Sunday, November 19, 2017

Shoe Insole Helps Your FEET!

November 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Fitness & Health, Gear, Uncommon Sense

My Feet, My Feet!

Hikers have FEET!  I have not used commercial insoles that come in the shoes for YEARS.  I’ve tried every insole I could find and, as I get older, my feet seem to need more help.  FINALLY, I found an insole that makes a huge difference.  I’ve been telling my hiking buddies about it and have enough people who have thanked me and raved about it, I feel I can recommend to my AdventureBuddies here:

Use the link above to search for your size. You want PowerStep Pinnacle Max. I tried the regular, but LOVE the Max.
As always, anything you order via links from this blog help support quality posts. I do not take advertising, but use affiliate links (which cost you nothing). If you subscribe, you may not be able to click thru, so please go to the blog and click from there.

Healthy Aging

November 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Fitness & Health, Uncommon Sense

To Vitamin or Not to Vitamin?

On one of my meet-up hikes, I met a retired anesthesiologist.  He told me what he had been doing (besides training for hikes and unwinding from years of administering to patients) since his retirement.  He founded and formulated a high quality vitamin designed to help active, aging bodies.

My problem with supplements is they’re not regulated.  What the heck is in them?  How do you know what/whom to trust?

I tried this vitamin regimen and feel the difference.  I’ve checked with other professionals and they agree that the formulation makes good sense.

This is a high quality formulation designed to support an active lifestyle and support aging gracefully.  At first I thought it was a little pricey, especially since I’ve previously shunned supplements.  But when I checked the cost vs. trying to purchase the ingredients separately, I realized this was a good investment in my health.    Plus they offer a 90 day, no questions asked guarantee.   So I decided I had nothing to lose and tried it.  It’s time to share with my AdventureBuddies!

More info below from their website:

The mission at Baranta Health is to formulate nutritional supplements with ingredients not readily available in our modern foods that may have benefits to augment a healthy lifestyle. The word Baranta means “Bounding” and that’s what most of our customers experience: bounding mental and physical well-being. Baranta Health supplements may provide benefits that are experiential such as increased energy, sharper focus and improved physical performance, as well as that support positive mood, promote emotional well-being  and that increase resistance to fatigue, stress & tension. Our company is committed to supporting anti-aging research through investing in joint ventures to develop nutritional products and also donating to support basic science research that leads to pharmaceutical breakthroughs for diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer.

Note:  If you are getting this as a subscriber to the blog, you may not be able to use the links.  Please visit the blog and you can check out links from there.  Thank you!  www.AdventureBuddies.net/blog

Face Toning Exercises

January 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Fitness & Health, Uncommon Sense

A member in my Core, Cardio & More class told me about these exercises.  She’s almost 60 and looks under 40 – her face and neck look as smooth as silk.  She’s been doing these exercises for years and they work for her.  It makes so much sense to me because muscles like toning.  Practice & Enjoy!

 

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TheraBand Routine for Improved Posture, Upper Back Health

This holiday, I gave TheraBands.  These are the bands you get at PT – they come in a roll and are cut.  I cut 5′ lengths.  But the main gift was the routine I designed for using it to improve posture and activate upper back muscles.  So much of our lives are spent in the forward posture that pulls us into dis-ease.  These gentle strengthening movements are the opposite of computer work, driving, forward everything.  Form is important!

How you hold the band sets the stage.

  • Choose the color band that allows light work to start.
  • Hold loosely with the thumb on the same side as your fingers (overhand grip).
  • As you have a slight tension on the band, look at your wrist.  Make sure it’s STRAIGHT.  This is the biggest mistake people make.  In order to straighten your wrist, you actually have to push your hand outward.

1. Straight Arm Pull Apart

  • Arms straight out in front at a slight angle
  • Start with gentle tension of the band
  • Pull the band outward keeping arms and wrists straight.
  • As you pull the band back towards you, it will come closer to your chest and you should feel the muscles behind and between your shoulders
  • This is an activation movement, not a body-building exercise.  Use only the tension you need to feel the shoulders pull together behind you.
  • To protect your low back, put one foot slightly in front of the other into a stagger stance.  Notice how this softens your knees and helps you maintain a neutral spine.
  • Do 8 to 10 reps
  • The light tension means you can do this once a day just to activate the upper back muscles.

