Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How to Love Exercise

I just finished my favorite workout DVD, the New York City Ballet Workout. I had borrowed this workout video from a friend years ago, and just loved it, but had to return it. With every intention of purchasing it for myself, I got a little side tracked - for about 5 years! I finally asked for it this past Christmas, and my sister bought it for me!

With every intention of doing it, the DVD sat unopened since Christmas, until I finally took the 20 seconds it takes to load it up in the DVD player! I had such a great time - the music is wonderful, and it is a total body workout. I can't believe it took me so long.

So why am I telling you this? Because, although I have done many other videos and forms of exercise over the past few years, I really loved this particular one, and deprived myself of the joy it brought me during exercise.

We all know how important exercise is for overall health, and yet it is still such a struggle to fit in for many of us. So please, if you find that one thing you love about exercise - be it a video, particular class or activity, or a special someone you love to workout with, then don't deprive yourself of that experience. Make time for it, and take the 20 seconds it takes to get started on it.

I have now made Wednesday mornings my official "ballet workout appointment" - yeah for nice toned legs this summer!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Self Massage for Tired, Achy Feet

It can be such a challenge to keep a smiling face while standing on sore, fatigued feet. This is especially true if it is only 11 in the morning, and you still have 6 hours of work left!

So let’s talk about a couple of things you can do to help your poor abused feet feel a little better, so that you can get on with the day!

It is important to note that, if your foot pain is something new, severe, accompanied with inflammation or edema, or progressively getting worse, you should seek medical attention. If it is attributable to overuse and abuse, then some self-treatment is in order!

There is nothing more invigorating for tired, overworked feet then to immerse them in cold water. I know this might sound nasty, but just try it! My hubby and I run at a local lake, and our favorite thing to do after our run is take off our shoes and wade in the lake. Don’t have a lake nearby? No problem, you can fill up a tub, bucket, sink, or even stand outside and run the garden hose over your feet.

If you only have 10 minutes between coming home from a long work day, and going out to dinner in high heels, then a one minute cool foot soak is just as important as fixing your hair!

Ah yes, warmth on the tootsies is so very relaxing. I recommend heat if you have some time to relax, and your feet are not inflamed. A 10 to 20 minute soak in warm water can help you calm down after a busy day, and also help soothe and relax all those achy muscles in your feet. A portable foot massage/bath unit is lovely, or you can even sit on the side of the tub with your feet in!

A great thing to do after your footbath is some massage, so let’s discuss that next!

A tennis ball is the cheapest and easiest way to self massage your feet. You can simply place the tennis ball on the floor, and stand on it with one foot, rolling it up and down, back and forth and all around.

From a seated position, you can also cross one foot over the opposite thigh, and use your thumbs to work into the muscles on the bottom of your foot. Don’t forget to give each toe a little squeeze and gentle traction.

There are also many different massage tools out on the market specifically designed for feet, so feel free to experiment!

A simple stretch is to sit with legs out in front of you (knees bent), and draw your toes toward your nose with your hands. It is best to hold your toes at their base with your fingers, and gently extend them up.

Please remember that stretching should not be painful. It should feel like a gentle taut sensation, and melt away after a few seconds. At that point, you can increase the stretch until you feel the taut feeling again, and hold until it releases.

Mobilizing is another great tool, similar to stretching. When you mobilize a joint you basically take it through its entire range of motion many times. This helps relax ligaments, gets nutrition moving into the joint, and keeps everything limber and oxygenated.

To mobilize your feet, you need to move the ankles and toes. This is best done sitting with your calves supported on a footstool, but feet hanging off the end. You can also lie with your feet hanging off the end of your bed. Simply roll your ankles both clockwise and counter clockwise, and flex and extend them. Then flex and extend your toes, as well as spread them apart as far a you can. Repeat each move 20 times.

This should give you just a few ideas to help your achy feet feel a little better. There are most definitely other factors to consider, such as leg muscles, and preventative measures, but this will at least get you started!