Natural Remedies: Immune Boosts to Keep You Healthy and Happy this Winter

It’s that time of year again. The trees are turning from green to yellow to orange and red, people are bringing out their boots, and, yes, we’re all getting a cold or two. Stay ahead of the game this year by trying out some of our Natural Remedies that will boost your immune system and give you a head start in staying out of bed and enjoying the colorful changes that fall brings.

Today, I’m happy to share with you my own secret remedies: a smoothie, a tea, and a health shot, that will have your body thanking you for taking such good care. I always use organic. I feel like I owe it to my body. I believe that organic foods have more nutrition and less chemicals than other types of vegetables/fruits. Yes, sometimes I can’t find organic and use whatever they have at the store, but check out this article to find out more about the benefits of eating organic (also this article here).

The Thanksgiving Smoothie   image6  

Ingredients:

Cranberries—a handful

Parsley—a pinch

Spinach—little bit less than a handful

Ginger—just a small piece

½ cup Orange Juice (can substitute water if you like—but I love the way the orange juice makes it taste)

Direimage7

ctions:

Obviously, our ingredients are guesstimated more than measured. This is because I tend to mix up the amounts that I use each time. The cranberries provide a great vitamin C boost, the spinach gives your body fiber, protein, and green goodness (not to mention it’s rich in iron), and the ginger gives it just enough of a zesty kick to keep things interesting. Mix well in a blender. Typically I like to make my smoothie thick and drink it fast (like a liquid meal), but you cimage8an always make it a bit thinner by adding more water or orange juice. Give the Thanksgiving smoothie a test run and let us know what you think.

I love this smoothie. It gives me so much energy (more than a cup of coffee) and I tend to make it once a day. These days I am so tired (because I am pregnant) so to have something to wake me up is a big deal (especially when it’s a healthy treat like this).

 

Soothing Winter Teaimage2

Ingredients:

Ginger

Lemon

Organic Honey

Directions:

Take a jar and fill it with layers of sliced ginger and slices of lemon (typically I make at limage4east 4 layers, but often times moreimage3). Then take organic honey and pour into the jar until it just overs the top of the layers of ginger and lemon. Put the jar in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to let all ingredients combine slowly. Surprisingly the tea is not too sweet once it settles as the spice of the ginger and zest of the lemon counterbalance the sweetness of the honey to create a soothing mixture. After a few hours take a spoonful of the mixture and add boiling water in a cup.

 

 

Garlic Shot

Ingredients:

1 small clove garlic

Organic Lemon juice

1 teaspoon organic honey

Directions:

Make sure that the garlic clove is small, because you will be swallowing the whole clove and not chewing it (trust me, you don’t want to chew a raw piece of garlic). Place the small clove in a shot glass and add half a squeezed lemon and the honey. Best to be taken right before or after a meal. The garlic is an amazing immune booster, and it also helps to clear out our digestive systems. Also if you swallow it whole in honey and lemon there are no side effects of bad breath (another reason to swallow a small clove and not a huge one—which might cause bad breath). To prevent a cold take this shot every other day, or 4 times a week. If you are not feeling you best go ahead and try this amazing shot once or twice and day and see if you get better faster.

HOW DOES YOGA BENEFIT RUNNERS?

Yoga focuses your attention on your own body’s movements rather than on an external outcome. Runners can use yoga practice to balance strength, increase range of motion, and train the body and mind. Asanas, or yoga poses, move your body through gravitational dimensions while teaching you how to coordinate your breath with each movement, no matter how subtlek. The eventual result is that your body, mind, and breath are integrated in all actions. Through consistent and systematic asana conditioning, you can engage, strengthen, and place demands on all of your intrinsic muscle groups, which support and stabilize the skeletal system. This can offset the effects of the runner’s one-dimensional workouts.

In addition to physically counteracting the strains of running, yoga teaches the cultivation of body wisdom and confidence. As you develop a greater understanding of the body and how it works, you become able to listen and respond to messages the body sends you.

This is especially important in running, where the body produces a lot of endorphins. These “feel good” chemicals also double as nature’s painkillers, which can mask pain and the onset of injury or illness. Without developed body intuition, it’s easier to ignore the body’s signals.  Awareness translates to daily workouts, too. You learn through the practice of yoga that each day is distinct, much like each run. Your energy levels fluctuate daily, even hourly, thus it’s important to have a sense of your reserves. The calmness you glean from yoga practice allows you to manage and economize your energy. You can learn to intuit where you are on a given day and what resources you have to give. Therefore, you don’t power drive through every workout mindlessly but rather respect your body’s limitations.

