Monday, September 25, 2017

Why is Sleep so Important for Athletic Performance and General Health

Could your performance get better just by improving your sleep?

Sleep has, for a not insignificant amount of time, been associated with sports performance. In short the theory has been that good sleep leads to improved performance and poor sleep will impair performance.
Generally the association with a good or bad sleep has been premised upon the duration of the sleep, but is that really an accurate measure of sleep quality? This article will explore some of the finer points relating to sleep quality as well as provide some scientific background on the purpose of sleep as a human process.

Russell Foster is a British Circadian neuroscientist: His wonderful Ted Talk on "Why do We Sleep"

What is sleep and how does it work?

Sleep has such a profound effect upon performance and health because of the wide number of vital processes that are dependent upon it. When we sleep the body in effect carries out housekeeping duties; processes that help you deal with physical and mental stress, information processing and memory formation, repair and restoration of tissues

Cues such as falling temperature and light levels are picked up by the sensory nervous system and relayed to the brain which kicks off the production of a hormone melatonin, the trigger for sleep and everything that goes with it, and as such a very important player in your health.

Once sleep has been initiated the brain goes through a series of cycles which appear to be the crux of issue, indeed it has been suggested that it is not duration that counts, but rather the number and completeness of cycles you go through.
This cycle is repeated, usually from about 4-6 times in an 8 hour sleep period. So sleep quality is defined by the cycle but how many is enough?

Training and recovery, the impact of sleep

Sleep triggers the rage of a production of hormones, this hormonal milieu includes hormones like growth hormone and testosterone that are responsible for the repair and regeneration of tissues intrinsically involved in physical performance, and research shows that lack of sleep quickly impacts upon all sorts of physical tasks, with research covering weighlifters, cyclists, runners and so on.

The impact is two-fold, over the short term sleep issues have a massive negative effect upon the nervous system reducing strength endurance, concentration and co-ordination - all vital for sports and training.

Over the longer term disruptions in hormone output will effect the body’s ability to recover the tissues such as muscle as well as impairing carbohydrate storage efficiency and reducing immune competence.

In short: a bad night’s sleep with leave you weak and uncoordinated and over A long time you’ll be tired, fat and ill. Getting enough, quality sleep is important.

How much is ‘enough’?

For most of people getting less that 7 hours really starts to effect performance and health and many sleep coaches agree that aim should be on 8 hours. Studying historic texts and populations where there’s no electric light or TV’s actually shows significantly longer sleep durations for example 9-10 hours. My advice: Aim for 9, you’re bound to fall short but still will be OK.

Also remember that stress from high pressure work situations or from lots of physical training can also increase needs significantly, and although the right amount of stress can make for deeper sleep for example a well designed training program, other things, like too much training will disturb it.

Getting Quantity and Quality right

Duration is important but so is quality and sleep 'hacks', habits and little tricks that improve the environment and so can set you up for that deep, restful night’s sleep.

The Sleep Hacks

The environment must be comfortable, cool and dark:

The Bed

•    Frame
When your sleeping partner stirs of fidgets then usually so will you so get as big a bed as possible.
•    If you get hot easily standard open frame bed with space for the air to circulate underneath will make you more comfortable, especially in summer.
•    Mattress
A decent mattress will be some of the best 'health & fitness dollar' you ever spend. Memory foam mattresses are great but again if you get hot easily closed and open spring mattresses will allow more airflow.
•    Pillow
These loose both their shape and hygiene levels and should be replaced at least every few years. If you sleep on your side explore the range of orthopaedic pillows

The Room:

•    Reduce the Temperature
a few degrees cooler than your lounge
•    Block out the Light
Light means it is time to wake up so make sure your curtains are light proof, or try the ‘blackout kits’ available in stores like Amazon.
•    Cut the Noise
Environmental stimuli will disturb sleep so take a good look at this, maybe look at white noise generating sleep aids.
•    Remove the electronics
TV's, computers of all types as well as smart phone produce a lot of blue light that inhibit melatonin production. Research shows this link and also shows that couples who removed the TV from the bedroom had sex more often … you might want to leave the TV in the lounge.

Hacking your Sleep Behaviour

What you do before bed effects sleep onset, duration and quality

Several Hours Before Bed:
•    Do a Brain Dump
Make sure you get your tasks down in writing and relax.
•    Avoid caffeine
The 'half life' of caffeine is about 5. I usually advise people to cut it a minimum of 5-6 hours before bed.
•    Train earlier
Working out will help sleep quality but try not to train too close to bedtime. Yoga or meditation may help at the end of a session.

1 Hour Before Bed:
•    Reduce fluid intake
Reduces nocturnal toilet trips.
•    Get a ‘Pre Bed Routine’:
These cue the subconscious that sleep is imminent, should be boring and easy: fold clothes or pack food for the next day.
•    Schedule sleep
An important aspect of ‘sleep hygiene’ is going to bed at the same or at least a very similar time every night..
•    Cool the rooms
Cooling signals sleep, so cool the room by about 2 degrees
•    Dim room lights, turn off your TV, computer and smartphone
Avoids stressful emails and look after your melatonin production.
•    Food - Avoid liquid and/or salt as they may mean night time trips to the bathroom. Large amounts of fibrous carbs or fatty foods like cheese may sit on the stomach and disturb sleep as can spicy foods.

After Lights Out:

•    Nocturnal manoeuvers in the dark
If you do need to get up in the night for any reason then don’t turn on the light unless you really have to.
In fact whatever you get up to after lights out, do it with the lights off.
•    Awake with ideas:
If you get the spark of inspiration jot it down in the dark and go back to sleep – it helps to have a clear bed side table, a big piece of paper to aim at and a pencil sharpened at both ends.

