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?

DownloadedFile-1

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.

images

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. 🙂

☮ ✌

And we could all use a little change

“Somebody once asked could I spare some change for gas I need to get myself away from this place. I said yep, what a concept, I could use a little fuel myself and we could all use a little chaaaaange.”

It turns out Smashmouth was right: the years start coming and they don’t stop coming, so we become fed up will all the rules and “hit the ground running”. Our brains become intelligent with knowledge from our learning experiences, but just because we have all this information doesn’t make us head smart or happy.

Thursday Thoughts

Many things don’t make sense in life, but I can agree with this 90s band from California, that what really doesn’t make sense is to not to live for fun. One thing that I can certainly say makes sense, is that we should be living our lives having fun.

“So much to do so much to see so what’s wrong with taking the back streets. You’ll never know if you don’t go, you’ll never shine if you don’t glow” So how do you glow? Embrace the changes that are bound to pop up in your life.

10178131_10202069261915426_4210027065332558034_n

Yesterday my roommate and I were playing “Would you rather?” and one of the most interesting discussions came from the question: “Would you rather be able to pause your life or rewind your life?” We ended up making the rules for each decision very detailed, but ultimately we all chose to be able to pause life. If humans had the capability of rewinding life and changing our decisions we wouldn’t ever truly live life freely. And as a Sagittarius I am all about my free-eee-eeedom! Love it 🙂

Whether you’ve got to speak in front of a large group of people for the first time, or you’re moving to a new area, or you are in the beginning or end of a relationship, or you’re missing someone you cared about, the ability to ride the wave of change

Change is hard. Sometimes it’s really, really fucking hard. But then we learn, and we move on. Instead of resisting the changes that come your way because you are scared of their possibilities, embrace the opportunity to create new relationships, new experiences, and be able to find happiness in a variety of situations.

I haven’t had to make a lot of extremely tough and life-changing decisions throughout my life, but my changes have always made me a better, more adaptable person. I am more versatile in my ability to communicate and relate to other people, and with this versatility comes peace.

To be able to be balanced and grounded through change helps to keep your energy balanced, which is excellent for your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

Change of scenery?
I am SUPER STOKED for the changes I’m about to make in my life. I have spent most of my life playing soccer, enjoying the people around me, and dedicating myself to getting a system education. And all of this has gone down the beautiful, monotonous Midwest. For the first time in my life, I am looking forward to not spending my summer in my hometown.

http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/about-you/are-you-caught-in-the-comfort-zone-trap-learning-to-embrace-change/#.U1nrlxymPy0

I have always lived in the same town, with the exception of spending my last 4 academic semesters in middle-of-nowhere Iowa. Even so, since a child I have been intrigued by the idea of travel. I LOVE the airport. Picking people up from the airport, dropping people off at the airport, running through the airport to make my own connection flight- I love it all. The atmosphere is full of EXCITEMENT and CHANGE even if only temporary. One day in the next couple of years I am going to get on a plane with a friend and we are going to go CHANGE ourselves by changing the way we look at the world.

As an individual who embraces the chance to change my opinions based on something new I’ve learned, my heart beats stronger when I think about the opportunities I am going to have to learn about the way people throughout the world work.

Why do we fear change? I think a lot of the fear of change comes from our brains expectation for things to stay the same. Actually, Roger S. Gil, a relationship and family expert, explains how when our expectations from previously learned information fails what we believe, stress levels rise:

Both nature and nurture will influence how we form our core beliefs about how the world works and our roles in our respective worlds. When we experience the world or ourselves in a certain way for an extended period of time, we develop core beliefs that make up our paradigm for how life is supposed to be. The experiences we have as children tend to be the most long-lasting and influential because they represent prototypical experiences that future experiences will be compared to and will likely play a key role in the development of our worldview/paradigm for life. Since our brains are still developing, childhood experiences have a greater chance of influencing how future neural connections will develop. Whether good or bad, children tend to adjust better to change since they don’t have as much “legacy material” to overcome when encountering change (i.e. their worldviews/life paradigms are still developing). As we age and our brains become less plastic, we encounter more difficulties processing changes because our paradigms are more ingrained.

Change is going to happen, we’re going to have to deal with it. Instead of fearing the inevitable change and stress it brings, we should be aware of the changes that are happening in our lives and adapt our mentality and physicality to the changes in the best manner that we can. Being aware and accepting of the changes will reduce the stress they bring along with them.

Also, we could all make some FORWARD MOVING changes in our lives, so let’s start today! I vow to change my location 😀 What can you vow to change in your own life? EMBRACE THE CHANGE

10173814_10202069263435464_5444822563145986620_n

Peace and happy change 🙂

 

An Earth-like planet found in distant solar system

I imagine that since the beginning of Earth’s time, whenever that was, people have wondered what other planet(s) did or could sustain life. Tonight when I was doing my daily browse through the Washington Post, I found that NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has discovered a planet in the habitable zone of a distant star.

