Ask an Exercise Physiologist: Rest days and core strengthening exercises | HerCanberra

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Ask an Exercise Physiologist: Rest days and core strengthening exercises

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Terrific questions this week about standing balance exercises for arthritic knees, and “active recovery” days.

Thank you to the HerCanberra community for being so engaging and asking the tough questions. Addressing your concerns is the first step in finding answers.

I’ll get to the other questions on morning lumbar spine aches and pains, mountain running, burnout syndrome, periodisation in the gym and the benefits of exercising with depression over the next month.

New here? Ask an EP is here to help with all your health and wellness questions and challenges—lifestyle, wellness, pain and health.

Do you have a burning health and wellness question? Now is your chance to ask.

Each week we will pick a couple of questions, and help you solve your burning query. If we share our problems, we are more likely to solve them.

Let’s get started:

Could you please suggest some core strengthening exercises to help with poor balance and arthritic knees (so nothing floor-based please)? Thank you

 – Nicola, 75

Hi Nicola,

Glad to hear you are focusing on your strength and conditioning to improve your knee pain. As requested, here’s a simple, easy and effective balance workout for you (without being floor-based):

1) LUNGES
2) SINGLE LEG SQUATS
3) HIP EXTENSION
4) SINGLE LEG CALF RAISE 
5) HIP FLEXION

Make sure the core is engaged before performing any of these movements. Start with six repetitions of each exercise (holding onto a wall), and if you recover well, increase by two reps until you reach 12-15 repetitions (and two sets).

You can print the PDF here, and the workout will drop into IGTV later today.

If the above exercises cause you pain, try doing the exercises in your local pool (and seek an allied health professional who specialises in exercise prescription). Other lifestyle options to manage your knee arthritis:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Swimming, Deep Water Running, Hydrotherapy/Hydrolates (Aquatic Pilates) or bike riding – all of these activities will deload the knee joint, and strengthen around the joint
  • Heat-Ice-Heat—the ice will help to reduce the inflammation and the heat will increase the blood flow to the area, without feeling stiff and restricted
  • Elevate your legs throughout the day
  • Compression—to help prevent fluid from building up in your knee joint

Good luck and let me know you go—there are always options, so don’t ever give up!

I work out six days a week and understand I should have a rest day at least once a week. 

However, on the rest day, I always feel sluggish, sore, stiff joints. Should I not have a rest day?

– Amelia, 45

Great question Amelia, and very relevant for many of us wanting to get the most out of our bodies.

Rest days are just as important as exercise days. Listen to your body—you know best! Your body adapts to the new loads and repairs when you’re resting.

A “rest day” doesn’t mean hang out on the couch all day. The best way to recover and adapt to the new load is by scheduling an “active recovery day” (especially in your situation). For example:

  • 30 minute flat easy walks
  • YouTube a home mobility session like yoga or Pilates (take the easier options)
  • Swim
  • Hydrotherapy or Hydrolates (Aquatic Pilates)

Have you tried using water for your recovery day? It’s magic for the human body.

The human body responds to water immersion with changes in the heart, peripheral resistance, and blood flow, as well as alterations in skin, core, and muscle temperature (Wilcock et al., 2006). The perfect recovery tool!

The changes in blood flow and temperature may influence inflammation, immune function, muscle soreness and perception of fatigue.

At Capital Hydrotherapy we run 200 sessions a week in the water, ranging from recovery and rehabilitation to strengthening type sessions.

Whatever activity you do choose, ensure the movement is gentle & flowing, with 70-80% decreased load (compared to your normal workout).

When you exercise, you create microscopic tears in your muscle tissue; however, during a recovery day, cells called fibroblasts repair the tears, and assists the tissue to heal and grow, resulting in stronger happier muscles.

That’s all we want—a happy strong body!

Want to ask your own question?

We are all better together! Do you have a burning health and wellness question?

Fill out our Google Form, or email us your health and wellbeing questions, to either: editor@hercanberra.com.au or kirra@capitalhydrotherapy.com.au.

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