Category Archives: Recovery

The Push Up Lie Detector Test – Will You Pass?

Recently I have seen a lot of shoulder wear and tear in my practice, often directly related to the amount of push ups my clients have been doing. With today’s many Fitness Challenges going viral, one of the popular ones being +100 push ups a day for 30 days, I have also seen shoulder problems increasing.

Why is that? Shouldn’t more push ups just make you stronger? The answer is poor technique! Just because you can do a lot of repetitions does not automatically mean that you are doing it right.

Are your fingers pointed forward? Are your elbows locked out? Are your forearms staying straight at 90 degrees from the floor at all times during the movement? Is your shoulder moving forward first (not your elbow!)? Is your core braced so that your spine and upper body moves as one unit pivoting from the floor?

Did you nod your head in agreement while reading those questions? Or, are you not really sure what I mean by them?  If so, you should take good look at  your push up technique right away. Unless you did higher levels gymnastics as school, or just happened to have an amazing coach, most likely this is all new to you. That’s OK. Don’t feel bad about it – get smart instead, and learn to do it right.

Doing push ups with poor technique is like driving a car where the wheel base is off. You can still drive it, but it will always pull a bit to the side and the tires will wear out unevenly and quickly because of the uneven weight distribution. You can think of your shoulders as your upper wheelbase (your hips being the lower) and the same uneven wear and tear will happen there. However, it’s not so easy to “change out the damaged tires” in a human body.

So what’s your game plan? Are you going to blame it on the tires, or are you going to invest some time and energy making sure that your wheel base is solid? Think of it this way. A well functioning machine with good alignment might need some extra oil once in a while but it will not break down just because you increased the repetitions. If it does, something is wrong with the mechanics and you need to fix it.

Coach Carl Paoli is an excellent movement coach, whom I have tremendous respect for. I think it would be a smart move on your part to pay attention to his teachings in all things movement. Practical tip: When you are practicing this, it is a great idea to put a book, block, ball or something behind your forearm. This is to make sure that your forearm does not move backwards during the push up. If your forearm comes in contact with the object, you know it moved, and you can adjust accordingly.

 

If you are not able to do a complete push up yet, follow this push up scale video. Pay good attention and don’t worm yourself out of this one 😉

 

Ok, so you think that you already have great mechanics? Great, check yourself in the push up lie detector test by turning your hands the opposite way, having the fingers pointing toward your toes. Also, find out why doing push ups on your knees is not good for your shoulders, and why it will not lead you into a proper push up.

We all need to pay attention to good technique, especially when it comes to the basics as they lay the ground work for all other movement. When it comes to injury prevention there really is no substitute for a solid foundation with great mechanics.

Wishing you a great Push up into the weekend! 😉

 

 

 


Photo by Chris Benson and Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

This App Will Make Your Running Coach Obsolete

Last weekend I had the great pleasure to run the half marathon “halvevanhaarlem” in the Netherlands. Haarlem is situated in between Amsterdam and the ocean, and it is a very nice and laid back city. The running route was really fun, going through narrow city streets, cute neighborhoods, through the sand dunes on smaller trails, and we even ran on some gravel roads next to the canals.

The Plan and Preparation
I had never ran a half marathon before, and I knew I needed a plan to follow when I made up my mind to go for it. I decided to try the Nike+ Running app, NRC. With people like Ryan Flaherty behind the app, who is a brilliant coach and really knows what he is talking about, I wanted to see if the app could get me prepared. I went to the “coach” in the app, set the date for my half marathon, and put in the details of my running at the time. The app then set up a plan for me to follow, making sure that I did not increase the kilometers too soon. So far, so good.

Most common mistakes
Often people are so motivated, that they increase the mileage way too soon, only to get injured, and not being able to run at all. A second fault I see most people do is that they don’t change up their training with intervals, or any kind of strength training. For half marathons and beyond people typically just try to collect a lot of kilometers. This will not really make you a lot faster or stronger. It’s more of a surviving the grind kind of a thing. I think that it is neither fun nor smart training.

It is much better for the body to change things up, and do different things. The app does this very well, and I can tell you that on my own I would not have run so many different intervals as I did with this program. Sure, intervals are hard work, but it is also fun and the training sessions goes by a lot faster. And, it is really cool when you notice that your speed is improving.

