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by Emelda Dudenhoeffer

The use of inversion tables to improve health.

Inversion therapy has been around for centauries as a way to increase blood circulation and relieve back pain. In this article we will look at what inversion is, inversion tables and how they work. I will also discuss the risks, health hazards and whether or not inversion has any long term health benefits.
Inversion table1

What is inversion therapy?

Inversion therapy involves hanging upside down using gravity to decompress your joints and your spine. There a few methods of doing this, the most popular of which is to use an inversion table.

Inversion tables.

Inversion tables offer the most comfortable method of inversion therapy. It is an adjustable padded platform that allows one to invert themselves to meet the requirements of inversion therapy – hanging upside down. The balance of the platform is so exact that the inversion angle can be controlled by simple arm movements. A securing strap can be used to stabilize the platform at any angle.

How are they supposed to help?

By inverting you reverse the effect that gravity has on your muscles, joints and spine. Normally gravity has a compressing effect, by inverting you allow gravity to decompress your body, taking pressure off your nerve roots and disks in your back. Also, while inverting a traction force is created throughout your spine and lower back. Traction is theorized to help relieve lower back pain.

But do they actually work?

Whether inversion tables work or not is a controversial topic. While inversion has been proven to provide short term relief from back pain and spinal problems, most studies conclude that there is no long term relief. This is because the second you get off the table, gravity starts to have its compressing effect again. In essence inversion acts like a painkiller, it helps for a while but the effects wear off.

The reviews don’t lie.

For the most part inversion table reviews seem to back up the medical research with most reviewers pointing out that inversion relieves pain temporarily but does little in the way of curing back pain in the long term. Some reviews do suggest that inversion can be beneficial when used as part of a comprehensive treatment program.
Inversion table

Is inversion safe?

Inversion is not safe for everyone. People with high blood pressure, heart disease and glaucoma must not try inversion. This is because when inverted for more than a few minutes your blood pressure rises and your heart rate slows. Because of the increased blood pressure, the pressure on your eyes increases dramatically, putting strain on the nerves and could result in permanent damage.
Pregnant women should not practice inversion either. Inversion disrupts your heart rate and circulation. Babies need a consistent supply of blood and disrupting your circulation could have adverse effects on your child.

by Emelda Dudenhoeffer

How to Build Overall Arm Strength

To build overall arm strength you need to exercise the major muscles and muscle groups individually. Before you begin to work out it is important to have a basic understanding of what the major muscles and muscle groups are, and what they are used for.
The deltoid muscle is a triangular muscle covering the outer part of the upper arm. It helps to move and stabilize the shoulder joint. The biceps brachii, or biceps is found between the shoulder and elbow and is the muscle that bends the elbow and rotates the forearm. Next is the Triceps brachii, or Triceps. The triceps is a large muscle on the back of the upper arm is responsible for extending the elbow joint (straightening the arm).
In the forearm there are two major muscle groups. Extensors and flexors. Extensors are used to extend the hand. Example: hold your arm stretched out with your palm facing down. Move your wrist so your palm faces outwards, those are your extensors working. Flexors are predominately used to flex the hand. Example: once again hold your arm stretched out with your palm facing down. Move your wrist so that your palm faces your body, those are your flexors working.
Now that you have a brief understanding of the muscles in your arm and what they do, we can start to get into some basic exercises that target specific muscles and muscle groups.

Deltoid exercise.

The standing dumbbell press is proven to be one of the best exercises for strengthening deltoids. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Take a dumbbell in each hand and raise them to eyelevel, your elbows should be bent at ninety degrees with your palms facing forward – this is the starting position. From this position push the dumbbells up together, keep pushing until your arms are fully extended. Slowly lower the dumbbells until they are eye level again, then repeat.

Biceps exercise.

The dumbbell bicep curl is a great workout for building the biceps. Stand up straight with your arms at your sides, palms facing forwards, with a dumbbell in each hand – this is the starting position. Now, keeping your upper arms still, exhale and lift the dumbbells until they are in line with your shoulders and your biceps are fully contracted. Hold this position for 2 seconds, then slowly inhale and lower the dumbbells back to the starting position, and repeat.

