Dr. Laura’s Veggie Wraps

Veggie Wraps: Easy Quick and Simple Lunch

 The collard greens make great wraps, warm or cold.

Ingredients:

Sprouted Mung beans, cooked according to package.

Quinoa, cooked according to package

2 tbsp olive oil.

Collard leaf greens

Cooking Quinoa:

Generally quinoa needs twice the amount of water to cook. You bring it to a boil without the lid, then turn it down to a simmer, add the olive oil, cover the pot and give it 15 min or so.

Quinoa is high in protein and, for most, very easy to digest. Gluten free quinoa grown in Canada is available at Costco and most local grocery stores.

Cooking Mung Beans:

Sprouted mung beans should be rinsed in a sieve with water, placed in the pot and then covered with three times the amount of water than beans. Bring them to a boil with out the lid, then turn down and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse again.

Mung beans are a cooler neutral food with a sweet flavour. Mung beans detoxify, improve digestion and alleviate inflammation in the body. They are also useful in the treatment of edema (swelling) of the lower extremities, high blood pressure, impatience and restlessness. I found sprouted mung beans by the Sasha Bread Co. at Longo’s in Guelph, and they are commonly available at most local grocery stores.

The quinoa and mung beans may be mixed, then placed into small jars like the one pictured above. these can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for up to a month. Easy to grab and go for lunch.

Collard Greens

Collard greens are a part of the cabbage family and therefore are helpful to detoxify. They help both phase I and II liver detoxification and provide a good source of fiber. It’s a dark leafy green so a good source of magnesium as well. Break off the end and eat it or tuck it up into the quinoa and mung bean mix and make your wrap. They can be eaten raw, or lightly steamed. To steam, rinse then place on a plate and put in microwave for 30 seconds.

Plastic Free Beeswax Wrap

I make wraps travel well in a beeswax dipped cotton cloth. It’s a bit sticky so it sticks when you fold it. Mine was a gift. I’ve seen them at Goodness Me! and Stone Store in Guelph, and also found a great recipe to make your own plastic free food wrap.

From the heart and kitchen of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Dr. Phil Shares: How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

Designer water bottles. Pre- and post-workout supplements. Two-hundred-dollar shoes!

When you’re new to exercise, sometimes the hardest part isn’t the workout itself—it’s all the details around it. So many ways to go astray.

That’s why we asked six fitness and nutrition experts for their tips to avoid some of the most common workout mistakes. From what you should be eating before a workout to what you should be wearing, dodging these fitness fails won’t just make you look like a pro, it’ll make your workout routine more effective, too.

1. Wearing the Wrong Shoes

“There are different shoe types for a reason. Tennis demands a lot of side-to-side movement, running on a trail requires [enhanced stability and grip], and you’ll probably be doing some vertical jumping when you play basketball. If you’re wearing training shoes with little to no support when you’re running around a tennis court, you’re more likely to get an injury in your foot or ankle. Getting the right type of shoe for your sport will help you stay with it for much longer.”Alicia Clinton, Ohio-based ACE personal trainer and Pilates instructor

2. Wearing the Wrong Clothes

This tip is my own, as it’s one workout mistake I learned the hard way. Wearing baggy cotton T-shirts and sweats seems like a great idea (you get to hide your body, and hey, they’re comfy!), but there’s a reason everyone else in yoga class is wearing technical fabrics: cotton holds sweat close to your body. Technical fabrics wick it away.

You don’t have to buy anything that’s form-fitting or expensive, but wearing clothes made from technical fabrics engineered for exercise instead of pajamas or old sweats will help you be more comfortable. And, if you feel good, you’ll be more likely to stick with your workout routine.

3. Pushing Your Body Past It’s Limits

This one sounds like a big “duh,” but it’s surprising how many people get into a gym for the first time in months (or years) and attack the cardio machines or weight rack like their hiatus never happened

Take a knee, champ.

“When you’re just beginning a workout routine, it’s important to know that your body needs time to adjust to your new activity level. With time, our bodies can become quite well-adapted (to any routine), but the key for long-term success—physically and mentally—is to start small and work toward your goal. Injuries can happen if you go all out right away, which in turn can lead to feelings of frustration that don’t help your cause.” —Clinton

4. Not Hydrating Properly

Everyone knows they’re supposed to stay hydrated. But a lot of people don’t know how to do it right.

A good way to gauge how much water you need is by weighing yourself. Check your weight before and after you work out, and replace that loss. So if you weighed 150 before you started your CORE DE FORCE workout, and you weigh 149 afterwards, drink 16 ounces of water. For endurance athletes or during extreme exercise of 30 minutes or more when you’re sweating a lot, use that same fluid requirement but include electrolytes—the best is a low-sugar option like Beachbody Hydrate.

“If you’re doing something like a 30-minute walk, you don’t need any of this. If you go on a 30-minute run [or do an intense 30-minute workout], you might need that extra hydration. And if you’re taking a 105-degree hot yoga class, you need to replenish fluids and electrolytes.” Paige Benté, MS, RD, nutrition manager at Beachbody

5. Not Timing Your Workouts with Your Eating Habits

Would you take your car out on a long road trip without first filling up the tank? Of course you would! That’s why you have to bum everybody out 20 minutes after leaving by pulling over to stop at Gas-N-Cigs. In the gym, this is just as big of a choke.

“You want to make sure you have enough fuel to support your workout. At least an hour before, have a small snack with easy-to-digest carbs. When in doubt, reach for a piece of fruit or veggies and hummus—something that will sit light in your stomach.” Olivia Wagner, Chicago-based RDN, LDN, personal trainer and certified health coach

And don’t forget to eat after your workout, too. You need to give your muscles the nutrients they need to grow and repair, and if you’re doing endurance work, you also need to replenish your glycogen stores.

How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

6. Ignoring the Importance of Diet in General

You’ve likely heard the adage “You can’t outrun a bad diet.” It’s true, so heed the advice to avoid one of the most common workout mistakes. If your eating habits aren’t aligned with your fitness goals, you’ll never hit them. Step one in upgrading your diet is to reduce your consumption of added sugar (according to the government’s new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, such foods should comprise no more than 10 percent of your diet).

“Many active people eat too many carbs—especially simple carbs like sugar—and don’t pay nearly enough attention to fat and protein. Make sure every meal contains a balance of protein, fat, and fiber. Neglecting these suggestions will yield poor blood sugar control, higher insulin levels, increased fat storage, and decreased fat burning.”- Bob Seebohar, M.S., R.D., CSSD, C.S.C.S., a sport dietitian and owner and founder of eNRG Performance

Want to make things easy on yourself? Beachbody’s Portion Fix containers make it simple to figure out how much you should eat of different food types, helping you to consume just the right amount of protein, veggies, carbs, and more, depending on your body type and goals.

7. Only Focusing on the Muscles You Can See

In the pursuit of head turning muscles, many people focus only on those they can see in the mirror—pecs, shoulders, arms, and abs. Since most people are already “anterior dominant”—meaning they more frequently use the muscles on the front of their bodies—such one-sided training often worsens existing postural and performance issues.

“Overemphasizing the front side of your body can lead to muscular imbalances, a hunched posture, and an increased risk of injury.” – Yunus Barisik, C.S.C.S., author of the blog, Next Level Athletics

To balance your upper body, perform two pulling exercises (chin-up, row) for every pushing exercise, such as the overhead press or bench press. To balance your lower body, perform two sets of hamstring-dominant exercises, like the deadlift or kettlebell swing, for every set of a quad-dominant exercise, like the squat or lunge. After a few months (read: once your posture and musculature balance out), you can switch to one-to-one ratios, says Barisik.

