Tag Archives: fitness

Everybody Needs a Foam Roller

It’s true.  Every athlete, especially runners, should have at least one foam roller in their workout arsenal.  They might look like misplace pool toys but the ultimate self massage tool is more than just a big foam cylinder.  Here are the basic reasons you’ll want to add one to your workout routine.

First thing first, what exactly does a foam roller get used for?  Foam rolling, of course.  Foam rolling is a form of self massage also know as myofasical release.  The soft tissues that support and protect muscles are called fascia.  During a hard workout these fibers can become inflamed and their ability to function restricted.  That inflammation leads to sticky spots knows as foam rolleradhesions between the muscle fiber and the fascia.  Those adhesions result in decreased blood flow, tight muscles, soreness and pain.  Hitting these inflamed areas with a foam roller, or rolling them, presses on and stretches the fascia, helping to release the adhesions and ease pain.

Using your favorite foam roller after a workout is one of the best ways you can prevent soreness and stiffness while aiding in quicker muscle recovery.  You can also use your it before a workout.  Foam rolling during your warm-up will increase blood flow to muscle groups that are going to work while breaking up any leftover adhesions from the previous day or days.

Not only will 15 minutes with your foam roller get your body back on track for your next workout, it’s one of the best ways to prevent IT Band Syndrome and can improve mobility and lower your risk of injury at the same time.  You can foam roll all of the major muscle groups, being sure to avoid the lower back and any injured areas and hit smaller muscle groups with different tools like Trigger Point Balls and Supernovas.  There are lots of options out there, so play around and find the one that works best for your body and the intensity of your training program.  Any way you decide to hit your hard working muscles, you’ll be saving yourself lost training time and money spent dealing with injuries.

For help getting started with your newest fitness toy, check out our Foam Rolling 101 video and help those tired muscles feel better today!

Coach Meredith

 

Running Injuries 101: ITBS

In this fourth installment of our running injuries series, we’ll cover ITBS.  ITBS is the acronym for Iliotibial Band Syndrome, is a common running injury experience by those who are both new to and experienced with the sport of running.  A preventable and treatable injury, read on to learn more about what ITBS is, how to avoid it and how to recover when you do get injured.

What:  The iliotibial band is a ligament that runs from the hip to the shin on the outside of each thigh helping to both stabilize and move the knee joint.  ITBS is an overuse injury that occurs when this band is inflamed or tight and leads to pain with movement of the knee.ITBS graphic

Causes:  ITBS is most often caused by overuse.  This could come from a sudden increase in work load for the knee, a change in terrain or a lack of recovery time.  It can also result from running too much in worn out shoes, on banked surfaces, turning only in one direction or faulty running mechanics that cause your knees to rotate inward.

Symptoms:  Pain and swelling on the outside of the knee are the result of an inflamed IT Band.  ITBS can feel like a knee injury but it isn’t.  If you bend your knee to 45 degrees and have pain on the outside, it’s ITBS.

Treatments:  Rest, foam rolling and low impact cross training like swimming are good ways to ease and avoid further irritation of the IT band.  Ice and anti-inflamatories are also options to treat ITBS pain.  While all of these will treat the symptoms or ITBS, it’s most important to address the cause of your injury during the treatment and recovery phases.

Recovery:  ITBS often results from poor running mechanics that allow the knee to rotate inward on landing.  Strengthening glutes, working towards a neutral foot strike in a low drop shoe and increasing mobility through both hip extension and flexion are the best ways to treat and prevent this injury.  Work with a qualified coach or physical therapist to determine what caused your injury, rest to heal it then strengthen and mobilize to prevent it from happening again.

Coach Meredith

5 Tips to Rock Your Fall Fitness Goal

Fall is a great time to aim for a new fitness goal.  Whether it’s a half marathon PR, a new one rep max deadlift, shedding those last few unwanted pounds or making it through an entire yoga class without losing your balance once, fall is the perfect time to work for it.  Schedules are settling down after busy, fun and hot summers, the weather is a little bit more workout friendly and you can find an event any weekend you choose.

Once you’ve picked out your new fitness goal working towards it can seem daunting.  Here are 5 tips, the S.M.A.R.T method, to guide you to success on your fall fitness goal journey.