This planet, Kepler-186f, is assumed to be able to hold liquid water (as opposed to ice or vapor) for 2 main reasons:
1. Kepler-186f is only 10 percent larger than the Earth, holding the record for the habitable exoplanet that is closest to the size of the Earth, and
2. In the habitable distance from its star, Kepler-186, seems to be close enough so that the planet is neither too hot nor too cold. This zone is referred to as the “Goldilocks zone”.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2014/04/17/kepler_186f_earth_sized_planet_in_the_habitable_zone.html

Depitction of Kepler-186f and its sister planets

Kepler-186 is about 500 light years away from the Earth, and a team of astronomers have discovered five other placers also orbiting this star.

Although the planet seems to be at a habitable temperature, it absorbs only one third of the stellar energy that the Earth receives from the sun, making it colder than Mars.

One part of this discovery that I have found particularly interesting is that it is possible this planet is tidal-locked, meaning it may not orbit it’s star in the same manner Earth does. As opposed to the rotation of the Earth which creates a day-night cycle, it is possible that the same side of the planet is always facing the sun. Life could still be sustainable on tidal-locked planet, but it would create a much different world and system that we are used to.

What do you think it would be like? To live on a planet like that? The calendar would have to be different and sleep may become evolutionary unnecessary like it is for humans on Earth.

The climate would be different, but what would it be like? What if it rained Nutella♡ hahaha.
2341580658_5ecb8982eb

My boyfriend brought up the point that the dark side of the planet would not be able to sustain human life because Vitamin D is necessary for life. So what IF this planet really was habitable by humans? For some reason, which I can’t deem awful for helpful, Earth could use the planet for a sort of storage of plants and other resources.

Would we use it for the benefit of our species or our home planet, help it to create it’s own circle of life, or maybe leave it alone and let it run it’s course?  I’d like to hear what people think!  What do you think?

I hope that whatever we do as humans is in the best interest of Kepler-186f as well as for other environments. “For everything that lives is Holy” –> One Love (:

So, this is exciting, I think. There are many of Earth-like planets around, but now NASA is trying to find the closest one.

“Because the telescope can’t see exoplanets directly, astronomers use a technique called the transit method to infer their presence. The light intensity from a star will normally read as continuous and flat, but if a planet passes between the telescope’s field of view and that star, it will block some light and show up as a dip in the data.”

Because of this blip, study author and astronomer Elisa Quintana of the SETI Institute, thought this blip might contain something special. Her team when scoured one patch of the sky continuously for four years until Kepler-186f was discovered.

This transit method that is used to find bumps in data would make it tough to even find Earth from afar, because it requires the planet “to be aligned edge-wise along the observer’s line of sight, passing between the observer and the star”. Therefore, many of these planets may exist but remain undetected.

I believe completely that there are other planets that can sustain some type of life as intelligent and capable as humans. Maybe some even do already and we just haven’t found them, but I’m interested for science and this study to continue!

One Love (:

Boobs need government too: why Kansas City is making changes

Once again, I love my city.

http://www.togetherkc.com/about/about-sly-james/

Photo of Mayor James

Kansas City’s mayor, Sly James, is making major improvements to the city by creating government representation more suitable for women. WE HAVE BOOBS. WE ARE GOVERNMENT. WE WANT JOBS. The Women’s Empowerment initiative is designed to increase the number of jobs and high-ranking municipal government positions for women.

“I spend half of my life in meetings,” he said. “And often there’s no women in those meetings.” Yet, as he points out, women make up 51 percent of the population and are now graduating from college at a higher rate than men. Women are a resource for government and business that should not be overlooked. He hasn’t in his office. “Eight of 12 of my staff members are women,” he said. “We look for the best person for the job and wow, guess what, they’re women.”

The initiative is a result of “collaboration between the Mayor’s Office, Central Exchange, Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and UMKC’s Women’s Center” over a series of months.

Its 2 main goals are to:
1. To create an inclusive, diverse, organization &
2.
To improve entrepreneurial women-owned business processes

http://kcmayor.org/we  In December of 2013, the Pew Research Center released a study suggesting that about 75% of women have pessimistic views regarding gender equality in the workplace. “The study finds that women under 32 now make 93 percent of what young men earn, aided by women’s higher rates of college completion. But the analysis of census and labor data also shows the gender pay gap will widen for women by their mid-30s, if the experience of the past three decades is a guide.”

Realistically, one reason for this pay-gap is accounted for in the amount of time women take off of work to start families. And accounting for the progress women have made toward equality in the workplace and community, I’m sure Margaret Fuller would be proud of women’s opportunities today. But, we’ve still got work to do.

