Monday, April 26, 2010

Stretching and YOGA!!!

There's a reason we do dynamic stretching before the workout and static after. The old presumption that static stretching primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It may actually weaken them. Static stretching before a workout can decrease muscle strength by as much as 30 percent. The muscle becomes less responsive and stays weakened for up to 30 minutes after stretching, which is not how an athlete wants to begin a workout. A well-designed warm-up starts by increasing body heat and blood flow. Warm muscles and dilated blood vessels pull oxygen from the bloodstream more efficiently and use stored muscle fuel more effectively. They also withstand loads better. The correct dynamic warm-up should then do two things: loosen muscles and tendons to increase the range of motion of various joints, and literally warm up the body.
Although static stretching isn't recommended before the workout, it's still very important and has it's place. Static stretching after a workout helps reduce post-workout muscle fatigue, and soreness. It also increases flexibility and is useful in relieving spasms in muscles that are healing after an injury. Incorporating dynamic AND static stretching into your workout will benefit you the most and produce the best results.
Here are the definitions of the four main types of stretching:
Dynamic stretching is a slow, controlled movement of a muscle. Consisting of arm and leg swings it also incorporates movements that mimic a specific sport or exercise in an exaggerated yet controlled manner. They are often performed during the warm-up or in preparation for a sports event.
The static technique involves passively stretching a muscle to the point of mild discomfort by holding it in a maximal stretch for an extended period.
PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) techniques involve a partner actively stretching the participant by some combination of altering contraction and relaxation of both agonist and antagonist muscles. Some of the different PNF techniques used include slow reversal hold, contract relax, and hold relax. PNF stretching usually involves a 10 second push phase followed by a 10 second relaxation phase, typically repeated a few times. PNF stretching is capable of producing greater improvement in flexibility compared to other techniques. Its disadvantage is that it typically requires a partner, although stretching with a partner may have some motivational advantage for some individuals.
The oldest technique is the ballistic stretch which makes use of repetitive bouncing movements. It has been virtually abandoned by almost all experts in the field due to safety concerns.

Since we're on the topic of stretching, I just wanted to give a little reminder about the free YOGA class that Briar teaches. It's every Thursday morning at 7am & it's open to the public, not just members. If I'm not working at the fire station I'm at Briar's class. She does an excellent job and works with all skill levels, especially the inflexible! You'll be amazed how much yoga can improve your workouts. There are many other benefits as well: Increases flexibility, lubricates the joints, ligaments and tendons, massages the organs of the body, detoxifies, tones the muscles, and increases strength & posture just to name a few. Stop by Thurday mornings, you'll thank yourself!
(Info from this post came from- Stretching: The Truth By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Only a few more days...

I was thirteen years old when Terminator 2: Judgement Day came out. I'll never forget one of the opening scenes when Sarah Connor (a.k.a. Linda Hamilton) was cranking out the pull-ups. I remember thinking, "Now that's a bad-ass chick." I wanted to be her, I wanted to crank out those pull-ups. She made me realize that women can really be strong. Well guess what? Now it's you turn. It's your turn to crank out those pull-ups, push-ups, squats and sit-ups. The Women's Get Some Challenge is this Saturday. Are you ready? I know you are. I will be there to encourage, push and cheer you on. I know a lot of you have put in some hard work and it's gonna pay off, it already has. Really look at all the gains you've made. Give yourself a big pat on the back for all you're sweat and determination! I'm so proud of all of you. Best of luck to everyone, give it all you got!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Healing Power of the Mind, Positive Thinking and Visualization

