Taping Tuesday: Rib Pain

Humans have 24 ribs, or twelve pairs, that help protect vital organs and aid in the contraction and expansion of the thorax when breathing.  Of the twelve pairs, the first seven are deemed “true ribs” meaning each one has an individual cartilaginous attachment to the sternum.  The last five pairs of ribs are “false ribs” because they either share a connection to the sternum or are floating ribs, meaning they only have a connection to the spine.

Because of the integral role ribs play in everyday functions such as breathing, coughing, and laughing, any injury to them can take several weeks to heal.  The area can’t be permanently stabilized as in the case of a broken arm in a cast because the intercostal muscles that are in between the ribs are utilized with the above mentioned actions and are thus always in motion.

Applying kinesiotape can help add support and stability to the ribs without compromising their function.  Depending on your comfort level with taping, KT Tape and Rocktape provide different methods.  The former uses four regular strips that is easier to handle and apply while the latter involves a fan-like approach to tape the ribs.

Taping Tuesday: Neck and Upper Back

A common area of complaint in the general population is pain in the neck and upper back.  A phrase frequently heard is “I carry my stress in my shoulders” and there is some truth to this saying.  High stress levels or an injury to the area can cause a breakdown of proper posture in the neck and upper back.

uppercrosssyndrome

Instead of standing or sitting upright, the upper back starts rounding out, aquiring a hyperkyphotic posture while the head and neck travel forward into an anterior head carriage position.  If the body is in this alignment for a prolonged period of time, muscles become overstretched and weakened.  This can lead to tightness and tenderness in the upper trapezius and cervical paraspinal muscles, which run across the top of the shoulders and along the sides of the neck respectively.  This produces a complex called the upper cross syndrome as pictured above.

There are simple stretches and kinesio taping methods that can be used to help correct this detrimental syndrome as well as aid in symptom relief.  Doorway and wall stretches are two of the most commonly prescribed routines.  Taping is also quite straightforward as demonstrated by KT Tape and Rocktape.

P90X3: Week 12 Recap

Week 12 was the last “real” sequence of workouts in P90X3, since week 13 is considered a victory week.  This past week featured the ever tough Decelerator, which I have become quite familiar with as it is the lead routine in every week of block 3.  Crane push-ups have become slightly more manageable in terms of form and balance but it is still no walk in the park.

Eccentric Upper and Lower were challenging as always and I look forward to doing them back to back and twice a week once I start the mass schedule.  I managed to substitute Ab Ripper X for Dynamix this week for just the second time.  I had high hopes of doing this more frequently because I do get more out of 15 minutes of intense core work than another day of stretching.

P90X3 concludes with a victory week that cruises to the finish line with Isometrix, Accelerator, Pilates X, X3 Yoga, Dynamix, and ends with a final fit test.  With this journey almost at a completion, I can say that the past twelve weeks have gone by like a blur.  Even though I might have struggled during individual workouts, it was all about putting things in perspective and just pushing play from one day to the next.  Almost 90 days later, I’m glad I took this challenge and look forward to being able to say I’m a P90X3 grad.

Taping Tuesday: Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is a collection of four muscles that help stabilize the shoulder.  Other functions of this muscle group include arm abduction, external rotation, and internal rotation.  The four muscles involved are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis.  All have points of origin on the scapula and insert into the humerus (upper arm bone).

Shoulder_joint.svg

Kinesiotaping of the rotator cuff muscles aims to help support and provide additional stability to the four named muscles, allowing the body to perform more efficiently in daily activities or in an athletic environment.  It can also aid in the healing process of sprains, strains, or minor tears that do not require surgery.

Taping Tuesday: Triceps Brachii

Even though the biceps gets the majority of attention when people envision muscular arms, the triceps brachii is actually the largest muscle group on the upper arm.  Exercises such as push-ups, dips, and bench presses will all work the triceps, adding size or definition depending on your goals.  With any strenuous workout, injuries are bound to happen and taping the triceps can’t be any easier.  One strip of a kinesiotape of your preference is all that is required.