Triceps exercise.

Triceps dips are arguably the best exercise for building your triceps muscle. Sit on a sturdy chair or bench and grip the front edge of the seat with both hands. You can either rest your feet on the floor or put the back of your heels on a bench in front of you. Push yourself up off the seat, then lower your bottom below it until your upper arms are parallel with the floor, lift yourself up again until your arms are almost straight. Then repeat the motion.

Extensor exercise.

Extensor wrist extensions are superb for building the strength of your extensor muscle group. It is easiest to do this sitting down. Take a dumbbell in each hand. Rest your forearms on your legs with your hands hanging over your knees, palms facing down. Keeping your forearms on your legs, lift your hands until your knuckles are pointing towards the ceiling, then slowly lower your hands again. Do this a few times and you will feel the extensor muscles working.

Flexor exercise.

Flexor wrist extensions are very similar to extensor wrist extensions. Once again rest your forearms on your legs with hands hanging over your knees, but this time palms facing up. From here the exercise is exactly the same as for extensor wrist extensions.
Most of these exercises require the use of dumbbells. If you are serious about building the muscles in your arm it is worth investing in an adjustable dumbbell set. You will probably require different weight dumbbells for different exercises. With an adjustable set, simply add or take away weights as you need them.
Doing these exercises will help you to build the overall strength of your arms. Remember when exercising to always perform proper warm up and warm down exercises to prevent muscle strain.

by Emelda Dudenhoeffer

How creatine supplements build muscle

Creatine supplements came onto the market in the mid 1990’s. Athletes and bodybuilders have been using it to boost their energy levels and promote muscle growth ever since. To understand how creatine promotes muscle growth you need to understand what it is, and how it works.

What is creatine?

Creatine is a combination of amino acids that is made by the human body. It is also found in some foods – primarily meat and fish. The body uses creatine to help generate the energy that your muscles need to function.
How creatine works.
There is no simple way to describe how your body uses creatine, but I’ll try to make it as understandable as possible.
After creatine enters – or is produced by your body – it binds with phosphate molecules. The new compound is called creatine phosphate.
Your body produces another chemical called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is essentially your body’s energy source and is responsible for powering almost every bodily function.
ATP provides energy by the hydrolysis of phosphate groups. When a phosphate group is hydrolyzed by ATP it gives off heat energy. This energy is then used to power most bodily functions, including muscle contractions – or movements.
During this proses ATP is converted into adenosine diphosphate (ADP). ADP is useless in the body until it is converted back into ATP. This is where creatine comes in. Remember the creatine phosphate that I spoke about? The creatine phosphate reacts with ADP and the result is that ADP is turned back into ATP, and can once again supply energy to your muscles.
How do creatine supplements work?
Creatine is often mistaken for a steroid. Creatine is not a steroid. As I said before it is an organic compound made by the body.
Your body only has a limited supply of natural creatine at any one time. While doing strenuous activity your creatine levels eventually get too low to convert ADP back into ATP. Without ATP to create energy, you get tired.
Creatine supplements boost your body’s creatine levels. Having extra creatine in your system enhances your body’s ability to convert ADP into ATP. More ATP means more energy.
So how do creatine supplements help build muscle?
Because creatine supplement increases your body’s ability to produce energy, you are able to work out for longer. As we all know the more you work out your muscles, the bigger they get. Simple.
Different forms of supplement.
Creatine powder is mixed into a drink and is the most common and popular supplement.
Creatine capsules, or pills are either sold as 100% creatine or mixed with other supplements like vitamins, minerals and more.
Creatine liquid is marketed as a more easily digested form of creatine. Despite this it is not a very popular form.
Creatine blends combine creatine with other supplements such as simple carbohydrates and herbal extracts to help with digestion.
As to which is the best creatine supplement, Creatine powder is definitely the most trusted by bodybuilders and athletes alike. It is also proven to be absorbed by the body better than any other form of supplement.

Is it safe?

