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Part one of two:Do you have back pain? Are you doing the right exercises? Spine health 101

Part One of Two

Most adults have back pain at some point and time in their life. Back pain is one of the most debilitating injuries that is suffered by the majority of Americans. This blog post is for everyone nurses, parents and lawyers, butchers, bakers and software makers who all need a healthy back to do their jobs and perform their everyday activities.  It is also a blog post for people who run(like me:), ride, swim or skate; people who throw things, swing things, paddle things or kick things!!…a blog post for people who want to avoid injury and improve their life and sport.

 Recent research strongly suggest that if the nervous system is deprived of this position-sense information, it will lose the ability to activate certain middle layer muscles, muscles which protect and stabilize the joints of the spinal column.

Did you know that 80-90% of people are doing the wrong exercises to help with their back issues.

Stabilizing your spinal segments is the key to help your back pain. We now know through much studied science that the spine has many muscles that perform different functions, some act as sensors, some act as stabilizers and other work to create powerful movements. Now that we know these differences  and understand spinal function we can better develop an exercise prescription that will train trunk muscles for their specific functions.

It is always a good idea to go to your primary care physician and get the “OK” before you start an exercise program. Also at Health and Exercise Prescriptions we create exercise prescriptions that are made for the individuals and their special conditions/Medication and or previous injuries.

How fragile is our spine? Did you know that the spine would buckle under 20 lbs of load with out our supporting muscles; becoming injured. Normal every day activities put at least 175 lbs of pressure on our spine. As you can see our supporting muscle are essential for everyday normal task, lifting, bending, etc.

Your back pain keeps coming back not because of a “muscle problem” but, more a” neurologic problem” most likely from the injured nerve.Our neurologic system plays a key role in spinal stabilization….our muscle are controlled by our nervous system to function. If you “pinch” a nerve it makes the nerve impulse less strong; example if a muscle usually contracts at 100%… after a nerve gets “pinched” it my only contract at 60%  of full strength.So the weakness is neurological and not so much muscular. Neuromuscular re-education is a specific way to train the segments of your spine and the muscles that where effected directly by the nerve being “pinched”  so as to regain the full contraction of the muscle being recruited during movement activities.

Spine 101

Our spine has 25 individual bones called vertebrae which are connected by ligaments and spinal disc in between the vertebrae. The disc and ligaments attach one vertebrae to the next and limit the small amount of motion that occurs between vertebrae when ever moving.

Upper region of the spine is called the cervical spine, the middle of the spine is called the thoracic spine and the lower back is lumbar and sacrum respectively. Each segment of your spine (which there are 25) has nerves that feed out to muscles and organs to communicate to them. These nerves feed out of the spine through holes called  inter-vertebral foramina ; when the joint is not aligned up it can impinge these nerve roots ,effectively shutting down communication to certain muscles and organs.

All movements of your body result in some degree of motion at the spinal joints. The key to healthy movement is spinal stability!

Did you know that your disc and ligaments are the weak link in your spine! The disc and ligaments can only take approximately  13-20 lbs of load before an injury occurs. Without the many layers of muscle to support your spine it would collapse.

Lets summarize what we have just read….all joints in the body must be properly aligned for the joint to function properly just like a door hinge. If your door hinge was not properly aligned the door would probably not shut or function properly.

We now know that there is a difference between spinal stability muscles(stabilize vertebrae segments) and spinal movement muscles(are big muscles). Stabilizing muscles are small and are generally  in the middle layer of the trunk muscles and usually only cross a couple of spinal(25) segments. Spinal Movement muscles are bigger muscles and are more the outer layer of muscle such as the Abdominal and obliques. 

As you can see back pain can be more complicated to rehabilitate than just doing some crunches and back extensions. The next part of this series we will discuss which muscles are working when you are exercising stabilizing muscles and  give you one example of an exercise that does just that.

