Getting Ready for the Ski and Snowboard Season
Ski and snowboard season is here! And, as every year, Caring Hands Chiropractic is here to help you get the most out of your trips to the slopes.
#1 Best Workout to Prepare Your Body:
There are thousands of “ski workout” articles online, all focusing on leg and glute exercises, like this article from Outside magazine or this article about the US Women’s Ski Team regimen. We won’t add to the noise. Instead, we’ll concentrate on some of the overlooked aspects of being physically ready for the demands of skiing and snowboarding.
Truth is, skiing relies mostly on “internal rotators,” smaller muscle groups that rotate towards the center of the body, and not the major muscles like hamstrings and calves. These muscles are responsible for balance and coordination, no surprise then thatthey’re the key to most winter sports. Unfortunately, most workouts tend not to help develop them.
One workout that does develop your “internal rotators,” and which Dr. Bill highly recommends, is Tai Chi. In fact, Tai Chi is just about the perfect workout to prepare for skiing and snowboarding, so good it’s almost hard to keep track of all its many benefits.
- Studies (like, Harvard Medical School studies) have shown Tai Chi is as effective as other resistance training routines in terms of building muscle, but as a routine that emphasizes slow movements and balance, it is uniquely good at training rotators. Of course, it also helps build leg strength, so a win-win.
- Tai Chi also develops flexibility and range of movement in your muscles and tendons, which is doubly important since waiting through lift lines in the cold is sure to stiffen muscles and sap flexibility. Not only will this help with performance, it will help reduce the risk of injury when falling.
- Tai Chi has been shown to improve reflexes, which are vital when sweeping down the snow at 30 or 40 mph.
- And, as an aerobic exercise, it can improve your general fitness as well, helping keep your endurance up throughout the day.
In a pinch, yoga is also an excellent choice to prepare your body for the slopes, but Tai Chi is king.
Remember to Give Your Feet Some TLC:
As a follow-up to our popular “What to Wear to Keep Feet Happy” blog, don’t overlook the importance of properly-fitted ski boots. If you are to own one piece of equipment, and rent the rest, buy properly-fitted boots, they’re that important.
What to look for when buying boots:
- Fit your foot to the shell, not the liner (the liner will wear in as with any other shoe). To do this, first remove the liner from the shell. Then insert your foot until your toes touch the front; you should be able to fit a finger or two between your heel and the shell. Next, center your foot; you should be able to place a finger between each side of your foot and the shell. If you checked all the boxes, the boot is a good fit. Though if you can find a professional fitter, all the better.
- Make sure the boots can also flex, allowing you to use the many, intricately-woven muscles of your feet.
And—partly to ensure your feet themselves are in peak condition, and partly because it feels amazing—schedule a foot massage. It’s worth it.
Of course, make sure you come in for an adjustment to ensure proper hip and lower back alignment for all the twists and turns.
Help Support the Adams 14 Education Foundation
I have long been a board member of the Adams 14 Education Foundation, helping grant scholarships to graduating seniors in Adams County School District 14 to the school of their choice. I am proud of the work the organization does for the young men and women of the community, and hope you can join me November 14th for Feast for the Foundation, a barbecue whose proceeds go towards the scholarship fund (read below for more details).
It’s a great way to have fun and give to a great cause. Healthy mind, body, and spirit includes a nice dinner!
What to Wear to the Gym: 5 Tips for Men and Women
Fall and winter are approaching, which means many of us will retreat indoors for exercise (not counting those who smartly escaped the hot summer by working out indoors). Let’s keep you healthy through the transition.
Unsurprisingly, we spend so much time planning and scheduling our workouts, studying and preparing the proper form for each exercise and activity, we often overlook a key aspect of working out: what we wear. When it comes to exercise, form and function go hand in hand.
If you’ve been wondering why your performance in the gym has plateaued, or find yourself suffering from soreness that lingers long past what your workout warranted, you may need to reconsider what you wear to the gym.