 

5 poses and explanation

If you’re not stretching immediately following a workout, I recommend a 10-minute cardio warm-up or 2 Sun Asanas before starting this routine. Warm muscles are easier to stretch. These poses are modified for people with tight hips and hamstrings, which is common among runners. A breath is one full inhalation and one full exhalation through the nose. Hold each pose for 8 breaths, or longer if you’d like.

 

What are the Best Yoga Poses for Runners?

 

1.) Adho mukha Svanasana – Lengthens and opens the hips. quads, calves, and hamstrings. Also opens the arms and upper back.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (2)

2.) Forward Fold – Stretches your hamstrings and calves also strength your quadriceps.

forward fold

3.) Baddha Konasana – Opens the lower back, hips, groins and inner thighs.

Baddha Konasana

4.) Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Opens the shoulders and strengthens the core. Also stretches the psoas major.Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

5.) Utthan Pristhasana – Open up the hips, hamstring, groins and hip flexors.

Utthan Pristhasana

6.) Trikonasana – Stretches the hamstrings, adductors of front leg, gluteus and tensor facia lata of the back leg, pectoralis major and minor, anterior deltoid.

Utthita Trikonasana

7.) Vrksasana – Strengthens the legs and improves balance, reducing the risk of injuries

Vrksasana

8.) Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Strengthens core and upper body to help create balance in muscles

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

9.) Reclining Pigeon – Stretches the gluteus, hamstrings and psoas. Less pressure than regular pigeon pose.

Reclining Pigeon

10.) Seated Spinal Twist – Loosens and lengthens the spine, eases a stiff neck and shoulders after a run.

Seated Spinal Twistpictures by Charlie W Burns

THE RUNNERS GIUDE TO YOGA: ANNYOING INJURIES

What are some common injuries that affect runners?

Strain or damage to the knee cartilage, tears and sprains of the foot, tendonitis and achilles heel injuries, torn or strained hamstrings, shin splints, stress fractures.

As mindful runners, we can take all the proper precautions to make sure that we’ll never have to worry about hurting ourselves, but the reality is that no one is immune to injury.These are some of the most common running injuries, how they manifest themselves and the best ways to treat them:

1. Plantar Fasciitis

The symptoms: Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation in the bottom of the foot, is perhaps the peskiest problem that plagues the running wounded. The common characteristic of this condition is a sharp, tight, painful sensation at the base of the heel that can be anywhere from annoying to excruciating.

The feeling has been described as comparable to stepping heel first onto a nail. Eventually, the pain might go away as the day or a run is carried out, only to return afterward or again the next day. It’s a vicious cycle for sure.

The causes: Overtraining, overuse, and improper or worn-out footwear can cause pain in your heel, but the root of the problem lies in tight and weakened muscles in the foot. If your feet are weak, the heel takes on an excessive load and can’t handle the training you are trying to do.

The fix: In the short term, avoiding bare feet, stretching and strengthening the calves, rolling your feet around a golf ball, and icing the affected area will provide some much-needed relief relatively quickly. If possible, see if Active Release Technique, a movement-based treatment for soft-tissue injuries that helps to break up scar tissue and restore normal function, is available where you live. Long term, diligent stretching combined with strengthening the muscles in and around the feet will address the root of the problem and help offset a recurrence.

2. Achilles Tendinitis

The symptoms: Achilles tendinitis is simply inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Because the lower legs are so far away from your heart, there’s very little blood flow to the area, which means the healing process for an injury such as Achilles tendinitis is often slow.

A closely related cousin to plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis manifests itself as pain at the back of the lower leg just the above the heel at the Achilles tendon—the thick band of tissue that attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone. Runners who suffer from Achilles tendinitis will often complain of swelling and pain close to the heel, which is oftentimes sharp and can be incapacitating.

The causes: Sometimes tight calves are the culprit. Tight lower legs put a lot of strain on the Achilles tendon, and over the course of many months of hard training, this overuse injury can develop. Aside from tight calves, unsupportive footwear can overburden the Achilles tendon over time, or a quick increase in volume and/or intensity can have the same effect much more quickly, so it’s important to pay attention to both your feet and your training—especially when you’re training hard!

The fix: Resting, icing, and stretching will all help to temporarily relieve symptoms, and aids such as orthotics, heel lifts, and highly structured shoes are short-term solutions. If possible, see if Active Release Technique, a movement-based treatment for soft-tissue injuries that helps to break up scar tissue and restore normal function, is available where you live. Long term, however, it’s worth your while to pay close attention to stretching and strengthening the lower legs. Calf raises, single-leg deadlifts, single-leg squats, and box jumps are great lower-leg-strengthening exercises. Also, heed what’s on your feet; your shoe choices can definitely help or aggravate the situation. And finally, keep an eye on your training. Don’t do too much, or go too hard, too quickly.