The Nike+ Running Club App is also connected to the Nike+ Training Club app. I think it is a brilliant concept to put these two together, to build a more well rounded athlete. Because of this some of my scheduled training sessions were flexibility and strength training, and no running. It’s a great way to keep the fitness up, but letting the body adapt to more running step by step.

The Goal
My goal for the half marathon was to be as well prepared as I could, so that I could enjoy the day. I did not want to have to worry about injuring myself. I really think that all the interval work I did was key, because I only had 2 longer runs in the whole program at 14.5km and 16.5km. On the day of the race I felt really great and was able to enjoy the event. My goal was achieved! Two days after the event I was out with my friend playing catch with her dogs, and she said “you don’t move like someone who just ran a half marathon!” Trust me, I am no natural gazelle so I contribute that to the good programming and not increasing the kilometers to soon.

Running with the phone
Practically, I really do not like to run with my phone though. I don’t like the arm wrap from Nike, and the best solution so far that I have found is a sports bra from Lululemon that has an extra pocket for the phone on your back. If you have any other good suggestions do let me know. Instead I used my Garmin watch to get the length and time of my run, and then I just added it manually in the app. I would only run with my phone on the days where I had to do a “bench mark”  to see how I had improved. This worked well enough for me. However, I believe that you will get the most out of the app if you always use the phone.

A really good running coach is of course never obsolete. But most people are probably looking for more general guidance. As these apps are free and will help you to be smart with your training, there really is no reason not to use them. It would also be smart to work on your running technique for your long-term plan. Maybe there is a workshop somewhere close to you?

For your next running goal, whether it’s just for you getting off the sofa or taking part in a race, I would say you have two good options.
1. Get the app and follow the instructions as best as you can.
2. Find a real knowledgeable running coach who can help you.

Having a plan behind the training will make you better, less prone to injury and the training will be a lot more fun – what’s not to like?

“Failing to plan, is planning to fail”
Enjoy your weekend! 😉



Full disclosure, I am not affiliated with Nike.

A great podcast “The Savant of Speed” with Ryan Flaherty and Tim Ferriss
The Savant of Speed — Ryan Flaherty

Photo by Bruno Nascimento, Tim Gouw, Autumn Goodman, William Iven, Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Help M-O keep it clean

The question just recently came up from one of my new clients. “Why do I feel so tired after a sports massage?” It was her first session of a sports/deep tissue massage in a very long time, and she was in bed by 9pm that night. If it’s your first time in a while since a sports massage this might often be the case. It will get better after a few sessions, as the body starts cleaning out the gunk that has been stored in it for so long. Gunk, what gunk?

Stored gunk
We store heavy metals, pesticides, pollutants and other toxins in the fatty tissue in our bodies. When there is an overexposure of these toxins, or the liver is under too much stress for other reasons, it cannot clear out all the toxins right away. As a protective mechanism the body then stores these toxins in the fatty tissue. This may be a good short term strategy, but with all the toxins that we are faced with everyday, we just keep accumulating toxins in our fatty tissues. The liver is under constant pressure to catch up with all the cleaning. This is on top of all the usual waste products that the liver has to clean up as well, like for instance lactic acid.

A thorough deep cleaning
As you are getting a sports massage, it’s in a way like a deep spring cleaning of your house. You will find dirt you didn’t know about and it will take some effort to get the house cleaned. Going deep into the tissues will help liberate stored toxins and waste products and get it out of storage and into the bloodstream. From there it gets transported to the liver, who can safely disassemble them and make sure the garbage leaves our body through the urine and poop.

It gets worse before it gets better
I had a client who used to smoke a lot and had recently quit, and the first couple of times she felt really nauseous after the massage. This was due to the built up of toxins from years of smoking that now were released out of the fatty tissues and into the bloodstream. As the toxins enters the bloodstream, it can make you feel worse at first, before the liver can take care of it. For the body it is like you just ingested all those toxins again.

Another client works as a painter and is constantly in contact with toxic fumes. Changing his line of work is not an option, even though from a body-toxicity exposure that would be better. Instead he has created a preventative strategy that works very well for him.  On a regular basis he goes to the sauna, gets deep tissue massage, runs a couple of times a week, stays well hydrated and takes herbal supplements to support his liver. Twice a year he does a week of detoxification as well.