Have a specific goal.  A desire to ‘get faster’ or ‘lose weight’ is vague.  How much faster?  How much weight?  It’s important to develop a road map for dropping those unwanted pounds or reaching your new PR.  Work towards your fall fitness goal by working on a specific thing such as losing 5 pounds, running a distance of 5 miles or a certain time in which you’ll finish your next 5, 8 or 10k.  Picking a numeric weight, distance or time goal will help you focus.

Make sure your goal is measureable.  Setting a specific goal, keeping a journal, potentially getting a coach and using a scale or stop watch to measure progress will help keep your morale up as you reach each mini fitness goal you set.

Achievable goals are a must.  A new weightlifter might have a deadlift goal of 450 pounds, which is both specific and measureable, but is also unattainable in the short term.  Setting challenging but not impossible goals like increasing weight lifting maximums by five pounds at a time or losing two pounds per week make progress easy and keeps motivation high.fitness goal

Be results based.  Hitting each step on your way to a bigger fitness goal is important.  If you aren’t reaching small short term goals, it might be time to rethink your training method or the bigger goal you set.  Being aware of your results helps direct future training and will make working towards any fitness goal easier.

Time oriented.  Have a desired amount of time or end date for reaching your fitness goal.  Pick your next 5k as the deadline for increasing per mile race pace.  Decide to lose two pounds per week for the six weeks leading up to your family vacation, then write each weigh in on a calendar.

Most importantly make sure you find an activity you enjoy.  Going out for training sessions will be more fun, especially if you have a training buddy.  Be sure to allow for life’s ups and downs as you use these five tips to steadily and safely work towards your fall fitness goal.

Coach Meredith

Get Stronger Running on the Beach

Tired of the treadmill?  Too many bugs on the trails?  Try the beach!  Running on the beach can have great benefits but can also cause injury, so proper planning for running in the sand is important.  Here are X tips to help you get ready to enjoy the cool breeze, warm water, sunshine and scenery you’ll find running on the beach.

Be ready for a workout.  The softness, slipperiness and lack of stability on sand forces your ankles, calves and arches to work harder, even if you’re wearing shoes.  Great for building strength in the lower leg, the give of sand protects your knees and hips when you land with its Running on the beachsofter surface at the same time.  Running on the beach also increases the time a running foot is in contact with the ground, forcing quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors and gluteus muscles to work harder as well.

Start on wet sand.  Wet sand is usually the flattest and firmest, making it easier to run on than the deep, soft sand above the water.  As you grow comfortable on the packed, wet sand, slowly weave in a minute or two on the soft sand, gradually increasing until you feel comfortable spending your whole run on soft, dry sand.

Plan your route.  Check tides and head out when they’re low.  The flattest part of the beach will be exposed and there will be more wet sand for you to choose from.  Running further from the water means running on at least a slant and at worst deep fluffy sand.  Picking an out and back route, which will help prevent an uneven pounding as you run even if you do end up on an angled surface, is always a great choice.

Choose the right shoes.  Running on the beach invites plenty of water and sand into your shoes and socks.  Taking a brand new pair of running shoes onto the beach is asking for them to get wrecked.  Wear older but still supportive shoes, or wear very old shoes and get new insoles for them.  You can take the insoles out after your run, which helps shoes dry as well.

What about no shoes?  Barefoot is a great option for beach running but just diving into it can cause injuries.  Start with 15 minutes of barefoot running and build up.  Strengthen ankles and arches slowly, using these tips for stable lower legs to guide you.

Know you will be slower.  Expect to run a slower pace on the sand because while pavement springs your foot back up, sand pulls it in.  You are in contact with the ground for a longer period, your legs and feet have to work harder and each step on sand is shorter than those on pavement.  A two mile run on the sand is just as good as running further on the pavement or cement.

Now that you’re ready to go running on the beach, remember your sunblock, hat and sunglasses.  Be sure to stay on the lookout for holes in the sand, small children scampering about and most importantly, have fun!

Coach Meredith

June Push-Up Challenge – 30 Days

Welcome to June and the 30 Day Push-Up Challenge!

This month Team FitNice is taking on a Challenge.  We’ll complete a designated number of push-ups each day in the month of June to get stronger this summer.

