Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Lately I have been more and more frustrated with the fact that my knee and foot issues are preventing me from working out as often, intensely, and comfortably as I want. The optimist in me is convinced I will wake up one day and discover that my left knee has forgotten it ever had two surgeries. As a result, my right foot would then decide it no longer has to compensate for that knee by bearing the impact brunt in a painful manner.
Fortunately, I am still able to teach fitness, walk my dog, and engage in lots of activities (though lunges and snowboarding are now out barring some medical or aging miracle). But I definitely worry about limited days or types of action. Ahhh, to enjoy high impact aerobics again! And I feel the pain. Nevertheless, I persevere in trying solutions, solutions I want to share with you in case you are experiencing similar joint pain.
A combination of factors helps me continue going for the gusto in my beloved step classes, on powerwalks, and in all forms of dance and cardio classes. If you are also suffering from joint pain and want to stay or become more active, try the following. Let me know if any of my strategies work for you. For sure speak up if you have found other ways to move pain-free with each added year of an active life.
First and foremost, get shoes that are comfortable, supportive, and designed for each exercise mode. Don’t follow trends; follow your medical or fitness professional’s advice and your own body. I invest in several pair of workout shoes, and wear them only for the designated activity. I fully embrace my boom chicka boomer status at this point and care more about pain-free movement than fashion, style, and low cost. Vive la TheraFits when it comes to my fave walking shoes!
Confession time: I pooh poohed orthotics for years, advocating fixing movement patterns instead. A youthful biomechanics snob was I. Experience (code word for “joint pain”) has taught me that even good form, attention to footfall, and body awareness can’t totally fix my foot problems. Orthotics are taking the pressure off my arthritic big toe, which makes me hopeful I will avoid the toe surgery my sister had for this same problem. But now I have new pains in the pad of my foot. The gait shift from the orthotics may be the culprit. Or the savior. I am still experimenting with the orthotics. Any tips?
I’m currently in the first month of a two month trial of Pure Matters Joint Health supps. At first it seemed as though the supplements were not making much of a difference. I believed they would work miracles; I wanted them to be the magic pills; yet my knee still hurt. Maybe I expected too much. Then I neglected to bring the tablets with me on a 2 day trip and boy, did my knee hurt – a lot!. You bet I raced back to the tablets before teaching advanced step yesterday. Yes, my knee felt better. This stark comparison makes me hopeful that joint supplements do provide some relief, albeit subtle at first. More on the Pure Matters Joint Health effects in another month or so.
No surprise that I advocate and abide by having strong muscles to bear as much load and impact from exercise as possible. The stronger my core and lower body, the more I can count on muscles and less on joints and ligaments to power me through activity.
I hate being cold and wet. Don’t you? So I get into pools only when both the water and air temp are toasty. Or when my joints scream after mountain hikes like a slipped fan belt. ( I LOVE hiking and powerwalking except when every step hurts). When at Rancho la Puerta I hiked every morning, then hopped myself into several aqua classes as I really, really, really wanted to exercise without holding back. Ignoring the pain was not really working any longer as an option. (Forgot to mention that the “ignore” solution has been one of my go to strategies for years.) While I prefer land classes, I gotta give full props to aqua classes as the place to plunge in for joint protection while working out hard and heartily!
Bring on the mind/body healing modalities! Suffice to say that you’ll be reading more in a future post about the Cranial Sacral Therapy sessions I took while at Rancho la Puerta. Spoiler alert – my knee pain has gone down a bit since then. Will more sessions help more? Can this modality actually realign my knee, foot, and gait and bring them back to their pre-soccer injury condition? Hello knee from my twenties! Good-bye aging joints! Stay posted as I seek out a few more CS sessions.
Where does that leave us? Combining all of the above has allowed me to keep on keepin’ on. No solution alone seems enough. Is it unrealistic to believe I will again be pain free? I really want to do MORE with the rest of my life, not less.
Makes me think of the song Alexandra and I sang in a talent contest at age 10 — Andy Williams’s hit, Born Free. Verse one went great as we wooed the judges in our matching wool plaid skirts and knee socks. We were soooo cute, if our mom did say so herself. Born Free, as free as the wind blows.
Then came the painful part. One of us went with “Stay Free” as verse two; the other launched with “Live Free.” Twins fighting, then laughing hysterically onstage in the middle of our song did not make for a big talent win. Or place. Or show. Ahhh, good times!
