Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS: 9 Tips for Overcoming Shin Splints

leg_painDuring my days as a track athlete, I came to know shins splints a little too well.  The constant running and pounding will undoubtedly bring about some discomfort in your lower legs.   But I am here to tell you don’t panic!  There are ways to fight back against the pain you are feeling and get back to running that doesn’t require you to completely take time off.  Follow these tips to understand how to sooth your shins and get back on track!

  • Progress Gradually - This may sound like a no-brainer, but many people tend to dive in to running and do a little more than their bodies can handle.  Build strength and endurance first and slowly increase mileage.
  • The Shoe Matters - Make sure your shoes fit and that they have proper cushioning.  Yes, those minimalist shoes you wear may be the cause of your shin splints.  Shoes with improper support will cause over pronating and rolling of your foot.  Visit a local running store to get some expert advice on shoes and get the right fit.
  • Cross Training - This is especially important if you are already experiencing shin splints.  By cycling, swimming, or rowing you can maintain your fitness level and log miles while taking it easy on the shins.  If you currently run 5 day per week, try a 3/2 training ratio.  Run 3 times per week and cross train 2 times per week.  You will notice relief quickly!
  • Mid-Foot Striking - Resist the urge to run up on your toes or to heel strike!  Flat, mid-foot striking will encourage correct biomechanics, help you run with a proper gait and prevent injury.
  • Don’t Over Stride - The usual culprits here are people who tend to strike heel first.  Think to slow down your cadence and run with proper mid-foot striking form.  This will help you perform with proper body mechanics.
  • Use Ice - Ice those shins!  The ice will bring recovery to the area and help reduce swelling and discomfort.  You can ice for up to 10-15 minutes every hour.
  • Stretch and Foam Roll - Stretch out those calf muscles and get to work foam rolling them as well.  Tight muscles are going to contribute to the pain you are feeling in the shin.  Work on both loosening the calves and strengthening them.
  • Switch Running Surfaces - While recovering from shin splints, look for softer ground to train on.  Find a field and do running workouts in the grass to give your legs a break from the pounding taking place on the road and tracks.
  • Consider Orthotics - Consider visiting your doctor to get some recommendations on orthotics for your shoes.  These can sometimes be a life saver and can be customized to your feet providing that added support you may be missing!

Remember that the key to getting past shin splints is patience!  Take your time, listen to your body, take steps to heal, and get back out there better than before!

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Topics: running injury health and fitness

Senior Living: Keep Moving and Keep Improving with Senior Health and Fitness Day

moving_seniorsNational Senior Health and Fitness Day is approaching with celebrations focused on senior health and wellness across the country on Wednesday, May 27.  Many YMCA’s, health clubs, park districts and especially Independent and Assisted Living Communities will structure programs and activities to promote staying healthy as we age!  The motto for this year is “Keep Moving and Keep Improving” That got me thinking about not just why it’s important to move but how exercise can actually continue to improve our quality of life. 

When I ask our active agers about the possibility of living to the age of 10, they always comment that they would be happy to live to that age under the condition that their bodies and minds are still capable of decent function, not necessarily great or even good function, but decent function to get around and still have cognitive ability.  Enough to move!

Movement is defined as an act of changing physical location or position or of having this changed (a slight movement of the upper body).”  The definition is not emphasizing how much or how intensely we need to move, it’s simply saying motion of the body, even slight motion of the body.  My goal for National Senior Health and Fitness Day is to promote moving the body! No matter what your limitations, there is an exercise that can be modified to benefit and keep the body moving!  The ultimate goal is that by movement (exercise) we will continue to improve quality of life.

So how do you keep moving with limitations?

  • First recognize your “movement” limitations and ask are they temporary or permanent? For example, if you broke your ankle and are recovering, or had recent surgery, for most those are temporary “movement” limitations. On the other hand, if you have arthritis in your knees, or have been told you have Parkinson’s then these are more than likely permanent “movement” limitations.
  • Second find an exercise routine that focuses on three things:
  1. Safety! It may be best for you to choose a movement with a limited range of motion or perform it sitting instead of standing.
  2. Strength! What will strengthen my “movement” limitations? For example, if you cannot move one arm higher than another because of a rotator cuff problem, continue to move them both separately, continuing to keep the stronger side strong and also allowing the weaker side to gain more strength.
  3. Fun! Whatever you do you need to enjoy it in order to continue doing it! If you enjoy a particular exercise classes, talk to the instructor about modification and your “movement” limitations when necessary.  Or, hire a personal trainer to design a program appropriate for you.  Remember always consult your physician before starting any exercise program.

The goal is to keep moving! If you keep moving you’ll keep improving! Celebrate National Senior Health and Fitness Day with a lifetime goal to keep moving!

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Topics: active aging senior living fitness center health and fitness

Free Workout Friday: Circuit Training for a Full Body Workout

c--users-kgootee-desktop-free-workout-friday-final-resized-600Circuit workouts are a great way to incorporate many exercises, using cardio, strength, or a combination of the two. Changing up stations throughout the workout will help increase your bouts of cardiovascular activity to increase your heart rate.  You can either choose to use time as an interval or a set number of repetitions. Don’t dilly dally and move quickly from one exercise to the next, only resting after each full round is complete.  Try for at least two rounds, if not three. 