“It is unrealistic to think that we can all change our work or where we live based on the amount of toxicity that we are exposed too. But, we can certainly have an influence on how well the body is prepared to deal with it all.” [2]

Being M-O
It takes a lot of work and energy for the liver to deal with all the extra cleaning that comes from the toxins that just entered the bloodstream. By getting a deeper treatment you are helping the body to start the process of self-healing through detoxification and an increased blood circulation. Therefore it is very common to feel extra tired due to the energy expended.
From my experience, the better shape your body is in all around, the less tired you will be. Feeling relaxed after a massage, which you should be, is different from being tired.
The life of your liver is very much like being M-O, and you are the one that keeps bringing in the dirt. So, take very good care of M-O. Help him out by bringing in as little dirt as possible, as he is doing his very best continuously taking care of you!

Extra tension
It is common to feel extra tension for 1-2 days in some areas of the body that felt very tight during the massage. After the very  first couple of sessions you may even feel it for a few more days, but that should subside as your body gets used to the treatment. You should not have any bruises after a sports or deep tissue massage. If that happens let your massage therapist know so that they can adjust their work with you accordingly.

Best preparation
Make sure you are hydrated before the treatment and hydrate well after. It is the quickest way to make sure that the body has enough fluids to easily transport and disassemble all of the gunk that is coming out of storage. You will help the body to recover quickly and you are making it easy for M-O (the liver) to do his job. If you are, or know that you have been exposed to a lot of toxins, it might also be a good idea to support your liver with some herbal supplements.

Take good care of M-O and have a great weekend! 😉

 


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3569688/
[2]quote from Nathalie Visser

Photo by Jeremy Bishop, Hernan Sanchez, Pan Xiaozhen, Tim Mossholder and Matt Hoffman  on Unsplash

Adding Salt to the Hydration Formula

Last week we took a deeper dive into the importance of water in the body, and how to figure out your very own Hydration Formula. Today we will look at the importance of salt in hydration. As a large percentage of our bodies consists of water, the role that salt plays in it becomes very important.

“Not only is blood mostly water, but the watery portion of blood, the plasma, has a concentration of salt and other ions that is remarkably similar to sea water.”[1]

Salt in the human body is involved in many different functions such as regulating blood pressure, muscle contraction, sending nerve impulses, and regulating the fine balance in the sodium-potassium pump. You can think of the sodium-potassium pump as a doorway in the surrounding cell wall (cell-membrane). It is critical for good cell function that this door is able to open and close whenever it needs to. When there is a dis-balance between sodium and potassium in the body the cell cannot get the nutrients or messages that it needs, and it is also becomes difficult to send anything out of the cell.

But, isn’t salt bad for you?
Yes and no. The salt that is bad for you is the type of salt that you will find in processed foods and your typical crisp white table salt. These salts have been highly refined and stripped of their beneficial minerals. They are often bleached to become extra white, and have added chemicals in them to keep them from clumping. These things are definitely not good for your health, and are something to stay away from. However, sea-salt such as pink Himalayan sea-salt acts very different to these processed salts.

Sea-salt is great for your body and we need it!
Did you know that…

SALT
-is a natural antihistamine
-is vital for the kidneys to clear excess acidity
-is essential for preserving the serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain
-is a vital element for diabetics through blood sugar regulation
-clears the lungs of mucus particularly in asthma [2]

We have become so scared of real sea-salt because we have been told for so long that salt (meaning processed salt) is bad for us. This has created a problem where people who care about what they eat are eating so “clean” that they more or less omit to eating salt. This is a very bad idea as it creates an imbalance in the body on a cellular level which can take on all sorts of expression. PhD Stacy Sims, who is a specialist in hydration says a common mistake she sees athletes make is drinking lots of water, but without the salt. It just makes you run to the bathroom all the time, because without the salt the body cannot absorb it, and even though your pee is clear you may be under-hydrated. [3]

The Salt Formula
Ok, so how much salt do I need then? According to Dr. Batmanghelidj, an expert on hydration, as a general rule you need at least 1.5g of sea-salt  for every quart of water (950ml) that you drink.[4] So, if we go back to our example of Ben from last week, who should drink 2.3 Liters of water on an average day. He should then add at least 3.6g of sea-salt to that amount of water. To give you an indication visually, 3g of sea-salt is roughly half a teaspoon of salt. Another thing worth mentioning is that if you are using a reverse Osmosis water filter you need to add even more, as the filter system is so good that it also clears out most of the minerals. Read more about that here.