Join in on the fun by taking these simple steps:

1.  Like FitNicePT on Facebook

2.  Visit each day for your daily dose of push-ups

3.  Share pictures, comments and brags about your progress.

The challenge will introduce you to not only standard push-ups but two other varieties.  Plank push-ups and T push-ups are included to help build a strong foundation for your fitness goals.  Including push-ups in your workout routine will help build midline, core, shoulder, chest and triceps strength and stability.  This can help improve your golf swing, your running posture, your strength training power and make every day activities easier to accomplish.

A stronger, more stable upper body is an asset to any athlete and June’s 30 Day Push-Up Challenge is a great way to start building one.

If you want to get a sneak peak, check out these push-up videos on our YouTube Channel!

Push-Ups

T Push-Ups

Plank Push-Ups

push-up challenge

I can’t wait to see how far you get over the course of our 30 Day Push-Up Challenge!

Coach Meredith

4 Corners of a Healthy Diet

We all know maintaining a healthy diet can be hard.  Fad diets might look great but they’re almost always a bad idea.  More important than jumping on the latest bandwagon are getting plenty of the right ingredients, enough sleep and lots of exercise.  Luckily, there are four simple changes you can make to your meal plan to help you perform better, feel better and recover faster.

Cut calories by up to 40%.  A healthy diet isn’t one that stuffs you at every meal.  Eating until you’re full and saving the rest for later might mean eating a little more slowly so you can feel when you’re full before over indulging.  Decreasing caloric intake has benefits such as extending life, delaying onset of numerous diseases, enhancing performance and allowing your body to reach its optimal weight.  Read your food healthy dietlabels, stick with lots of fresh fruits and veggies, dine on lean cuts of meat and get plenty of fiber to help you fill up without racking up the calories.

Get lots of antioxidants.  Antioxidants are the human body’s cleaning lady.  Free radicals create all kinds of mayhem by attacking healthy cells in your body and can cause premature aging, diabetes, and cancer.  Antioxidants work to counteract and neutralize these free radicals, so having plenty of them in your body helps keep you looking young and disease free.  Even better news is that all of these antioxidants come from the brightly colored vegetables that are a big part of your healthy diet.  Five servings a day of foods like almonds, broccoli, tomatoes, pinto beans, berries, carrots and pineapple will keep your snacking, and free radical fighting antioxidant, supply fresh.

Eat foods that have a low glycemic response.  The glycemic index (GI) measures how the carbohydrates in a given food change blood sugar levels.  High GI foods are quickly digested and cause spikes in blood sugar levels while low GI foods digest slowly.  Slowly digested carbohydrates help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and aid in weight loss by controlling hunger.  A healthy diet leaves out high GI foods like white bread, white rice, and sugary drinks, includes a few medium GI foodshealthy diet include whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes and corn tortillas and loads up on low GI fruits, vegetables, intact nuts and legumes.

Eat healthy fats.  A healthy diet is home to good-for-you fats and kicks the bad, saturated and trans-fats to the curb.  Eating lots of bad fats, which are usually solid at room temperature, has been proven to increase levels of bad cholesterol and your risk of disease.  Healthy omega-3 fatty acids and mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and protect the heart while benefiting overall health.  Bad fats are found in butter, cheese, fatty cuts of meat, commercially packaged cakes and pizza doughs, candy bars and margarine.  Healthy fats are in olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, peanut oil, and avocados.  Omega-3s are a special type of fat best gotten from fish that have been proven to benefit heart and brain health, reduce symptoms of depression, support healthy pregnancies, ease joint pain, decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer and protect against memory loss.

Take these tips to the grocery store on your next trip and start working on a healthy diet today.  Your body will thank you by being healthier, happier and performing both mentally and physically at a higher level.

Coach Meredith

Run For Beer: Alcohol and Performance

Will run for beer.  Will run for wine.  These little phrases grace hats, headbands, and stickers alcohol and performancenear race courses every weekend.  It’s a great premise, running to burn the calories you know you’ll be enjoying after your workout.  Unfortunately, alcohol does more than simply replace your now missing calories.

Dehydration.  We all know that hydration is an important part of being able to perform at peak levels.  Alcohol acts as a diuretic, each gram of alcohol we consume generates 10 milliliters of urine.  This can equate to lots of bathroom trips and serious dehydration.  Muscles are 75% water and leaving them thirsty can result in fatigue, weakness and electrolyte imbalances with as little as 2% dehydration having an impact on your athletic performance.

