Thursday, August 9, 2012

Soleus Stretch

The soleus muscle is a little known muscle in your calf area
that is often overlooked with stretch routines.  The
gastrocnemius muscle is what we usually think of when we
stretch “the calf”, but it is only half the area!

The soleus lies under the gastrocnemius and does not cross
the knee joint like the latter, so in order to stretch the
soleus, it is best to have a slight bend in the knee to
Calf Soleus Stretchrelax the gastrocnemius.

Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall for support,
front foot flat on the floor a foot away from the wall, knee
bent slightly, toes facing forward.  Back foot is flat on
floor, a couple of feet behind the front foot, with a slight
bend in the knee, toes also facing forward.

It will look like you are trying to push the wall.  Gently
lean towards the wall by bending both knees a little more,
while keeping your heels on the floor.  You will be bending
the front knee more, and hinging forward from your back
ankle.  You should feel a gentle stretch in and/or just
above the Achilles tendon.  

Hold for a few seconds and then take the tension off by
straightening your knees slightly.  Then repeat again.

Switch sides and stretch the opposite leg.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Black Bean Salsa Salad

Mixed greens
Cauliflower – chopped
Avocado – chopped
Corn – BBQ’d and cut off cob
Black beans
Cheddar Cheese – shredded
Fresh cilantro - chopped
Salsa to taste (homemade or deli)

I don’t have amounts for this recipe, because it just doesn’t matter!  Add as little or as much as you want, toss and enjoy.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

6 Tips for your Summer Weight Loss Goals

It is common to add a pound or two over the winter.  And while it might not be so noticeable under a big sweater and jacket, the summer attire is not so accommodating!

It can be a daunting task to drop weight, so here are a few tips to help make the job a little less intimidating an idea!

1.     Calorie intake is key – you can exercise all you want, but if you are eating too many calories in a day, you just can’t exercise enough to burn them all off!  Every little bit makes a difference.  Cut a little out of every meal you eat.  A little less mayonnaise on your sandwich, use a smaller dinner plate, have a glass of water instead of second helpings of food, drink herbal tea in the evening rather than snacking.  There are many great strategies to use, but the bottom line is we as a society, eat way too much.  Cut back a little, eat more vegetables, and enjoy the feeling of being hungry every once in a while.
2.     Exercise for the health of it – we have all heard the health benefits of exercise, but it also helps with your weight loss goals by just making you feel better about yourself.  I find that when I am exercising regularly, I actually crave healthy food more, and I feel happy and energized and less in need of “comfort foods”.  Another great bonus to exercise is that the more time you spend doing stuff, the less time you have to be bored and snack!
3.     Try to eat 80 percent alkaline foods.  There are some great alkaline food charts online, but the general rule is most fruits and vegetables are alkalizing, whereas dairy, meat and most grains are acidic.  Maintaining a high alkaline diet will help reduce inflammation in the body, aiding tissue health, recovery, and possibly reducing chances of developing chronic inflammatory conditions.  In general you will feel better, do more, eat more vegetables and therefore eat less empty calories!
4.     Reduce stress – we all seem to live stress-filled lives these days.  Stress affects our weight loss endeavors in many ways.  Stress increases cortisol levels in the body, which in turn increase fat storage in the body – especially around the waist!  Stress also puts us in the “fight or flight” nervous system response, which impairs digestion.  If digestion is affected, our ability to absorb ingested nutrients decreases, and so we feel “hungry” because we are lacking nutrients.  It isn’t that we haven’t eaten enough, it is that we haven’t utilized the nutrients eaten.  Snacking is the result, and we all know where that gets us!  There are, of course many ways to help cope with stress, including massage, meditation, yoga, exercise, laughter, hobbies, and the list goes on!  Find a few that work for you and make them a part of your life!
5.     Don’t drink your calories away– alcohol, pop, juice, smoothies and special coffee drinks can be devastating to your weight loss endeavors.  Drinks can be quite high in calories, and our body often doesn’t register these calories as it does when we eat them.  Smoothies can be healthy if made with good ingredients, but if you drink them too fast or without conscious thought, they become a pre-meal beverage, rather than a meal replacement.  Choose your beverages wisely!
6.     Embrace change – if you are gaining weight every winter you are doing something wrong.  There, I said it.  We all like to kid ourselves that we eat healthy “most of the time”, and have “tried everything” to lose weight, but the truth is we ignore our indiscretions all the time.  Health is a lifestyle choice, and it doesn’t include potato chips, dairy queen blizzards and sedentary winter months.  When I was a kid, treats were just that, special things that we had every once in a long while.  Today treats are a daily occurrence.  When they become common place they are no longer special, and so just become a normal part of our diet.  Commit to embracing a new way of eating.  Don’t diet until you lose the weight, change the way you eat a little bit every day, making each choice a little more healthy than the last.  Then, every once in a long while, enjoy a real treat.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Deep Vein Thrombosis

I see many clients for tight sore calf muscles, especially this time of year, as people become more active in the nicer weather.  Every once in a blue moon I come across a sore calf that I won’t massage though!

A few years ago a client of mine came in complaining of a sore calf muscle, which had flared up since coming home from a spring holiday in Hawaii.  She hadn’t noticed it on her holiday, and couldn’t remember doing anything to strain the muscle.  In fact, she did almost nothing during her holiday, but spent long hours relaxing and reading in a lounge chair. 

