Foam rolling is one of those activities that every runner hears they should be doing. We know it’s important, but we aren’t exactly sure why, how to do it, or when to do it. When done correctly, it’s a highly effective tool for recovery and will increase performance.
What the Heck is Foam Rolling, Anyway?
Foam rolling is a self-myofascial technique that breaks up adhesions and scar tissue that accumulates within our muscles during exercise and daily activities. Steph Creaturo, co-owner of Mala Yoga in Brooklyn, NY, teaches a yoga class specifically for runners that incorporates rolling with foam rollers, golf balls, and tennis balls. She equates a foam roller to a Zamboni machine for your muscles. Foam rolling helps to smooth out the rough patches, promoting better blood flow to the muscle, which reduces soreness and increases performance.
In a study published by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers found that foam rolling the legs after a squat workout helped speed recovery. The subjects who foam rolled were less sore overall, muscle soreness peaked earlier, and they performed better in vertical leap, range of motion, and muscle contraction tests. Adding foam rolling into your daily routine will help make you a more nimble runner.
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I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I think it’s important to set a goal when it makes sense to do so, not based on a random date on the calendar. Not everyone is ready to change her life on January 1. Yet, even I get caught up in the frenzy of renewal and excitement that comes with the change of the calendar.
According to Time.com, losing weight is one of the top resolutions made – and broken. Why? Because we pin our hopes on an outcome we can’t directly control. We become frustrated when the scale doesn’t budge and we give up. We forget about the other benefits healthy weight loss strategies can bring.
The scale is actually the worst judge of our progress in our fitness journey. I have clients who have dropped 1-2 sizes while the scale only changed a pound or two in the process. Not only did their shape change, they also started feeling all the other benefits of focusing on fitness (and not how much they weigh).
This year, instead of the big “New Year, New Me” proclamation, I want you to take it one step at a time. I want you to pick ONE resolution that is SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relative, Time-Based) and focus on improving your health, not pounds lost. If you focus on doing the right things for your body it will often show up in your shape. You’ll also feel better by focusing on the things you can control. Here are some ideas to get you started.
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By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist
For years now, scientists have known that periodontal disease increases the risk for heart disease. Now, a new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association shows that if you take care of your gums you can reduce a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
A research team led by Columbia University in New York City examined the mouths of 420 middle-aged men and women for periodontal disease. (Periodontal disease is caused when bacterial plaque on the teeth move into the gums causing inflammation. This can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, causing “pockets” that become infected with bacteria, and eventually lead to tooth loss.) Researchers collected gum bacterial samples and used ultrasound to measure the thickness of the carotid arteries, which supply the brain with blood. Artery thickness is a marker for stroke and heart disease; if the carotid arteries get clogged with plaque, you can bet the coronary arteries leading to the heart are clogging as well.
Three years later, people whose oral health improved (read: they had fewer bacteria linked to heart disease in their mouth) had a much slower rate of carotid artery thickening than those whose periodontal disease was worse or remained the same. It doesn’t take much plaque to have devastating consequences. Picture this: a 0.033-millimeter-per-year increase in carotid artery thickness doubles the risk of heart disease and heart attack. In this study, people with gums that deteriorated, developed, on average, a 0.1-mm increase, meaning their heart disease risk shot up six-fold.
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By Janis Jibrin, M.S., RD, Best Life lead nutritionist
What to eat when you’re stuck in a junk-food-infested office park, stretch of highway, or other nutrition wasteland? Try one of these five meals, all of which contain foods you can keep in your purse, desk drawer, or office fridge, or can be found at a coffee shop. They range from 370 to 480 calories.
Oatmeal topped with dried fruit and/or nuts and a 12-ounce nonfat or 1 percent latte
Approximate calories: 370
Nutrition highlights: This dish is rich in calcium and cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber (from the oats), plus it offers phytonutrients from the coffee, dried nuts and fruits. It’s my go-to at Starbucks and other coffee shops.
Trail mix (2/3 cup)
Approximate calories: 450
Nutrition highlights: Nuts, seeds and dried fruit offer vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients and healthy fats. Make your own to control the ingredients and avoid a sugar rush. Try our Sweet & Nutty Trail Mix.
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Babies are exhausting. As I new mom to a three-month-old baby girl, I know first hand exactly what this means. I also know what it’s like to be inside a postpartum body trying to get back into your running routine. It’s not easy to find the time, motivation, strength, or patience, but it IS possible! It gets easier every week to figure out your new routine, and your body WILL bounce back. Here are my tips for how to return to running when your world has been turned upside down.
1. Wait six weeks before starting to run again. Whether you ran throughout your pregnancy or not, you gave birth to a child and your body endured a huge amount of trauma. As a result, your body isn’t quite the same as it was before you delivered and it needs time to recover. Some doctors will tell you it’s fine to get back out there at your two-week postpartum check up. My recommendation is to wait at least six weeks after you give birth to start running again. Use the time to build up to long walks and maintain/build strength you need to start running again. Be smart and ease back slowly.
2. Start with run/walk intervals for a minimum of one week. Don’t make the mistake of trying to run for 30 minutes straight on your first run back after pregnancy. Instead, get comfortable with your new mom body by forcing yourself to incorporate scheduled walk intervals into your runs for at least the first week of running. How often? That’s up to you, but I recommend five minutes running and one minute walking. This enables you to check in with your body and make sure everything feels OK and that you are building back smartly.
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