Staying Loose For Pool Cleaning

My friend runs a pool cleaning business and has family members work on certain clients which require more hands-on care.  One of the things that the business requires a lot of physical flexibility.  What this means is that family members are going to be bending, stooping, crawling and moving their bodies at odd angles in the course of the duties for the jobs.  Older family members may risk getting injured, so my friend gave some suggestions on helping them increase flexibility to minimize that from happening.

There were several suggestions which are the more gentle versions of increasing flexibility including:

  • Zumba
  • Tai Chi
  • general stretching
  • yoga

What other suggestions do you have for older family members to have fun ways to increase flexibility, thereby increasing the chances that they will make flexibility improvement a part of their lives?  Thanks for your thoughts!

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Keepin The Back Loose For Working In Tight Areas

My friend Jim is a licensed plumber and has been in the industry for nearly 20 years.  He also played football, rode in competitive rodeo events, and has always been physically active.  His work as a plumber, however, forces him to use his body in new ways because he is forever crawling into tight spaces at irregular angles.  He often is lying on his stomach or back working, when reaching an oddly-installed pipe, or crawling to access sewer lines or other hard-to-reach areas for homes or commercial properties.

For instance, he was working late one night one of his promised and advertised 24 hour water heater repairs in Plano, and he felt his back get tight.  He new it was a different type of tightness than he normally felt.  This caused him concern, obviously.

Luckily, he was able to finish the job and get home.  Instead of racing for pain pills, he did some research on stretching and was introduced to a derivative of the Zumba, Pilates and yoga exercises.  It is tough for a guy who played football and was involved in competitive rodeo to do Zumba, but he was able to find some exercises which both loosened his back plus strengthened the muscles simultaneously.

So long as he remembers to do these exercises then he has a good chance of keeping his back healthy and sound.  The rigors of a full-service plumbing job, especially when moving or installing heavy items like water heaters, is challenging to the average person.  Having a tight back doesn’t make things easier.  Hopefully he will keep up with those stretches and pass the information onto his employees as well.

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Loosening The Back For The Auto Industry

I have a friend who sells high-end used cars in the North Dallas/Addison area.  Since these are premium cars, they often have to be warehoused indoors which means that there is not a lot of space to walk around since he may have 50 or more cars at a time in inventory.  Also, his staff often needs to be crawling around in tight spaces since many of the sports cars are smaller in size.  They also sometimes have to pick up, or drop off, cars that are quite a distance away from his location to benefit his higher-end customer.  They are more demanding than the average customer, so he and his team go out of their way to keep the customer happy.  All of this can lead to problems with the back and neck as the long drives, long hours, and crawling around in tight spaces can hurt the spine.

Since he is one of the few Dallas pre-owned Porsche dealers, he also has to be ready to deal with people all day long.  He has to pop out of his chair quickly to prevent any behind-the-scenes problems from affecting the customers.   He then has to deal with evaluating new inventory, check to make sure parts are repaired or replaced properly and much more.  Then he actually has to manage the business which requires long hours at the computer.

Luckily one of his family members is a chiropractor who has recommended stretching and other exercises to keep the neck and lower back loose.  While he may not end up doing yoga or Zumba, he at least is doing some basic physical exercise to strengthen the core muscles and other exercises to stay loose.  Doing so should help him with his job so that he can stay focused and out of acute pain related to his daily on-the-job tasks.

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Maintaining Flexibility Issues For The Entertainment Industry

I had a fun time visiting my friend Devin’s North Dallas offices the other day.  The first thing you notice in his office is a life-size replica of a machine from the HALO video game series.  Even more impressive is that he built it on his own as a prop for a client!

He talked about his need for improving flexibility for his business.  When I asked why he told me that he moves large, bulky objects and also does lots of custom fabrication work as well as finishing a piece.  For example, if one of his clients needs trade show and event props in Dallas, he may be in an enclosed painting booth reaching around in weird positions to get a special painting technique on a prop.  He then may be hunched over a CNC machine or other machine doing fine etching work.  Then the 3D printing machine may require specialty work, and setting up the cables/wires for everything may require him to crawl into tight spaces.

