Why You Should Use a Foam Roller

Many of you have seen them: at the gym, at the chiropractor, yoga class, or maybe you’ve heard people talking about them.  So what’s all the hype about the giant foam rollers everyone seems to be using these days?

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It’s what some may say “hurts so good”.

Warming up your muscles before any physical activity is crucial to maintaining healthy muscles throughout not only strenuous, kick-ass workouts, but also during routine, daily activities.

Orthopaedic surgeon William Levine, MD, director of sports medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, explains that to increase range of motion and and to avoid injury, it is best to warm up properly before any stretching or exercise. “Warming up increases blood flow, which increases the temperature in the muscle, which makes the collagen fibers more elastic like a rubber band,” he says.

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In the morning, as well as before exercise, take the time to warm up and stretch your body. The great thing about the foam roller is that it helps you stretch muscles and break down tissues, mimicking a certain technique used by therapists called myofascial release. Facia is a thin tissue that covers every muscles and every fiber within each muscle. So at a basic level, when we stretch, we are actually stretching the fascia.

The foam roller also helps to decrease soreness and tightness as a form of recovery.

Myofascial release is done by placing pressure on the area that is tight and applies pressure to the area, lightly stretching it. Once the tissue relaxes, the therapist moves to the next tight area and performs the same pressure-stretch technique. The goal of this therapy is for the body’s muscle tension to equalize. When the body is not symmetrical, nerves and muscles can become compressed easily, causing pain.

The foam roller is a more individual approach to this tissue release. Self-myofascial release is excellent, because it allows the user control over the pressure and the pain. Users also then become responsible for the speed of their healing and recovery process.

1. Increases flexibility
One study concluded that using a foam roller for five minutes increased flexibility in the sit-and-reach test.

2. Reduces soreness and tightness
Another scientific study concludes that a foam roller is an effective recovery tool after exercise-induced muscle damage. Because the roller stretches the user’s muscles and tissues, it leads to an increased range of motion (ROM), making daily activities become more natural and easy.

3. Prevents injuries
Exercise can become bad for your body if you don’t take care of it. Specifically, your muscles develop knots through activity, and the knots lead to more injury and decreased mobility. Releasing the knots in muscles prevents them from becoming trigger points for injury.

4. It hurts so good!
Similar to a massage, the pain we feel during foam rolling may seem counter-active, but once you feel the magnificent results of the roller you won’t question it again! Also, if you maintain a good practice over time, foam rolling becomes less painful because the muscles and tissues are in better, flexible, shape.

The foam roller has recently become my favorite remedy of pain, alone with traditional stretching.

Stay happy and stretchy, folks. 🙂

☮ ✌

Thursday thoughts

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Find your meditation and practice it.

You only need about 20 minutes a day to start feeling better through meditation. Try it out today! Take some time to reflect on balancing your mind, body, and spirit. It sounds so cliche but that’s because all of us who do it are serious about sharing this wonderful experience with all of you. 🙂

How to:
1. Pick a spot. Find a calming, clean space you can regularly use for meditation
2. Set a time. Set aside time each day to focus yourself. 20 minutes a day is a good routine, but it may seem long at first. Start with 10 minutes and gradually increase your time each week. It’s great for a morning routine. It helps wake you up, focus your energy, and prepare balance for your day. You’ll face the day feeling good already!
3. Sit comfortably. Make yourself comfortable to avoid being distracted by your posture, clothing, pillow, etc. Avoid lying down, it causes a state of sleepiness that is not ideal for meditation. You don’t have to contort your legs into flexible yoga poses, but make sure your back is straight, your body is square, and you are balanced. Keep your head up. If it’s more comfortable, you can start in a chair, or sitting against a wall.
4. Focus on your breath. In and out. When you first begin practicing meditation (because that’s what it is- practice), try to simply focus on your BEING. Your constant, rhythmic breaths are a good reminder that you are here in this moment.
5. Meditation doesn’t just have to be sitting down in a quiet room with your eyes closed trying to clear your mind of thoughts that just don’t go away. Meditate on a walk, meditate looking at the stars, meditate doing the dishes. Meditation calls for a focus on the here and now, the connection between your physical body and your mental location. Try and match them up and you’ll open a whole new bundle of happiness and good energy.

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(http://roohowaryoga.com/tag/meditation-quotes/)

Peace and good vibes!
Happy happy Thursday

Organic: The Superhero

“Organic is something we can all partake of and benefit from. When we demand organic, we are demanding poison-free food. We are demanding clean air. We are demanding pure, fresh water.” -Maria Rodale

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Organic vegetables at a farmer’s market in Argentina

I would rather eat eggs all different shades of speckled-brown from chickens that wander around the yard all day and eat a bug or two. They are SO much better than the eggs you get from the grocery store! I live in a rural area, so it’s easy for me to get ahold of locally grown, organic foods, but you can find them in almost any area!

Organic food is better for insects, animals, humans and the environment. With all that good, organic is the newest popular superhero.