Take away messages

•    Sleep onset is cued by your environment
•    Stress, both physical and mental will inhibit onset of sleep and may reduce quality
•    Staying asleep depends largely upon your environment
•    A few changes in environment and pre sleep behaviour can work wonders
•    Sleep triggered internally rather than by medication is, by far, the best sleep

These practical tips will help you sleep like a baby, that deep restful sleep that we all crave is only a few little habit changes away, but you have to try them for them to work

Original post Here: Why is Sleep so Important for Athletic Performance and General Health

How to Warm up Before Running: Best Exercises

A bad warm up can injure you, No warm up will hinder you but a good warm up will have you firing on all cylinders

Take an F1 car with it’s thousands of complex components and interlinking systems, honed to provide pure speed and allow the driver to get around the circuit at breakneck speeds.  From ‘cold’, this car will not move anywhere near as quickly as it is capable of because for peak performance it needs warming up.  

The same can be said of the human body, only the components and systems are about as hi-tech as you can get. Amongst the many systems that each body carries, it is the respiratory, circulatory, muscular & nervous systems which all combine to carry out the movements that our brain tells the body to perform. 

If all of these systems are ‘cold’, the outcome of the movements that are produced can also be sub optimal.  

Running Specific Warmups

Sport specific warm ups are essential in getting your body ready for the specific demands you are about to put it through

For sports specific warmups, we look to breakdown techniques used in a particular sport. 

By practising a specific part of a technique, we can develop and improve it for enhanced performance when reintroduced into the full technique needed in the sport.  
By now you should have finished your general warm updynamic stretching and your plyometrics before we move onto this section.
 
A running specific warmup will focus on 2 key parts/elements of stronger, more powerful and efficient run: the arm drive and leg cycle. Thinking of the body as a chain of body parts all linked together that all combine and work together to help you run. 

If there is a weakness somewhere, then the rest of the chain has to compensate (which can lead to injury) to continue your run. So if we address the weaknesses then the chain should perform much better as a whole.

 Arm
 Swings

Keeping the body upright, elbows bent 90 degrees drive the elbows back so that the hands pass the hip bones, whilst the other arm drives forwards (not across the body) bringing the hand up to shoulder height. Here we are focusing on power generated from a correct arm drive phase.  1min 

 Travelling
 Heelkicks

Gently jogging along, we concentrate on the heel lift which allows the runner to prepare the leg for the follow through to knee lift and a smoother overall leg cycle.  1min

 Travelling
 Single
 Knee
 Lifts

Here we concentrate on powering the knee through to the front to encourage the last phase of the foot coming through to land as close to underneath the runner’s centre of gravity as possible.  1min

 Travelling
 High
 Knees

Another drill to warm up the legs and neural paths; the runner lifts their knees when their thighs have come through to the front of their body alternately.  1min

Once you have completed your warm up you will be well and truly ready for your run. You will have prepared your body so that those first few miles are no more difficult than they need to be and should help you secure a great time.

Warming up prepares our body (or components in the case of the car) for what is to come.  It prepares all of the systems for the greater stresses that we’re going to place upon them when we proceed to the main event.

A warm up will help prepare our respiratory system for the increased demands we will place on it in terms of delivering oxygen into our bloodstream and expelling the waste product, carbon dioxide (CO2), with every breath.

It will prepare our circulatory system for the increased heart rate we require to deliver the oxygenated blood to the muscles that need it most.

A warm up will also get the electric signals firing across our bodies, telling all the different muscles and organs of our body exactly what to do.  

We will, ideally, warm up by practising the movements that we’re going to demand of during the main activity so that when it comes to the main exercise our bodies’ systems are all ready to work together and deliver the output we’re asking of it.

Basics of Movement

When bodily movement occurs, there are 2 types of stress/pressure being placed against our joints:  that of gravity and friction.  The greater these two are applied, the harder it will be to move the joint.

Our bodies are already pretty heavy due to dense muscles, bones and anything extra that we may be carrying; this means that there is already significant weight for us to move before we even consider adding any weight/impacts to it in the form of dumbbells or running etc. 

Human Anatomy

If we look at the 2 main systems which provide movement, we see that our skeleton is typically made up of 206 bones and the muscular system over 600 muscles. 

For the purposes of this article, we’ll concentrate mainly on the muscles and bones that are active around the freely-movable joints of our bodies; called the synovial joints.  These are called synovial since they are found in a cavity between bones.

The synovial membrane is filled with synovial fluid which acts as a lubricant & shock absorber for the joint. This is why our bones don’t grind away to nothing when we move them.

When the joint is cold, this synovial fluid is thick and viscous which means the joint won’t move quite as freely due to the fluid’s sticky nature. As the temperature around the joint rises during a warm-up however, this fluid becomes much runnier and thinner and is able to better lubricate and protect the joints.

The muscles also work much better when warm, being able to contract and relax much quicker than when cold (think of a cold squash ball or elastic band).  As a result, we get more efficient movements of the body and a better performance overall. 

Increased Risk of Injury

So if we consider the scenario that we’re going to ask our body to run 5k, the warm will be the difference between:

a)    your body and the joints involved warm and ready to shift all of the intrinsic weight that it already carries, better protecting your body against the impact and friction that is about to be placed on it; or no warm up leading to

b)    a large increased risk of injury running the 5k from a cold start, muscles and joints not prepared for the stress you’re about to place on it.

A great way to imagine the stress on your body is to view muscles like toffee, exercising is similar to trying to bend and twist the toffee like muscle. When cold it is more likely to tear and crack whereas when warm there is much greater pliability.

That’s not to say that the benefits of a warm up are all physical. 

Beyond the Physical

It will also help us mentally prepare for the task in hand, both in terms of your body being accustomed to what you’re asking it to do.  

