Benefits of Compression and Cryotherapy

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Its all the rave! Why slap ice packs or frozen peas on your throbbing extremities when you can get in an ice bath, stand in a full body cryotherapy chamber, or have your extremities compressed in full sleeves that pump cold water through.

It is important to always do your research though. There has been many research articles stating that there is insufficient evidence for full body cryotherapy. And, there have been a few dangerous stories out in the news as well. So before dropping hundreds of dollars to get inside a chamber do your homework! And always follow instructions on how to safely use the chambers if you decide to give it a go!

However, icing is an essential part of an athlete’s recovery process. RICE has been a widely used acronym to rest, ice, compress, and elevate the extremity that is sore or in pain due to an injury.

Research has shown that cold water immersion significantly reduces muscle inflammation, soreness and temperature. So your ice baths can work wonders for those used and abused extremities.

Muscular tenderness and stiffness are common symptoms of fatigue and exercise-induced muscle microtrauma and edema. So what is the deal with the NormaTec extremity sleeves? Well, they are compression sleeves that uses PULSED technology. We are always using static compression to help our legs recover, so why used pulsed? The pulsating action acts as a muscle pump which greatly enhances the movement of fluid and metabolites out of the limbs after an intense workout. Pulsating compression has also been shown in research to improve the circulation of blood in that limb. These sleeves feel fantastic!!! It is also ideal to have your legs or arms raised above your heart when using the sleeves.

Many major cities have cryotherapy centers where you can either get into a chamber, extremity sleeve, or even an ice bath. Groupon always has good deals so make sure to check there before paying full price! You can always purchase compression sleeves or use an ace wrap to help reduce swelling, or you can make your own ice bath and wrap yourself up afterwards!

Cryotherapy is a fantastic tool to help recover after an intense workout!

Becoming a Better Runner

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I am by no means an elite or even a great runner. I am literally your average runner. But this means I have room to improve and get better. Now, when I say elite or great I am saying my pace is no where near 7 min/mile. Hell, my pace is not even in the 8 min range! My easy pace is anywhere from 9’48-10 min/mile. My race pace is somewhere around 9’30 min/mile.

I am actually proud of this. When I first started running I remember completing my first long run of 6 miles and my average pace was 14 min/mile. Holy good lord I have come a long way!

One thing I have learned on my journey is that to get better and faster you have you work harder then just running at one pace.

So how do you get better? Cross training (and I mean work those hips, quads, hamstrings, glutes, core) speed work, hill intervals and long runs, oh and how can I forget, rest and stretching!!!

What kind of speed work can you do?

Example:

Warm up: easy paced run for 1 mile

Workout: 5 x 400m sprints (the amount can vary depending upon your conditioning level)

Recovery between sets: 400m jog at any pace

Cool Down: 1 mile run at an easy pace

Have to run on a treadmill? 400m= 0.23miles so you can do this all indoors!

 

Hill Intervals:

My favorite literally entails sprinting up a hill and slow jog back down focusing on eccentric control (I pay close attention to my form and core being engaged)

On a treadmill you can sprint at an incline of 5-7% for 30seconds-1 min. And go back down to 0% incline and jog lightly for recovery. To work on eccentric control you can put the treadmill on a slight incline (anywhere from 2.5-4%) and turn around! Make sure to hold on to the railings, I have almost fallen a few times (but thats also because I am spastic)

 

Cross Training:

3×10 single leg glute bridges

superset: 30 clamshells each side with theraband around knees

3×10 deadlifts

superset: 30 hip abduction raises on each side

3×10 goblet squats

superset: 30 second plank

3×10 front squats

superset: 30 second side planks each side

3×10 glute kickbacks

superset: 30 second flutter kicks

 

Long Run:

Make sure you are able to run at a comfortable pace and be able to talk and hold a conversation if you were running with someone

**Be sure to stretch afterwards

 

Rest Day:

HYDRATE!!! Flush out lactic acid and keep your muscles nourished with lean proteins, carbs and healthy fats!

These are just a few examples of each and hopefully if you were in need of a different workout this can help!

 

Happy Running! Xx

How the Cold Effects Your Run

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We are in the middle of the winter season. For some people that means plummeting temperatures below 0 degrees, between 15-30 degrees, or maybe you are a southerner like me and yesterday it was 70 degrees but the day before it was “cold” at 45 degrees.

When you set off to log in some miles on a cold day you obviously layer up making sure that the clothing you are wearing wicks away moisture to reduce the likelihood of your sweat causing you to develop the chills. It is also important to cover your extremities (especially those hands and feet). Blood flow is not as prominent to these areas because they are the furthest from the heart. Hence the reason why many people suffer from colds hands and feet. So, you put on your mittens and warmer socks and a scarf! For those running in temps below 30 degrees its important to breathe through a scarf. This way the air you take in to your lungs is not so cold that is causes your throat to burn. And let’s just get this out in the open now, YOUR LUNGS CANNOT FREEZE IN THE COLD WHILE RUNNING. This has been debunked numerous times by physicians and researchers.