A picture is worth a thousand words. We've heard that saying before. This phrase is certainly true in the case of visualization. Visualization, a form of self-hypnosis, is a tool anyone can used to help foster healing or create things they want. By providing positive pictures (creative imagery) and self-suggestion, visualization can change emotions that subsequently have a physical effect on the body. Through patterns of repetition and its associated rewards and punishment we learn to create our own perception of reality. In essence, we therefore become what we think. Repetitive use of positive visualization allows access to the mind-body connection. This lets the mind and body work together to foster the healing process or create what we want on a physical level. What is the mind-body connection and how does it work? When we have an emotion it generates a feeling that turns into a physical sensation. For example: You are watching a horror movie, you feel frightened and then get a chill up your spine. In this case you were getting a negative suggestion through your sensory perception (sight and sound), that produced an emotion of fear which turned into the physical sensation of chills up your spine. Visualization uses positive images to produce positive emotions that manifest into positive physical sensations in the body. Sounds simple, but does it work? Can what we think actually have an effect on our body? Bodies do react to the thoughts you make. Our psychological/emotional state affects the endocrine system. For example, the emotion of fear is related to adrenaline. If no feeling of fear exists there is no adrenaline and the same applies in reverse- no adrenaline, no fear. They work in relationship to each other. Wherever a thought goes there is a body chemical reaction. The hypothalamus, the emotional center of the brain, transforms emotions into physical response. The receptor of neuropeptides, the hypothalamus also controls the body's appetite, blood sugar levels, body temperature, adrenal and pituitary glands, heart, lung, digestive and circulatory systems. Neuropeptides, the chemical messenger hormones, carry emotions back and forth between the mind and body. They link perception in the brain to the body via organs, hormones and cellular activity. Neuropeptides influence every major section of the immune system, so the body and mind do work together as one unit. The brain is a highly efficient system that is connected to every cell in your body by billions of connections. It is divided into two sides- the left, logical side (words, logic, rational thought) and the right creative side (imagination and intuition). Day to day circumstances usually are met in a logical, left brain mode; however by yielding to the right, creative side of the brain we actually restore balance in the brain. This allows access to the mind-body connection to achieve what you want. The right side of the brain automatically steers you to your goal. It totally accepts what you want to accomplish without giving an opinion and acts upon it without judgement. That is why visualization targets the right, creative side of the brain and not the left, logical side. Positive thought is essential to producing positive results. Negative thoughts and emotions lower the immune system, while positive thought and emotions actually boost the immune system. To maximize success of visualization, the following suggestions are offered:

Define Your Specific Intention- Visualization puts your intention of what you want to work. The more specific the intention, the more specific the results. Remember whatever you believe is what your body will do. So when you are thinking of your intention make sure it is:
*You feel, know and trust it is being accomplished.
Take Responsibility-Trying to do visualization without taking responsibility will prove to be futile experience. To accomplish what you want you must take action and responsibility. Visualization usually takes about 6 weeks to work. It is done once in the morning and before bedtime. Some people do see or feel results the very first time but remember every one's body and mind are different and so is the way they process information so have patience. Responsibility is:
*Be accountable to and for yourself.
*Make a commitment.
*Do visualization regularly.
*Be persistent and patient.
*Keep positive.
Get Mentally Relaxed- A relaxed state allows you direct access to your subconscious mind. Here are some steps to help you relax:
*Find a quiet place.
*Relax in a favorite chair or lie down.
*Get comfortable and loosen clothing .
*Uncross your arms and legs.
*Get centered by focusing on the breath and breathing (this activates the vagus nerve which is the major quieting nerve in the body).
*Totally relax your body and mind.
Visualize- Visualization is a simple process. Once you are relaxed the next step is to actualize your visualization.
*Think of or speak your intention out loud.
*Close your eyes and imagine yourself in the healing process or as you want to be.
*Watch as your body heals you.
*Feel the healing taking place.
*Know the healing is being accomplished.

If you have difficulty you may want to try one or more of these methods:
*Use creative imagery like seeing the cells in your body healing you; your immune system fighting off invaders; your pain being taken away by healing mud; your cells creating the body you want.
*Imagine yourself in a very beautiful place whole, healthy and happy.
*Try reading scripts from a visualization or self-hypnosis book.
*Try making your own tape in your own voice.

Visualization works to help boost your body back to health and create what you want. Don't just work on the body, add the mind to maximize your potential with visualization.
(Info from today's post comes from The Healing Power of the Mind and Visualization by-)