Sunday, February 26, 2012

Knee Stretches - Prevent Injuries

I had a ski accident when I was a teenager. Since then, even after several treatments, my right knee stayed weak... Getting older & running doesn't help... but with stretches exercises, I can manage to run a little bit more without pain...

The knee is the most commonly injured joint in all age groups. It is especially susceptible to damage during athletic activities and exercise. However, stretching and strengthening the muscles and tendons of the knee joint can help reduce risk of injury. 

Stretching is not warming up! It is, however, a very important part of warming up. Warming up is divided into three phases:

  1. general warm-up
  2. stretching
  3. sport-specific activity
It is very important that you perform the general warm-up before you stretch. It is not a good idea to attempt to stretch before your muscles are warm (something which the general warm-up accomplishes).
Warming up can do more than just loosen stiff muscles; when done properly, it can actually improve performance. On the other hand, an improper warm-up, or no warm-up at all, can greatly increase your risk of injury from engaging in athletic activities.

Quadriceps Stretch

Stretch the front of your knee. Do a quadriceps stretch by sitting in a rocking chair. Keep your feet firmly on the ground. Gently rock back and forth. This knee stretching exercise stretches both knees at the same time. You can also do this exercise in a four-legged chair. While sitting in the chair, slide your body forward until you feel a stretch along the front of your knee. Slide back into the chair. Repeat.
Do a standing stretch. Hold onto the back of a chair. Lift your leg up, as if touching your heel to your butt. Grab your foot. Stretch your thigh muscle as far as you can. Hold this position for as long as you can. Return to original position. Repeat. Do the same with your opposite leg.

Do a side stretch. Lay on your side with your legs together. Bend your upper leg and grab your ankle. Gently pull your leg up and away from your other leg. Pull until you feel your thigh muscles stretch. Hold for 20 seconds. Return to original position. Roll over and repeat with other side.


Hamstring Stretch

Sit on a flat surface. Extend your legs in front of you. Gently lower your abdomen and attempt to touch your nose to your knees. To further the stretch, hold onto the bottom of your feet.

Do a vertical hamstring stretch. While standing, bend over and touch your toes. Stretch as far as you can and let your hands touch the floor. To increase your knee stretch, step onto a stair, then bend over and stretch as far as you can.

Calf Stretch

Stand and face a wall. Place your hands against the wall with your arms outstretched and your elbows straight. Keeping your left knee slightly bent, turn the toes of your right foot slightly inward. Take a step back about one to two feet with your right leg. Keep your heel and foot flat on the floor. Your right leg calf muscle should be stretched at this point. Hold for 20 seconds. Then, bend your right knee. Keep your heel and foot flat on floor. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat this exercise with your left leg.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What to eat & drink after a workout?

I changed my work hours from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM... It is saving me 1:30 h each day in traffic... I call that improvment! :)

5:45 AM: Waking up
6:15 AM: Leaving the house
6:20 AM: Dropping one monkey @ the day care
6:30 AM: Driving to work. Good thing they offer coffee at the day care, I'm kind of having breakfast in the car... I always take something to eat from home, a bagel or a cereal bar... something not to messy... Don't laugh, I'm driving for one boring hour in traffic... got to find something to do right? :)
7:30 AM to 4:30 PM: Working
4:30 PM: Driving to the day care
5:30 PM: Picking-up monkeys
5:45 PM: Home, preparing dinner for monkeys & baths...
8:15 PM: Monkeys in bed
8:20 PM: Jumping into sports clothes & starting to train...

So... let's just say that trying to add the task to plan meals or snacks after I'm done is another story... BUT... I've read that what you eat after a workout is very crucial.
Ok... where is the chef?

The post workout meal is one of the most important meals for the day which can either improve or damage the overall fitness...  

Why you should eat after your workout?

During a training session, you spend one, two, or maybe more hours depleting your body's energy stores, and pound the muscles. That is why, it's essential to replenish it so that you can recover as quick as possible and begin the next session with ease. Building lean muscles and maintaining them takes a lot of work, and exercise provides you the stimulus to adapt to it. Your body also requires energy from the kind of food which it intakes to supply enough energy.