Some of the work he does is unbelievably cool, so I hope that you get to meet him and see some of his pieces!

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I was talking with Jim about staying in shape, but for a different purpose than most need.  Some people are competitive athletes, others want to look good at the pool or beach, others want to be able to play with their kids without getting winded and others simply want to be in shape for looking good when out at night on the town.

We discussed something different.  It was about being in shape to handle the rigors of living and working on ranches in the North Texas area.  Jim mentioned several things which were of interest, and they don’t often come to mind for people living in the cities or suburbs.  Staying in shape is a necessity when working on a ranch or farm, but some of the aspects are different than when getting in shape in the suburbs.  Here are just a few:

  • Eating more, but healthy, food.  This is because the energy expenditure often is greater than most suburban and urban trainees
  • Less focus on isolation exercise movements because you use your whole body lifting hay, moving equipment, cutting and trimming weeds, dealing with livestock and other full-body uses
  • A focus on overall health is greater due to exposure to fertilizer, chemicals on crops, exposure to live animals, and much more.  An emphasis on having a good local rural doctor is important, especially for those who don’t have the background of dealing with ranch and farm environments until later adulthood
  • Lots of walking, including on hills and trails
  • Some sprinting, and this requires flexibility

Another thing he talked about when it comes to Oklahoma and North Texas farms and ranches is conditioning your body to the weather.  With the extremes in climate which North Texas ranches can experience, you have to be able to continue to operate in sub-zero weather (after wind chill), rain, sleet, snow, 100 degree-plus temperatures, high humidity and other weather-based factors such as insects and other elements found primarily in agricultural areas.

He emphasized that people need to talk with their doctors about all of these factors (changing their current nutrition & fitness regimens, dealing with animals & insects, being outdoors in harsh climate, etc.).  Doing so, plus an emphasis on body weight exercises + being able to exercise carrying heavy objects (often at odd angles) will help someone begin to better prepare for life on a ranch or farm or other agricultural land in North Texas.

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I was talking over coffee with my friend Maureen the other day.  She operates a business in the equestrian industry, including horse boarding in Collin County; and we were talking about fitness and how it relates to her business.  One of the needed elements of a competitive horse rider, jumper, etc. is to have strength and balance in one’s legs and lower back/core region.  This is because such skill can help a rider in many unique ways.

For example, if a horse makes a sudden turn that the rider isn’t expecting then having that core strength is an asset to regain control or execute any of the other safety measures taught by experienced and qualified equestrian professionals.  The improved flexibility, strength and balance also can help give a rider a competitive edge in competitions and when training.  It can help with increasing command plus increase the likelihood of a rider having good endurance while training for competition.

There are various ways to increase this combination of strength and balance.  Some include Zumba, yoga, Pilates and other bodyweight activities which develop core strength.  Obviously, if you are into equestrian-related activities talk with a veteran professional who understands the demands placed on one’s body when riding horses either for recreation or competitive purposes.

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Anaerobic Conditioning

When most people think about exercise “conditioning” they think of aerobic exercise like running, jogging, walking, cycling, moderate spin classes, or very light calisthenics.  These however, tend to be forms of more “aerobic” conditioning.  If you want to participate in more traditional sports, however, you will need to develop your “anaerobic” conditioning.  For example, baseball is a purely anaerobic sport which requires short bursts of speed and explosiveness (combined with sport-specific skill).  Such a sport is the opposite of an aerobic activity even though a regular baseball game and a long jog both can go for over 3 hours in some instances.

Some forms of anaerobic conditioning include:

  • sprinting
  • high intensity weight training
  • a sport-specific activity like baseball drills for a catcher
  • running up stadium stairs, and walking back down (for safety and recovery reasons)
  • plyometric activity (under the supervision of a qualified trainer who knows proper form and safety)
  • etc.

