Monthly Archives: January 2017

Some Running Injuries

usually happen when you push yourself too hard. The way your body moves also plays a role.

You can prevent many of them. Here’s how.

1. Runner’s knee. This is a common overuse injury. Runner’s knee has several different causes. It often happens when your kneecap is out of alignment.

Over time, the cartilage on your kneecap can wear down. When that happens, you may feel pain around the kneecap, particularly when:

  • Going up or down stairs
  • Squatting
  • Sitting with the knee bent for a long time

2. Stress fracture. This is a small crack in a bone that causes pain and discomfort. It typically affects runners in the shin and feet. It’s often due to working too hard before your body gets used to a new activity.

Pain gets worse with activity and improves with rest. Rest is important, as continued stress on the bone can lead to more serious injury.

3. Shin splint. This is pain that happens in the front or inside of the lower leg along the shin bone (tibia). Shin splints are common after changing your workout, such as running longer distances or increasing the number of days you run, too quickly.

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People with flat feet are more likely to develop shin splints.

Treatment includes:

  • Rest
  • Stretching exercises
  • Slow return to activity after several weeks of healing

4. Achilles tendinitis. This is inflammation of the Achilles tendon. That’s the large tendon that attaches the calf to the back of the heel.

Achilles tendinitis causes pain and stiffness in the area of the tendon, especially in the morning and with activity. It is usually caused by repetitive stress to the tendon. Adding too much distance to your running routine can cause it. Tight calf muscles can also contribute.

Treatment includes:

  • Rest
  • Icing the area
  • Calf stretches

5. Muscle pull. This is a small tear in your muscle, also called a muscle strain. It’s often caused by overstretching a muscle. If you pull a muscle, you may feel a popping sensation when the muscle tears.

Treatment includes RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation

Why Hard to Exercise

Anyone can have a hard time making exercise part of their routine. But throw kids into the mix, and it can almost feel impossible.

Why is it so hard for busy parents to exercise? Often it comes down to motivation.

“Parents typically don’t get enough sleep and spend their days constantly responding to needs of another human being,” says Dominique Wakefield, a personal trainer and wellness coach based in Berrien Springs, MI. “That combination is emotionally and physically draining, which leads to less motivation for physical activity.”

It’s easy to put exercise on your “wouldn’t it be nice” list, but fitness is too important to keep on the back burner.

“There are so many health benefits that come from being physically active, like reducing your risk for chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, but it’s especially important for parents to stay fit,” Wakefield says. “Plus, working out can give you more energy and reduce stress — extra benefits that parents especially need.”

Another reason to be an active parent: You’ll set a great example for your kid. “Children learn behavior by what they see around them, and it starts early,” Wakefield says. “So when kids see their parents exercise, they become likelier to be active as adults.”

Try these four tricks to tap into some surprising sources of motivation, making it easier than ever to reach your fitness goals.

Become an early bird. Willpower isn’t an unlimited resource — the more you use it throughout the day, the less you have left at night to force yourself to go to the gym. That’s why some people get in their workouts in the morning, when their drive is at its maximum levels.

And that’s not the only reason to become a morning exerciser. “If you wait until later in the day, it’s a lot likelier that things will pop up and get in the way of working out,” Wakefield says. “Your kids go to bed early, so do the same. That way you can wake up and work out, knowing that you’ve already done something for yourself that day.”

Get other people involved. “Parents love family time, which is why that often gets priority over exercising,” Wakefield says. Combine the two and you’ll be motivated to move since you’re doing something you love — spending time with your kids. There are a lot of physical activities that are good for all ages. Go play Frisbee in the park, play tag, go on a bike ride, or work in the garden.

If you want to do something that isn’t kid-friendly, find a friend who likes the same things you do, like running or spinning. “It provides accountability,” Wakefield says. “You won’t want to let the other person down by not showing up to exercise. Plus, chatting with a friend makes working out more enjoyable!”

Set smaller goals. “Most of the time, people don’t work out because it seems like an intimidating, daunting task,” says Erin McGill, senior director of product development for the National Academy of Sports Medicine. “But you don’t have to spend an hour at the gym to be active — there are lots of little ways to make everyday activities and chores just a little harder. And it’s so much easier to fit 10 minutes of movement into your day every few hours than find a larger chunk of time in your schedule.”

A few ideas: Take one bag of groceries in at a time from the car, do sets of 10 squats or pushups in between loads of laundry, or take stairs two at a time to get your heart rate up.

Keep equipment front and center. Sometimes a simple thing like putting your workout gear in your living room can be key to feeling more motivated.

“Out of sight, out of mind is true, but so is the opposite,” Wakefield says. “Put things like resistance bands or an exercise ball in a visible place, and you’ll get that extra nudge to actually use them. Every time you see them, you’ll get reminded.”

Some Relaxation Techniques That Zap Stress Fast

Relax. You deserve it, it’s good for you, and it takes less time than you think.

You don’t need a spa weekend or a retreat. Each of these stress-relieving tips can get you from OMG to om in less than 15 minutes.

1. Meditate

A few minutes of practice per day can help ease anxiety. “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress,” says psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD, a Chicago health and wellness coach.

It’s simple. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting — out loud or silently — a positive mantra such as “I feel at peace” or “I love myself.” Place one hand on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths. Let any distracting thoughts float by like clouds.

2. Breathe Deeply

Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.

“Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure,” psychologist Judith Tutin, PhD, says. She’s a certified life coach in Rome, GA.

3. Be Present

Slow down.

“Take 5 minutes and focus on only one behavior with awareness,” Tutin says. Notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food.

When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel less tense.

4. Reach Out

Your social network is one of your best tools for handling stress. Talk to others — preferably face to face, or at least on the phone. Share what’s going on. You can get a fresh perspective while keeping your connection strong.

5. Tune In to Your Body

Mentally scan your body to get a sense of how stress affects it each day. Lie on your back, or sit with your feet on the floor. Start at your toes and work your way up to your scalp, noticing how your body feels.