Now that we know why we should warm up, we can now better understand how to warm up.  Specifically, we understand that we want to warm up and give the body a ‘practice’ of the exercise we’re going to perform, so that the joints can warm up to better perform and protect us from injury. 

It is worth noting that the warm up routines you had to do at school before gym or P.E. may be of very little use to you now. Often warm ups at school consisted of static stretches, normally flailing an arm behind your back or trying to touch your toes.

Avoid these warm up routines as if they were the plague and instead follow the guidelines below for an effective warm up that will set you up for maximum performance.

How to Warm Up Effectively

We can categorise warm ups in 4 types or stages that can be used progressively in preparation for exercise and take around 30minutes to complete:

1.    General
2.    Dynamic Stretching
3.    Plyometric
4.    Sports Specific - Running

General

It is vital that we warm up progressively to avoid risk of injury.

A General warm up is the first stage of any warm up that involves gentle movements to begin raising body temperature. The aim is to get some heat into the joints and muscles through light jogging, arm swinging and generally any movement that will get your heart rate up without stressing the body.

The general warm up techniques are generic movements that will gently raise body temperature without putting much strain on the body. Below is an example programme that you can use for your warm up:

 Walk  5 mins
 Jog  5 mins
 Stationary Jog  5 mins
 Total Time  5 mins

The next development includes gently moving other body parts in progressive stages such as below

 Head Rolls  30 secs
 Arm Circles  30 secs
 Shoulder Shrugs  30 secs
 Hip Rotations  30 secs
 Squats  30 secs
 Lunges  30 secs
 Total Time  3 mins

All in all your general warm up should take around 8 minutes to complete and your body will have gone from 'cold' to warmer and looser, it is time now to move onto some dynamic stretching before we are almost ready for our event.

 

Dynamic Stretching

For years we have been told that static stretching is essential in warming up but dynamic stretching is the new gold standard for warm up techniques.

By now you should have completed your general warm up techniques and are now already loose and ready to stretch. The core temperature should have been raised and muscles warmed up, now we move onto a more dynamic stretching routine moving joints through their range of movement.

Attempting to stretch (think back to PE or gym lessons of old) cold muscles isn't recommended. Studies have shown that static stretching can increase the risk of injury and that it is more productive to your workout & performance if you use dynamic stretching before a session of exercise.

  Static stretches after a session, when the focus is on lengthening the muscles that will have shortened through multiple contractions, can be a very effective method of stretching but for the warm up, dynamic stretching, which focuses more on range of movements required for the exercise, is the way to go.

Begin the dynamic stretching session with some more CV work;

 Progressive Shuttles x5  
 Increase speed each shuttle finishing at 70% sprint intensity    25m 

Next we introduce some functional movements to begin extending our muscles range of motion as they become more supple.

 Leg Swings  1 min
 Side Steps  1 min
 Crossovers  1 min
 Torso Twists  1 min

Now we are getting significantly warmer we can begin to push the body harder.

 Progressive Shuttles x5  
 Increase speed each shuttle finishing at 80% sprint intensity     25m  

We can introduce some more explosive movements now as we gear up for the event

 Walking Knee Hugs  1 min
 Alternating Lunge Twists  1 min
 Jogging Heel Flicks  1 min

Finish off with some harder running.

 Progressive Shuttles x5  
 Increase speed each shuttle finishing at 80% sprint intensity     25m  

Plyometrics

Plyometric Exercises are a type of exercise designed to produce fast, powerful movements that athletes make maximum use out of in training and in warming up

Having put your body through a general & dynamic stretching routine you're ready to progress to plyometrics. These drills require more power generation & faster contractions from your muscles to prime your body for more explosive workouts.

Plyometric movements are to be undertaken when we are sure that there is heat in the joints and muscles, we can then progress safely to movements that require a little more power generation from the limbs to get the body ready to work against gravity, friction and external weight. This is where we are ready for bounding, running, heel flicks, high knees and other higher intensity movements.

We should begin this phase of the warm up with some high intensity running;

 5x Sprints @ 70%   25m

Follow it with some explosive movements

Star Jumps  30 Jumps
Squat Jumps  15 Jumps

Another Running Interval to finish

5x Sprints @ 80%         25m

So far we have been warming up for nearly 30 minutes and our bodies are physically ready for action, the final phase of the warm up is to introduce some sport specific work to ensure we perform at our very best.

Warm up exercises before running video:

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The final thought on warm ups is that if we consider track and field athletes such as Jessica Ennis and Usain Bolt; we saw them perform to the best of their abilities at the Olympics. They performed to the absolute best that they had trained their bodies to produce.  What we didn’t see was the warm ups they performed beforehand. 

None of these athletes would have performed as well without a proper warm up and none of them would have dreamed of not warming up at all.  Although you may not be an elite athlete the same rules applies to you; warm up before your next race or exercise session to get the most out of your body.

Read Full Article Here: How to Warm up Before Running: Best Exercises

5 Best Foam Roller for Runners Review [TESTED September 2017]

Ever finish a tough workout and think to yourself, “I wish I could afford a nice massage” because your muscles before or after running feel like they are detaching from the rest of your body?

Not many people have the time or money for that kind of luxury. In fact, most people barely have the time and luxury to actually workout, let alone more time afterwards to try and feel like a whole human again after pushing your body passed its limits.

Luckily for you, the foam roller exists. This piece of equipment helps your muscles, not just after the workout, but before.

Read on to find the best foam roller for runners out more about this new addition you should add to your routine.

