Posts filed under Injury Prevention

Training Tips for Walking

This one is for my mother. She is a walker and reminds me every day how many steps she has accomplished and it's usually well over 10,000 steps! You keep going, Mom, I'll blog about it. 

The Guardian recently published an article on why a Fitbit or similar gadgets are no longer needed. The writer believes that fitness gadgets cause more stress than helping people achieve their fitness goals. Of course, I have to say, a FitBit does not have to be a stressor unless you allow it to be. Let me remind you that nearly 50% of the American population do not lead an active, healthy lifestyle. Nearly $120 billion of healthcare costs are due to inactivity.  The FitBit and similar gadgets are motivators. If you get 2,000 steps in or over 10,000 steps, be happy that you moved! Let's not discredit why fitness gadgets were invented for in the first place. They are motivating and convenient to millions of people. If a FitBit motivates you to move and you make it fun, wear it. If it truly stresses you out, you're right, you don't need it but don't discourage others who love their FitBits and the communities they have built around them.

CHECK OUT THESE EASY TRAINING TIPS FOR WALKING!

  • Even when you walk you have to pick the right shoes and I love shoes, especially the "sneaker kind"! But seriously, your shoes should be sturdy, well-cushioned and supportive. Talk to a foot specialist and find out if your feet are flat, normal or if the arches are too high. This will determine what type of walking shoes you will need to be fitted for.
  • Your walking shoes should a size and a half bigger than your regular working shoes. This will allow room for your feet to move and adjust when walking/running along various surfaces. 
  • Your gait includes your pace, stride, step and bearing. It's important to make sure each step is comfortable, you move at your own pace and your stride is not too short or wide.
  • Your posture is extremely important as well. Standing up straight with your shoulders back and down, chest out, as well as your hips, knees and toes facing forward is the key to prevent injury or strain to your body.
  • Try not to carry heavy bags or weighted objects that will offset your posture or stride.
  • 10,000 steps a day equals 5 miles, as well as stronger legs, heart and healthier lifestyle. Be the first to challenge your family, friends and co-workers. Get people moving with you to accomplish your goals.  REMEMBER, if you don't hit 10,000 steps in a day, the world will not end! 

BEAT THE HEAT!

It's that time of the year again! The temperature is gradually going up and being a fitness freak, we refuse to let the weather stop us from getting our workouts on.  If you love being outside and the sun is your friend. . .here are a few things to keep you cool and HEY. . .do NOT forget the sunscreen!  Don't get burned out there!

Here are a few tricks that can help you get through hot training sessions.  In the meantime, stay hydrated and listen to your body when it is time to slow down or simply stop.

"Miami Ice": When the temperature is extremely high and you have to get through your training run or competition you can take a thin wet sponge, place some ice cubes on top and then place your running cap over both. As the ice melts into the sponge, it can create a cool spot on your head and a nice trickle of water running down your neck! This worked well at the "Iron Girls 10K" in Delmar, CA!

"The Tucson Cold Cap": You can also keep your head cool in the extreme heat by soaking a baseball cap in water, put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight before a morning run! This will keep your head and body nice an cool for those hot desert runs!

"The Badwater Bandanna": Lay a bandanna out in a diamond shape. Place a row of ice cubes in a horizontal line, just below one tip of the bandanna. The fill it up "like a burrito" and tie it around your neck. This is the great way to keep runners cool and it feels wonderful!

"SWIMMING": As many of you know swimming can be a great alternative to running or strength training.  The water is cool, the resistance is all around you and if you get a few laps in, you are good to go! 

"SPRINKLERS":   If you are lucky enough to have a large grassy area and a couple of sprinklers, this is a fun and great way to get in shape as well.  Grab a few of your friends, turn on the sprinklers and do strides, jumping jacks and body weight exercise right there in your yard while the sprinkles go back and forth. . .keeping you cool and making your workout fun! This applies to those NOT living in California due to the drought.

Get creative this summer and invite others to join you! Exercise and running should not be a chore, it should be fun! Have a good one! As, always. . . 

STAY COOL!

Posted on August 27, 2015 and filed under Wellness, Health, Injury Prevention.

Asthma and Being an Athlete

Asthma is a chronic disease disease that narrows the airways of your lungs. Asthma is a disease that can not be cured but it can be managed with medication and other environmental practices. What's interesting about asthma, you can feel perfect on some days while others you have difficulty breathing. So, no matter how you feel, you have to manage the disease every day in order to prevent flare ups. 

I developed asthma as a very small child. I am not sure what age I was but I do remember laying in the crib with some type of plastic covering around the top of it. I also remember my parents taking me outside in the middle of the night because I could not breath properly and I needed fresh air to help calm the attacks. 

 Preparing for my next event this week but have been under the weather with asthma.

Preparing for my next event this week but have been under the weather with asthma.

The asthma seemed to go away for a while. I ran track throughout high school and I never used an inhaler. When I did run, I thought I was just out of breath and I would stop when I needed to stop and then rest. It wasn't until I was in college my Junior year when the team and I finished a road run. The team's physical therapist noticed I had trouble breathing and I had finished the run nearly 30 minutes prior. The listened to my lungs, took some tests and decided to put me on albuterol inhaler. It did help and I would use it from time to time.

