Runners Prone to Lower Back Pain

The  back is one of the most neglected parts of our body.  Many runners  have been experiencing lower back pain but tend to ignore it. Due to the repetitive nature of running, it greatly contributes to runners having back pain. Here’s how:

Running is a high-impact repetitive activity and as your feet pound the pavement, your legs absorb the impact and they do their best to transfer this energy to the upper body evenly. Often times the transfer process is not fluid and conditions like lower back pain can develop as the back takes more than its share of energy. Some of the common causes for lower back pain include overuse, unsound body mechanics and muscular imbalances.

When runners change distances and terrain, their pelvic tilt adjusts accordingly and the energy absorption from the impact of their feet distributes differently compared to flat surfaces. I like to call this mechanical back pain because the aches and discomfort are localized to the lower back area and it is most often due to improper body mechanics, overuse, and muscular imbalance.

In most cases, runners experience this because their exercise regimens consist solely of running or sprint training and the muscle groups throughout their lower body are not equal. The protective mechanisms that allow the stronger muscle groups to compensate for the weaker ones become less effective over time because of fatigue. This system of compensation promotes unsound body mechanics and overuse exacerbates the situation.

 

Read the full article at Walk Jog Run. 

 

Photo copyright by Flickr user Wonderlane. 

Meal Planning Tips for First Time Runners

Preparation for your running debut, be it marathon or a race,  includes meal planning. We know well enough that every second counts so it’s really important to avoid time wasters.  Having tummy issues on the race day is a big n0-no for two obvious reasons – 1. It can take away one’s concentration. 2. It’s really embarrassing to excuse yourself  from the race to do your business!

I am running my first half-marathon in three days. I am as nervous about the distance as I am about what to eat before my run on Sunday morning.

Should I plan on pasta for lunch and dinner each meal leading up to Sunday? Should I include protein like chicken? Should I carry with me a carb-enriched drink?

Any suggestions for the morning of my race? I’m scared to death of needing a porta-potty during the race and have none provided.

–Gordon

 

Read the advice to Gordon  at Runner’s World. 

 

Photo copyright by Flickr user loosepunctuation. 

Five Tips for Runners on a Travel

Can traveling and running go together?  Going to new places is surely exciting! But this should not be an excuse to slack off and take an entire rest from running.  If you are a traveler-runner, you should be guided by these tips to make sure you enjoyed your precious holiday  without ditching running.

One of the biggest challenges of traveling is finding ways to work in your workout. In Thailand, this required me to go joggling on unknown streets at 11:30 pm. In Utah, I had to joggle at 2 am up dark mountain roads just to ensure that I would have time to run. But this schedule juggling isn’t the only thing to consider when traveling. Here are my best tips for making your joggling or running easier while traveling.

1. You don’t need a new set of running clothes for each day. While at home I rarely wear the same running shirt or shorts two days in a row, but on the road, I do. You just need to hang your sweaty clothes somewhere that allows them to dry, then suit up again the next day. This gives you more room in your suitcase for other things (like more juggling equipment).

 

Read more tips on Just Your Average Joggler. 

 

Photo copyright by Flickr user Vox Efx.

Must Download Apps for Runners

Smartphones are in. Being healthy is in. Gladly, there are a couple of apps that can help us stay healthy in this technological era.  Here are some apps to help us in our goal of living a healthy lifestyle.  So, grab your gadgets now and hit download!

Running

Cell phones can do wonders for your runs – short and long distance. With built in features for motivation or workout changes, you can have a better run with a cell phone on your arm.

  • Tracking: Don’t know a mile from 10 feet? Neither do I – but when you track your runs, you can find mile markers to make your unconnected runs more effective.
  • Motivation: The Nike Running Tracker lets Facebook friends cheer you on – so if you need that little extra, this is the one for you.
  • Music:  Apps like jog.fm don’t just give you good tunes to run to, but make it more effective as well. Choose playlists based on BPM for more effective strides.

 

Read the full list at Will Run For Food. 

 

Photo copyright by Flickr user  ilamont.com. 

