Monday, November 26, 2012

Partner Exercises!

Tubing Partner Exercises

Try these fun, effective partner exercises to build strength.

Mid-Row. Stand facing your partner. Intertwine the tubes, holding one handle each in your right and left hands. Back away from each other, arms fully extended, until there is some resistance on the tube. Begin in a squat stance with feet between hip and shoulder width apart. Slowly pull the tube, leading with your elbows, driving them backward. As you’re rowing backward, pinch your shoulder blades together and toward the ground. As you release your arms forward, squat toward the ground. Complete 1 set of 8–20 reps. This partner exercise helps improve posture.

  • Hold a static squat.
  • Do single-arm rows. (Double up the tube in each arm.)
  • Add rotation as you row.

External Rotation. Stand side-by-side with your partner, facing the same direction. Each of you holds one handle of one tube in your outside arm. Your outside elbow, bent at 90 degrees, is anchored at your waist. Keeping your upper arm at your side, slowly rotate your forearm away from your body. Complete 1 set of 8–20 reps for each arm. This partner exercise strengthens weak rotator cuff muscles.

Variations: Try this exercise standing on one leg

Trunk Rotation. Stand facing your partner. Wrap the tubes around each other and each hold one handle in your right and left hands. Back away from each other until there is some light resistance on the tube. Contract your abdominals inward and maintain good posture throughout the entire exercise. Begin by rotating your torso one way while your partner rotates in the other direction. Slowly return to the starting position. Perform 8–20 reps on each side.

  • Keep the lower body static.
  • Rotate/pivot through the lower body.
  • Add one-arm rotation, to engage more of your upper body.

Lunge and Full-Body Rotation. Start facing sideways to your partner, holding one end of one tube in your hands. Lunge your outside leg (leg farthest away from your partner) forward while simultaneously rotating to the outside of your body. Press up and backward and do 8–20 reps one side; then repeat on the other side. Be sure that, while lunging, your front knee stays over your front foot and you always push from the leg in front. Both people lunge simultaneously.

  • Step forward (entry-level variation).
  • Perform a deep lunge (more advanced variation).

Sit and squeeze exercise

For this week, here is a fun exercise to try:
Sit and Squeeze
Sit and Squeeze

Place your back against a wall with hips & shoulders squared. Slide down until knees are at 90 degrees, knees over ankles and weight in heels. Squeeze a medicine ball or towel just above your knees and hold for 15 or more seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.

Latissimus Stretches

This week, I decided to share a stretch series written by a physical therapist for back and shoulder tightness.  He talks about athletes, but I had a client just this morning that has tightness in her shoulders, and limited mobility, and I think it's partially from her lats.  In my classes I will use both of these stretches, but on the floor.  Here, Brian uses a stability ball for range and extension.
It is common to assess clients with latissimus tightness. This is often manifested as limited shoulder flexion mobility. This diminished range of motion can be particularly detrimental for overhead athletes and when training the Olympic lifts. The following stretches are simple ones and effective for reducing tightness.

Begin in kneeling and position the hands/forearms in a prayer position on top of the BOSU Ballast Ball. Next slowly allow the head and trunk to lower down (meanwhile the BOSU Ballast Ball will also slowly roll forward) easing into a sustained stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat twice. You may also opt for a more active isolated approach by moving toward end range and actively contracting the anterior deltoids 2-3 seconds to flex the shoulders at end range. Release and return to the start position and repeat 10 times.
Single arm progression: Place the palm of the hand on top of the BOSU Ballast Ball allowing it to flex as the head and trunk flex. Additionally, move the arm and trunk in a diagonal motion (rotation) to introduce a more isolate stretch on that side. Again, you may opt for a sustained stretch or perform 10 repetitions holding for 2-3 seconds at the end range of motion and cycling through the entire motion each time.
This stretch is useful for maximizing shoulder flexion and mobility. It may be necessary to use soft tissue mobilization prior to the stretch if trigger points are present. I use it in rehab and in shoulder mobility programs for my athletes. Maximizing shoulder mobility (flexion) will help reduce excessive extension and/or rotation in the spine that appears as compensatory motion in order to complete overhead activities such as snatches, overhead squats, throwing and serving motions.

I prefer the BOSU Ballast Ball because it offers adequate stability with its design yet natural movement that the client can use to carefully control motion and attain an ideal stretch. Small graded progressions can be made easily based with the ability to roll and adjust the position of the BOSU Ballast Ball during the movement.

Use caution with clients experiencing rotator cuff pathology, tendonitis, arhtritis, labral pathology, or shoulder instability. Forcing the shoulder into end range elevation can cause shoulder impingement. Any pain felt in the shoulder as opposed to a stretch along the latissimus would be an indication to stop the exercise and refer the client for further evaluation by a medical professional.

Brian Schiff, PT, OCS, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. Currently, he serves as the supervisor at the Athletic Performance Center in Raleigh, NC. Brian presents nationally at several professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention, rehab and sport-specific training. For more cutting edge training information, subscribe to his monthly Training & Sports Medicine Update at

Parking lot safety, self defense tips!

I'm currently beginning to teach Women's Self Defense classes, and so have done a great deal of research lately regarding general safety.  If you think about self defense as beginning with your planning, then you have a much more holistic approach to your personal safety plan.

1.  Pull your shoulders back, walk upright, scan the area.
2.  Always peek in the back seat before getting into your car.
3.  As you approach your car, take a quick look under your car.
4.  Don't park behind a large van.  Find another spot.
5.  If you return to your car and there is a van parked next to your driver's side, go around and get in on the passenger side.  It's easy for someone to grab you from one of those sliding doors.
6.  If your instincts are telling you something is wrong, listen to them.  Go back inside, and ask for an escort.
7.  Never, never go with someone to a secondary location.  This will never end well.
8.  If someone forces you into your car and tells you to drive, run your car hard into a building or something solid.  Your airbag will save you, and you will attract attention and help!
9.  Do not act distracted in a parking lot.  No cell phones, no earbuds, and make sure you have your keys out and ready, and your bags organized before you leave the mall/store/work.
10.  Planning ahead will stack the deck in your favor, so plan ahead!