IT Band Syndrome

The symptoms: Your iliotibial (IT) band is a tendon that connects your knee to your hip. IT band syndrome (ITBS) results when this tendon becomes inflamed. ITBS has been compared to the feeling of somebody stabbing you in the side of the knee when you run, especially when going downhill. This annoying and painful injury can quickly become crippling if not addressed and corrected.

The causes: Running downhill and always running on the same side of the road are common culprits. Both put a lot of stress on the side of the knee and cause friction between the IT band and the femur. Over time, the IT band tightens and may swell, pain emerges, and the pain eventually intensifies to the point where it keeps runners from running.

The fix: Massaging the quadriceps and hamstring muscles around the area, and using a foam roller on the affected area will help loosen things up, while a regimen of icing and taking an anti-inflammatory will assist in reducing inflammation. If possible, see if Active Release Technique, a movement-based treatment for soft-tissue injuries that helps to break up scar tissue and restore normal function, is available where you live. Avoid aggressive downhill running, and if you always run on the same side of the road, switch directions every so often. Finally, strengthen your hips, quads and hamstrings and glutes, but only after you’ve been able to alleviate pain.

Runner’s Knee

The symptoms: Feel a constant ache underneath your kneecap when you run? You likely are experiencing patellofemoral knee syndrome. The main symptom is pain just below the kneecap that usually worsens as the intensity of exercise increases.

The causes:  Everything from uneven running surfaces and poor shoe selection to weak quads and hips, as well as unaddressed biomechanical flaws, can contribute to this common injury. In most cases, runner’s knee can be traced to the inability of the tissues surrounding the knee to recover in between runs.

The fix: If your knee continues to hurt, don’t run. If there’s inflammation, work on reducing it with the anti-inflammatory/icing regimen. Long term, strengthening the knee, making sure you’re running in the proper, not worn-out footwear, and perhaps employing some simple form fixes such as shortening your stride and striking the ground directly underneath your center of

Shin Splints

The symptoms: At their worst, shin splints can turn into a stress fracture along the tibia, and searing pain will be felt with every stride; in less severe cases, the muscles in the shin area may be tender and inflamed, and pain lessens a few miles into the run. Either way, shin pain is a surefire way to make your running experience markedly unenjoyable.

The causes: Shin pain can most often be traced back to a sudden spike in training volume and intensity. This is why, for example, it is a common complaint among brand-new runners beginning a training program and young athletes at the start of high school track or cross-country season. When you run, your lower legs take all of the initial impact forces, which then run through the rest of your body. Newer runners’ lower legs aren’t yet strong enough to handle this stress, which is why it’s important to develop a solid base before increasing mileage or introducing speed work. Combine that inexperience with regular running on hard surfaces and worn-out or improper footwear and you have a recipe for disaster. And as with many of the aforementioned injuries, tight muscles don’t help matters either. The less mobile the muscles surrounding your shin are, the more stress there is on the entire area.

The fix: Rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories will help reduce the tenderness and inflammation. As you ease back into running, pay attention to your training, as well as to your equipment and environment. Increasing volume and intensity too quickly will almost always lead to trouble. The training plans in this book are designed to up your volume and intensity methodically and slowly, which eases you into the stress that running a lot asks of your legs. Running on soft surfaces such as trails or grass will help reduce the impact on your lower legs, and paying close attention to the mileage on your running shoes will ensure that you’re not trotting on tired treads.

What Runners Should Be Aware Of:

During the course of an average mile run, your foot will strike the ground 1,000 times. The force of impact on each foot is about three to four times your weight. It’s not surprising, then, to hear runners complain of bad backs and knees, tight hamstrings, and sore feet. A typical runner experiences too much pounding, tightening, and shortening of the muscles and not enough restorative, elongating, and loosening work. Without opposing movements, the body will compensate to avoid injury by working around the instability. Compensation puts stress on muscles, joints, and the entire skeletal system. If you’re off balance, every step you take forces the muscles to work harder in compensation. Tight muscles get tighter and weak muscles get weaker. A tight muscle is brittle, hard, and inflexible. Because muscles act as the body’s natural shock absorbers, ideally they should be soft, malleable, and supple, with some give. Brittle muscles, on the other hand, cause the joints to rub and grind, making them vulnerable to tears.

The pain most runners feel is not from the running in and of itself, but from imbalances that running causes and exacerbates. If they bring their body into balance with the practice of yoga, they can run for years.  Although yoga and running lie on opposite ends of the exercise spectrum, the two need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, running and yoga make a good marriage of strength and flexibility.

