Connective tissue is something I know something about.
Unfortunately that's mostly because I've beat the heck out of
most of mine! I've torn cartilage in my knees, strained
ligaments, and ruptured a tendon. Most of this abuse
came from wrestling between high school and college... but
given the opportunity, I'd do it all over again in a
So I'm sure
you've heard all these terms as some point, but if you're like
most people, you only have a general idea that this stuff is
not bone or muscle. Connective tissue is important for
the functionality an protection of our joints so I thought I'd
give you a quick run down on what's what.
tissue that connects bones
to other bones. They are sometimes called "articular
"fibrous ligaments", or "true ligaments".
are connective tissue that connect muscle to bone. A
tendon is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue that
usually connects muscle to bone and is capable of withstanding
tension. Tendons are similar to ligaments except that
ligaments join one bone to another. Tendons and muscles work
together and can only exert a pulling force.
Cartilage is a type of dense
connective tissue. It is a remarkable substance—one thousand
times more slippery than wet ice and able to cushion the weight of our bodies as it presses
our bones together. Cartilage performs this difficult task better then
any substance, organic or synthetic, known to man.
tissue injuries are common in athletics and can occur from
running, jumping, impact, or any kind of physical activity or
repetitive use. Understanding the function of the
connective tissue can help you to prevent injuries as well as
to be careful about the ones that you have experienced.
A good rule of thumb is if it hurts, stop doing it!
According to sports medicine experts,
the strength of the muscle groups surrounding the
knee is key to knee health– the more support you’re able to generate in
these muscle groups, the more stable the whole mechanism is, and the
less strain there is on the joint itself.
A program of strengthening and flexibility for the muscles around the
leg, is the single most effective preemptive strike you can make against
The Pain of Getting Sloshed!
Here's another homemade piece of fitness
equipment that you won't find at the local sporting good store.
Although slosh pipe training has actually been around for a little
while, it's not exactly a mainstream type training technique.
Still, slosh pipe training offers some very challenging yet fun workout
options to mix things up a little.
So what is a slosh pipe? The one I
have pictured below is made out of PVC pipe and is 2/3 full of water.
It's 9 feet long, 4 inches in diameter, and weighs about 40 lbs.
This is standard PVC pipe (with end caps) that can be picked up in most
home improvement stores.
The challenge of the slosh pipe is not in
it's weight, it's due to the fact that the pipe is only 2/3 full of
water. When you pick this thing up horizontally, the water sloshes
back and forth from one end to the other randomly, forcing you to adjust
your body to compensate.
Although you can go to
YouTube, search for
"slosh pipe", and view a bunch of exercise videos with guys getting
creative with slosh pipe training... I stick to a few basic movements at
the end of my abdominal workout.
Holding the slosh pipe in "zercher" position
(in front of the chest at the crook of the elbows), I like to start off
by walking for a distance and then doing some forward and backward kayak
paddling. Because the slosh pipe basically feels like a living
thing, the zercher walk itself can be a challenge! By adding the
kayak paddling from the zercher position, you get a real good oblique
(sides) workout to finish off the job!
Like I said, in addition to the slosh pipe
carries being challenging, they're fun too. I made a couple of
smaller slosh pipes also and brought them out in the yard. It was
funny how some of the kids in the neighborhood got a kick out of trying
to out-do each other... and without even using a game console!
Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!
Planks are a very useful yet underrated exercise. There
are a variety of front plank and side plank exercises that can
be incorporated along with other movements, or performed by
themselves. This bird dog exercise can be performed from
a plank, or from all fours. From a plank position there
is a focus on the abs in addition to the low back, whereas
performing it from all fours is primarily for strengthening
the low back, especially during rehabilitation or in the case
of a de-conditioned person. The focus should be on slow
abs, low back (rectus abdominis, erector spinae)
Count: 2 (up and
off in a plank position on your elbows and toes.
Maintain a rigid bodyline as you slowly extend opposite arm
and legs. Hold for 5 seconds before slowly returning to
the plank position. Repeat for repetitions on the same
side, or alternate each side.
What is Fitness?
Webster’s Dictionary defines
“fitness” as being “fit” and the ability to transmit genes to
offspring... no help there. Searching the Internet for a workable,
reasonable definition of fitness yields disappointingly little. Worse yet, the
NSCA, the most respected publisher in exercise
physiology, in their highly authoritative Essentials of Strength
Training and Conditioning doesn’t even attempt a definition.
Although it may be difficult to realistically define
fitness, there are ten recognized general physical skills. They
are as follows:
1. Cardiovascular respiratory endurance - The ability of
body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
2. Stamina - The ability of body systems to process,
deliver, store, and utilize energy.
3. Strength - The ability of a muscular unit, or
combination of muscular units, to apply force.
4. Flexibility - the ability to maximize the range of
motion at a given joint.
5. Power - The ability of a muscular unit, or
combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
6. Speed - The ability to minimize the time cycle of a
7. Coordination - The ability to combine several
distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
8. Agility - The ability to minimize transition time
from one movement pattern to another.
9. Balance - The ability to control the placement of the
bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.
10. Accuracy - The ability to control movement in a
given direction or at a given intensity.
If your goal is optimum physical competence then all the general
physical skills must be considered.
Improvements in endurance, stamina,
strength, and flexibility come about through training. Training refers
to activity that improves performance through a measurable organic
change in the body. By contrast improvements in coordination, agility,
balance, and accuracy come about through practice. Practice refers to
activity that improves performance through changes in the nervous
system. Power and speed are adaptations of both training and practice.
Be that as it may, there are plenty of things that you can do to
increase YOUR level of fitness. You don't have to excel in each of
the ten skills, nor do you have to work on each and every one of them
all at once. Any exercise that you do above and beyond that which
you are doing now, if properly planned and executed, will contribute to
improving your fitness... and this goes for pretty much everyone!
Women that participate in aerobics classes regularly can benefit from
weight training. Bodybuilders and power lifters that are pushing
the heavy iron can benefit from yoga or other flexibility exercise.
There are plenty of opportunities to better yourself if you just keep an
open mind, and even more so if you focus on your weaknesses. This
can be a humbling task that takes you outside of your comfort zone, but
the benefits of increasing your overall fitness can certainly be worth
the price of admission.
Beach weather, pool weather,
outdoor weather... this is the time to hopefully show off
the physique that you have been working so hard to achieve!
Take a good look at yourself
in the mirror. Are you happy with your appearance?
Do you look better, worse, or the same as you did last year?
These are all questions that you need to ask yourself if you
want to take pride in your appearance and both feel and look
good. Based upon your honest answers, you may find it
necessary to start developing an action plan to improve your
situation. Your action plan should be a specific
checklist of things that you need to do to accomplish your
goals. Diet, exercise, or any kind of lifestyle change
should be considered when putting your action plan together.
This is not something that you have to do alone. An
action plan is significantly more effective if you can get a
partner in crime, be it family or friend, so that you can
support and encourage each other towards achieving your
Keep in mind that your action
plan should be something that you plan to do... FOREVER.
I'm going to keep restating this fact. Any changes
that you make to better your situation, will not continue to
better your situation when you stop... that makes sense,
right? Lifestyle changes are required for lasting
impact and permanent changes to your well being. Make
it a priority and get it done!
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"Challenges are what make life
interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful"
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