2. Wrist Work

  • Do exactly the same movement as above, but when you get to about 45 degree outward with your arms (about half way), push your wrists outward and slowly return.
  • The arms stay still, just the wrists move
  • Do 5 to 10 of these

3. Anchor Series

  • One arm is STRAIGHT out in front (not angled off to the side or up) and holds the band
  • Holding arm – thumb up (this is better for your shoulder)
  • Relax both shoulders down
  • With the other straight arm, pull the band downward and behind the body – this engages the latissimus dorsi
  • do each side 5 to 10 times
  • You can also pull outward (similar to #1).  Notice how the holding arm works very differently in this movement
  • Another variation that I love is to do slow circles.  I prefer circles backward (clockwise on the R, counterclockwise on the L)

With all of these movements, if there’s any discomfort AT ALL:

  • slow down
  • make the movement smaller
  • stop doing it

Remember to walk with attitude, swagger and walk young!

 

Holiday Gift Guide #3

Take care of your feet!  These massage balls saved mine and keep me hiking.  (5 part series on Plantar Fasciitis on this blog)

I keep at least one ball  in my car ALL the time – it lives under the passenger seat. After a hike (IF I’m a passenger of course), I can soothe/fix my feet by just using the relaxed weight of my leg and gently holding or slowly rolling the bottom of my feet. It’s SO healing.  I also use in the morning to relieve the plantar flexion that occurs in bed and tightens my feet.  If you get all 4, keep 2 and gift 2 buddies 🙂

Another tip for keep feet in neutral at night – I put a pillow at the foot of the bed to make a little “tent” space so the blanket does not weigh down on my feet all night long.

If you have not discovered Amazon Prime – it’s AMAZING.  The free shipping pays for the fee pretty fast and I love  the convenience and time-saving of finding almost anything and getting it fast.  It’s truly a gift (like Bay Nature Magazine) that gives all year long.

In case you have someone who has trouble getting out of your car (aging parents?), here’s a handy tool – I keep one in my car.

Holiday Gift Guide #4 – Do you have knees?

November 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Fitness & Health, Gear

Hikers have knees.  We love our poles and they help save our knees – BUT – knees can still ache the next day after a tough hike.  When I ICE, I don’t hurt.  When I don’t ice, my knees are often quite vocal the next day.  Hit me over the head with a sledgehammer!

The problem is that they don’t hurt that day or evening, just the next day.  But NEVER when I ice.  I recently ordered a bunch of ice packs and this is the one I likeI don’t put it on bare skin.  I wrap it around really snugly and it provides some compression as well.  It’s EXCELLENT and so reasonably priced.

I can even put it in my cooler between 2 ice packs and have ice right after my hike.  Why make your kidneys pay (ibuprophen, NSAIDS, etc.) when applying ice directly helps?   Note:  You may not think you need ice because you don’t SEE swelling.  But if you have discomfort – ICE, ICE, ICE!

Also, in our opinion, EVERYONE should have a good ice pack in the freezer, ready to go.  I’ve used this on elbows, ankles, knees, shoulders….stuff happens!

Back Strengthening – Bird Dog

April 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Coaching, Fitness & Health

Whenever I hear that someone has occasional back pain, I think of this exercise.  It’s a great back strengthener and is an excellent foundation helping people get ready for more strenuous exercises like planks.

Benefits:

  • Function:    Diagonal patterning, getting up and down from floor, Shoulder ROM (range of motion)
  • Balance:      Core work
  • Strength:     Back, core as well as weight bearing for the arms
  • Flexibility:   Elongating each arm and leg away from the body helps create length and stretches the muscles

The Set up – Start On All 4’s

  • Hands directly under shoulders, fingers spread
  • Notice that all 4 points of contact feel even
  • Engage your shoulder blades down away from your ears; keep your arms straight throughout the entire sequence.
  • Your head should remain neutral (this is best for your neck and means that you’ll be looking either down or just slightly in front of you).
  • This starting position is your neutral or reset that you honor in between each and every part of the movement.

