Thursday, October 31, 2013

REVISED Warm-Up/ Cool-Down Routine


I posted this earlier today but somehow the formatting didn’t transfer very well and I ended up with a mess and half of the pages missing.



This is my warm-up and cool down routine that I use prior to and after my workout. This is also a great place to start when you first get out of bed to loosen your joints/ muscles.

Some people have benefited from having a yoga block (hard foam block) to start out with yoga poses until they are flexible enough to reach the ground.

Be aware of your body. Do not force the poses. Maintaining balance is key to any workout. Don’t be discouraged if you cannot do the whole routine. As I have said, this is the routine I use and your needs may be different from mine.

I do 5-10 reps for each pose before beginning my workout routine. Hold each pose for 15-30 seconds while maintaining normal breathing.

*** Please note these are not my pictures. Most of the pictures shown below come from which is a great website you can use to track your progress and also has sequence builder you may use to build your own routine around your needs. ****

Another great website to check out if you want more info for each pose is


Mountain Pose:

Stand tall with your feet together and arms by your side. If you have a hard time balancing with your feet together, widen your stance a few inches so that your feet are hip width apart. As you breathe in, bring in your belly button and lift your chest. Stretch your toes out to find your center. You may also want to rock back and forth between your heel and balls of your feet until you find a comfortable balance.


Back Bend:

From Mountain Pose, as you breathe in, slowly lift your arms upwards. Interlace your fingers above your head. On exhale, slowly bend your back and stretch backwards bringing your arms behind you. Bring your body back to mountain pose as your inhale. Remember to keep your legs firmly planted and your body centered to maintain balance in this position.


Forward Bend:

From Mountain Pose, breathe in while slowly lifting your arms upwards above your head. As you exhale, bend from your hips and stretch forward placing your hands on the ground. If you find this difficult, you can put your hands on your thighs or bend as far as you feel comfortable with. Return to Mountain Pose as you inhale. As you become more comfortable in this pose, walk your hands inwards towards your feet until your hands are resting beside your feet. Remember to keep your legs straight and center your body.


Wide Legged Forward Bend:

From Mountain Pose, spread your legs wide and inhale. As you exhale, bend forward and place your hands on the floor in front of you. As you get comfortable with this pose, walk your hands inwards towards your body until your head and hands are centered between your legs. Keep your legs straight and balance your weight on your feet. Bring your body upright as you inhale.


High Lunge:

From the Forward Bend Pose, turn your body slightly to the left so that you’re facing the left leg and your left foot is pointed outwards. Your right foot will be strong behind you with your toes facing forward. Inhale. As you exhale, push your torso forward so that it is aligned with your left knee and your hands are touching the ground on either side of your left foot. If you have difficulty with this pose, you may place your hands on your left knee instead of the floor. You should feel both of your legs stretching and keep your body centered and elongated. Inhale, bring your body back to a wide leg stance, swivel your body and repeat on the right side.


Low Lunge:

From High Lunge Pose,(inhale) bring your back leg to the floor from knee down. Point your right foot forward and your left foot should be pointing outward behind you. As you exhale, bring your arms upward, and lean into your right leg. Inhale, bring your body back into a wide leg stance, swivel on your heels and repeat for the left side.


Plank Pose:

Turn your body so that you are on your knees with your arms directly under your shoulders. Spread your fingers for better balance. Tuck your toes and step back with your feet so that your body is in a straight line. As you inhale, pull in your pelvic muscles towards your spine. Relax those muscles as you exhale.


Downward Facing Dog:

From Plank Pose, (inhale) walk your hands backwards and bring your hips/ butt upwards so that your body forms an upside down V. Bring your abdomen in towards your spine and elongate your body stretching upwards as you exhale.


Child’s Pose:

From Downward Facing Dog Pose, bring your knees in to touch the floor. With your torso tall and upright, inhale. As you exhale bend your torso forward to rest upon your knees with your head down and arms on either side of your legs.


Cobra Pose:

From Child’s Pose, bring your body forward so that your stomach is on the floor and your legs are straight and the tops of your feet are on the floor. On inhale, pressing your thighs into the floor and bringing your elbows in towards your body, push up with your arms and bring your torso up off of the floor.



clip_image015 Cat

Cow Pose & Cat Pose

From Cobra Position, bring your arms perpendicular to your shoulders and rock your body back onto your knees with your upper body perpendicular to the floor (also known as Table Top Pose). As you inhale, lift your chest and buttocks towards the ceiling allowing your stomach push down slightly to the floor. Return to Table Top Pose. From Table Top Pose, tuck your head and chest so that your head is pointed downwards. As you exhale, round your spine and bring your spine upwards towards the ceiling while pushing your buttocks inward towards the floor. I combined these two together for a better stretch.


