I am a personal trainer and a coach, and fitness is my passion. This is an enormous field of knowledge and new and interesting developments are continuously being found in the science of fitness and all matters related to fitness. I spend a lot of time reading and researching and I have decided to try and share some of the more interesting things I find with you. 

1. Neuroplasticity
2. Stress Incontinence
3. Frozen Shoulder Syndrome

1. NEUROPLASTICITY It is all in your head. Literally! Have you heard of neural pathways and neuroplasticity?

Scientists have discovered that our thoughts can actually change the physical structure of our brain. This phenomenon is called neuroplasticity.

As we go through life learning and experiencing new things, our brain is constantly arranging and rearranging the neural pathways that control how we think and behave.

The best part is, we can direct our thoughts in a way that consciously modifies these path ways for ourselves.In other words – you can re-program your brain through the creation of new neural pathways. This could be what is meant by this latest trend of “manifestation”. You literally can influence your reality through how you choose to perceive it. 

The frontal lobe, particularly the prefrontal cortex, decides the amount of attention to pay to something based on its importance and how you feel about it.

Every thought releases some type of chemical. When positive thoughts are generated, cortisol decreases and the brain produces serotonin, creating a feeling of well-being. When serotonin levels are normal, one feels happy, calmer, less anxious, more focused and more emotionally stable. The opposite is true – negative thoughts will increase cortisol levels and create feelings of stress and anxiety. 

The more you focus on negativity, the more synapses and neurons you brain will create that support your negative thought process. Negative thoughts slow down the brain’s ability to function and it impedes cognition.

The more you focus on positive thoughts, the more there is brain growth through the reinforcement and generation of new synapses supporting positivity. The prefrontal cortex allows you to reflect and think about what you are doing at the time, and allows you to control your emotions through your deep limbic brain. Since it allows you to focus, it also gives you time for meta-cognition (being aware of one’s own thought processes). According to scientists, positivity can also result in enhanced mental functions such as creative thinking, cognitive flexibility, and even faster processing.

Can you see why it is important to master your self talk and try to steer it to positive, empowering dialogue?

2. STRESS INCONTINENCE

Stress incontinence happens when physical movement or activity — such as coughing, laughing, sneezing, running or heavy lifting — puts pressure (stress) on your bladder, causing you to leak urine. Stress incontinence is not related to psychological stress. This often starts happening around midlife and is most prevalent in women. This condition is often accepted as “one of those things that are normal with aging and not discussed.”While many medical professionals will direct someone suffering from stress incontinence to surgery, the problem can often be found in the pelvic floor or core muscles, and can often be rectified with exercise. 

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that form a hammock across the opening of the pelvis and support all lower organs. When pelvic muscles or tissue weaken—from pregnancy, vaginal childbirth, radiation treatment, pelvic surgery, obesity, menopause, etc.—they can no longer support your organs and may ultimately lead to a pelvic floor disorder. One of the most common pelvic floor disorders is urinary stress incontinence.

This is where your core strength comes into the equation. The pelvic floor plays a significant role in your body’s core. It contracts simultaneously with the deep muscles of your back and abdomen to provide strength, support, and stability to your spine and organs whenever you move. Strengthening the core can reduce or eliminate urinary incontinence by restoring support to the pelvic organs and helping to control against leakage.

If you suffer from stress incontinence, you can try to retrain and strengthen the pelvic floor by doing the following exercises:

Retraining Your Core
Lie flat on your back or sit straight up.

1. Contract pelvic floor:
• Place 1-2 fingers on your abdomen, just 1-2 inches inside of your hip bones.
• Imagine you are trying to stop your urine flow; contract as if trying to stop from passing gas.
• If done correctly, you will feel a slight contraction.

2. Add the transversus abdominis (lower stomach muscles):
• Contract pelvic floor as above and keep pelvic muscle relaxed.
• Breathe in and breathe out.
• As you breathe out, slowly draw in the lower abdomen to draw your navel up and in towards your spine.
• Imagine you are putting on a tight pair of pants; hold for 3-5 seconds while continuing to breathe.
• If done correctly, you will feel gentle tension deep in the abdomen.

Strengthening Your Core
1.Once you can successfully perform the core contraction, try it in other positions such as sitting, standing, or bending.

2.When you can contract it easily, try the following:

a. Lying on your back with knees and hips flexed, slowly drop open the right knee to your right. Keep your back and pelvis level. Return to center and repeat on the left.

b. Lying on your back with knees and hips flexed, slide the right foot along the floor, straightening the knee. Slide the foot back towards the buttock and repeat with the left.

c. Lying on your back with knees and hips flexed, slowly lift the right foot off the floor about 6 inches, keeping the knee bent. Bring it back down. Repeat on the left side.

3. Try to incorporate this core contraction into everyday activities, when moving in and out of a chair or bed, lifting something, or bending.

Also, do discuss the stress incontinence with your gynecologist or urologist to get a full picture of all the options available to you. Staying quietly incontinent is not your only option.

Signing up with a personal trainer can help a lot in strengthening your core. if you would like to see some of my coaching options, the costs and options are listed at www.silverfoxfit.co.za

 

3) FROZEN SHOULDER SYNDROME 

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a  somewhat mysterious condition characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint. Signs and symptoms typically begin gradually, worsen over time and then resolve, usually within one to three years.

Women in their 40s and 50s are at a higher risk to get frozen shoulder. Many women have reported cases of frozen shoulder that coincided with perimenopause, menopause or the start or end of hormone replacement therapy.Some doctors believe frozen shoulder may be caused by a drop in hormones, like progesterone, or rooted in other hormonal imbalances. There has even been a link between grief and associated postural changes and frozen shoulder. Diabetes sufferers are also prone to contracting this painful condition. 

Medical experts refer to frozen shoulder as a “self-limiting” condition, meaning it will eventually go away on its own. However, people with frozen shoulder may not regain their full range of motion. They may also notice that their affected shoulder still pops up a little higher than the other shoulder when they raise their arms over their head.


How to know if you have “frozen shoulder syndrome”:

Your shoulder stiffens, your range of motion is limited, and even day-to-day activities, like reaching for a coffee mug, can be painful. Frozen shoulder can be hard to diagnose, since it’s generally identified by process of elimination (determining what it’s not, like a rotator cuff injury). It could feel like arthritis, but  it’s not arthritis, and because frozen shoulder is progressive, the sooner you catch it, the less you’ll suffer and the better the long-term prognosis.

How to treat Frozen Shoulder:

Medications: You can contact your doctor for corticosteroid injections into the shoulder joint.   

Exercises: The consensus is that the joint should be moved, but painful movement should be limited. If you are suffering from frozen shoulder and you would like to try some stretch exercises that are designed to support and enhance shoulder mobility in a pain free range of motion, contact me on email: elsabe@fitstrongsa.com or WhatsApp 082 656 2711 or alternatively, book a visit to a biokineticist or physio-therapist near you.
 

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