Is it too much to ask that my joints Live Free and Stay Free, as free as the roaring tide. Life is worth living, especially worth living if it’s Pain Free! Who’s with me on this singalong?
Dear Readers: Have joint issues changed your exercise life? If so, what strategies have you put into action in order to stay active?
Free yourself in 2013 with action that will help you live free: Subscribe now to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above. Please share and subscribe!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Walking, powerwalking, dogwalking all lead to:
Watch our video for some tips, progression methods, and pretty scenery (plus a peek at the world’s cutest dog EVER in the universe for all entirety. Feel free to totally agree or leave a comment below).[youtube]http://youtu.be/xTjhN_W0F6U[/youtube]
For a few motivating Fun Fit Facts about walking, take a look at our post Sneak in Stats When Walking Briskly for Calorie Burn.
Good shoes are the only piece of equipment you need for a stroll out and about. Our suggestion? Read our post and be entertained by our video: TheraFit Shoes Were Made for Walking: Product Review
If you are wondering about the best and most effective technique for getting started on cardio equipment, take a look at our post and video on the Right and Wrong Ways to Work Out on Treadmills and Stairclimbers.
Ready to tackle hills with enviable form, avoiding common mistakes people make when going up? Our post, Proper Form for Uphill Walking has got you covered!
Lastly, take a tour of a Santa Barbara trail with us as we Walk With the Butterflies.
Small steps lead to big changes! Even a 5 minute walk triggers a bunch of benefits. So open up your front door and get your groove on as you move on!
Walk the Talk by subscribing to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Click now on the icons above or below. We make it easy to share and subscribe!
Don’t worry, nothing you can’t handle. The kinetic chain is made up of the:
All of these parts make up a whole that is interdependent. For example, muscle tightness restricts the range of motion that a joint may be moved (i.e., tight hamstrings can affect hip and lower back mobility). If you’re confused, please refer to this handy chart:
Odd as it sounds, for a muscle to gain strength, the tissue has to receive enough stress to cause micro-tears. Once that’s occurred, you can help your muscles recover by using the foam roller to break up adhesions in the muscle tissue and/or fascia. When these “trigger points” are decreased, blood flow increases, which is good!
Alexandra: I like to use the foam rollers for myofascial release with my group fitness students every so often, mostly because I always get a laugh out of their moans and groans when they discover their tight iliotibial (IT) bands.
Kymberly: I admit up front that I love foam rollers! Roll, roll, roll in zee … Hey, that really hurts so good. (Insert silent scream here as I roll out my tight hammies and upper back. Did you get the movie reference I just made two sentences ago?)
Alexandra: I was starting to think it was about time to introduce the foam roller to this quarter’s “crop” of university students when I found out about an app called Roll Release Techniques, which has 100 different videos for using the foam roller for self-massage.
My feeling at discovering an app that I could take onto the teaching stage with me was something like this:
This app packs in 100 videos, more than 25 different muscle groups, and demos that show up to 4 different levels for each group. The creator of the foam roller app, Dr. Ryan Emmons, is the one demonstrating the moves, and it’s simple to use and follow. Tap the muscle you want, then tap the level you want (regression, main, progression or advanced). Simple to follow along; simple to use.
As a fitness instructor who doesn’t use foam rollers enough to know all the possibilities by heart, I found the Roll Release Techniques App super handy. For a fitness enthusiast at home who wants to get some quick myofascial release, it’s also super because there’s no need to know the names or function of any muscles; you can just tap the picture of the muscle you want to work.
Usually I’m a bit
snobby particular about the fitness information I’ll purchase and use, but this app totally rocked and rolled; well, it rolled! As you can see by the facial expressions on my students’ faces in these pictures, foam rollers are an effective tool!
Readers and Rollers: What fitness apps do you use?
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own. Alexandra used her own money to purchase this app because it was totally worth $2.99 to get all the video demos.
Photo credit: Man jumping kreg.steppe
If you read my recent post about taking on new challenges and aging forward, not downward, then you know that I believe chronological age is a lesser factor in achieving your goals than attitude.
UCSB Students: You are young in body, yet with budget cuts having decimated P.E. throughout your entire school career so far, you might not be surprised to discover that your parents are probably more fit than you. Why? They (and I) had P.E. every single day when we were kids, so we have a history and muscle memory of movement.
My cohorts (Those of us in our 40s and 50s): We know the meaning of the word stamina! We know that we want the second half to be enjoyable and full of possibilities. We don’t want to be limited by health issues or injuries. We get the importance of taking on challenges (notice I did NOT say “dares”).