There have literally been thousands of studies done on creatine supplements. So far no study has shown any major adverse health effects. Some mild cases of dehydration have been reported but proper intake of water should prevent this.
Creatine supplements have not been around for long enough for their long term effects to be studied. Despite this athletes and body builders worldwide use supplements to enhance their performance.

by Emelda Dudenhoeffer

Could elliptical machines be an alternative way to build leg muscle?

Firstly, for those of you who don’t know, an elliptical machine is basically an exercise machine used to stimulate walking running or stair climbing. If that’s all it is then why not just walk, run or climb stairs? The advantage is that elliptical machines eliminate the risk of impact injury, and are great for elderly people or people recovering from injury.
elliptical machine
But do elliptical machines build muscle? The short answer is no. Working out on an elliptical machine is no less effective than other leg exercises, just effective for different reasons. Elliptical machines are great for burning calories and to help you become slim and toned. They also provide an excellent cardio vascular workout, but if bigger muscles are what you are looking for, you would be better off doing some form of weight training. Elliptical trainers do, however, help to strengthen muscle groups throughout your body and improve your overall fitness levels.
As to what are the best elliptical machines, they would without a doubt be the ones with moveable handle bars, as they provide the best all-round workout. These machines not only target your legs, but work your entire upper body and help to strengthen your core.
Let’s take a closer look at what muscles are worked out using an elliptical.
Your hamstrings get a thorough workout. Most machines include a function that increase resistance of the pedals, which simulates hill climbing.
Your calves are worked as you push your leg backwards while gliding in reverse.
Although you may not feel them working at the time, your quadriceps are given an intense work out. You will definitely feel them afterwards!
The gluteus maximus, also known as your butt, is worked by the elliptical.
Continuing to move up, your triceps, biceps, chest and back are worked when pushing and pulling the handle bars.
Some ellipticals don’t have handle bars. If you don’t hold onto anything while working out on one of these, your core muscles are used to help keep your balance.
Your heart is also worked. Don’t forget that your heart is also a muscle.
A much debated topic is if elliptical machines are better than treadmills. Once again, neither one is better than the other, they are just different. A treadmill should be your machine of choice if you are training for a marathon or looking to focus on your lower body. Ellipticals are the answer if you are wanting a well-rounded workout or are recovering from an injury and wanting to regain strength.
In conclusion, while elliptical machines are a great way to lose weight and offer an amazing cardio vascular workout, their primary purpose is not to build muscle. They do however compliment other exercises such as weight training and go a long way to maintaining fitness levels and core strength.

by Emelda Dudenhoeffer

Correct posture can increase sports performance.

Poor posture can be detrimental to your sports performance. In this article we will look at what causes bad posture, why does it decrease your sporting ability, and what are some ways to improve your posture?

What causes bad posture?

As humans our natural instinct is to be active and move around. The most common cause of bad posture is a lack of exercise and movement and spending long hours seated in one position. Fatigue, stress and other psychological issues, malnutrition, foot position, weak muscles and bad habits, like sitting with your shoulders hunched forward or walking slouched over also cause bad posture.
Why does bad posture effect your performance while playing sports?
To understand how bad posture effects your performance, you first need to understand what happens to your body when it is in an abnormal position.
Bad posture causes some muscles to become tight and short, and other muscles to become long and weak, this results in the misalignment of your skeletal system. A misaligned skeletal system causes weight to be improperly distributed around the body; so that joints which are not meant to bear a significant amount of weight now have to compensate for improper posture.
This can have a detrimental effect when playing sport. Playing sport with persistent symptoms of bad posture can be painful and there is a high risk of injury due to improper weight distribution around the body.

How can bad posture be improved?