1. Invest in moisture-wicking clothes.
Everyone sweats. As your cells convert fats and sugars into usable energy to power your workout, 50-60% of the energy produced is lost in the form of heat. All that heat pools in your body, raising your body temperature, and sweat is the body’s natural reaction to prevent overheating. What’s the danger of overheating? Dehydration and muscle cramps, resulting in tight muscles, soreness and misalignment.
To successfully cool you down though, sweat needs to evaporate off the skin. Don’t put your faith in breathability alone. Natural fabrics like cotton absorb sweat and can trap it against the skin, not allowing the heat to dissipate. Not to mention that absorbed sweat is heavy to carry around and starts to stink awful quick. Much better to invest in performance fabrics that wick sweat away.
Pro tip: If exercising outdoors in the cold, you’ll start cold and get hot. Manage the change in body temp by layering and removing layers as you heat up.
2. Find the happy medium between loose and fitted.
Obviously, you want freedom of movement when exercising. Anything that restricts your movement in the slightest should be burned, since it will force your muscles to strain or compensate in unfamiliar ways, adding stress on your body and increasing the likelihood of injury. But being buried in fabric is just as bad. You risk getting tangled up in machinery or your own clothes, also increasing the likelihood of injury. Not to mention, you are more likely to show unwanted skin. So look for somewhere in between.
Luckily, there are many form-fitting, but very stretchable fabrics out there. Especially look for a little spandex (also known as elastane or Lycra®) in the label. Most stretch fabrics can only stretch in two directions, spandex is a 4-way stretch fabric, capable of stretching crosswise and lengthwise.
Pro tip: workout clothes tend to be smaller and more form-fitting than similarly-sized regular clothes.
3. Use compression clothes to speed recovery.
Studies have shown that compression clothes can not only improve performance, but can speed up recovery by reducing inflammation and, hence, soreness. In fact, those same studies determined that even if you apply the compression clothes after your workout, you receive the same benefit. So even if you don’t like working out in them, they’re well worth throwing on after you’re done.
4. Match sure you have the proper gear for the activity.
- So you want to be hip and take a spin class? Make sure you wear cycling shoes to preserve energy and keep from cramping up.
- Have I recommended you try yoga or tai chi? Invest in yoga clothes and a pad for the necessary flexibility and grip when stretching.
- Want to build muscles by lifting weights? Wear workout gloves that wrap around your wrist to provide and distribute weight and pressure.
Everybody has something that flops and dangles, but depending on your gender, you need opposite solutions.
Women’s Apparel Men’s Apparel
5a. Tips for Women:
It goes without saying that a sports bra is a must. But what doesn’t get as much coverage is how to choose the best bra for your body. First, if you haven’t yet, have a professional fit you for a bra. The results may be life changing. I recommend a bra-fitting at Colorado’s own Sol Lingerie, which also carries a line of Prima Donna sports bras.
Next, choose the appropriate bra. Low-impact sports bras work best for yoga or walking, while high-impact bras are ideal for interval training and intense cardio classes. Look for wider straps to help disperse weight and keep from digging into your shoulders. You may also look for underwire (or, at least, wider bands) to provide maximum support. And as with the rest of your clothes, look for wicking fabrics.
Pro top: Make sure to replace your sports bra every 6-9 months, as worn-out bras lose support and can lead to ligament damage. Signs it’s time to replace your trusty bra include: weakened elasticity, distorted cups that don’t lie flat against the body, or bent or protruding underwire.
5b. Tips for Men:
Men need to give their package some freedom of movement, because there’s nothing more uncomfortable than crushing them in a vice of fabric. But come on guys, nobody signed up to see what’s peeking out of those very loose gym shorts (especially if, heaven forbid, you go commando). Get fitted for some compressions shorts and wear them under your baggier gym shorts. They’ll keep you modest and help with recovery.
Received these tips too late? Need help recovering from your recent spate of workouts?
