Springing into Shape

“After the winter, there will be spring.” We can all take comfort in these profound words of Chauncey Gardner in the movie Being There. During this time of year, we yearn for warmth; cold and wind has challenged those of us who thrive to move outside in nature. Sprains and strains in the ice, dislocations and fractures from the slopes, general muscle fiber tightening, and howling winds all conspire to weaken our resolve. Injuries during winter’s dark days deter us from vital sunshine and our beloved daily workout rituals. 

How can we transition into spring healthy, ready to enjoy warmer months? We can begin by renewing our muscular system. Here’s two essentials from The Whartons Strength Zone® One—Hip & Trunk. 

Lower Abdominals. Michael Del Monte Photograph

Lower Abdominals. Michael Del Monte Photograph

1.Lower Abdominals—Lie on back. Bend knees and hips at 90 degree angles. Extend arms over head and grab a stable surface—table or bed for support. Maintain the 90-degree angle of your hip and knee. Raise your pelvis off the surface. Slowly return to start position. Add resistance by placing an ankle weight looped around your ankles. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions. 

Sacrospinalis. Michael Del Monte Photograph

Sacrospinalis. Michael Del Monte Photograph


2.Sacrospinalis—Lie face down on table or bed. Your hips should be on the edge of the surface. Straighten your legs. Turn your toes inward. Hands may grasp table or bed for support. Head rests to one side. Raise your legs to mid-line position with your trunk. Slowly return to start position. Ankle weights may be looped around ankle to increase resistance. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions. 


Enjoy these two extended core exercises, great additions to your strength training program. These exercises can be found in the Whartons Compete Strength Book, Whartons on Demand Streaming Channel, Whartons Strength for Athletes and Everyone DVD, and Whartons Digital Downloads. 

Resolve to...Revise….Your Resolutions


Trash the long list


While some doubt the validity of the data surrounding the existence of Blue Monday, there is no shortage of data, statistics, and research touting the failure of the New Year’s resolution. How sad -  surely there is a way to parlay the eternal optimism of the New Year to make life better? The secret may actually reside in what has been left undone. Yes, that’s right, “forget about it” (or at least, some of it).

What to do?

  • Trash the long list.

  • Begin with realistic goals in just a few categories of your life.

  • Cut your resolutions down to a few “doable” daily changes.

  • Be honest: is this goal, habit, or objective truly essential to you?

  • Does just thinking of bringing this into your life make you smile and bring you joy? If not, get rid of it. 

Research confirms it take 21 days to form a habit and 66 days to integrate the habit. By eliminating the superfluous non-essentials your world opens up to what truly matters most to you.

Further Reading: Be it Resolved by John Tierney includes the compelling story of a client Jim and I worked with to help loose weight. The article illustrates the power of focusing on what’s most important and committing to that goal.

Hallux Rigidus—“Big Toe”

Hallux Rigidus—“Big Toe”


Jammed. Stubbed. Bruised, or just locked up—our big toe can ground our locomotion. The big toe is the most important of the five. The hallux, or “great toe” is our vital point of contact with landing surfaces in walking, running, for movement. If you are experiencing pain, irritation, soreness, or lack of mobility you may have hallux rigidus.


What it is?

Hallux rigidus, is caused by range of motion loss in the joint that connects the great toe and first metatarsal. There is pain walking and in many cases with any pressure or weight bearing.


Reset it


Step One: Sit on a flat surface with one leg in front of you. Bend the exercising at the knee at a 90-degree angle. Grab the top of your foot with both hands. Exhale. Extend your big toe toward the floor. Stabilize the other toes. Gently assist the toe downward within its natural end range of motion. Inhale. Return to start position. Repeat for 8-10 reps. This relaxes and lengthens the Toe Extensors. Join the Whartons Streaming Video Channel to access the full menu of videos on any device.


Step Two: Sit on a flat surface with one leg in front of you. Bend the exercising at the knee at a 90-degree angle. Grab the top of your foot with both hands. Exhale. Flex your big toe upward. Gently assist with one hand at your natural end range of motion. Inhale. Return to start position. Repeat for 8-10 reps. This relaxes and lengthens the Toe Flexors.

Whartons Simple Solutions--Plantar Fasciitis


Plantar Fasciitis, while the name may sound like a mysterious tongue twister, the experience is not.  Millions of people undergo any number of the following on a daily basis:  a pain on their heel the moment their foot hits the ground in the morning; tenderness in the heel and arch area; pain in the heel or arch area after taking the first few steps after a long periods of sitting discomfort and throbbing in the heel and arch area after long periods of standing. 

Plantar Fasciitis- What it is?

Plantar Fasciitis is painful inflammation of the heel and bottom surface of the foot.  It is generally caused by overstretching of the fibrous tissue (fascia) that connects the heel to the forefoot.

Breaking the injury cycle requires an overall approach, examining critical elements such as postural alignment, biomechanics, musculoskeletal balance, correct footwear, and training – see the illustration below. Here are few additional tools to help you get on your road to recovery:

Reset It! - Bend the knee of your exercising leg. Place your hand over the top arch of your foot. Flex your top arch and toes toward you. Move until your natural end range of motion. Gently assist with your hand as you continue to move. Return to start position. Exhale as you flex your toes and arch toward you. Inhale as you return to start position. Repeat for two sets of 8-10 repetitions.

Stabilize It! -   Assume the same starting position as your “Reset”/the previous exercise – bending the knee of your exercising leg.  Place your hands over the top of your foot.  Extend your toes and top arch toward the ground. Resist with a gentle pressure with your hand resting on the top of your foot. Exhale as you move. Inhale as you return to start position. Repeat for two sets of 8-10 repetitions. Increase resistance with your hand as you get stronger and your body adapts/adjusts to the exercise.

Release it! -  While seated, cross your affected leg over your opposite thigh or bend your knee. Using your thumb or fingers start applying a very gentle pressure between the inside of your heel and inside anklebone. Since your fascia may already be inflamed, go slowly allowing your thumb or fingers to be taken into the distorted tissue. You can use a muscle salve or a more adhesive substance for a better grip. Take the time to allow the micro bundles of your facial fibers to unwind at their own pace.


Now - The Best Time for Active-Isolated Flexibility

Now - The Best Time for Active-Isolated Flexibility

People frequently ask me the best time to integrate active-isolated flexibility into their routine....the best time to is now.  Conceding the potential impracticality of now, some more guidelines can be provided.

Fall into Alignment

Fall into Alignment

Believe it or not by standing up against a straight vertical surface you are in optimum postural alignment. That is our natural design -  to evenly distribute the force of gravity and enjoy efficiency of movement.

Tennis - Love It!

Tennis - Love It!

If the US Open and fall weather have brought you to the courts before winter sets in… Here’s a tip on getting the most out of your backhand....

Muscles tightening on the tennis court as the fall weather gets a little “nippy”? Well, here’s a simple tip to keep your serve in full swing:

Gardener's Relief-Side Trunk Muscles

Gardener's Relief-Side Trunk Muscles

Akin to the engineering of a suspension bridge, our side back musculature is constantly at work every time we move. Lateral trunk muscles play a pivotal role in the daily life of the grower. Reaching down to plant a new row of veggies, extending to liberate crops from invasive weeds, and, wielding hand tools to prepare the soil.  These side back muscles need maintenance—especially if they are painful. Here’s a flexibility and strength exercise to gain range of motion and structural integrity.