Friday, November 17, 2017

Lost its Sole: When to Retire Shoes

Shoes are an important factor when it comes to injury prevention. If your shoes are too worn down, they are unable to help aid your body in proper running form. When to replace your shoes can be a tad tricky. If your shoes are completely worn down, you probably should have replaced them a while ago, but what if they look new and don’t feel comfortable anymore? Here is a detailed guide of the signs to look for that tell you it’s time to replace your shoes.

Tired Feet

When you start experiencing new pains in your hips or knees, it’s time to invest in a new pair of running shoes. This may mean that your soles have worn down, or if they are new shoes that the soles didn’t fit the shape of your feet to begin with. Whatever the cause, you don’t want to increase the possibility of injury by developing a wacky running form to try and combat the worn or misshapen soles of your shoe.

The Old 500 Mile Rule

In many cases, people have been told that they should replace their shoes when you have run 500 miles or less in them. This is a general rule though and should be followed as a nice guideline. You lose about half the cushioning in your shoes around your 250th mile, which is where the estimation of the 500-mile rule comes from. The problem isn’t worn cushioning though, it’s how the worn cushion effects your run. If you realize that you are developing more injuries around the 300-mile mark, it’s time for new shoes. If by the 500th mile mark you don’t have any change in performance then you can get away with wearing the pair for longer. The best way to become someone who can wear their shoes past the 500th mile mark is to strengthen your feet and ankles, so your body is more balanced when your foot strikes the ground.


                                                       picture courtesy of aharo.com

Shock Absorption

Chances are if your shoes are old, then they probably can’t absorb the shock of your foot when it strikes the ground. Grab the heel of your shoe and push down on the middle of the sole of your shoe. If the sole is super soft then it means the sole as lost its shock absorption. It might be your first-time testing this, so if you can, test it on a new running shoe and the sole should feel firm. When the sole has lost its shock absorption it is time to get a new pair.

Tread Wear

Although the sole of the shoe is the most important part and receives the most attention when talking about replacing the shoe, it would be foolish to ignore the rest of the shoe. The outer tread of the shoe might be worn down due to the way your foot strikes the pavement. Since everyone runs differently you might never experience this problem, or this is the problem that usually tells you it’s time to get new shoes. If you see the next layer of the shoe creeping forth on the tread of your shoe then it’s time to get a new pair. Look at your shoes before tossing them though. This will help you see which areas your feet wear out and give you information on how to improve the balance of your feet.

Trails

If you like to vary your workouts by not running on the road, or you are an avid trail runner, there is another step to notice about the wear of your shoes. Check the top of your running shoe. If it looks unusually worn compared to the rest of the shoe, and if the mesh holes have been stretched out since you’ve got them, then it is time to replace your shoes. The different terrain and exposure to the elements wear down your shoes differently. To make the most out of your trail shoes take proper care of them after your runs.

What to do with Old Shoes?

Recycle. Recycle. Recycle. There is only a small amount of effort on your part to give someone or something a new future. Several programs are in place that will take your old shoes and either redistribute them to people who need shoes, or some places will break down your old shoes and reuse the material for other needs. All you have to do is find which organization suits you best and then give them your old shoes. 

Retiring and finding new shoes to replace your beloved old ones might sound a little daunting, but your feet will thank you. You also might find a different shoe brand or type that is better than your last pair. Remember to look for the signs before it’s past time to replace your running shoes.


Good Luck!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ready, Steady, Stretches: Best Post Workout Static Stretches

Dynamic stretches are great before your workouts, but it’s post workout that static stretches shine. Static stretches are only effective if your muscles are already warmed up, so that you don’t cause an injury. Static stretching can help lengthen your muscles and stretch out any tightness that might occur during your workouts. If you’ve already worked out then you are ready for static stretching.

Standing Splits

Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Take a giant step with your right foot outwards. You want to end up with your legs spread far apart, but able to still balance without needing assistance. This is not an actual split. Tuck your head to your chest and roll your spine down till your hands can touch the ground. Don’t worry if your hands don’t entirely touch the ground yet, just reach as far as you can. Hold this position for at least 20 seconds before rising back up. If you want to throw in a variation, hold the position in the center, and then touch your left foot for 20 seconds and your right foot for 20 seconds.

Curb your Calf

Calves are one of the most important muscles for runners to stretch after their runs. Find a curb and stand on top of it with your heels close to the edge. Balance on your right leg and bring your left leg back until just your big toe is on the curb. Keep your big toe on the top of the curb and drop the heel until your left heel touches the ground. You should feel the stretch in your left calf. If you are not in pain and want a better stretch, bend both of your knees and hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.

Hamstrings and Lower Back

This is one of my favorite stretches, it’s super simple and relaxing. Lie down on your back. Slide your legs towards you until you can bring them up to your chest. Wrap both arms around your legs, like you are giving them a hug for a good workout. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds.

IT Band Stretch

From the hamstrings and lower back stretch, let go of your legs, but do not stretch your legs out. Cross your right leg so your right ankle lands on top of your left knee. Then hold your left leg with both hands behind the thigh. Slowly pull the left leg closer to you until you feel the stretch. Hold this position for at least 20 seconds before switching sides.




Glutes

Start in a standing position with a straight back. Find your balance and bring your left leg up and crossed, so you end up with your left ankle on top of your right knee. If you can’t balance, find a tree or a wall to help you keep your balance. If you can balance on one leg rest your hands on your hips. Slowly bend your right leg until you feel the stretch. Once you feel like you are in a deep enough stretch hold and wait 30 seconds before switching legs.