Tips to Make Running Easier for Beginner Runners

Starting a running program might be really difficult for some,  especially for first time runners.  Just like what I often hear, once your body is  accustomed to the program, you can be running without busting a sweat  in no time  (Take note: for figurative purpose only).  Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Walk to build aerobic and muscular endurance. The month prior to beginning your new venture into running, go out for a daily walk. Try to walk at least 30 minutes each day. The first week, go for an easy walk. “Easy” is faster than a stroll, but just shy of breaking a sweat. For the next two weeks, up the walk to a moderate intensity. Now you’ll be sweating, but still be able to carry on a conversation. For the last week, increase the walk to a hard intensity. During the “hard” walks, you’ll be breaking a sweat and if you’re talking, it will be more like a one- or two-word conversation. This month of walking will help to open up the lungs, get you more in-tune with your breathing, increase your aerobic capacity, as well as start building some muscular endurance in your legs. It will also help by getting you into a daily routine of exercise.
  2. Strengthen Your Core. Running actually requires almost as much upper-body muscular endurance as it does lower-body. During your pre-running walking month, add in a bi-weekly core and upper-body workout. A strong core and upper-body will help maintain good running form which will help keep fatigue from setting in as quickly when you begin your running. No fancy equipment is needed. Some light dumbbells and/or med balls will do the trick. Click here for a great core workout for runners.

Find out more tips at RunnerDude. 

 Photo copyright by Flickr user lululemon athletica. 

Top Minimalist Running Shoes for Kids

While minimalist running is on the rise, many shoe manufacturers started incorporating barefoot-running theme to their designs. Some are even smarter to consider styles for kids  who are fond of running around barefoot.Here’s a review by a runner dad about the minimalist footwear his kids had tried.

I get a lot of questions about minimalist footwear options for kids, and it’s a topic that I’m very passionate about. I feel strongly that kids should be in shoes that respect natural foot shape and allow for normal function and development. With that in mind, I thought it might be worthwhile to write a post listing the shoes that I put on the feet of my own kids with a bit of commentary on each.

I have three children: a 2 year-old boy (that’s him in the photo above sporting his Merrell Flux Gloves), a 7 year-old girl, and an 8 year-old boy. Given a choice, they prefer to be barefoot most of the time, and this is a habit that I encourage. But, there are times when shoes are needed, so this list presents the shoes that they wear most often.

I’ll start with the shoe that all three of my kid’s absolutely love and that would be their preferred option 99% of the time if allowed to choose on their own:

 

Find out what he picks for his kids at Runblogger. 

 

 Photo copyright by Flickr  user zhurnaly. 

Tips on Running Your Fastest Marathon

Gone are the days when marathons are for professional athletes only. The community has been exposed to marathons as an affair everybody can participate in. It can be really addicting especially if you wanted to know your limit, or your best running time which drives runners to join again.  So, what can you do to run your fastest at a marathon? Here are some tips and surprisingly, they have nothing to do with training!

A marathon attempt is daunting: at 26.2 miles, it challenges your body in ways that shorter races can’t even touch.

Fueling becomes critical to – you can’t store enough in your body to carry you the entire distance.

Muscle damage is inflicted from over 40,000 high-impact steps on paved roads.

Pacing is vital. You can’t recover from going out way too fast (the marathon will humble you!).

Any runner who’s completed a marathon will agree that the physicality of the race is its biggest challenge – and probably its most addictive feature that keeps people coming back for more. But running your fastest marathon and squeezing out every second of improvement is about a lot more than just good training.

If you have a big marathon goal – like maybe qualifying for Boston – every aspect of your race should be carefully planned. Today, I want to show you five ways that you can run a faster marathon that have nothing to do with training.

 

Read the full article at Strength Running. 

 

Photo copyright by Flickr user multitrack. 

How to Make Your Running Shoes Outlast

Do you always find yourself complaining about your shoes ‘ durability?  Running shoes aren’t designed to be worn forever but who doesn’t want to use it for a longer time, especially if you are on a budget. Cutting the frequency of  having to buy new running shoes is a surely  good deal for every frugal runners out there. And here are some tips to help your pair extend their miles.

So, if you have a tendency to destroy shoe soles rapidly, whether on the heel or forefoot, I’d encourage you to take a video of your gait and see if you’re a scuffer. It might explain your shoe-durability issues. I know of people who can get a thousand miles on a pair of shoes, when the same pair on another person might last a few hundred. In a case like this it’s probably due to a combination of surfaces run on and/or their form.

So how do you correct scuffing? Tough question, but I suspect it’s in many/most cases a symptom of overstriding. When you reach out too far in front of the body with the foot the chances of scuffing are greater than if you touch down gently like a barefoot runner. Think about propelling a scooter – you want the foot to contact the ground quickly and pull backward, not plow forward first then pull. The latter would destroy your shoes really fast! This explanation would apply to both heel and forefoot strikers, the location of max wear is what would differ. To correct this, avoiding reaching out would be the key. Mental cues like “vertical shin on contact” or “put the foot down behind you” can be helpful, as can a video of yourself that may give you an idea of what you actually are doing when you run.

 

Read the full article at Runblogger. 

 

Photo copyright by Flickr user puuikibeach.