As the Fall season and quarter kick off (that’s as close to football as I’ll ever care to be), I want to challenge you to create a fitness goal. Something difficult, yet achievable. If you’re one of my 19-year-old students, that might be making it all the way through the quarter to the Tabata class, which WILL make you, er,
uncomfortable, want to urp, exhausted, proud when it’s over. For my 80-year-old students, it might just be time to pick up those 7 pound weights instead of those 5s you’ve been hugging for years (yup, that means you).
As to me, everyone who knows me, and I mean everyone, knows I hate running unless there’s a soccer ball involved. But I found out that I am allowed to walk in a half-marathon coming up in two weeks. I just have to finish in a certain time. That’s it. My challenge is to fully
kick kiss my foot surgery recovery good-bye and walk 13.1 miles in less than 4 hours. They give 6.5 hours, but I’m aiming for four. And I will do it! I know this because I already decided about a month ago. Now it’s just a matter of plugging in the training. My mind leads and my body follows.
I’m not special (yes, I am). Do you recall English teacher David McCullough, Jr.’s commencement speech in which he told the graduates, “You are not special. You are not exceptional. Because everyone is.” We are all unspecial because we all want to age with all our faculties and abilities intact, with good looks and great legs; with friends and family to encourage and support us; with the ability to walk and talk and do things we enjoy. We are all special because we get to choose for ourselves the means and methods to get there. Maybe I should use the word “path,” because a fit lifestyle is a journey, not an endpoint.
And ladies (sorry, guys, next time), I heard of a great campaign that can help you on the journey. And yeah, there are prizes. Under Armour has begun their “What’s Beautiful” campaign. I define “beautiful” as comfortable and healthy in your body. Strong is Sexy and that’s all there is to it. Under Armour’s campaign is to encourage women to get on a fitness journey, share it, get motivated, and get support (and free swag) from them. Heck, ten women will get flown to Florida to train with elite trainers, work out, get nutrition advice and SPA TREATMENTS. I am not entering the campaign because
I want to give you all a chance I’ll be out of town in early January, but you should! Just click on the What’s Beautiful or Under Armour link. It’s free. There’s no catch. Except your breath. You can catch that!
What have you got to lose by challenging yourself, except maybe some weight or bad habits? More to the point, what have you got to win?
As far as I’m concerned, my knee surgery (from soccer) and foot surgery (also from soccer) were necessary to help me reach my goals, not keep me from them. Here’s to you. And here’s to me. I will be at my most beautiful at the end of the half-marathon because I’ll have a big smile on my face.
What fitness challenge will bring a smile to your face?
Want something to do that’s so easy it’s not even a challenge? Clickity clack on our links and subscribe to our YouTube channel and our blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar ——–>
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: If you listen to our Fun and Fit radio show you’ll know that Alexandra tends to bust out in song now and then. And I am using the word “song” loosely and the word “bust” pretty exactly.
Anyhoooo, it got us to thinking, if you were to pick a song that is autobiographical, which one would it be? For example, if you are a procrastinator, you might go with “Wait Until Tomorrow,” by Jimi Hendrix. (We’d also suggest you read our post on moving from procrastination to action.) If you are a get it done now person who enjoys exercise, your song might be “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday, But Not as Much as Tomorrow,” by Spiral Staircase.
Perhaps Maria from West Side Story is singing your tune when she tells the world “I Feel Pretty.” Or maybe she just finished a QiDANCE cardio class. If you love weight training, it could be people marvel and say “She’s a Brick House.”
One of our favorite votes came from a man in our Senior Strength Training class who answered this question with “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.” Once the class stopped laughing we got back on beat and showed the world that 70 year olds “Get Around, Get Around, I Get Around,” like the Beach Boys.
My autobio song depends on what exercise mode I am tackling. On strength training days or when my knee is hurting, I am going with: “Oooh Child, Things Are Going to Get Easier,” by the Five Stairsteps. On the days I teach, power walk, or take any cardio class, my theme song is from Gladys Knight and the Pips: “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” Go me for getting my workout in! The fact that Gladys was just on Dancing With the Stars and that I want Alexandra and me to be the first twins on the show might be swaying my decision. In the right direction!