Well I hope this helps you out little bit understand your spine and the differences between stabilizer muscle training and the bigger spinal movement muscles.

If you would like a personal Health and Exercise Prescription that would encompass your whole body please contact me.

Thank you for your time and energy….Be well

Jaime Hernandez

Health and Exercise Prescriptions

Health and exercise prescription's Blog


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168 Hours in one week.Can you afford NOT to invest 6%(9hours) of your time per week to change your life?

Setting up a daily ritual for health and fitness will help you stay on track. Out of the 168 hours per week 6% of time invested can change your life.

Establishing new habits is some times a daunting task but, if you take the time to put your health and fitness goals into your schedule just like brushing your teeth and taking a shower it will make it easier to be consistent with your new habit.

It general takes a few months to get into the groove of your new regimen. Make sure to set up your schedule; so that your exercise is done when it is least likely to conflict with other priority’s in your life.

I like to do most of my exercise in the morning or before afternoon. I know my self well enough to know that if I do not get it done by the end of my work day I generally find my self tired and less likely to follow through with my exercise commitment.

Here is an example of my weekly workoutschedule .

If you would like an exact plan to reach your goals contact me. We design programs that cover Cardio, weight training, core, stretching, nutrition specific to your goals.

Thank you for your time and energy…Be well

Jaime Hernandez

                                                                              Health and Exercise Prescriptions Inc.

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Body Shop Part One Of The Series:Core Training Stay Tunned For More To Come!

What is core training?

Most people respond with crunches help your core! Crunches can help your core but, is not the first layer of muscles to address when trying to improve it.

Lets first talk about which muscles you are trying to target.

The most inner layer is your Transverse abdominal than internal obliques, external obliques and the last layer is your Abs AKA six pack. That is four layers of muscle before you get to your inner unit of muscle. Your Transverse abdominal, multifidus and pelvic floor are your inner most unit of core. The next exercises I introduce will work those muscles specifically if done correctly.

Why is it important to address your inner most layer of muscles?

That is a good question.

Our movements come from our core and making sure that you engaging those muscles during your training is important.

Your inner most layer acts as a corset for the middle of your body and is one of the main stabilizer during movement for your spine.

I am going to show you two exercises that will help with your core. The two exercises are a level one core exercise. Make sure you master the first exercise before moving on to the next one. So practice for at least two weeks before moving on.

Lets get familiar with the order of postures and actions to be applied to this particular core exercise.

  1. Lie down with your back on the floor and legs bent.
  2. Now that you are lying down you need to tilt your hips(pelvic tilts) and press the small of your back into the ground and now arch you back up;  you need to put your low back into what I call neutral position so that is in the middle of the movements you just performed.
  3. Now that you are in neutral with out moving your low back from neutral; you need to draw your belly button inward toward you spine and the second component is to activate pelvic floor which is the same as a kegel. Hold that belly button and kegel in for 30 seconds if you can. Try to do 5 sets of 30 second holds before you move on to the next exercise! Can you do it? If so you can move to the next exercise.
  4. Now that you know how to activate your core it is time to put it into a more dynamic exercise.

So lets talk about the basic points you must follow when doing this exercise

  • Always have you back in a neutral position before activating your core
  • When activating your core you must pull your belly button inward toward your spine and activate pelvic floor(kegel) while maintaining your neutral low back position.

After you have practiced this exercise enough that you can hold both contractions it is time to put it into the core exercise.

This next exercise is called a lying one leg lift.

Level 1

Lying leg lift core level 1

As you can see in the picture I am able to slide my hand under her back which is in the neutral position; if her back was flat I would not be able to slide my hand under it.

  1. First find neutral and activate your core and then lift the leg up just enough to slide a piece of paper underneath your lifted foot and hold it there.
  2. Hold your foot up for 5-10 seconds and then alternate to your other side doing the same thing.
  3. Make sure your hips do not tilt and your low back stays in neutral position.