Muscle Performance.  Not only will thirsty muscles not be able to perform at their peak, they won’t get any stronger.  In addition to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, alcohol can reduce the protein synthesis required for muscle building through a steroid hormone called Cortisol.  Cortisol is released in response to low blood glucose levels that results from indulging in alcohol and works in opposition to the systems that build muscle.  Cortisol can even tear proteins apart, resulting in muscle atrophy and making you weaker instead of stronger.

Sleep.  ‘Passing out’ is not the restorative sleep any body needs, especially those looking to be active the next day.  While one or two beverages might help relieve stress and make hitting the way a bit easier, alcohol does interrupt your sleep patterns.  To feel like we get a good night’s sleep, we have to enter REM sleep, which alcohol prevents.  Poor REM sleep can lead to tiredness during the day, an inability to concentrate and an overall crummy mood.

Weight gain.  Most of us know all of the empty calories associated with alcohol can lead to weight gain.  What we need to know is how.  Ethanol (alcohol), like a carbohydrate, is processed by the human body as sugar.  When we load the body up with processed foods or booze, blood sugar levels spike, insulin resistance decreases and everything the body can’t immediately process is stored as fat.  To learn more, check out this video from P360 in San Diego.

Hangovers.  Not only will have a headache after a night of boozing, your coordination, reaction times and balance will all be suffering, too.  You’ll also be less motivated to actually get out there and exercise while simultaneously inclined to eat something greasy and unhealthy.

There’s nothing wrong with having a fun and enjoying a few cocktails, it’s a great way to celebrate setting a new PR or finishing your first marathon.  Make sure you don’t end up steering clear of your recovery workout the next morning, by including water in your drinking plan, having food with your fun and stopping alcohol consumption long before bedtime.

Coach Meredith

6 Ways to Make Fitness Fun in 2015

Last week I wrote about making commitments instead of resolutions to have success in this new year.  To make your commitment stick, it’s important that you find a way to make fitness fun.  When you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll to look forward to workouts and have better results than if heading to the gym is a total drag.  How do you make fitness fun?  Here are six tips to get you started!

Plan a fitness vacation.  Run your first half marathon in a state you haven’t visited before.  make fitness funHike the Grand Canyon.  Take the Boulder Outdoor Survival School challenge.  Scheduling a big challenge with friends and family keeps enthusiasm high, makes training more fun and gives you something to celebrate for many years to come.

Track your training.  Writing down your workout, how you felt, how far you ran or how much you lifted in a notebook each day makes it easy to see your progress even when you can’t neccessarily feel it.  You can even use an app such as The Fitness Games to help you track your sessions.  Seeing your progress will make it easy to stay positive on tough days and only lead to more success.

Train with your significant other.  Even if you don’t do every workout, training run or yoga class together, getting your partner involved is a great way to make fitness fun.  Don’t worry if you’re not on the same level Connecting through exercise is a great way to build a strong body and a strong relationship.

Try something new.  It might be a few months before you’re ready for that fitness vacation but you can get excited right now.  Reach out to friends for ideas on a new gym, group class or workout to try.  Mix it up all year long by branching out once each month.   You might find something new to love and your body will thank you for the challenges.

Be flexible.  Stressing out about getting a workout in can do make fitness completely un-fun.    Allowing flexibility in your schedule might mean a quick bodyweight workout at home instead of a trip to the yoga studio, trading the road for a treadmill, even taking a different day off than you planned.  Doing any workout is better than nothing at all and a few missed miles aren’t going to derail your training.

Reward yourself.  When you look at your workout tracking book and see how far you’ve come, give yourself a pat on the back.  Get those new running tights you’ve been dreaming about, treat yourself to a massage or spa day, maybe even book that fitness vacation.

Try these 6 ways to make fitness fun in 2015 and see just how much you can accomplish.

Coach Meredith

How do you plan to make fitness fun in 2015?

Make Commitments, Not Resolutions in 2015

Resolutions.  They come around every new year and quite often crash and burn by the time February rolls in.  If this sounds like an annual process, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Getting fit is hard work that often includes scheduling challenges, battles with the weather and time away from family.  This is exactly why Team FitNice believes resolution is a dirty word and uses commitment instead.resolutions

A resolution is defined as “the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc”.  A commitment is defined as “the act of committing, pledging or engaging oneself…a pledge or promise; obligation.”  The difference between two is clear.  Resolutions carry little emotional weight and a commitment asks for you to invest.