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A farmer at Kansas City’s farmer’s market trades produce

Google definition:
or·gan·ic/ ôrˈganik/ adj.
1.of, relating to, or derived from living matter.
“organic soils”
synonyms: living, live, animate, biological, biotic 
2. of, relating to, or denoting compounds containing carbon… produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.
synonyms: pesticide-free, additive-free, natural

So, the idea of organic is truly fantastic.

The Good:
1. Organic food is grown without the use of synthesized fertilizers or pesticides
– Some studies show that children and fetuses may be harmed by even a tiny amount of pesticides
2. Synthetic pesticides are chemicals that are designed to kill or keep pests away
– The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes that these pesticides may harmfully affect the nervous system, the hormone or endocrine system, may irritate the skin or eyes, or may be even be carcinogens (directly linked to cause cancer). Organic food is not grown with the use of these harmful chemicals, but instead is grown using pesticides made from natural sources (biological pesticides). Washing produce does not rid it of the pesticides, however, it does remove foodborne-illness pathogens, so don’t skip that step!
3. Like humans adapt to the flu virus, pests may adapt to pesticides
– Conventional farming is NOT sustainable. Pests may develop and immunity to the chemicals, causing a development of stronger chemicals that are more harmful to animals, people, and the soil. Also, because conventional farming is less expensive than the organic alternative, it is keeping organic from becoming more easily affordable. Organic farming uses natural methods to get rid of unwanted pests.
4. Organic isn’t limited to food!
– Sustainability is one of those things that’s just hard to hate. Organic pesticides and products are better for the environment! They can be used for more than just produce or meatf! For you ladies who want natural beauty products, these 4 makeup brands are certified organic by the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture). It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the USDA only certifies products if they are made with agricultural resources. I know Sephora advertises natural and organic products, but I am not sure of the validity of that. If you love Sephora, as most women I know do, make sure to ask next time you stop in!

simplegetfile.gif This is the seal you will see if the USDA has certified a product organic.

Organic.org does a good job describing the differences between different types of organic. The labeling can be tricky or misleading, but they have tried to sort out the differences for consumers. Here are the three most commonly used/ confused labels:

  • Something that is 100% organic is made with 100% organic ingredients (excluding salt and water). These foods may be labeled with the USDA organic seal.
  • Organic foods contain 95%-99% organic ingredients by weight, and the remaining ingredients have been approved by the NOP. These foods may be labeled with the USDA organic seal.
  • Foods labeled Made with Organic Ingredients are made with 70%-94% organic ingredients. These products will not be labeled with the organic seal, but may list up to three organic ingredients on the front of the package.

The USDA has a blog, and in 2012 they had a series called “Organic 101”, in which their efforts were directed at clarifying some of the organic food dialog. requires that farmers and handlers document their processes and the processes are observed from everything to the “seed sources, soil conditions, crop health, weed and pest management, water systems, inputs, contamination and commingling risks and prevention, and record-keeping”

BUT WATCH OUT!

The Misleading:
1. “Organic” doesn’t mean “local”
– People sometimes use these words interchangeably. Some organic food travels overseas to reach you in your local health market or grocery store. Choosing local is good because the goods are fresh, you are supporting your community, and you can check out where you are getting your food and goods.
2. The USDA does not regulate seafood
– Because seafood is, well, seafood, it’s difficult to regulate what the animals are consuming (see my last post). Be wary if you see seafood packaged or labeled as organic- there is no real way to tell that it is.

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Kansas City Farmers’ Market

3. Being organic doesn’t make something a “superfood”
– America’s recent health kick has included a lot of talk about superfoods, but while organic food has many benefits over conventional food, that doesn’t mean it’s probably going to boost your immune system greatly, or help your heart health.  However, reducing your intake of pesticides and chemical fertilizer is a healthy decision.
4. Organic animals do not receive antibiotics
– “Organic practices prohibit the use of hormones, antibiotics… If an antibiotic is used to restore an animal to health, that animal cannot be used for organic production or be sold, labeled or represented as organic.” I feel like, what if the cow was sick and they didn’t know it or didn’t do anything about it because they can’t give them antibiotics? That’s probably not good meat for us to be eating. The Organic Trade Association has compiled a group of studies done by doctors, scientists, and researchers on the use of antibiotics on animals and how it is harmful when transfered to humans.

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The entrance to the farmers’ market in my city, which I adore. Kansas City, MO

—–> Just because a food isn’t labeled “organic” doesn’t mean it isn’t organic
– The problem with the system of identifying organic products is that it’s not an easy process; It takes a few years and thousands of dollars. Many small farms or agricultural business do not have the funds to be certified organic. Another perk of buying locally: you can ask! Or even go see for yourself if they are willing to let you take a peek!

Food For Thought: If everybody in the world chose to eat only organic meat, it may be difficult for agriculturalists to keep a large enough yield of organic feed. However, if the population as a whole began eating less meat, we could yield an abundance of organic foods, also making them more convenient and affordable for a greater number of people.

Help this superhero keep you healthy: buy organic!

Peace and happy organic eating!