“Focus on yourself, encourage you to accept the body and mind that you have on that day and push it as far as it will go.”

Runners are very competitive, which can make them more likely to injur themselves. Some runners are too aggressive in pigeon pose, trying to stretch their gluts and piriformis, and can miss up to three months of running as a result. If you have a troublesome or tight spot you’d like to target, talk to your instructor about ways to modify poses so you can get a gentle–and safe–stretch. It can take years to master yoga poses, so don’t expect to be the star in your first few class–no matter how many races you’ve run.

You have to accept where your body is now and work on the full body stretch and not just the leg.

 

YOGA FOR RUNNERS: MUSCLES

Which Muscles Do Runners Use the Most?

Runners put a lot of stress on certain muscle groups in the body, namely, the hamstrings, quads, and the hip flexors. This strain causes tightness in the muscles that often leads to injury. To prevent injury and loosen the muscles, runners often benefit from a cross-training program that strengthens neglected muscles while relaxing and stretching overused muscles. An integrated Yoga practice targeted to runners can provide all of these much-needed benefits.

 

What muscles do runners use most frequently?

  1. Quadriceps, Femoris (thigh muscles)Quadriceps
  1. Hamstrings (back of the legs) and Gluteus MaximusBicep Femoris
  1. Hip flexors, IliopsoasHip flexors
  1. Calvescalves
  2. Core muscles (abdomen and lumbar/lower back.)core muscles
  3. Tendons in the ankle and foot

 

The shoulders and arms are also used for balance, however, they aren’t strained in running as often as the other muscles mentioned.

The repetitive movements in running can create wear and tear over time, especially without proper stretching.

 

QUADS:

When runners log lots of miles they repeatedly load their quads, making them strong. Longer runs can lead to overloading the quads making the quads too strong. This can create an imbalance between the quads and the hamstrings. When this occurs, several things can happen. A worst case scenario would be a hamstring tear. This happens when the hamstrings are too weak to handle the pull of the quads, so they give way or tear. Quad dominance can also wreak havoc on the knees.

 

HAMSTRINGS:

A healthy counterbalance of the hamstrings helps to keep the knees stable. When the quads are too dominant they can pull and tug on the knee joint, muscles, and/or ligaments causing damage. A frustrating result of quad dominance can simply be decreased power causing you to run slower. This happens when the hamstrings kick in sooner than normal to help decrease the overpowering of the quads. Runners should make an effort to take care of their hamstrings by building up the muscular strength and endurance. Once you get in a quad dominant situation, it’s kind of hard to reverse. Also, hamstring injuries usually take awhile to heal, so you may have to avoid running for extended periods of time, which can be frustrating. So, what’s a runner to do? Well the first thing that comes to mind is hamstring exercises, right? Right! The typical hamstring leg lifts, hamstring leg curls, or hamstring roll-ins on a stability ball are all good.

 

(Hamstring Bridge Lie on your back, bend your hips and knees 90 degrees and rest the back of your heels on a chair. Push your heels into the chair and lift your hips about 8 inches. Keeping both knees bent, lift your right foot off the chair about 10 inches, pause, then lower your hips to the floor with your right foot still elevated. Repeat until fatigued, rest 30 seconds and switch sides) and eccentric leg slides (side series from pilates).

 

Hip Flexors

Your hip flexors, like your quads, are comprised of a muscle group of two muscles:

  • The iliacus and
  • The psoas major.

The shortest muscle, the iliacus, begins on your pelvic crest (the iliac fossa) and stretches over to your thigh bone (femur). The larger of the muscles, the psoas major, stretches from your T-12 spinal vertebrae to your L-5 spinal vertebrae and there attaches to the femur.

These two muscles work together to help your hips flex.

The iliopsoas are often the culprit behind sever hip pain. If you experience hip pain while running, you should stop your routine immediately, and go see your doctor or a chiropractic specialist. Do not begin running again until they have determined it to be safe. I believe training the hip flexors have a key role in injury prevention, great to do Slow Running with High Knees. Basically, it’s running on the spot with high knees, but not too high where the hips drops. This would be an oxymoron to hip height. Knee Drives. (with cable, or no weight) 3 sets of 10 reps. Using a low cable pulley and an ankle cuff attachment, stand so that the cable has pressure, but not enough to whip you backwards. Drive your knee explosively up to your chest. Keep the movement controlled as you lower. Using band will give a different feel, and thus you’ll have to really accelerate the initial explosive movement. Make sure the upper body stays tall and this will work your core as well. Spread Eagle Sit-ups.  This is the same as doing crunches, but with your legs straight and spread preferably resting on a wall, or door frame.   Add a light weight for added resistance. Hanging Knee or Leg Raises.  Hang from a pull up bar or some other apparatus, keeping your upper body straight, and either (1) bring knee to chest or (2) straight legs to parallel. Incline Bench Leg Raises.  If weak arms is your limiting factor for the above exercise, try the same exercise on an 45 degree angle on a sit up bench.

