Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Why We Get Stitches When Running and How to Avoid Them

Welcome back - we hope you had a great Memorial Day Weekend!  Today we're going to talk about a painful issue that can occur when running, and what to do about it.

Side stitches, or side pains, can be very painful and uncomfortable, and can hinder a perfect running experience almost immediately. The pain can start off slight and increase sharply in a matter of seconds. More than anything, side stitches are a nuisance to runners and may mean you need to stop your workout early!

What is a Stitch?

A side stitch is felt on either the right or left hand side of the body, though it most often occurs on the left side. It resonates in the area right below your lower ribs. The pain can be so intense at times that it can even cause you to stop running completely.

Why do Stitches Occur?

There is no definite medical explanation for why stitches occur, especially during running, but there are several theories. Some researchers claim that stitches are more common with beginner runners, due to the fact that they are more likely to engage in rapid or shallow breathing.

Rapid breathing is believed to not fully engage and relax the diaphragm, thereby causing the ligaments on one side of the body to contract forcefully. Another belief is that the rapid breathing, combined with the jolting of running and exhaling as your right foot touches the ground, puts additional strain on the ligaments near the liver and the diaphragm, which then causes the pain to be felt on the left side of the body.

Other research states that eating a meal within one hour of a run can cause side stitches, as well as drinking sugary or carbonated drinks. The digestive system has not worked the food and drinks completely through the system, and could be the reason for the sharp pains felt on the side.

Still other research suggests that if a runner forgoes a proper warm-up before a running session, and starts off running too fast, too soon, he or she will experience sharp side pain.

Preventing Stitches

If you notice that you get side stitches often, first ensure that you are not eating any type of meal, even a small snack, and large amounts of liquid within one to two hours of a run. You can drink a little water, but not too much, and avoid sports and carbonated drinks. Water is always your best choice before a run, especially in hot weather.

Another means of preventing stitches is to practice deep breathing in a rhythmic manner. Smooth, slow, complete breathing cycles will allow you to avoid rapid breathing. While you are breathing in and out fully, you also want to maintain proper posture.

The proper posture for running is to have your back straight, not hunched over, your chest up and open for easy breathing, and your arms bent at 90 degree angles at your sides. This posture will ensure that your muscles are not being squeezed, which can cause almost a muscle cramp.

If you do happen to experience stitches, press hard into the side that hurts and breathe deeply. Although it is hard to keep a good posture during this episode, try your best. After slow, even-paced breathing and massaging of the tense muscle, the pain should subside.

We are off the rest of the week, so please note that we will not be posting a "workout of the week" this week due to vacation. We will see you back here next week for some more exercise tips and another fun workout!

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Video: Cardio Hip-Hop Bellydance Workout for Beginners

One of the great things about dance workouts is you can add whatever flavor you want by switching up the music. This fun, simple bellydance workout uses more of a hip-hop type of music, for a fast, fun cardio workout that will get you moving and sweating - even if you've never tried bellydance before! She does provide some instruction and the moves are fairly basic, so you probably won't need the intro videos she mentions, although you can check them out if you need to.

She does include a warmup and cooldown, and the workout is less than 30 minutes long. Come get your sexy on and dance along with us!

Cardio belly dance workout with music: the hip hop mix workout for beginners
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to Get Started Running For Fitness

Running is a great way to exercise for cardiovascular fitness, overall health, and to lose or maintain your ideal body weight. Running is also enjoyed by many as a great stress reliever, especially when choosing to run outdoors. Getting fresh air after working indoors all day and enjoying the beautiful outdoor scenery is a nice perk of running.

If you want to experience all these benefits, or even just a few, there are some steps to take to get you started in the world of running. It takes time and dedication, but with patience, you will easily begin to accumulate miles on your running shoes.

Grand Canyon National Park South Rim Trail_0962
(Photo credit: Grand Canyon NPS)
Set Your Goals

No matter if your goal is to increase your physical activity level or to lose weight, the first step to starting a running program is to set goals specific to you. When you set goals that are personal to you, and are achievable, you will be more likely to stick to obtaining your goal.

Obtain Medical Clearance

If you have never exercised, it is important that you make an appointment to see your medical doctor. Ask for a complete physical, and let your doctor know that you are considering starting a running program. He or she will be able to tell you if a running program is appropriate to your current health.