Mariachi’s Pose:

Sit on the floor with your legs together and in front of your torso make sure you are sitting upright with your torso tall and straight (this is known as Staff Pose). Bring your left knee up and place your left foot flat on the floor as close to your buttocks as possible. As you exhale, turn your torso to the left. Use your left hand to balance behind you and bring your right arm over the left thigh. Keep your spine/ Torso centered and upright.


Fish Pose:

Lie down on your back with your legs straight and your feet together. Place your hands palms down under your thighs. Pressing down on your elbows, inhale and arch your back, bringing your chest up towards the ceiling and dropping your head so that the top of your head is touching the floor. Breathe deeply and keep your legs relaxed.


Bridge Pose:

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your palms facing upward on each side of your body. Lift your hips up towards the ceiling, squeezing your thighs and glutes.

At this point I move on to my balance ball. I do 10 reps of each.


Hip Rotations/ Seated Hip Roll:

Sit on the ball with your legs perpendicular to the floor, hip with apart, feet flat on the ground. Roll your hips to the left and back to center. Repeat with right side. Place your hands on your hips and roll your hips in a circle to the left then to the right while keeping your upper body straight and still.


Pyramid Stretch:

Lie on the ball balancing on your hips with your head and body stretched outward. With your hands and feet on the floor, pull your hips upward towards the ceiling.


Ball Arch:

Lie with your lower back across the ball with your hands on each side of your head and your feet flat on the floor. Slowly roll your body so that your head is closer to the floor and roll back up to a bridge position. You will roll onto your heels with your toes facing upwards towards the ceiling.

And that is my warm- up/ cool-down routine. I know in the beginning it seems like a lot, but once you get the hang of it, it is rather easy.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Before You Begin A New Workout Routine

Before posting my workout s and how I have adapted them to fit my needs, I wanted to touch base on some things you should know before you start working out. These are things I have found to help reduce fatigue and muscle pains.

A few things to know before you attempt any workout:

· Stay hydrated!! Before during and after your workout, you need to be hydrated. This is one of the most important lessons that I had to learn the hard way. Aside from maintaining your proper body temperature, when you sweat your body releases toxins from your system and being dehydrated causes these toxins to build up which causes cramping and pain after your workout. Also remember that coffee, tea, and soda actually increase dehydration.

· Take an anti-inflammatory (such as Aleve, Tylenol, Advil) before workout to help reduce muscle and joint pain after your workout. It has also been proven that vitamin C has shown benefits in decreasing muscle aches and helping muscles to heal after a workout.

· “Brace For It”- All of those old injuries will be popping back up if you do not take measures to stabilize the area.

· Stretch/ Warm-up. You don’t jump into your car on a cold winter day, start it up and start doing 80mph without expecting trouble. The same can be said for your body. Just as important as warming up, your body also needs to cool down. Although I do my cool down as part of my routine, I also spend another 20-30 minutes resting and allowing my body to slowly cool off before heading into a warm shower to help relax my muscles.

· Learn to listen to your body. Pushing the limits is one thing and minor muscle discomfort can be expected, this is sometimes referred as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Serious pain and pain that lasts more than 24 hours is not normal and a sign that you need to change something in your routine.

· You need to rest between workouts. Your body needs to be able to recover.

· Wear breathable clothing.

· Proper nutrition is vital to maintaining your body. Your body needs to be fed properly in order to burn calories and build muscle strength. Your car doesn’t run without gas, neither does your body.

I am the last person in the world to tell anyone to listen to their doctor. According to my doctors, I should not be able to walk much less work out. My sheer stubbornness has gotten me this far and I will not be giving up anytime soon no matter what my doctors think is better for me. My doctors do not have to live inside of my body and they do not have to manage the pain, I do. That is not to say everyone should ignore their doctors. I do recommend consulting with your doctor and or a physical therapist beforehand. They can be beneficial in helping you to find the correct position and exercises to suit your needs.

Friday, October 25, 2013

32 Pounds Down 18 To Go

I am proud to announce that I am 32 pounds lighter. Even more proud to announce I have discovered a miraculous range of motion in my back that I never thought would be possible again after breaking my T10 to L1 vertebrae. I will attribute this to a combination of chiropractic and refusing to listen o my doctors. There are a few reasons my doctors all seem to think I should not be able to walk much less workout. For starters I have MS… Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Then there are the broken bones in my back that have resulted in more damage to my spinal cord and more pain. Since all of that wasn’t fun enough, I broke my foot (Lisfranc Fracture) which has left me $45,000 in debt after 3 failed surgeries. I am not looking forward to surgery #4, but know it is going to need to happen sometime in the near future. I share all of this for a reason. After being in a wheelchair for almost a year and being on bed rest I managed to gain 12 pounds. This left me weighing more than I have ever weighed, including being pregnant with my daughter. It was time to take charge and get rid of this weight.