In a lot of cases bad posture can be improved simply by correcting bad habits; keep your body aligned when sitting or standing or, when sitting for a long time get up, stretch and move around every half hour or so. Other cases require specific exercises to correct body position.
To increase the mobility of your upper back, lie down and place a foam roller in the middle of your back perpendicular to your spine. Roll backwards and bend your upper back over the roller, do this five times daily.
To strengthen weak muscles in your back lie face down with your arms at your sides and palms on the floor. Keeping your chin down, slowly lift your feet, chest and arms off the floor as high as you can without hurting yourself. Hold this position for five seconds and repeat ten times.
To stretch and relax the muscles in your chest, stand with your forearms on either side of a door way, your elbows should be bent at ninety degrees. Slowly lean forward until you feel your chest muscles start to stretch. Hold this position for thirty seconds. Do this three of these and repeat four times daily.
Ergonomics is the study of how humans’ best interact in a specific environment. Is has gone a long way to help reduce the symptoms of bad posture by helping scientists redesign every day items that generally that cause bad posture, such as office chairs. The best office chair would be ab ergonomically designed chair that maintains the correct curvature of your spine, even when sitting for a long time.
Improving your posture goes hand in hand with improving your sports performance. With the correct skeletal alignment, your body is able to perform sport related activities efficiently with minimal risk of injury.

by Emelda Dudenhoeffer

Building your leg muscles.

leg muscle
Building leg muscle is often overlooked by amateur body builders, who focus mostly on their upper bodies. Building your upper body and not paying attention to your leg muscles will leave you looking un-proportioned, with a big chest and arms and small, thin legs. Apart from getting your body to look good, building your leg muscle plays a huge part in your bodies overall muscle development.
When recovering from a workout your body excretes growth hormones, which stimulate muscle growth. Some of the biggest muscles are found in your legs. So naturally, when exercising your legs, your body secretes more growth hormones than when exercising the smaller muscles of your upper body, thus stimulating more overall muscle growth.
Another reason to give your legs a proper work out is that your body always tries to regulate imbalances. If you concentrate only on upper body muscles, there will come a time when your body will recognize the muscular imbalance between your upper and lower body, and will prevent you from gaining any more upper body muscle mass until the imbalance is corrected.
Great leg exercises to improve muscle.
Squats are without a doubt one of the best exercises you can do to build leg muscle. They are not only good for your legs but contribute to upper body and core strength.
Some amateur bodybuilders complain that squats injure their knees and back. If done right squats shouldn’t have any adverse effects on your body.
Here is how to do a proper squat.
Stand with your feet a little wider than hip width apart. Point your toes slightly outwards. When bending down your back should be straight and your knees shouldn’t extend further than your toes. Keep bending until your thighs are at least parallel with the floor, the further you go down, the more you work your legs.
If you are new to body building or have neglected your legs when working out, doing a few squats, even with no added weight, will get your blood pumping.
recumbent bikes
Recumbent bikes are another great way to build your leg muscle. Not only do they help to build and strengthen your legs, they also provide an excellent cardio vascular workout.
Thousands of recumbent bike reviews show that recumbent bikes are quickly gaining popularity, especially in the weight loss category. Their advantages over traditional bikes are numerous.
Recumbent bikes are safer than traditional bikes. They are lower to the ground so if you fall, you won’t fall as far or the ground as hard. Also, because of the ‘feet first’ orientation of the recumbent bike it is nearly impossible to get pitched head first over the handle bars, drastically reducing the chance of head injuries.
The seating position of recumbent bikes greatly reduces the strain on your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and back. Virtually eliminating any risk of long term joint or back problems.
Another great advantage of recumbent bikes are that the rider’s legs are roughly the same height as their hart and they are not bent over. This improves circulation and makes breathing easier, leading to greater endurance and power output, meaning the rider can train harder, for longer.
Bear in mind that whenever you exercise or workout any part of your body, it is important to always warm up and not to overwork yourself. The consequences of which could be long term joint and muscle problems or even traumatic injury.

by Emelda Dudenhoeffer

The effect of music on our mental health.

