Tag Archives: Flexibility

Yoga During Lunch Break? Yes, Please!

Good morning, beauties!

Today’s post will be rather short and sweet. And here is my motivation:

yoga outside

Here is a back story.

Even though it was super hot and humid yesterday, I decided to go outside for my lunch break and read a book. I just love being outdoors and I’ll take heat over staying indoors from 8.30 am till 5 pm.

What you may not know is that I work in a very beautiful part of Montreal, Old Port. Needless to say, every walk is really a treat on its own. However, I didn’t have to walk far to see a large group of people doing yoga with an instructor, just like that. How awesome is this?!?! I was literally freaking out from jealousy. All I wanted to do is strip off my corporate outfit and dive into yoga with them. It’s be so awesome to go for a lunch break and do… YOGA! Outside! This is on my to do list now. I MUST FIND OUT! I mean, sign me up right this moment, HELLO?!?!

yes please

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Since today is my rest day, I decided to have a nice yoga workout… preferably outside. Hehe!

The following 20-minute Yoga flow for detox and digestion seems to be fitting as to what my body really needs and CRAVES right now.

And, of course, don’t forget the bear crawl challenge!!! *wink, wink*

Do you have possibility to take a fitness class or squeeze in a workout during your lunch break? How do you work around it?

xoxo
Olena

 

 

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Got Shin Splits? Have You Tried These Foot Stretches?

Can I be a meanie for a moment?! Just for a tiny little short moment… IT’S MY DAY OFF!!!

day off

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Today is a Saint-Jean-Baptiste day in Quebec. This obviously means that there’s no work. I couldn’t be happier to spend this day with two of my favorite munchkins and watch Italy vs. Uruguay FIFA game with some friends! *Go Italy Go!*

Yesterday was my sissy’s *sister-in-law* prom. She looked stunning, and I couldn’t be any prouder!

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*Do I look the youngest in this picture? Well, you are wrong! I am the oldest… I preserve well! Haha! Oh, and maybe, just MAYBE, I’d look a little more mature if I wore heels, but I was hiding my ugly toe nail… BUMMER!*

Continuing on to the foot subject. A few days ago I received an email from one of my readers. Here is the question he asked:

“I am wondering if you had to spend a lot of time doing the exercise in the picture I attached, and if so, was it as painful as it looks?”

toe exercise

Gosh… I never liked foot stretches! They were the death of me!

We indeed did quite a bit of them. This doesn’t come as a surprise, I hope. The ability to point your toes and show off your ‘arch’ is crucial to success of a rhythmic gymnast. Not only pointed feet look more aesthetically beautiful and impressive, a failure to point them enough could cost you a few points. *True story!*

Some of the girls I trained with had naturally flexible feet. My feet, however, always cramped up, no matter how many exercises I did.

toe stretches

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This paints a familiar picture of what was happening at the gym before a class began: Girls trying to warm up and stretch as much as possible. That being said, I’ve got to point out a small technical error in this image: Your heels should always touch each other, otherwise, this exercise is pointless because you are getting the stretch in all the wrong places.

Here is another good stretch.

Pointed-Foot-Stretch

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Did you know that foot stretches are important for runners too? Doing the mentioned above stretches on a regular basis can even help with shin splits. According to Coach Sommer, ‘… tight anterior tibialis (the muscle that runs up and down along the front of the shin), in combination with micro-traumas to the muscle’s attachment to the bone, are the primary cause of shin splints. As gymnasts, shin splints can occasionally be an issue for some athletes. Aggressively stretching the tibialis coupled with high-rep low-intensity sets of toe raises (where the toes are lifted off the ground, rather than the heel as in calf raises) will usually resolve shin splints in short order.’

Finally, I found a really great article at Runner’s World on how to strengthen your feet and ankles. Try doing the following exercises 3-4 times a week and you should see a difference pretty soon.

THE MONOPOLY GAME:
Put 10 small objects on the floor–like marbles or Monopoly pieces–and place a small cup nearby. Using your toes, pick up the pieces one at a time and put them in the cup. Do two sets of 10 with each foot.

 

THE DRUNK FLAMINGO:
Standing on stable ground, balance on one foot with your eyes open. Once you can do that for one minute, try it with your eyes closed. Master that and then move to an unstable surface–like a mini-trampoline, foam block, wobble board, or Bosu trainer. “Balancing helps strengthen your ankles and feet as well as your core,” Schneider says.