I didn’t even have to think twice – my song is “Shake Your Groove Thing.” I like to dance, have fun and love music from the 70s. I can be Peaches. Now I just need a volunteer to be Herb. I could probably find hundreds of songs, depending on which freeway entrance my mind takes, but another song that captures my general life attitude is “Life Is Good” by Junk, especially the intro phrase, “I know I can always win, I can do anything.” Isn’t that a great attitude toward life and health?
Readers: Any songs come to mind that capture your fitness life? Sing it loud in the comments below!
Kymberly: Wonder what’s “eccentric” (besides Alexandra and her “magical” inner thighs? – Watch the video to know what I’m referring to)? The phase when you lengthen a muscle under tension. In this case, when you lower the free weights you are in the eccentric phase as the biceps are still the primary mover decelerating against gravity as the weights pull down. I plan to enter the eccentric phase altogether when I’m older and really live it up!
As for the right way to do biceps curls: Hold all joints stable and still except the elbow joint. And by all joints, that includes your spine!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
For one, they train their minds as well as their bodies. Instead of being procrastinators — as in “I’ll exercise tomorrow when I am not so hot, tired, busy ( _______ insert excuse here),” — they focus on what they can do in the present moment, no matter how small. You can achieve your fitness goals more effectively by shifting just 5 phrases in your head from “Procrastinator” to “Peak Performer” talk.
Which phrases do you hear inside your head as you plan your workouts? Do you see the different perception of time between the performers and the stallers? Also super important is the perception of yourself as a person ruled externally (I should, I must, I have to) versus self-ruled (I choose, I decide). If you remember one key concept to train your brain to think more like an Olympian it’s to Have Presence in the Present. Focus on the Now. As in, leave a comment below or retweet this post now. Now, there’s a winning approach!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Have you tried to set better habits before only to fail? Forget any past unsuccessful attempts. Accept that habit change requires more than willpower or goal setting. You need a tried and true strategy based on how we really behave.
Kymberly: I got to hear licensed psychologist, Neil Fiore, PhD, speak on behavior change at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Spa (“the Ranch”), when I was teaching there last week. Oh, those high level speakers the Ranch attracts for evening sessions — Just another bonus of going to Tecate, Mexico! I plan to make my presence there a habit! (Ya hear that, Ranch team?).
According to Dr. Fiore, a specialist in productivity, successful habit change is a four stage process.
Evaluate the pros and cons of the habit you want and the habit you are trying to leave behind. What are the risks? The benefits? What pain are you feeling and what are you willing to do to “kill” that pain?
Alexandra: For many people, the habit we are trying to leave behind is “eating food I know isn’t good for me.” What that really means is, “This food is not good for my weight loss goal, but it is good at giving me an immediate, temporary good emotional feeling.” So the habit to leave behind isn’t eating those foods; it’s eating them as a mood amelioration. One idea is to make up your mind to change that link.
Kymberly: Make a plan to get from the old to new habit. Map out the small steps required to shift from A to B. Consider the distractions you will face. Become aware of each action item needed to transition to better health.
Alexandra: Using the example above, commit to writing down your mood whenever you eat. Not just your mood on foods you feel aren’t helping your long-term goal, but also the ones that are. Probably the biggest challenge will be committing to writing everything down! Write that down! Jacktastic! (If you get this reference before clicking the link, you are part of the Melissa McCarthy groupies club, and should definitely be committed!)
Kymberly: Decide where and when you will start the new habit. What is your schedule? Accept that you will face doubts and anxious moments. Then show up despite your fears.
Alexandra: Okay, sometimes it’s not so good to show up, especially if Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream is calling you like one of Homer’s sirens. Your action plan would be to write down your food intake and moods and just observe. That’s it–observe what occurs. Interestingly, when people become aware of their habits, they change them without a lot of conscious effort (and the anguish that goes with it). Just as you picked up some bad habits without really intending to, so can you get rid of them. Obviously, it’s harder for some habits than others, especially if chemicals are involved (think smoking).
Kymberly: Truth?! You CAN handle the truth!: You will have setbacks. What is your recovery plan? Dr Fiore highlighted this as a key component of habit change success. Those who fall by the wayside give up after a setback, thinking one mistake or one bad moment means failure. Happy habit changers have accounted for the probability of setbacks and create a “get back on track” strategy.
Alexandra: In other words, plan to fail. Because planning will lead to success. No-one likes to be bossed around or told what one should or can’t do, even when it’s you talking to yourself. Create your plan based on what you can and will do! Picture your road to success as having rest stops, not as one big U-turn. Changing habits is mental so if you plan to incorporate the slow-downs, you’ll think, “Aha, I was expecting this, and now I will move forward again,” which is totally different than, “Aha, I’m a loser because I got off the straight and narrow and therefore forget it.”