8. Skipping the Warm-Up and Cool-Down

It’s great that you’re excited to get to your workout, but a warm-up shouldn’t be optional. Before you jump into beast mode, take a few minutes to get your body ready for an intense workout with an active warm-up that includes dynamic (movement based) stretching, which can help improve performance and prevent injury.

Once you finish the final rep at the end of your workout, cool down with a few minutes of stretching, foam rolling, or both. “Warming up before a workout will help your muscles be ready to work harder and faster, and getting stretches in after a workout as you cool down will help accelerate recovery.” — Clinton

9. Skipping Recovery Days

If you think recovery days are only for the weak, think again. They’re actually a crucial part any fitness regime.

“Our bodies, like our minds, need rest. Just like we go to sleep every night, we need time to relax our bodies. Exercise is stressful, and if we don’t allow ourselves to recover—no matter how well we’re eating or exercising—we’re not going to get stronger.” —Wagner

“Muscles don’t grow during workouts, they grow between them. That’s one of the primary reasons why recovery days are just as important as workout days–the latter provides the stimulus for growth, and the former provides the opportunity for it to happen. Also, if you never give your body sufficient time to recover, not only will your workout performance suffer, but you’ll also shortchange your results and increase your odds of injury.” – Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S, senior fitness and nutrition content manager at Beachbody

10. Doing the Same Workout All the Time

After searching tirelessly for a mode of exercise you actually enjoy, it can be a relief to finally find the right one. But beware! Comfort can be the enemy of progress. Doing the same exact workout all the time, whether that’s running the same route at the same pace or always going to the same yoga class, doesn’t give your body the variety it needs to change and improve. You need to incorporate periodization (strategic variation) into your training plan to keep your results coming.

“The reason why most people see their results stagnate is that they do the same one or two workouts day after day, week after week, month after month, and even year after year. That’s why Beachbody programs include multiple different workouts, and don’t last longer than 90 minutes.” – Thieme

In search of a workout that can help you reach your goals and lead to your dream results? Head over to Beachbody On Demand for tons of options, including everything from sweat-inducing HIIT workouts to low-impact yoga classes to muscle-building strength programs.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura: 11 Ways to Use Plants as Medicine

11 Ways to Use Plants as Medicine

Plants are essential to us. They provide food, healing and medicine. Learn 11 different ways plants can be used as medicine.

1. Plants as Food – Food as Medicine

PHYTOCHEMICALS

There are more than 5,000 phytochemicals identified plus many we suspect still remain unknown. Turns out, Mother Nature has packed a punch of power in the plant kingdom.

Many plants contain one or more of these 5,000 nutritional perks that helps us:

  • Defend against pathogens, parasites, and predators.
  • Protect against chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, neuro-degeneration, and cancer.
  • Purify and renew the blood
  • Nourish
  • Cleanse body of toxins
  • Stimulate effects
  • Relaxing effects
  • Anti-inflammatory

2. Extractable in water as TEAS and DECOCTIONS

  • Teas use the leaf or flower dried, then steeped in hot water
  • Decoctions use roots, tree barks, different seeds and nuts and are let sit over night in cool water and then brought to a boil, left to simmer for 20min.
  • Gentle
  • Will last 1-2 years if stored in a cool dry place, away for sun. Preferably in glass or stainless steel container.
  • Sip and enjoy as a drink
  • Teas in the right dose and duration, can act medicinally
  • Pour into bath to stimulate circulation, relieve cramps, break a fever, produce a sweat, detoxify the body, ease aches and pains. (Try it with ¼-1/2 cup grated ginger root in a hot bath to ease aches and pains- you can place the ginger tied up in a cheese cloth, or steep it first then add its water to the bath).
  • Herbals teas you may be made for a SITZ bath – you likely won’t be drinking these teas, but soaking your bottom end in it… different herbs can help heal perineum after birth, hemorrhoids and fissures.

3. Ground up/ mashed up applied externally as a POULTICE

  • Helps draw out pus, slivers, calms inflamed skin, eyes. Directly on skin or in a cotton cloth or gauze.
  • Potato works great

4. Cotton cloth soaked in hot herbal tea the applied to skin as a COMPRESS

  • Cover with another towel and hot water bottle. Leave in place for 20-30 minutes. Helps relieve cold, painful, inflamed, congested body parts.
  • Calendula is often helpful

 

5. Extractable in alcohol or water, sometimes glycerin  as TINCTURES

  • Alcohol most popular: it extracts alkaloids, resins, volatile oils, vitamins, minerals, tannins and more. Alcohol based tinctures will last at least 10 years.
  • Liquids- take in drop doses
  • Add to hot water to drive off alcohol if person is alcohol sensitive
  • Dried to make powder which is put into capsules or tablets
  • Professionally blended to suit individual needs. Customized and adjustable.
  • For a time, not forever.
  • Very effective and combined for many different purposes

 

6. GEMMOTHERAPY

  • Encourages the proper function of the organ and helps drive toxins out.
  • These are plant extracts made from the spring buds and embryonic tissue of trees and shrubs.

 

7. Steeped in VINEGAR

  • Organic apple cider vinegar with tarragon, basil, rosemary, thyme, and can use touch of spring tonic greens like dandelion, chickweed or nettle. Place in glass jar, secure lid and sit in sunlight for 4-6 weeks. Then strain the vinegar from the herbs using cheesecloth and store in cool dark location.
  • Goodness of the apple cider vinegar plus the herbs

 

8. Extracted through steam distillation  as ESSENTIAL OILS

  • Mostly for external use, very concentrated and potent. Often needs to be dilute in a carrier oil before applied direct to skin or in bath.
  • May be diffused – with in 3 seconds every cell in your body will be affected by the properties of the EO.
  • Facial steams- add 3 drops to a bowl of boiling water and use a towel to tent yourself over it. Inhale and steam for 8 minutes.

 

9. Herb infused oil blended with bees wax as SALVES

–     Used to help skin heal, soothe burns, soften scar tissue.

10. Essence as BACH FLOWER REMEDIES

  • Vibrational Medicine made by sun infused flowers in spring water for 4-8 hours. Mixed with oak aged brandy to produce the mother tincture.
  • Alcohol provides the most effective preservative for the vibration- maybe for decades. Without it the essence would only last a few days. Vinegar or glycerin will preserve for about 5 years.
  • After mixing up the ‘Mother’ remedy, it is succussed (pounded on the bottom of the bottle) about 100 times.
  • A stock remedy is made by a 50/50 blend of Brandy and spring water and 5 drops of the Mother, then 100 succussion.
  • A patient remedy is then made 10-50mL of 30% organic vegetable glycerin and 5 drops of the stock remedy, succus 100 times.
  • 3-5 drops three or more times daily will provide a catalyst to re-awaken natural life force within us.

 

11. Potentized as HOMEOPATHICS

  • made from plants and also animals, minerals and imponderables.
  • Any substance given to a healthy person in a suitable dose will cause that person to become ill in a specific and unique pattern
  • The same substance in its energetic dose will remove the symptoms. – “Like treats like”
  • Titrated down below the point of Avagrado’s number – no actual molecular substance left, only the vibrational & energetic properties.
  • Succussion by hand or machine. Similar process to the BACH flower remedies, using spring water or pure alcohol (vodka), then succussing many many times and subsequent dilutions.
  • Works on a quantum physics philosophy
  • When accurately prescribed can be very helpful.
  • Don’t interact with other medications, however other medications may be an obstacle to the remedy working as well as it could.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Resources:

Robinson, Karl. 1980. Homeopathy: Questions and Answers. Robinson. London.

