At the OCB Figure Competition

At the OCB Figure Competition
Leslie celebrates completion of her first competition!

Leslie's Story in Brief...

46-year-old breast cancer survivor

diagnosed in March 2009

final surgery on June 4, 2010

Professor of Health and Exercise Science at Rowan University

Pastor's wife (of Stuart Spencer, Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church in New Hope, PA)

Mother of Sam (age 12) and Miles (age 7)

Trained all through chemotherapy and radiation

Completed her first body building competition EVER on August 28, 2010!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flexibility and core strength pave the way for pain-free weight training

I have been training heavily for the past few months since the bodybuilding show last August.  I am in a "building" phase, which means I am working toward building muscle strength and mass through my workouts and my diet.

About six weeks ago, I started developing low-back pain and stiffness.  A few weeks after that, I began to experience "tennis elbow", or pain in my left elbow area whenever I used that arm to lift weights.  After talking it over with Domenick, I came to see that I was not spending enough time warming up before lifting and I had stopped training my core (abdomenals, obliques and lower back muscles) as intentionally as I had the previous summer.  While a younger weight trainer might be able to get away with less flexibility and core work, a 46-year-old cancer survivor cannot.

I began adding 20 extra minutes of flexibility training to my workouts.  I was already spending 15 minutes at the end of each workout performing stretches, but I needed more.  Domenick encouraged me to add joint rotations to my warm ups and in between sets.  Since there is a rest period between sets when I am lifting, this is an ideal time to do joint rotation exercises.  Seven days a week, I am performing joint rotation and static stretches.  On days that I am not weight training, I simply do the rotations as a warm up to my cardiovascular work that day. 

I've also added a concentrated core training workout on the two days a week that I am currently just doing cardiovascular exercise.  I perform a varying series of abdomenal, oblique and lower back training exercises for about 15 minutes after my cardio work.

The great news is that my lower back pain and stiffness have completely dissappeared!  To be honest, I didn't think the pain would go away that quickly, but I am thrilled that it has.  My "tennis elbow" is still with me, but I continue to work on that through stretching, rotations, self-massage and some strength training for my wrists and forearms.

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