“‘The report shows that we have made substantial progress on gender equality in the workplace,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University. “But our progress has shown us more clearly what still needs to be accomplished.'”

After reading up on Kansas City’s initiative, I am becoming excited about the strides the city is taking to help support women in the community, workplace, and government. My favorite part of the initiative is a part of Goal #1: “foster an organizational culture that nurtures diversity of perspectives and experiences”.

Breaking this objective down into pieces, I first would like to point out that I appreciate the vocabulary that was chosen. To foster means to encourage and promote the development of, so this affirms that the city will positively work toward the development of change to gender equality in the work setting.

Organizational culture suggests that the project will include people whose collaborative behavior leads them toward a common goal. The idea that the project will nurture diversity targets women in particular, as we are beings who nurture by instinct. Focusing on a woman’s perspective and experiences will create a better balance in society by accounting for all circumstances that men may not consider when creating government policies.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2014/04/03/kansas-city-mayor-promotes-womens-empowerment-initiative/ Because us women make up such a significant part of our society, I think we should be more interactive in our government and policy making. Considering that each gender is not represented equally in government committees, this could- either by choice or by unfortunate luck- result in an entire system of inequality.

Identifying himself as a black man who grew up during the Civil Rights movement, Sly James feels like he closely identifies with people who have unequal rights. I think it’s fantastic that he shows the importance of equality by improving opportunities for people of a different demographic than himself. “I think I’m sensitive to discrimination and unequal opportunities because I’m a minority,” says James, who was named one of the five most innovative mayors in the country by Newsweek in 2012, exceeding expectations in entrepreneurial infrastructure.

Kansas City: revolutionizing details of our society in order to create a better world for everybody, breasts included!

Zen in Zum

I love my city. I have no resistance to becoming a nomad, or even just moving away, but I will always defend my beloved Kansas City.

The size of the city is small, relative to other states’ large cities, but it’s a perfect place to grow up and become emmersed into a diverse culture at a young age. We have skyscrapers and farmland, art districts and ghettos. We have some mildly successful sports teams and the best American-brewed beer I have ever had– maybe my opinion is biased, but you should try it for yourself. Boulevard Brewing Co is gaining popularity around the United States and is one of the KC-made companies that I am most excited about.

Whether beer is or is not your drink of choice, Indigo Wild products are products for everyone. A company based in Kansas City, Missouri, Indigo Wild merchandises natural, clean products called Zum. Made by a health-conscious staff who believes in the importance of holistic living, the products are made for every day use such as soaps, other bath and body products, household & cleaning products, lip balm, baby products, soy candles, etc.

1982347_10201955839039925_1699864740_nThese are some of my favorite Zums. The chap-stick is great, I think I have all the flavors! I like to use the Zum Rub for muscles after a tough soccer game- it works sort of like Icy-Hot but its all natural ingredients make it a softer alternative for your skin. The Zum Face is nice because it’s a scrub that really makes your skin feel fresh and clean after you use it. Also, it isn’t made with hundreds of tiny, plastic microbeads that don’t break down and get stuck in your pores and in the plumbing.

Did you know in Albany, New York, legislators are trying to ban microbeads? The tiny plastic beads that are supposed to help exfoliate skin don’t actually dissolve once they make their long, swirly journey through the pipes. The beads actually end up polluting water, feeding the fish, and eventually feeding us fish-eating humans.

Do away with using plastic and chemicals on your skin and start using Mother Nature!! I knew using these Zum products would be better for my body, but I was extra convinced when my boyfriend read the ingredients labels on everything I had and was surprisingly impressed with how honestly good the products are for your bodies (he is a science guy so he knows the difference).

All Zum products are vegetarian.
All Zum products are vegan except: Zum Bars (goat’s milk), Zum Kisses (honey) and Zum Rub (goat’s milk).
All Zum products are gluten free except: Zum Body lotions (oat bran extract) and Oatmeal-Lavender Zum Bar (oatmeal).
Rosemary extract is gluten free and contains soy

Why Goat’s Milk? It’s great for your skin and for nature

http://www.indigowild.com/who-we-are/what-were-made-of/dirty-words

A cloud of dirty words Zum products don’t use. Check the ingredients list on the products you use every day and STOP using them if they contain all this bad stuff

 

Thursday thoughts

image

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.

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

Peace and good vibes!
Happy happy Thursday

Picking Up the Positive

Image

Happy Ash Wednesday to all those celebrating today!!

I am not Christian or Catholic, so my faith does not ask that I participate in giving up something “bad” for the Lenten season. My boyfriend, however, participates in Catholic tradition and has decided to give up something for good reason. I mentioned to him that while he is giving up this aspect of his life for 46 days he should replace it with something else so it could be a more permanent and progressive experience. In support of his decision, I have decided to participate too.

