nashua personal trainer

The importance of stretching

You’ve likely heard that it is important to stretch. So, before a workout you stretch for what seems like a sufficient amount of time by performing two or three random leg stretches for anywhere between 3 to 14.5 seconds and then start your workout.

Well, to ensure the maximum benefit of your stretching it might be worthwhile for me to share more on the “why” you need to stretch and strengthen appropriate muscles to keep yourself moving properly and in balance.

Here we go...

Stretching is for everyone. Why? Because repetitive movements create tight muscles. Whether you are a conditioned athlete, or an accountant, you need to stretch. When a conditioned athlete is bench pressing, he is tightening his chest muscles. When an accountant is typing on his/her computer all day, shoulders rolled forward, he/she is tightening their chest/trapezius muscles. Both of which can ultimately lead to upper cross syndrome.

You know that little old man or lady with a hunchback? They’re an example of someone with an extreme case of upper cross syndrome.

Why is upper cross syndrome harmful?

Upper cross syndrome can cause:

  • Shoulder impingement
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Inflammation of bursa (fluid filled sack that counters friction in the shoulder joint)
  • Arthritis in the shoulder joint

So, if you’re already exercising, it can lead to shoulder injury. If you haven’t started exercising, once you realize you’re developing diseases due to obesity, or simply living a sedentary lifestyle, you may very well be stopped in your tracks by a shoulder issue.

You can avoid this through proper stretching.

What should you stretch?

Chest muscles: Place your elbow on a door frame, slightly above 90 degrees and externally rotate your shoulder (open chest). Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the opposite shoulder.

Trapezius muscle: Interlock your fingers behind your back, palm to palm. Now slightly tilt your head to one side and pull the arm opposite the side your head is tilted down. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat in the opposite direction.

What should you strengthen?

  • Rhomboids (the muscles between shoulder blades)

  • Low/mid trapezius (the muscles that lower the shoulder blades)

  • Rear delts (the muscles on the back of your shoulders)

Now, back to the conditioned athlete and the accountant. Shoulders aren’t the only thing to worry about. Lifting improperly will usually lead to tight hips and quads, as will sitting at a desk all day with your hip flexors in a shortened position. Both can lead to lower cross syndrome.

Have you seen someone walking around with their butt out and lower back arched? That’s an extreme case of lower cross syndrome.

Why is lower cross syndrome harmful?

Lower cross syndrome can cause

  • Lower back problems

  • Excessive quad use, and resulting knee pain

  • Arthritis of the knees and hips

As stated in the section on upper cross syndrome, if you are a conditioned athlete working hard and not stretching it can cause you to strain your back, knees or hips. If you’re an accountant sitting at your desk all day, when you finally decide to workout you may feel lower back, or knee pain.

So what should you stretch?

Hip flexors: Place one knee on the ground and keep the other at a 90 degree angle. Now flex the glute (your butt) on the same side as the knee that is down. Also make sure your core is tight and you’re not arching your back. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Quads: While standing, bend at the knee and grab your leg behind you. Try flexing your hamstring and glute on the leg you’re stretching while keeping your core tight. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the opposite leg.

What should you strengthen?

  • Glutes

  • Core (Torso/abdominal muscles)

  • Posterior chain (the muscles on the backside of your body, neck to heal, responsible for proper stability and hip extension during a bend in lift)

Now that you know some specific reasons to stretch, go ahead and give these exercises a try!

And, if you’d like to learn exercises for strengthening the opposing muscles listed, come on in for a free / complimentary workout and I will show you the right ones for you! :)

And that’s, fitness by design

What To Look For In A Personal Trainer

Performing as a fitness professional for a number of years, with dozens of clients, I’ve witnessed some questionable practices by gyms and personal trainers. To be fair, I have also met a lot of great trainers. However, when considering a personal trainer, it can be tricky to identify the great from the under-qualified.

Here are some criteria to look for in selecting a qualified personal trainer.

Does the trainer you’re about to give your hard-earned money to, look like they workout?

Does your potential trainer preach that he/she can get you into the shape of your life while rocking a beer gut, hunched shoulders and clearly demonstrates a lack of energy?

One thing you might ask yourself is: “If this trainer has all the answers to get me into the shape of my life, why do they look like they just rolled out of bed, ate a donut and handed me a pen to sign-up for their obviously flawed fitness program?

Criteria: Make sure your potential trainer walks the walk and is a living, breathing example of what their fitness program can do for you.

What degrees, certifications and life experience does your potential trainer posses?

Here is a common scenario...First, you will meet with a bubbly fitness manager (a.k.a. Salesperson) with AMAZING credentials who will psych you up to sign a contract for their FLAWLESS fitness program. Afterwards, they will hand you off to some average Joe or Josephine, who has a cereal box personal training certification. The bubbly fitness manager is now off to close on their next sales lead and sign up the next prospect.

Next, when that cereal box certified trainer is losing his/her clients, he/she will quit, leaving YOU with the task of trying to find another trainer within that facility, with little to no help from the bubbly fitness manager (I mean Salesperson).

Criteria: Avoid the bait and switch by making sure the person with the credentials is the one who will be training you. Don’t waist your time and money on a trainer who hasn’t earned a degree in some sort of exercise science, sports medicine or exercise physiology program of study, on top of their certification.

Does the trainer assess your current fitness level?

The first time you meet with your personal trainer they should bring you through some sort of movement screening and basic questionnaire to see how you move, if you’re prone to injury or have any health-related considerations they should be aware of.

They should then work with you to manage any imbalances and make sure you’re moving correctly without pain or discomfort before they begin to advance you.

I’ve heard clients telling their trainer: “This hurts my knees.”, and the trainer responds, and I quote, “mhmm just keep going.”

Criteria: Make sure the trainer performs a fitness assessment and fine tunes your program when needed and is responsive to any indications of pain and discomfort.

Does your potential trainer have a one-size fits all training program?

Yes, it makes sense in the initial stages of a fitness program to perform similar routines, so the trainer can get a sense of where to progress or regress a client in certain areas. But, in the case above, if the client’s knees hurt while stepping forward, in a lunge motion, the trainer should have their trainee step backwards, instead, so they can properly load their glute and remove the shear force on their knee.

Criteria: Make sure your potential trainer doesn’t have a one-size fits all program.

Does the personal trainer have client references and testimonials?

Sure, a trainer can have the look, credentials, an assessment process and flexible training programs. But, can they connect you with reference clients who you can speak with and/or provide positive testimonials sharing how they've helped numerous people achieve their fitness goals?

Criteria: Make sure your potential trainer has clientele (like you) who can share positive feedback about their training experience, such as what you'll find on my testimonials page.

In closing…

To avoid potential waists of time and money, and achieve your fitness goals, consider hiring a highly qualified independent personal trainer. Why? They are likely more experienced, thorough in their approach and able to help you meet your fitness goals while avoiding injury.

In addition to being with you every step of the way, they are more cost effective. That is, the fees to engage an independent personal trainer don’t include the overhead costs you will incur with a personal trainer operating within a membership gym environment.

Who doesn’t want to save money for a better experience?

I hope this post helps you confidently maneuver the fitness industry to find a personal trainer who fits your needs and who will be with you every step of the way towards achieving your fitness goals!

And that’s Fitness By Design