TOE TUG:
Loop one end of an exercise band around a sturdy table leg or bedpost. Sit with your legs straight in front of you, and loop the other end around the top part of one foot. The band should be anchored straight in front of you, and it should be taut when your foot is pointed away from you. Pull your toes toward you, keeping your leg straight. Go as far as your ankle will let you. Release slowly, returning to the starting position. Do two sets of 20 on each leg.

BENT-KNEE WALL STRETCH:
Runners often forget to stretch the soleus – a muscle deep in the calf that attaches to the Achilles. “Doing a calf stretch with a straight leg hits the gastrocnemius, but that’s only half the battle,” Schneider says. Here’s how to target the soleus: Stand with your palms against a wall, one leg forward, one leg back. Lower into a “seated” position with legs bent. Lean into the wall until you feel it in your back calf. Hold 30 to 45 seconds then switch legs.

NEGATIVE CALF RAISES:
Stand on a step with your toes on the edge and your heels hanging off. Push up with both feet into a calf raise. Lift one leg off the step, and lower your other leg so that your heel drops below the step. Take at least 10 seconds to lower it all the way down–that’s the eccentric part of the move and has been shown to help prevent Achilles tendinitis.

PLANTAR STRETCH:
Sit down barefoot and cross your right leg so that your ankle rests on your left thigh. Hold your toes and bend them back toward your shin, stretching the plantar fascia. A study showed that people suffering from plantar fasciitis had a 77 percent chance of returning to full activity within three to six months after performing this stretch. Researchers suggest that you do the stretch 10 times at least three times a day (once or twice a day doesn’t produce as strong of an effect).

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it hurts now

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Do you remember to warm up and stretch your feet before going for a run? What are your most favorite exercises?

xoxo
Olena

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7 Post Race Recovery Tips & Recollections From My Rhythmic Gymnastics Days

I’ve been sore… VERY SORE!!! The Spartan Race seems to have taken my ability to walk away. I am NOT kidding you!

walking down stairs after a long run

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It’s funny and somewhat random, but as I was looking for the above picture, I came across this one:

walk-down-stairs-backwards

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It seems like such a GREAT idea. I don’t know how I haven’t thought of this on my own. I’ll definitely give it a try! *Haha!*

You know what? Since my blog is based on a scientific research *wink, wink* and my continuous curiosity, I decided to actually leave my laptop and try walking down stairs backwards… It is indeed easier and much less painful! *Happy dance!* Nevertheless, I think I’ll refrain from doing it in public… just in case!

I’m still a newbie when it comes to running . Therefore, it’s not surprising that I knew very little about what I could do in order to recover from a long run or race faster.

road to recovery

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In fact, proper race recovery is essential. There are a few things we can do in order to speed it up.

  1. According to Activekeep moving right after the race, even if you are dead tired. Do these stretches while your muscles are still warm.
  2. Runner’s World suggests to take a few easy days. The general rule of thumb is one day of rest for each mile. However, please note that “rest” does NOT mean no running or exercise, but rather a break from intense training like speed work. Rest days can include short, easy paced runs or cross training, like swimming or spinning, at an easy intensity level. Exercise promotes circulation, which brings nutrients and oxygen to soft tissue; therefore, enhanced circulation replenishes and repairs the body, which means that exercise can assist with recovery, provided it is done at a low intensity level so as not to stress the body further.” 
  3. Even though it may be extremely painful, roll it out. Make sure not to be harsh on your body. Read here more on various foam rolling techniques.
  4. Hydrate. Read my previous blog post on hydration to find ways to remember to drink enough water throughout the day.
  5. Eat well.
  6. Stretch it out. Check out the following deep stretching and ultimate stretch yoga routines, and Pilates flexibility workout routine.
  7. Treat yourself to a well-deserved massage.

ready set go

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Since I touch-based the subject of stretching today, I thought it would be a great opportunity to answer a couple of questions about rhythmic gymnastics that one of my readers asked me a while ago. I kept on delaying this post because I wanted to get a few pictures from back in the days during my trip to Ukraine last month. However, due to family circumstances, I completely forgot about them. SORRY!

