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7

Best Workout Surfaces

Alexandra Williams, MA

As a boomer and group fitness instructor with one reconstructed knee and a fused big toe (both due to soccer), I am always mindful about the surfaces I exercise on. Some surfaces hurt; others feel cushiony and safe. Whether you have an injury or are trying to prevent one, it’s smart to work out on a forgiving, protective surface.

pic of Regupol process

From Rejected to Recycled to Regupol

In order to share the best information with you, I went last week to Pennsylvania to check out a variety of floor surfaces as a guest of Regupol, German-American makers of rubber sports and fitness flooring made of recycled tires.

Last year we wrote a post about running surfaces in answer to a reader question, which you’ll want to read. One main point from that post is to pay attention to the three S’s: Springback, Shock absorption, and Stability. In the pictures below, you can see that I tested every Regupol floor in a variety of workout modes. I even ran (which many of you know I gave up after my knee surgeries). The three S’s were there in all cases, and I had zero joint pain. I even felt daring in a sense, because I could try stuff I had been afraid would hurt previously.

Over two days we visited Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys & Girls Club,

pic from visit to Boys and Girls club, Nicetown

John of Regupol (and “Rocky” movie expert). P.S. I suck at basketball.

 

Horsham Athletic Club,

pic at Horsham Athletic Club

I can fly!

 

Villanova University Basketball Training Room and Football & Olympic Sports Training Room,

pic of Regupol flooring at Villanova

V for Very light weight (or Villanova University)

 

Lancaster Mennonite High School,

Running on the Lancaster Mennonite High Regupol track

Yup, I RAN the track. All the way around. (photo credit: Michael Gaio of Athletic Business)

 

Franklin & Marshall College,

pic on the track at Franklin & Marshall U

Running, Pole Vault & Steeplechase. No idea about two of those.

 

and the Regupol America facility. During the tour, in addition to checking for comfort and support, I paid attention to additional details that I feel are important:

Sustainability

In 2011, Regupol America became the first company in Pennsylvania to earn a coveted GreenCircle certification. Sustainable manufacturing utilizes processes that are non-polluting, conserve energy and natural resources, and are economically sound for the community. During the factory tour, we learned that the waste is practically zero. Actually, the only thing I remember them mentioning as trash is the plastic wrap that encases the ready-to-ship flooring rolls. Oh, I also learned that “Regupol” stands for REcycled GUmmi (rubber) POLymer. So German!

Acoustics and Absorption

If you’re a grunter, singer or screamer, you might be happy to be in a workout area that absorbs those sounds! And if you are someone who drops your weights (very few exercises exist that actually require you to do so, by the way), you will want an absorbing floor that doesn’t disturb the exercisers below (can you tell I’ve endured years of teaching where the sounds of dropped weights on the floor above are louder than my group exercise music?).

Olympic-Level Quality

Some of the tracks we visited are exactly the same as the the one on which Usain Bolt won the 2009 Berlin World Championships. If you have a kid headed to university who wants to compete in Track and Field, this might be a deal-maker.

The moral of the story (I’ve always wanted to say that) is this: if your joints hurt after exercising, switch to a better surface. Such things DO exist. Now I’m working on a plan to convince Regupol to recycle some of their flooring as sandal soles. If my childhood huaraches from Mexico can have tire pieces glued on as soles, my adulthood sandals surely can have an updated version, right?!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, nor was I asked to write this post. Regupol paid for my trip to Pennsylvania. They even shared local trivia about the “Amish Mafia” (some sort of TV show) and the “Rocky” movies!

 

2

How Do I Kick Back Pain from Kickboxing?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Juil sandals are perfect for kicking back

We’d rather Kick Back than Kickbox

Hi K and A: I read your article on kickboxing and back pain and was looking to get some follow-up advice. I have been working out since my mother threatened me from atop her bathroom scale that puberty would eventually “catch up to me” and I would one day lose my little waify ‘tween bod. I started shadow boxing (first with “kickbutt” and next with P90x) in college when I realized my mother was wrong — it was really beer that caught up to me.

I took such a liking to shadowboxing that I tried 10 classes of heavy bag training. It was love at first punch. However, as I am, and will continue to be for some unknown number of years, a grad student I couldn’t pay to train at any boxing gym. Thus, I bought a 70 lb heavy bag and started a little home gym set up for myself. It’s been 6 months and I’ve started to get killer back pain. I do my best not to flail around but sometimes I hyperextend my joints. Any tips for improving form on my own and helping myself after an injury? Thanks for the help!    Elena, the Tofu Tumbler, Bradley Beach, New Jersey

Hi Elena aka Tofu Tumbler:  We are so glad you got value from our post.  Whether you are in your 20s or 60s, back pain is hard to stomach. Ok, that was a bad word play. However, our answer is good!  For sure it’s better than that beer that stalked you so mercilessly.

It is hard for us to know whether your form is the cause of your back pain since we have not seen you work out. However, we can say that it is likely that attacking a 70 pound bag with anything less than fantastic form can aggravate backs, knees, and joints. Your complaint is quite common, unfortunately.

Kymbelry hangs from the arch entrance at Rancho la Puerta

Kicking back beats kicking rock posts! (Though our posts rock!)

Tip 1 = Make Abs Your Fiancé and Engage Them

Meantime, let’s try to figure out what might be going on. How strong are your abs and how much do you train them? Not how good do they look, but how functionally strong is your midsection? Next time you kickbox or punch bags pay good attention to how much you engage your abs as you strike. The more the abs take on the load, the less the back does so. Basically, your major muscles come in pairs (fancy term you can throw out at the party punch bowl is agonist/ antagonist).  If your ab muscles are not helping out, then their buddy, the back muscles are picking up the work slack. Two employees, but only one is working. Overtime. And peeved about it!

Try this back safe core move from our video series. Very little spinal flexion is needed and you get to leave your head on the ground!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFM0_8JT8WA&feature=share&list=UU4CF2GiDg1QacnaUtY1OvGg&index=1[/youtube]

Tip 2 = Tape Up (on video, not with first aid tape) ha ha aha

Have you tried videotaping yourself? Even a poor quality video might reveal habits you are unaware of. If you are locking out joints, the impact has to be absorbed somewhere. A look at yourself in motion might show if/ when you are hyperextending and where that impact is traveling.  Use your phone camera and get footage  from the front, back, and sides as  you are working out. Zoom in for close ups of your torso as your hands and feet make contact with the bag.

Tip 3 = Be aware, which is the first step to assessment and improvement.

 What doesn’t hurt and always helps? Any of the following actions:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.