The Salt Formula
 1.5g of sea-salt  *  your daily amount of water in Liter/quart (calculated from last week) = total amount of salt to add to your water

Maintaining the fine balance
Great, so now that you will start adding some good quality sea-salt to your water and food, it is also important to keep in mind the sodium-potassium balance. When you start adding salt you should also make sure that you are getting enough potassium, to keep that healthy balance. This is easy, and one of the best ways to do that is to eat plenty of veggies and fruits, such as avocado, spinach, beets, black beans, sweet potato and watermelon.

“Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.”
-Nelson Mandela

Enjoy a salted, well hydrated weekend! 😉

 

P.S Check out this video if you want to nerd out some more on hydration, salt, VO2 output, blood volume and fatigue in athletes. FYI, sound quality is unfortunately not awesome .

Current Concepts and Thinking in Hydrating Athletes w/ Dr. Stacy Simms | Community MWod Video

 


[1]http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/21/science/21angi.html?mcubz=0

[2,4] F. Batmanghelidj, Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, Salt, pg 154-160.

[3] Dr. Kelly Starrett, Ready to Run, Hydration, pg 162.

Photo credit to Izzy Gerosa, Mira Bozhko, André Robillard, Roman Mager on Unsplash

The Hydration Formula – What’s Your Number?

Last week we started talking about water and dehydration. Let’s dig a bit deeper.
Why is it so important for us to stay well hydrated?
Water is involved in nearly every function of the body, and it is crucial to our survival and well-being. It transports nutrients, improves oxygen uptake in cells, works as a shock absorber, lubricates our joints, and keeps cell communications up to speed. When we are dehydrated none of these important functions work optimally, and that is bad!

I like to think of it like this:
Imagine that you are driving on the highway. There are three lanes, not too much traffic, and everything is running very smooth. It feels very relaxed to drive this way, and without effort  everyone gets to where they need to on time. But, all of a sudden there is a roadblock up ahead, and the three lanes are now forced into one single lane. The cruising speed you had is long gone, and now it’s bumper to bumper traffic, moving at a snails pace. It’s getting hot sitting around in that car, the pressure is up, and you can see people getting very irritated all around you. Things are not working well, and on top of that you will be late to your destination. In essence this is what it’s like for your body trying to work while it is dehydrated.

Some common signs of dehydration include fatigue, headache, irritability, a “crawling or itching” feeling in the legs, and smelly body odor. Remember Stinky Dave? Check out this video on how it may feel to be dehydrated as an athlete. When we are often or chronically dehydrated we get problems that can spread into all of our different internal systems. Due to the lack of water the detoxification process that needs to happen continuously in our bodies, doesn’t work very well. When we cannot get rid of the waste, it piles up and causes problems.

“Dehydration results in an accumulation of harmful substances in the blood that act on cell membranes and have an adverse effect on the kidneys, nervous system, and immune system.” [1]

What can go wrong?
Dr. Batmanghelidj has written an excellent book, Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, where he goes into detail about what can go wrong with each system when we are dehydrated. It is a highly recommended read if you are interested in your health and how to improve it!

For instance…”Higher blood cholesterol is a sign that the cells of the body have developed a defense mechanism against the osmotic force of the blood that keeps drawing water out through the cell membranes, or the concentrated blood cannot release sufficient water to go through the cell membrane and maintain normal cell functions…Cholesterol production in the cell membrane is a part of the cell survival system. It is a necessary substance. Its excess denotes dehydration.”[3]

Asthma and allergies are indicators that the body has resorted to an increase production of the neurotransmitter histamine, the sensor regulator of water metabolism and its distribution in the body… Since one of the sites for water loss through evaporation is in the lungs, the bronchial constriction produced by histamine means less water evaporation during the act of breathing – a simple, natural maneuver to preserve the body water.”[2]

your weight in kg * 33 = X ml of water to drink in a day

The Hydration Formula
So how much water should I drink then? For my metric readers the formula is as follows: your weight in kg x 33 = X amount of ml of water to drink in a day.  For my other readers the formula is your weight in lbs divided by 2 = X amount of ounces of water to drink in a day.

your weight in lbs divided by 2 = X ounces of water to drink in a day

Where most people go wrong is that they do not calculate for all the drinks that they will have in a day that will act as diuretics. So pay attention and don’t make this common mistake! If you add any of these drinks to your day like coffee, soda, diet-soda, fruit juice, tea, or alcohol [4] you need to add 1.5x the size of that drink to your day. If it is very hot outside or you are doing sports you need to add that to the total as well.

