May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness MonthAs summer approaches and you are taking care of your body with exercise and good nutrition, be sure to also take care of your skin. May is melanoma and skin cancer awareness month. Here in Florida especially, we are exposed to harmful sun rays on a daily basis. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Tanning is directly carcinogenic so it is very important to protect your skin when you are enjoying outdoor activities. Here are some basic tips for protecting yourself:
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, every day
- Try to avoid peak sunlight
- If you're going to be out in the sun, in addition to sunscreen, seek shade when possible
- Wear hats, sunglasses and sun-protective clothing
- A = Asymmetry
- B = Border
- C = Color
- D = Diameter
- E = Evolution
How Foam Rolling Can Enhance Your Everyday MovementsIn today’s fast paced society, we don’t always take time out for certain self-care regimens until something hurts or something knocks us down for the count. Every day, we drive around in our cars, text on our phones, sit at desks, or squeeze in that morning workout with just enough time for a shower and a quick breakfast on the go all while putting our muscle efficiency on the back burner. Just a couple of weeks into this routine, we feel “tightness” in our muscles or aches in the joints. If muscle tension and excess soreness post-training are something you experience, read on! Foam rolling is a key component to endurance, strength, workout recovery and postural improvements. Foam rolling is essentially a self myofacial release, meaning it breaks up the scar tissue you’ve formed through daily routines and working out (aka its like a self-massage). We do not always have the time and or money to dedicate to weekly massages, so why not spend some quality time foam rolling and helping prevent those pesky knots we let our massage therapists handle. Once the knots are broken up, you gain better blood flow to the muscle and better joint mobility. Foam rolling has comparable benefits to stretching since it helps break up areas of tension allowing for a deeper stretch which in turn reduces the risk of many injuries for individuals like you. This means less unnecessary aches, more strength, endurance and flexibility? Yes please. If you are not familiar with what a foam roller looks like (see below), it is typically 12 to 36 inches in length, and 6 inches in diameter. They can be found at a very affordable price in most stores as well as online with varying densities. It is important to remember as you begin a foam rolling routine that you may want to start out on a low density roller and graduate to a high density roller. Low density is less pressure and therefore a little softer for the novice foam-roller. Athletes and amateurs alike have taken up a habit of foam rolling before or after a workout…so why shouldn’t you? It is easy to try and squeeze in an extra exercise or to skip the stretch after a long run instead of foam rolling or cooling down. While it is not imperative to foam roll immediately post workout, do yourself a favor. Keep yourself in action and make sure to put aside even just ten minutes of your day or night to foam rolling. You and your muscles will love the results, I promise. And don’t forget - a good massage therapist cannot be replaced as they keep you at the top of your game! The foam roller is an added self-care tool to helps keep those spa visits more enjoyable and less of a last resort for a nagging knot. Coming soon…how to incorporate foam rolling into your daily routine! In strength, Annalise Lamia NSCA-CPT
The Health Risks of Yo-yo DietingNew research shows that yo-yo dieting, and the weight fluctuations that come with it, can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and even death in those with pre-existing coronary artery disease. Though this research only shows an association and not direct cause-and-effect relationship, it does seem to indicate that losing and re-gaining weight is stressful on the body. Losing weight is a commitment to lifelong changes in your eating and physical activity. Here are a few patterns that you can adopt to create lifestyle changes:
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Slow down your eating
- Get hydrated
- Reduce stress
- Avoid unrealistic expectations
- Eat earlier
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Safety Tips for Running AloneI thoroughly enjoy running with a group of friends, but sometimes, either out of necessity or choice, I run alone. When running alone (at any time of the day but especially before sunrise or at night) it is very important to think about your safety. Here are some important tips to consider to make sure you stay safe.
Don’t be routineRun at different times and choose different routes. You can even try running your route backwards. Anything to prevent a pattern. Though attacks can be random, some are based on a perpetrator watching for patterns.
Make sure you are seenDon’t assume that drivers see you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to stop and get off the road for a driver who has all their attention on their phone. Try to move away from vehicles; don’t just assume they see you and will move for you. Also, wear clothing that makes you more visible and use lights and reflective devices. There are many different styles of running lights to chose from. You can find a review here of the best lights for running.
Run facing trafficAnother good way to make sure you are seen is to run facing traffic. Facing traffic makes it much easier for you to see and move out of the way of vehicles. And always look before you change direction. Never make the assumption that nothing’s behind you. Just because you don't hear it doesn't mean there's nothing behind you.
Make sure someone knows your routeTell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. This will alert someone if you don’t return when expected and they will know where to look for you.
Limit distractionsIf you use an iPod or other listening device, have an earbud only in one ear. Keep the volume low enough that you can hear your footsteps and breathing.
Carry your phoneThis is a great idea for multiple reasons. You can listen to music or a podcast and of course you can reach out for help if you sustain an injury, aren't feeling well or feel unsafe. Use a belt, arm band, or pocket to carry your phone rather than carrying it in your hand. Carrying your phone in your hand can affect your running form.