Top Rated Foam Rollers

our Best Foam Roller pick

Product Feature      
Trigger Point Performance The Grid Revolutionary Foam Roller 26-Inch long ,diameter of 5.75-Inch; weighs 3.25 lbs      
OPTP Pro-Roller Soft Pink Marble "Softer, perfect for gentle self-massage, exercise and 
relaxation techniques"
     
Black High Density Foam Rollers - Extra Firm Extra Firm      
ProSource Ultra Deluxe Revolutionary Sports Medicine Roller 13" long by 5.5" in diameter.      
j/fit Super High Density 18-Inch Length x 6-Inch Diameter High density roller with molded edges      

Review

best foam roller with foam roller reviews

Black High Density Extra Firm

Black High Density Foam Rollers - Extra Firm

One of he most basic exercise rollers but it delivers. This can be ordered in various lengths and half or full rolls. It’s made of a molded polyethylene material. It is higher density material equipment and is only really recommended for people with experience.

One benefit to this version is the ability to remove higher levels of muscle tension that people get from jobs that keep them in a desk for hours. B

ecause it is made of high density materials, this equipment can retain its shape for longer than many other brands and maintains its firmness.

This version gets high points for the ability to get deep into the tissues for a good massage making it the best foam roller for back. It also is very lightweight, but do not let that fool you.

It’s still a mostly durable product. However as it’s a lower priced version, it does come with its flaws. The material is similar to Styrofoam and can easily flake off, which is both undesirable and can cause a safety issue if there are young children or dogs around. At that price, you can’t expect perfection. Overall though, this product does come highly recommended because of its retention of firmness and the low cost.

Trigger Point Performance The Grid Revolutionary Roller

Trigger Point PerformanceA top selling item among items in our foam roller reviews. This type comes in 5, 13, and 26 inch lengths.

The material used to make this with is durable EVA materials and has a hollow core, which makes it more lightweight than other varieties, which makes this a great option for beginners.

The company gives you a 1 year warranty and comes recommended by professionals. It’s the most expensive version on the list, but you will find that it’s worth the price.

The massage your receive using this is said to be incredible and comes highly recommended by everyone that used it, even for the hardest of muscle tension. The lightweight feel of this product makes it great for travelling.

The material also provides for good durability, but again, you are paying for the quality of materials used. Some complaints about this product include the quality of construction.

There have been complains that the product has split at its seams, creating two half rolls instead of one complete piece. The other complaint about this one involves the price. It’s said that you can find other rollers for a lesser price, but you get what you pay for. This brand provides a durable and versatile option.

ProSource Ultra Deluxe Revolutionary Sports Medicine Roller

ProSource Ultra Deluxe Revolutionary Sports Medicine Roller

This is a textured 13 inch piece of gear. It’s lightweight and perfect for travelling. The textured grooves on this brand’s version make it perfect for deep tissue massaging. It has very firm foam covering a firm PVC pipe.

This comes recommended for use after a workout, or for people with muscle pains in their daily life. It is also our pick for best foam roller for runners (amazon is the cheapest to buy as of time of this review). It is also works great for shin splints or if you are having a runners knee (make sure you do right rolling - internet is your friend here)

It works the muscles nicely, giving a loose and relaxing feeling without the pain you can get with some of the similar equipment. Its size makes it not only great for your back, but for other muscles in your body. This does not come without some serious complaints to consider.

There are some negatives to consider when looking at exercise roller reviews. The biggest complaint people have with this version has to do with the PVC pipe in the center of the equipment.

It has often cracked through from side to side, making the product unusable. Other people have complained of an intensely overpowering plastic smell coming from this brand’s version, but it does go away after a while.

Some have complained that the material used to make it was not as firm as other types. Also, keep in mind it only comes in 13 inch variety. Most people prefer a longer piece of equipment, and did not pay attention to the size it’s available in.

OPTP Soft Pro – 36″ x 6″

OPTP Soft ProOPTP is a unique entry in our roller reviews. This piece of equipment only comes in the 36 inch length. It’s made with softer foam than other brands, so it is a good option for beginners.

It can be easily cleaned after each usage. It’s well liked by users as it provides a more relaxing massage than other varieties of this equipment. It’s said to feel like it was constructed to have softer foam covering very firm foam, so you get the benefits of a very firm roller but the comforts of a lower density version.

It comes highly recommended for people who need to do MELT routines.

This is a great one for massage and relaxation, but it is not recommended for exercise use. It does not hold up to the standards needed for such exercises as Pilates. Its softer material makes balance and core exercises very difficult. Another frequent complaint is that it easily bends, and can be a problem with its effectiveness. This one is overall, well recommended by its users.

 j/fit Super High Density

j fit Super High Density Foam Rollers

j/Fit rollers are one  of the most versatile options in our roller reviews. This is a high density, molded product that comes in 12, 18, and 36 inch lengths. It has a firm material, and ideal for exercises.

It also is excellent for those with deep tissue needs, as this equipment is very firm. Because of the high density foam, this product receives excellent marks in durability.

This version really gets into the muscles and people happily report how it relieves many aches and stiffness that athletes, people who work out daily and average people with pains alike.

This equipment is not recommended for the beginner or people with weaker muscle tone, as the firmness can cause a lot of discomfort or pain. When you choose a longer length, be aware that travelling with this gear is not ideal.

One of the major complains about this equipment is the material used from. They say it looks like it’s made from a hard Styrofoam that looks like it can be broken at any given moment, and sometimes does flake.

Another common complaint seems to come from the 12 and 18 inch length rollers. Many complaints say that these shorter versions look like they took a 36 inch and cut it down without softening the edges. The positive news is that you sometimes get the vendor to respond to the negative reviews in a helpful manner.

Roller Reviews for runners

Why You Should Have One in Your Life

I know I am not the only one that often forgets that you are supposed to warm up before any workout. Warming up and cooling down from your workouts are just as important as the workouts themselves, and using one of these pieces of equipment can help you warm up your muscles before exercise. So why should you use one?

