Everyday Stretches

Stop being a howdedodat… Here’s how:

Stretching

                  With the amount of time spent at a computer or in a car these days our bodies are being put in positions they are not meant to be in for long durations. Being in these positions for a long time leads to adaptive shortening of our muscles and connective tissue. Stretching daily will help overcome restrictions and tightness felt in the body, and will help you regain your normal range of function.

Here is a stretching routine that will only take about five minutes, and it will do you a world of good! You can do it as you wake up, as well as before you go to bed at night. Reverse the order when doing the routine before bed. See pictures for additional help with proper form.

  1. Piriformis stretch:  Lying down face up with knees bent, place your right ankle on your left knee. Grasp behind your left thigh and bring it toward your chest. Hold when you feel a stretch in your right buttock muscles. Be sure your head and shoulders are relaxed. Repeat with other leg.
  2. Hamstring stretch: Lying down face up with your legs straight, bring one leg up toward your head and grasp it behind the knee or thigh. Straighten your leg as much as possible and hold when you feel tension along the back of your thigh. Be sure to relax your shoulders and neck. Repeat for other leg.
  3. Hollywoods: Sitting up with legs outstretched, place your right ankle on the outside of your left knee. Put your left elbow on the outside of your right knee, and twist your torso to tension. Be sure your neck and shoulders are relaxed. Repeat with other leg.
  4. Cervical stretch: While sitting up begin by trying to bring your right ear to your right shoulder. Use your right hand on top of your head to bring the stretch to tension. You should feel a stretch in the left neck and shoulder region. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Bruegger’s stretch: While sitting bring your chest up and tuck your chin. Be sure you are looking forward still. Bring your shoulder blades together with arms outstretched and as far behind you as you can. Be sure your palms are facing up. You should feel a stretch in your pectoral muscles, the back of your neck and between your shoulder blades.
  6. Hip flexor lunge: Standing up, place one foot in front of you. Be sure to bend the knee no more than 90 degrees. Place your other leg behind you as far as possible and be sure the heel is off the ground. Slowly begin to lean forward until you feel a stretch along the front of the thigh on the leg that is behind you. Be sure to keep your head and chest up, relaxed, and looking forward. Put your hands on your bent knee for support. Repeat for other leg.

Remember to hold stretches at tension for 30 seconds. This is the time needed for the muscle and tissue to relax and lengthen. Do not stretch into a painful range, this can cause injury. Hold the stretches where you start to feel the muscle tension (mild discomfort).

This post is for education purposes only. Be sure you are healthy enough before starting any stretching or exercise regiment.Image

Omegas

Stop being a howdedodat… Here’s how:

Omegas

                Everyone has heard the buzz about omega-3, omega-6, or fish oils. However, many people are still in the dark about what these words mean and why it should be important to them. I hope this will help clear up some of the confusion.

                Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary for human life and must be obtained through the diet. EFAs are needed for the body to function properly. Omega-3 and omega-6 are two of these EFAs and they are found in the body’s cell membrane.

                Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are two types of Omega-3s. They are found in most cold water fish. These omega-3s occur together in nature and work to balance the effects of omega-6s. They have many health benefits, including promoting healthy vision to strengthening the immune response.

                Linoleic acid (LA) and Arachidonic acid (AA) are two types of omega-6s, and are found in vegetable oils and red meat respectively. These omega-6s are in charge of pro-inflammatory signals. They cause constriction of blood vessels and promote inflammation.

                Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are needed for survival. The problem this day and age is that our diets tend to be very high in omega-6 fatty acids and very low in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids compete for space in the body’s cell membrane. Without omega-3s the body’s cells become compromised leading to decreased health (increased inflammation). Omega-6s seem to be winning out, and are causing a chronic diseased state in the bodies of our population.

                You can increase your amount of omega-3 fatty acids in two ways: Through diet, and by supplementing with a pill or oil. In your diet you can consume less omega-6s (red meat, dairy, eggs) and start eating more omega-3s (tuna, salmon, oysters, halibut). If you are supplementing with an oil or pill remember to look at the labels. Look for EPA and DHA levels. Often times the labels will say 1000mg soft gel, which is referring to the size of the pill only, and not the levels of EPA and DHA within. International intake guidelines suggest 500mg EPA and DHA to avoid deficiency, 1000mg for support, and 2000 to 4000mg for high intensity support.

                I hope this has helped clear up some of the confusion and shown the importance of omega-3s and why we desperately need them. Remember that this information is for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of a health specialist before starting any new supplements.