Is barefoot running for you?

Is barefoot running really better for you? While scientific research is yet to have a clear 72ee69d19290398929f688bb559e2333decision on the matter, some fitness professionals will say running barefoot can increase your running speed, increase your strength and prevent injuries. Other fitness professionals will tell you that barefoot running is unsafe and not worth it. Some entire cultures, such as the Tarahumara in Mexico still foster the idea of running without shoes or with very thin soled shoes. Between the significant popularity of the book Born To Run, that promotes barefoot running; to the recent lawsuit against Vibram FiveFingers, claiming that barefoot running is not as beneficial as they claimed; it is hard to make an intelligent decision that will benefit your training.

My opinion with barefoot running is that it is like any other new training regimen. When used in moderation and proper technique it has shown to make a positive difference in athletic training. So what is the big hype with barefoot running?

Barefoot running is supposed to be the more natural way to run. All the muscles in our legs and feet are working when we are running barefoot whereas when you wear tennis shoes; they can keep your foot muscles from being used to their full potential. They almost act as a cast for your feet. For example, when you break an arm and have to wear a cast, your arm muscles tend to atrophied, which means they get significantly weaker from lack of use. This is why physical therapy is usually prescribed after breaking a limb or having surgery. Physical therapy helps the body slowly get the unused muscles back in practice of doing what they were designed to do. The same goes for your feet except if you are like the majority of society, your feet muscles have never been used adequately because you have always ran in tennis shoes. The reason most people injure themselves with barefoot running is because they go on their normal 4 mile run but they use muscles that have never been used before. This is why your calf muscles are significantly sorer after a barefoot run. If you want to do barefoot training you have to start from square one. Even if you regular run 6 miles, you should still not run more than half a mile when beginning barefoot training.

Barefoot running advocates also argue that the training has also shown to help decrease injuries such as IT Band Syndrome, Runners Knee and shin splints. When barefoot running, the body will most like change its stride and foot strike naturally to a forestrike instead of a heel-strike. When you run with a forestrike, the impact is spread throughout your foot instead of concentrated on your heel. When given the opportunity, your body can correct itself and prevent injury, while when wearing tennis shoes; your body does not have as much of an ability to correct itself. The tennis shoe actually cause more impact on your joints and once you start feeling pain, it is usually too late. In theory, the cushion of the tennis shoe is supposed to decrease the impact on your joints but in reality, your foot is searching for a solid surface. Since there is a cushioning layer between your foot and the ground, your foot will actually strike harder in order to break through the cushion and feel the solid surface.

Aside from injury prevention, barefoot running has shown to increase speed. Studies have shown that the decreased weight on the foot has increased running efficiency. However, if someone is new to barefoot running they should start from square one and very slowly increase their barefoot running distance. The transition to barefoot running can lead to injury if done too quickly.

If barefoot running seems like something worth trying, it is wise to be educated on the positive and negative effects. However, no one should ever completely write off a training regime without having adequate information and proper training. Runner’s World Editor-in-Chief, David Willey, wrote about barefoot running in 2011 and summed up the controversial subject by stating “There’s no single answer or prescription that’s right for every runner when it comes to footwear and running form.”

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Pre-workout meals!

You should always eat before a workout. Your body needs fuel to work out and if it does not have enough or adequate fuel then you will become fatigued, dizzy and might pass out during a workout. The idea that working out on an empty stomach will help you burn more fat is a lie! Starving yourself before a workout is one of the most detrimental things you can do to your body and will actually cause your body to hold onto fat longer and begin shutting down. You will not have energy to work out and your body will have to pull energy from whatever it can (usually muscle) in order to function.  Why do you need to eat before a workout?

  • Your body needs fuel (sugars, carbohydrates, proteins and fats) to exert energy. Cars can’t run without fuel, planes can’t fly without fuel, so why would our body be any different.
  • Healthy carbohydrates help you work out for longer and keep you from getting fatigued too quickly
  • You cannot perform at high intensity without energy (which you get from healthy food)

There is no need to gorge yourself; simply having your normal healthy meals will do or even a healthy snack. As long as you have had something healthy within an hour or two before a workout, you should be fine. Make sure you are eating your breakfast, lunch and dinner because if you are not eating enough for your main meals, you will not have enough fuel for a workout. Include some healthy snacks closer to your workout to give you that extra burst of energy to push hard and burn more calories.

So what do you eat before a workout? Well first of all, junk food and empty calories are a NO! Eating bad food before a workout will leave you feeling sluggish, nauseated and could give you a headache during a workout. Don’t let bad food choices be an excuse to skip a workout, just let the feeling it gives you be a lesson to make better choices next time. Stick to healthy natural foods and with mainly carbohydrates and some protein. The more natural you get, the better the meal. Here is a list of some good pre workout snacks.