Continuing on, if you are someone who doesn’t warm up easy, most of your heat is lost through your head, so instead of wearing ear warmers try wearing a hat instead.

Here are a few facts that we know occur when you are running in cold weather:

  • it is easier to run in the cold compared to the heat
  • your body relies on carbs more than fats for energy
  • your lactate production is higher for a given intensity meaning you are going into oxygen debt to stay at a certain pace
  • your muscle contractions are less powerful
  • dehydration is more likely (you are cold and tend to not drink as much because you are not sweating and hot)
  • cold temperatures significantly reduce the shock absorption in running shoes (if you have lower extremity injuries be careful!-the constant pounding could irritate old and new injuries)

 

Your performance may also be hindered due to your body trying to maintain its core temperature. This is why you shiver. It is your body’s way to try and keep itself warm. This is why it is more important to properly warm up before taking off on your run in the winter. Your muscles need to get an increase of blood flow to help warm up. Allow 5-10 minutes to properly prepare your body to run in colder temps! Once you get going even though you will warm up! You may not be able to hold a faster pace but you can certainly get in good milage. If there is any kind of snow or precipitation on the ground it is important to wear water resistant socks and/or sneakers, and if you have any exposed skin put vaseline on to reduce the risk of wind burn or blisters.

Either way I think it is safe to say besides the need to warm the body up before running it is completely safe to run in the cold, just layer up and stay hydrated!

Why You Should Use A Heart Rate Monitor on Your Run

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We all want to improve. We turn to friends, coaches, the internet all for information on how we can increase our speed and milage, train for a race, and avoid injury. But has anyone told you to wear a heart rate monitor while you run? You may not think much of it but for some people this could be a huge benefit especially if you are someone who tries to go on an “easy” run and ends up winded and realizing your pace was no where near “easy.”

So what are the benefits to using a heart rate monitor? Using one can help runners not run too fast too often. You will also understand what zone you are in when you are working out and completing certain runs. Plus, with all the smart watches out on the market today, keeping track of your heart rate can tell you what your VO2 Max is and help predict race times.

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Zone 1- moderate activity (basic warm-up/recovery)

Zone 2- weight control (fat burn)

Zone 3- aerobic training (endurance)

Zone 4- anaerobic training (increases maximum performance capacity-speed)

Zone 5- maximum effort (develops speed)

When you are training and working on your long run and endurance your heart rate should be in zones 2-3. You are at a comfortable pace, easy breathing, the load on your muscles is low, and you will have light fatigue.

If you are working on your speed, improving VO2 max intake, working on building more strength in your legs, you will want your heart rate to fall into zones 4-5 with a recovery phase in zone 1. You will build up lactic acid in these zones due to NOT using oxygen but that’s okay since you are working on fatiguing your muscles.

It will take your heart rate monitor a few runs to better know your correct resting, target and max heart rates. You could use the equation to help find your max heart rate (220-age) but research has suggested using the equation may prove to be inaccurate for most people.

I recently got a Garmin Forerunner 230 that came with a heart rate monitor. I have used one in the past but not consistently. It has been interesting to see where my heart rate is at and I am someone who has to learn to slow down on easy runs, and the heart rate monitor has proved helpful with that!

Core + Hips = Your Best Running Body

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So you want to improve this year right? You wrote down all your goals for 2017 and you are doing your best to begin working on them and conquering them.

I’m with you. I have been a runner for about 4 years now and I must say I really haven’t had the drive to seriously improve until this year. Now I want to cut my average mile time down, PR in my next half and run my first full marathon.

Obviously logging more miles is key to improving but so is strengthening.

As a runner everyone tells you you need to strengthen your core. Great. What the heck does that mean, how do I work my core, and why do I need to do this?

Well for starters your core is deep abdominal muscles that attach onto your spine. They help stabilize your back and pelvic floor and build a foundation for proper lower body mechanics. Your core is NOT your abs. Abdominal muscles (your 6 pack ab muscles) are more superficial and while they do help with stabilization they are not the most important factor.

What exercises work the core? 

Planks on planks on planks!

You can also do butterfly flutters, scissor kicks, pelvic tilts, and even body weight squats!

So you have your foundation: your core. You will find that your form will improve, your stride may change, and you will decrease your likelihood of injury.

Now why work your hips? If your neglect your hips you are putting yourself at risk for injury. If you lack hip extension (mainly due to hip flexor or quad tightness) you develop a forward drop in your pelvis which is highlighted by an increase in your lower back curve. Ouch. Plus, you are not able to truly activate the largest gluteus muscle (gluteus maximus).

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But an even larger culprit in the gluteus family is the gluteus medius. This little guy attaches from your hip bone to the greater trochanter on the femur (this is all on the outside of your leg). What this guy does is stabilize and support the entire lower extremity. In women, because of the shape of our pelvis, ours tend to be super weak. This can cause a hip drop also known as the Trendelenburg sign. A hip drop causes an unusual discrepancy in your walking and running patterns and cause your knees to bend more to make up for the fact that your pelvis cannot stay in line. Your knees compensate for your hips and have an excess amount of weight placed on them, which can cause pain and discomfort. It could also be why your knees hurt after you run. Also, since we are talking about what happens to your knees when your hips are weak, if you ever do a squat and notice your knees tend to come in towards each other is an indicator you have weak hip abductor muscles. Again, you are placing an unnatural amount of weight onto the knee joint and in turn this will cause pain and discomfort.