Shoelace Tying Technique Can Reduce Injury

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen. ”  -  John Wooden

In our running life, more often that not, we  miss paying attention to  the small details,  i.e. how we lace our shoes.  Luckily, some are patient enough to conduct studies on these little details.  It turns out that the way we lace our shoes can affect our performance by decreasing chances of getting injury and increasing comfort. (The latter seems to be obvious. )

The results showed that shoes tied tightly reduce pronation velocity and, more importantly, reduced impact loading rates. As you might have guessed, the looser and less comprehensive lacings using only two or three eyelets resulted in increased impact loading rates and pronation velocities. Pronation has not been reliably tied to injury rates, but impact loading rates have, so a reduction in loading rate by simply tightening your shoes is noteworthy.

A tight lacing also reduced localized pressure on the outside of the foot, likely by pulling the heel deeper into the shoe’s insole. However, there was a downside—the runners consistently reported the tight-laced condition as being one of the least comfortable. However, Hagen et al. found that the seven-eyelet “heel lock” lacing at a normal tightness was just as effective at reducing impact loading rates, pronation velocity, and plantar foot pressure as the standard six-eyelet lacing tied tightly.

 

Read the full article at Runners Connect. 

 

Photo copyright by Flickr user  respectablestreet.

 

Handful Sports Bra for Active Runners

High impact activities like running call for a reliable sports bra. It should be able to provide the needed support  without compromising  comfort and style. All of these are addressed by Handful bras!  And oh, if you got a handful, you should also try Handful – as their motto goes -flatter, not flatten. 

Awhile ago, when I saw reviews for the Handful bra, I thought, how cute – but what a bummer I couldn’t wear it, at least not as a sports bra.  But after 4 children and 4 years of breastfeeding, my body has changed.  Before, I wore the super support bras when running, and even now I like feeling supported – Handful bras give me that support!  They flatter, not flatten, yet provide ample support, even for high impact activities such as running.  Handful is truly an “everyday bra that takes you from workout to weekend, looking great by itself or fantastic as a layering piece underneath.”

I first received the original handful (with the crisscross straps) and wore it almost exclusively.  It looks great as a layering piece, and works beautifully as a running bra.  Plus the removable pads shape and conceal.  I wouldn’t have thought there could be a better all-around bra…then I received the new adjustable handful.  Just as great as the original — but even more versatile.  Not only can you wear it with the straps crossed in back, it is also adjustable and can be worn with straight straps – perfect for strappy tanks!

Read more about Handful Sports Bra at Women’s Endurance Gear.

 

Photo copyright by Handful.

Homemade Sports Drink Recipe for Budget Savvy Runners

With the current economic recession, people have been on the run finding and creating cheaper alternatives –  runners included. Just imagine, how much you can save from preparing your own sports drinks! Now stop imagining and turn that into reality. Here’s a recipe for that DIY sports drink.

 

Attention endurance athletes: try making your own sports drink at home to save money!  This recipe offers close to the same nutritional profile of commercial sports drinks (e.g. Gatorade), offering 50-70 calories per 8 ounces (250 mL) with about 110 milligrams of sodium, but at a much lower cost.  Get creative and try mixing different blends of juices (such as cranberry and lemonade) instead of orange juice to mix up the flavour options.

Ingredients:

Sugar¼ cup50 g
Salt¼ tsp1 mL
Hot water¼ cup60 mL
Orange juice (not from concentrate)¼ cup60 mL
Lemon juice2 Tbsp30 mL
Cold water3.5 cups875 mL

Prep: 1 minutes Ÿ Total: 3 minutes

Find out how to prepare your own sports drink  at Runners Feed. 
Photo copyright by Flickr user zzellers. 

Creative Ways to Improve Cardio Training

Whether you are training for a race or just exercising to achieve that abs you’ve been dreaming of, routines can be daunting. Trust me, I know what  I mean here. Do you wonder  how can some people stick to their routine religiously? The secret is – creativity.

When people hear the term “cardio,” they usually think of a treadmill or other gym machine rather than improvements in heart health. Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, is any exercise that gets the heart rate up and increases blood circulation throughout the body. For these very reasons, cardio should not be neglected. Everyone has a maximum heart rate, your 100%, which you should not exceed during exercise. This can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220. There are a variety of ways to jack up the heart rate and get the blood flowing. The more creative your cardio, the more the fun you’ll have, and the more likely you are to continue with your exercise program and keep seeing results.

