If you’re like millions of Americans, you too will someday suffer the wrath of a headache. Some get them more than others, and in many instances headaches can recur. At the YinOva Center, headaches are a common complaint and there’s plenty of research that shows that acupuncture is a great treatment for both chronic and acute headaches. Most people suffer the occasional headache, medicate with ibuprofen or acetaminophen and are good as new shortly thereafter. For others however, headaches are a more common, regular or chronic condition. Read
While Western doctors have begun to accept the benefits of complimentary care in regards to fertility enhancement, many view the use of Yoga for Fertility solely as a stress reliever. I sat down with celebrity yoga instructor Kristin McGee, who was kind enough to share how yoga helps relieve stress as well as other benefits yoga can bring to the fertility journey. Read
Vacations and traveling can be refreshing and energizing but they can also leave us feeling a bit heavier upon return home. My dad used to tell me, “there are no calories on Holidays” and like so many others I take advantage of times with friends and family or on vacation as times to splurge and not think about eating “right” and just enjoying a good meal and a dessert. And there is nothing wrong with that! The last thing I would recommend is to go on a trip and not experience the food! But vacationing is not an excuse to be less active either….
On most of my vacations I do a lot of walking without thinking about it. Walking is great, and can mean the difference of 1.3 more years of healthy life in terms of cardiovascular disease if you are walking just 30 minutes a day. (according to a 2005 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine)
Living in New York City, I can easily walk 30 minutes a day when I include my commute to work and running errands in my neighborhood. If you live in a more suburban community getting those minutes in might have to be a bit more proactive when you drive everywhere you need to go. But exploring new cities, it should be easy to get in that burst of activity each day- but that might not be enough if you are also eating slightly more- or more richly than normal.
Unless you are at an all amenities included hotel, chances are you are without a gym. Here is when knowing how to get a good work out without relying on machines is most beneficial. Pilates and Yoga are both great to utilize in these types of situations. And getting creative with squats, lounges, and planks can give you a full body workout with limited space and equipment.
I found this article on a ten minute plank work out by Tina Haupert on Health Magazine’s Website. I tried it over the weekend and my abs and arms were definitely sore the next day. It’s incredibly intense and not suitable for beginners to plank workouts but it is telling just how little you need to work up a sweat. A modified version of this workout would be to add in moments in downward dog and child’s pose to rest.
Extra time stretching can also be a great addition to vacation time workouts. Stretching can be very relaxing and much needed after long periods of time sitting (travelling). Long trips on a plane or a car can be terrible for circulation. Try to stand up for a minute every hour or so, and making sure you rotate your ankles, stretch the calves and legs and doing a few straight leg press ups onto your toes can increase blood flow and prevent cramps.
This article originally appeared on Sarah’s pilates blog: sarahlehmanmovement.com.
Is there a “right” way to breathe?While there is not a singular “right” way to breathe, taking a look at what muscles you are using to breathe will tell you a lot about where you hold tension. And yes, there are more efficient ways to breathe that minimize excess tension and stress.
The diaphragm is the major muscle involved. A large, dome shaped muscle that lays horizontally separating the stomach and intestines from the heart and lungs. When the diaphragm contracts, the dome pulls downward and, in cooperation with the intercostal muscles of the ribs, this allows the lungs to expand resulting in a large inhale. Exhaling releases the diaphragm and relaxes the ribs back down.
As simple as that sounds other muscle players want to bring themselves into the mix. The most common are the muscles of the neck/shoulders and the elevators of the collar bones. Take a deep breath right now. Did your shoulders lift? If they did, you are most likely relying too heavily on those accessory muscles instead of the diaphragm. Being able to keep the neck and shoulders relaxed as you breathe will help decrease muscle tension.
Lay down on the floor and put your feet up on a chair so that your lower back is relaxed. Close your eyes and keep your arms down by your sides with your palms turned up. Now focus on your breath. Don’t try to change anything, just take note of what is moving, where your tension lies and how deep/shallow or fast/slow you are breathing. After a few minutes redirect your focus on your belly. On the inhale, let your belly expand and on the exhale let it fall down. Soften your throat, neck and shoulders. Imagine your shoulders gently falling open, widening against the ground.
Now let your rib cage expand wide as you inhale deeply. Then, forcefully exhale while engaging the deep abdominal muscles pulling them up and in, toward the front of the spine. Take a few more deep breaths like that, feeling the expansion and contraction of the ribs and the rise and fall of the belly. Diaphragmatic breathing allows the lung to absorb more oxygen which in turn allows the heart to slow down and the blood pressure to decrease. The opposite of belly breathing would be quick shallow breaths. This sort of breathing automatically speeds up the heart rate and raises blood pressure to ensure there is enough oxygen getting to the rest of the body. Shallow breathing also leaves one feeling anxious and on-edge where as slow, deep breaths promotes calmness and centering.
In Pilates, diaphragmatic breathing is used in combination with a technique called posterolateral breathing. The goal is to really allow the rib cage to expand wide so that the abdominal muscles are able to stay engaged while taking deep breaths. This is important to be aware of while you are exercising. The Pilates movements all heavily rely on use of and initiation from the core muscles. If you were only using diaphragmatic breathing you would have to let go of the abdominal tone and compromise the exercises.
The best way to benefit from this type of breathing is to practice. In the morning, before bed, or whenever you get a few spare minutes during the day, take a moment to sit quietly and focus on your breath. You’ll be surprised at how calming it can be. Hopefully the next time your “fight-or-flight” response jumps in remember to take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down and battle whatever comes at you with a clear head.
