Tell me if this sounds familiar: You’re driving down the road, radio blaring, sending a text message with one hand (don’t lie!), cup of coffee in the other, when you’re suddenly distracted by yet another sight: a person, or people, hurriedly propelling themselves on the sidewalk, utilizing nothing but their own two feet. Their pace is too quick to be walking, yet too smooth and even to be skipping. On top of that, many seem to be wincing in pain, sweat pouring down their faces, yet they remain undeterred from continuing their forward progression. The audacity of these folks to shun the use of motorized, or even pedaled, means of transportation! Are they crazy!? Who are these rebels?
These people are called “runners.”
And, yes, they’re (we’re) a little nutty.
Running is an ancient sport, probably one of the oldest known to our primate species. Once upon a time, homo sapiens (that’s us) used running as a means of obtaining sustenance, tracking hard-to-catch prey across the plains or through wooded forests. These days, it seems runners are only on the trail of catching their next PR (personal record), or swag goodie bag at the end of a race.
But running remains one of the most effective and gratifying forms of exercise or leisure. Running aids in weight loss and weight management, relieves stress, can be a great social activity, is a form of meditation (on those long runs, one’s mind becomes quite clear), offers a great challenge to oneself, and induces a great natural high (really, the only kind of high we endorse). And, believe it or not, even in the coldest of climates, running can be a four season outdoor sport, though treadmills and indoor tracks do make for tempting alternatives in times of inclement weather.
From time to time our Everspring team will be presenting blog entries on the subject of running, covering everything you need to know: from selecting gear and body mechanics, to staying injury free and preparing for races. We’ll even delve into the running lexicon, demystifying such terms as gradual pickups, aerobic intervals, splits, yassos and Fartleks, and how to not snicker when speaking them aloud.
So, whether you are a running novice or a gifted marathoner, there will be a little something for everyone. Feel free to contact us with any questions or comments you may have, and we can try to incorporate those into upcoming blogs.
"Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders."
-Andrew Weil, M.D.
What could be more natural than breathing? Most people don't realize that breathing, something each of us experiences around 20,000 times each day, can deeply influence our health and happiness on many levels. Our daily lifestyles can be very chaotic and a fast paced life leaves many of us feeling fatigued, anxious and depressed about our daily experience. At times this can leave us unable to cope with the many stresses of daily life. While these symptoms may be negative they are also our body’s way of telling us to slow down and to take a few deep breaths. A daily breathing ‘recharge’ or ‘reboot’ is something we can all benefit from.
Building self awareness is very beneficial when we seek to enhance the quality of our daily life. Before we discuss specific breathing techniques, let’s try to build our awareness of ourselves when we breathe. What kind of ‘breather’ are you- chest or belly- nose or mouth? By changing the way we breath can reduce stress, benefit our immune response thus improving our quality of life.
Try a simple breath awareness exercise: Place one hand on your chest and one hand on you abdomen. Take a normal breath while looking down. Now, if the hand on your chest rises first, then you tend to breathe from your chest. If the hand on your abdomen rises first, you are more of a belly breather. To find out whether you are a nose or mouth breather, unless you already know, just ask a friend or your partner or some in your family. Chances are they’ve noticed if you’re a mouth-breather.
We may also notice that we breathe from the chest and neck when we experience times of stress. When we experience long-term low grade stress shallow chest breathing can become our normal mode of breathing over time which reenforces the cycle. Yet, in as little as two minutes, our bodies will respond positively if we take the time to consciously observe the way we breathe. Deep breathing into the belly, through the nose provides the greatest benefit for calming mind, relaxing the body and helps us to increase our energy during the day. When we breath in this manner we know that science suggests we have improved nitric oxide levels just one of the many supporting constituents of our body's ability to repair from stress.
Let’s practice a very simple deep breathing exercise. We will do away with fancy names and complicated exercises. This is just basic daily deep breathing and with practice you may find that you are letting yourself breathe a little deeper each day while your body and mind are reaping all the health benefits!