Fast forward to now, I have had several "episodes" of attacks over the years and the one that I remember the most was when I was newly wed and we were moving from Missouri to California. My husband was already in LA and I was still packing, getting things ready for his return to head back to California. I was stressed, nervous about the move and that night, my body reacted with a horrible asthma attack. I was a little freaked out but able to drive myself to the hospital but when I got there, I literally crawled into ER. That was the beginning of several more over the years.

As an athlete, everyone is amazed that I have asthma but I love running, competing and instructing. It's crazy I guess to others but being extremely active is what makes me tick. When I learned that my asthmas would never go away I quickly taught myself how to be an athlete and asthmatic. A lot of my friends don't even know that I have the disease until they know. The way I see it, there are elite athletes that have lost limbs but it doesn't stop them from doing what they love, so I follow in their footsteps. Do what you love...right? 

If you are an asthmatic, do not let the disease take over your life. Get the right treatment from a doctor who understands athletes. Learn what medications will work for you and TAKE THEM daily! Do not wait until you have an attack. If you live in an area with high pollen, dusty winds...move...ok, so don't move but be aware of what is in the air. TAKE YOUR MEDICATION on a regular and consistent basis, brace yourself for spring season and any other changes in the weather.

As the world gets busier and more populated, there are a lot more things in the air and stresses in your life . You have to keep your environment dust free, pollutant free and stress free (all things that can trigger an attack). If you have pets, they should be cleaned and brushed on a regular basis, as well as the area surrounding them.  Again, talk to your doctor or an allergy specialist and learn how to live with the disease and NOT how the disease allows you to live.

Posted on July 30, 2015 and filed under Wellness, Running, Motivation, Injury Prevention, Health, Fitness.

Taking Care of the Back of Your Legs

I am not quite sure how it happened but I definitely strained my hamstring. This past weekend I ran with my runner-girl and had a very hard time climbing not-so-steep hills. I knew that I might have hurt something in the back of my leg but didn't know the severity of it until trying to run through it. That's when I realized I strained my hamstring. The fact that I could still run indicated that it was not pulled but it hurt enough to know to stop.

So, I am here to tell you how to keep your hamstrings healthy, strong and injury free! It's not that hard, doesn't take a lot of time and it will save you a lot of grief in the long run...literally.

The hamstring consists of three posterior muscles, the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. These muscles work together to flex the knee, extend the hip and rotate the knee. We need our hamstrings for running, walking, climbing and jumping. When the hamstring is injured, you may experience a pulling feeling or tightness in the back of the leg. You can determine the severity of the injury by how much you can move your leg forward and backwards.

Common causes of hamstring injuries, such as strains or pulls are caused by the following:

  • not getting enough of the right nutrients,
  • muscle imbalances
  • dehydration 
  • over-training

It's important to maintain a proper diet, stretch your muscles before and after any workout, drink lots of water (3.3 liters for men and 2.2 liters for women/daily) and stick to the training plan. Adding more to a workout will bite you in the ass sooner or later...no pun intended.

For me, it's a couple of things. I am guilty of not stretching ENOUGH before a workout, over training and having poor biomechanics. I have an anterior pelvic tilt...yep...I'm a "crooked kind of girl"! My hips pull forward and my butt sits back, so I am a victim of chronic back pain and hamstring strains from time to time.

When training for your next event or simply working out, make sure you actively stretch before your workout and static stretch (holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds) after your workout. Getting in shape and maintaining can be a lot of work but fun. It's not fun getting injured. Your training slows down, your mentally frustrated and getting BACK in shape seems like it takes forever! So make sure you take care of yourself throughout the training process and work with fitness professionals who can instruct you on how to do each exercise correctly.

Posted on May 28, 2015 and filed under Fitness, Health, Injury Prevention, Training, Running.

Hip Flexors

Prevent Injury and Keep Your Hips Strong

What are hip flexors? Hip flexors consist of two major muscles (psoas major and iliacus) and three assisting muscles (tensor fascia latae, rectus femoris and the sartorius). These muscles are located deep in the lower abdominal area and the front, top area of the quadriceps. These amazing five muscles are responsible for hip flexion.

Examples of hip flexion:

  • bending at hip 
  • lifting your leg or knee
  • sitting or kicking a ball

It's important to make sure you keep your hip flexors mobile to prevent future injuries; lower back pain, hip pain and/or hip injury. For many of us, we sit at a desk all day allowing our hip flexors to shorten and feel tight when we stand. Tight hip flexors will pull on other major muscles that are related to the lower back, glutes and posterior leg muscles. So, if you are sitting for most of the day, make sure you move every 20 minutes to make copies, grab a drink of water and walk to your next meeting. Computers don't rule the world, we do, so get moving and take care of your body.

Check out these yoga inspired stretches to keep your hip flexors...flexible.

Hip Flexor Stretch #1

  • One knee is placed on the floor and the other knee is up at a 90 degree angle.
  • Place hands on hips.
  • Lift your chest and drop shoulders.
  • Push your hip forward and feel the stretch in the front of your leg.

Hip Flexor Stretch #2

  • One knee is placed on the ground.
  • Lift the opposite knee up to hip height.
  • Keep both hip bones facing the floor.
  • Flex your lifted knee and then grab the top of your foot with the opposite hand.

Hip Flexor Stretch #3

  • Lie prone on the ground.
  • Flex both knees and grab the top of your feet with your hands.
  • Lift your chest.
  • Keep your chin slightly tucked in.