Calves

Though many anatomists see the calf muscle to be a single muscle (triceps surae), most say that it is a muscle group, like your quads and hip flexors. This group consists of two main muscles, the:

  • The gastrocnemius and
  • The soleus.

Your calf muscles will allow you to flex your knee and planter flex your ankle. Like your quads, your calf muscles can be strengthened by doing squats. Other good strength-building exercises would include calf muscle raises and skipping!

Core muscles

Though your supporting muscles may not come under as much strain as your primary muscles, it is a good idea to educate yourself about them and protect them as well. Your supporting muscles are:

  • The abdominals (both upper and lower) and
  • The biceps brachii.

Your abdominals are located at your abdomen. These muscles will allow you to maintain good posture during your workout, helping you to prevent injury and maximizing your time.

Your biceps brachii (better known as your biceps), are located above your elbow and allows you to rotate your forearms and flex your elbows. You will only use this muscle if your elbow is bent, making your running more efficient.

 

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A YOGA AND PILATES MAT ANYWAYS?

Since Your-Movement has been open (three years this fall—woo hoo!) I’ve seen many of our clients using a yoga mat for Pilates classes. Clients ask us all the time, ‘what’s the difference between a yoga and Pilates mat?’ Here is the answer.IMG_1290

Pricing

Good Pilates mats start from $35 and you can get a yoga mat anywhere for $10 (Of course the    quality of the yoga mate is probably not the best, but if you’re just starting out in yoga you really don’t need to invest a lot of money in the mat. First, check out which type of class you prefer, then buy the proper mat.)

Besides pricing what is the difference between a yoga and Pilates mat? Here is a quick break down, plus some tips on how to get the most out of your mat.

Pilates mats are thicker

It is important for Pilates mats to be thicker, and therefore more cushioning, because for most of the class you will be laying down on the mat (and we want to take care of that back!).

If you use a yoga mat for Pilates how to make yourself comfortable through the entire class.

  • Yoga mats are usually very thin, the thickest one is 1/4” Pilates mat are usually ½” but can be tIMG_1289hicker. If you go to a Pilates class with a yoga mat grab a blanket and place it over your entire mat. Believe me, it makes the whole class experience better.
  • Don’t teach or do Rolling-Like-a-Ball if you only have a yoga mat. It is very painful to roll on your spine, and if you use a yoga mat it feels like you are just rolling your spine on the floor. Usually, before I teach Rolling-Like-a-Ball I first check to see what type of mats my students are using and tell them “if you have a yoga mat please only do 1 or 2.” It’s not good for the spine to be rolling on the “floor.” First of all doesn’t feel good (and it’s important to be listening to our bodies when we are exercising).Some yogis say that rolling on your spine is okay, but personally I disagree, and I was also happy to find an article explaining how it can negatively effect the spine. Read it here. Using the Pilates mat is fine, though. There is no pain, and we can really focus on using our abdominals!

So if you’d like to use a yoga mat for Pilates (rather than invest in another mat) make sure to get a blanket J

If you use Pilates mat for a yoga class.

This is a big NO-NO, because is thicker not hold well so its very slippery during almost any flow pose, except when you are standing, (tadasana, balancing pose) laying down, or sitting.

Pilates mats for yoga?IMG_1298

  •    Sometimes in yoga class I see my students using a Pilates mat. I always ask them why? (I want to understand their side.) Some like it because it’s more cushy, so when they lay or kneel down they feel more comfortable. Some don’t know the different and just grab whatever mat they find.
  •     I understand liking Pilates mats for their thickness. If your just want a more cushy yoga experience then I recommend not doing a full pose. This means not having a super long stride in Warrior 2, or making a smaller downward facing dog. Taking smaller movements will help because with a thicker mat you sink into the mat and you also slip. This is very unstable for poses where is important to stand strong.
  •    Alternatively, try a yoga towel. It will still be cushy, but at least it will not be slippery.

Overall, if you are just trying a class I recommend renting a mat, then after few classes you can see which mat is more for you. Invest for a better quality so you can enjoy the class the whole time without worry about, slipping, feeling uncomfortable or doing less because your mat is not the right one. When you decide to go to a class then—enjoy it!  IMG_1291