Strengthening the shoulders properly can be tricky. What most people do not realize is that you really need to have proper spinal alignment while trying to isolate the shoulder muscles. One great way to do it is to include a half foam roller as pictured below. Keeping your sacrum, middle back (between your shoulder blades), while your head remains in contact with the foam roller helps you maintain proper alignment.
1. Half Foam Roll Front Raises: Standing against a wall with the foam roller behind you, keep your arms to the side and raise with your thumbs up to shoulder height. Do 3 sets of 8-15 reps.
2. Half Foam Lateral Raise: Standing with your feet shoulder width apart and with your arms down to your side, raise your arms with palms down out to the side up to shoulder height. Do 3 sets of 8-15 reps.
3. Scapular Retractions: Using the lat pulldown bar, keeping the arms straight, retract and depress the shoulder blades creating a down and in motion. Keep your arms straight on this one. It's a very small movement! Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
4. Dumbbell Reverse Fly: Starting on an incline bench, arms will hang down and then squeeze the shoulder blades together so you're in a T position. Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
Thoughts From My First Triathlon
Laughing as I saw someone riding a Divvy bike in the race
Most of you know I competed in my first sprint triathlon in August. Up until then, one of my biggest fears was swimming in open water. I never really learned how to swim as a kid because I was always playing tennis during the summers. So committing to a triathlon was a great way to overcome my fear while giving myself a deadline.
What was my biggest faux pas? Me thinking, "No problem, I run almost everyday." That's what I said before the race. Mark my words...I will never do another triathlon again without practicing the bike to run transition! Why? Because my legs felt like Jello after biking 17 mph for 12 miles. What I thought would be the easiest part of the race quickly became my biggest hurdle.
So am I happy I did it? Of course! My nerves on race day started out a little rocky, followed by a minor bike wipeout on the way there. I thought things can only get better and they did! Next year I'm doing the international distance if anyone wants to join me :)
A huge thanks to everyone that supported me, the clients (Coleen and John) that woke up at the crack of dawn to come see me, and my friend Dave who calmed me down before the swim!
Overuse Injuries: Global vs Local
With all of the half marathons, marathons, and triathlons over the summer, overuse injuries are a common obstacle for many athletes. The most frequent injuries are lower back pain, knee pain and Achilles tendonitis. For many injured athletes, the question is where is the problem in the body? Does the real muscle weakness exist locally where the pain is?
The answer is typically no, which is part of the reason so many athletes have a longer rehabilitation. Chasing the pain does not necessarily mean you will get to the root of the problem. Our bodies are so efficient that over time we develop compensatory patterns to achieve full function and range of motion. Athletes tend to be the best at compensation because they operate at higher performance levels than the average person.
Here are some considerations for common injuries:
IT Band Syndrome: Typically results in knee pain. The feeling of a "tight" IT band may be a weakness in the TFL (hip flexor) or gluteus maximus. Abdominal weakness causing a shift in the pelvis can could also be a contributing factor.
Achilles Tendonitis: Pain is usually local at the back of the heel. Potential causes could be weak hip extensors creating a feeling of tight hip flexors or even weak abdominals with tightness in the hamstrings.
One of the top fitness trainers in Chicago for ten-plus years. With eight years of personal training and management experience at one of the Gold Coast’s most exclusive clubs, Stephanie started her own business in 2004. She moved to the city in 1993 to attend DePaul University on a tennis scholarship and graduated in 1997 with degrees in Fitness Management and Athletic Training. During her years at DePaul, she was on the Great Midwest All Conference Team, DePaul Athletic Board, Conference USA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Captain of the Women’s Tennis Team for two years.
Starting at a young age playing competitive tennis, health and fitness have always played a significant role in Stephanie’s life. Her goal with each client is to provide guidance to a healthy and active lifestyle... and when they are committed to feeling fit and staying fit, she knows she's acheived success.
Stephanie has worked with both professional athletes and the general public, focusing on such things as: sports-specific training, sports rehabilitation, Muscle Activation Techniques, bridal fitness, pre/post partum training, weight loss, marathon training, scoliosis and arthritis.
Ski Slide (or side shuffles) for 45 sec. to 1 min. Plank Ups on slide board or climbers (10-20 reps) Front Raise with yellow or green band (12-15 reps) Reverse Fly prone on stability ball (12-15 reps)
Forward Walking Lunge with 1 Arm Shoulder Press (30 reps total/15 each side) Low to Hi Cable Rotation (12 reps each side) Lower Abdominal Twists (15-20 reps each side) Overhead Rope Tricep Extensions on Stability Ball (12-15 reps) Tricep Pushdowns w/ Bar (12-15 reps)
Push Ups on Bosu (10-15 reps) Reverse Crunches on Ground (15-25 reps) Medicine Ball Stretch Back Crunches on Stability Ball (15-25 reps) Side Plank Holds (20-45 sec. each side)
Repeat each circuit 3 times
Alternating Arm Cable Chest Press (30 reps total) Oblique Crunches on Bosu (20-30 reps) Reverse Lunge/One Arm Shoulder Press Balance (12-15 reps each side) Jump Rope (1 min) Reverse Grip Lat Pulldown (12-15 reps) Seated Leg Curl (12-15 reps) Single Arm Bent Over Row on 1 leg (12 reps each side) Seated Adductor Machine (12-15 reps) Bicycle Abs with Upper Body Twist (20-30 reps) Prone Glute Extensions on Ball or floor (15 reps each side)
Repeat 3 times
Single Leg Squat Shoulder Press (12-15 reps each side) V-ups (15-20 reps) Side Walks w/ Circle Band (15 walks each side) Rope or Wide Grip Cable Row (12-15 reps) Step Ups (45-60 secs.) Side Planks w/ Hip Lift (12-15 each side) Incline Dumbell Chest Press (12-15 reps) Alternating Forward/Side Lunges (8-10 reps each side) Lower Abs Scissors (20-30 reps) Single Arm Rope Tricep Extension (12-15 reps each side) Cable Bicep Curls with Bar (12-15 reps) Squat or Box Jumps (12 reps)
Repeat 3 times
Alternating Cable Chest Press (12-15 reps) Bent Over Dumbell Row (12-15 reps) Plie Squats (15 reps) Decline Crunches on the Bosu (20-25 reps) One Arm Lateral Raise on One Leg (or balance on 1/2 foam, 12 reps) Lunge Jumps (16 reps) Side Bends on Ball or machine (15 reps each side) Lat Pulldown on Ball (12-15 reps) Dumbell Tricep Kickbacks (12-15 reps) Lateral Jumps touching cones or ground (20 reps) Bicep Curl with One Arm Hold (12 reps each side)
Repeat 3 times
Single Arm Chest Press on the Ball (10-15 reps) Alternating Oblique Crunches on Ball (20-30 reps) Single Leg Squats touching ground (10-15 reps each side) Pull-ups (10-15 reps) Cable Low Row (10-15 reps) Jump Rope (1 minute) Alternating Reverse Lunges w/ Bicep Curl (20-30 reps) Push-ups (12-15 reps) Prone Leg Curl (10-15 reps) Single Leg Press (10-15 reps)