Music has been an integral part of almost every culture and civilization for millennia. Music can have a profound effect on a person’s thoughts, mood and feelings. It has also been clinically proven to help manage stress and improve communication. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to someone for whom music forms part of their daily life.
Music has the potential to improve our everyday lives. From increasing motivation and performance while working out, to improving sleep quality. It can also help with mental issues like relieving stress and improving cognitive performance.
There is mounting evidence that shows music theory helps to ease the symptoms of depression and other conditions such as ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. There are five main aspects to music therapy.
Lyric analysis can help people to identify their emotions.
Song writing creates an opportunity for people to express thoughts and emotions.
Listening and taking in music also helps people to identify and express their emotions.
Improvisation is when a person expresses them self through any musical or nonmusical means.
Playing instruments can give people who have trouble expressing themselves, a satisfying way to communicate their emotions.
Making music is pleasurable, and in a lot of cases social. The words of any language are limited and there is a growing belief that music helps people connect in ways that words do not.
Music can ease the suffering of a patient with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These patients become progressively frightened, agitated, confused and introverted as the disease advances. Music helps patients make associations with their past, often invoking happy, pleasurable memories.
How does music cut straight to our core and influence the very nature of who we are? How does music break through the most robust personality and bring about drastic emotional and behavioral changes? And perhaps most importantly, why does music make you happy?
Although why music has such a profound effect on us is not yet fully understood, neuroscientists are starting to make in-roads into what happens in our brains when we here music we like. Researchers have found that when listening to enjoyable music, our brains release a neurotransmitter called dopamine into the body. Dopamine is responsible for relaying ‘pleasure signals’ around the body.
Dopamine is also associated with your brains reward system. Your brain rewards you with feel-good sensations in return for performing live supporting actions such as eating. It also rewards you for attaining other tangibles like money, which your brain associates with the well-being of your life.
Simply put, because listening to music you enjoy has positive effects on many areas of your life, your brain associates good music with your well-being and will reward you for listening to it by releasing dopamine, thereby making you feel good.
Without a doubt, music is one of the best, yet little known ways to improve your mental health. Studies have shown that music therapy is in some cases more effective than medication for relieving the symptoms of patients with psychological difficulties. It also goes a long way to making our lives more enjoyable. Studies have also shown that playing music helps to relive stress and anxiety. So get out your best acoustic guitar and have some fun. You can only benefit from it.

by Emelda Dudenhoeffer

The Importance of Fitness for Baseball Players

The physical demands of baseball are specific to the sport, it is explosive and fast paced and requires rapid bursts of energy and quick movements. To have any chance of professional success it is important to maintain a good all round fitness level. There are several aspects of fitness that players must pay particular attention to.
Aerobic fitness enhances the body’s ability to supply oxygen to the muscles during strenuous activity and is vital to help reduce fatigue when playing for long periods, often in hot, sunny conditions. Flexibility ensures that all major joints and the spine have a full range of motion and is important as it enables a greater range of movement of ¬and will help to prevent injury. Good core strength ensures that all the major muscles and their surrounding stabilizing muscles are ready to react at any time and also helps to minimize the risk of injury. Power is also very important because it determines a players speed and agility. A player must be able to move between bases as quickly as possible and must be agile so as to react quickly and easily.
While injuries are a part of any sport it is imperative that players reduce the risk of injury by maintaining fitness levels. Being injured is not only painful but it affects the player’s ability to be beneficial to their team. A severe injury can result in being sidelined for a season or even end a career.
There are two types of injuries: traumatic and cumulative. Traumatic injuries are sudden and happen with little or no warning. Example: a sprained ankle or getting hit in the head by a ball. Traumatic injuries are hard to avoid but the risk can be reduced if the player is powerful and agile – dodging a ball seen at the last moment or jumping over a ditch in the pitch. Cumulative injuries happen over time and are caused by repetitive strain on body tissues. The risk of cumulative injuries can be greatly minimized by proper fitness training and maintaining core strength.
An often overlooked part of fitness is mental fitness. The psychological stress of any player performing at an elite level can be just as intense as physical stress.
Professional players are always under pressure to perform well, but certain situations could add extra stress. Winning the game, or even the baseball season, could depend on hitting a home run or striking out the hitter. There might be a sponsor or scout who is watching from the audience who the player is eager to impress. Those are just a few basic examples, there are many factors that cause psychological stress. Being mentally fit is to be able to stay motivated, stay confident, stay concentrated, and perform well despite psychological stress. This can be tough and it takes time and training to reach the level of mental fitness required.
Fitness, in all its forms, is perhaps the most important trait for professional sportsmen and women and is imperative to any baseball player wanting to take themselves seriously.