There are many reasons why you need to own one. One reason is that using it can help break down certain tissues and increases your flexibility and mobility.

Using this product before working out can help warm up the muscles and increase self-awareness. When you use one after working out, it can give the same benefits as a deep tissue massage. It can also help you relieve muscle tension. Another great usage is that it helps improve your core, which also helps your posture.

All of these uses are great, but what does it all mean in the long term? The biggest reason for owning one is that it can help reduce injury with continuous use.

The other purpose for long term is that you will notice a shorter recovery time. Why is that the case? This type of equipment can increase blood flow to the muscles and helps to activate them. Increased blood flow is important because this is how the oxygen and nutrients get to your muscles. Imagine how this will make you feel in the long run.

Your Choices

There are a few different varieties of this gear out there. They come in different sizes, textures, and materials. I will get into more detail about each later on.

There are muscle roller stick for runners, which are portable and best used for leg muscles. These varieties are commonly used by runners for their focus on the legs. High density with a smooth texture are the most popular variety of this equipment currently, and the most recognizable. Finally, you have the high density textured rollers.

These are very similar to the smooth version, but used more for reducing pain. Those are just the most common varieties; there are more choices that you can choose from outside of these 3 options.

The stick rollers are small, and the most portable of your options. Not only is this variety fantastic for your legs, the shaping of it can help you get into areas like your hip flexors that the other options have a difficult time getting into because of their size.

Unlike the other types, this one requires you to use your arms to roll on your body. The fact that you do not use your entire body on it makes it less effective.

Also it is not as durable as the other types, so it is not recommended that you lie on it. Be wary which stick roller you buy, because there is a difference in quality that makes it not worth having one because you are not getting the full benefits of foam rolling.

High density, smooth surface versions are the standard today. This is a recommended variety of this gear for beginners because they are not as expensive as other types.

These are used for your entire body, so you would lay your body on it and roll it along your muscles. They come in various sizes, depending on need and body part that you are using it on. The longer varieties are more for the larger muscle groups, but the smaller ball size varieties are perfect for smaller areas, like your gluts.

Then you have the high density, textured varieties of this exercise gear. These are the most expensive varieties. The textured surface of this type is perfect for replicating a deep tissue massage, which the other varieties cannot achieve. The downside to this variety is that some types of textures are very hard on the muscles and can cause pain. This can be bad because it defeats the purpose of having one to improve yourself if it hurts too much to use the product.

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Selecting the Top Roller for You

Like when you buy any product, the most important question you should ask yourself is “what do I need this product for?” How you answer this can help you decide the best equipment type for your lifestyle and needs.

Because they come in so many different varieties you need to select the best one based on fitness level, purpose of usage, and body weight. Failing to choose the right one can result in injury and not improve how you feel after using one.

This is important. No matter which type of gear you use, it is important that you get a high density material that is non-slip. You can go to your local gym or sporting goods store and try out different types before you take the plunge.

As I said earlier, the intended usage of this equipment will be the best indicator on what type you should purchase. Are you trying to improve your core?

Do you just want the massage after a workout? For instance, a half roll can be used to stand on to help improve your core and balance. A half roll is also a great recommendation for those with weaker muscle tone, as it balances on its own and requires less muscle strain to use. A full, textured roll is more ideal for massaging needs.

The amount that it will be used is also a factor when choosing your particular piece of equipment. A more expensive, higher quality material is ideal for everyday usage.

This gear can come in a variety of firmness. This is based on your familiarity with the product. If you are searching for the best foam roller for beginner, you are looking for lower density foam made of polyethylene.

The lower the density the more movement that is allowed between the muscles which is important for the beginner, because this means it will be less painful than the other types of roller while you are starting out.

The EVA material varieties are the next step up. EVA is for better core improvement and better massaging effect than the polyethylene varieties. The highest density, black variety is only recommended for the experienced user. The higher density the material, the more firm version is. This provides a harder pressure when used for massaging purposes.

You also need to consider how often you are using this product. If it will be used frequently, you will want to use the black variety of roller because the high density of the material on this product makes it the most durable product.

The other varieties of this equipment are less durable, which means they warp over time. If you need to get an EVA or polyethylene variety, make sure you get one that does not warp as easily as others because these will warp easily over time. Certain brands have a “no-warp” guarantee, so look for those when purchasing your lower density roller.

The final two considerations are budget and size of the equipment. You will want to do your research to get the best quality for your money. This usually means that the lower the density, the less expensive the product. Like I stated earlier, you can try out the different varieties which can help you chose the right one within your budget.

Another consideration is the size of the equipment. Usually all types have the same diameter, so you are going to be concerned with the length. Longer ones are better for your back for proper alignment and helping your balance.

The shorter ones are better used for the other parts of your body, so usage is very important when picking your roller’s size.

Best Foam roller exercises

3 a week

Hamstrings Roll

hamstring roll

Glutes Roll

glutes roll

Source

Time to Decide

I have given you all the tools you will need to find out if this exercise gear is right for what your needs are, and what type you should invest in. Remember, you can try out the varieties at local sporting goods stores or your local gyms.

The benefits are many, and if you are on the fence about trying one you should take the plunge.

These can improve your capabilities working out and improve your recovery time. It will be worth the investment to improve your health.

Image Source

Artilce Source Here: 5 Best Foam Roller for Runners Review [TESTED September 2017]

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The best cellulite massagers, techniques, and tricks for fabulously looking skin

The cellulitis and ways to reduce it is a very popular topic for a reason is almost every woman (and some men too) is affected by it at a certain point of their life. And it doesn’t matter if it’s postpartum cellulitis, post-menopausal or youth cellulitis, you still feel bad about the image you see in a mirror. But don’t be as there is a fix for every problem, and this one is no exception.