An interesting activity most people don’t consider in the DFW area however is boxing.  Next door to the Pilates, Zumba and yoga studio in Irving, is a mixed martial arts (MMA) and Dallas boxing gym.  What is of interest is how the trainees focus on traditional boxing even if the goal is simply to improve anaerobic conditioning.

If you are interested here is a video showing some of the training classes and the higher-intensity activities:

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Healing Exercise Injuries

One of the better ways to increase flexibility in a gentle manner is to get instructed by a certified trainer in a discipline like yoga, Pilates, or even Zumba.  These forms of exercise are less likely to cause injuries versus activities with more “explosive” movements (despite flexibility enhancement) such as some of the more aggressive cross-training, Olympic style weightlifting, more “combat” forms of martial arts, boxing and other exercises which engage a full range of motion and multiple body parts working together simultaneously.  The full-body exercises usually will enhance flexibility, but as people get older the risk of injuries increases especially if much of their work day is spent in a more sedentary manner.

Should you have injuries, including those resulting from previous exercise activities deemed to be more “explosive” than the “gentler” forms, then you may wish to get some healing treatments instead of using drugs such as prescription painkillers.

In addition to therapies recommended by your doctor, certain chiropractors offer new technologies designed to heal your body even if it has nothing to do with your spine or neck.  For example, you may benefit from cold laser therapy if you were to see a chiropractor who determines that your injuries could be helped by the use of the technology.  Other technology to help with healing could include:

  • IST
  • Electric Muscle Stimulation (beyond the portable device level)
  • Spinal decompression therapy
  • Licensed massage therapy
  • Recommendations for what you can do at home or your gym such as ice therapy, saunas, etc.
  • Other suggestions from a licensed doctor

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While everyone talks about health and wellness from an exercise and nutrition perspective, there are other elements to health which many people skip over.  These can include:

  • regular teeth cleaning
  • removing pollutants from one’s home such as in the carpet, getting rid of dust, etc.
  • proper handling of food to prevent illness
  • mental health techniques
  • removing as many harsh chemicals from being consumed
  • health techniques which affect your senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch)

Regarding sight and health, I had a fun conversation with Larry who is an optometrist in the Lakewood Dallas area.  We talked about health and how each professional in the medical, health and fitness areas tend to emphasize their own areas of specialty as being the manner for a client/patient/customer to achieve “health”; but it really does take a balanced approach for a person to make marked improvements in health and vibrancy.  While not all people can make monstrous strides forward when attempting to improve their overall health conditions, at least taking care of the basics tends to be a sound strategy once the person consults with his/her qualified medical professionals.

For example, something as simple as getting custom eyeglass frames in Lakewood Dallas can help supplement other areas.  If one were to take up something like Pilates or Zumba in the Dallas area, having better vision can help with balance issues and increase the odds of a person sticking with any sort of proper exercise routine as compared to if his/her vision were not as good.  The same goes for issues with ears, especially inner ears and balance issues.

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Steve was able to bounce back from a nasty leg injury a few years back.  He had surgery and had to refrain from playing his favorite sports; but he got back in shape using some advanced training techniques.  He then was able to manage his company in Dallas while still being able to play volleyball, basketball, run and engage in other sports.

Of interest, he was able to use his athleticism as a part of his job such as climbing scaffolding for a  3D building projection mapping opportunity as well as using it for filming the motion capture videos for the interactive museum exhibit design process which became the running wall in Dallas.  You can see video of that here.

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Angie runs a fitness studio offering Zumba, yoga and Pilates in Irving Texas.  She has been a fitness competitor, figure competitor, personal trainer and fitness business owner for years; and she knows how to connect with her clients!

She is able to make everyone who trains with her to feel at ease; and one of the big elements she strives to teach is safety and good form.  For example, with the increase in popularity of the cross-training disciplines she cautions her clients to be very careful especially for those over 40.  The risk of injury, and with the promotion of poor form during explosive movements, is extremely high and she knows that injuries often can make her clients not want to be motivated to exercise consistently ever again.  By taking a safer, gentler approach her clients seem to enjoy her passion for teaching fitness and begin to adopt it into their own lives.

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