Friday, January 19, 2018
Most new runners assume that the best way to improve is simply to run greater and greater distances. While it’s true that going farther and faster will improve your running skills, most coaches and trainers will advise some level of strength training as well. Focusing on your core is a common suggestion. A recent study seems to back this up. In the Journal of Biomechanics, researchers investigated a symptom that has long mystified runners from novice to elite: A good chunk of runners, 14 percent to be exact, experience chronic lower back pain. The results of the new study seem to suggest that weak deep core muscles might be to blame. When these muscles aren’t strong enough, the study found, muscles on other areas of the torso kick in to keep the runner upright, eventually leading to back pain.
To understand the role that these muscles play, the researchers had eight volunteers with minimal running experience run along an indoor track. High-speed cameras and 3D motion detectors analyzed which muscles moved, and how much. Once they created a working computer model for each runner, the scientists simulated what would happen if certain deep muscles were weaker, or shut off completely. As it turns out, when a person can’t use their deep core muscles very well, their bodies still want (and need) to maintain a good running form, and uses superficial muscles to do so.
What’s wrong with that? A muscle is a muscle, right? Not exactly. While the superficial muscles are often targeted in workouts—they give you a six-pack, after all—they are pretty useless when it comes to supporting your spine. The deeper core muscles, which essentially lie beneath and can’t be seen from the outside, do all the heavy spinal lifting.
When you are pounding the pavement for miles at a time, you put a lot of pressure on your spine. If you’ve got strong deep core muscles, that’s no problem. If not, your running could eventually lead to chronic back pain. In fact, the researchers found that when they dialed down deep core muscle strength as low as it could go in their simulation, the load on each vertebrae increased—often by as much as 19 percent. It's easy to see how that kind of pressure could add up to big problems over time.
If you're staring down at your useless six pack in dismay, never fear. You can easily whip your deep core muscles into shape as well. The authors note that while many of the most popular ab workouts, like sit-ups or other exercises that involve a large range of motion, are pretty useless for your deep core, fixed exercises like planks or side bridges go a long way.
It’s important to note that even when you've made these muscles super strong, you won’t likely notice visible results. They'll never give you washboard abs. But they will probably help you run better, and definitely help prevent potentially debilitating chronic back pain. So take a few crunches out of your rotation and throw a nice long plank in—or just do both.
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Monday, January 15, 2018
Whenever we get too busy or stressed, we all tend
to make poor food choices that will actually
increase stress and cause other problems. To get
the most of your healthy eating and avoid stress,
follow these simple tips.
Always eat breakfast
Even though you may think you aren't hungry,
you need to eat something. Skipping breakfast
makes it harder to maintain the proper blood and
sugar levels during the day, so you should always
Carry a snack
Keeping some protein rich snacks in your car,
office, or pocket book will help you avoid blood
sugar level dips, the accompanying mood swings, and
the fatigue. Trail mix, granola bars, and energy
bars all have the nutrients you need.
If you like to munch when you're stressed out,
you can replace chips or other non healthy foods
with carrot sticks, celery sticks, or even
Bring your lunch
Although a lot of people prefer to eat fast food
for lunch, you can save a lot of money and actually
eat healthier if you take a few minutes and pack
a lunch at home. Even if you only do this a few
times a week, you'll see a much better improvement
over eating out.
Stock your home
As important as it is to get the bad food out of
your house, it's even more important to get the good
food in! The best way to do this is to plan a menu
of healthy meals at snacks at the beginning of the
week, list the ingedients you need, then go shop
for it. This way, you'll know what you want when
you need it and you won't have to stress over what