Imbalance and Injury

Imbalance and Injury:   Live an efficient life, inside and out of the gym.

We’ve all been hurt at some point in our lives. Whether it is physically, mentally, or emotionally, it’s not a fun state to be in.  However, the majority of us are moving through our daily lives imbalanced which puts us at greater risk for physical injury.  Muscular imbalance is overlooked when we are working out.  We all want to look our best and feel our best but loathe the feeling of being sidelined by an injury. We count the reps and sets, watch the clock, but we may be forgetting a critical part of our workout – proper muscle activation.

Imbalance occurs when one muscle group must compensate for its weaker counterpart which typically comes from favoring a certain movement pattern.  In this day and age, we have become robotic.  No matter what career we have, there is a certain level of monotony in our daily movement patterns.  This creates an issue when one muscle group constantly performing the action becomes much stronger, and typically tighter than its non-firing, weaker counterpart.  We know by now that too much of anything is not necessarily a good thing.

Training your brain to overcome the imbalance is not an easy feat and typically easy exercises will seem harder as one half of your brain is working hard to balance out the other.  Years ago, at one of my lifting competitions, I was blindsided by a muscle pull in my hamstring during a warm-up set.  I pushed through only to find myself sidelined for several weeks following the meet as my whole kinetic chain was off and the muscle pull became more severe with each lift.  After months of foam rolling [which can be read about in my previous post HERE], sports massages, and many long boring single joint work to address imbalances, I was back in the gym and training again and now I’m even stronger than ever!

Some days it’s easy to get down on myself for overlooking imbalances and thinking I could be so much stronger without injuries or painful tension knots but I must remember, we are only human and the body has an amazing capability of healing itself when provided with the right tools – MOVEMENT!  With movement and mobility comes mental and physical strength as well as balance, which is a feeling that cannot be beat.

Now I can’t say injuries are 100% avoidable, but the severity of them is.  YOU have control of your diet, exercise, and rest and recovery regimens.  The best results that I have found with my clients as well as myself, is a well-balanced workout which incorporates foam rolling, dynamic warm up to activate the muscles to be used, doing equivalent work on both your anterior and posterior chain [front and back side] along with a cool down and stretch.  While it may seem tedious, believe me when I say that you do not want to be out of commission for a long period of time when you’ve got goals to accomplish.

Sometimes calling on the help of a fitness professional will not only keep you accountable, but is a set of eyes that can spot imbalances and address them accordingly. We here at Wise Women Fitness are here to help show you how to efficiently accomplish a balanced workout in just 60 minutes, a couple of times per week while targeting different joints and energy systems.

Remember, if it comes down to it, take the extra five minutes to make sure the muscles trained have had a sufficient stretch.  We spend too much time racing to our next plan and not enough time caring about the body that will get us to that plan.  Movement is medicine and sometimes with an injury you can do more harm than good by cutting off movement all together.  When something acts up on your car you don’t drive it into the ground or neglect it all together, do you? So why not listen to your body and respect it… it is your most permanent home for the rest of your life.

Questions, comments, and new members for the Wise Women Fitness family are always welcomed!

In strength,




9 Steps to Take If You Want to Start Working Out for the First Time

9 Steps to Take If You Want to Start Working Out for the First Time

Working out regularly can benefit you in so many ways. It’s good for your mental health, keeps your heart healthy, and helps you get better sleep. Taking the first step towards developing a regular program can be daunting. So how do you take that first step? Click here for a great article that offers 9 simple steps to help you start working out for the first time. Of course, you can always rely on Wise Women Fitness as well. Our professional trainers can help you get off to a great start for a lifetime of better health.



Turning Your Dog’s Walk Into a Total-Body Workout

Turn Walking Your Dog Into a Total-Body Workout

Taking your dog for a walk is a good option for a little exercise. But what if you could turn your walk with your pup in to a full-body training session? Studies show dogs can help lower your blood presser and cholesterol; reduce depression, stress, and anxiety; motivate you to exercise; and even help you lose weight. It’s like the gym buddy you’ve always wanted… only way cuter. Click here for a great article on turning your dog’s walk in to a workout.



Muscle Imbalance and How to Fix It

Muscle Imbalance and How to Fix It

All of us have imbalances when it comes to our strength. Often times, it is due to whichever hand or foot is dominate. But these imbalances can cause issues in training.  It can create a cascading effect of imbalances that could lead to injury. Click here for a great article on why it matters if one side of the body is stronger than the other and how to fix it.



Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic Breathing

 Decrease Anxiety and Tension While Improving Core Strength…with Diaphragmatic Breathing

Breathing is an automatic and unconscious part of living. However, are there better ways to breathe? Can better breathing improve posture? Improve/maximize workouts? Decrease back//neck/shoulder pain and anxiety? The answer to all those questions is YES! Its called diaphragmatic breathing.


Please take a moment and assess your own breathing patterns (both inhalation and exhalation). Lie on your back with knees bent (preferably a firm surface with no pillow under your head), now place one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Take a nice deep breath in! What rises first? Chest? Belly? Do your ribs move? Now exhale. What moves first?

What should breathing look like? If you are using “ideal” breathing mechanics, the sequence for inhalation should be: ribs expand, belly rises, then chest rises (minimally); exhalation sequence: action should be led by ribs moving down and in, therefore both belly and chest collapse at the same time.

What is the diaphragm?

Elaine2The diaphragm is a huge, dome-shaped muscle at the bottom of the rib cage that serves as the main muscle for respiration and plays a vital role in the breathing process. Although it is used 24/7, it goes largely unnoticed (unless you get hiccups!).

When breathing in, the diaphragm contracts, in conjunction with the intercostal muscles, it lowers the pressure in the thoracic cavity which enables air to enter the lungs. When breathing out, the diaphragm relaxes/elongates along with the intercostal muscles, allowing air to leave. Air may be forced out faster by increasing abdominal pressure using the transverse abdominis muscle.


The diaphragm also has an important role in stabilizing the core. It forms the top of the core ‘box,’ working with the internal and external obliques, quadratus lumborum, transversus abdominis and pelvic floor.











Benefits of proper diaphragmatic breathing patterns:

Relieves tension in neck and back

Many people with back/neck and even shoulder pain are “shallow breathers”, meaning when taking a deep breath in, the chest rises first and shoulders go up. “Shallow breathers” use accessory muscles such as scalenes and sternocleidomastoid for deep breathing which, over time, could lead to tightness and muscle imbalances through the neck/shoulder area. Tightness and muscle imbalance in these muscles can cause neck pain, shoulder pain, and even headaches.

Initiating a breath with diaphragm, the ribs expands/move, allowing your back muscles (paraspinals) and your abdominals to lengthen. This creates movement through your thoracic spine (where ribs attach), provides natural traction to the lumbar spine (potentially improving disc health), relieving tension and improve mobility through entire spine.

Improves calming system and decrease anxiety

Proper diaphragmatic lengthening and contraction (through proper deep breathing) activates the vagus nerve and triggers a relaxation response (parasympathetic).  If the diaphragm never contracts properly, the body is held in “fight or flight” state (sympathetic nervous system), which could lead to rapid, shallow breathing and feeling anxious.

Deep breathing for just 20 to 30 minutes each day will increases the supply of oxygen to your brain, reduce anxiety and reduce stress. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind. The relaxation response is critical in order for your body to heal, repair and renew.

Improves core strength

During the inhalation portion of breathing, the diaphragm contracts and moves down (opens like an umbrella), the ribcage expands, and the “core” muscles lengthens (transverse abdominus and obliques). As with any other muscle groups, there has to be a lengthening and shortening in order to strengthen (take your bicep for example). During the exhalation portion of breathing, the diaphragm relaxes, the ribs moves in and down allowing for obliques and other “core” muscles to contract (including pelvic floor) and improve core strength. Active exhalation can be achieved by contraction of the abdominal wall muscles (rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, external oblique muscle and internal oblique muscle).
An amazing foundation starts with great breathing. Take a deep breath…

Thank you for reading. If you have any further questions, please visit, call 813-773-3494 or email

Elaine Coetzee PT, DPT, ATC
Owner, Physical Therapist
Pure PT and Wellness, LLC

*All content created for educational purposes only. If you are experiencing pain or looking to optimize your movement, schedule a free 15-minute phone call with me to discuss steps to handle this. Always seek advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read online.

Breast Cancer and Exercise

Breast Cancer and Exercise

Why Exercise is Critical to your Recovery

While everyone can agree, exercise is part of a recipe for a better, healthier life, and exercise can do some amazing things.  Not only can it help us control our weight, decrease our risk of disease, but it can also make is physically stronger, improve our emotional well being and keep us independent.

As a breast cancer survivor, exercise can help you take control of your life in a new world that leaves you feeling out of control.   It can help you live strong, take better care of yourself physically and emotionally so you can look to the future!  The benefits of exercise before, during and after your cancer treatment are too numerous to mention and the medical community agrees!

