Tag Archives: Stretching

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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Runner’s Life: Toenails Are For Sissies!

Happy Monday y’all!

I am so so excited about this week! Why?

  • It’s my sissy’s *she’s actually my sister-in-law, but to me – she is my little sister* prom;
  • It’s a holiday here in Quebec on Tuesday = short week at work;
  • My hubby turns 27 on the 27th;
  • I am doing a Spartan Sprint this Sunday!!!

so excitedSource

Good thing I remember it all! I know, it’s kind of hard to remember important events. But guess what, on Saturday we went to visit my parents and it was my mom who pointed out that it was exactly 2 years since Justin proposed to me!!! *HOW CRAZY! I can’t believe I totally forgot about it! I must be getting old… haha!*

 walk in a park

I took it easy that day and did some stretches in the evening when both of my loves were asleep in front of the TV.

stretches

On Sunday, however, I decided to suck it up and went on my first ever 10 mile run.

my first 10 mile run

*Unfortunately, Bella is still too little to join me… Sad face…*

It actually ended up being a bit more than 10 miles: 16.8 km in 1:56:40. I know, it’s slow, but hey, I know I’m gonna get there. I was suffering from stomach cramps for the first 2-3 km, then it was going smoothly until the last 2 km, when my legs were shot and burning. As they say, no pain no gain. Other than that, a pretty enjoyable run despite the heat and humidity.

i have a question

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Now, I need some advice from you, my dear experienced runners. One of my toe nails is REALLY not pretty *As my hubby puts it, it looks unappealing, to say the least. That’s one of the major reasons why I don’t want to put a picture of it here.* It looks like there are 2 layers: the first is a new nail and the second – the old. They are still attached on the right side, but I have a strong feeling that it won’t last for too long. I don’t know what to do with it. I am afraid that if it comes off, it will make my Spartan Beast, which is only 5 weeks away, even more uncomfortable. At the same time, I think that if it doesn’t come off now, it may happen during the race.

toenails-for-sissies

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What should I do? Is there any special way I should bandage my toe when I go running? Oh, and of course, let me know how your weekend went, I want to know everything about it!!!

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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Dealing With Tough Runs, Also Deep Stretches For Flexibility & Active Rest

So there it goes. Yesterday’s 10 km run was brutal. I am not really surprised since I took a few weeks break from running due to my extreme work overload and fatigue that came with it. But I didn’t expect it to be THIS hard.

passion

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That being said, I must admit, I am proud of myself. Proud for not giving up, and proud for sticking through it! After all, it is normal to have highs and lows, but what’s more important is how we go about it. All it takes is a little bit of extra effort, willingness and dedication. The feeling of accomplishment when you are done is SOOO worth it!

determination

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Today is my rest day. However, I thought it would be a good idea to have an active rest day instead.

it's okay to go both waysSource

And what could be better than doing some yoga?! (+ don’t forget about the Spartan 30 squats for 30 days challenge!)

Plus, I am really overdue on some good stretching!!!

How do you deal with tough runs? What are your favorite ways to have an active rest when it’s still cold outside?

xoxo
Olena

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How To Naturally Cleanse Your Body, Doing Detox Right & Ultimate Stretch Yoga Routine

For some strange reason, February tends to be the toughest month of the year for me… EVERY year… Without any exceptions! Perhaps, the winter just gets old or maybe it’s the lack of activities outside.

I LOVE being outside! I love going for jogs, walks and simply sitting at a park taking in the fresh air. However, with the super low temperatures and occasional snow storms, it’s *KINDA* hard. So by the end of the month, I start feeling… well… heavy. And no one likes that feeling, right? I can’t be alone?!

feeling fat

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Okay, don’t judge me. I know I am fine and I am NOT looking to lose any weight. However, I do want to get rid off this annoying feeling. So I figured that the best way to go about it would be to make my body take a break for a few days from any food that makes me feel that way. In other words, I want to detox my body from all those nasty things that have accumulated inside. *EWWWWW! That sounds bad, eh?!*

I will not be taking any DRASTIC measures because I find that many detoxes are NOT healthy and excessive. So this is pretty much my plan.

How to naturally cleanse your body

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These are the foods I will be focusing on and avoiding.

Doing detox rightSource

Pretty simple, right?

Planned workout for the day

Run 4 miles, perform 15 burpees every 15 minutes. Followed by this ultimate stretch yoga routine.

anti-stress yoga

Have you ever done a detox? What was your experience? Any tips?

xoxo
Olena

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The Best Restorative Yoga Poses To Relieve Stress From Indecisiveness Of Gift Shopping & What The Active Rest Day Is

I don’t know about you guys, but EVERY SINGLE TIME a holiday or a birthday comes around, I get super stressed out because I have no clue of what to buy as a gift. Like zero, nada, ZILCH! And with the Saint-Valentine’s only in 2 days, I am totally clueless… S.O.S.!!! HEEEEELP!

gift shopping

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Please, don’t misunderstand me though! Not that I don’t know my husband well enough, I actually normally have quite a few ideas of what to get for him… when there is no occasion! I always vow to myself that I will remember these ideas, and then I just forget them…

why

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I guess, I should finally learn a lesson and start writing down my ideas! *It only took me 5 years to figure that one out!*

Anyhow, since today is my rest day, I decided to take it easy and do something to calm my nerves down and hopefully come up with an idea for a gift. *Fingers crossed!* And what could be better at that than doing some restorative yoga???

The best restorative yoga poses to relieve stress

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As you know, rest days are just as important as training days. This is the time when our bodies adapt to the previous day’s workout. According to the training guide, I should make this an active rest day. Some of the suggestions are:

  • Walk to the store instead of driving,
  • Take the stairs at work,
  • Park at the far end of the parking lot,
  • Every hour take a 1-minute break and stretch

Active rest

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Now you tell me. What are your favorite restorative yoga poses? How do you prefer to spend your rest days? Also, how do you brainstorm for gift ideas?

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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