May 30, 2012
Hydration is important any time of the year, especially for athletes and those who lead active lifestyles. But now that summer is upon us, this is the perfect time to remind everyone how to properly hydrate and of how hydration and athletic performance are linked to one another. Following are 10 tips for athletes, or anyone, to maintain proper hydration:
- Drink water.The simplest and most obvious way to maintain hydration is to drink water. However, the amount you need to drink depends on your body type. The eight-glasses-a-day rule doesn’t apply to everyone, because smaller people need less water than individuals with larger frames. The urine test is still the best way to gauge your fluid levels. If your urine is pale yellow; you’re properly hydrated.
- Eat fruit. Fruit contains a lot of water, and there is a decent amount of carbohydrates in a serving of fruit, too. So, eating fruit helps you hydrate and builds up your energy stores for the next workout or competition.
- Carry a water bottle with you everywhere you go. Any time you leave the house, take a water bottle with you and sip it periodically throughout the day, refilling the bottle when needed. This habit will keep you properly hydrated all day long and is better than filling up on water an hour before your workout and becoming bloated.
- Drink before you feel thirsty. One of the first signs of dehydration is felling thirsty, so if you wait to drink when you feel thirsty, it’s already too late. So, drink water before you feel thirsty both before and during a workout or competition.
- Avoid caffeine. Caffeinated beverages, such as soft drinks, coffee and tea are diuretics and increase urination which leads to dehydration. Decreasing or cutting out caffeinated beverages altogether will help maintain proper hydration levels.
- Drink sports drinks, too. Electrolytes are salts that transmit electrical signals throughout your body, and the levels become depleted during strenuous exercise. If you don’t replace your electrolytes before, during and after a workout, your body won’t function at peak performance and can have dire health consequences. Having enough electrolytes also allows you to absorb more water, so, drink a sports drink during the day to maintain your electrolyte levels.
- Give salt tablets a try. Gatorade and other sports drinks are the electrolyte beverages of choice, but getting enough during a competition or workout can be difficult. Many endurance and long-distance athletes take electrolyte tablets (e-caps) or salt tablets to replenish lost electrolytes during long workouts and races.
- Stop drinking 30 minutes to an hour before a exercising. Drinking fluids up until the moment your workout or competition starts can make you to feel bloated, cause unwanted urination during the workout or make you over-hydrated. If you properly hydrate throughout the day, you won’t feel thirsty minutes before your workout or race.
- Weigh yourself before and after a workout. You don’t literally shed pounds of fat during each workout. Any weight lost during a workout is primarily water weight, because you are not properly replenishing during exercise. Weighing yourself before and after a workout will let you know how much water weight you are losing. The rule is to drink 16 ounces of water for every pound lost during a workout. You can also use this information to determine how much more fluids you need during a workout; if you need to drink 32 ounces of water after a workout, you should drink that much more during the workout to maintain proper hydration.
- Do not drink too much water. It is possible to drink too much water. Doing so can cause hyponatremia (water intoxication). You’ll feel sluggish, bloated, even a little dizzy. This occurs because excessive water causes lower sodium in your blood. It can pose a serious health risk, and you should consult a doctor if you are severely over-hydrated. Drinking a sports drink can help balance everything back out.
May 15, 2012
Coaches, personal trainers and sports medicine practitioners all sing the same tune when it comes to stretching. Namely, you need to stretch. Stretching is one of the most important forms of injury prevention, so coaches and doctors aren’t just blowing smoke when it comes to this activity.
The Benefits of Stretching
Stretching does more than help prevent athletic injuries. Here are a couple of benefits to stretching:
- Improve range of motion. This is one of the huge benefits for athletes. The better an athlete’s range of motion and flexibility, the less chance of injury. No, flexibility doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get injured, but it sure does help.
- Reduce muscle tightness. You don’t have to be an athlete to get muscle cramps or tightness, and stretching is an easy way to help alleviate the associated pain and discomfort.
- Improve circulation. Stretching helps improve blood flow to your muscles and joints, and more blood means more oxygen and nutrients get to your muscles. This is a benefit everyone can enjoy.
- Improve posture and coordination. Proper stretching involves controlled movements and holding poses without wobbling. So, stretching has a secondary benefit to improving core strength, posture and coordination.
- Relieve stress. Stretching is very meditative. When done properly, you’re breathing steadily, focusing on your body and relaxing tight muscles. That’s meditation 101.
Tips on Proper Stretching
Stretching sounds pretty simple, but there are a handful of things to keep in mind to get the most out of your flexibility-increasing efforts.
- Never stretch when your muscles are cold. When your muscles are cold, they aren’t as elastic – there isn’t much blood flowing to them, and you can actually overstretch or injure muscles by cold stretching.
- Stretch after a short warm-up. Even though recent research suggests that stretching before a workout or activity can actually slow muscle-reaction time, many coaches and trainers still suggest stretching after a light warm-up so you can achieve your maximum range of motion out of the gate.
- Stretch after a workout. The absolute best time to stretch is after a workout. Your muscles are plenty warm, so this is the time to work on your range of motion and increase the blood flow to your freshly worked out muscles.
- Don’t over-stretch. Stretching isn’t supposed to hurt. Sure, you will feel some tension in your muscles, but if that tension is painful, back off the stretch. If you try to reach too far beyond your range of motion and over-stretch, you will damage your muscles.
- Don’t jerk or bounce. There is such a thing as ballistic stretching, where you essentially hop around to warm up your muscles, but it is best to either hold a static pose (static stretching) or perform fluid movements in dynamic stretching to properly stretch your muscles. Jerky or concussive movements may damage your muscles and joints, especially if you aren’t that flexible.
- Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. Quick stretches don’t do much of anything. Holding static stretches for 30 seconds gives you time sufficient time to relax into the stretch and expand your muscles.
- Relax and breathe. “Breath into the pose” is something yoga instructors say all the time. If you’re having trouble with a stretch, straighten out of it, take a deep breath and move back into the stretch on your exhale. It also helps to concentrate on the muscle that you are stretching and willing it to relax.
Remember, stretching isn’t supposed to be painful. Only hold a pose as deeply as you are able. Runners and cyclists especially are not known for their flexibility, but adding regular stretching into your regimen will work wonders on you recovery.
It’s finally been done ! After almost two years of paperwork and waiting Mike Allen, L.Ac. is in network and able to accept various insurance plans for United Health Care and Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield (Landmark Healthcare).
The effective start date is July 1, 2012 but if you have received treatment this year and wish to be reimbursed for those treatments we can print you a detailed report for you to submit directly to your insurance company. There is a chance that some portion of your out-of-pocket costs may be returned.
Even if you do not have United or Anthem, you can always request a detailed billing report to submit to your insurance carrier. Not only might this help you recover some of your expenses, but it lets those companies know that their customers are actively seeking out Acupuncture as a healthcare modality. By doing so, the hope is that Acupuncture will be picked up by more carriers in the near future.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. Mike Allen L.Ac. is available Monday- Thursday and offers free 15-minute consultations to those with questions about how Acupuncture can be part of regular health approach.