Knowledge is power!

In 2009 the American College of Sports Medicine (“ACSM”) assembled a panel of medical experts to evaluate the safety and benefits of exercise for cancer survivors and the results were conclusive.  In 2010, ACSM issued these results in formal guidelines on exercise for cancer survivors entitled “Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors“.  The roundtable concluded that exercise is both safe and beneficial for survivors in not only physical strength, fatigue, quality of life, but also increasing survival rates and reducing possible recurrence of cancer.

When you have been released by your doctor and ready to return to your exercise regimen after surgery, or you have never exercised and it’s time to rebuild your strength and relieve pain after treatment, it is important that you exercise safely and appropriately, as your physical exercise needs are unique.

In the wonderful world of the internet, knowledge is now just a click away so you have endless resources to educate yourself on what you can or can’t do with respect to exercise. is a great place to start.   If you re not comfortable with starting out on your own, the next best route is to work with a certified cancer exercise trainer who has experience working with survivors.

Remember, as a post-surgical breast cancer survivor, your needs are unique.  It’s probably a good bet that the personal trainer at the gym down the street doesn’t have the experience or the credentials to work with a survivor.  As a survivor, your return to exercise is a slow, progressive and gentle process of restoring your strength, range of motion and mobility.

Whether you decided to go it alone, or if you need help, Wise Women Fitness is here for you.  When you work with our certified Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist, you can feel safe, confident and comfortable knowing that you’re health and wellness needs are in good hands.  If you’d like more information visit our Pink Ribbon Program webpage.

As always, yours in health,




Plant-based Diets for a Healthy Heart

Plant-based Diets for a Healthy Heart

Having a plant based diet doesn’t automatically make you healthy. Being vegan or vegetarian can be a great choice for your health, but only if you are making the right food choices. Studies show that individuals who ate plenty of healthy plant foods — such as vegetables, beans and whole grains — did have a lower risk of heart disease. This was not true, however, if people loaded up on foods that are technically plant-based, but not all that healthy.  Diets heavy in pasta, bread, potatoes and sweets appeared just as bad as, if not worse than, diets high in animal products.

You can read about the study here from CBS news.

Copy of 21 Day (1)

Ready for a RESET? Our 21 Day Health Reset Challenge Starts August 1st!

Are you TIRED of feeling tired?

So how are you feeling these days?  Do you find you’re carrying a lot more around your middle. And none of your old tricks for quick weight loss are working? You’ve done 3 days of Atkins, hit the gym a couple of times a week, cut back on alcohol or sweets–but none of this is working for you the way it once did?  

The truth is, menopause, and the preceding perimenopause, can wreak some serious havoc on our bodies and metabolism.  The old tricks we used to use to drop those 5-10 pounds don’t work anymore.
It’s an entirely different ‘ball game’ now that we’re over 40 (even some ladies in their 30’s!)

But we can help.  Let us teach you how to RESET your metabolism in just 21 days with our 21 Day Health Reset Challenge. NO crazy diets, shakes or pills. Just back to basics with real food, exercise, lots of education, and also important, some mind work!  Oh, and you’ll be surrounded by women your own age, with tons of morale support.  

If you’re interested in learning more about this upcoming special promotion, click on the link here.  We only run these types of challenges two times a year and this is one of them.

We’re keeping this program limited to a small group of women (less than 10), so if you want in, you’ll need to sign up early.

Until then, wishing you well and as always, yours in health,



Yoga for Treating Back Pain

Yoga for Treating Back Pain 

A recent study showed that yoga may be as effective for treating back pain as physical therapy. This reduction in back pain also created a reduction in pain medication taken. With the chronic overuse of narcotics currently in our country, it’s great to see that there can be another alternative for managing pain.

Yoga is great for improving flexibility and strengthening the core and other stabilizing muscles that support the spine. It is important to keep a few things in mind if you decide to try yoga to relieve back pain:

  1. Seek out a reputable yoga studio or private practice teacher. Well trained yoga teachers will know how to instruct you in poses and provide modifications so you don’t get injured.
  2. Pay attention to how your body is feeling and don’t push beyond your edge. Allow your body to adapt and change, don’t force it.
  3. Pay attention to your form in poses. Listen closely to cues from the teacher. A good teacher will provide the help you need to hold poses properly.
  4. Be aware of the type of group yoga class you sign up for. If you are going to a studio, be sure to read the description of the class you intend to take. It should tell you what level the class is and what to expect.

You can read about the study here from CBS news.