 If you aren't much for timed workouts complete 10 reps at each stations and strive for three times around.

  • Bridge
  • Alternating lunge
  • Plank hop
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Pike
  • Superman
  • Fire hydrants
  • Leg raises

Check out this blog for another cardio circuit workout and subscribe to our blog below for more great content from NIFS Fitness Management.

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Topics: exercise at work exercise at home Free Workout Friday health and fitness

NIFS: Back to School, Back to a Routine

great_ideaFor the past couple of months, we have been able to enjoy the nice, warm weather, cookouts, vacations, and even those occasional lazy days.  While summer is not quite over, this time of year marks getting back to your everyday grind, preparing children to go back to school and hopefully including fitness in both of those plans. Why is it important to include fitness you ask? Well, it is no secret that obesity is on the rise in our country not only for adults, but children alike. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 17% (or about 12.5 million) of children and adolescence ages 2-19 are obese. If this scary statistic for children is anything like the obesity trend in adults, then we only know it will get worse. Why not set your children up for success this school year by not only getting them ready for their education but also their health and well-being! There have even been numerous studies that highlight the benefits of physical activity in regards to improved academics. If you want to read them for yourself, the website, SPARK, is a great resource. They are a research-based, public health organization dedicated to creating, implementing, and evaluating program that promote lifelong wellness for children and adolescents in schools. Of course, once the school year starts, time is a factor especially with making sure they get their homework and projects done.  So when adding fitness to your routine why not incorporate time as a family as well to make it a fun time together. This also helps you to achieve the time you need to be active as well. If you find it difficult to incorporate this routine or even need some great ideas, keep reading!

  • Either organization or chaos can come from the amount (or lack of) of proper planning and preparation. The best idea is the make a schedule of your family’s activities then plan your fitness time in just like you would do any  other event. Remember, if you don’t plan time to do it, most likely it won’t get done! Even 10 minute increments will work.
  • Your fitness doesn’t need to happen in a corporate fitness center or local gym to count. You can do a lot of activities with just your bodyweight or even get a quick cardio session in. Parks also provide some good places for fitness; some were even built for that reason. Working out at kids’ practices counts too; just as long as you are moving and not sitting in the bleachers.
  • Pack your bag the night before, so you won’t rush in the morning and potentially exclude it out of your routine. It also serves as a great reminder to work out that day.

Lastly, with all of these activities going on for your family, still make sure to schedule “me” time. There’s nothing worse than getting burnt out on different activities. Schedule time to yourself and even time for the kids to relax. You will greatly appreciate it!

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Topics: wellness health and fitness

NIFS Confessions of a Health Coach: The Right Shoe

lacing up shoesTen years ago I decided to run my first half marathon. I have never been much of a runner, so I wanted to challenge myself. I went straight to my local department store and bought a new pair of shoes and hit the pavement. After a few weeks, I started to notice some knee pain. It got worse as I went into longer runs and eventually my back started getting the aches as well. When the pain became too much, I went to see my physician. His first reaction was for me to buy new shoes and a pair of inserts. Could this really be the only reason for my excruciating pain?

YES.

I went to a running store and had my foot analyzed, ran on a treadmill, and tried on a new pair of kicks. I found the right fit according to the employees along with inserts for extra support. Then I went back to my training. The pain magically went away and I was able to complete my half marathon with ease.

Turns out, since I am a woman with hips, my knees were curving inwards as I ran. Without the extra support for my arch to straighten me out, it was causing the pain.

Moral of the story? Get the right shoes for you. Every activity requires a different type of footwear. Make sure that you are coordinating properly for your exercise whether it's in your corporate wellness center, or out in your neighborhood.

A few tips as you shop:

  • Try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet are more swollen
  • Lace them properly to make sure the fit is not too loose or tight
  • Stand on your toes to make sure your heel doesn’t pop out
  • Wear socks you plan on exercising in to have the right thickness

What is your foot type? Normal, flat, or high-arched? What kind of stride do you have? Do you over pronate and roll your foot inward, or do you under pronate and not roll your foot in enough? Or is your stride normal? An employee at a fitness store near you will be able to help you get these answers and find the best fit. Make sure you run around the store to make sure it’s comfortable. Wiggle your toes and make sure you have enough room.

Try to avoid an all-purpose shoe. This won’t give you the right backing for each activity. Running, walking, hiking, and other sports all have different criteria and need different support. Having a proper shoe for each activity will help with comfort and prevent injuries and pain.

It is also important to replace your shoes every 300-500 miles. Pay attention to how the shoe feels as you go. If you aren’t getting the same support, it might be time to get a new pair. It never hurts to have your foot analyzed each store visit and to try different shoe brands. They are constantly evolving with new options.

Lace up and be pain free!

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Topics: exercise wellness proper shoe fit health and fitness