Plan Running Days

You should make a commitment to schedule time in your busy calendar for a running session. Anywhere from three to five times a week, beginning with a minimum of 10 minutes, is great to start a running program. You can slowly build up this time, but in the beginning, your focus in on making that commitment to running.

A pair of ASICS stability running shoes, model...
ASICS stability running shoes, model GEL-Kinsei (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Purchase the Right Running Shoes

With each sport, there is certain equipment that is needed to protect you from injury. Running is no different. When it comes to running shoes, ensure that you purchase shoes that are designed specifically for running – not walking or cross-training – just running.

Running shoes have more cushion and support that is needed for this kind of exercise. If you are unsure as to which running shoes are good for you, visit a sporting store that sells running shoes and speak to a professional sales person. He or she will be able to guide you in your particular needs. Also see our earlier post on how to choose the right running shoe.

Build Your Endurance

Now that you are prepared, it’s time to begin your running program. Don’t start off by thinking that you have to run fast and run many miles. In the beginning, focus just on time spent running. If you start off running too fast, too soon, you could be setting yourself up for injury, which will ruin your running goals.

To begin, start with a brisk walk for about two minutes and run slowly to moderately for one minute. Keep repeating this process until you have completed 10 minutes. You can slowly increase this time to 20 minutes as you feel stronger. Once you are at 20 minutes, try increasing your running time to your walking time. For example, run for four minutes and walk for one minute.

You can then slowly increase this time to 30 minutes. Once you are running more, you will notice that you are covering more distance. This is a great time to start re-analyzing your goals if you just want to keep running just for weight loss or weight maintenance at 30 minute sessions, or whether you want to get into long-distance running and races.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we share some tips for starting a regular running practice, and even working up to running some races if that's one of your goals!

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Video: Super-Slimdown Pilates/Yoga Blend Workout

This is a really fun workout that combines power yoga moves with strengthening and core exercises from Pilates in a flowing routine that keeps your whole body engaged.

All you need for this one is a yoga mat, so it can be done pretty much anywhere. The workout includes a warmup and cool-down with stretching, and beginner modifications for most of the exercises are included in the demonstration.

* Remember to use caution when beginning any new workout. Listen to your body to avoid injury, and if you are at a low fitness level, you may wish to consult a personal trainer or physician to be sure you are in good enough shape to attempt this workout.
Super SlimDown: Pilates Yoga Blend
Super SlimDown: Pilates Yoga Blend: If you want a slim, sleek, toned body, this is the workout for you. Pilates is great for creating long, lean, sexy muscle...

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

5 Benefits of Biking To Work

Do you commute every day? If so, then you and I have something in common, along with tens of millions of others. Many people choose to drive to work, while others may take a train or bus. However, few choose to cycle. But cycling could be the best choice of all, and here’s why:

1) Save Money: Choosing to cycle to work is pretty much guaranteed to save you money, and who isn’t looking to save money in these difficult times? Firstly, you don’t have to pay for a car in the first place. Secondly, you don’t have to pay any tax for your car. Thirdly, you don’t have to pay for fuel and, well, you get the picture.

If you’re using any kind of transport other than your own two feet to get to work every day, then you’ll almost certainly save money by going on a bicycle instead.

Cycling Oxford
(Photo credit: tejvanphotos)
2) Improve Your Health: With many of us doing little more than sitting at a computer all day while at work, exercise is becoming more and more important to living well. It’s your body that keeps you going day in and day out, so it’s important to keep it in decent shape.

Cycling to work is a fantastic way to help keep your body healthy. By cycling, you’ll also eliminate the need to spend so many hours in the gym before and after work, saving you money and also time.

3) Clear Your Mind: Those who exercise regularly know how good it can feel for the body, but they also know it feels good for the mind. Exercise can help clear your mind, distracting you from your worries and concerns. It’s also a known fact that cardiovascular exercise can help with mental health, reducing both anxiety and depression.

4) Help The Environment: Global warming scientists suggest that we could have a big problem on our hands if we don’t start to take action right now, and the best place to start is with your carbon emissions. One of the biggest sources of these emissions is car travel. By using your car less, you can directly contribute to reduced carbon emissions.

