Foam Rolling…its a must!

Right lets get right in there and start with the Benefits of Foam Rolling before we discuss anything else:
Increased blood flow throughout the body
Reduced risk of injury
Decreased recovery time
Increased Range of Motion
Lengthening of short muscles
Breakdown/loosen knots and trigger points
Breakdown of lactic acid (post training – esp running)
Breakdown scar tissue
Aid further stretching

The benefits of foam rolling have to do with the mobility of the fascia. Fascia is a fibrous layer of connective tissue that surrounds all of the muscles in our body. Without proper mobility, fibres of the fascia become cross linked and they bind to muscles and nerves, inhibiting normal motion and causing pain…..and bringing on those so called “knots” and aches and pains we so often feel (especially very active people and runners)

Foam Roller is another name for “Self-myofascial release” and is often called the “poor man’s massage.” Myofascial release is a hands-on technique that massage therapists have been using for years. To achieve this release, a therapist would apply a low load, long duration dragging force across layers of soft-tissue in the body. After a period of time, through some different mechanisms in the body, the body will “release” the tissue and mobility between those sliding surfaces is restored.

You will create a “love-hate” relationship with your foam roller, kind of like you might with a Sports Massage Therapist. I know I do…at the time it can be really painful (but saying this you should never push yourself to the point of excessive soreness) but you know in your mind that in the long run and afterwards it’ll be so worth it.

After injury, new layers of fascia are laid down as scar tissue. If this tissue isn’t broken up, mobilized, and properly aligned, it can cause problems in the future. Even if you had an injury a while ago (months to years) it can still creep up on you and cause problems. Scar tissue from past injuries will inhibit normal tissue mobility and function

Stretching alone is not always enough to release muscles tightness, which is why foam rollers have become so popular. Imagine a bungee cord with a knot tied into it and then envision stretching the cord. This creates tension, stretching the unknotted portion of the muscle and the attachment points. The knot, however, has remained unaltered.

A Foam Roller can never replace the power and expertise of a Therapist but for a daily use they come in very handy and are cost effective. They range from £15-£50 depending on where you buy them

After a Foam Rolling session you muscles will feel like they have been worked/released (just like a massage), but as I mentioned earlier it should never be to the point of excessive soreness. Always make sure you drink plenty of water, eat clean and sleep – to help the body flush toxins and repair.

Beat the Winter Blues….

Beat the Winter Blue
Top 10 Tips to get you through Winter

1. Keep active

Research has shown that a daily walk, in the middle of the day, could be as helpful as light treatment for coping with the winter blues. Plus u’ll be getting fit at the same time…bonus!! Whether it means joining a gym, a class or going for a walk (make sure you wrap up warm)

If you’re exercising after dark, keep to well-lit areas and wear bright and reflective clothing. Ideally, exercise with a friend, but always tell someone where you’re going.
Avoid listening to music while running outdoors. Not hearing what’s going on around you can make you vulnerable.

If rain or ice is making exercise dangerous, do it another day. The weather might be better tomorrow, but an injury could take weeks to heal.
2. Get outside
Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on bright days. Inside your home, choose pale colours that reflect light from outside, and sit near windows whenever you can.

3. Keep warm

Being cold makes you more depressed. It’s also been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half. Keep warm with hot drinks and hot food. Wear warm clothes and shoes and aim to keep your home between 18oC and 21oC (or 64oF and 70oF degrees). For further information on what you can do, including applying for grants to keep your home warm, visit www.nhs.uk

Severe symptoms

If your symptoms are so bad that you can’t live a normal life, see your GP for medical help.

4. Eat healthily

A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. “Some people tell us that taking extra vitamin D helps,” Good food sources of vitamin
D include oily fish and eggs. Take in plenty of dark leafy green veggies and immune boosting foods. A perfect time of your to make those homemade soups 5. Lighten up
Light therapy can be effective in up to 85% of diagnosed cases. One way to get light therapy at home in winter is to sit in front of a light box for up to two hours a day.

6. Take up a new hobby

Keeping your mind active with a new interest seems to ward off symptoms of SAD, “It could be anything, such as playing bridge, singing, knitting, joining a gym, keeping a journal or writing a blog. The important thing is that you have something to look forward to and concentrate on,” she adds.

7. See your friends and family

It’s been shown that socialising is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while. It will really help to lift your spirits.