Succeeding in the new year is all about your mindset.  With resolutions so frequently failing, they often become self fulfilling prophecies that end without success.  A commitment, on the other hand, is something you’re willing to fight for.  Marriage, education, raising children, these are commitments, not resolutions.  Fitness and wellness are a lifestyle that can be difficult to start and stick with.  With resolutions requiring little emotional investment, it’s easy to see why getting off track is easy.  Make your commitment to health and stick with it using these four simple tips.

Start with small goals.  Running a marathon is a great way to get healthy.  It’s also a great way injure yourself and get frustrated.  Shedding 30 pounds is fantastic but it’s very hard, slow work.  No matter what your goal is, getting in over your head will lead to frustration and likely failure.  Baby steps like walking a mile or loosing 2 pounds are ways to keep accomplishment coming and help you succeed.  You can learn more about setting goals in the video series on FitNicePT’s YouTube Channel.

Have a plan.  Schedule time to work out.  Write down your grocery list and have the kids help with Sunday meal prep.  Life gets in the way of good intentions all the time.  Protect your commitment by throwing out junk food, finding a friend to take TRX class with and replace potential distractions with accountability to have success next year.

Try something new.  Had trouble sticking with a fitness routine in the past?  Try something different.  Take a spin class, try kayaking or power yoga.  By exploring different options you’re more likely to find something, or a variety of somethings, you really enjoy and look forward to participating in.  Make being healthy fun and it’s much easier to stay focused.

Stay positive and be proud.  Making a commitment is hard.  Be proud of every step you take in the right direction and don’t get bogged down when you miss a day or eat some french fries.  Focus on the successes you have and direct your attention to all of the good things you’re doing for your body.

A one hour workout is only 4% of your day, so skip the resolutions, kick off your year with a commitment to health and start to succeed in with Team FitNice’s Jogging in January Challenge.

Coach Meredith

The Big Benefits of Interval Training

Runners can make big gains in race times by adding interval training.  The benefits of interval training at a high intensity are numerous.  From improved cardiovascular health, more effective weight loss and increased leg turnover, there’s not enough that can be said for the good things you’ll see from adding interval training to your program.  Here are five of those good reasons:

  • Interval training improves aerobic capacity by decreasing recovery time.  Bring your heart rate up then giving it a quick break trains that important muscle to operate at a higher level benefits of interval trainingfor a longer period of time without fatiguing by increasing the volume of blood it can move, replace and circulate.
  • Intervals increase lactate threshold.  Lactic acid is produced by anaerobic activity and the point at which it begins to accumulate in the blood stream is your lactate threshold.  Build-up of lactic acid can cause a decrease in muscle performance, stiffness and cramping.  The more tolerant your lactate threshold is, the more improvement you’ll see at high levels of effort.  Intervals work to increase this threshold by allowing the body to temporarily exceed it and recover while still maintaining an effective level of physical activity.
  • One of the biggest benefits of interval training is that it’s more effective at inducing fat loss, boosting metabolism and increasing post exercise calorie expenditure than typical endurance training.  Metabolic rates have been shown in increase for up to 24 hours following an intense interval session, burning calories all day long.  Intense interval training has also been linked to lower insulin resistance and improve glucose tolerance.
  • Increasing speed is the end goal for lots of runners and intervals are a great way to do it.  Increasing the lactate threshold allows for more intense activity for longer period of time before pain or fatigue can interfere with performance.  To run fast, you need to practice running fast.  Intervals are the perfect way to train your body to operate at a high level of intensity for a long period of time.
  • Intervals are fun!  Using varied interval workouts prevent workout boredom and are a great way to judge progress.  Interval workouts are not only more effective, but also less time consuming than traditional endurance workouts as a thirty minute interval workout will garner the same benefits as a two hour long steady state endurance workout.

Include high intensity training to your program to reap these big benefits of interval training.  Intervals can be done on any piece of equipment, with body weight exercises, while running and even while walking which means anyone can be helped by adding them.

Want to add intervals to your program?  Ask us how!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com or comment below!