To cure or at least greatly diminish your bumpy-lumpy look, you need to understand the problem completely. And to do that we highly recommend reading our comprehensive article about the issue.

Click here if you want to know more about what cellulite is, what causes it and how to treat it successfully.

As this article will be focused on actual products, which can help solving this heartbreaking problem.

Cellulite massagers

There are different types of massagers, brushes, and blasters, which marketed too smooth-out orange peel appearance of your skin. They differ in look and performance significantly. Here’s what you need to know to choose the right one for your needs.

Manual massagers

The pros of manual massagers are that they are mostly simple in construction and as result sturdy and reliable. They also can be used in the showers, hot-tubs, saunas and/or away from electricity source without limitation. Lastly, you’re using your arm muscles to perform a massage, what strengthen them as well as make your heart pumping faster and using more calories.

From another hand, it’s a big drawback too. As your arms will get tired much faster than with electric anti-cellulite machines, resulting in shorter massage sessions and potentially inferior results.

Brush Mitts

Round or palm shaped scrubbers that fit nicely in the palm of your hand. Because you don’t need hold tightly on it, but rather press with your whole palm, it’s less tiring for hands than some types of rollers.

They are good for using with creams on any body area, especially for early stage cellulitis.

You can go wrong with this Brush Mitt loved by many.

Rollers

The difference with brush mitt is that rollers have rolling parts that roll over your skin when you press on it. There are rollers that have pointy fingers that allow more intense deeper penetration in your tissues.

This one is a classic example of roller massager for cellulite removal.

Roller sticks

The advantage of roller sticks is that they can be held with both hands spreading the work load evenly. These are great for back, upper legs and behind the knee areas. A great example of roller stick is this one. There are many wooden roller sticks on the market, but they all made in China with some quality issues.

Octopus massagers

Those are great for smaller areas but for deeper massage, as those “tentacles” can reach deep into your fat deposits. The drawback is that the plastic head attachment tends to break after some time, so you advised to choose “head-less” options like this one.

Fascia blaster

What would happen if octopus massager will mate with roller stick? You will get Fascia blaster sold exclusively by Ashley Black for quite a price of 89$ plus tax and shipping. Though there is something unique about fascia blaster and how deep and thorough it can be in detaching your connective tissue and letting your fat to smooth out.

But don’t hurry to pull out your credit card for this one, as if you feel creative today, you can make your own fascia blaster for the fraction of price and quite an upgrade of the handle grip. Just check the tutorial in here.

Dry brushes

Dry brushing is mainly used for exfoliation and improvement of circulation. But blood and lymph circulation play a crucial role in formation and dissolving of fat pockets. Thus, this product is ought to be mentioned in this article.

Dry brush is a valuable addition to your anti-cellulitis tool-set no matter of what other rollers or creams you have in it. The classic boar bristle brush (without anti-cellulite nubs) would be the best choice, as wooden nubs interfere with proper dry brushing, though it’s a personal choice for everyone.

Vacuum cups

Another way to improve lymph and blood circulation is by using vacuum cups. You can use them in different ways. For general improvement of circulation, you attach them to your skin usually on wet or good lubricated skin and moving up and down in the direction of your heart. To activate circulation in particular spot you suck them on the spot and live for some time there. After removing silicone cup you will bruise on that spot, and it’s what you want. As bruising will cause local inflammation and will signal to the body to improve circulation and bring more nutrients and cleaning crew to that spot.

Different people have different success with cupping. Some like it for some it’s too much bruising. But you can try yourself and decide. Just to be sure to choose better quality cups (like this one), so they last.

Electric massagers

Cellulite Massage machines come in various sizes and forms, but they all electricity powered what allows you to save some muscle energy while giving yourself longer, deeper and more efficient massage.

All electric handheld massage devices marketed mainly for two purposes:

  • Muscle massage – to provide pain relief and alleviate stiffness
  • Anti-cellulite effect – to smooth out fat bumps and dimples

However, both types of machines are pretty similar and differ mainly in massaging attachments and intensity of the massage. Different devices also can differ whether they are cordless or corded, do they have heat, and what they use vibration and/or percussion movements.

We won’t go deep into the realm of electric massagers, but rather discuss ones of the most popular on the current market. In terms where to buy it, Amazon offers the widest variety, but Wal-Mart has better prices on some of them. But, what can beat 2-day shipping, right?

So here is our top suggestion for best electrical personal massagers.

Pure Wave CM7

Pros

  • Powerful and well built
  • Cordless with built-in Li-ion battery.
  • Has both vibration and percussion.
  • 6 massaging attachments
  • Has mostly positive customers reviews

Cons

  • Priced higher than average
  • Li-ion batteries have limited life span.

WAHL 4290-300

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • 4 attachment heads
  • Reliable 8 foot cord
  • Affordable

Cons

  • While cord provides better reliability, it less comfortable to use
  • Has only percussion

Massaging techniques

Techniques you’re using very dependent on what equipment, if any, you have and what area you are working on. However, regardless of what and how you will be using, it’s always better to prepare the area. As you will see faster and more significant results.

Massage area preparation

  • Heat the area from outside and inside – You can heat the area from inside by engaging in a cardio exercise of any kind: run, bike, do rebounding on a trampoline, anything you like. To heat your body from outside, you can take hot shower or bath, spend some time in the sauna or hot tub.
  • Apply anti-cellulite cream or massage oils – cellulite-busting creams could get your bumpy ridges to smooth out much faster, though its effects are known to be short term. So the best way to use fat burning and body firming creams is when you need to get results before a certain event, like a vacation.