8. Vitamins

Take Vitamin C, Echinacea, Zinc to help with Cold and Flu Symptoms, it is also worthwhile taking these all year round too…so your body is topped up.

9. Sleep

During the Winter you may find you want to/do sleep more….but don’t worry its your body’s way of catching up on any Sleep Debt it may have (although saying that don’t be late for work!) Get to bed before 10:30pm….an you can lose weight too 😉

10. Look after YOURself and YOUR Loved ones

Stock up on wholesome foods, vitamins and make sure you look after all your family. Check up on elderly relatives and neighbours who may not be able to get round in the Winter months.

Stay Fit and Healthy this Autumn

5 Tips to Stay Healthy in Autumn
One thing we can always be guaranteed of in life is change. Nature reminds us of this in the ever-changing rhythm of the seasons.
Here in the UK, our weather has certainly changed. The temperatures have become cooler and the days are shorter. The morning air is brisk, and it’s time to start thinking about winter coats and woolly hats.
Those long, summer days of bright berries, crisp salads and succulent fresh fruit are almost behind us. While you might be disappointed to see the last of the summer salads, there are a plethora of yummy foods for you to choose from in Autumn

1. Always buy food in season.
With the arrival of the new season, now is the time to change your diet! Embrace the yummy foods that Autumn offers. Enjoy fresh pumpkins, parsnips, yams, winter squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, apples, pears, figs, elderberries and even cranberries!
Some of my favourite fresh seasonal dishes are creamy pumpkin soup, roasted root vegetables, cranberry chutney, baked sweet potatoes, caramelized pears and crisp apple pies.

2. Eat your autumn colours!
Autumn is the season of warm, earthy colours; think deep greens, dark yellows and brilliant oranges.
When you eat foods that are rich in these colours, you are absorbing the vibrational energy of the earth. Fall foods are vibrant, colourful and nourishing. One rule of thumb is that the more colourful the fruit, the better it is for your health and your immune system.

3. Boost your immune system.
With the changing season, now is the perfect time to boost your immune system.
Whenever I feel the need for a boost to my immune system, I first look to Mother Nature. Some of my favourite natural immune-boosters are: to drink plenty of fresh water, eat plenty of alive (living) raw foods, garlic, lysine, probiotics, Vitamins B, C and D, zinc, propolis and Manuka honey.
Another powerful way to boost your immune system and keep strong is to use the power of gentle exercise.

4. Embrace gentle movements.
In summertime, it’s so lovely to spend time outside. For many, this sunny weather allows them to move their body naturally, using gentle movements such as walking on the beach.
But, don’t let cooler temperatures stop you from moving your body! Far too many people stop exercising and spend more time doing sedentary activities indoors.
One way you can keep moving during the cooler season is to bring your activity inside: bounce on a rebounder, do yoga at home, get a yoga swing, swim, go to the gym or find a dancing class!
This Autumn, get yourself organized so that you are well prepared for the coming winter months.
Find an enjoyable way to gently move your body, so that this year you keep yourself fit and healthy.

5. Live aligned with the season.
As the season shifts, give yourself permission to make different choices and changes in your lifestyle.
The shorter days and longer nights are the perfect excuse to take the time to really look after yourself. Use this Autumn as an ideal time to hibernate, giving yourself time for you.
Spend time relaxing at home, wrapped up with a hot water bottle, wearing your favourite pajamas and enjoying early nights. Watch movies, drink chai tea, or start writing that book you’ve always dreamt about writing.

Autumn is a nice time to slow down and enjoy some internal reflection. Allow this season to be a chance to nurture yourself by eating fresh seasonal foods and living in alignment with nature. I hope that these tips help you to stay strong and healthy!

Tips for Autumn Fitness
Autumn is a transitional time of year. The leaves on the trees change, it becomes darker earlier, and the temperatures cool down. It is a favourite time of year for many people. However, these same changes can also lead to stress for individuals who tend to fall off the health and fitness wagon during the transition.

Take Advantage of Autumn Activities
Autumn group events like pumpkin picking, haunted trails, and building leaf piles are active options that can also be fun bonding experiences for family and friends. Organize a weekend trip or local get-together with an autumn theme and plan to be active.

Get Involved in Community Events
With the Autumn season come many holiday-themed local fun runs and events. Look in the newspaper for Events near you. According to a 1991 summary report by ERIC Digest, training for a specific goal such as a race increases adherence to an exercise program. Signing up with friends or family will hold you accountable for completing the training.

