Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Self-Myofascial Release (SMR)

My relationship with SMR is love-hate. The more I do it, the more I love it.

The less often I do it, the more I hate - er, love - it. 

Nothing feels worse than the act of foam rolling, but nothing feels better that the minutes immediately following a good SMR session. Especially the day after a hard run or workout.

Areas of constant tension develop in our muscles as a result of stress, physical trauma, poor posture and repetitive movement. These areas of constant tension are fascial adhesions - more commonly knots or trigger points.

If left untreated, these muscle imbalances can lead to permanent structural change to our musculature. One way to correct muscle imbalances and treat adhesions is self-myofascial release (SMR) or foam rolling.

While SMR can be quite uncomfortable at first, applying the right amount of pressure to the muscles and the fascia that surrounds them combats the tension and offers almost immediate relief. 

A mild but tolerant discomfort is normal and important for effectiveness. Be sure to steer clear of pain and avoid bones and joints.

Slowly roll the targeted area until you find a tender spot. Hold on that spot while relaxing the area and you experience a reduction in discomfort, usually between 30 and 90 seconds. 

I once heard a fellow fitness professional explain the feeling of relief similar to that of air being let out of tire - good analogy!

While foam rollers can be found in just about any store with a fitness department, you can also use a tennis ball, racquetball, hand-held roller or your fingers for SMR.

SMR is classified as a stretching technique, meaning that it is appropriate for use before and after exercise. Because the breaking up of these knots or adhesions may improve the tissue’s ability to lengthen, it is often recommended that you do the SMR prior to static stretching.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy 2016!

Today is the first Monday of the New Year. January 4, 2016.

I say this every single year, but I can't believe the number of opportunities, challenges, milestones and good friends that I have had the chance to experience. It really is a wonderful life we live.

After spending many years in recruitment and enrollment, we decided 2014 was the year for me to chase my dreams. Fueled by Michael’s support and a pretty kick-a*s book by Jen Sincero my dreams came true in 2015! After a year of adapting to online learning, busting my tail and a pretty awesome spring break trip I did it! I earned my MS in Exercise Science and Health Promotion & am working full-time in Corporate Wellness. 

Now it’s time to move forward and work on an even better 2016. The heat is on.

Here’s the catch, though: I don't believe in New Year’s Resolutions. I believe in changes, choices and new beginnings.

I met and had the pleasure of working with many people who reached their long term goal this year.

They lost anywhere from 20 – 87 pounds (yes, 87), they ran their first 5Ks and half-marathons, they rode rides at amusement parks they haven’t been able to in years.  Pretty powerful stuff. 

How did they do it? I took what I observed and created the list below, just for you!

Understand your goal and create a plan to achieve it. Do you want to reduce health risk or do you want to alter your body composition? Knowing what you are working towards will help you create a plan that gets you to that specific goal.

Start slowly.  Rome wasn't built in a day.  If you are not currently at the level of exercise that will help you reach your goal, don’t jump right in. Adjust to your new routine by starting with 10-15 minutes 3-5 days a week and adding 5-10 minutes each week.  This helps you adjust to your new lifestyle and reduces the risk of burnout and injury. 

Don't go to extremes. Similarly to going all in with the workouts from day #1, don't cut anything out of your diet 100%. As one of my client's so wisely stated in regards to her 40 pound weight loss "I didn't cut anything out, I just cut back." (check out this article from the Atlantic)

Stop comparing yourself to others.  Life is a journey, not a competition. One of my favorite quotes came straight out of a Women's Health article many moons ago. Another woman's success is not a measure of your failure. Besides, if we were all the same, how boring would life be? 

Set action commitments. Set weekly goals (like exercising 3-5 days a week or drinking 64oz of water a day) that will help you achieve your long term goal. Holding yourself accountable for each of the small steps along the way makes your long term goal seem less intimidating and makes it easy to measure progress. 

Build a support system. Loosely translated: enlist an accountability partner. Even if this means emailing or texting to say "I didn't hit my goals this week." This isn't necessarily the person you exercise with. This is the person you don't want to let down. We all have one of those - a parent, a sibling, a co-worker, a spouse. Find the person you don't want to tell you missed your goal and you'll be pushed to meet them. 

Have a contingency plan. "Something came up" and "class was cancelled" can no longer be your excuse. Find alternate times or ways to fit some activity in. If you need help with ideas or ways to build a contingency plan, check out my recent post here. 

Give yourself a break.  So you got derailed. Guess happens to all of us. Some weeks you just don’t feel up to it. Some weeks you are on vacation or with friends and family and you just can’t resist the temptations of things you can only get in mom’s kitchen. IT’S OK!

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