Massage oils are a must for all types of massage except dry brushing, as it allows to move fingers or nodes of massager easier, doing better work on detaching fascia and blasting fat, without irritating your gentle skin.

Massage techniques for manual massage

Kneading

This technique is called kneading as it resembles the process of kneading the dough. You can do finger kneading for smaller areas and the whole palm kneading for larger areas as thighs and buttocks.

The video below is one of the best on how to use this type of massage to reduce cellulite.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

8 Massage Chair Features You Must Understand Before Buying One

Buying a massage chair can be like trying to learn a new language. Whether you visit your local store or decide to shop online you’ll likely be faced with the same basic problem:
What do all these different features mean and what really counts?
In today’s article therefore we’re going to look at a range of features seen in massage chairs of all budgets in order to help you make a more informed decision about exactly which features are going to be the most important for you. By the end of this article you should not only have a better idea as to what each of these features means, but also which ones are going to be most important to you when shopping for a massage chair.

Preset Programs

All massage chairs come with some kind of preset massage programs. These allow you to simply sit down in your chair, press a button and begin your massage; no messing about, no wasting time and no spending hours figuring out how to use your massage chair.
Broadly speaking the larger the number of presets, the easier you will find it to locate a program that suits your needs. Furthermore if your requirements change (for example you fancy an invigorating massage rather than a relaxing one this evening) then having a range of programs can make it easy to meet your requirements.
That said, don’t underestimate the “manual” options available on higher-end massage chairs. These allow more advanced users to “custom-build” their own massage program, targeting specific body parts with specific massage actions in order to tailor-make the perfect massage for your needs.

Massage Types

Many people are surprised to learn that many massage chairs offer a range of different types of massage. From relaxing to invigorating, from shiatsu to full-body, there are a range of different massage programs on offer. These can often be combined with the preset programs to create an almost infinite list of possible massage combinations.
Rather like the number of preset programs, therefore, selecting a massage chair with a greater number of massage types (six to eight is common in more advanced chairs, while lower-end models may only offer one or two) can be beneficial. This allows you further control over the type of massage you receive and ensures that your unique needs are met.

Body Scanning

Some rather more advanced massage chairs offer a “body scanning” feature. Quite simply these massage chairs have the capacity to customize their programs to suit your unique body shape. They may, for example, take note of your spine shape, ensuring that your entire back receives the benefit of your massage, while some lower-end chairs may be rather less successful at targeting the lower back for example.
While anyone can benefit from body scanning technology, this is particularly beneficial for people whose body type does not fit the “average”. So, as an example, massage chair shoppers that are particularly short or tall may benefit from just such a feature.

Rollers

As the name suggests, “rollers” act rather like a human hand, firmly rolling up the body and massaging the main muscle groups. Rollers may be found in most massage chairs – irrespective of price.
There are two aspects particularly worthy of consideration. Firstly, a limited number of massage chairs offer dual-rollers, providing the sensation of two hands gently running over your body and releasing tension. This can make for a far more enjoyable and realistic massage experience.
Secondly worthy of note is the “stroke length”. Particularly tall people can sometimes find that lower-end massage chairs provide a very short stroke – which makes for a less beneficial massage experience. More advanced massage chairs typically offer a much longer massage stroke, ensuring even those particularly tall people are able to benefit from a full-body massage.

Air Bags

Only seen in mid- to high-end massage chairs, air bags gently fill with air and then deflate, over and over, giving a relaxing, pain-relieving kneading sensation. In conjunction with the standard rollers these air bags help to create the most accurate and beneficial massage experience possible in a massage chair.
If you’re serious about purchasing the best massage chair you can afford, therefore, try to find a chair that includes air bags. If you’re trying to decide between two different massage chairs, try looking at the number of airbags each one offers. As a general rule of thumb more airbags equals a more enjoyable and realistic massage experience.

Heated Chair Pads

To help ease away pain and tension in your body some massage chairs offer gentle background warmth, especially in the more sensitive lower-back region. One or two massage chairs also include warming pads in the neck and shoulder area.
If one of your primary motivators for buying a massage chair is to relax the muscles and relieve discomfort then choosing a massage chair with built-in heat pads can be a very good idea indeed.

Angle of Recline

All but the most basic massage chairs will recline to a degree. However how much they recline, and how this is controlled, can have a significant impact on your massage experience.
Firstly, consider the leg rest. Some lower-end massage chairs will recline by a small amount, yet have no leg rest. As a result, some users can find reclining their back, with their feet still on the floor far less comfortable than a massage chair where the legs are also raised when the chair is reclined.
Broadly speaking the greater the angle of recline on a massage chair, the better. This is because a large angle of recline helps to remove pressure from the spine and other joints, making for greater comfort and a more beneficial massage.
The “ultimate” figure here is the so-called “zero gravity” position, achieved at around a 170′ angle of recline. This is considered the optimum position for relieving pressure, as used by astronauts heading into space.

Full Body Massage

Even the most basic chair will be capable of massaging the back, but for the full-on massage experience many consumers opt for a “full body” massage chair. As the name suggests these are designed to target muscle groups throughout the body – not just the back. As example, mid- to high-end models typically include a massaging leg rest to ease tension and discomfort away from the legs, and some models will even massage the arms too.

Conclusion

Hopefully by now you feel that you have a better understanding of the key features seen in massage chairs and feel better-equipped to select the ideal massage chair for your needs. Use these features as a basis for choosing a massage chair and you can feel confident you will be selecting a model that suits your needs well.
Artilce Source Here: 8 Massage Chair Features You Must Understand Before Buying One

Thursday, August 24, 2017

HoMedics MCS‑510H Review

I’m a big fan of Thai massage. Developed in Thailand and influenced by traditional medicine systems of India, China and Southeast Asia, this type of massage involves deep kneading and firm, rhythmic pressure.