On initial observation I noticed her leg was slightly swollen, red and warm to the touch.  Gentle pressure caused her discomfort.  I recommended she check in with her doctor as soon as possible, and chose not to give her a massage therapy treatment that day.

She called me the following day to inform me that she had been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in the deep veins of the leg.  It can occur in situations where blood flow from the legs is impeded, or blood clotting is increased.  DVT can also happen in response to direct trauma to the area.  Some situations that can increase the chances of DVT formation include sitting or travelling for long periods, prolonged immobilization, pregnancy or obesity.  Risk also increases with age, oral contraceptives, smoking and surgery.

DVT should be taken seriously as there is a chance that the clot could dislodge and move into the lungs.  It occurs most often in the legs, but can occur elsewhere in the body as well.
If you are experiencing pain, swelling and redness in a leg, arm, abdominal region or neck, it is important to get checked out as soon as possible.

As with many medical conditions, there are things you can do to prevent, or at least decrease your chances of developing deep vein thrombosis formation, the best and easiest being walking.  While the heart pumps blood out to your extremities, it is muscle contractions that push blood back up to the heart via veins.  Veins are designed with one-way valves, so as muscles contract, the blood gets squeezed upward, and the valves stop it from flowing back down. 

Calf exercises can be utilized in situations where walking isn’t possible (such as during flights, long periods of sitting/immobilization, or in individuals with impaired ability to walk).

Compression stockings and medications can be used for at risk individuals, especially in instances where they are going to be travelling, immobilized or require surgery.  These should be used under supervision of your doctor.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Leg Mobilizations

This exercise is great for those of you lucky enough to be
flying somewhere warm this spring, and anyone else stuck at
their desk for hours on end!  Sitting for long periods,
whether in a cramped plane seat or in the office compresses
the vessels in the backs of your legs, tightens the muscles
in the front of your hips, and doesn’t allow for much venous
return from your lower legs (as you need movement and muscle
pumping for that).

At regular intervals, pump your feet up and down (point and
flex), and rotate your ankles in both directions.  Contract
your quadriceps, either by extending at your knees, or
standing up and tightening the quads (front of your legs). 
Stand up and march in place, and raise up onto your toes
(calf raise).  Do these exercises a few times each, and
enjoy your flight!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Quick Meal Replacement Shake

We all run short on time, but don't skip a meal to try and save time, you will only pay for it later.
Here is a recipe that you can whip up in minutes, pop into a drink container and take on the go!
1 cup almond milk
1 cup frozen berries
1 scoop protein powder of your choice
1 Tablespoon greens powder (you have to put a little green stuff in – just for me!)
1 Tablespoon fresh ground flax seeds, hemp seeds, or chia

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tennis Ball and Eraser Self Massage

What do tennis balls and erasers have in common?  They are the cheapest self-help tools you will ever find! 

Tennis balls are amazing little trigger point destroyers.  Simply rolling out a tender spot with a tennis ball for a few minutes can bring lasting relief for many aches and pains. 

You can place one into a long sock, creating a handle to hold the ball behind your back with.  Then just lean against a wall with the ball positioned between you and the wall, and put your body weight into the ball.  Then roll it side to side, or do tiny squats up and down to massage the ball over tight shoulders, back, gluteals, or neck.

Sit on a firm chair with the ball under your leg to massage hamstrings.  Place it on an ottoman or coffee table and roll out tight calves.  Stand on it and roll around to help ease tension in your feet.

Roll one on your forearm to relax the muscles there, and even gently roll on your temples to ease away stress and headache.

Erasers are another amazing little tool that I often use myself, and recommend that clients use for self-massage.  Pink Pearl erasers with the beveled edge are the best, as they are a good texture, and the point really gets into tight spots!  I have tried using cheaper varieties, but if the rubber is too soft they fold under pressure.  Spend the big bucks and get a decent one!

Erasers work amazing to massage the muscles at the base of the skull.  Simply place the eraser along the ridge of your skull at about a 45-degree angle, then relax your head back onto it, while holding the eraser in place with your hand.  The weight of your head will help the eraser get into the muscle attachments.  You can either hold it there for a few minutes, or do little friction movements back and forth to massage the area.  Work along the base of the skull, and don’t forget to work both sides!

Erasers also work great in the forearm, bottom of the feet, and muscles in the hands.  They have a feel much like using your thumb, but don’t tire out as quickly as your thumb does!

The jaw is another great place to work with an eraser.  Just place the tip right on the muscles that you can feel contracting when you clench your teeth, and massage with gentle little movements up and down, back and forth.

Both tennis balls and erasers are very portable, so you can take them with you anywhere, and they can even go with you on an airplane, as airport security won’t seize them on you, although they might wonder why you have a ball in your purse or back pack!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Roasted Veggies Recipe

Roasting your vegetables in the winter is a great way to get in your vitamins and minerals while still enjoying a hearty, warm, comforting meal.  You can roast almost any veggie, but here is my favorite combo!

2 sweet potatoes
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots
2 beets
½ winter squash
2 potatoes
2 turnips

Chop all into similar size pieces.  I usually cube everything into 1 to 2 inch chunks.  Toss all in a large bowl with 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste.  Arrange on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 35-45 minutes.  Stir half way through.  Cooking time will vary depending on how big your cubes are, so check it regularly, and cook longer if needed.