You should start with 5-10 repetitions and 1-2 sets per day.

Ok, Now on to our next core exercise! Lying one leg lift on the ball. Remember to master the previous exercise first before you move on.

Level one core

core on the ball

You are to perform this next exercise just like the last one. You are trying to keep your hips level and your low back in neutral while you activate your core. You lift your hips up until you are flat. Look at the picture to see what that looks like. Practice this exercise for 1-2 weeks before moving on to the next exercise.

The next picture is of the same exercise but, now you lift one of your legs. Make sure to keep you back up and do not twist at the hips…if you are not able to do that then stick with the previous exercises until you are strong enough to.


Lying one leg lift on the ball

Lying one leg lift on the ball

When you are doing these exercises make sure you are not straining you neck or back if you have a previous injury make sure to get cleared by your doctor.

Well these exercises should help start you on your way to a solid exercise program and should part of the foundation.

If you need more guidance with the next level of core exercise and or need an exercise program that works contact me at

Thank you for your time and energy…Be well

Jaime J. Hernandez

Health and Exercise Prescriptions Inc.


Health and exercise prescription's Blog


A Full body workout with Lifefitness machines can work for general fitness but, you should always mix in free weight training for the best results.

Why is it important to do a full body weight-bearing workout?

A full body workout includes all of your bodies major muscle groups so that your body does not have strength imbalances.  When your body gets stimulus to all of your muscle groups it helps to decrease fat, gain strength in your bones, muscles and tendons; it also helps to keep your joints lubricated so they glide better.

How many days a week should I do a full body workout?

You can start with 1-2 x a week if you are a beginner and do 1-2 sets of 15-20 repetitions. After you first 6-8 weeks doing 1-2 sets you can do 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions for another 6-8 weeks. Rest at least two days in between weight lifting sessions. After you have a half a year under your belt you can do your full body workout Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting with 1-2 sets for 6-8 weeks and then after that move back up to your 3 sets M, W, and F. That should be a great start for you to gain fitness safely. Always clear your new exercise program with your primary care doctors.

You should always warm up and cool down on a piece of cardio equipment of your choice for at least 5-10 minutes. Stretch if you have tight muscles before you get started as well.

Below are pictures of the major muscle groups you will be exercising and diagrams of  how to use the machine for each specific muscle group.


Major muscle group is Chest



Muscle group is chest



Muscle group is Lats and middle back



Lat pulldown



Muscle group shoulders



Excercise is the Shoulder press



Muscle groups are calf,hamstring,quads,hip flex, gluts






Muscle group is rhomboids middle back



Seated row



Muscle group is triceps



Tricep press



Muscle group is biceps



Bicep curl



Muscle group is hamstrings



Seated leg curl



Muscle group is quadriceps



Leg extension



Muscle group is abdominals



Ab cruncher


Points to Remember

  • Always warm up before you start exercising
  • Do not lift to much weight to start off because your body is not ready if you are a novice
  • Make sure to eat at least 1 hour before you exercise(small meal)
  • Make sure to drink at least 8-16 oz of water 45 minutes before you exercise
  • IF YOU HAVE ANY MEDICAL CONDITIONS OR PREVIOUS INJURIES GET CLEARED BY YOU M.D. and come see us at  and we can help you develop an individualized workout plan to work around your special conditions or previous injuries.
  • Make sure to get enough rest days  in; and you should not be sore more than 2-3 days
  • Make sure to get a goodnight sleep 8 Hrs, eat  meals and 2 snacks and take your  organic whole food multivitamins daily.

Well this should help you get started on your way to an exercise program that will help you gain general health. If you would like a more specific program than please contact me at 

Good luck on your new fitness adventure!

Thank you for your time and energy….Be well

Jaime Hernandez

Health and Exercise Prescriptions


Health and exercise prescription's Blog


How long does it take to get back into shape?How much exercise do I need?

How long does it take to get back into shape? How much exercise do I need?