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So how can you strengthen your hips?

Jane Fondas! Aka hip abduction, clamshells, band walks, cable side kicks, glute kick backs, hip abductor machine and glute bridges.

I PROMISE all your lower body aches and pains will actually go away if you strengthen your hips. Even my athletes tell how their knees no longer bother them and they feel as if they have more power and endurance because of the hip strengthening they did.

I myself have began a new hip and core strengthening program and I tell ya those Jane Fondas kick my butt every time. I already notice small improvements with speed and endurance! Hopefully, with strengthening and running daily I’ll crush my 2017 goals!!

What kind of strengthening exercises do you do? 

What are some of your 2017 goals?

NOT Going Green

 

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New Year New You. That means going organic, eating whole foods, complex carbs, tons of veggies and cutting out the processed foods and excessive sugars. Awesome. But for some god forsaken reason this whole ‘eating clean’ thing is giving your stomach aches, gas and acid reflux.

Crazy to think but this is completely common. And unfortunately this is something I struggled with. I eat pretty healthy. I do cheat here and there but for the most part I eat clean and mainly just whole foods, nothing processed. The thing is greens make make sick. My stomach feels like it is in complete knots, I bloat, and hurt.

Why? Vegetables contain a high amount of fiber. Fiber is beneficial to the body pushing waste through your intestinal system. However, eating too much fiber can causes gastrointestinal discomfort. This is why eating too many veggies in one sitting can cause gas, bloating and discomfort. Raw veggies contain a fiber known as cellulose. However, the body cannot always produce the enzyme to help break down cellulose thus causing gastrointestinal pain.

If you are someone who suffers from stomach pains after eating greens try avoiding insoluble fibers such as:

  • Greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, mesclun, collards, arugula, watercress, etc.)
  • Whole peas, snow peas, snap peas, pea pods
  • Green beans
  • Kernel corn
  • Bell peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Celery
  • Onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, garlic
  • Cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower

So if you are on a health kick and wanted to incorporate more veggies into your diet try buying greens that are soluble fiber, squashes, carrots, zucchini, avocado, mushrooms, cucumbers, just to name a few!

 

 

How to Return After an Injury

 

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Unfortunately with fitness comes injury. Maybe some more serious than others but nonetheless, I am sure most, if not all people who are active have experienced some sort of injury before.

Regardless of the severity of an injury, the best thing to do is rest and recover. Well resting means taking a few days, weeks, or months off! WHATTTTTTT. That means losing gains. losing endurance, losing what you have built for yourself. Maybe your doctor allows you to ride a stationary bike, or do upper body or lower body exercises depending upon where your injury is, but there is going to be limitations and restrictions.

I suffered a pinch nerve in my back that left me with numbness and tingling down my right leg. I had to stop running, do some therapeutic exercises to strengthen my core and hips and got treated to help release the pinched nerve that was caught. I was so restless, I hated that I couldn’t do much at all (and not because I was told to stop running, I physically had a hard time running anything over a mile).

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I tried to focus on nutrition, keeping myself healthy with eating whole foods. One thing people learn quickly is when your injured and consume the amount of calories you normally would when your active the lbs start to stick to you. I worked heavily on my core, glutes, and legs as well as any upper body. My primary goal was to get stronger, eat healthier so when I could run again I was prepared. Now I am not saying I was maxing out with reps and getting my swol on. I was using very light weight and completing higher reps. It is important to remember there is something that is injured and overdoing it will set you back even further.

So maybe you have been in a boot for a while for a foot or ankle injury, or maybe something is going on with your knee, back or hips. If this is the case ask your doctor what you ARE able to do. Maybe you could work on some hip strengthening (you don’t even need to hit the gym you can bust out some Jane Fonda hip series exercises), upper body, or ride a stationary bike.

When the moment comes that you are restriction free, as hard as it will be to not jump right back into everything you were doing prior, you need to take it slow. You are going to have to rebuild your foundation. Some people say they were never the same after being injured but I promise you can be, if not better. Start slow with miles, gradually build like you would normally. Throw in some more cross training at first since you’ll be starting with low milage. Work on your hip strength and mobility, get that core tighter than it was before.

Keep reminding yourself that this gives you the opportunity to strengthen more, gain more power in your lower extremities, which could also help with speed once you graduate into speed work, tempo runs, and increase milage.

Having an injury is not the end of the world. It is what you make of having the injury. It is a slow process, and you are essentially rebuilding from the beginning, but it is a chance to better yourself, better your running form, your speed, your mentality, everything.

So if you are injured or coming out of an injury don’t get too discouraged. Yes it sucks big time, but remember you can always make the best of it and become a better version of you.

 

Happy Running! Xx