Soule, Deb. 2011. The Women’s Handbook of Healing Herbs. A Guide to Natural Remedies. Skyhorse Publishing. New York.

Willard, Terri. 2007. Flower Essence. Emotional Alchemy and Spiritual Evolution. Wild Rose College of Natural Healing Alberta.

Dr. Laura: Organ System Screening

Organ System Screening

Detection of internal events by electrical changes in the skin is a well accepted tool in medicine.   Most are aware and have used one or more of the following medical measurement devices:

Electrocardiogram (EKG) – electrical conduction of the heart

Electroencephalogram (EEG) – electrical conduction in the brain

Oximeters- pulse-rate monitors- electrical conduction at the finger tips/ nail bed

Digitized blood pressure devices- electrical conduction at the arteries

 

Electrodermal Screening

There are also numerous points on the skin that correspond to other organs.  Acupuncture uses this theory regularly as small openings in the fascia expose a wealth of nerve fibres that can be stimulated to correct imbalances in the corresponding organ. This system of medicine has been used to bring balance in health for thousands of years.

Dr. Reinhold Voll helped advanced this theory in the 1950’s when he applied a small electric current to acupuncture points and received a similar response to acupuncture. Dr. Voll mapped numerous sites on the skin to their corresponding organs  and called the process electro dermal detection, or electrodermal screening (EDS); electromagnetic waves transferred from the site of origin of the frequency, to the detection site on the skin.

Electrodermal detection is simply a biophysical method of measuring skin resistance and electromagnetic conductance. 

In his practice and research, Dr. Voll noted that when the current passed through the body without interference, the indicator stayed balanced. While most people balance at fifty units, some may balance higher or lower, based on individuality. Generally when measuring the skin conductance at a site related to a particular organ, an indicator rising above seventy suggests inflammation, and an indicator below 40 suggests organ degeneration. A measurement that comes through but cannot be held and continues to drop indicates disruption in the cellular health of the corresponding organ. A indicator drop suggests a withdrawal of electrons. There are over 500 points where organ health can be measured on the skin. Even using the top 40 main detection sites can give a strong over all organ system screening.

Identify causes, restore balance

Introducing different electrical signals to a point can also reveal a change in conductance, which can be helpful to detect both the substance responsible for the indicator drop, and the substance that may help restore balance.

Identifying the disruptor and the balancing signals has become easier to attain through digitized codes of thousands of signals. Coded signals include pharmaceuticals, herbals, homeopathics, sarcodes and nosodes, metals, toxins, nutrients, foods, metabolic substances and many others.

Food Sensitivity Testing

One form of food sensitivity testing is to use electrodermal screening. A wave form of the food is passed through the acupuncture meridian to see if there is resistance in the body. A number of foods can be introduced and corresponding measurements and indicator drops noted. A food that measures in excess of seventy, or declines past forty should likely be avoided for one to three months, then reintroduced one at a time. Foods that fall between sixty-six and seventy should likely be reduced for a period of time to help bring balance back into the body. Foods measuring between forty-eight and sixty-five can, in general, be eaten regularly without causing strain on the body.

Electrodermal screening is a clinically useful tool in a guided elimination diet.

Knowing your food sensitivities can help reduce:

  • headaches
  • joint pain
  • heartburn
  • bloating
  • gas
  • pain
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • anxiety
  • brain fog
  • skin rashes like eczema, psoriasis, hives

References:

Speckhart, V. 2004.  An Electrodermal Analysis of Biological Conductance. Biological Conductance Inc. Virginia Beach, VA

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND 

Dr. Laura: 5 Major Factors in Menopausal Weight Gain

Menopausal weight gain is troublesome and annoying.

Menopausal weight gain can increase risks for cardiac events and insulin dysregulation.

5 Major factors in menopausal weight gain:

  • Genetics
  • Sex hormone changes
  • Sleep
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Diet

Figure out what’s going on in your body!  Learn how hormone levels, including the thyroid estrogen and progesterone, sleep hygiene, physical activity, diet and stress play a role in menopausal weight gain.

Sex hormone changes trigger menopausal weight gain

  • When the years leading to menopause set in, ovulation slows down before it stops. Ovulation is required before progesterone can be released. If you don’t ovulate, it creates irregular balances of estrogen and progesterone in the body.
  • Chemicals like BPA (plastics), cadmium, phthalates (soaps, detergents), and pesticides contribute to estrogen dominance.
  • Low progesterone against pre-declining estrogen makes for relative estrogen excess compared to progesterone. This means estrogen dominance for a time.
  • Estrogen dominance leads to poor thyroid hormone availability, reducing metabolism
  • If thyroid function is sluggish, this leads to poor estrogen clearance, more estrogen builds up in the body
  • Poor thyroid function can lead to weight gain and increase in LDL cholesterol. Elevated LDL cholesterol is linked to increase risk in cardiovascular disease.
  • As menopause progresses, estrogen declines. Estrogen decline leads to deposition of fat around the mid section.

Contributing factors to thyroid dysfunction:

  • Sagging adrenals (chronic stress)
  • Estrogen dominance
  • Low iron, selenium, iodine or zinc
  • Poor liver function
  • Poor intestinal flora.

Factors in sleep disturbance that contribute to menopausal weight gain

Poor sleep leads to disruption in balance of hormones and time for healing in the body. Lack of sleep itself can contribute to weight gain. The years of menopause are riddled with hurdles to a good night sleep:

  • decline in estrogen can disrupt sleep due to hot flushes
  • Hormone rhythm imbalance from changes in LH, FSH, estrogen and progesterone are thought to contribute to disrupted sleep patterns.
  • From a Chinese Medicine point of view, the Liver Yang rises in menopause, which explains why the sleep is typically disrupted between the hours of 1-3 am. This is why, naturopathically, we look to calm the liver, cool the body and build Yin. Acupuncture and specially blended plant medicines can be very helpful.
  • sleep apnea (in you or your partner) more prevalent in those who are overweight
  • too much technology before bed, or worse yet, in the bedroom inhibits natural melatonin let down. Relative excess of cortisol as it is unopposed by melatonin disrupts sleep and contributes to midsection weight gain

Factors in depression that contribute to menopausal weight gain

Low mood and lethargy generally lend to poor motivation for exercise and healthy habits, which leads often to weight gain.

Here are some common factors in depression and menopause:

  • declining estrogen
  • sluggish thyroid
  • poor nutrient intake
  • imbalance in the intestinal bacteria
  • inflammation in the brain (usually as a result of imbalance in the intestinal bacteria)

How  Stress Relates to Menopausal Weight Gain

In menopause, the ovaries retire and  hand over their hormone duties to the adrenal gland. This is why it is important to support the adrenals at this time. How healthy the adrenals are will dictate how well our bodies will manage the stress and the change in hormone levels. Areas we may not think about in stress that could contribute to adrenal fatigue:

  • sleep disruption
  • inflammation from infections, intestinal dysbiosis, autoimmune conditions
  • too much or too little exercise
  • poor eating habits
  • conditioned stress response (post traumic stress disorder)
  • relationships with others
  • alcohol intake
  • medications and drugs
  • overwork
  • not enough fun & play time

How diet affects menopausal weight gain

  • Generally with age, metabolism slows down and less caloric intake is required. If activity slows or stays the same and intake is not adjusted, subsequent weight gain is likely.
  • Our intestinal tract flora changes as we age, and this changes how estrogen is metabolized.