Bones, My Guide, My Companion, My Best Friend
Life is journey and through every adventure we have a guide. Sometimes it’s a person, sometimes it’s a pet. Many times, when our guide has completed their task, they part from our lives. Sometimes it’s a sudden sad departure, but we must be happy that we had them in our lives. This is one reason I strongly believe in making the most of every day (carpe diem) — we never know what tomorrow will bring us.
Therefore, it is important we keep our physical bodies in the best condition possible. This means physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Bones was my guide for seven years. We shared many fun adventures and precious moments, Bones touched many of your lives as well. He will be missed, but will always be in my heart!
Here is to Bones: my guide, my companion, my best friend!
What to Wear to Keep Feet Happy
- Avoid avoid shoes that are too flat and flexible, a la flats and flip-flops. “Flip-flops and ballet flats are the worst shoes for your feet,” says Suzanne Levine, coauthor of My Feet Are Killing Me! “There’s no support, and your toes and foot muscles constantly strain to grip the shoe as you walk.”
- But make sure the shoe you choose still has flexibility. Flex the sole to determine whether the shoe will allow your muscles and joints to move freely.
- Choose more open toe boxes. Narrow toe boxes squish your toes together, causing a lot of pain. If you can spread and wiggle your toes, you’ve found a good shoe.
- Pro-tip: shop late in the day when your feet are most swollen. This will ensure you buy a shoe that is comfortable at all times of day.
- Match the shoe to the activity. Athletic shoes are built to toe the line between flexibility and support, as your feet need both for optimum performance and comfort. But flexibility and support are tradeoffs–shoes with more support are less flexible and vice versa. Shoe designers determine where to make the tradeoff for each shoe based on the type of activity it will be used for. Hence, hiking shoes offer more support and tennis shoes more flexibility. So when choosing athletic shoes to use, make sure to choose the ones designed for the actual activity you’ll use them for.
- With fairly frequent use, you will likely need to replace them every six months. What do you expect when they’re constantly being beaten with force equal to 3x your body weight? That’ll wear rubber and foam down quick.
For Nights Out
- No heels 3 inches or more. Heels that high pitch your body forward, straining your feet, knees and back. Heels in general are bad for your feet, but if you have to wear them, take smaller steps to keep from leaning forward too much.
And of course, if your feet are bothering you and you can’t seem to recover, come in for a chiropractic adjustment. I can help.
Preventing Cycling Pain & Cycling Injuries
The #1 piece of equipment aside from your bike is your body, and yet we often take a counterintuitive approach to tuning up our bodies: we exercise.
Don’t get us wrong, biking is a fantastic activity for building muscle, managing weight, and improving your heart health and fitness, but it doesn’t improve the mechanics of your muscles, joints and nerves, which are the parts of your body that suffer injuries and impede recovery times.
You can’t tune up a bike by riding it more and harder, you merely wear the tires and gears down faster and make the bike less usable. The same goes for body. If you don’t take care of the nuts and bolts first, not only will your performance suffer, your health will as well.
Here are the 6 things to remember about your cycling health so you can maximize the season.
1. Flexibility is essential for preventing injuries
You don’t want to miss out on any of the season because you’re recovering from a fall or a tweaked muscle or are just generally sore all over. So what to do?
It may sound strange, but to avoid injury, look to how inebriated people survive falls from great height unhurt: staying limber. Our bodies are surprisingly well-equipped and well-practiced at keeping us in one piece, using self-corrective bracing and adjusting to absorb blows.
Unfortunately, tension throws a wrench in the works. Mental tension plays a role, but most tension is already baked into our muscles, from working and bad posture and stress.
To prevent injuries and recover faster, you need to make sure your muscles are limber before you get on the bike (this holds especially true for mountain biking).
- Never skip your stretching and warmups. But equally important is to remember that cycling is a whole-body workout, not just legs and glutes. Here are 10 stretches and warmups recommended by triathalon coach Scott Seamster to get your whole body ready.