This is a common question and the answer is dependent upon your age,gender,starting state of physical condition, injuries, or special medical conditions. The general guidelines for a novice exerciser has three phases.The first phase is the Pre-prepcondition and then the  preconditioning phase;  that generally takes 3-6months and then general conditioning could take one to two years for most people.

Interesting Fact: The body regenerates it self anew every 8 years….the bones take the longest at 10 years. Changing your body is a slow process but, can be done.

Individuals need to start slow with their new exercise program so they do not get injured.When you are lifting free weights, doing your cardiovascular exercise or just stretching you should not feel pain. It is important to have the right program designed for your specific goal such as body fat loss, muscle gain, general health, or a specialized exercise program if you have any injuries or diseases.

A safe and effective exercise program uses a periodized regimen which allows the individual to slowly adapt to the new stimulus because most injuries occur when the body is not addressed in this fashion and to much weight or intensity is applied to the body. Let me explain the difference of each program type below Periodized and non-periodized exercise program.

What is the difference between Periodized and non-periodized workout regimen.

The definition of Periodized is a measured amount of time; in fitness they are cycles, Micro=1wk,Meso=4-6wks, Macro=1yr. Non-periodized has no specific schedule some people call this muscle confusion.Non-periodized exercise is used primarily for people who are in season for a particular sport so as not to interfere with their sports specific movement patterns. NOT EVERYONE IS TRYING TO BE AN ATHLETE SO SOME OF THE BOOT CAMPS AND GROUP CLASSES THAT ARE NON-PERIODIZED ARE NOT APPROPRIATE FOR NON-HEALTHY INDIVIDUALS; THAT WOULD BE A PERSON WITH PREVIOUS INJURIES OR DISEASE.

The body has to follow some rules of adaptation(change) and it all depends on the exercise you chose to do. The safest way to change your body is with a Periodized exercise program so that you control the amount of stress placed on your body.

The GAS or general adaptation syndrome describes three basic stages of response to stress= (AKA Exercise):

(a) the Alarm stage, involving the initial shock of the stimulus on the system,

(b) the Resistance stage, involving the adaptation to the stimulus by the system, and

(c) the Exhaustion stage, in that repairs are inadequate, and a decrease in system function results.


The foundation of periodized training is keeping ones body in the resistance stage without ever going into the exhaustion stage for each phase of training. By adhering to cyclic training the body is given adequate time to recover from significant stress before additional training is undertaken therefore you are less likely to get injured.

What does that mean for me? Here is an example of how that applies to cardiovascular Training and Freeweight training.

Cardiovascular fitness

If you are a beginner  you should start with 2-3 times a week 10-20 minutes of cardiovascular training for the first six weeks. Chose a walking route that is flat to start out.Every six weeks (Mesocycle4-6wks)you are going to change the amount of time and number of days per week that you do your cardiovascular exercise so now you will do 3-4days per week and 25-30 minutes. If you need more guidance check out this link to my last blog for a walk to run program.

Free weight Training

Using weight training to change your body is the most commonly used modality of exercise people are most familiar with.The same principles apply to weight training  as for your cardiovascular training every 4-6 weeks you should change your program. Make sure to work all of your major muscle groups; do not just do the exercises you like doing.  I encourage people to do free-weight training 2-3 times a week if you are a beginner. Start light and work your weights up every other week. Remember it takes time for your body to adapt so be patient with your body it will get stronger. If you feel a lot of muscle pain you are probably doing to much and or you are not doing the proper amount of stretching.To really see a change in your body I would say a minimum of 3-6 months will do for most generally healthy people.

Well that is just some of the basics of how to make sure you do not do too much exercise so that you do not hurt yourself.

If you need help to put together  youR own fitness plan let me know!

Thank you for your time and energy.

Jaime J. Hernandez

Health and Exercise Prescriptions Inc.   ©


Health and exercise prescription's Blog