Simple deep breathing
The most basic thing to remember is that your breath begins with a full exhalation. We can’t fully inhale until we empty our lungs completely. It is also important to breathe in through your nose as we fill the lungs with fresh air.
Sit in a comfortable position with your hands on your knees. Relax your shoulders and close your eyes slightly so that we are more aware of our body. On your first exhalation, breathe out slowly through your nose, counting to five. Contract your abdominal muscles while drawing in your diaphragm to help your lungs fully deflate. At the bottom of your breath, pause for two counts; now inhale slowly to the count of five. Expand your belly as you breathe all the way in. Notice how your belly is expanding instead of your chest. Now close your eyes and repeat 5–10 times. Think of your diaphragm as the pump and imagine your belly as a flexible balloon filling with air, as if your lungs expand down into your abdomen.
Focus on listening to the sound of your breath. It’s very common that your mind wanders during this practice, but don’t worry. Just let that thought be and refocus on your counting. If you can count 24 deep breaths you are making great progress. As your awareness of your breath increases, you’ll find that it becomes easier to breathe deeply.
Give yourself the opportunity a few minutes each day to calmly be with yourself, to relax your mind for a moment and allow yourself to just simply breathe.
Returning back to my native MN from a life in the tropics, I brought with me a few treasured souvenirs: a fading tan, a jar of sunshine (which may have a leak), and a newfound appreciation for the wonders of turmeric root. Along with the sand, sea, and exotic plant life, the tropics offer some pretty heinous jungle-strength infectious organisms. It was as a result of one of those nasty buggers that I was first introduced to the healing, protective effects of turmeric root.
The Hawaiian Kahuna L'au Lapa'au (the native hawaiian herbalist) that I desperately sought for advice suggested taking a spoonful of crushed, raw turmeric root ('Olena in Hawaiian) mixed with honey each morning to help reduce inflammation and improve immune function. I was happily amazed with the results, and soon I learned how people have been been benefiting from the properties of turmeric root since ancient times, in cultures around the world.
In India, turmeric root is used by the traditional Ayurvedic practitioners to aid the digestive system, promoting proper metabolism proteins. Curcumin, one of the active ingredients in turmeric, has been shown to stimulate the gallbladder to induce the flow of bile, which breaks down fats. It protects and detoxifies the liver. It is used to strengthen the circulatory system, purify the blood, (228) prevent blood clot formation, lower cholesterol and prevent the accumulation of plaque in the arteries. Traditional Chinese Medicine also uses it for its mood-lifting abilities.
With so many positive health benefits, it's no surprise that many folks in Minneapolis are starting to incorporate turmeric root into their diets. What's more fun than a daily spoonful of turmeric? How about trying a tasty Indian curry instead? Turmeric is one of the three staple spices used in traditional Indian curries, giving them the distinctive yellow color. For a fun infusion of turmeric in your day, try one of these mouth-watering recipe ideas.
Breakaway Cook Eric Gower gives a great interpretation of Jehanghir Mehta's Turmeric Chips featured on Iron Chef. To try the recipe yourself, thinly slice turmeric root and fry it up in walnut oil or olive oil and butter with sea salt and black pepper. Sprinkle these on top of fish, salads, or soups, or nibble on the tasty morsels all by themselves. For more info by the Breakaway Cook Read More
Add a pinch of it to egg salad. It adds a nice flavor and gives the egg salad a rich yellow hue.
Gyrotonic® offers an alternative or complement to the linear and often more compressive work traditionally performed in the gym. It is a holistic movement system that gently guides you to greater flexibility, strength, stamina, range of motion and fluidity. Incorporating principals from yoga, tai chi and swimming, Gyrotonic can be ideal for those who do not think of themselves as athletic. Yet, it is also perfect for athletes, looking to improve their performance.
A series of rhythmic exercises performed on equipment and guided by a trainer, help clients find a deep sense of mind-body connection that brings a meditative present-moment experience. The result? While you’re ‘working’, you are absolutely focused. Time flies. This is the very definition of joy.
