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6 Tips for Endurance Runners: Before, During, and After Your Run

If you’re gearing up for the a Marathon, Half Marathon, an Ironman, triathlon, road race, or relay, consider these six tips for runners using nutrition and specific exercises for before, during, and after your run to help ensure your peak performance and fast recovery. 1. Focus on warm-ups over stretching. Stretching before a run was once believed to be the best way to improve performance and prevent injury. However, we now know that it can lead to stretch-induced strength loss. “What is important,” says William O. Roberts, M.D. in “Should I Stretch Before My Runs?“, “Is to have the functional range of motion needed to perform an activity.” Therefore, functional warm-up routines, like high knees, backwards running, grapevines, side planks, and front planks, can increase and improve your performance, as well as decrease injury. For more on the benefits of warming up over stretching, see this research article from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: “Effects of Dynamic Stretching on Energy Cost in Running Endurance Performance in Trained Male Runners.” 2. Carb up pre-run. “The best pre-run breakfast consists mainly of carbohydrates, since they are digested most rapidly and are your body’s preferred fuel source… (and) small amounts of protein will help stave off hunger during the later miles” (Penny Wilson, PhD in “Perfecting Your Pre-Race Food Strategy” by Monique Ryan). Research shows that consuming 1.5-1.8 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight is ideal for improving performance (Ryan). She advises to begin consuming these carbs four hours before your race or training run. 3. Refuel along the way. “Start taking in fuel within 30 minutes of hitting the pavement,” says Pamela Nisevich Bede in “How to Eat During Long Runs.” For longer runs, bring sustenance with you and try consuming small amounts every 15 minutes. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need to add 30-60 grams of carbohydrates for each hour that you run over 75 minutes (Nisevich Bede). 4. Recover with protein and carbohydrates. Within 30 minutes of finishing, consume about 20 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbohydrates in the form of a workout shake or whole food, depending on your preference and dietary restrictions. Consuming fats immediately is not ideal because these slow down the digestion of the proteins and sugars, so keep it to just protein and carbs. 5. Use dynamic stretching. There isn’t one right answer for what to do post-run as far as movement. But from a functional perspective, dynamic stretching after a workout can help prevent injuries. Dynamic, or triplanar stretching, moves your muscles in all directions. See the following example of tri-planar stretching. 6. Drink water to your thirst. Evidence is diverse on how much water to drink and when before, during, and after your run. According to Dr. Maharam in “Revisionist Drinking,” “We’re used to hearing that thirst falls behind what you really need, but that doesn’t hold true scientifically” (Runner’s World Blog). Therefore, a good rule of thumb is to drink according to your thirst. And if you sweat more, you’ll want […]

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Posture and Back Pain: 5 Tips for Surviving Your Desk

If you’re like many people, you may spend hours every day sitting at a desk – or sitting in a car, or on a couch, or at a kitchen table. And as we sit – even though it looks like we’re doing very little – through our inactivity and posture, we can actually be causing ourselves harm. Consequences of sitting for long periods of time can include headaches, neck pain, low back pain, and rounded shoulders which can lead to upper back pain. Over time, one could even develop forward head posture, a condition in which the head drifts from atop the neck to in front of the body like a lamppost over a street, which can cause further neck and upper back pain. All of these dysfunctions can lead to a predictable set of imbalances in which some muscles become too tight and others become inhibited, neurologically weak and unstable. Life should be about productivity, not pain. The good news is you can do something about it: 1. Move often – Try to get up at least once an hour. 2. Stretch – Especially if you are seated and looking at a computer or TV, stretch by standing up and placing your hands on your lower back. Then lean backwards. 3. Drink water – Besides keeping you hydrated, if you drink water often enough, you will naturally get up from your desk to use the restroom. 4. Set alarms – Use your computer or cell phone to set alarms to remind you to take a break from sitting. Take a stroll, take a stretch, visit your coworker. 5. Consult a specialist – Chiropractors, physical therapists and other functional-minded practitioners can help assess your joint and muscle function or dysfunction to see if any treatment should be performed. She or he could also prescribe therapeutic exercises you could do throughout the day to work in a pain-free way.

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aging spine

The Aging Spine A normal part of aging process involves the deterioration of tissues, especially those of the spine. This deterioration occurs with all individuals over time. The degree of the deterioration varies from individual to individual. The reasons for this are not fully clear, however, it seems that a history of spinal stress and abuse (such as years of hard labor or years of prolonged sitting) as well as inadequate spinal hygiene (lack of periodic spinal checkups) accelerates this deterioration process. The Aging Spine – Intervertebral Disc The intervertebral disc (the cartilaginous pad situated between the spinal vertebrae) is one of the spinal structures most affected by the deterioration process. Normally, movements of the torso draw water into the disc which results in the influx of nutrients essential to maintaining a healthy disc. Similarly, torsal movements assist in flushing out waste products from the disc. This constant movement of water into and out of the disc is what keeps the disc strong and healthy. As we age, the tissues of the disc fibrose and become stiff. This fibrosis and stiffening reduces the ability of the disc to accept and eliminate water, and thus, obtain vital nutrients and eliminate noxious wastes. Individuals who subject their spines to prolonged stress, have had at least one back/neck/spinal injury, and who do not practice proper spinal hygiene significantly accelerate this process. This “dehydration” of the disc is often visible on x-ray as a loss of disc height, which is identified by a reduction in the distance between adjacent vertebrae. As the disc becomes dehydrated it also tends to bulge outwards, like a tire without adequate air. If severe enough, the bulging disc can compress or irritate nearby spinal nerve roots. As the discs of the spine undergo these arthritic changes, the biomechanics of the spine are also changed. If the failing spinal biomechanics are left untreated, further degenerative changes occur. Other structures affected by the degenerative processes as well as the alteration in spinal biomechanics include the body of the vertebrae as well as the facet joints. The Aging Spine – Facet Joint and Vertebral Body Arthritis Both in the margins of the vertebral bodies and in the facet joints calcium becomes deposited. Over time the calcium ossifies which causes stiffness and loss of function in the tissue. This is seen on x-ray as “lipping” and “spurring” and enlargement on the edges of the vertebral bodies as well as facet joints. Frequently, these arthritic spinal changes lead to back and neck pain and stiffness, and are also responsible for extremity pain such as that shooting down the back of the leg. This commonly results from the bony compression or irritation of spinal nerve roots. In essence, relatively small spinal problems can snowball into serious spinal problems later in life. The Aging Spine – How Can Chiropractic Help Chiropractic treatments maintain motion in the spine which is vital to the health of the discs, joints and other tissues. Our treatments also optimize spinal biomechanics to […]

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