- Get a chiropractic adjustment. While chiropractic care is great for post-workout or post-race recovery, it’s especially helpful at the start of the season to work out kinks accumulated over the winter months. Chiropractic care isn’t just about relieving back pain (though take it from the editor of Cycling Weekly, it does), its goal is to loosen all muscles and align nerves so you have full-body-functionality at your disposal.
And with your body functioning properly, you can expect to perform better and sustain that high-performance longer.
2. Ride at your level
There are trails, and riders to ride with, for every skill level. While pushing yourself is part of the joys of biking, there are limits to how far you should push yourself.
Keep track of what you’ve ridden and how you felt afterwards. If a ride proved too much, take a step back. If it felt like a good level, gradually step up the intensity for your next ride. And if you are riding in a group, make sure there are riders of all skill levels.
3. Proper form reduces wear-and-tear on your body
There are three aspects of cycling form to keep in mind to prevent wear-and-tear and allow you to bike farther and longer.
- Make sure you’re sitting over your seat and not leaning forward. You should be using the handlebars to steer, not for support; even shifting a mere inch back over the seat will help. When you lean on the handlebars, you compress your cervical bones and disks, making it the #1 cause of back, neck and shoulder pain when cycling. Yes, you may be a tad more aerodynamic when you lean forward, but you generate more power with your legs when you can put your back into it.
- Use your feet correctly. 1) Don’t point your toes down, you want your heel slightly back so you can use your whole leg to power, not just the muscles in your lower leg (this will help reduce the impact on your calves). 2) Your arch, not the ball of your foot, should be placed on the middle spindle of the pedal. 3) Unweight your foot at the top of the pedal stroke so you aren’t constantly mashing your feet down. This will prevent possible knee and hip injuries.
- Keep your knees in and forward. This will help avoid back and hip issues and allow you to put even more force into your pedaling.
4. Stay fueled
Eat properly so you have enough protein in your body. And stay hydrated. ‘Nuff said.
5. Make sure gear is right for your body
Okay, so it’s not all about tuning up your body, some issues come down to your bike and gear. Of course, the first place to start is with a bike fit, so head over to a bike shop to get one done immediately (and yes, your fit changes from year to year). Beyond that, consider the following:
- Cycling shoes are essential. Not only do they add efficiency to your pedaling, allowing you to use less energy and ride longer; they also keep you from going over the pedal and cramping up. If you don’t have cycling shoes, invest in some now. If you do own a pair, make sure your cleats and clips are still up to snuff when you get your bike checked out.
- Make sure you own a proper backpack. Especially if you commute to work on a bike. It shouldn’t be positioned too high or too low on the back, should distribute weight evenly, and shouldn’t be packed to the brim. This resource provides a nice overview of what to look for and options to choose from.
- For women, make sure you find the right sports bra. “No, duh,” you say. Still, this resource has several tips to help find the bra that fits best and will provide the support your body needs. It recommends a pullover soft wicking bra for cycling as it’s a low-impact activity that doesn’t require as much support.
- And wear your helmet, please. True cyclists don’t mess around when it comes to protecting their heads, because none of these tips matter if you crash and damage your brain. So, if nothing else, wear a helmet.
6. Remember to breathe
Again, something we all know, but even the best of us forget from time to time. The way I like to think about it is as a form of meditation. You’re already out enjoying the beautiful outdoors scenery of Colorado, you’re clearing your thoughts and relieving stress, so why not take the next step and focus in on your breathing? If you follow your breath in and out, in and out, even when exerting yourself up a steep hill, you’re liable to have a truly transcendental experience.
If you follow the above tips, you will have a fantastic season. Maybe I’ll see you out on the roads and trails. Or maybe I’ll see you in my studio for a chiropractic adjustment.
Ready to tune up your body?
New to chiropractic care? Curious how chiropractic unlocks the full potential of your musculoskeletal system? Want to heal pain you didn’t even realize you could heal?
Your Pregnancy Checklist – To-Do’s to Stay Healthy and Happy
by Tera Keatts
No doubt you’re full of excitement for the day you first hold your child in your arms. I know I was (and am for my 2nd!) But I also know it’s a long and anxious road to the delivery room.