It is three-dimensional, working the joints in their full range. A weighted pulley system offers resistance and assistance to help clients more deeply connect to supporting muscles and fascia system. Improving the fitness of the connective tissue helps heal and prevent injury, while improving posture. Good posture not only looks better; it has been linked to better overall health and a positive outlook on life.
Gyrotonic is non-judgmental. Working one-on-one, clients are able to get a diagnostic of their own bodies; where the body seems stagnant and unresponsive to the mind’s most insistent commands and where the body is connected -- fluid, graceful and strong. It’s appropriate for all ages and fitness levels. Heed your body’s yearning to move. To be embodied is a gift in itself.
Everspring Living is an online health magazine dedicated to the mission of “Quality of Life Renewed”. The concept of “Everspring Living” is rooted in the belief that every day is a new day, a new spring, for us to seek personal growth and renew a commitment to seek a life more refined.
Our bodies are the single physical tool we use for everything we do. Understanding our physical constitution helps us better understand our potential for productivity. The Everspring Body represents a renewed daily commitment to our body and a desire to better understand our physical resources.
The concept of the Everspring Spirit is one that reminds us to embrace our true nature. The human spirit is the core of our existence and a resource of unlimited potential. The spirit is the source of all that we are and all that we can be. It is resource that is inherently “Ever Spring” and the shared source from which we all exist.
Often referred to as the “source of the thousand springs” a healthy mind is arguably our most important asset. Our concept of the Everspring Mind stems from the elucidation of the quote above where the mind is the source of ideas and thoughts that seemingly spring up from a deeper source.
Stick a pin in ... sports injuries
Many injured athletes use acupuncture for relief. When he was playing in the NFL, former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber turned to it frequently for his muscle strains. "It helps your body recover from injury faster," says Marianne Fuenmayor, MSLAc, chairwoman of the acupuncture department at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in New York City. One theory, according to Dr. Cheng, is that your body may respond to the needles by further increasing the flow of oxygenated blood to the injured area, which helps speed the healing process.
Science says: You should see your doctor if you're injured, but if he or she says you don't need any treatment beyond rest, then ask if it's OK to go to an acupuncturist to help manage the pain or discomfort. "I've used it very effectively to treat ankle sprains, muscle soreness, tennis elbow, and tendinitis," says John Cianca, M.D., a rehabilitation specialist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the president of the American Road Race Medical Society.
A Johns Hopkins study in 2009 found that people with chronic tendinitis or arthritis who had 20-minute acupuncture sessions twice a week for six weeks had less pain and disability than people who only thought they were receiving acupuncture (the needles didn't penetrate the skin). Additionally, a 2008 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that participants who were jabbed for muscle soreness 24 and 48 hours after they exercised to exhaustion reported significantly less pain than people who didn't receive the treatment. Even if you have a few aches or past injuries, you can reinvent your body into a stronger, slimmer version of your younger self—just follow this 4-week transformation plan.
Stick a pin in ... anxiety and depression
A little setback—say, your team falling behind in the playoffs—can trigger mild anxiety. A big bummer—losing your job, for example—can cause serious depression. In either case, acupuncture can help. "In the recent recession, I've been treating a lot of men who are under stress," says Nicholas Zimet, a licensed acupuncturist with Prime Meridian Acupuncture in Minneapolis. "After treatment, they feel more relaxed and able to deal with the pressures of life." Why the mental boost? When needles enter your earlobes, hands, or feet, Dr. Cheng says, your brain releases neurotransmitters and other chemicals that affect stress and mood.
Science says: A recent study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that depressed patients with severe anxiety can benefit from acupuncture. The study, which paired acupuncture with the medication fluoxetine (a generic form of Prozac) also reported benefits for patients who couldn't tolerate the side effects commonly caused by the medication, including decreased sex drive, difficulty maintaining erections, and delayed ejaculation. Not a bad tradeoff. Feel queasy about needles? Then use these 52 tricks to conquer and control stress instead.