So, what may that look like?
Let’s say Ben weighs 70kg. 70kg x 33 = 2310ml = 2.31Liter. That is the daily total of water that Ben should drink. But then he had 2 coffees and 2 glasses of wine, which makes  a total of about 800ml. 800ml diuretics x 1.5= 1200ml = 1.2Liter. Ben should then drink 2.31+1.2= 3.5 Liter of water that day.
If he then added some sports to his day he would have to add even more water to his total. Don’t forget to add a pinch of good sea-salt to your water cup as well. Without adequate amount of good mineral salt, your body cannot absorb the water. You just end up running to the toilet all the time and will still be dehydrated. But, more on this next week.

How to get off to a great start?
Figure out
what your daily number is and then adjust depending on what other types of drinks you are having that day. Then why not start to drink a large cup of water with a pinch of sea-salt the very first thing you do in the morning.

And that’s a great start! 😉

 


[1] Bennett and Barrie, 7-Day Detox Miracle, pg 80.
[2] Dr F.Batmanghelidj, Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, Asthma and Allergies, pg 117.
[3] Dr F.Batmanghelidj, Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, Higher Blood Cholesterol, pg 87.
[4] Dr F.Batmanghelidj, Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, Renin-Angiotension System, pg 71.
Photo credit Aidan Meyer, Ethan Sykes, Pahala Basuki, Nabeel Syed on Unsplash

 

A few words on drinking, dehydration and travel

As I have spent some time in airports and in airplanes recently I noticed how little people are drinking! Say what? What I mean is, I noticed how little WATER people are drinking. I see people drinking lots and lots of coffee, but also fruit juice, tea, wine and beer. These drinks all contain dehydrating agents which makes them act like a diuretic. The person sitting next to me on the flight only had one glass of water during a 10 hr flight.To me this is crazy, knowing a bit about anatomy and the importance of hydration!

Other then the 1 glass of water she had a couple of glasses of orange juice, 2-3 glasses of wine with the food, and then a couple of cups of coffee. Just before we got off the flight she took an ibuprofen/aspirin to “help her with the headaches”. She said she always get them on these long flights. I was not surprised having noticed her “drinking” habits, as getting a headache is one of the common signs of dehydration along with feeling really tired.

Did you know that because of the pressure changes when flying and all the extra noise, our taste buds are overwhelmed and we cannot taste the food very well. That means that airplane food always has way more salt and sugar in it than normal, in order for us to taste it. In terms of hydration this is not good, because the excess salt and sugar will act on the body as a dehydrating agent.

We have probably all heard that it is important to stay hydrated, but what does that really mean, and how does that differ from person to person? What part does salt play in staying hydrated? It turns out it plays a very important part. “ But I heard that salt is bad for you, what’s up with that?” I will delve deeper into these topics for next weeks blog.

If this is your color…

But just for a quick tip right now, when you go to the toilet – pay attention. Your pee should be a very very light yellow, every time that you go to the toilet. Then you know that you have enough water in your system. The stronger the color gets and odor, it’s a sign that you are getting more and more dehydrated. You should easily drink above 2 Liters of WATER a day. And add some good quality salt to your food or drink as well. I will explain the correlation between salt and water further in the next blog.

In the ideal world, the best thing for your hydration during your next trip would be to bring your own food and drink nothing but water. If that is too much out of your comfort zone at the moment, at least limit drinks that acts as diuretics as much as possible, such as fruit juice, coffee, tea and alcohol.  From Wikipedia “A diuretic is any substance that promotes diuresis, that is, the increased production of urine.” Jet lag is also always harder to get over when your body is dehydrated, because it makes you more tired.

