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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Five Accessories Every Runner Should be Using to Help with Recovery

Whether you’re a casual jogger or a competitive runner, you’re probably well acquainted with stiffness and muscle soreness.

Recovery for runners isn’t just about feeling less sore. It’s also important for preventing injuries and improving overall performance.

If you’ve been overtraining -- or just not maximizing your off-days as much as you could -- keep reading. Listed below are five accessories that can help runners (and other athletes) speed up the recovery process.

1. Massage Stick

Whether it’s your quads, calves, hamstrings, or even your feet that could use a little extra attention, a massage stick will help relieve your pain, relax your muscles, and get you ready for your next run.

Massage sticks are light and portable, so they’re ideal for runners who frequently travel (or just don’t have a lot of storage space at home).

With a foam roller, you can roll out large muscle groups easily, but it’s a little harder to focus in on the specific areas that are in need of the most TLC. Massage sticks help you get a more targeted massage, and you have more control over how much pressure you use.

2. Compression Socks

Many athletes, especially runners, swear by compression socks to help reduce swelling, soreness and fatigue after a long workout.

The idea behind compression socks (and all compression clothing) is that they put gentle pressure on the blood vessels, which prevents the blood from pooling in the extremities, particularly the legs and feet, while you are sitting or lying down.

Compression socks are particularly helpful for runners who suffer from plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the connective tissue that runs along the feet). There are even compression socks specifically designed to help treat this condition. You can learn more about them by checking out this list of plantar fasciitis socks.

3. Yoga Strap

Stretching is an essential part of recovery, but many runners tend to neglect it.

A yoga strap makes stretching a little easier, especially for people with tight hamstrings. Wrap the strap around the balls of your feet and think of it as an extension of your arms when doing forward bending stretches.

Straps are another great on-the-go recovery tool. They take up even less space than a massage stick!

4. Epsom Salts

Sometimes, a hot bath is the only thing that will cut it after a long day of training.

To make your bath even more effective for easing sore muscles, add two cups of Epsom salt to the water.

Epsom salt is not actually a salt, but a mineral compound also known as magnesium sulfate. When you soak in a bath with Epsom salts, the minerals are absorbed into the skin to help with aches and inflammation.

There are several different types of Epsom salts that you can use in your bath, including aromatherapy styles that contain essential oils. Try some lavender or peppermint oil for even more relief and relaxation.

5. Topical Pain Relief Products

Runners with sore muscles can also benefit from topic pain relief products. These products come in many forms, including creams, gels, and balms.

Many topical pain relief products contain ingredients known as counterirritants. Popular counterirritants include menthol, methylsalicylate, and camphor. They cause either a burning or cooling sensation that helps to distract you from your pain.

Topical products often contain salicylates as well. Salicylates are found in aspirin and help relieve pain and soreness.

Final Thoughts

Sore muscles and stiffness are part of life for runners. However, these five recovery tools can help your aches and pains and get you back on the road as soon as possible. Give one (or more) of them a try today!

This is a guest blog entry

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Five Easy Ways to Soothe Aching Joints at Home

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that nearly 15 million Americans suffer from severe joint pain (ranking a seven or higher on a scale from one to ten) on a regular basis. If you’re part of this group and find that joint pain is affecting your daily life, keep reading.

Listed below are five tips to help you ease your pain and home and get back to doing the things you enjoy most.

At-Home Treatments

These five at-home treatments will help ease your aches and pains and leave you feeling better than ever.

1. Take a Bath

A warm bath can work wonders for aching joints. You can up the ante even more by adding Epsom salts to the water.

Epsom salt is a chemical compound known as magnesium sulfate. Magnesium sulfate has been proven to help reduce inflammation and muscle spasms while relaxing tense spots in the body.

Add two cups of Epsom salts to your bathwater and soak for at least twenty minutes for relief from pain and stiffness.

To make your bath even more effective, add some essential oils to the water as well. Lavender oil is a great addition when your pain is caused by stress or anxiety, and peppermint oil can help further reduce swelling and inflammation.

2. Try Topical Treatments

There are also many topical creams and gels out there that are helpful for people dealing with joint pain and soreness.

Some of these products are meant for general pain relief, while others are specially formulated to help with conditions like arthritis. For more information on arthritis cream click here.

If you don’t want to go out and buy arthritis cream or a topical pain reliever, you can make your own with products you might have in your own condition.

Mix a couple dashes of cayenne pepper with 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil. Use gauze or a cotton ball to apply the paste to the skin around the joints that are experiencing pain. You can apply the paste several times per day. You’ll feel a mild burning sensation at the beginning, but most people get used to it fairly quickly.

3. Move More

It might seem counterproductive at first, but more movement is actually beneficial for people dealing with joint pain and stiffness.

When you remain sedentary, your muscles tense up and weaken. This increases your risk of injury and also causes you to compensate for weak muscles when you do have to move. Compensation leads to imbalances throughout the body that will only result in more pain and tension.

If you’re feeling stiff and sore, try to get up and do some kind of low-impact exercise. Walking, cycling, or yoga are all great options that will help loosen up your muscles and give you the relief you’re looking for.

Incorporate these movements into your schedule regularly, as well, to prevent soreness from occurring in the first place.

4. Eat (or Drink) More Ginger

Ginger is an anti-inflammatory herb that has been found to mimic the effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

There are several different ways that you can incorporate ginger into your diet. One of the easiest is to simply add a few slices of fresh ginger to boiled water to make tea.

You can also make a ginger poultice by making a paste of minced fresh ginger and olive oil. Apply the paste to the painful joint, wrapping in place with gauze if necessary. Leave it for 10-15 minutes.

5. Try Aromatherapy

Lavender and peppermint essential oils are some of the most popular pain- and stress-relieving aromatherapy options. However, plenty of others, including marjoram and rosemary oil, have also been found to soothe aching joints.

To experience the benefits, mix a teaspoon of any of these oils with a quarter-cup of almond or coconut oil. Then, simply take a deep inhale whenever you need some relief.

Preventing Joint Pain

All of these tips are great for soothing aching joints. But, it’s also important to take steps to prevent joint pain from occurring in the first place.

Some options for preventing pain and inflammation include:

•    Regular exercise
•    Managing weight to prevent excess pressure on the joints
•    Taking joint-protecting supplements like collagen, Omega-3 fatty acids, and glucosamine
•    Staying hydrated

Final Thoughts

Lifestyle changes like improving your diet and getting enough exercise can help prevent joint pain. When it does occur, though, the tips discussed above can help relieve the pain and allow you to continue living your life. Try them out today!

This is a guest blog entry.