How to Refuel Your Body After a Workout

Refueling after a workout is just as important as the workout itself.

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Talking Back to Your Inner Voice

Denial. Embarrassment. Fear. Here is your chance to talk back!

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Sweating for the Wedding, the Right Way

You might be doing it wrong.

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Is the Music in Your Gym Too Loud?

Listen up!

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Recovering from Running-Related Injuries

A few tips for running related injuries.

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Inflamed: The Power to Heal

by Alexandria Bydalek

There is a reason the discussion on inflammation is a hot topic. Chronic inflammation is the culprit of many life-altering diseases such as stroke, respiratory illness, heart disorders, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. It’s both good and bad news that your daily lifestyle choices contribute to the cause. Our routine decisions may be at the root of activating the unhealthy side effects caused by inflammation, but our daily health-conscious decisions can also be the source of healing those same issues, plus many more. Take some time to commit to your body, how it is feeling, and if inflammation could be the source. We can discover almost anything through education and action.

Inflammation is a naturally occurring defense mechanism during moments the body encounters immediate stress and injury. The inflammation process exists for our internal entities to protect itself from perceived danger. When this response is prolonged (or chronic) due to factors such as stress, poor diet, infections, or a sedentary lifestyle, it weakens your immune system. This leads to chronic inflammation as it is continued over time, causing issues such as hormone imbalance and improper digestion. Key signs your immune system could be compromised include joint pain, swelling and water retention, bloating, gas, diarrhea, hair loss, exhaustion, and fatigue. Any of these sound familiar? We’re going to kick off this journey by balancing nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, and wellness to reboot your body and give it a fighting chance to heal from the inside out.

It’s All About Food

Let’s start here because proper and specific nutrition choices are key to reducing inflammation. Eating a whole-food, anti-inflammatory diet can prevent digestive problems like leaky gut, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, candida overgrowth, and the body’s inability to heal. A diet filled with inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy, processed meats, and gluten can tear their way through your digestive system and essentially create holes in the lining of your intestines and stomach. This allows partially digested food to seep into your body. Since the food in your digestive system is broken down and acidic, white blood cells try to attack the “leaked” foreign, rotting food, leading to an inflammatory response by the immune system. Healing your gut lining and the microbiota inside (what fights to maintain balance in your intestines) by stabilizing the “good” and “bad” bacteria with probiotic supplementation is fundamental to combat this process, mostly because the gastrointestinal tract houses 70 percent of your body’s immune system.

Eating a diet filled with healthy fats provides the nutrients for the body to heal. These include olive oil, nuts and avocados, omega 3’s and omega 6’s (essential fatty acids), whole grain and gluten-free carbs, fruits, vegetables, proteins found in hormone-free meat and cold water fish, and plant-based proteins such as legumes and seeds. The more you diversify your diet with brightly colored fruits and vegetables the healthier your gut microbiota will be. Drink green tea, take a shot of apple cider vinegar in the morning and load up on spices such as turmeric and paprika to reduce inflammation and support a healthy gut.

Build Strength

A combination of high-intensity interval training, low impact stretching, and strength training is a must for regulating your body’s function. Exercise allows your body to produce a more diverse microbiota, balancing the bacteria in your gut. High-intensity interval training assists in stabilizing hormones that regulate appetite, reduce stress, boost your metabolism, and increase energy levels. Low-intensity activities such as yoga, barre, and pilates help to clear your mind, promote well being, strengthen and lengthen muscles, which improve your respiratory, digestive, and circulatory systems and reduce stress, which also helps to regulate cortisol.

Cortisol is important because the wrong doses at the wrong time can wreak havoc on your body and dramatically reduce the overall functions of your immune system. A study published in 2014 suggested that people who performed two and a half hours of moderate exercise every week for 10 years lowered inflammatory markers by at least 12 percent.

Behavior Change

Reducing toxins in the household such as cleaning products, smoke, alcohol, and personal care products will also help to control your inflammatory response. Go natural whenever possible on products in order to limit immune system reactions. A recent review of 34 separate studies concluded, “Mind-body therapies [such as meditating at least 5 minutes a day, soaking in the sun, massage, or spending time with friends and family] reduced markers of inflammation.”