Once the weight started coming off, I found a few other perks from my new routine. The more weight I lost, the less pain I felt in my back. I have decreased the amount of pain meds I am on. The increase in energy alone has made this journey worth it; I am getting more done throughout the day without having to plan my day around a nap. I was absolutely shocked and amazed a few weeks ago when doing my leg lifts and deciding to see how much further my legs would go before my back says no; I was able to put my legs on the floor above my head. I couldn’t believe it. I did it 15 more times and then sat there and cried like a baby for 2 hours, not because I was in pain but because I never thought I would be able to do that again. In the beginning, the weight began to come off rather quickly. The first 20 pounds were a breeze; the last 12 have been slow going with another 18 to go to hit my target.


There have also been a few pitfalls of this new routine. For starters, I have to force myself to take the time each day to work out and I have to remind myself often that I need to continue with this plan. Because of all of the injuries I have to suit up in order to start my workout which is a workout in and of itself. There is a mid-lower back brace, an upper back brace, and a foot brace. Most days I do not mind the muscle pain, as it reminds me of how far I have come, but I had to learn how to judge the difference in workout ache vs. a real injury and I have learned that the hard way more than once. Also because of all of the injuries I have had to adapt my exercises to not put too much pressure on certain parts of my body, there isn’t exactly an exercise routine on the net that takes into account all of the physical limitations. After my last experience with physical therapy, I refuse to go back. I was sent to PT when I broke the first 2 vertebrae, a combination of a worthless doctor and inexperienced physical therapist who was fresh out of the Marine Corps resulted in an additional 2 broken vertebrae. Coming up with my own routines and adapting them accordingly has taken a lot of trial and error, and has also caused a few injuries. One of the other issues I have had over the last few months is my own stubbornness. Recently I had the flu, when I was feeling better I decided to get back on the horse. Unfortunately, I forgot that it took me weeks to work up to the level I was at and going back in full throttle was an excruciating reminder that my body is nowhere near where it used to be physically. Both my muscles and my joints joined together in protest to force me to take a few more days off and then start back at the beginning.


Ironically enough as I write this I am overwhelmed by the scent of Joint Flex and Arnica Gel. For those who haven’t heard of Arnica Gel, I will tell you this is a little tube of awesomeness you can pick up at your pharmacy for around $10. A friend told me about it after I tore a few ligaments and ripped a muscle and had massive bruising. Within a couple of days I noticed a dramatic improvement of coloration. Also Joint Flex doesn’t work for crap on my joint pain, but it does work pretty well for muscle aches. Some people have found help with a foam roller. Personally, I question if these people are masochists. The few times I have used the roller (under the advice of my Physical Therapist) it has caused more pain than help. Before my foot injury, the greatest piece of equipment I ever owned was my inversion table. Some people hate them. With the spinal compression fractures, it really did help to alleviate the pain in my spine. Though it did take a lot of getting used to (inversion is a lot harder than I looks)I also discovered it was a great workout for your core muscles and was indeed worth every penny that I paid for it. Sadly, after I fractured the foot I was released from doc to start using my inversion table again and discovered the bar that holds your feet in place went right across the middle of my foot where the fracture was. I looked into the “gravity boots” and the adapter piece for the table to use them. The boots and the adapter bar costs more than the table. I would have been willing to come up with the money for it. However, a friend had the same set-up and allowed me to give it a try before I bought it. The boots also cut around the same area as the original bar which would put all of my weight on a bar across my foot where I had just had fusion surgery. There was no way I was going to be able to use this. I ended up selling my beloved table after the third failed foot surgery.


I have been asked to write up the exercises and routine and how I have adapted each to accommodate for my injuries, which I will be starting in my next post. I wanted to give a bit of a background and a warning beforehand. I am not a doctor, I am not a physical therapist, and I am not a physical trainer. I am a housewife, a mom, an MS patient, and a person who has worked her butt off (literally) to get to where I am today. I also wanted to share some of the other things I have learned along the way and things that I have found to help. You don’t need a lot of specialized equipment, or a gym membership. The only equipment I use is a stability ball and a set of resistance bands that I have accumulated over the years. Also I would like to ask for suggestions, if you have any tricks or secret weapons that have helped you along the way.