It is evident that menopausal weight can happen for a lot of reasons. Some of it is a bit of a chickened an egg, like the estrogen dominance and poor thyroid function. It doesn’t matter what comes first, but if not corrected, they build on one another.  A naturopathic doctor’s role is to look at the individual as a whole, remove obstacles, rebuild the body and stimulate natural mechanisms of healing. Women who maintain a healthy habits, hormones and weight will help stave off risks for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Solutions to menopausal weight gain include healthy diet, exercise, sleep hygiene, hormone balancing with acupuncture and plant medicines, nutritional and hormonal supplementation.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

References:

Jung SY, Vitolins MZ, Fenton J, Frazier-Wood AC, Hursting SD, Chang S. Risk Profiles for Weight Gain among Postmenopausal Women: A Classification and Regression Tree Analysis Approach. Hsu Y-H, ed. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(3):e0121430. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121430.

Franklin RM, Ploutz-Snyder L, Kanaley JA. Longitudinal changes in abdominal fat distribution with menopause. Metabolism. 2009 Mar; 58(3):311-5.

Gietka-Czernel M. The thyroid gland in postmenopausal women: physiology and diseases. Przegla̜d Menopauzalny = Menopause Review. 2017;16(2):33-37. doi:10.5114/pm.2017.68588.

Van Pelt RE, Gavin KM, Kohrt WM. REGULATION OF BODY COMPOSITION AND BIOENERGETICS BY ESTROGENS. Endocrinology and metabolism clinics of North America. 2015;44(3):663-676. doi:10.1016/j.ecl.2015.05.011.

Williams LT, Hollis JL, Collins CE, Morgan PJ. The 40-Something randomized controlled trial to prevent weight gain in mid-age women. BMC Public Health. 2013;13:1007. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1007.

Zheng Y, Manson JE, Yuan C, et al. Associations of Weight Gain From Early to Middle Adulthood With Major Health Outcomes Later in Life. JAMA. 2017;318(3):255-272. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.7092.

Karvonen-Gutierrez C, Kim C. Association of Mid-Life Changes in Body Size, Body Composition and Obesity Status with the Menopausal Transition. Parthasarathy S, ed. Healthcare. 2016;4(3):42. doi:10.3390/healthcare4030042.

Dr. Phil Shares: What Is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

Ask the Expert: What Is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

You’ve likely heard this advice countless times in one form or another, but that doesn’t make it any less true: The best time of day to exercise is when you have the most energy and motivation — in short, when you’re most likely to do it.

Sure, there are studies that extol the benefits of exercising at specific times (more on that in a bit), but as long as you’re smart about how you exercise, any kind of workout (cardio, HIIT, weightlifting, etc.) can be performed at any time of day and produce results.

In fact, scheduling your workout for the time of day that works best for you will almost always produce the most dramatic results, because it increases your odds of maximizing the most important workout variable of all: exercise adherence. Simply put, the more consistently you work out, the more likely you are to see results.

That said, if you’re flexible and don’t have a preferred workout time, you can potentially achieve your goals faster by scheduling your workouts strategically.

Potential benefits of morning workouts: Greater weight loss through improved fat burning.
Potential benefits of afternoon/evening workouts: Improved aerobic performance and faster strength gains.

When Is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

The best time to work out is when you WILL work out. That might seem obvious, but the significance of that advice can’t be overstated. Why? Because workout consistency is the most important variable of all when it comes to achieving any fitness goal.

That means that if you’re a night owl, work out at night. Morning person? Work out first thing in the morning… you get my drift. Any time you’re in the mood to really “Bring It” will work because, by far, the biggest physiological changes happen to your body when you push yourself further than you’ve pushed yourself before. There’s a reason the P90X mantra is “Bring It”: The closer you get to putting in 100 percent effort, the more you force your body into an adaptive state, which is exactly where it needs to be in order to change.

While temporal “nitpicking” can help make your fitness journey easier — lifting weights in the evening might be slightly more beneficial for building strength than doing so in the morning, for example — it can also work against you if you get too wrapped up in it. Exercise and healthy eating will always trump all other advice. I’ve seen every excuse in the book, including: “I missed my optimal window for training so I skipped today’s workout.” Don’t let this happen. Unless you’re injured, sick, or overtrained, exercising is better than not exercising, so always schedule your workout when you have the best chance of getting it done.

But if you enjoy nitpicking, and have a flexible schedule and no preference for AM or PM workouts, read on for the three best times to work out, depending on your goal

1. When your glycogen stores are full

Best for: Boosting aerobic performance, especially endurance
Best time: Late morning, afternoon, and early evening

Your body can push itself longer and harder aerobically if you begin your workout with a full tank of muscle and liver glycogen, which is the stored form of your body’s primary fuel, glucose.

Glycogen is replenished by carbohydrates, and is extinguished very quickly through exercise, brain activity, and most other tasks. This means it fluctuates throughout the day and is always highest in the hours after you digest a meal containing carbohydrates. As a result — and depending on your eating schedule — your body is probably primed for peak exercise in the late morning, afternoon, or early evening.

At night, your body can store glycogen, meaning that it’s possible to wake up and train in the morning before you’ve eaten and still have enough energy to get through a workout, but that is a theoretical scenario. Most of us, especially when we’re training hard and not eating a ton, will burn through glycogen recovering from the prior day’s activities.

The result is that those early morning workouts can lead to something called “the bonk,” which is what happens when your body runs out of glycogen. Essentially, you lose the ability to push your aerobic envelope, and you feel like you’ve hit a wall.

Bonking is not one of those “good pain” times, but it’s inevitable that it will happen to you at some point. When it does, don’t try to push through. Instead, cut your losses and get on the recovery program by eating, resting, and then reevaluating your eating schedule and/or choice of workout times.

If exercising when your glycogen stores are low (e.g., in the morning) is the only time of day available, you can fix the situation nutritionally. Eat a half (or even a whole) banana, or have a cup of watered down juice before you work out. That will boost the levels of glucose in your blood, so you won’t have to tap into your glycogen stores as much. Alternatively, you can try to top off those stores by adding an extra serving of complex carbohydrates to your evening meal. If neither strategy works (you’ll know if it doesn’t — bonking isn’t subtle), it means you’re on a nutritional edge and you aren’t eating enough total daily calories to recover from your workouts. It’s time to reevaluate your daily caloric intake.

2. When your stomach is empty

Best for: Burning fat and losing weight
Best time: Morning

In the morning, before you’ve eaten, your body is more likely to tap fat stores for energy during aerobic workouts, and you can train your body to become more efficient at doing so, which is cool. You’re also “burning fat,” which sounds even cooler. While fantastic in theory, it’s not so fun in practice if you force your body into a situation where you bonk.

You won’t bonk, however, unless you’re training at a very high intensity or running or cycling for a very long distance. This means low-intensity workouts can have added benefits if done in the morning on an empty stomach. This is why in programs like P90X Doubles, we scheduled the lowest-intensity workout of the day for the morning.

In the case of P90X Doubles, however, that lower-intensity morning workout is a strength session, and thus requires additional nutritional steps to optimize recovery. The reason is that your body doesn’t store protein, so if you strength train before you “breakfast,” you’ll put your body into a catabolic (breakdown) state, which, as you might imagine, is less than optimal for building muscle. Fortunately, it’s easy to reverse the situation: have a protein shake, like Beachbody Performance Recover, or a protein-rich meal within a half hour of completing your workout.

Here are two more weight-loss advantages of an AM workout: It can decrease your appetite and inspire you to be more physically active throughout the day, according to a study at Brigham Young University in Utah. What’s more, sweating early in the day can improve the duration and quality of your sleep later on, according to researchers at Appalachian State University. That’s important because adequate sleep (more than 8 hours a night) is associated with greater fat loss if you’re trying to slim down.