Part 1 – The Form

The purpose of this initial movement is to establish optimal form in each reaching arm and leg.  Do this initial sequence each time you do bird dog.   Just one set activates the muscles and sets the stage for a better bird dog.

  • Extend L arm straight overhead/forward
  • Point Thumb up and reach thru your fingertips
  • Try to keep the remaining 3 points of contact (R arm and both knees/lower legs) evenly balanced
  • Hold for 3 breaths as you lengthen your arm
  • Notice how far your upper arm is from your ear
  • Slowly lower your arm back to the even 4 point contact
  • Take 1 to 2 breaths as you notice how the both arms and shoulders feel

Any time you need a break, lower to your forearms into Puppy Play or sit back into Child’s Pose

  • Repeat with R arm
  • (note: each time you do this notice which arm and leg you start with and make sure to alternate so you’re not always starting with the same arm/leg)
  • Extend L Leg straight out behind you
  • Try to keep your hips even
  • Flex your foot and push thru your heel (strongly flexing the foot facilitates a lower leg/Achilles and calf stretch and engages/strengthens the shin/tibialis anterior muscles
  • “Activating” the leg engages hip and leg muscles
  • Hold for 3 relaxed breaths
  • Notice the remaining 3 points of contact (both arms and other leg) and try to keep them evenly balanced
  • Slowly lower your leg back to All 4’s.
    Take 1 to 2 breaths as you notice how the both arms and shoulders feel
  • Repeat with R Leg

Part 2 – The Sweep

  • Gently sweep your L arm and R leg out at the same time until you reach the end point you had in Part 1
  • Once you reach the end point – the longest length from your fingertips to your heel, slowly lower the arm and leg back down
  • Repeat other side
  • Do this sweeping movement twice on each side
  • Remember to rest in between movements and only move on to the next Part when you’re ready for additional challenge.

Part 3 – The Hold

  • Extend opposite arm and leg out, reaching the fingers overhead and straightening the leg, pushing thru the heel, as in Part 2,
  • Hold for 1 to 2 breaths
  • Slowly lower
  • Repeat other side
  • Do each side 3 times

As this gets easier hold for 3, then 5 breaths, then 8 – up to 10 to 15 long, relaxed breaths (approximately 1 minute)

 

Staying Active, Fit AND Maintaining Muscle

You work hard to stay fit and active.

You hike, but do you strength train?  If so, are you doing everything you can to HOLD ONTO your muscles?

“Bodyweight underestimates body fat during the aging process because adults lose 5 to 7 lbs of muscle every decade of life unless they perform regular strength exercises.”

“Perhaps the main reason that diets do not work over the long term is that up to 25% of the weight lost on low-calorie diets is muscle tissue….muscle loss leads to a reduction in resting metabolic rate, which greatly increases the difficulty of maintaining the weight loss.”

“Several studies have demonstrated greater strength and muscle gains when extra protein is consumed just before or just after the weight workout.”

**A growing body of research has found that another way to increase protein synthesis is to consume some protein right after strength training.  This doesn’t call for protein supplements – a cup of milk or yogurt after a workout may be enough.**

Above in quotes are excerpts from Chapter 10 of the manual Fitness Professional’s Guide to Strength Training Older Adults.

Above in ** is taken from the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, Nov 2015 issue

These 2 excellent resources are saying the SAME thing.

And then there’s the question of whether or not you’re doing the BEST exercises for YOU.  That’s another blog post, but the word that describes doing the most efficient, most beneficial exercises for YOU (including the concept of injury prevention) – is programming.  It’s what trainers do for their clients.  Form matters!

 

Improving Balance

What body part is

  1. critically important for balance?
  2. largely ignored?
  3. incredibly responsive to minimal attention?