Wear IDIf you are in an accident or have a medical emergency, wearing identification can ensure that those coming to your aid have the information to alert your emergency contacts. You can also list any allergies or medical issues. Click here for a link to Road ID, a company that makes personal identification that is easy to wear while exercising. You can personalize the information you put on your ID.
Use technologyThere are mobile device apps for your personal safety that you can use to do everything from alerting specific contacts if you fail to check in, sending out an SOS, to keeping you connected 24/7 to dispatch. Click here for a list of free personal safety apps. by Lois Waite
Mindful EatingMindfulness is the practice of being fully in the present moment. It is attention paid to our thoughts, feelings, sensations and surroundings without labeling any of it as “right” or “wrong”. This paying attention to the present moment without judgement promotes a sense of calmness. It is being in the present moment without reliving past regrets or trying to control the future. Studies have shown that the practice of mindfulness is good for both the body and the mind. It can reduce stress and help us focus, as well as improve our relationships by creating greater empathy. Mindful meditation is quite common. But have you ever heard of mindful eating? Mindful eating is paying attention rather than eating unconsciously. It’s about noticing your thoughts, feelings, and sensations as you eat. This can be a beneficial tool for improving our nutrition and putting a stop to over eating. Click here to read more about this technique and its benefits.
Protecting Your Brain from Alzheimer'sWith more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's Disease, scientists are working on not only how to treat the disease, but how to prevent it from developing in the first place. While drugs for treatment can take years to develop, Rudi Tanzi, Ph. D., director of the Alzheimer's Genome Project and a leading researcher in the field at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, says that there are things you can do to prevent Alzheimer's. The four categories of prevention that Tanzi identifies are diet, exercise, sleep and stress reduction. Follow this link to a CBS News Morning Rounds Segment to learn more about protecting your brain.
Preventing Running InjuriesSpring is here so it’s a great time to get out and run. The cardiovascular benefits can be a wonderful compliment to your strength training as well as an effective way to shed a few pounds. But it is quite common to begin a running program only to find yourself injured a few weeks in. Whether you are training for a 5k race, or just running for fitness, nothing can be more frustrating than getting injured and not be able to run. Below are some basic principles you can follow to help prevent injury.
Stick to a plan when increasing weekly mileage and paceOne common reason runners get injured is because they progress their distance and/or pace beyond what their body is capable of at their current fitness level. Regardless of your running goals, it is best to have a plan and stick to it. Your plan should increase cumulative weekly mileage no more than 10 percent per week. For example, if your plan includes 10 miles in the first week, with the 10 percent rule, the second week should be no more than 11 miles, the third week no more than 12 miles, etc. If 10 percent is too much, then use 3 percent or 5 percent. The goal is to let your body adapt as your mileage progresses. The same goes for including hard workout days in your regime. Its best to follow a hard day/easy day/easy day/hard day rule at minimum. If you feel you need more rest, then definitely take it. Again, it’s all about letting your body absorb the training so that your fitness level improves and you can then safely increase your mileage or pace.
Listen to your bodyAs you’re increasing mileage and pace, it’s very important to listen to your body. If you are tired or sore, take a break. You can’t “run through” pain. Cross training offers a great opportunity to have an active rest day and give your running muscles a break. If you are very fatigued and find you don’t have the desire to run or your pace has really slowed, it’s a good sign that you might need a day of complete rest. If you are trying to run when you are not rested and overly fatigued, you aren’t gaining fitness benefits from your workout and you are putting yourself at high risk for injury. Overly tired muscles don’t hold good running form and therefor create too much burden on muscles that are not designed to carry the load of impact.
Wear proper fitting shoesA good running shoe store will be able to help you find a shoe that is right for you. There are so many shoes on the market today designed to fit all types of runners. A good running shoe store should be able to evaluate your stride and tell you which shoe is best for you. It can be helpful to bring an old pair of running shoes with you so they can see the wear pattern to learn more about your stride. It’s also very important to make sure you change your running shoes on a regular frequency. Most training shoes are good for 300 to 500 miles. If your shoes are worn out, it can make you more prone to repetitive stress injuries. It is possible for shoes to be worn out even prior to maxing out the mileage. Compression of the midsole can be seen by looking at the midsole of the shoe from the side to see if wrinkles are present. This is an indication that the cushioning material is compressed and no longer providing the support you need.
Run on a level surfaceThough it is important to run on the proper side of the road to safely follow traffic patterns, constantly running on one side of a road that has even a slight pitch or slant to it can cause you to run out of balance. Over a long period of time, being out of balance can create a leg-length discrepancy or pronation problems. Changing up your running route or running on a track or treadmill can help avoid issue that can occur from running day after day, week after week, on an uneven surface.
StretchRepetitive use of the muscle groups needed for running can create tight muscles. Running with tight muscles can cause improper running form which could potentially lead to injury. It’s important to keep the muscles stretched out to maintain the range of motion and avoid straining. Dynamic stretching is best done before a run. Dynamic stretching uses momentum and doesn’t go beyond the current range of motion. After a run, its best to do static stretching where a stretch is held using techniques to gradually elongate the muscle.