P90X3: Week 11 Recap

With week 11 in the bag, the light at the end of the P90X3 tunnel is starting to get brighter and clearer!  Just like last week, I modified the workout schedule and ended up omitting X3 Yoga and the Dynamix or  Rest day.  The biggest leap this week was the amount of pull-ups and chin-ups I was able to muster without the assist band during The Challenge and Total Synergistics.  I’m finally back to where I was at the end of my run through of P90X a couple years ago.  With that said, I”m still nowhere near where the guys in the DVDs are at but the improvement is nice to see.

Agility X and Triometrics got me feeling “like Kobe in the fourth quarter” as Tony Horton so eloquently put it.  I was gasping for air and tugging on my shorts whether it was from pushing myself harder or my cardio not being up to par recently.  I’m looking forward to really maxing out the workouts next week before the final victory week.

First Impressions: Amazon Fire TV

With the relocation of our older TV into the bedroom, we realized that it is currently nothing more than a receptacle for the XBox 360, sans XBox Live.  Our grand plan was to attach a Google Chromecast so we could access Netflix and Amazon Prime videos.  Alas, the two HDMI ports on the back of the TV are spaced in a way that makes it physically impossible for this arrangement to occur.  With the recent release of the Amazon Fire TV, we decided to attempt our first, and extremely delayed, foray into the set-top box market.

firetv1

Unboxing
The Amazon Fire TV comes in a simple and compact black box with logos of the various supported apps on the front.  Like most set-top devices (Apple TV, Roku), this list includes Netflix and Hulu Plus.  Inside, you’ll find the relatively small device that is a 4.5″ square and 0.7″ thick.  Also included is an elegant and streamlined remote, a power cord, 2 AA batteries, and a quick start guide.  Note, you will have to supply your own HDMI cable.

Setup
The quick start guide’s boast of a three step setup was no lie, but as with seemingly any device released nowadays, the first thing it did was to download the inevitable initial update.  It took a good 10 to 15 minutes for what I imagine is the latest firmware to be installed and running before I was greeted with the informative intro cartoon on key features.

Initial Impressions
I can say that even in the limited time I’ve had with the device, the voice search on the remote works as advertised.  I hate how inefficient and frustrating manually searching on smart TVs with the remote control is so I was really hoping this feature would be a worthy replacement.  And it truly is.  Time will tell if I maintain this stance, but for now, it understands what I say in no more than 2 tries (although for whatever reason it had a tough time comprehending the word “air” when my wife searched for “air disasters”).

The UI is clean with a focus on large tiles that can scrolled left and right, similar to Netflix.  That familiarity aided in how quick and easy it was to access all the Fire TV has to offer.  I wasn’t able to figure out how to “upvote” or indicate that a review was helpful, which has become a standard for all things Amazon.

Another positive is how speedy this device is whether it is during navigation of the menu system or loading up movies and shows.  Compared to Netflix on the living room TV or the Kindle Fire, there was hardly any loading or buffering after selecting something to watch.  Extended time with the Fire TV will show whether it is affected by the dreaded Netflix bottleneck by ISPs but the quad core processor definitely helps things zip along.

A gripe I do have so far is that when the results of a search are displayed, there is an option for playing the selected media on another app (such as Hulu Plus) instead of Amazon Video.  But I have not come across the option to launch the show/movie from Netflix even if it is available on Netflix.  It would save some steps rather than having to launch the Netflix app and then search from there for the same show.

Some features I haven’t gotten to try out yet include how gaming performs (which is a big part of their marketing push), the music apps, displaying photos and videos from the Amazon Cloud, and the FreeTime feature which is aimed at limiting screen time and content for kids while also letting them have a unique profile.  I look forward to exploring more of what this set-top is capable of so look for a review in the near future.

For now, I leave you with the immortal Gary Busey and his (paid)take on the Amazon Fire TV.

Taping Tuesday: Biceps

The biceps muscle is not just a “glamour muscle” but is involved with important daily functions of the arm and shoulder.  Specifically, it allows for flexion of the elbow and rotation of the shoulder joint.  Because it is such a prominent and practical muscle, it can be afflicted with many different ailments such as sprains, strains, tears, displacements, and inflammation.

Taping the biceps is as simple as a single piece of kinesiotape.