Archive for May, 2009

By Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.

Overuse injuries, although they often seem quite straight forward, can be, in fact, quite complicated in that they are often caused by a combination of factors that vary widely from person to person. So, whether you are a weekend jogger and spend your work days at a desk or a bench or you are an elite, daily training, competitive athlete, there are some ways you can safely navigate around and through the many risk factors that will threaten your continued mobility, fitness, good health and longevity in the short or the long run.

So, as you make choices about your exercise, how often, how intensely and at what activities, here are some things to think about:

Form and style:
Much athletic coaching and training concentrates on the details of movement. If you are fortunate to have been taught by a skilled and experienced athletic instructor as a young person in, say, junior high or high school, you will have learned all about how to run, how to breathe, how to pace yourself. Now, as you may be contemplating your athletic renaissance, remember all that good advice and put it to use.

If you are just now starting from scratch, find a trainer or an experienced mentor coach or friend to help you get it right.Very often a local club is a good place to start with club runs or rides among contemporaries. Keep your eyes and ears open for tips on how to move smoothly and efficiently. In running especially, economy of movement follows form and style very closely and will minimize early fatigue that will in turn help to forestall injury from inefficient form.

Frequency in balance
One of the earliest decisions you may have to make is how often you are going to challenge your body in the activity you select.Be aware that one of the most serious risks in the early stages of most quality exercise programs results from an early excess of enthusiasm. It doesn’t take long for the beginner jogger or cyclist or walker or weightlifter to start feeling the uplifting effects of physical activity. You will know it by the giddy feeling of exhilaration and invincibility that recent converts often demonstrate while in the “honeymoon phase.” It is typically a happy time, but, as rewarding as regular exercise can be, it is not without its hazards. So it pays to be aware that injury can sneak up on you. Your best defense is to listen to signals from your body and to schedule your program so that you allow an appropriate amount of time for recovery after every effort. For a normal workout that may be only a day or for something extraordinary like a marathon, it might require a month before you are back to a normal.

Learning curve:
In time you will accumulate knowledge about your own limits and what works for you and what doesn’t.Always be open to learning more – more about yourself and more about everything that bears on your well being from diet to rest, stretching to cross training. Although exercise is not like neurosurgery in its intellectual demands, it greatly benefits from a basic academic knowledge of anatomy, physiology, nutrition and any sports medicine you can absorb. These days extensive research information is widely available on the Internet.

Taking your time:
Look first at your carefully structured plan to become permanently more fit and strong in the longer term. Consider the stepping stones towards whatever goal you decide to aim for. It may simply be to remain upright and moving for the next twenty or forty years.If you are aiming for something more dramatic and shorter term, your accelerated schedule will demand more intensity as well as more discipline and caution. In terms of your daily activities, try to get in the habit of easing into your training mode of choice with deliberate restraint. One technique that you may soon discover on your own will increase your endurance significantly: Simply warm up slowly for twenty minutes to half an hour before starting any demanding activity.

Muscle balance:
Every experienced athlete knows that the exercised muscle inevitably becomes stronger, and the unexercised muscle does not. Accordingly a sport in which only a limited number of specific muscles are engaged may leave you with neglected, relatively weaker muscles.That difference between opposing muscles can easily result in an imbalance that often leads to acute muscle strains and other injuries that are entirely preventable by a regular, balanced strength training regimen. Maintaining a basic muscle balance is not difficult and does not necessarily involve an extraordinary time commitment. At the outset, however you may have to alter your habitual routine in order, for example, to begin a twice a week weight training program.

With the help of a trained exercise therapist or athletic trainer, you can create a sequence of exercises appropriately tailored to your own, specific needs and goals.

Become an adventurer; mix it up:
Once you are in the habit of training regularly, you can start experimenting with new ways to add variety to your exercise that will enhance your enjoyment. Increase your resistance to overuse related injuries and improve the efficiency of your form. This approach is often referred to as “cross training.” In concept, cross training is simplicity itself: you exercise your primary muscles and allow plenty of time between workouts to allow your muscles to recover and repair; but instead of taking a nap, you go workout at something entirely different. Of course cross trainers can wear down, become plagued by chronic fatigue, reduce their resistance to colds and other infections, but by spreading the stress around your own, more vulnerable trouble spots, you reduce the risk that any one will break down.

Outlook and simple pleasures:
Always keep in mind that whatever you do to attain and protect your health and fitness, it should be something that yields you intrinsic rewards.That is pleasure from the sheer pleasure of the experience. Never let that thought go.Everything else is gravy.

In Good Health
Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.
The Pressure Positive Company


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50th College Reunion

In my seventy first autumn I am here at the keyboard in the studio of the homestead where my family and I have dwelt and toiled for the past thirty two years, longer than we have lived anywhere else. The place has treated us well, and we have reciprocated. We have designed, preserved, rebuilt and modernized the 150-year-old stone farmhouse and outbuildings and reclaimed outside space from decades of overgrowth and neglect. Carpentry, block and stone masonry, digging, stuccoing, plastering, framing, excavating, planting and pruning at times dominated and defined life here. The place has rewarded us by becoming friendlier, more comfortable, prettier and, happily, easier to maintain.

The more technical and physically demanding tasks I increasingly “job out” more readily these days to those younger, more resilient and more skilled than I. Because time now seems more precious to me than it did two or five decades ago, I am less possessive about personally owning the physical input that this country property demands. My dues in that regard are just about paid up.

Occasionally the journey here has been arduous, but almost always the returns have been manifold; I am harder and more capable and confident than I was in the beginning, and I now am connected to this plot of ground and its structures by thousands of images for as long as my memory remains intact. Such an intimate rootedness has given both me and Sally, my dear and enduring wife of nearly fifty years, unexpected and vivid perspectives on our earlier life in and around Washington, DC, and elsewhere, most particularly throughout our various travels abroad. Having such strong and complex ties between us and the home to which we may return at will has enriched our appreciation of foreign lands and cultures and has deepened our empathy with the people we encounter in those places who share that same sense of connection with their own homes.

Our son Bunky and our daughter Renee each returned several years ago from lives and careers elsewhere to participate in our family business and gradually to take over its management from us. We continue to be blessed with their presence and by frequent visits of our seven grandchildren, aged between 6 and 26 who bring with them individually and collectively a special lightness and cacophony.

Our website can be accessed at http://www.pressurepositive.com. The site contains extensive information on self care in managing muscular pain and dysfunction, mostly with the tools of our design and manufacture. It also contains links to other information sources as well as access to our own blogs, illustrated guides and our video series on self care.

Home life, whatever its challenges, has been richly rewarding, and we plan to continue on, in the company of family and friends, making whatever contributions we can to a more viable and peaceful national and world community.

Bernard L. (Bun) Gladieux, Jr. AB ’59

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