Head to the Trails
Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of year for getting outside. Grab a friend and find some local parks or trails to walk, run or bike and take in the view of changing leaves. Delamere is lovely this time of year…just pack your wellies

Dress for the Weather
When weather gets cooler, it can deter people from going outside to work out. This problem can be mediated by wearing wind-shielding clothing and dressing in layers. Proper attire and accessories (hats, gloves, etc.) that cut down on bulk but still allow for warmth make outdoor fitness more enjoyable as the chill of Autumn and Winter approaches

Drink Water
Stay hydrated even when the temperatures cool down. People often feel less thirsty when it is not hot outside, but staying hydrated is just as important in the Autumn as it is when the sun is blazing. When Autumn rolls around, remember to stay on top of your fluid intake to help with both exercise recovery and appetite control.

Drink Tea
Drink more tea to warm up for the cooler temperatures. Green tea and black tea contain antioxidants that help ward off diseases during flu season so you can remain healthy and active as the season shifts.

Avoid Holiday Sweets
According to the National Institutes of Health, on average, non-obese adults gain about a pound a year around the holidays. In addition to creating unhealthy habits, accumulation of this weight over time can lead to obesity. Be sure to pack lots of healthy snacks to munch on throughout the day to help deter you from grazing on sweets that pop up in the office, at home or at parties.

Exercise Early in the Day
Try to work out in the morning or during the day. With the time changing and the sun setting earlier, it can feel as though it’s later in the day than it really is. This can make people more tired than usual. Getting into a routine of working out early will guarantee the workout gets done and still allow time in the afternoons and evenings to relax.

Vary Activities
As the weather cools down and summer ends, it can become difficult to stay motivated. Trying a variety of different activities and varying workouts will help keep a fresh spin on exercise and allow for confidence to build within a wide range of activities.

Rest Days….do you have yours?

When you first start out training, or are training for something specific or simply just in the zone….then even the thought of “resting: can freak you out and you start thinking all kinds and telling yourself that it will be the end of the world if this happens and that you will lose any gains/strength/stamina…..when in fact by over training and being “too obsessed” you could actually be doing all of that and more.

Its OK to be dedicated and motivated…..believe me, we need more of that in the world….but there needs to be a point where we need to let our bodies recover.

Without adequate recovery, your musculoskeletal system, nervous system, and immune system become compromised and this then puts you at a greater risk for injury, weaknesses in training and illness. Your body’s hormonal response to the deterioration of these systems is often a state of sympathetic arousal—your “fight or flight” response—which floods your body with high levels of catabolic hormones like cortisol. None of these things are good for anyone!!!

Rest days are an essential part of training, time off allows your body and mind to fully recover and grow…..don’t believe me….then think about how you feel after a bad night sleep/rest: Your cognitive skills are fuzzy and your body starts to fall into a catabolic (breaking down) state, which can skyrocket stress, drain any muscle strength, and cause mood shifts…..well lo and behold this is exactly what NOT resting does to your body!!

If you Never take a day off, then you are just setting the body up for a breakdown. You become more susceptible to muscle soreness, a suppressed immune system, improper sleep, a decrease in strength and performance, and injury….not to mention mood swings, irritability and weird eating patterns.

Use your rest days to reflect on how far you’ve already come and acknowledge and be grateful for your body, willpower and dedication……see it as a positive thing and don’t beat yourself up for resting, as it wont get you anywhere.

If you are bored stiff indoors then go for a casual walk or yoga class/light swim…something that isn’t taxing on your body…but doesn’t make u go stare crazy either. Don’t be competitive and wonder what you can achieve just be!!! BUT REMEMBER there is nothing wrong with lying on the couch watching a film….its ok to rest up (just don’t accompany this with a take away and munchies….and then your sound)

I know that sometimes mustering up the motivation to work out is a challenge, and then other times, like when we’re really determined to reach a goal or we feel like we need to make up for lost time, the opposite is true.

Sometimes we take on that frantic “must work out every day” mindset and completely forget that one of the most important parts of exercising effectively is giving our bodies time to recover….because if they don’t recover they cant change…so your training becomes pointless.

Plan your weekly workouts….but also plan your rest days and if you are worried you will just sit and think about working out..then make plans…plans that don’t involve the gym or training…go shopping. meet friends, read a book…anything..stimulate your mind and rest the body.

Trust me…..YOUR BODY NEEDS REST DAYS!!!!