Issue #006 -- Monthly Motivator for September 2006
September 15, 2006

Just the right push to succeed!

An Ounce of Prevention

It’s very hard to start from a complete stop. And there’s nothing that can bring our fitness routine to a stop like an injury. A few years ago, a good friend approached me in the gym and asked why I wasn’t running as much as I used to. I told him that my knees were bothering me. He asked me what I was doing about it. Good question. I did some research, self experimentation, trial & error, and ended up adding some glucousamine and leg lifts to my daily routine. I’ve been happily running ever since.

How many times in life do we accept a false handicap without ever trying to overcome it? I used ‘my knees hurt’ for two years as an iron-clad excuse. How many others are out there allowing their age, an old sports injury, or something else hold them back from what they could be doing? There are many serious injuries that require rest and even surgery, but rest is a temporary prescription and surgery is usually the last resort for only the most severe injuries. For the vast majority of us, it’s worth a little self-evaluation and challenging our condition.

The good news is that the majority of injuries are minor ones and can be addressed with rest, recovery and some physical therapy (stretches & exercises). Below are some stretches and exercises suggestions for some common ailments. Add them to your fitness routine to help avoid some common injuries.

  • Minor foot pain?
    One of the most common running injuries is plantar fascitas which affects the muscles on the bottom of your foot. Overworked and often overlooked, these muscles can get a simple workout by squeezing your toes, as if trying to make a ‘foot fist’ and then slowly releasing. Strengthen these muscles over time and you’ll avoid or recover from this pesky injury.
  • Back pain?
    Crunches and other abdominal muscle work outs can be a great way to take some strain off your back muscles. Back injuries can occur with little to no warning and usually involve a long recovery. A set of crunches a day, may just keep this downtime out of your way.
  • Sore Achilles?
    I recently became a victim of not following my own advice. A few weeks of over-training and no rest and my right calf swelled up. After a few days off, I talked to some friends and did some reading and found a great set of exercises involving one-legged squats, leg-lifts, and lateral stretches. A few weeks later I was running pain-free again, convincing me further that a little rest and strengthening can solve many minor problems.
  • Sore knees?
    Knees can be tricky. With a tendon close-by, the pain could be tendonitis, in which leg strengthening could take some of the strain off. It could be the signs of arthritis or meniscus thinning, in which case Glucosamine / Chondrotin might help you. If the injury is minor, try some simple leg lifts with no weight or ankle weights to see if that helps over time. But as with any injury, your own judgment should prevail as to whether the pain warrants medical attention or self-treatment.
These are just a few ways you can help yourself stay injury free or recover from a nagging minor injury. For more information, check out the stretching, basic exercises, and the common injuries pages for more ideas on how to get and stay injury free.

If at first you don't succeed.....

The trait that Abraham Lincoln is probably best known for is honesty, but I would think persistence was a close second. His ventures in business and politics prior to being elected President in 1860 were considered to be failures by many. Through massive debt and lost elections, Abe grew with each “failure” and wore them like a bandoleer of experience that defined his steadfast character. He became inarguably one of the best Presidents in U.S. history, and I doubt very much that he ever hung his head or stopped to feel sorry for himself.

Diets and fitness ‘kicks’ are often notoriously short-lived because we are too hard on ourselves. A missed workout or chocolate-chip cookie may be all it takes to start the downward tailspin back into our old habits. People that succeed with adopting a healthy lifestyle got their through a path of successes and failures…no one is perfect. So finish the cookie and start the food log again tomorrow. Haven’t worked out? Get out the calendar and schedule a walk, run, or workout when you can. Life is busy. Time for fitness can often take a back seat to work, kid’s activities, and other commitments. Don’t feel defeated…get back in the ring. With a little tenacity and a positive attitude, you’ll weather the storm and keep climbing towards your goal.

With the end of summer and the start of Fall, many fitness routines will get their first real test of weathering change…back-to-school…weather changes….schedule changes. Go with the flow and adjust your routine to fit your life. Getting through these changes will take some focus and persistence…you can do it…it will make you stronger. Plan ahead! If you see a party or a friend’s wedding coming up, workout the day before and enjoy the event. I’m not very good at counting calories as parties…so I don’t. I’ll plan a hard work-out before-hand, and let the party be the reward.

Some of the best home-run hitters in baseball also strike out the most. And for every success story you hear about an athlete, they’ve likely weathered twice as many defeats. So don’t hang your head about getting knocked down once in awhile….just get back up again!

Exercise of the Month:
The Squat

The squat is an essential exercise to any basic fitness routine. It works large muscle groups that we often overlook: hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteal muscles. Keep your back straight, hands at your side and slowly lower your weight by bending your knees. Raise yourself and exhale. Feet should be approximately shoulder-width apart. As these get easier over time, do them on one leg (put the other leg straight out in front of you, suspended in the air). You can do this anywhere with no equipment and it will really strengthen your upper leg muscles and help you in your walking or running.

Keep up the great work & stay focused on your goals. Best of luck!

Encouragement to Succeed!

P.S. - Please feel free to forward this to a friend!

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