Hint:  It’s a joint

Give yourself a moment to consider the answer (unless you know immediately).   Click on the link only after you’ve worked the question a bit – please.

NYTimes Article

Limited ROM (range of motion) of this joint can significantly affect your balance.  So, if you have limited ROM, you can improve your ROM and, consequently, your balance within a very short period of time – like magic (really!)

Mindfulness prevents falls

This is the exercise I teach at all my mobility classes because it encourages and enhances mindfulness.  Mindfulness is the syncing of the brain with the body.  As our body slows and our brain speeds ahead at its “regular” rat-race pace, this imbalance puts us at increased risk for falls.  When using poles for mobility, this mindfulness enables you to take a moment to remember to take your hands out of the straps.  Remember, never stand up or sit down with your hands in the straps. 

MODIFIED SQUAT:  This one simple exercise is excellent for slowing the brain down as well as improving:

  • leg strength (great for balance)
  • circulation
  • improved function (what’s more functional than standing up/sitting down?)
  • core strength which can significantly relieve back pain/discomfort/strain
  • plus it “tunes” the vestibular system  **  (see below)
  • excellent for posture and posture awareness (again, when done optimally)

The key to this exercise is the breath.  Learn and practice pursed lip breathing (also known as Pilates breathing)

  • Inhale fully thru your nose
  • Exhale thru pursed lips as if whistling
  • Notice the feeling in your tummy muscles (rectus abdominus) – the tightening (engagement/contraction/recruitment) of these core muscles is what helps your back

Starting Position:

  • Standing in front of a chair, feel the front of the chair at the back of your legs
  • Neutral Spine (see elsewhere on this blog for tips on optimal posture)
  • Feet and legs approx. hip width apart, keep parallel
  • Knees aim in same direction as feet (either straight ahead or slightly out – not in)

To Sit down:

  • Inhale and stand tall, feel front of chair at back of legs
  • Pursed lip exhale as you Slowly lower into chair, hinging at the hips (stick your bottom back – this is where you think of a public toilet)
  • Use arms if needed
  • Don’t “plop.”  Plopping Impact is really bad for the back
  • Use an arm chair if necessary – it’s the same amount of effort, but redistributed
  • Keep knees aligned (weakness in legs often brings knees together as a compensation)

To Stand:

  • Inhale while seated, elongating spine
  • Pursed lip exhale to rise, exhale throughout the entire standing process
  • Shift weight forward and rise. (as rising, lift from hamstrings, push forward with gluts and press in to feet – as in a dead lift)
  • Pause standing, check your balance
  • Squeeze gluts as you stand
  • Use an armchair if you tend to “hoist” yourself up.  This use of momentum often involves the low back vs. using the breath and the core

Return to seated position with legs also wide apart and knees pointing same direction as toes.

  • Each one of these is a rep (short for repetition)
  • Do up to 10 reps at a time until fatigue.
  • No pain!  Nothing should hurt even a little.  Use a sturdy arm chair if your knees complain.
  • When this is easy, slow them down .  Slower is harder and works (strengthens) the legs more.  Follow your breath.

FREE DO-OVERS

  • If you stand up without good form, you didn’t forget – you remembered late and you get free do-overs for life!
  • Called public toilets because as you sit down you stick your bottom out as if you don’t want to touch the toilet
  • Really focus on your body mechanics on this exercise.
  • This highly functional exercise will strengthen your legs.
  • Do these more slowly as you progress
  • Progress to arms crossing chest as legs get stronger.  You can also reach arms forward as you rise

**How to create healthy new habits that improve performance & safety.  Going the Distance, Article in 12/29/13 Parade Magazine by Bruce Grierson

“Simply standing up more is the best thing sedentary people can do to start becoming healthier, maintains Joan Vernikos, Ph.D., the former director of Life Sciences for NASA and author of the book Sitting Kills. The painless act of rising from your chair pumps blood from the feet to the head, and tunes the vestibular system, which helps maintain blood pressure and keeps you steady on your feet.”

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