I suppose I could exile caffeine but I hear it’s good to make it to class and to finish your homework. I could stop the beverages and such but I don’t see them as negative if they are used responsibly. I thought about trying to stop cracking knuckles so much but I’ve tried that before and failed so many times.

What I have decided to do is to pick up a positive action for the next 40 days, hoping it will create a transition into habit.

I am going to write. Every day, for fifteen minutes a day, I will write. I will blog, I will journal, I will work on my creative writing senior project, I will send letters, I will make lists, I will put to use the stationary sets I get from my aunt for my birthday ever year.

My goal from this is to make writing more natural and more convenient for me. I hope that from it I will generate ideas for particular pieces of writing and that I will expand my writing avenues.

It is good for the mind to read and write.

Studies show that reading a novel improves brain connectivity. The more we read, the better alert our brains are at processing information through changes (as we grow older, our bodies and our societies change– reading helps keep us on our toes).

Writing helps too. Slightly different from reading, writing engages our minds to not only analyze and imagine scenarios in our minds, but we must first create those situations as opposed to accepting them as a narrative reality. Baby boomer neuropsychologist Jenni Odgen, and writer of both fiction and non-fiction, is “convinced that creative writing is one of the best exercises for the aging brain.”

I believe that words are good for the soul. They help us to better communicate ideas and to better analyze the words of others. If we were all effective communicators I believe the world would be a much happier place. I write not to be understood, but if my writing leads to understanding I have accomplished much.

Here I go, embarking on a 40-day writing journey. Join me! Pick up something positive and dedicate yourself to proving your willpower to yourself. It can be something small or something life-changing, but try and keep track every day so that you have a visual report of how AWESOME you are doing. 🙂 I will keep you updated with mine.

Happy positive-fying your life!

Live well.
Peace.

Music: One Good Thing

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain” Bob Marley – Trenchtown Rock

Image

I had finally talked myself into un-gluing my eyes from Breaking Bad, changing into my workout clothes and heading into the snow toward the gym, but once I was finally situated on the treadmill I realized that one vital piece of my workout wasn’t quite right: my headphones were broken! How was I ever going to run on that boring old treadmill without my meticulously-planned playlist pumping through the speakers? (Let me be honest in saying that it didn’t last very long.)

We’ve all figured out by now that living healthfully and well includes getting regular exercise. It’s convenient that cardio, strength training and CrossFit have become cultural norms, because their cool-factors sometimes influence participation. That’s excellent, because getting there is sometimes the hardest step.

So, you’re packing your gym bag– what do you need? A water bottle, a change of clothes and some headphones. As fitness programs become increasingly popular, the music industry is thriving in the gym too. Research is proving that music makes a healthier mind and body, including more focused and energized workouts.

Did you know music is linked to improved mental and physical performance?

This Washington Post article describes the significance of exercising with music, specifically in terms of beats per minute or BPM. The tempo of the music is said to cause a change in the tempo of the exercise.

Whether it’s keeping a running pace or finishing the last reps of a weight-lifting routine, listening to music helps to synchronize your mind and your body to the rhythm of the music.

Carl Foster, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin at Lacrosse, describes the important process as a metronome. He acknowledges that keeping the beat dates as far back as to the Roman rowers keeping pace of their rows by a drumbeat.

I have played competitive soccer for something like 18 years and I really enjoy staying active by running. Running is enjoyable for me but I’m not the best at it. Each year during pre-season my coach gives us a fitness test which includes running 2 miles at a specific pace. I train all summer and I never feel prepared for the test unless I put a specific 2-mile song on repeat. I have found that if my foot hits the ground in cadence with the tempo of the music, I can complete the run in just the right amount of time. (Shout-out to Chris Brown’s Look At Me Now for helping finish my 2-mile in less than 14 minutes)

Proof that it works? Maybe not scientifically, but I’m not a bad primary source.

Image

Music doesn’t just help keep a tempo, however, it’s also good for the mind. This slideshow from the Huffington Post describes 11 health benefits of music. Some of the items on the list include music’s ability to:

– Reduce stress and anxiety

– Boost heart health

– Help memory

– Protect your ears’ sound-processing abilities

– Soothe pain

– Improve stroke recovery

It’s important to keep in mind that all music isn’t suitable music for every occasion. Certain music may cause distraction or raise stress levels depending on its context.

Here is a link to another article that does a good job breaking down the different benefits and effects of listening to music – Health benefits of music

Why was I so bummed about one silly workout session without music? Because it helps fuel my energy, and your energy too. Music has been scientifically linked to increased physical performance and energy. The synchronization of mind and body make for a positive meditative experience. Instead of being distracted by details, music helps to create a focus during workouts.