Most of my young adult life I was into playing recreational basketball and had a pretty physical job so I never had to watch my weight.
When I turned 40 I had to let common sense prevail and retire from recreational basketball in order to save my ailing knees.
Since 2003 we have had our own business and I have become a desk jockey working from home and spending 10 to 12 hours a day in front of my computer.
It is very difficult for me to get to a gym in the time I have left and I have no desire to do much of anything at the end of the workday.
Robert “Bam Bam” Budd was a long time friend and had sent me his Kettle Bell workout several years before and it sat on my shelf collecting dust.
One day I had enough of feeling soggy and saggy so I dusted it off and bought me a couple of Kettle Bells. The video has 2 parts: an instructional and the workout itself where Robert demonstrates the proper techniques and then does the workouts with you.
The thing I love about the Kettle Bell video workout is that I can do it in my living room first thing in the morning. It is a full body workout and has me breaking a sweat. I had forgotten how good it felt to break a sweat but man it does the job!
Since that time I have been doing the workouts 3-4 times a week and they have made a real difference in many areas of my life. I feel better than I have in years and my energy level has improved tremendously.
It is also a great release for the stress I build up running my own business. Exerting that energy, I can take out my frustrations in a constructive way (Much better than yelling at employees or worse – customers).
The best part about Kettle Bell training is that you don’t need to go to a Gym- you can do it anywhere you have a Bell and a will.
Robert will really push you and after about a week I asked him “How do you get around your clients hating your guts?” and he laughed and said “All my clients hate me during the workouts. I tell we can be friends when we are done!”
After doing them for a couple months I have found I hate him less if I turn the sound way down so I don’t have to listen to him J.
Thanks Bam for bringing some physicality back into my life- I REALLY NEEDED IT!
January 26, 2012, 12:01 am
Turning to Kettlebells to Ease Back Pain
By ANAHAD O’CONNOR
Stephanie Diani for The New York TimesA kettlebell workout may be just the thing to ease back, neck or shoulder pain.
Kettlebells, cast-iron weights that have been used for centuries to train Russian soldiers and athletes, appear to be a promising therapy for back and neck pain, new research shows.
Although many people with backaches and other pains shy away from weight lifting for fear of hurting themselves, studies show that strength training can reduce pain and prevent reinjury. While most research has used traditional weight training exercises, researchers in Denmark set out to study whether a kettlebell workout offered therapeutic benefits to back pain sufferers.
The weights, named for their resemblance to a tea kettle with a looped handle, began showing up in American gyms about 15 years ago and have gained a popular following among exercise buffs looking for a quick full-body workout. Unlike traditional weight training, which typically focuses on lifting exercises, a kettlebell workout requires both swinging and lifting of the weights, which for beginners can be awkward and difficult to control.
In a study published last year, the Danish researchers recruited 40 pharmaceutical workers, mostly middle-aged women with back, shoulder and neck pain, who were randomly assigned to either a regular kettlebell workout or a control group that was simply encouraged to exercise. The first group trained with kettlebells in 20-minute sessions two to three times a week for eight weeks, according to the report, published in The Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health.
At the end of the study, the kettlebell exercisers reported less pain as well as improved strength in the trunk and core muscles, compared with the control group. Over all, working out with kettlebells reduced lower back pain by 57 percent and cut neck and shoulder pain by 46 percent.
The study’s senior author, Lars L. Andersen, a government researcher in Denmark, noted that workers who spend much of the day sitting are particularly vulnerable to back, shoulder and neck pain because they develop tightness and weak spots along the posterior muscle chain, which includes the muscles running from the lower back down to the glutes, hamstrings and calves. Kettlebell workouts strengthen the posterior muscle chain, and the increased blood flow to the back and leg muscles also may lessen pain by reducing the buildup of lactic acid, the authors wrote.
While isolation exercises like curls and presses have their benefits, kettlebell movements recruit multiple muscles and teach the body “to move as one unit,” said J.J. Blea, a certified kettlebell instructor and an owner of Firebellz in Albuquerque, one of the top kettlebell gyms in the country.
Because kettlebells can be difficult to control, it’s important to learn proper form from a certified instructor or a kettlebell class at a gym. The cornerstone of the kettlebell workout requires the exerciser to swing the kettlebell between the legs. In the Danish study, women started with a 17.5-pound kettlebell and men with a 26.5-pound kettlebell.
“When you’re doing a swing, you squeeze your quads, you squeeze your glutes, and you squeeze your abs,” said Mr. Blea. “By squeezing these muscles, you protect your back. It creates power, and it increases strength.”
Kettlebell training is also surprisingly aerobic. A study by the American Council on Exercise found that a 20-minute kettlebell workout burns about 21 calories a minute, the equivalent of running at a six-minute-mile pace.
Some very kind words from Kate Hagar who used to workout at Phyzyks in Cardiff with Carolyn Brumfield and I but now lives in the Pacific Northwest but still follows our workouts via BuddBells.com:
Short of living in Cardiff and being able to attend classes in person, Robert’s daily video’s are the best workouts Paul and I could wish for. This last spring, in dire straights, seeking something new and exciting that would challenge us and help address quite a few muscle imbalances, we stumbled on Carolyn and Robert’s studio, Phyzyks. What happened over the next 4 months until we were forced to move because of work has changed our outlook on physical fitness.