Running and music are two great partners. It is really hard for me to exercise without my music, but with music I can keep my runs interesting. Instead of running inside, map out a run and go for a jog outdoors. Incorporate the music you are listening to and do walking lunges, jumping jacks, hop squats, walking high knees, running high knees or burpees during the chorus, or switch to a different exercise during each chorus.  Have a song that you go to when you know you need to kick the cardio up a notch, something that motivates you. Mine is Alex Clare- Too Close. I was excited when I found that runtastic PRO has a Power Song feature, and now I use that to switch on Too Close whenever I need an extra boost.

 

Read the full article at Runtastic. 

 

Photo copyright by Flickr user  lululemon athletica.

The Rise of Stroller Running

Pregnancy introduces excess pounds to moms which do not easily go away. Taking care of the kids often leaves no time for moms to workout. To those moms who don’t have time for a routinely schedule to the gym, stroller jogging is for you! I’ve seen moms doing it and it actually looks awesome.

About a year ago I bought a jogging stroller. I had high hopes for Monday/Wednesday/Friday morning runs, pushing my little guy in the stroller while my preschooler was off preschooling.

Didn’t happen. For starters, the second (third?) time I used it, I injured my knee/hamstring while running downhill. So I didn’t want to attempt any hills while pushing the stroller (and my neighborhood happens to be all hills). And then I got serious about marathon training and I felt that my stroller runs weren’t serious enough so I shelved them.

And then it was summer and my preschooler was done preschooling and with two kids at home, the jogging stroller did me no good. With the exception of a week when the preschooler went to camp, running when the kids were with me meant running on the treadmill. No big deal.

For tips on how to start stroller running, read the full article at The Happy Runner. 

 

Photo copyright by Flickr user Serge Melki.

Can Runners Munch on Cholesterol-Packed Foods?

Cholesterol is  often attributed as the culprit of certain dangerous diseases like hypertension,  heart diseases, and obesity,  to name a few. The truth is  cholesterol can be also beneficial to the human body when consumed in moderation.  Well, how do I know if it’s good or bad….Go figure!

With that said, we also know that there are two kinds of cholesterol – LDL and HDL.

  • LDL: This is the “bad” cholesterol because it’s known to stick to blood vessel lining, which is linked to build up in your arteries which can then lead to heart disease.
  • HDL: This is considered the better of the two cholesterols because its function is to clear blood vessels of excess LDL. The cholesterol here is often on its way to your liver where it’s processed, used and reused.

September is National Cholesterol Education Month. Educate yourself. Read the full article at Will Run for Food. 

Photo copyright by Flickr user alextorrenegra.

Earth Runners : Conductive Minimalist Footwear

Are you a minimalist runner?  You should give Earth Runners  sandals a try! Earth Runners  sandals are designed to absorb more subtle electrical energies from the Earth.  Let’s see if you’ll get that “electrifying” sensation wearing this sandals.

The self-molding sandals give you that satisfying “ground feel”, while offering both protection and comfort in an exceptionally functional sandal. Earth Runners come in two unique models – the Quantum and the Ultralight; both are designed to accommodate wearers comfortably in a wide range of urban and outdoor environments. They’ve tested the sandals across hundreds of miles of terrain over the past year and now are excited to share them with the world! 


They’re passionate about promoting a more grounded way of living that’s available when we tap into and connect with the vast resource of abundant electrical energy of the Earth itself. They pledge that for every ten sandals sold, they will donate a pair toSeva Sandals  – an organization dedicated to providing sandals at no cost to children in India.

 

Read the full article at Midwest Multisport Life.

 

Photo copyright by EarthRunners.com

Ryan Hall Talks On Getting a Coach

Who doesn’t know Ryan Hall?  He’s  a long distance runner known for his exceptional faith that allowed him to run  great distances even with injuries.  Well, he has a good coach beside him all the time – Jesus Christ.  For the past 2 years, he’s been relying with his faith-based training, having conversation with God.  The good news is he’s considering of getting a ‘physical’ coach recently.

“I’ve said since I started the faith-based coaching thing, I’ve been open to working with a coach,” Hall says. “This wasn’t something I was married to for the rest of my career or anything like that.

“I’ve been digging a lot, researching a lot of different coaches and their philosophy and training plans of other elite runners, just learning a ton. I’m always learning. I’ve considered possibly working with another coach or having one as a closer advisor than I’ve had in the past.”

For now, coach Hall has banned alternative training for runner Hall, even though the inactivity threatens to drive him stir crazy. “That’s the shame – I can’t do any cross-training,” says Hall, who found even a light swim too taxing on his leg. “There’s nothing I can think of besides like an arm bike or some arm exercises I could use to stay fit and not use that quad. The quad is involved in almost everything.”

Read the full story at Runner’s World. 

 

 Photo copyright by Flickr user  jaclyneliza.