3. When your body temperature peaks

Best for: Building strength
Best time: Late afternoon/evening

Your body temperature drops while you sleep, which is one reason you might wake up stiff and lacking flexibility. The discs between your vertebrae also fill with fluid as you slumber, making them more susceptible to injury first thing in the morning. Either way, it’s best to wait at least an hour after waking before you start pumping iron or doing exercises that require you to flex your spine (e.g., crunches), especially if you suffer from back pain. And if you can wait to work out until later in the day, all the better.

Here’s why: Your body temperature climbs throughout the day, peaking between 4:00 and 6:00 PM. As it rises, so too does muscle strength and power, according to a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. What’s more, Scottish researchers report that exercise-induced increases in testosterone production are greatest in the late afternoon and early evening.

In sum, if you’re looking to maximize strength gains, it’s best to schedule your workout for after work, or even during your lunch hour, rather than trying to cram it in before you leave for the office. But there’s always a “but,” and in this case, it has to do with a principle known as “temporal specificity,” which states that your body will adapt to be strongest at the time of day during which you normally train. So while you might initially benefit from late afternoon strength workouts, you’re better off scheduling those workouts for (you guessed it) whenever they’re most convenient for you.

Is It OK to Exercise Before Bed?

Unless it is really the only time you will work out or the only time you feel the best, you should probably avoid it. The reason is that working out directly before bed can affect your sleep.

Most people have a hard time getting to sleep after a workout because exercise can throw off your melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, among other things. This isn’t ideal because sleep is very important for recovery. It’s when your body naturally produces most of its own performance-enhancing drugs in the form of hormones. If possible, eliminate anything that hurts your ability to sleep.

Exercise also requires a lot of nutrients, which are further depleted at night. If you’re on a strict diet, perhaps trying to lose weight, you run further risk by training and then not eating to recover from the workout prior to bed. If you’re on a low-calorie diet and plan to train hard at night, you should follow your workout with a nutritional recovery strategy, such as Beachbody Performance Recharge or a small meal before going to sleep.

I’m not the norm, so I’ll play the counterpoint to my point as I can fall asleep (and often sleep much better) immediately after a very hard workout. If you’re like me, there’s nothing wrong with training at night. Just follow nutritional protocols that don’t leave you depleted and starving when you wake up. I’ve done this and it can be so severe that you wake up in the middle of the night, a common issue with bodybuilders and fitness trainers getting ready for competition. This is not ideal as it means your body is essentially bonking during sleep. And while that’s okay if your goal is to pose in front of a crowd with absurdly low body fat, like a bodybuilder, it’s also a sign of starvation and, if done too long, will cause your body to begin to shut down its metabolic processes.

The bottom line is that everyone’s body responds differently. We all need to exercise and most of us can eat better. In between are a lot of individual variables. When it comes to getting your best possible workout, psychology often trumps physiology. Exercise when you can and pay close attention to your performance. Then choose your preferred workout time based on your results. It’s really that simple.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 13 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Weightlifting Program

13 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Weightlifting Program

Weightlifting is straightforward in theory (you just, erm…lift weights, right?). But it’s a bit more complicated in practice. As a beginner to weightlifting, it’s confusing (not to mention intimidating) to figure out which muscles to target, how much to lift, and how often to work out. How are you supposed to know where to even begin with finding a good weightlifting program?

Although it might seem daunting at first, the benefits of lifting weights far outweigh any hurdles you might have to getting started. William P. Kelley, C.S.C.S, ATC, says some major benefits of weightlifting include improved strength, bone density, and heart health. Studies even suggest that it can help keep your brain sharp, as well as increase energy levels and decrease stress.

Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Beachbody’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content, notes that lifting weights is also an effective way to lose weight: “Weightlifting can help you lose fat faster than steady state cardio because it keeps your metabolism elevated for longer post workout,” he explains. “The result is that it helps you burn more total calories.”

But before you get to enjoy all the benefits of lifting weights, you first have to get started. The first step? Creating smart goals.

What Are Your Weightlifting Goals?

“Goal-setting is critical to guiding your weightlifting path,” Kelley says. Before you even choose a weightlifting program, consider what you want to get out of it. Are you training for a specific event, for general health, or with aesthetics in mind? Do you want to lose weight, build strength, pack on muscle, or achieve a combination of any or all three of those goals?

“Each objective requires a different strategy, and by identifying your goal or goals, you can identify the most effective training program to achieve it,” Thieme says. The tips below will help you do that.

If you need some extra guidance to help you get started, check out Beachbody On Demand’s weightlifting programs, like Body Beast (which focuses on muscle building) and A Week of Hard Labor (an intense, five-day weightlifting routine). Both programs can help you achieve the lean, muscular physique you’ve always dreamed of building. (See the results for yourself!)

13 Common Questions About Starting a Weightlifting Program

These 13 questions and answers will give you the information you need to start lifting weights, including basic training tips and mistakes to avoid.

1. What equipment do I need for a weightlifting program?

If you’re starting an at-home weightlifting program, dumbbells are a necessity — but having just a single pair may not cut it.

Thieme says you need different weights to effectively challenge different muscle groups. Your legs should be able to handle heavier weights than your triceps, for example. That’s why he recommends investing in a pair of selectorized (AKA adjustable) dumbbells (like this set of Bowflex dumbbells). “A single pair of dumbbells can replace an entire dumbbell rack, saving you hundreds of dollars—not to mention lots of floor space,” he says.

A bench is another useful piece of equipment for developing overall strength and power, Kelly says, although you could get by without one if you’re short on space.

Weightlifting program - equiptment

2. How much weight should I lift?

“You should always lift the heaviest amount of weight that allows you to complete all of your reps and sets for all of the exercises in your workout,” Thieme says.

If you can’t maintain proper form for the last several reps of an exercise, go lighter. If you can breeze through your reps with the last few feeling as comfortable as the first few, go heavier. The key to achieving muscle growth is to find your sweet spot, which in this case means a weight that challenges you without forcing you to sacrifice good form.

3. How many reps and sets should I do for each weightlifting exercise?

First, consider your weightlifting goals. “If you want increased strength, you should do from two to six reps per set. For hypertrophy [muscle growth] do eight to 12 reps. And for endurance, do 15 to 20 reps,” Kelley says.

As for sets, Thieme says it’s important to do multiple sets of each exercise, no matter your goal. Three sets per exercise is generally a good number, but don’t lock yourself into that. As long as you’re doing at least two and not more than five or six, you’re good. And if you want to increase your strength, build bigger muscles, and improve your muscular endurance, regularly vary the number of reps and sets you do.

“Optimal muscle growth occurs when you target both of the major muscle fiber types—I and II—and the best way achieve that is by lifting across the entire rep spectrum,” says Thieme. “Incorporate both heavy weight/low rep sets and light weight/high rep sets in your training program.”

4. Should I focus on one or two body parts a day, or do full-body workouts every time?

Both are effective strategies for packing on muscle. “The key is to work each body part or muscle group at least twice a week,” says Thieme, who suggests alternating between the two training strategies. “Do split training for two or three months, and then do total body training for two or three months.”

Your schedule is also a determining factor, Kelley notes. “If you can only work out two to three times per week, then a total body lifting program may be more efficient,” he says.

5. How many days per week should I lift weights?

How often you lift weights comes down to your goals and schedule as well, Kelley says. (Doe we sound like a broken record yet?)

“The ratio of exercise to recovery days that maximizes results and minimizes injury and overtraining risks depends largely on your current fitness level and the type, intensity, and duration of your workouts,” Thieme says. He recommends lifting a minimum of two days a week a maximum of six days.