  • Whey protein shake
  • Apple and natural almond butter
  • Banana
  • Slice of whole wheat toast with avocado or natural almond butter
  • Greek yogurt with fruit
  • Trail mix
  • Smoothies
  • Oatmeal with fresh fruit

Benefits of morning work outs

I don’t know about you, but as the day goes on, I get less and less productive. I may not call myself a morning person, but some things I have to do in the morning or else it won’t get done. One of those things is exercise. There are many benefits of working out in the morning. First of all, how many people do you know that are fit and healthy and exercise consistently? How many of those people exercise in the morning? Probably a good amount right? There are so many simple reasons to have exercise be at the front of your schedule.

  • You will be more consistent if it is one of the first things you do in the morning
  • You get it over with
  • It “jump starts” your metabolism for the day (as long as you eat breakfast as well. Do NOT work out on an empty stomach)
  • It gives you more energy throughout the day.
  • Morning workouts help regulate your appetite. People who exercise in the morning are more likely to eat healthy throughout the day.
  • It increases your mental acuity
  • Exercising in the morning assures that you get it done. A hectic day can easily push your workout out of your schedule
  • You will be happier throughout the day.
  • You will feel better overall throughout the day.

Besides these reasons, there are some physiological reasons to work out in the morning as well.  There are many studies that show multiple health benefits to waking up at the same time every morning. If fitness is a priority to you, you can wake up 30-60 minutes earlier and get in a good work out. Also, when you schedule a work out in your morning routine, you are less likely to sleep in, sleep through your alarm, or waste your whole morning. As your body gets used to working out in the morning, it will begin to prepare a few hours before you wake. This means it will start your metabolism and your blood starts pumping because your body is preparing for exercise. This helps you wake up easier as well.

Now exercising in the morning may not have some crazy scientific benefits but it has shown to be the better choice when it comes to your schedule. Everyone’s schedule is different and some people have work at 5am so morning workouts may not be feasible but most people can make it work and should. Be real honest with yourself and ask yourself what priority fitness holds in your life. If you really do want to be fit and healthy, sacrifice some time in the morning and commit to fitness before your crazy schedule gives you tons of reasons to push your workout to the back burner.

Benefits of stretching

There are four main measures of overall fitness: aerobic, muscular, body composition and flexibility.  Every athlete is strong in one area but may need some more work in another. One commonly forgotten portion of fitness is flexibility which can be increased by stretching. Many people do not realize how inflexible they really are. Most people only operate in about 60% of the range of motion in their hips and shoulders and many injuries are caused by the lack of range of motion. Many weight lifters are able to raise their maximum weight lifted simply by increasing their flexibility. The American Heart Association suggests that older adults should stretch in order to preserve the range of motion needed to perform daily activities. It is also recommended healthy adults stretch major muscle and tendon groups two to three days a week.

While some studies disagree on the benefits of stretching and if stretching can prevent injury or not, many people still believe that increasing flexibility can benefit more than just their athletic performance. Some studies have shown that stretching can benefit your health in multiple areas.

Increased circulation

While some debate over if stretching can prevent injury, it has been shown to increase circulation which increases the supply of nutrients to muscles and cartilage resulting in reduced soreness.

Flexibility

Flexibility is determined by the length and tightness of your muscles. The more inflexible you are; the shorter and tighter your muscles are, which can lead to injury. Effective stretching will increase flexibility.

Increased range of motion

Stretching has shown to increase the range of motion in joints such as the shoulder, hip, and knee. Range of motion affects your balance and ability to lift objects and perform everyday activities.

Reduce stress

Like most types of exercise, flexibility exercises have shown to reduce stress. Stress causes muscles to become tense and contract while stretching lengthens and loosens muscles. Gentle stretching can help relax tense muscles and lower stress levels.

Alleviate lower back pain and other body pains

Lower back pain, as well as pain in many other joints, can be causes by weak, tense and/or inflamed muscles. Stretching can help strength lower back muscles which will alleviate pain as well as relax and loosen tense muscles.

While many experts will have different opinions on the benefits of stretching, the fact still remains that stretching has many benefits outside of athletic performance and injury prevention. Increased flexibility can benefit many parts of your daily live and alleviate stress and pain. Flexibility is still a component of fitness and should not be underestimated for its necessity and benefits.

 

 

Magnesium – the forgotten mineral

In today’s world, most people are deficient in many essential vitamins and minerals that are needed for our body to perform basic functions.  Our soils have been depleted of its nutrients and our produce has been so genetically modified that it has less than half the vitamins and minerals it originally had. Our dietary habits have also suffered as a result of busy schedules, junk food availability and lack of teaching on health. Magnesium is one essential mineral that, when deficient, has been linked to all kinds of health problems.

Magnesium is one of the many essential minerals needed for hundreds of body functions such as absorption of calcium, body temperature regulation, muscle functions, energy production and formation of healthy bones and teeth. Magnesium also has been shown to relieve menopause symptoms. Magnesium and calcium should always be taken in tandem because they both play a role in the absorption of the other.

According to newsmax.com and naturalnews.com, some of the top benefits of magnesium are:

  1. Magnesium nurtures healthy bones and may reverse osteoporosis when supplemented with calcium. Magnesium deficiency alters how the body absorbs and regulates calcium which can result in osteoporosis.
  2. Magnesium prevents cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, abnormal heart rhythms, and heart attacks.
  3. Magnesium helps lower blood pressure and regulates hypertension, especially when the diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables which are high in potassium and magnesium
  4. Magnesium treats diabetes and lowers risk of developing type-2 diabetes by assisting with carbohydrate metabolism and influences insulin activity, resulting in controlled blood glucose levels.
  5. Magnesium has been shown to treat migraines, insomnia and depression.
  6. Magnesium aids in detoxification. The body’s main antioxidants need magnesium to function and magnesium also helps keep chemicals and pesticides from staying inside the body.
  7. Magnesium decreases risk of cancer. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that for every 100-milligram increase in magnesium intake, a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer drops by about 13 percent.

So how do you increase your magnesium intake? Magnesium can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables, almonds, fish, seaweed, pumpkin seeds, chlorophyll and whole wheat germ. However, the average person cannot get enough magnesium from food alone which is why dietary supplements are recommended.

Magnesium is not easily absorbed by the body which is why it should be taken with calcium and is usually “chelated” to organic and amino acids such as magnesium oxide and magnesium carbonate. Be sure to research magnesium supplements and make sure it is bioavailable, which simply means it can be assimilated by the digestive system and used for your health benefit. Some different types of magnesium (according to globalhealingcenter.com) are magnesium amino acid chelate, magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, magnesium orotate,magnesium chloride, magnesium lactate, magnesium sulfate, magnesium carbonate, and magnesium glycinate, matlate, and taurates.

Cycling for the whole family

According to bikesizecharts.com, there are many important health benefits of cycling.  Cycling improves your cardiovascular fitness, tones and builds your muscles, burns calories and increases your metabolism. Cycling also increases your life span due to a healthy and fit lifestyle. Maneuvering the bike with your whole body also improves coordination. It improves mental health due to elevated levels of both endorphins and dopamine and strengthens your immune system due to increased blood flow, oxygen intake and circulation of your body’s inner activities.

Cycling is a great activity for the whole family that can be a time to be together and promote a healthy lifestyle for your children. Getmoving.co.za says “If you’re looking for a fun outdoor activity that you can do together as a family this spring and summer, consider cycling. It keeps your family fit and makes for adventurous experiences that you’ll treasure forever.” Cycling is an easy and affordable family activity.

First thing is to make sure you have the correct bikes. Do you want to road bike or mountain bike? If you live near trails then mountain biking may be a fun activity for the family and for kids. Road biking can be fun and is a great activity to take a ride to the park or to grandma’s house.  Getmoving says “If you want to roam around town for a leisurely weekend activity, you’re better off with road bikes. However, since mountain bikes are more stable and easier to steer, they might be a better choice for beginner cyclists.” See what your family enjoys most and start from there.

Next, make sure you have the right gear. Everyone needs a helmet and your little ones may want elbow pads and knee pads. Adultbicycling.com says to prepare ahead of time so everyone enjoys the ride and does not get hurt or upset. Pick a destination. Take a ride to a park or to grandma’s house. Get ready ahead of time. Check your tires and remember to pack water and snacks if it’ll be a longer run. Lay the ground rules. Make sure the kids know how to stay safe on the roads. One good rule for families is the “Car back” rule. If someone spots a car, yell “Car back!” or “Car up!” depending on where the car is.  Everyone in the family must repeat what they hear so that everyone is aware of the car and then form a line on the side of the road.

Who are active at a young age gain endless health benefits compared to children who are sedentary at a young age. It leads to a healthier lifestyle and healthy weight as they get older. Lead researchers Gavin Sandercock, Ph.D., and Christine Voss, M.Sc., said active transportation can be a gateway for lifelong fitness in children. “Children need to be active and stay fit in order to stay healthy. Encouraging them to walk or cycle to school is one great opportunity to help achieve this,” Voss said.

Start cycling as a family. It doesn’t have to be long rides, just bike to the park and spend time together. Teach your children the importance of being active and make family time and fitness a top priority. Achieve both of these with a family ride.

Personal Training Schedule

So I am going to begin personal training! I’m going to start just with personal appointments. I can meet at your house, at a park, at a gym or at my house.  If you would like to schedule an appointment just email me at haley.lawson13@gmail.com or call/text me at 903-456-3100.

Prices:

$20 for a one-on-one hour session

$50 for 3 one-on-one hour sessions

I specialize in running, intervals, circuit training and I can put you through a hard workout in less than 20 minutes! Call me!

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