How old were you when you started with rhythmic gymnastics and how many years did you continue it for?

As some of you may already know, I did rhythmic gymnastics for quite a few years. I think, I started doing it when I was about 7-8 years old (rather late since the average age of beginners is around 5 years old), and stopped around 16. I achieved a rank of a Candidate in Masters of Sport, which I am very proud of.

What were your coaches like? Are they as strict as people think?

No, unfortunately, coaches in Ukraine are not as strict as people in other countries think, they are much stricter! Haha!

I won’t lie, I hated it at times. However, in retrospective, my coaches taught me a lot and I really miss the discipline that came with it. We had 5-6 practices a week, at least 3-4 hours each. It wasn’t a strange thing to see girls crying at the gym. Mostly, it happened when we were stretching. We were required to do splits from 1 or 2 chairs and someone would push us down to the floor.

rhythmic gymnastics splitsSource

I remember this one day, when my dad was trying to explain me a concept of yoga when I was little. I couldn’t understand how could you simply let your body adjust to pain and stretch without anyone yelling or pushing you down. *Sounds crazy, right? Haha!*   

Speaking of yelling… It is considered normal. Hearing names coming your way was definitely unpleasant, especially in front of parents, but not frowned upon.

Oh… and pinching!.. especially during choreography lessons! Our coach was used to pinch us with a twist of skin, so that it would really really hurt but wouldn’t leave a mark. *Now I use this method on my hubby when he ‘disobeys’. True story! Haha!*

I know, I know… It sounds absolutely horrific. But please, believe me, it wasn’t any sort of abuse, and I really miss those times! And the above memories actually made me giggle as I was writing them down.

Last story for today… We were training for the Championship of Ukraine. I don’t really remember the details, but the coach got really mad at one of my teammates. She wanted to come up to her and smack her or something, but the girl started running away! This was a surprise to us all, including the coach. We were somewhat stunned by what was happening but intrigued at the same time. Guess what?! Our coach wasn’t going to let it slip, so she took off her shoe and threw it at my friend. Thankfully, she missed her, but this forever stayed in my memory. I laugh every single time I tell someone this story! Good old times!!!

memories

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Please, do let me know if you would like to know more about my rhythmic gymnastics days. Ask away!

Now it’s your turn. How do you recover after a serious race? What are some of your childhood memories that make you laugh, even though it may make others frown?

xoxo
Olena

 

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My First 8-Miler, 7 Power Foods To Beat The Slump At Work, And Yoga Sequence For Runners

Guys! I did it! I ran my first 8-miler yesterday!!!

I know, it might sound like not a lot, but I am proud of my accomplishment. I was a bit worried after my last tough 4 mile run last week, so I took it easy and ran 8.16 miles in 1 hour and 20 minutes. To my surprise, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Here is my somewhat surprised, tired and proud face. Haha!
after the run

At some point of the day, I got a little nervous though. It was another busy day at work and I felt tired and ready to hit my bed. But then I thought of yesterday’s post and the importance of acting energetic… and ummmm… well… I got myself a bottle of Vitamin water… There! Guilty as charged!

guilty as charged

 

I know, I know! I am a bad girl, and that stuff is really not good for you. But you gotta do what you have to do, right? Haha!

There are actually other ways to recharge your batteries while at work that do not involve drinking stuff you shouldn’t be drinking. According to Live Strong, the following are 7 power foods you could have at work to beat the slump:

  1. Walnuts and almonds.
  2. Low-fat diary.
  3. Avocado and olive oil.
  4. Hard boiled egg.
  5. Blueberries.
  6. Dark chocolate.
  7. Citrus fruits.

Also it is very important not to skip breakfast, eat well-balanced lunch, get proper sleep, and avoid sweets to prevent midday sugar crushes.

full-of-positive-energy-and-its-gone_o_814242

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Today is my active rest day. I will try out the following 10-posture yoga sequence from PopSugar. Here is an instruction from the website: Move through each pose, holding for five breaths, and then repeat on the other side. *Not sure I’ll be able to do the last pose though! LOL!* Also, don’t forget the Spartan 30 push ups for 30 days challenge: Day 3!

be3a267c403f4129_yoga-for-runners-pinterest-poster-350

 

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What achievements are you proud of? How do you maintain your energy levels at work?

xoxo
Olena

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How I Jinxed Spring, Stability Ball Training 101 & 11 Super Effective Exercises For Your Core

So… um… I jinxed the weather! It went from nice and warm to a snow storm and 15 cm of snow. Winter, I am so over you!