Stick a pin in ... back pain
Treating back pain is by far the most common reason people turn to acupuncture. "It simply works much better than any of the pills we prescribe," says Dr. Cheng. Just as with sports injuries, the needles seem to increase blood flow to muscles and tissues. (Sometimes the practitioners will also run electric current through the needles. Physical therapists have been using electrical stimulation for years to promote healing, and Dr. Cheng says the needles help the current travel deeper into the muscles.)
Science says: A University of Michigan study in 2009 backed up Dr. Cheng's assessment. The researchers used brain imaging to see how needling the skin affects the brain's ability to control pain. "Acupuncture seems to help pain receptors in the brain bind more easily to opioids such as endorphins, our body's natural painkiller," says Richard Harris, Ph.D., co-author of the study. It also helps the receptors bind to painkilling drugs such as codeine or morphine. And the better those work, the less you hurt. That applies to more than your back—check out expert advice on how to ease all of life's frustrating pains—from heartburn to hemorrhoids.
If you decide to give accupunture a try, look for a licensed or a medical acupuncturist. States issue the licenses (which may require certification), and most use examination results from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. (Search its database at nccaom. org.) A licensed, NCCAOM-certified acupuncturist has graduated from an accredited school and passed NCCAOM's exam, and has at least 1,800 hours of training. Medical acupuncturists (DABMA or FAAMA) are board-certified physicians who've had training approved by the American Board of Medical Acupuncture. Search for one at medicalacupuncture.org.
Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery is the official scientific journal of the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF). The study's authors are Julia Vent, MD, PhD; Djin-Wue Wang, MD; and Michael Damm, MD.
Alexandria, VA: 1-Apr-2010 – Traditional Chinese acupuncture (TCA), where very thin needles are used to stimulate specific points in the body to elicit beneficial therapeutic responses, may be an effective treatment option for patients who suffer from persistent post- viral olfactory dysfunction (PVOD), according to new research in the April 2010 issue of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
Olfactory dysfunction can arise from a variety of causes and can profoundly influence a patient's quality of life. The sense of smell determines the flavor of foods and beverages and also serves as an early warning system for the detection of environmental hazards, such as spoiled food, leaking natural gas, smoke, or airborne pollutants. The loss or distortions of smell sensation can adversely influence food preference, food intake, and appetite.
Approximately 2 million Americans experience some type of olfactory dysfunction. One of the most frequent causes of loss of smell in adults is an upper respiratory tract infection (URI). Patients usually complain of smell loss following a viral URI. The smell loss is most commonly partial, and reversible. However, occasionally patients may also present with parosmia (a distortion of the sense of smell), phantosmia (smelling things that aren't there), or permanent damage of the olfactory system.
To date, there is no validated pharmacotherapy for PVOD, but attempts have been made to establish a standardized treatment. In the literature, systemic and topical steroids as well as vitamin B supplements, caroverine, alpha lipoic acid, and other drugs were used to treat patients. The researchers point out that in addition to these treatments, complementary and alternative medicines are currently being employed by many patients on their own, and that exploration into their usefulness by traditional Western medicine should be validated.
In the current study, 15 patients presenting to an outpatient clinic with PVOD were treated by TCA in 10 weekly 30-minute sessions. Subjective olfactometry was performed using the Sniffin' Sticks test set. Treatment success was defined as an increase of at least six points in the sticks test scores. The effects of TCA were compared to matched pairs of people suffering from PVOD who had been treated with vitamin B complex. Eight patients treated with TCA improved olfactory function, compared with two treated with vitamin B complex.
The authors acknowledge that their study is limited by its size, and that further studies should be conducted in a larger population. However, the authors write "…the observed high response rate of about 50 percent under TCA was superior to that of vitamin B complex or that of spontaneous remission, and offers a possible new therapeutic regimen in postviral dysosmia."