Since we’ve moved, and are not close to a gym we are interested in, we’ve both been close followers of Robert’s WOD posts, which has made that challenge of not only coming up with a workout every day, but mustering the motivation to complete it utterly obsolete. Robert’s well thought out workouts and addictively great positive attitude make keeping up our previous regiment easy. Without his daily posts, we’d be right where we started, squeezing in way too many hours of cardio in where we don’t really have the time to do it.
We both feel we owe so much to Robert and Carolyn for changing how we view exercise, and to Robert for providing us the means to keep up with it on a daily basis.
Road to Recovery
Now that I am not blurry eyed with pain I can write about my experience with a bout of back pain and my Road to Recovery. It started with a session with a Body and Tissue Massage Therapist who released tension in my psoas muscle.
The psoas major is a long fusiform muscle located on the side of the thoracic region of the vertebral column and brim of the lesser pelvis. It joins the iliacus muscle to form the iliopsoas. As part of the iliopsoas, psoas major contributes to flexion and external rotation in the hip joint. On the lumbar spine, unilateral contraction bends the trunk laterally, while bilateral contraction raises the trunk from its supine position. It forms part of a group of muscles called the hip flexors, whose action is primarily to lift the upper leg towards the body when the body is fixed or to pull the body towards the leg when the leg is fixed.
For example, when doing a sit up that brings the torso (including the lower back) away from the ground and towards the front of the leg, the hip flexors (including the iliopsoas) will flex the spine upon the pelvis.
This muscle, as I found out first hand, requires tension and has a purpose for its tension. It being released, as it was, threw my body for a loop causing other parts of my back to have to pick up the tension that the psoas was supposed to be holding.
Fast forward to the day after I received this treatment, I did a tough workout with lots of Kettlebell exercises, body weight movements and running that required internal tension, then I did the Del Mar Mud Run the same day which required a ton of Rotational Stability and Bracing along with muscle endurance to finish the event. To put it lightly, “I was jacked up!” After the race I went home in unbelievable pain and crashed on the floor because standing was too much for me to handle. This turned into an event of trying to get up off of the floor with as much success as a turtle would have righting themselves after being turned on their shell.
Enter Carolyn Brumfield and Postural Therapy
Carolyn worked with me that evening developing a personalize program just so I could lie down and get some sleep, after all, I did have a big day and was a little tired. This process continued for close to a week of continual Postural Therapy exercises as my sole physical activity to right what was wrong with my body.
The Set Back
I felt so good from doing Postural Therapy exercises, feeling like I was close to 100% healed, that about 10 days after I first injured myself I did two really tough workouts with kettlebells and more running and body weight movements. Mistake is what I would call an understatement; stupidity would be closer to the truth. This along with frustration of being totally crippled once again really threw me for a spin. I am writing this story 10 days after my set back and I have yet picked up a heavy weight to workout with. I have done 2 workouts that were just going through the motions and by far a tough workout. Mostly body weight movements and a ton of bracing and body tapping, this is where I tense my lower abdominals and tap or poke the muscle forcefully to ensure I am staying engaged and braced.
By this time it is very clear to me that I need to focus on a weak link in my body, my bracing techniques, stomach hardening and posture. I became very clear with laser-focused which I knew would be the only way to get the results I wanted and to get me out of pain. I knew this set back was affecting my livelihood and my outlook on life. The pain was really making me grouchy and therefore turned me into a person that I didn’t like at all.
I had a false security of thinking that I was bracing and doing all that I have been teaching for the last 5 years, but obvious that I needed to do some work on me. I started with a Muscle Balance and Postural Therapy exercises that Carolyn tailored made for my that I did every morning (and still do!), then I did a Functional Movement Screen movement called Primitive Rolling which really helped remind me to use my center muscular system to move. Carolyn adjusted my program as I progressed and got better. My body was changing and getting stronger therefore needed different exercises every couple of days. If you don’t keep updating the program it won’t work and therefore I wouldn’t get better. Like our Kettlebell Program, Postural Therapy exercises must be changed and we all change and get stronger and closer to our functioning body.
What I Learned
The injury to my back taught me that there is so much to learn and to be applied to staying fit. It is like any life lesson, if you don’t learn from it, it was wasted and could be worse the next time around. My body was telling me something and I am grateful I listened and did everything that I could to make it better and hopefully prevent this from happening again. It is OK to take time off and heal, to take care of what takes care of me. To ease back into my fitness routine wont kill me of make me out of shape. I know if I don’t take care of my car it probably wont get me where I want to go in due time. I want to be able to perform like a race car, Mack truck and luxury car all at the same time; therefore I need to take care of it like all of those. I love to work out and when I wasn’t able to not only work out but tie my shoe, stand or walk without pain, I knew I needed to take a few steps back and really look and how I am trying to stay fit and active and if what I am doing or saying is what I am doing. I really am doing what I say and not just talking to hear myself talk.
Thank you Carolyn Brumfield for putting me back together!!