So, here to help, are 10 things to remember to do before your delivery, from meditation to prenatal chiropractic care. These tips that helped me, and other women, look and feel their best along the way. Practice these and not only will your pregnancy be surprisingly tolerable, you’ll be better prepared for the delivery and your postnatal recovery.
#1 Most Important To-Do
- Relax relax relax. Easy to say, but harder to do. I love playing calming music throughout the day to block out noise and stress, while also keeping my mind from wandering to my never-ending “to do” list. I also incorporated a morning meditation into my routine, reminding me to just breath. I recommend the charming How to Meditate by Pema Chödrön for both beginners and practiced meditators. Meditation will keep you stress-free—good for both you and the baby—and keep your mind sharp.
The First Trimester
- Let people know. I’m not talking friends and family, I’m talking the people in your life you might not think to tell, specifically: dentists, trainers, chiropractors, massage therapists, and others who work on your body. If they’re HIPPA-compliant, your information will be safe in their hands. Letting them know keeps you and your baby safe and allows them to come up with a plan to see you healthily through your pregnancy.
- Beat weight gain to the punch. Every mom-to-be goes through that moment where their normal clothes no longer fit. It sucks. Start wearing flowy tops, tunics and seasonal-appropriate layers right away to avoid many of those “it doesn’t fit!” moments. Also, you might want to invest in a Bella Band and cute, comfortable flats—one size up from what you’d normally wear (your feet are going to swell).
For All Trimesters
- Buy ginger candies wholesale. The other famous highlight (not!) of pregnancy is nausea. Ginger is naturally-engineered to beat stomach ailments: it neutralizes stomach acids, relaxes stomach muscles, and speeds digestion to rid yourself of toxins. You can easily carry ginger candies wherever you go, so you’re never defenseless. Plus, they’re delicious. Win-win. You can buy 1-lb. bags of The Ginger People’s excellent Super Strength Gin-Gins on Amazon; you won’t find better bang for your buck.
- Indulge yourself. When the baby comes, you’re going to have a lot less time for the things you love. So, as long as they’re safe to do while pregnant (and ask your doctor if you aren’t sure), store up good times like a bear before a long winter.
Time for a shameless plug for my dear friend, Dr. Bill, who, full disclosure, asked if I would share my experiences here:
- Get adjusted. Following the advice of a fellow mom and “Indulge Yourself,” I went in for a prenatal chiropractic adjustment. It was so helpful, I kept going back, even after my delivery to recover. We often overlook just how completely pregnancy transforms our bodies: your lumbar spine increases its curvature; breast growth increases weight on the upper body; increased water weight causes swelling that impacts nerve function; and your pelvis opens. Our new bodies change the way we walk, sit, stand, drive, etc.Sciatica pain, false carpal tunnel, tension headaches, acute pain in the neck and shoulders, and restless sleep can all be traced back to our bodies not knowing how to handle these drastic changes. Chiropractic care (which involves far more than just your back) can alleviate much of these symptoms. It can also help reduce stress and make you feel more fluid and comfortable in your new body. Proper nerve flow also ensures better organ performance, for healthier pregnancies and babies. And, with proper alignment and looser muscles, your pelvis will open wider for easier deliveries. I guess what I’m saying is that it is wonderful!
- Stay active. Contrary to outdated science, prenatal exercise makes for a healthier pregnancy, easier delivery, and faster recovery. It requires some adjustment, so find trainers with certified prenatal training to help modify your workout and mechanics to suit your new body and needs. If you’re looking for a workout that is especially wonderful during pregnancy, consider Tai Chi, the most graceful of martial arts. Described as “meditation in motion,” this low-impact exercise is great for reducing stress and improving balance and flexibility—a must for carrying your new weight. If interested, click to learn more. Or watch the renowned Master Gāo, the most decorated Tai Chi practitioner ever, in action below.