What I really love about it is that it’s very effective in making your blood circulate. In fact, you can really feel it run through your veins as your whole body is being massaged.

While Thai massage can be very relaxing, the problem is that it can be quite expensive especially if you have it regularly So, one great solution is to buy a massage cushion instead.

Some back massage cushions were primary made for specific type of massages such as the HoMedics MCS-510H Thai Massage Cushion. This massage cushion has four travelling nodes and six different massage programs. One feature that most people really love about it is that you can control the massage nodes so it stays and focus on one spot.

If you don’t like soft massages but are not into too hard kneading either, this model is perfect for you. As per coverage, some people as tall as 6’1 finds it comfortable although they suggest finding a chair to place it on.

Some people find the heat a bit weak, although most says it’s not a problem for them especially considering the great massage and the price of this cushion.

Here are some of the features:

  • Traveling thai massage with four independent nodes tailor your massage style: kneading for deep massage and rolling for gentle massage.
  • Soothing heat.
  • Six massage programs.
  • Adjustable width.
  • Corded hand control.
  • Four independent traveling nodes.
  • Six different massage programs.

It is best for those who:

  • Prefer massages that are neither weak nor too hard.
  • Prefer Thai massage but find it too expensive.
  • If you’re looking to buy the HoMedics MCS-510H

Advantages and disadvantages

Pros:
  • Spot massage feature holds the massage right where you need it most.
  • The six massage programs enable the user to let the massage meet the needs of his body.
  • Adjustable width.
  • Great price.
  • Cushion emits soothing heat.
Cons:
  • May not cover entire back for people taller than 6’1.
  • Heat may not be enough for some people.
  • You may need to find a chair to place the massage cushion on.

Words from an owner who truly appreciates what his HoMedics MCS-510H Thai Massage Cushion has done for him:

We were visiting relatives for an extended period but didn’t bring a massager so we ordered this one. This is the best made of all the massagers – I’m very impressed with the quality. But, the best part is that my husband loves it.

He says the best thing about the massager is that he can stop the movement on a particular trouble spot and isolate the muscle. Excellent!!

Post Source Here: HoMedics MCS‑510H Review

6 Tips To Buy Massage Chairs For Less

Want to buy massage chairs for less? If so, you’re in luck.

In today’s article you’re going to discover six simple-to-implement tips that will help you to save money when buying your massage chair and end up spending much less than you otherwise might have. Sound good? Then let’s get started…

Saving Money on Massage Chairs

It’s no secret that massage chairs can be expensive, with chairs like the Inada Sogno Dreamwave costing more than the average family vacation. However for the more frugal-minded individual it’s entirely possible to spend considerably less and still end up with the home massage experience of your life. All you need to do is apply a few proven ideas to start whittling down the cost of buying a massage chair.

Consider What Features You Need

The first consideration for getting massage chairs for less than you could relates to features. The reality of the situation is that the more expensive massage chairs cost more for a reason; quite simply because they’re stuffed to the rafters with all manner of high-end features. But do you really need these?

For some people the answer will be “yes” – they’ll gladly pay more for a premium model knowing that the massage experience will be incomparable. Others, however, may not be so worried about chilled drinks holders, MP3 players, gentle lighting and a zero gravity recline feature.

If you want to spend less on a massage chair, therefore, a good place to start is by considering the features you really want. In doing so you will be able to avoid paying over the odds for features you won’t use and don’t need.

Use Price Comparison Websites

It should come as no surprise that massage chairs can differ wildly in price. Some retailers simply charge far more for the same model than other people do.

One of the smartest ways around this problem is to use price comparison websites to ensure that you’re getting the best price possible. This is one reason why on this site we use a price comparison feature on every massage chair review. As you’re investigating the range of massage chairs featured you can be confident that you’re seeking the very best price possible.

If you’re considering a massage chair not featured on this site then a handy add-on is called Invisible Hand. It works in the background of your computer and checks the prices across dozens of sites. In this way no matter what you’re looking at you can be certain of finding the very best price possible.

Use a Cashback Credit Card

While using a cashback credit card won’t reduce the actual sticker-price of the massage chair you’re considering, what it will do is give you money back. It’s like a delayed discount. If you search around it is often possible to find cards that offer 5% cashback which, if you’re spending hundreds or even thousands on a massage chair, can really add up quickly and help you to save money.

Use Discounted Gift Cards

Did you know that there is an active market in second-hand gift cards? Whether you opt to buy your massage chair from an online store like Amazon or in a local “bricks and mortar” store it is often possible to buy giftcards for up to 35% less than you’d normally pay. That’s like buying a $100 Amazon gift card for just $65 – quite a bargain.

The best place we have found for buying discounted gift cards is CashCard. Simply search through their currently available offers, buy a relevant gift card and use this to pay for your massage chair. Talk about an instant saving!

Look for Discontinued Lines

Massage chairs are like any other product in that new models are constantly being introduced while older (less successful) models get retired. It should come as no surprise therefore that these “end of line” massage chairs can sometimes be bought for less.

Don’t be afraid to hunt around for older (or ex-display) massage chairs as you can often land yourself a real bargain and end up paying far less than you would when it was a current model.

Amazon Price Promise

In our experience Amazon typically offers some of the lowest prices around for massage chairs – but what happens if the price drops after you’ve already bought from them? The answer is that you can get a refund of the difference!

According to this article if the price of an item drops within 7 days of your purchasing it Amazon will refund the difference to you or offer a credit for the same value. I guess that’s one more reason why Amazon has become such a big name in online retailing – and it also helps to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible when shopping online.

See Full Artilce Here: 6 Tips To Buy Massage Chairs For Less