6. Do I need to take rest days during a weightlifting program?

Yes! Giving yourself a day off from training is crucial to your weightlifting success. “Lifting days are where you [purposefully] damage muscle tissue,” Kelley says, while “rest/recovery days are when muscles repair and rebuild.” Both days are needed to become stronger.

If you don’t give yourself sufficient recovery time, you’ll sabotage your workout performance and hinder your results. “Training adaptations don’t happen during workouts, they happen between them, making recovery days just as important as training days,” says Thieme. “What people often forget is that, when it comes to exercise, more isn’t always better. You have to give your body the time it needs to respond to the training stimulus that each workout provides.”

How often you should take a recovery day depends on your fitness level, primary exercise type and intensity, age, and sleep habits, but a good rule of thumb is to take one or two rest/recovery days a week.

If you feel energized on your designated rest days, Kelley recommends active recovery activities, which facilitate blood flow to your muscles without overloading them. Yoga and light cardio (e.g., an easy jog, leisurely bike ride, or short hike) are good options. Also, don’t limit warm-up and cool-down activities to warm-ups and cool-downs. Perform dynamic stretching and foam rolling every day, regardless of whether or not you’re working out.

Weightlifting program - working out

7. How do I avoid a muscle-building plateau?

There are numerous factors that contribute to muscle growth, but the key to achieving consistent gains is to regularly increase the challenge to your muscles, Kelley says. “By increasing the stress on a muscle through a principle called ‘progressive overload,’ you illicit changes in that muscle, including greater size, greater contraction force, and improved motor recruitment,” he explains.

Lifting progressively heavier weights isn’t the only way to do that. “Other ways to achieve progressive overload include decreasing the rest periods between sets, performing more complex exercise variations, and switching up the exercises you do,” says Thieme. “Even changing up your grip (e.g., from underhand to neutral) can increase the challenge to your muscles and trigger fresh growth.”

8. Can I do my weightlifting program and still do cardio and other workouts?

The short answer: yes. But you need to be strategic about it. “If your focus is weightlifting, then you should use cardio as a form of ‘active recovery,’” says Thieme.

If you do a heavy weightlifting session one day, and then go for an easy run the next, you can actually enhance your recovery (and results) from the weightlifting session by boosting blood flow—and the vital nutrient delivery and waste removal services it provides. “But a heavy weightlifting workout followed by a long, hard run or HIIT session the next day can do more harm than good,” says Thieme.

If you don’t allow your body sufficient time to recover between intense workouts, the only thing you’ll achieve is an increased risk of burnout and injury.

9. Will weightlifting make me bulky?

Lifting weights can cause men to become bulky if they focus solely and intensely on bodybuilding or pure strength training, Thieme explains, but this is rarely the case for women. Why? Genetics.

Men typically have a higher percentage of type II muscle fibers, which are bigger and have a higher growth potential than type I fibers. Plus, men produce more testosterone, which is critical for muscle building. “Women do not produce testosterone at high enough levels naturally to get bulky,” Kelley says, even if they’re lifting heavy amounts of weight. That said, a woman can still increase her muscle size through weightlifting if that’s her goal. “Studies also show that while most women can’t build as much muscle as most men, they can achieve similar increases in strength,” says Thieme.

10. How do I make sure I’m lifting with proper form?

Practicing correct weightlifting form is key to preventing injury and getting the results you want. The best way to guarantee good form? “Utilize a fitness professional [like a trainer] until you feel safe and confident in the staple lifts of your program,” Kelley says.

If you’re working out on Beachbody On Demand, pay attention to the trainers as they explain the correct starting stance, movement pattern, and key form points for each exercise, as well as which muscles to engage during the moves. Having a friend observe you can also help you keep your form on point.

Weightlifting program - proper form

11. How long should I follow a weightlifting program?

In general, Kelley recommends maintaining a specific weightlifting program for three to five weeks before you mix it up. “This gives the muscles time to adapt and grow in the current program; then, just as they acclimate, you tweak the program slightly to keep progressing,” he explains.

Perhaps more important than the timeline, however, is paying attention to the way your routine makes you feel. “If you haven’t increased the weight you’re lifting after a few weeks, or if you’ve noticed a significant drop in your motivation, it’s time to switch things up,” Thieme says.

Of course, if you follow a professionally designed program, like you’ll find on Beachbody On Demand, knowing when to switch things up isn’t even a concern. “Such variation is built into the program, eliminating the stress and guesswork for you,” says Thieme.

12. What should I eat before and after a workout to maximize my performance?

Before a weightlifting workout, focus on carbs, which will help top off your energy stores. The key is to choose something that you can digest before you start exercising. A piece of fruit is a good choice if you have 30 minutes or less until you work out. If your workout is still an hour out, our go-to recommendation is a piece of whole grain toast with nut butter.

Post-workout, the most important factor is protein, which can help facilitate muscle growth and speed recovery, Thieme says. Aim for 20 grams of fast-absorbing protein (like whey) within 30 minutes of exercising. A protein supplement such as Beachbody Performance Recover makes that easy.

13. How do I know if my weightlifting program is working?

To get the most accurate and objective measure of progress, Kelley suggests recording your workouts and tracking the numbers. “If you can increase the weight you lift by five percent—or the number of reps you perform at the same weight by two reps—each week (or two), you know you are increasing strength in that specific move and group of muscles,” he explains.

Other signs your weightlifting program is working include increased appetite and physical changes like fat loss, increases in muscle size, and greater muscle definition. You can track this data by recording it in a journal or taking before and after pictures. If you don’t see signs of progress within four to six weeks of starting your weightlifting program, you may need to reassess your workout routine to see what’s going wrong.

BY:

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura: Get your GOOD Carbohydrates: Easy Roasted Veggies

FRESH, WHOLE & NATURAL

Our bodies are designed with a blueprint made many hundreds of years ago.  Our lifestyles and environment have changed a lot since then, but our bodies have not.  We need whole, real foods. This means preparing ahead, especially things like our complex carbohydrates. We need to look to root vegetables more and breads or packaged/fast food less for our carbohydrate intake.

  • Ultra-processed foods contribute over 90 percent of all added sugars to the diet
  • A 10% increase in the consumption of ultra-processed food leads to a 12% increase in the risk of cancer.

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates provide energy to think, move and build our body. Focus on slow carbs, not low carbs. This means selecting carbohydrate foods rich in fibre, a critical nutrient that slows the release of sugars into our bloodstream and helps us eliminate waste. Skip the gluten– research is clear is affects most all of us to one extent or another. It’s not always about the intestinal tract – gluten can affect skin, brain and muscles too.

Good sources of carbohydrate & fibre: Hummus/beans/lentils, sweet potato, yucca, yam, quinoa, coconut, teff, psyllium, flax, wild and brown rice, squash, celery, gluten free oats, and whole fruits like berries, apples and pears.

Preparing  roasted vegetables is one of my favourite ways to get my good carbs into my daily routine. I’ll do a tray like the above about 2x a week. Then I can place the veggies in a pyrex container and pull a few from it and chop up to top a salad or warm up to have with fresh steamed greens and my pick of protein. It’s really quiet easy- wash them up, chop them how you’d like and toss in a little olive oil. Throw a sheet of parchment paper (I buy mine at Costco) on the cookie tray for easy clean up. Place the veggies on the tray and put some salt and pepper on them. Sometimes I will add Italian spice, rosemary or maybe some fennel seeds. Convect bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes (depends on your oven and how much you liked your veggies cooked).

Pretty cool that if you eat the cooked and cooled potatoes – white or sweet – you will not affect your blood sugar the same as if they are hot. This is because a potato cooked and cooled forms a resistant starch which slows the stream of sugars into the system. The resistant starch is fantastic food (prebiotic) for the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract too! So even more reasons to chop and put on some greens and take for lunch. Also the asparagus is good prebiotic as well.

