Movement Tips for Health & Performance
Our quality and quantity of movement is a vital sign for general health. The more we develop our physical bodies, the more we fortify all aspects of our health and performance.
Movement and Exercise
Strength training: 2-4x per week focusing on fundamental movements, progressive overload and consistency. The following movement patterns should be included in a well-rounded training program:
– Squat & hinge movements (double leg and single leg)
– Push (horizontal/vertical), pull (horizontal/vertical) and single arm movements
– Loaded carries and locomotion
Cardiovascular training: 2-4x per week. A well balanced plan could include any of the following: walking, running, biking, martial arts, swimming, rowing, etc.
Movement variability: Tension and rigid systems in our body are linked to disease and pain. Movement is no different. Developing full range of motion and control within these ranges is helpful. Ideally, a well-rounded strength program should fulfill these requirements, however yoga or pilates can also be good options. Although stretching and “mobility” exercises may allow for more movement, creating new ways to compensate for more range of motion may not necessarily be the most effective long term solution. If you’re in pain, get this addressed by a performance physical therapist.
Non-Exercise Physical Activity
Strategies to move more: Walking or biking rather than taking the car, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, housework and gardening are all helpful strategies.
Alternatives to prolonged sitting: The next position is the best position. Going from sitting all day to standing all day will likely do nothing for your back pain, however adopting a variety of different postures and positions likely will. Adjustable standing desks and exercise balls are great for promoting movement.
Sleep Tips for Health & Performance:
Sleep quality and quantity will impact our ability to heal and repair. Additionally, poor sleep habits can reduce our pain threshold and lead to a less resilient system. We’ve broken the following down into environmental factors and daily practices/routines:
– Quiet room: Minimize outside noise if possible. Otherwise ear plugs, noise-cancelling headphones, white-noise apps or a fan can help.
– Dark room: Try to create a pitch black environment when going to bed. You can try using a sleep mask and/or black-out shades.
– Cool room: Research shows a correlation between an elevated body temperature and insomnia. Strategies you can use to are taking a cool shower before bed, lowering the room temperature or using a fan.
– Set a sleep schedule: Attempt to go to bed and wake up at around the same time every day. In terms of how long to sleep, shoot for 5-6 sleep cycles (sleep cycle = 90 minutes) or 7.5-9 hours.
– Minimize stimulants and depressants: Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol should ideally be avoided 4-6 hours prior to sleep as they can have a negative impact on your sleep quality.
– Exercise: Daily exercise can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality. If possible, try to minimize high intensity exercise in the evening so the body can wind down prior to sleep.
– Screen time: Minimize screen time 30-60 minutes prior to bed as the blue light from our screens suppresses melatonin production. You can also use blue light glasses if necessary.
– Brain dump: A recent personal favorite of mine. Get all of your thoughts on paper so you can have a clear mind once you’re ready for bed.
– Stretch/foam roll: Pair either or these with some deep breathing or breath work to tap into that “rest and digest” nervous system to allow the body to find a state of ease before bed.
Nutrition Tips for Health & Performance:
The quality and quantity of food that we eat share a close relationship to our physical and mental health. Diet can also be relevant for physical pain and tissue healing, especially when we are consuming foods that our body doesn’t agree with.
– Diet types: There are a whole bunch of diets that work, but there’s no one diet that works for everyone. Which is why an individual nutrition plan is best. Factors to consider are genetics, food intolerances, allergens, likes, dislikes and accessibility to food. Consider consulting with a nutrition professional for further guidance.
– Whole food diet: Eat natural foods that are nutrient dense. This includes: healthy grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, proteins, nuts/seeds, and beans. Try to minimize processed or refined foods that have added colors, flavor enhancers or preservatives.
Supplements for Health & Performance
Don’t over rely on supplementation to get your nutrients, rather focus on eating nutrient dense foods. However, there a few exceptions that may be worth considering:
– Multivitamin: A high quality multivitamin can be used to help restore any deficiencies throughout the day.
– Fish oil: For healthy fats.
– Vitamin D: If you don’t have regular sun exposure.
– Vitamin B12: This may be necessary if you’re on a plant based diet.
With all the sports performance supplements on the market, it can be hard to know which ones are going to work best for you. However, only a few have actually been shown to be effective. The following supplements have consistently shown benefits for power and repeated efforts:
– Creatine monohydrate
– Beta alanine
Conclusion – Strategies for Success:
Be the turtle, not the hare. Slow and steady changes are more realistic and sustainable.
Here are two strategies you can use to help you implement these changes and get closer to maximizing your 3 pillars of health:
– S.M.A.R.T. goals: We need to define what success looks like before we achieve it. Creating SMART goals is a great starting point if we intend to change behavior.
– Create an environment for success: It’s much easier to create these lifestyle and behavior changes if those in our living environment are supportive and live in a similar way.
We hope this has been helpful! Time to start making some changes!
If you’re dealing with movement restrictions, injuries, pain, or simply want to start feeling, moving and performing better – reach out to the top Performance Physical Therapists in town! We’re here for ya!