Gut health plays a major role in your mental well being. Scientists sometimes refer to your gut as your “second brain” because there are over 100 million brain cells in your gastrointestinal tract. If the microbiota isn’t balanced, it has been shown to lead to a variety of mental issues, such as anxiety, depression and chronic stress. And we all know that too much stress can be detrimental in numerous ways. Your overall happiness and taking care of your body is integral to healing and overall function. People who smile more often live longer – this has been studied and confirmed.

Get Stronger While You Sleep

Wellness practices including adequate hydration, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep are obviously vital to your health. You know getting seven to nine hours of sleep at night is critical. But how often can you attest to that? Those who get under six hours of sleep per night, store up to 32 percent more fat, as opposed to someone who sleeps at least eight. Sleep is the key to living a truly well-balanced, happy, productive, and stress-free lifestyle.

In addition, drinking at least eight glasses of water a day is imperative for your body to rid itself of toxins and inflammation. Furthermore, 26 percent of the American population that suffer from inflammation driven joint pain is caused by dehydration. Water is a critical component to healing these issues since any source of pain triggers a response by the immune system.

Bottom Line

Living an intentional, healthy life will dramatically reduce chronic inflammation and protect you from the mentioned diseases and many more. Here is a simplified call to action to keep inflammatory issues under control.

Fitness: Get out and move at least three times a week and be intentional about daily efforts and routines. Try a new yoga class, or at the very least, spend your time on a phone call walking instead of seated at your desk.

Nutrition: Add green leafy vegetables to every meal and reduced processed foods. If it has more than two or three ingredients, don’t eat it. Try switching one of your cups of coffee a day to green tea.

Lifestyle: Attempt meditation with an app (try Headspace) and replace household cleaning supplies and personal products with ones that are natural, or free and clear of chemical ingredients.

Wellness: Make sleep and hydration a priority in your life. Always have a bottle or glass of water near you. It will lead to a happier, healthier, leaner, less stressed and more productive lifestyle.

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How to Hold Yourself Accountable

Plan for success. No matter what.

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Exercises to Avoid when Recovering from an ACL Injury

by Joan Barker

Making a full recovery from an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is possible. However, a grade 3 ACL sprain, which is equivalent to a torn ligament needs to undergo surgery. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons specified that it requires a tissue graft, which is usually sourced from a tendon. It’s used to reconstruct the severed ligament. Coming back from the injury may take up to six months or more, and physical therapy is prescribed to speed up recovery. Here are two types of exercises that you should avoid at certain stages of recovery from a torn ACL.

Weight-bearing Exercises:

The first few weeks will have you relying on crutches. It will be impossible and/or painful—not to mention ill-advised—to perform weight-bearing exercises. Examples are lunges and squats. You should instead focus on reintroducing range of motion. It’s still possible to maintain quad strength by contracting the muscles around the knee (AKA isometric contractions) without moving the injured joint.

Terminal Knee Extension:

The knee is a hinge type joint, which means it can flex and extend. Fitness writer and health buff Jan Millehan explains that terminal knee extension (TKE) is the action of straightening the leg fully to attain the end of range of motion. TKE is not a bad workout per se, but it can exert unnecessary stress on the knee, especially when using resistance bands, cables, or machines. Avoid doing TKE, heel raises, and leg balancing exercises (specifically the ones performed in yoga) until the swelling has subsided post-surgery. Start by doing heel slides where you aim to gently stretch the leg forward while keeping heel contact on the floor.

If you want to do cardiovascular exercises, swimming is a good form of workout. You can also experiment with indoor cycling, which Nashville Fit Magazine has labelled a high-intensity low-impact exercise in a recent article. Set the resistance of the bike to low in order to minimize stress on the knees. After doing mobility training and strength and conditioning, most patients are able to move on to light jogging after 3-4 months.

Those who perform high-impact sports such as soccer, football, and basketball are at a high risk of sustaining knee injuries particularly concerning the ACL. In the world of sports, it’s regarded as a career-changer, or even -ender, as many people have experienced. Point guard Derrick Rose, for instance, tore his ACL in 2012, causing him to miss the entire season that year. He was 22 at the time and had a promising career ahead of him. But in the years that followed, he never seemed to return to his full capacity as a basketball player.