PLANT POWER

There are more than 5,000 phytochemicals identified plus many we suspect still remain unknown. Turns out, Mother Nature has packed a punch of power in the plant kingdom. Many plants contain one or more of these 5,000 nutritional perks that helps us:

  • Defend against pathogens, parasites, and predators.
  • Protect against chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration, and cancer.
  • Purify and renew the blood
  • Nourish & cleanse body of toxins
  • Stimulating effects
  • Relaxing effects
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Provides many vitamins and minerals

 

From the heart and kitchen of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Tips To Avoid Muscle Soreness

5 Tips To Avoid Muscle Soreness

One of the most enduring myths in fitness is that soreness is a sign of a good workout—an indication that you not only crushed it, but that your body is also transforming as a result. The reality, however, is that soreness and workout quality are largely unrelated. Indeed, it likely just means that you pushed yourself a little too hard, or that you’re trying something new.

Of course, that reality also makes exercised induced muscle soreness incredibly normal and exceedingly common. Nearly everyone will experience it at some point on their fitness journey, and many people find it invigorating as long as it doesn’t become debilitating.

That’s where the tips in this article come in. We can’t guarantee that they’ll allow you to avoid the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) monster altogether, but they can help you ditch the “no pain, no gain” mantra for good.

What Is Muscle Soreness?

Intense exercise can cause micro-tears in your muscle tissue, and that leads to delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. This typically develops 12 to 24 hours after a tough workout, and can linger two or three days. The most common symptoms of DOMS include slight swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion in the affected joints, and increased tenderness and reduced strength in the affected muscles.

How to Prevent Muscle Soreness:

1. Pick the correct workout program

The more you push yourself, the greater your chances of getting sore. The right program—or a trainer/coach—will ease you into exercise at a pace that your body can handle. But, you know, whatever works for your psyche is probably what you’re going to choose. And that’s okay. Just be honest with yourself, and follow the rules below if you know you’re biting off a little more than you can chew.

How to Prevent (and Relieve) Muscle Soreness

2. Start SLOW

It’s very tempting to begin an exercise program with a lot of enthusiasm, but try your best to go at a reasonable pace. If you’ve never exercised before, or if it has been a long time since you have, go much easier than you feel you are capable of on day one, and ramp things up based on how you feel after each successive workout. If you’re not sore, go a little harder the next day. If you’re a little sore, take it down a notch. If you’re very sore, then there are some steps you can take to mitigate the soreness.

If you’ve been exercising, but it’s been more than a week since you last worked out, follow the same pattern but go harder based on how fit you are. A good example to use here would be to start with about half of the workout (e.g., the warm-up, cool down, and one round of exercises). When you have a better fitness base, you can advance a little faster than if you were starting from square one. In general, take about a week to get back to giving 100 percent effort. This is also the example you want to use if you’ve been training and have taken some time off.

If you’ve been exercising, but are starting a new program, base how hard you push yourself on how much advancement there is in your program. For example, if you’ve been doing INSANITY and you’re moving into INSANITY: THE ASYLUM or P90X, you can probably give it your 100 percent (although you might want to be cautious about how much weight you begin with). But if you’re coming into one of those programs from something like 22 Minute Hard Corps or FOCUS T25, you’ll want to back off a bit from what you could achieve on those first few days. Whenever your program makes a big jump in workout duration, intensity, or training style (e.g., from all cardio to all weight training or even a combination of the two)– you’ll want to hold back a bit.

3. Minimize eccentric motion

Concentric movement is the contraction of a muscle, and eccentric movement is the lengthening of it. DOMS is is most closely associated with the latter, so if you can limit it, you might also be able to limit post-workout soreness.

If you’re doing a biceps curl, you can slow down the lifting phase of the movement while speeding up the lowering phase, for example. If you’re doing plyometric (i.e., jumping) exercises, you can jump onto a stable surface (e.g., a box or bench) and then step down instead of jumping up and down on the floor.

A lot of very popular exercise programs actually target jumping and eccentric movements. That’s because they’re highly effective tools for building power and athleticism—if your body is fit enough to handle them, which it never will be unless you proceed slowly (see tip #2) and carefully.

4. Hydrate

Dehydration plays a huge role in muscle soreness. Most people are chronically dehydrated. You can actually get sore even if you don’t exercise simply by being dehydrated. And adding exercise increases your water needs. A lot.

How much water you need varies depending on your activity level, lifestyle, where you live, etc., but an easy way to gauge it is to drink half your bodyweight in ounces each day. But that’s before you account for exercise. For each hour you work out, you should add another 32 ounces (on average). This, too, varies based on the individual, heat, humidity, exercise intensity, and so forth. But you get the idea—you need a lot of water for optimal performance.

How to Prevent (and Relieve) Muscle Soreness

Water isn’t the only factor in hydration. Electrolytes are also sweated out when you exercise and must be replaced. If you’re training less than hour per day, you probably don’t need to worry about them unless your diet is very low in sodium. But if you are working up a sweat for an hour or more, it’s a good idea to supplement with something like Beachbody Performance Hydrate, which can help to maximize fluid absorption with an optimal balance of carbohydrates and electrolytes to replace what your body loses during intense exercise.

Drinking too much water can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, in which your electrolyte levels drop to dangerously low levels. While potentially deadly, it’s also very hard for normal humans to get in everyday circumstances. That’s because you would have to drink excessive amounts of water, have very little salt, and sweat profusely for a long time. So while it’s a very real danger for, say, athletes competing in Ironman triathlons, it’s not a relevant concern for most of us.

5. Feed your muscles

Unlike fats and carbs, protein isn’t stored by the body, so if you haven’t had a protein-rich meal within a few hours of working out, have a protein shake afterwards. Doing so will ensure two things: First, that the balance of muscle breakdown and growth is shifted heavily toward the latter, and second, that your muscles have all the nutrients they need to optimize their repair and growth processes.

If your shaker bottle is filled with Beachbody Performance Recover, you get another advantage: Pomegranate extract, which a study at the University of Austin, in Texas, found to reduce exercise induced muscle soreness by an average of 25 percent. And if you also consume a serving of Beachbody Performance Recharge, our overnight protein supplement, before bed, you’ll double down on soreness-fighting phytonutrients with a dose of tart cherry extract.

What Happens If You Do Get Sore?

No matter how diligent we are, we all seem to mess this up, somehow, sometimes. Depending upon how much you skewed it, you can be back at full strength within a few days. Occasionally, you’ll go way beyond what you should have done. In such cases, you can be out up to a couple of weeks. When this happens, there are a few steps you can take to reduce muscle soreness. Stretching and massaging your muscles are two ways to get on the fast track to recovery. Check out our other tips to help you relieve sore muscles and get back to your workouts feeling better than ever.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 7 Back Stretches to Help Ease Pain and Increase Mobility

7 Back Stretches to Help Ease Pain and Increase Mobility

Do you want to lose weight, build muscle, or feel more fit? Join Beachbody On Demand, and get access to Beachbody’s world-famous programs, including 21 Day FIX®, CORE DE FORCE®, and P90X®. Don’t miss out on your chance for amazing results. Sign up today!

You don’t realize it, but every day, your back takes a beating.

Whether you spend your day on your feet or on your seat, the muscles from the base of your skull to your tailbone, and from armpit to armpit, get in on the action, keeping you upright, pulling objects toward you, and supporting and moving your shoulder blades as you reach, stretch, and extend your arms. Only when you’re lying flat do all of these muscles get to relax completely.