Here are a couple of more questions challenging the “what you think you know comfort zone“. Did you know that:
-in prolonged dehydration, the brain cells begin to shrink?
high blood cholesterol has a direct link to dehydration?
morning sickness in pregnancy has a direct correlation to your body’s hydration?

So, keep sipping that water and I will catch up with you next week! 🙂

 


http://www.menshealth.com.sg/weight-loss-nutrition/airplane-food-yes-there-really-more-salt-and-sugar

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vLJ9-k7Uhx8/TgsztUW94SI/AAAAAAAAAEM/iNf0JaIALKo/s1600/REC+Urine+Chart+2011.png

https://flavourjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2044-7248-3-2

Photo by Austin Neill and Ilya Yakover from Unsplash

 

Constant neck compression? Let’s fix it.

As we are all using computers and phones more and more frequently and we often tend to loose sight of our posture as we do, it is important to take care of our neck. When we are in a position of our head hanging forward out in front of our shoulders, it creates a lot of tension in our neck. Over time this compresses the discs in the cervical spine (neck) which can in turn irritate different nerves in that area. This is most likely no news to you, but are you being proactive and doing something about it?

Since we lean forward with our head so much of the time, it is important to lean back in the other direction too, to even things out a bit. This takes some of the pressure off the discs that are being most compressed, and helps the fluid in the discs to re-position itself. It also helps to open up some of those tight muscles in the front of the neck and upper chest area.

In this video you will see an example that is very easy to replicate at home on your own, using your bed or sofa. You could also use a foam-roller if you prefer. If so, lay down on the floor, put the foam-roller underneath you along the length of your spine and let your head hang over the edge.

 

Below you will learn different techniques for loosening up the area in the upper chest and front of the neck that you can do yourself. A lot of the times the reason for pain in the back of the neck can be found in the front.  If I were to follow both of these videos, I would start with this one loosening up the area in the front of the neck first and then lying down on the sofa and letting my head slowly  tilt backwards.

 

I hope you will find these tips useful.
Remember, pre-hab is better than re-hab!
🙂


 

Heal thyself by drinking tea! [part 3]

After having talked about the dangers of tea bags and natural flavors, let’s focus on the amazing powers of drinking tea.

Fresh tea leaves left out to dry, on the way to become tea.

Why is it that tea is healthy for us? and just to be very explicit when I say tea, I mean organic loose-leaf best quality you can get your hands on tea. So, unlike us animals that have the ability to run away from danger, a plant obviously cannot. Because it is stuck in one place it has to use other means in order to protect itself from things like UV-light, bugs and things that want to eat it. This protection comes from different kinds of polyphenols which are organic chemicals that have metabolic, toxic and therapeutic properties.

Harvesting tea leaves

Two of the most well known polyphenols in tea are called catechin and flavonoids. They are very powerful antioxidants, and have been used in many studies for cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention. So the plant, in this case tea, builds up a good defense mechanism for the environment where it lives so it can be strong and healthy. By drinking extracts from the tea plant (or drinking the entire leaves as in Matcha) we reap all of the benefits of the plants polyphenols. Pretty clever having the plants do all the work and we simply drink the benefits. We are for sure not the first ones to use this method to heal ourselves though, our animal friends in the wild already knows to eat certain types of plants to heal themselves from parasites or kill bacteria.

“If we can learn from animals that have used medicinal plants for millions of years, and then look at what they use it for, then we could learn interesting things,” de Roode says.[1]

Because each plant has a unique environment, it will build up a different combination of  beneficial polyphenols, from plant to plant. This is true for tea but also for all other plants. That is why, lets say an apple  that came from Sweden will taste different from an apple in Spain. They will also have a different polyphenol composition, even if it is the same type of apple. For this reason, it is very important to eat as many different types of vegetables and fruits as you can, to reap all of their different benefits and healing properties, and the same goes for drinking tea. Why limit yourself?

Checking out green tea in Japan.

Some of my favorite healing teas are Green Tea, Matcha, Pu’Erh, Oolong, and Yerba Mate. Here is a great overview of what’s what. Of course there are plenty of herbal teas as well that are excellent for health, such as mint, olive leaf, fennel, nettle, ginger, and chamomile  just to mention a few.

On a recent trip to Taiwan I had the opportunity to sample plenty of fantastic Oolong and Pu’Erh teas. The very best Oolong teas are all made in Taiwan and can only be bought in the country, as the locals are so fond of their oolong tea that they don’t want to export their top quality ones. I also had the chance to sample some really fancy old Pu’Erh teas from as far back as 1975! But, honestly I could not really tell a huge difference between the ages. What I did notice though was that the higher quality of the Pu’Erh, the sweeter and less earthy the taste.

 

I am carefully preparing green tea in a traditional outfit, on a trip in Japan.

We tend to be creatures of habit, so I would like to invite you to explore the amazing health benefits of drinking tea, and expand your tea horizon. Think of it as preventative and healing medicine that you can use daily. The next time you are out shopping, take the time to go into a proper tea shop and ask for help with finding a new tea. Just buy a small amount, and most important find out how you should brew your tea!

So many times I have friends who tell me that they don’t like drinking green tea, yet when they have it at my place they like it. That’s because a really high quality green tea should only be steeped in 70C for about 30s-1min. A lot of people leave it in a lot longer and/or use boiling water, and this makes the tea very bitter and quite nasty to drink. Don’t do that to yourself, or the tea!

Mixing teas has been known to be even more powerful – when the different organic chemicals interact their combined powers supersedes their individual ones. William Li mentions this is in his excellent TED talkCan we eat to starve Cancer?“. Tim Ferriss is also a fan of mixing teas and below is one of his morning versions.

Because many teas does contain caffeine (a diuretic), it is important to drink some water in between tea cups to stay well hydrated. I wish you a lot of fun in exploring the healing world of teas.

Wishing you all lots of creativitea and claritea! 😉

 

Tea Mind
Humilitea, Possibilitea, Qualitea, Solidaritea, Abilitea, Equalitea, Individualitea, Serenitea, Insanitea, Confidentialitea, Vitalitea, Creativitea, Sportea, Claritea, Realitea, Activitea, Longevitea, Impossibilitea, Familiaritea, Humanitea, Puritea, Levitea, Longevitea, Immunitea, Digestabilitea, Electricitea, Sensualitea, Femininitea, Festivitea…
~Letters to a Young Zentrepenur – The Republic of Tea

 

 

 


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16968850

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5492114/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28723689

[1]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4267359/

Photo by Danurwendho Adyakusuma, Paul-Vincent Roll,  蔡 嘉宇 on Unsplash

Holiday Driving and Swiss Army Back Problems

It is about that time of year where a lot of people are about to go on vacation, and plenty choose to go by car. Sitting in the car for many hours in a row can cause a lot of muscle stiffness and back pain. Starting your vacation moving around like an unfolded Swiss knife is not exactly how most of us envision our vacation to start, so what can we do?

I would start by taking good care of the hip-flexors, and the large surrounding muscle groups. When we are sitting still for long periods of time our hip-flexors become very stiff, and when they get too tight they won’t allow us to stand up straight very easily. Instead the muscles on the flip side of the body, the glutes and hamstrings have to work a lot harder to try and keep you in an upright position. This is a loose loose power battle between the muscles, and after a while they all get jammed up and this is where you step out of the car like an unfolded Swiss army knife and are unable to stand up straight and move freely. That situation is definitely no fun at all, so, let’s do some preventative work instead!

Make sure to target the following muscles to stay as flexible as possible in your low back and hip area. Use the lacrosse ball for 2-3 min on each. Remember, where it is the most tender and painful, that is where the most stiffness is, so that is where it would be a good idea to add on a few extra minutes.

TFL or Tensor Fascia Latae
Quads or Quadriceps femoris
Glutes, don’t forget to work on the sides of the hips as well
Hamstrings

The TFL is really key here so make sure you spend some time on both of them. Here is a video to help you get into the right position. You can also do the same move with the lacrosse ball lying down on your side on the floor, instead of standing up. I prefer only using the lacrosse ball while lying on my side on the floor, but try out what works best for you. Remember that it is a small muscle so use small deliberate movements.

Add these active mobility moves to keep the hips free:
Lateral lunges (see video below)
Couch stretch (there is a previous post about it)

If you know that you typically will have a problem in the low back and hip area after a long drive, why not get ahead of the problem and start a couple of days or at least the day before with the above mobility exercises.

Think pre-hab instead of re-hab!

On the day(s) of driving, every time you stop, make a couple of lateral lunges, and stretch your quads. It will go a long way.

Also – hydration is key for the muscles and your body to feel well. So keep drinking that water. Aim for at least 2L a day and even more if you are drinking anything with caffeine or sugar in it as it will act as a diuretic.

I wish you a smooth drive and fun adventures 😉


By the way, real athletes don’t wear flip flops

Hey there! So last week we talked about shin splints and how to best take care of them. One very important piece of the puzzle also has to do with the shoes that you wear. But, I am not going to talk about the shoe that you are wearing while working out, but rather the shoe that you wear before and after, especially in the summer time. Wearing this shoe for many hours during the day, day after day, could have a big impact in a fairly short time frame. What am I talking about? I am talking about the flip flop.

Wait, what? The flip flop is not good for you? Isn’t it almost like a “barefoot” shoe with zero drop, isn’t that good? In terms of the flip-flop being a minimalist shoe with zero drop, I agree, that would be great for your feet. However, because there isn’t any attachment around your heel, you have to clench your toes every time you walk so that the flip flop doesn’t fall off. Because you are clenching your toes, the under side of your foot, the plantar fascia, becomes very tense and rigid. This rigidity deactivates the smooth “suspension system” in your feet that you were born with. This rigidity also translates into the rest of your legs and especially your shins, as these muscles is what helps your toes to clench down.

Sadly most of us have completely lost the flexibility and natural shock absorbing capacity of our feet over the years, due to wearing very hard, constricting shoes, high heels etc, and add to that the lack of walking barefoot on uneven ground. So, to compensate for that we keep looking for shoes with more and more cushioning thinking that it will solve the problem, when really we need to take care of our feet from the ground up, not bolstering them up like the Bubble Boy in Seinfeld!

Your feet contains 28 bones that all work together, but they also work like individual pistons constantly adapting to the ground that we walk on. It is a beautiful piece of machinery that we have tied down and constricted for so long that it now moves more like a 2 piece joint, rather than a 28 piston shock absorber. The best way to help yourself is to limit restricting or over cushioning shoes and starting to walk barefoot as much as possible.

But what about my flip flops? A couple of years ago I came across the information that wearing flip-flops any extended time is bad for your feet. As I had some problems with my shins and under my feet at the time I was intrigued, but also very sad as I loved wearing flip-flops. After having spent many years living the beach life in California, Australia and Indonesia, I had gotten used to wearing flip flops whenever possible. The one thing that probably saved me back then was being barefoot a lot and playing beach volleyball, like all of the time, which helped to even things out.

Anyway, I decided to try get rid of the traditional flip-flops, and switched to a “flip-flop sandal” by Havaianas that actually goes around the back of your heel. The effect was not instant, but I did notice a difference after about a week, and especially after using them on a city trip I noticed a huge relief compared to before, my feet just weren’t as stiff. Currently my feet and I are happy with this arrangement and have not turned back since.

I also have to say a few words on sandals like Birkenstocks. As they also do not have a heel strap, you have to clench your toes here as well, even though it might not be as obvious as with the flip-flop. And the arch support that so many people like about them, is actually what makes them so bad. Why? Because it makes our feet very lazy and we loose strength and agility. Think about it, it is for our feet as if we were walking around with crutches all the time. Yes, there is a time and a place, if you have injured yourself, where you might want to use crutches for as short time as possible. If you continue using them too long, you are going to build a dependency on the crutches and after a while you will feel uncomfortable moving without them. That is not a good habit to cultivate.

Maybe your running is not the culprit of why you are having some lower leg and foot issues. If suddenly you are wearing flip flops a lot of the time just because it’s summer, that could be what is causing or certainly adding to the problem. If you decide to start walking more barefoot and removing your flip flops, remember that with any change your body will need some time to adapt, so be gentle, think about the long run, and give yourself some time to get used to the changes. It may seem like small things, but at the end of the day it is all the little things that adds up and puts you in the situation where you are right now, so why not make small changes that will add to making the best possible version of you?

Ciao!  😉

 


Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with Havaianas

http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/risks-of-wearing-flip-flops