Streamline Peaks

This is a wonderful stretch after a swim workout, because it focuses on the shoulders. Start by standing in a comfortable position with your back straight. Raise your arms up and above your head. Rest the hand that you lead with on top of the other, for most it will be right hand on top of left hand. It will look like you are making a mountain peak with your arms. Take a few deep breathes in and out while holding this position. After you hold your arms directly above you, lean to the right and hold, then lean to the left and hold. This will help stretch out your shoulders and your obliques.

M Sits

This is a hard stretch for many, but it is worth it. Start on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Take your right leg and pull it clockwise, so that the right foot is touching the right glute. Take your left leg and pull it counter clockwise, so that your left foot is touching your left glute. It will look like your legs are trying to make the letter M. This might already be painful for you, so if you feel the stretch don’t go any further. If you feel like you can go further, lean back and prop yourself up on your elbows and hold the stretch. If you can go further than that try leaning back until your shoulder blades touch the ground.

Foam Rolling

Using your foam roller after your workout is a great way to stretch out your muscles. Remember when you use your foam roller to isolate certain areas, instead of rolling all in one go. For example, you don’t, I repeat don’t, want to use your foam roller on your thighs roll under the knee and roll the hamstrings. Instead, use your foam roller on your thighs and then, after you rolled out your thighs, switch to rolling your hamstrings.

Remember to only use static stretches post-workout or after your body has been warmed up. These stretches will help increase flexibility and loosen up muscles that got tightened during your workout.


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Happy Stretching!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Race Day Dynamic Stretching

For pre-race warm-ups, you want to focus solely on dynamic stretches. They are best for pre-race warm-ups, because you want your body getting comfortable with the idea of moving. Dynamic stretches also help get the blood pumping throughout your body and the muscles warmed up. Here are our favorite dynamic stretches for our warm-ups.

Dynamic Stretches

Dynamic stretches mean stretches that require you to move your body in order for the stretch to occur. They are better for pre-race warm-ups because it gets your blood pumping and your body ready for a fast pace.

Butt Kicks

This dynamic stretch will help loosen up your legs and get you ready for a faster pace. The key to the exercise is to stay on the balls of your feet. To do this warm-up jog at a light pace, but instead of focusing on jogging, bring your heels all the way up and kick your glutes. When you land on the leg that kicked your glutes make sure that you land on the ball of that foot. When one leg is kicking your glutes the other should be bouncing on the ground. Think of it as a little jog.

Side Stretch

The side stretch is a great warm-up for swimmers and triathletes. Start by lying on the ground on your right side. Keep your right leg straight, but bend the left leg 90 degrees, so it gives you stability. Both arms should be straight out in front of you, palms on top of each other. Imagine you need to make the biggest clap, so lift your left arm and stretch it all the way to the ground behind you. While you are lifting your left arm, follow your left arm with your head, so both your left arm and your head are moving side to side. Once you reach as far back as you can go with your left arm, come back to the starting position and repeat. Switch arms to stretch both sides.


                                                                                picture courtesy of popsugar.com.au

A Skips and B Skips

Both of these warm-ups are a variation on skipping. The A-skip is almost a normal type of skipping. Raise your right leg almost like a high knee, the left hand should swing up when your right leg does. Point your hand towards the sky and keep your arms at a 90-degree angle. When the left leg lifts off, point the toe, before coming back down on the ball of the foot.

The B-skip is almost like reverse skipping. There is bounce in your movement but no extreme jump. Start by starting to skip, but instead of your right leg propel you up, you want to kick it straight out in front of you and focus on bringing it back down to the ground. Your leg does not have to be completely straight, but the motion should be fluid. Since you want the move to be fluid do not rest your weight on a flat foot, instead hold yourself up by the ball of your foot. This will help you focus on a wider stride.

Lunges and Squats

To do a lunge, start standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Kick your right leg out in front of you, not far enough to do a split but not too close to your start position. Then place your left foot back. You want your left foot to still be flat on the ground. Bend your right leg, making sure that your knees don’t go over your toes. When your right leg bends, dip your hips and let your left heel come off the ground.

To squat, start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Your arms should be straight out in front of you with palms facing the floor. Keep your back straight. Bring your hips down and back, your glutes will stick out a little. Try to bend to where your hips are sinking just below the knees, if you can’t that’s okay go as far as you can. To rise back up make sure your weight is mostly in your heels and stand back up.

Rock It

This helps stretch out your quads and gets you ready for every portion of your race. To start, get on the ground on all fours. Your hands and knees should be shoulder width apart. Slowly, rock backwards until you are sitting on your hamstrings. Rock back forward and stretch your spine by curling it upwards. Continue rocking for about 10 reps.

Leg Swings

For this move, keep both arms straight out in front of you. Then start walking. When you raise your left leg, keep your knees and back straight and try to get it as high as your left arm. Then when your left leg is on the ground, try to get your right leg to your right arms. This helps stretch out the back of the quads to get them ready for running and cycling.

High Knees

Think of these as jogging in place. The main goal is to get your knees as high as possible to your chest. Land on the balls of your feet and then the heel, to stretch out your hamstrings.


Now that you are all stretched out and warmed up for your race, you’ll have no problem making it to the finish line. Remember to do static stretches after your race or workout to help your muscles replenish.


Happy Warm-ups!