Learning the Fundamentals : Braking and Forms

How do you run?  I mean it, how do you run? Running is very simple but there are factors we have to consider for a successful and effective run.  Braking and posture are the fundamentals every runner should master.

A sport that is so blissfully simple deserves an equally simple mechanical concept. And it really is that simple, but allow me to elaborate further on efficient running:

  1. Leaning forward with a neutral-aligned trunk – head to tailbone – such that the foot lands precisely beneath it.
  2. Flexing and extending the extremities in synergistic neuromuscular movement patterns – where the end result is more powerful and efficient than the sum of its moving parts.

In essence, running is a controlled fall – forward momentum of the trunk propelled along with flexing and extending of the limbs.

But what happens if you quit “falling?”

 

Learn more about proper braking and correct running forms at  iRunFar. 

 

Photo copyright by Flickr user fatfeet_running.

Is Contrast Bath Therapy Beneficial for Runners?

 Last week I wrote a post about hot water immersion.  Now, I’ll be sharing you a  good read about contrast bath therapy which made me sing Katy Perry’s. 

 ♩ ♪ ♫ You’re hot then you’re cold. ♩ ♪ ♫ 

 You’re yes then you’re no. 

  You’re in then you’re out.

♩ ♪You’re up then you’re down. ♩ ♪ ♫ 

Will emerging yourself in a hot bath, then a cold bath or vice versa  produce positive results?

Contrast therapy seems to have emerged as a treatment option for mild muscle strains and post-exercise muscle soreness in the late ‘90s, when several studies cropped up investigating its effects. Initially, the benefits were purported to be a result of changes in intramuscular temperatures. The repeated heating and cooling warmed, then cooled the muscles of the legs, facilitating recovery.

A pair of studies published in 1994 and 1997 by William Myer and colleagues at Brigham Young University investigated this claim using needle-mounted thermometers placed just under the skin and 1 cm deep into the calf muscle. In both studies the subjects underwent a 20-minute contrast routine, starting with heat and alternating with cold every four minutes. The 1994 study used two whirlpool baths, while the 1997 study used hot packs and ice bags.

Read the full article at Runners Connect. 

Photo copyright by Flickr user Julie Jules.

Promoting Run Commute : A Practical Option Going to the WorkPlace

Biking to work is really brilliant. Imagine all the benefits biking has to offer. It’s actually more than hitting 2 birds with one stone but rather 3 birds! It’s environment, pocket, and health friendly. See?! But I have a better advice.  For more intense physical activity, you should run to work! Yeah, I’m not crazy.

But how do we do it?

want run commuting to be a movement.  I want it to gain momentum and, drawing from Runner’s World poll question, become a “realistic option” for getting to and from work.  Where do we start?

1. Run commute as often as you can.

When we’re run commuting, we are visible to other commuters out on the streets, whether they are drivers stuck in traffic, cyclists, walkers, or public transit riders.  By being seen regularly (especially while wearing a backpack), people begin to accept the notion that run commuting is realistic.  People can do it.  And that’s key - creating a new thought in another’s mind that says ‘run commuting is possible and people do it.’  Hell, it wasn’t too long ago when marathons were seen as something only elite runners could complete.  Now everyone is knocking them out.

 

Find out more on how to start run commuting at The Run Commuter.

 

Photo copyright by Flickr user abtin.eshraghi.

 

Variety is the Key: Why Interval Training Helps You Achieve Optimum Training Results

It is always said that consistency is the key to be successful in training.  This interesting infographic I found states otherwise as it summarizes the benefits of having varieties or intervals in training.

Have you been running a consistent distance for some time now, but not seeing the fitness results you want? Do you find yourself skipping workouts because you just don’t have time? It’s time you tried High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), a training method that combines short, high intensity bursts of speed with slow recovery periods of mild activity or rest. (This awesome infographic from Greatist will give you all the details). By varying the intensity of your workout, you’ll reap the benefits of both aerobic and anaerobic training. Overtime, HIIT can help improve your speed, strength, and endurance. Try out runtastic’s interval training and coaching feature for iPhone to reap these six benefits of interval training:

1. Extra Free Time

Interval training is the most efficient form of cardio, and can deliver benefits much more quickly than typical cardio workouts. In fact, research shows that 27 minutes of HIIT performed three times per week delivers the same aerobic and anaerobic results as 60 minutes of regular cardio performed five times per week. Interval training can also get you in shape more quickly – according to a 2011 study, a mere two weeks of high-intensity intervals can improve your aerobic capacity as much as six to eight weeks of endurance training.

 

Learn more about the benefits of  interval training at Runtastic. 

 

Photo copyright by Flickr user  Graham Schofield.