Is it any wonder your back feels like 20 miles of bad road at the end of a day?

Never fear: The seven back stretches below will not only help you free your flip side, they’ll also help restore proper posture and range of motion. That will make day-to-day activities like sitting and reaching easier and more comfortable.

How to Safely Stretch Your Middle, Lower, and Upper Back

The muscles of the back support and articulate the spine, so you need to exercise some caution when stretching them. Furthermore, the shoulder joint, for all its mobility (more on that later), has a downside, says Beachbody fitness expert Cody Braun: “It’s susceptible to injury.”

So think of stretching not just as lengthening muscles but as learning new ranges in your joints. “Lengthening a muscle takes time,” says Braun. “Some people force mobility by applying extreme tension against the muscle, but this will only lead to pain.”

For especially tight areas, use a foam roller or lacrosse ball to soften the tissue first, then choose a move or two from the list of back stretches below and work on increasing your range of motion — gradually. “This recipe, over time, paired with improved daily posture and movement patterns, will help you move better,” says Braun.

7 Back Stretches for Muscle Pain and Mobility

Ease your way into improved flexibility and range of motion throughout your spine with one or more of these back stretches pulled from Beachbody On Demand.

Seated twist

Benefits: Increases rotational mobility along the spine, stretching muscles throughout the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions.

Appears in: 3 Week Yoga Retreat – Week 1, Day 2: Stretch

How to do it:

  • Sit cross-legged, left leg in front of your right.
  • Sit up tall, lengthening your back and pulling your shoulders back slightly.
  • Place your right hand on your left knee, and the fingertips of your left hand on the floor behind you.
  • Continuing to lengthen your spine upward, look over your left shoulder, twisting to your left as far as possible.
  • Breathe deeply, attempting to rotate farther to the left with each exhale.
  • Hold for 20–30 seconds, and repeat on the other side, switching the cross of your legs.

Hand clasp stretch

Benefits: Stretches the lats and trapezius.

Appears in: CORE DE FORCE – MMA Shred

How to do it:

  • Stand upright, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms extended forward.
  • Rotate your palms outward so your thumbs point toward the floor.
  • Cross one forearm over the other and bring your palms together.
  • Breathing deeply, round your back forward, reaching your arms forward as far as possible.
  • Hold the stretch for 20–30 seconds.

3-way back stretch

Benefits: Stretches the lats and the muscles surrounding the rib cage.

Appears in: P90X3 – Total Synergistics

How to do it:

  • Stand upright, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms extended overhead.
  • Interlace your fingers, and flip your hands so your palms face the ceiling. Hold for 5–10 seconds.
  • Maintaining the positioning of your arms and hands, bend to your right and hold for 5–10 seconds, repeating the move to your left.
  • Returning to an upright position, maintain the position of your arms and hands, and round your back forward until your arms are parallel with the floor, holding for 5–10 seconds.

Bench lat stretch

Benefits: Stretches the lats and helps with overhead shoulder mobility.

Appears in: Body Beast – Build: Back & Bis

How to do it:

  • Stand beside an incline bench or other sturdy, chest-high object with your feet wider than hip distance, and place your right elbow on top of the back support.
  • Placing your right hand behind your head, slowly lower your body toward the floor, until you feel a deep stretch along your right side.
  • Hold for 20–30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Stability ball lat stretch

Benefits: Stretches the lats and muscles in the shoulder through contraction and relaxation, while improving mobility in the overhead position.

Appears in: P90X2 – P.A.P. Upper

How to do it:

  • From a kneeling position, place the backs of your hands on top of a stability ball (or chair), with your arms extended and your head in a neutral position.
  • Keeping your back flat and your arms straight, lower your chest toward the floor, and sink into the stretch, while pressing the backs of your hands into the ball. Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Remaining in the stretched position, release the downward tension on the ball for 5 seconds, and try to sink deeper into the stretch.

Revolved chair

Benefits: Promotes rotational mobility along the spine, stretching the middle- and lower-back muscles.

Appears in: Beachbody Yoga Studio – Get Centered with Elise

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet together, palms pressed together in front of your chest, elbows out.
  • Keeping your back flat and your knees together, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your hips are around knee level.
  • With your back still flat and your elbows wide, twist your upper body to the left, placing the back of your right elbow against the outside of your left knee.
  • Hold for a five-count, then repeat on the other side.

Supine twist

Benefits: Improves rotational mobility of the spine, and stretches muscles all along the upper and lower back, as well as the hips.

Appears in: 21 Day Fix – Yoga Fix

  • Lie on your back, with your arms extended out to your sides and your palms down, bringing your knees toward your chest.
  • Keeping both shoulders on the floor, slowly turn your head to the right and lower your knees toward the floor to your left (if you feel a deep stretch in this position, stop here).
  • For a deeper stretch, extend your left leg downward, place your left hand on the outside of your right knee and breathe deeply, pressing your right knee toward the floor.
  • Hold whichever version of the stretch is appropriate for 20–30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Why Back Muscles Get Tight

“Your shoulder is one of the most mobile joints in the body,” says Braun. As kids, we took advantage of that range of motion, climbing trees, traversing monkey bars, and throwing objects of all kinds, which helped our shoulders — and the back muscles that support and control them — stay mobile and healthy.

But the average adult’s habitual range of motion is much less varied. Most of us spend our days at a desk, says Braun, which keeps the lats in a perpetually shortened position. We rarely twist, or reach behind us.

Desk sitting has consequences for other back muscles as well. The upper fibers of the trapezius — which extends from the sides of your neck to your shoulders — become overactive, causing the shoulders to shrug slightly, and making the muscles feel tender to the touch.

Simultaneously, slouching causes the upper back to round forward, creating a hunched appearance — a position you may be holding right now. As your head angles downward, the muscles in the middle of your back have to work harder than usual to support it — which explains the chronic upper-back, neck, and shoulder tightness experienced by many desk sitters. The result leaves your neck sore and your chest muscles tight from constant contraction, further perpetuating the problem.

Primary Muscles of the Back

At first glance, the back looks like a morass of musculature, with fibers and Latin names running every which way. For stretching purposes, think of the back muscles as four major groups: the trapezius, the rhomboids, the latissimus dorsi, and the erector spinae.

Back muscles - back stretchesTrapezius

Starting at the top of your neck, your traps are formed by the kite-shaped muscles that extend from the base of your skull to just above your lower back, with points extending to your shoulder blades on either side. Their job: to move the shoulder blades upward, downward, and together, and to aid in turning and tilting the head.

Rhomboids

Working downward, the scapular stabilizers are a series of small muscles connecting the shoulder blades to numerous points along the torso. Their primary job is to prevent undue movement in the shoulder blades while you throw, pull, and push. They include:

Rhomboids major and minorwhich run from the inner edge of your scapula to your spine

Levator scapulae on the sides of your neck, which help the upper traps lift the shoulders

Serratus anteriorwhich pulls the shoulder blades forward, as when a boxer goes for a knockout punch (which is why it’s often referred to as the boxer’s muscle).

Latissimus dorsi

The largest muscles of the back are the lats, the flat, winglike slabs at either side of your back that run from your hips and sacrum to your underarms, and attach at your upper arms. They’re responsible for pulling your arms down and behind you, and rotating your upper arms inward.

Erector spinae

This is the group of garden hose-like muscles that flank your spine from your neck all the way down to your sacrum. They keep you upright, extending and stabilizing your spine when you bend to your sides, look upward, turn your head, or peel off the floor from your belly. There are three major erector muscles, each a different length: (from the spine outward) the spinalisthe longissimusand the iliocostalis.

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Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph