Stand Tall: Corrective Exercise for Your Upper Body

by Cary Raffle

One of my clients called it "The Wall Street Roll." You know the look, shoulders roll forward, they may seem shrugged, in some cases the head is forward and the back of the hands face forward instead of towards the side of the body.

Some of this may be inherited, but most of it comes from sitting hunched over a keyboard all day. Your shoulders get pulled around in front of you and they just don't go back to where they belong. Down the road, you might experience pain or injury as a result. Common problems include rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis and even headaches. At a minimum, you're not really working the right muscles when you train in poor postural alignment.

The corrective exercise strategy for this posture in pretty straightforward: stretching the muscles that pull the shoulders forward and strengthen the muscles that pull them back. Click here to link to a mini program that you can incorporate into your exercise routine. It is very important to use proper form with these exercises, so please pay careful attention to the notes in the program and let me know if you need some help with them or want a more in depth and personalized program.

Stay away from exercises that are going to make this worse. Earlier editions of this newsletter have covered the "ban" on behind the neck pulldowns, upright rows and behind the neck shoulder presses. Do these exercises over time, and you can kiss your rotator cuff goodbye. You generally also want to avoid incline chest press, front and side raises and overhead shoulder press, depending on the severity of the posture. In some cases, biceps curls - especially hammer curls - can cause pain if the biceps tendon is inflamed where it attaches to the shoulder. If you missed this report or want a refresher, scroll down.

Cary Answers 5 Nutrition Questions

Here they are, based on what I've seen and heard from clients and members over the past few weeks. Names are not named to protect the innocent.

When Should I Eat?
Always eat breakfast. Whether you're trying to lose weight or gain muscle, it is the most important meal of the day. Your body is starving and will look to your muscles and internal organs for energy, so you can't lose fat or gain muscle.
Have a big meal 3-4 hours before working out, a snack about 60-90 minutes before. You can't workout as hard or as long without nutrition.
Don't eat or drink supplements while you're working out. It takes energy away from your muscles and sends it to your stomach to digest what you're eating.
Eat a snack or light meal within about an hour after exercising to replenish the lost energy and help your muscles begin to repair and rebuild.
What about fluid intake?
Have about 2 cups of fluid in the 2 hours before exercising, about a quart during an hour of exercise, and a cup 30 minutes after.
Drink two cups of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise.
Water is the beverage of choice when the exercise or athletic event lasts less than an hour; when it lasts longer, beverages with carbohydrates and electrolytes are beneficial (such as Gatorade). But make sure that you've tried these before the day of the big race or game because they don't agree with everyone.
How many calories do I need?
For men and non-pregnant women: Recreational Athletes need about 15-17 calories per pound; Endurance athletes range from 16-23+ calories per pound; Strength athletes need up to 28 calories per pound. To lose weight, reduce daily calories by about 500 and you'll drop about a pound a week.
For a calculator that lets you plug in you actual activities and food intake and create a personalized plan, visit www.mypyramid.gov.
How much protein do I need?
For endurance training, 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight; for strength training, up to 1.7 grams per pound. Consuming more protein is not beneficial and may be harmful. (According to the American College of Sports Medicine, American Dietetic Association and Dieticians of Canada joint position stand).
What's the best supplement?
If you are already getting enough nutrition from your current diet, you don't need a supplement. If you are getting enough protein from real food and add a supplement, you could be adding unnecessary calories. The question should be what nutrients do I need and what is the best way of getting them. (Usually that's real food). Want a great fat burner and muscle igniter? Have a cup of coffee or green tea for the caffeine.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so if you had eggs for breakfast and a turkey sandwich for lunch you've already had plenty of amino acids.
Creatine has been shown to have some beneficial effects in short term strength, but the FDA recommends checking with your doctor and not exceeding recommended dosages.

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