There you habit!
Readers: What new or improved habit are you currently working on?
Start a good habit right now: Subscribe to our YouTube channel. And our blog. Follow us on Twitter: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. We make this an easy habit to instill by giving you handy dandy links in the right sidebar.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: I love this question if not just for the fact that I get to coin a new phrase: Spouse Spud! Who out there has a partner who loves exercise … as long as it’s you doing it?
Speaking from personal experience, I can say that I have had total failure in getting my spouse onto a regular workout program. I went so far as to give the hubster a year’s membership at the club where I teach. And I paid for this, mind you. It was not a freebie just because I teach at the club in question. Anyway, the hubster had mentioned wanting to work out more – meaning more than one day a week as he had been doing. I thought that meant, well, you know — “work out and exercise.” It really meant “I’ll go one time, ride the bike for 15 minutes, and declare myself in too much knee pain to ever exercise formally again.” That was the most expensive, whiny 15 minute gym session ever!
My professional advice is “let sleeping spuds lie.” You cannot get them off the couch. They have to get themselves off that divine divan. We can only control our own fitness, so we can be ready to join Spouse Spuds in action when they finally catch up. And on.Bake on that, Couch Potatoes!
Alexandra: Sadly, if nagging worked, every spouse in the country would be fit. Speaking from my counseling hat (like the talking hat in Harry Potter), I can say that Kymberly stole my words. You can’t get him off the couch except with sharp objects (excluding your tongue). But you CAN set a good example. If you go walking or skating or dancing or even better, do more burpees than he can, your husband will notice how much fun you’re having and want to
get competitive, beat you,join you.
Also, people like to do what their friends do, so if his friends are exercising, they can invite him. He might join in for the social rewards and just happen to get more fit in the process. If his friends are couch potatoes too, then you’ll need to move on to Plan B: get some really sexy yoga pants. Stand in front of the couch, blocking access to the television, and say, “Do you think my butt makes your TV look like it should be turned off?” Then go on your walk. He’ll be home, wondering what just happened.
People do things out of their comfort zone because it’s either fun, better than the alternative or they see it clearly as a significant step toward a goal. So your best bet is to find something fun and invite him along. And if he doesn’t want to come with you, go anyway. Curiosity is also a great motivator, especially if you just signed up for a partners line-dancing class!
This little tater went to exercise. This little tater stayed home. This little tater got superbuff. And this little tater was alone. Don’t be a tater hater!
Readers: Have you had any success getting your loved one off the couch? What worked? What didn’t?
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Klout is a company that measures people’s online influence and assigns a score. The score is derived from your activity on social media (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). The average score is 20, and brands offer free Perks to influencers who have certain scores (they choose the minimum) in specific topics. So I took the various sites and made them into circuit stations, assigning each person a score at the end of the workout. There were seven stations: Faceback, Twitter, LinkedIn, InstaBlam, Pinterest, FourSquare, and Reddit.
For the Pinterest station, students bounced on stability balls in order to pin motivational sayings to the wall. For the LinkedIn station two people were attached at the ankle by an Exercuff, and they had to go from one spot to another remaining linked. At the InstaBlam station the two partners stood about 6 feet apart and did chest throws with a weighted medicine ball. FourSquare was the easiest to design – we played Four Square, just like in elementary school! For the Faceback station the partners were back to back, passing a medicine ball up, over and around each other. The Twitter station was declared the most popular, as they all got to take pictures of themselves bouncing on the stability balls.
This was directly followed by the hardest station, Reddit, in which they had to do a plank on the ball while reading their texts and email. In between each station, instead of water breaks or walking around the room, they had tweet/ Instagram breaks.
The workout was non-competitive, and everyone received a score based on the number of laps they did at the LinkedIn station. As it was all in fun, everyone got free Perks (thank you CalNaturale Svelte and PROBAR for the protein drinks and bars) at the end of class.
One side benefit for the people who attended the class (if they had a Twitter account) was that all the tweets & posts they sent out during the workout helped increase their real life Klout score!
Feel free to use my workout with your own students if they’re fans of social media. Even though the class was at 7 in the morning, we had an energetic group. And don’t worry – even with all the tweeting and posting and picture-taking, everyone still got their sweat on! It was really fun.
What do you think – shall I try this with my university students in the Fall? Do you have any stations to suggest?