5) Save Time: Although cycling isn’t usually thought of as the fastest way to travel, it clearly beats walking. However, on commutes where there’s a lot of traffic, cycling can also be quicker than travel by bus or car if you don't live too far away. Even if it’s slower than your car journey, you’ll still get to work pretty quickly, and can enjoy the other benefits listed above at the same time.

Spring is a great time to get outdoors and onto your bike, so there's never been a better time to incorporate bicycling into your daily transportation and exercise routines.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Video: Fun 10-Minute Fat-Burning Workout

This short workout is sexy, fast, and fun, with a Latin dance flavor, and works many areas that women want to tone, such as abs, butt, and thighs, all while burning calories and fat.

A fairly basic workout, this one is suitable for beginners, and is also great to get you moving and get your heart rate up for a few minutes in the middle of a sedentary day, so regardless of fitness level, it's a good one to throw into your rotation now and then when you're short on time.

Get moving, and have some fun with it!

Get your SEXY BACK with this Fat Burning, Calorie Blasting, Body-Sculpting Workout by Tiffany Rothe
More efficient fitness routines, healthy Food Plans and detailed Training Schedules! ♤ Web Site: http://www.tiffanyroth...

For more fun beginner dance-inspired workouts, see the Island Girl Series:
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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Is Trail Running Right For You?

There are many fun and interesting places to run. Each runner has their own running goals, preferences, and style. Some need quick convenience and a jog around the neighborhood is ideal. Some prefer to run indoors on a treadmill and some love to run in nature – on trails. Spring - when it's not too hot and not too cold - is a great time to try outdoor forms of running, such as train running.

Trail Running Is...

Trail running is exactly what it sounds like, running on trails. Most often the trails are hiking trails. They can also be shared with mountain bikers and animals. There are many benefits to running on trails. The biggest benefit of course may be the scenery. All across the country there are beautiful trails. Some wind through the woods, over hills and next to rivers. Others give you a beautiful view of the ocean. Whether you enjoy fields, mountains, water scenes or the woods there are trails for you to enjoy.

GORE-TEX® Experience Tour: All-out trail runni...
(Photo credit: GORE-TEX® Products)
Another common benefit of trail running is that it is peaceful. Many trails are in isolated areas and you may not pass another runner while you’re out. This can be a downside too because it presents a potential danger. It’s recommended that you run with personal protection spray and a cell phone. Always make sure someone knows where you are going and when you’ll be back.

Trails are often much softer than running on cement, asphalt, and a treadmill base. Dirt and small gravel is easy to run on. However, if the trail is rocky then you will have to pay careful attention to your footing. You don’t want to sprain an ankle or fall while you’re running.

Trail Running is Right for You If…

Trail running is ideal for people who enjoy long runs. If you like to get out for a few hours to experience nature then running on your local trails may be an ideal escape. If you enjoy variety on your runs, trail running provides that as well. During inclement weather the trails can become dicey. If you enjoy an adventure and a challenge then trail running may be your cup of tea. During the winter months you may want to strap traction devices to your trail running shoes.

Speaking of trail running shoes, if you’re running on rough trails then you may want to swap your traditional running shoes with shoes that offer more stability and traction. If you’re a barefoot or minimalist runner there are also a few good minimal trail running shoes on the market.

If you enjoy running, consider adding one trail run to your weekly routine. It’s a fun way to spend a few hours. You’ll experience nature and get in shape at the same time - what could be better than that?

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Video: 7-Minute Medicine Ball Core Workout

Medicine balls are a very versatile piece of exercise equipment, and they are particularly helpful for building core strength.

This short video shows you 7 quick exercises you can do to tighten and strengthen your core muscles using no equipment other than a medicine ball. One cool thing about using a medicine ball is it is a strength-training tool, so even when you're focusing on the core, you're also building strength in your back, glutes, arms, thighs, and throughout your body.

She only does 10 reps of each of these, so it's nice as a beginner workout, but feel free to add more reps as you progress, or repeat the sets again as she instructs in the video.

Check it out, and have fun getting a strong core and flatter abs for summer beach season!

Mountain Climbers, Push Ups, Squats, Sit Ups—Today we are working our CORE MUSCLES by doing 7 MED BALL EXERCISES!

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