Thoughts on Completing my 21-day Detox Reset


Yesterday was the final day of my self-imposed 21-day detox reset plan and I am feeling accomplished!  In this past year, my busy schedule has gotten the better of me and I was reaching for nutritional quick-fixes like protein bars, packaged foods and eating out.   I wasn’t planning my meals, I was drinking way too many craft beers and just not taking care of my body like I should.  As if post-menopause wasn’t enough to deal with, consequently, my body responded to the neglect – I gained 10 pounds, I was feeling bloated and sluggish (OMG, can you spell, I-N-F-L-A-M-M-A-T-I-O-N?), mushy and all around frumpy so I decided, enough is enough!  I’m a fitness professional!  I was tired of feeling chunky and it was time to reset my hormones, reduce my inflammation and feel human again!

Now, I’m not saying that I ate and drank like this every day, but you’d be amazed at how quickly this stuff adds up!  Habits form VERY quickly and before you know it, you’re in a rut.

What I did

So, for the last 21-days I would say I eliminated the following crap from my diet:

  • Sugar in any form other than fresh fruit – no chocolate, candy, muffins, baked goods, NONE!
  • Protein bars – NONE! Every protein bar is packaged and contains some form of SUGAR!
  • Any Processed foods – any food that was pre-packaged was off the list – these contain preservatives, chemicals and, guess what: SUGAR!
  • Beer – this was a hard one and I wasn’t perfect, but, I was shocked at how much beer I was drinking each week! I think I may have had 2 total beers in the last 21 days. This is a far cry from my prior consumption and just think of all the carbs I eliminated.  And you guessed it, carbs = SUGAR!
  • Wine – off the list…SUGAR.
  • Anything fried – no chicken wings or chicken tenders for me. Again, I wasn’t perfect and I did break down 1 time, but hey, I’m only human. 😉
  • Pasta and bread – I tried to keep these to a minimum and derive my carbs from veggies.
  • Processed deli meats – too many preservatives!
  • Fast food of ANY kind – NONE!

One of the most important aspects of my detox reset was I re-introduced regular exercise into my life.  I had fallen out of habit with my regular routine and being post-menopausal, this is a recipe for weight-gain disaster, hence the extra 10 pounds!   I’ve started swimming laps twice a week – just 30 minutes of intervals gives me a TOTAL body workout.  I’ve also incorporated 30 minutes of power-walking no less than 3 days a week, 2 of those days includes 30 minutes of resistance training.

Don’t get me wrong, this was HARD!  And, making big changes like this is probably likened to going into rehab but I’m not one to ‘ease’ into anything; it’s gotta be all-in for me.  The result has been an interesting journey and I have paid very close attention to how my body felt and what my cravings were. 

The Hard stuff

I’d say the hardest thing I have dealt with was not having a beer at the end of my day – I viewed this as a reward for hard work and it was a well-practiced habit for me.  But after the first 4-5 days, I didn’t think about it at all.  Lots of sparkling water in a cold beer glass for me.  A surprising early epiphany for me was that my sugar cravings were gone almost immediately.  I LOVE chocolate.  Once I set my mind to not having any, I didn’t even think about it. 

How did I feel

I did notice the first week feeling pretty tired and a little sluggish (more than usual) which I believe was my body’s way of detoxing.  I also noticed that whenever I ate, I would become sluggish and tired soon after, like I wanted to nap. Again, I likened this to eliminating a lot of carbs and refined sugars from my nutrition.  My body was very used to having this crap to function and suddenly, it was no more.  This was easily remedied with a piece of fruit or a handful of grapes after a meal or at the slightest hint of tiredness, I would head for the treadmill (seriously).

Oh, and I was (and still am) was hungry A LOT – eliminating cruddy, processed carbs = hunger.  I filled in the gaps with lots of salads, veggies and clean protein for me.

How do I feel now

I feel GREAT!  It’s like I’m back in my own skin again!  My belly is no longer bloated, my clothes are fitting better and looser, and last week the scale started to move and I’m down 3.5 pounds since I started.  More importantly, I have rewired my brain and eliminated some REALLY bad habits that I had formed.  It truly is amazing how our bodies respond to the environment we subject it to – both good and bad.  My amazing machine is feeling amazing again! 

Every now and then it’s a good idea to take stock of our present situation; how we’re taking care of our bodies, ourselves.  Every now and then, it’s a good idea to “reset”.  It’s not easy, but the result will leave you feeling accomplished, strong and simply amazing!! 

As always, yours in health,