I'm tired of winter

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Therefore, when it came to asking a question: gym or no gym? My answer was a strong: I don’t think so!

I don't think so

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Especially, that I’ve got a great alternative! How about a workout with a stability ball that I purchased about a month ago for situations just like this one?! BINGO!

First of all, benefits:

  • Inexpensive
  • Effective and low-impact core workout
  • Improve posture & stability
  • Muscle balance
  • Increase flexibility
  • Must-have if you have back or spine problems
  • Great rehabilitation from back, hip and knee injuries
  • Strengthen abdominal muscles

Second, I wasn’t aware *most likely beacause I am a dum-dum*, but there are actually guidelines as to how to choose the right ball! According to ACE Fit, when you’re sitting on the ball, your knees and hips should align at a 90-degree angle. You can find the following guide extremely helpful:

correct ball sizing

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Here is my take on 11 FANTABULUOUS stability ball exercises:

2 Push Up variations

Ball Pass

Standing Side-Splits with a Ball

Standing Side-Splits with a Ball

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Frog Jump

2 types of Roll-Outs

Plank Shoulder Taps

plank shoulder taps

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Back Extensions

Standing Plank

Hamstring Curls

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

SONY DSC

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Do you like trying out new exercises? What was the last time you tried something new? What’s your favorite stability ball exercise?

xoxo
Olena

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Ending The Week On a Flexible Note: Pilates Flexibility Workout Routine

It’s finally Friday! I’m so happy that I am literally doing an imaginary twirl right this moment. You should try too, it’s so much fun! Haha!

It’s been a long week because our little puppy *or shall I say our little shark… wait… I think I’ll settle for piranha…* is teething. For those of you who’ve never dealt with a teething puppy, think of a thousand needles piercing your body at any given point of time, all day, EVERY DAY. Add some curiosity a.k.a. constant running around and you’ll end up with this:

Bella on my laptop

Little punk!

Anyhow, I felt that it would be appropriate to finish the week off with a nice stretching routine to de-stress, re-energize and make my muscles relax – a perfect way to start the weekend off the right foot. I chose the following under 20-minute pilates flexibility workout. It’s fairly straight forward, all you have to do is to hold each position for 30 seconds.

Pilates Flexibility Workout Routine

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You can also check out this quick Yoga workout and learn the benefits of each pose, if you’d like.

mailman-being-chased-by-dog-stretching-first

What are your thoughts on this workout? What are your favorite ways to relax and re-focus? I’d love to know!

xoxo
Olena

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Benefits & Pitfalls Of Pole Dance Fitness, And A Creative 20-Minute Core & Flexibility Workout For Those Of Us That Don’t Have Access To A Pole

Recently, I’ve been hearing more and more about pole dancing classes. And to be completely honest, I am intrigued! *Gasp* What? I said I AM INTRIGUED! Haha!

Exercising with dance poles has become one of the hottest workout trends. And since I am such a curious Nancy, I decided to take a look into potential benefits of such a workout prior to dishing my money out. Hey! I am not cheap, I just like to know what I am paying for. Don’t we all, anyway?

And to be frank, I am completely blown away after my little search. Take a look at this.

benefits of pole dancing

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Not only that pole dancing seems fun and exciting, it targets your ENTIRE body. Since this workout combines isometric and isotonic movements, it can work some of the muscles you never knew existed before. Now you see why I am so intrigued?!

However, there is also another side to it… a painful side a.k.a. BRUISES!

a quick guide to healing bruises

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Hey! I gotta cover it all, no?! But despite the bruising, I think I’m gonna give it a try in the future. Worst case scenario: I’ll be super sore for a couple of days and bruised here and there, but at least I would have had fun. *A wide smile from ear to ear!* 

Since I don’t have an access to a pole at home *DUH!* and still want to *need to* strengthen and tone my core, I settled for the following core workout.

Followed by this easy toning and stretching routine.

So tell me now, have you ever tried a pole dancing class? What are your thoughts on it? If not, would it be something that you would consider checking out?

xoxo
Olena

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