- Meet with a nutritionist. You’re eating for two now, and while cravings are often your body telling you what you need (so don’t feel too guilty about them), it’s great to have the advice of other experts. Food is basically magic: eat right and not only will you better manage your weight and keep your baby healthy, you can manage hormones and moods, find deeper reserves of energy, sleep better, and on and on. Your OB will have a lot of advice, particularly about prenatal vitamins, but a certified nutritionist can help unlock benefits from the rest of your meals.
- Share your experiences. Take advantage of opportunities to talk with other women who are expecting or have gone through pregnancy—either friends and family, or other women seeing your OB. Don’t be afraid to share (or vent about) even the grossest or most unflattering stuff. Although no two pregnancies are the same, everyone struggles, often with the same issues. The women you talk with will lend empathetic ears and give you the support you need. And though you want to relax, don’t bottle up or pretend your emotions don’t exist. Sometimes getting your emotions of your chest and mind is the healthiest thing you can do.
#2 Most Important To-Do
- Listen to your body. You know how you’re feeling better than anyone; be it emotional turmoil, gut feeling or physical pain. Be open and honest with your healthcare providers about everything you’re experiencing, especially if it’s your first child. They can help. And if anyone waves those feelings away, or, worse, tries to tell how you should be feeling, call their “BS” and seek another opinion.
I hope I have helped! If you want more help and are interested in learning more about chiropractic care for maternity, schedule a free consultation with Dr. Bill today.
Get a Chiropractic Adjustment Before Spring Break
Spring breaks are coming up and whether you’re lounging on a beach in Mexico or ice-hiking in the Cascades, chances are your body will not be relaxing as much as your mind.
Vacation puts our bodies in unfamiliar situations and positions—mundane things like airplanes and strange beds; even the exciting things, like touring Paris for miles on foot or clenching every muscle in our body as the roller coaster drops, can throw your body for a loop.
So make sure to get in for a chiropractic adjustment before you go, so nothing holds you back from good times. And after you return, before trying to dive straight back into your normal life, come in for another adjustment to recover.
This way you can be sure your body will return from vacation as rested and raring to go as your mind.
Travel Tip from Bones: If you’re kenneling your canine friend or leaving them with a friend for your vacation, make sure to leave them with a familiar item of yours that smells of you. It puts my mind at ease, though between you and me, Dr. Bill is more broken up about leaving me behind.
Have a Happy Vacation!
The key to happiness? Try a little selfishness.
Living a good life is all about maintaining a happy and healthy balance of mind, body and spirit. Many of us find that helping and putting other people’s needs before our own helps, but over time this can backfire. If we don’t take care of our needs as well, we’ll end up the ones needing the assistance of others.
If, like many people, you have become the caretaker to an elderly parent, the overworked breadwinner, the taxi driver shuttling family members all over, or are just dealing with personal stress, it’s time you took a moment for yourself.
Taking just 2-3 hours a week to keep your own body functioning properly isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. If you suffer from misalignment, keeping a chiropractic adjustment in your schedule is very important to staying balanced in your own life. But there are many other ways to treat yourself and keep your mind, body and spirit on track.
Many of my healthcare partners are offering specials to my patients to keep them on track. This includes Greg Dyer who is offering my patients a free week of personal training during January. Please contact him to take advantage of this kind offer: Greg@BirthdaySuitTailor.com. If you need something else, just ask when you come in for an appointment and I’ll refer you to the wellness partner that can help.
Embrace Life’s Pickles
Life is a journey, bringing each of us new experiences everyday. Sometimes these experiences can put us in a pickle resulting in spinal misalignment or muscle spasms. But don’t worry you have us! Caring Hands the body mechanic is always there to correct these issues and send you back on your journey.
So embrace life, embrace both the good times and the pickles. Both types of experiences enrich your life, and neither will knock you out permanently.
Which, speaking of embracing pickles, November 14 is National Pickle Day! We’re fairly confident you won’t hurt yourself eating pickles, but just in case, we’re here for you.