Assessing an ACL injury is difficult, so seek medical attention immediately if you feel that there is something wrong with your knee, particularly inflammation. This was the case with another NBA superstar, Kevin Durant, in 2017. Yahoo Sports reported that the athlete’s suspected torn ACL was actually a grade 2 sprain to his medial collateral ligament (MCL). His MCL was only partially torn which required a shorter recovery period of 1-2 months. He missed 19 games last year, but came back strong and was instrumental in claiming the championship that season. Kevin Durant is one of the highest earning sports stars in the world with a salary of $54.3m. However, his career remains unmarred by injuries, though things could have been different if he experienced the same situational injury as Derrick Rose. During recovery, Durant reportedly shifted his exercise routine away from his knees, and focused instead in strengthening his quads and hamstrings, which is commonly the same approach to an ACL injury.

While you can’t predict what will happen after an ACL injury, you can remain disciplined during your downtime. Even if you aren’t making a career out of sports, avoid situations where you might completely destroy such an important ligament in your knee.

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Recovering Methods: Kinesiology Tape

by Dr. Jennifer Hutton (Dr. J pop)

You’ve likely seen it on many athletes – the brightly colored tape intricately weaved across different areas of the body – most commonly shoulders, lower back, or knees. It ranges from skin-toned to black to a variety of neon colors. Needless to say, it stands out, however, it isn’t an athlete’s trending accessory. That, my friends, is called Kinesiology tape, otherwise known at K-Tape or KT.

The Kinesiology taping method was developed in 1980 by Kenzo Kase, a chiropractor from Japan, who used the KT to help maintain the postural gains of his own patients. It is known as a therapeutic taping technique not only offering added support but also rehabilitating the affected condition as well. KT has been used as a tool in the movement rehab world for years now and in the early 2000s gained mainstream popularity when people noticed popular athletes wearing it during major performances.

KT is a definitive technique designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process. It is meant to provide support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion. KT also provides soft tissue manipulation in order to extend the benefits of manual therapy after administered by a trained physician. Thus the tape assists in recovery and healing in three specific ways: managing pain, reducing inflammation and improving body awareness for movement.

This tool is used mostly for assisting the recovery of various injuries, especially as the patient begins to enter activity again. Or simply, it can be used to improve your movement patterns. KT gives aid to improving posture and coordination to enhance performance. After all, the more efficiently you move, the less likely you are to deal with injury or re-injuring the same problem area.

In order for KT to work, those problem areas are encompassed and positioned strategically in order to provide support. Placed on your skin, the largest organ in your body laced with nerve cells responsible for sensing touch, temperature, and pressure, KT lifts the skin and creates a better environment underneath the outer layer. This helps reduce swelling. When those sensories (nerves) are sparked, they send messages to the brain. The brain takes that information and determines the body’s response. For example, when KT is applied to your skin, the nerve cells attempt to return a message to override the signals causing pain.

By targeting different receptors within the somatosensory system, KT alleviates pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin. This lifting effect forms convolutions in the skin thus increasing interstitial space and allowing for a decrease in inflammation of the affected areas. The nerve cells also determine where a body part is in space, allowing you to move it more efficiently. This also structuralizes some technical cues for safe movement patterns.

There are many techniques when applying KT, however, its relevance depends on the condition and the patient’s needs. The most common taping techniques are for knees and shoulders. While tape can be self-applied by anyone, it is always beneficial to be assessed by a movement professional (physical therapist, chiropractor, athletic trainer etc.), particularly if you have inexplicable pain. If you were to self-apply KT, do so with a gentle stretch when placing on the skin. Refrain from excessive stretch in the material in order to avoid possible irritation. For small areas of pain, one strip covering the area is sufficient.

It is important to note that KT will not heal an injury on its own – it aids the recovery process by taking pressure off the sensitive site and the surrounding area. It should not be used in place of the potential need for a brace, like strained or pulled muscles and ligaments. Again, it is to reinforce functional movement patterns, reduce stress, and provide a passage for inflammation to either exit or subsidize. And of course, if you have pain that persists with exercises, find your nearest provider for an assessment.

KT is safe for all ages, ranging from pediatric to geriatric, and benefits a variety of orthopedic, neuromuscular, and other medical conditions, along with providing positive physiological effects on the skin, lymphatic and circulatory system, fascia, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. It is a helpful source of recovery, specifically for those nagging aches. When applied properly, it promotes the recovery of post-workout soreness and can decrease exercise-related pain. It is a valuable addition to a multitude of other treatments and methods effective during the rehabilitative and chronic phases of an injury as well as being used for preventative measures.

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Survivor Fitness Foundation

Beating cancer is just the beginning of their story.

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