The benefits of exercising throughout your pregnancy are plentiful. Not only will it help limit weight gain, but mid-intensity work-outs, such as Pilates, have been shown to ease symptoms of pregnancy (i.e. back pain, morning sickness, fatigue), help shorten the labor, and reduce the time it takes to get your body to bounce back after you’ve given birth. Also, the strengthening and functional exercises will help prepare you for the lifting, playing, and running around you’ll be doing once you have a newborn in the house.Many women also find the breathing techniques of Pilates to be helpful in preparing for labor. The devotion to scheduled exercise time can be great for keeping a positive outlook during the pregnancy and a healthy mindset during a period of tremendous changes to your body.
There is a lot of contradictory information floating around about exercising while you are pregnant. The reason for this is that in the not so far past, doctors treated pregnancy as if it were an “illness.” What recent research is showing however, is that moderate exercise will help make the pregnancy easier. The body is incredible. It has an amazing ability to adjust to all the new changes taking place. While resting is important to remain healthy, exercising decreases the feeling of exhaustion and actually helps the placenta grow more efficiently. The more efficient the placenta, the better the baby is able to absorb nutrients and oxygen from the mother.
If you listen to your body, I believe it will give you signals. This is not a time to push your boundaries. Start small, especially if you are a beginner to exercise. If you are professional or recreational athlete you can continue, within reason, your normal routine but talk to your doctor or an exercise specialist for modifications and warning signs to look out for.
If you plan on working out on your own, remember to keep hydrated, fueled (eat a small snack before and after exercise) and always warm-up for about five minutes before you really get going. Due to changes in the vascular system, it is important to give your body a fair warning that you are beginning a workout. Save high intensity workouts for after the baby has been delivered. Stay in a range of 5-8 on the perceived exertion scale which means in the highest intensity you are slightly tired but you can speak a full sentence while you are exercising. If for any reason you feel light-headed, fatigued, or have abdominal area cramping stop immediately and talk to your health care professional.It is true that the body is under a lot of stress and many changes take place in a relatively short amount of time. However, keeping the mother’s body active and healthy is incredibly important for a healthy labor and a healthy baby. Think about it in terms of preparing your body for labor and delivery, an intense biological marathon. It is especially important to do a lot of core/abdominal strengthening in the first trimester before the muscles begin stretching. It is harder for them to continue to strengthen after that point and you are going to need them for the final pushing.
Pilates is a perfect compliment to any prenatal aerobic regimen. It will primarily work on building that core strength as well as toning the arms, legs and back. The functionality of the exercises will be beneficial to all the bending, reaching, lifting and squatting you will be doing with your new bundle of joy. To keep sessions interesting, I like to incorporate a couple different props such as an exercise ball, resistance bands and foam rollers to keep the movements flowing and to keep you safe.
What comes after the race?
Whether you are a seasoned tri-athlete or this is a “one-time-bucket-list-check-off”, post race conditioning is as important as getting ready for the race itself. All of the care and determination that got you to the starting line still needs to be summoned to recover after the run. The last thing you want is to have put all this effort in and have the resounding memory be an unhealed injury.
Advice on post-race rest, runs, nutrition and other activities is everywhere. From classic books to trainers’ blogs, there is a lot of great information available. Whether you have a personal mentor or are part of a group like our friends at Fred’s Team (who we have helped support for the last 5 years), their post-run guidance is invaluable: they got you to this point and their experience will help you get back on the road. The challenges faced after the run however are generally agreed on and we have worked with many runners and their trainers to help overcome them. In broad terms, these include:
Exhaustion and immune suppression The energy that it takes to run a marathon can leave you and your immune system depleted. After the big run you are more vulnerable to colds and other infections. The cortisol release alone that comes from this kind of exertion can dramatically lower your resistance.
Physiological stress A long race involves not only your muscles but also all of the organs involved in metabolism. A marathoner will easily burn over 2200 calories in a couple of hours. Electrolytes, neurotransmitters and hormones all shift during a 26.2 mile run and you want to get your inner balance back as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Emotional stress Any marathoner will tell you that it’s all about where your head is. Yet even after all of the validation and psychological conditioning, many runners experience post-marathon blues. Sometimes it is because of chemical shifts and changes in neurotransmitters; sometimes it is simply not knowing what to do next after the excitement of this life-changing event.
Injuries from blisters to sprains, small or large, injuries are a given in this race. Absorbing the impact of 30-50,00 steps and all the training that went into it is bound to take a toll and improperly addressed injuries can linger for a long time to come. The more prepared you are to take care of these things after the big run, the more likely you are to look forward to your regular athletic routine and a better training cycle in the future. The tips for post-marathon recovery are simultaneously general and personal, based on your training background. Essentially they are:
- Hydrate and eat properly
- Heal both physically and mentally
- Resume your training with clear goals for after the run
Week 1Attend to acute injuries Support immune function Promote qi circulation for general aches and pains.
Continue to address injury healing
Reduce stagnation physically (aches) and mentally (depression, insomnia)
Begin to re-build Qi energy to support physiological health
Week ThreeAs your body heals and you are getting back in the game, we will begin to tonify the blood that nourishes muscles and provides fuel for them as well as continue to address any unresolved issues.
Week FourFrom here we look forward to increasing your athletic performance with an increased focus on your individual, constitutional picture and addressing any lingering post marathon health concerns. This plan, along with conscientious cross training has proven itself to be a sensible part of making the most out of your marathon experience. With all of our fingers here at the YinOva Center crossed for a beautiful day, have a GREAT run!
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