What to eat after completing your workout?

Besides water, the
best thing to eat after a workout should contain 2 things: protein and carbohydrate. After every cardio and weight training exercises, you need to replenish your body with foods which are high in protein and carbs. Also, keep a note of how many calories you are consuming. Depending on the number of calories burned, you should eat half of that amount. In order to know what to eat after a workout to build muscles, you should strive to consume rapidly-absorbing protein shakes. Apart from these, here are some more suggestions:
  • Eggs and toast
  • Fresh vegetable or fruit juice
  • Brown bread vegetable sandwiches
  • Brown bread chicken sandwiches
  • Low fat ice cream
  • Cottage cheese and fruit
  • Protein or energy bar/shake
  • Cereal and skim milk
  • Vegetable omelet with brown bread
  • Dried fruits and nuts (unsalted)
  • Almond butter & jelly sandwich
  • Yogurt with a half cup of granola
  • 1 cup of cereal with milk & sllices of banana
What not to eat after your workout?

Always stay away from eating any foods which contain fat in them, especially after a workout because it slows down your body's absorption rate (absorb nutrients) and digestion of proteins and carbohydrates.

When should you eat?

In the first hour after you finish the workout, it's considered to be your body's "golden hour", which means that the glycogen stores get depleted and the enzymes convert the glucose into glycogen. This glucose is consumed and replaced in the muscles for lost glycogen. Along with best foods to eat after a workout, replenishing lost fluids through sweat is also necessary.
Within half an hour post workout, you should rehydrate and replace the lost glycogen from your body.

Then you can finally go to bed & start over the next day! :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Natural Immune System Boosters

Ok so it's not the time to get sick a month & a half away from my first race of the season... the Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas...

I've been dealing with bronchitis for 2 weeks, only able to bike. Couldn't breathe good enough to run and I was afraid to get worse if I went to the pool in the evening... And not to mention I'm lazy & it's cold & dark outside... I love our subdivision pool but not in the winter... :)

So, I've been reading a lot of articles on how to naturally boost our immune system. 

And for some reasons I remember some info... like strawberries, nuts & dark chocolate are really good... :) 
So here is a nice idea for an after training session in the evening... chocolate covered strawberries... well @ least it was for us! :)

Regularly eating fresh fruits and vegetables is the natural way to boost your immune system. 
Natural foods that are high in Vitamins A, C, and E, B-6, zinc and folic acid are beneficial in supporting the immune system.

Here are some of the best choices to help build a strong immune system:
Foods high in vitamin C: berries, broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, nectarines, oranges, peppers, sweet potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes.

Foods rich in vitamin E: broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard, turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds.

Beta-carotene: apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip, collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potatoes, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelons.

Bioflavonoids: citrus fruits, dark chocolate, black & green tea.

Antioxidant minerals: can be found in some meats, seafood's, nuts and whole grains.

Foods with zinc: oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts (almond), sunflowers seeds, lentils, seafood, whole grains, and diary products (cheddar cheese, yogurt).

Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry, fortified breads, and grain products.    

Also ginger, honey, royal jelly...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Why an ironman?

Well... I don't really know! It just came in my mind one day... Must have been a hell of a day!
I remember thinking in 2004 when I finished my first marathon... I'll never do that stuff again! It was so painful! 
Then I watched the ironman competition on TV & my first thought was: "These people must be out of their mind!" lol

I started triathlon not so long ago, in 2006. Before that what?

Middle School - Handball & Track
High School - Handball & Swimming
College - Swimming

Track & Road Cycling - 1978 To 1984
I loved the track! This is Le Havre track, it wasn't on great shape. I remember small rocks falling from the top of the rack... it was scary, I had always in my mind the thought of hitting a rock & falling... but I loved it! I was going there to train 3 times a week in the evening & on Saturday afternoon. My parents would sit on the stairs & watch us. Last time I saw them I asked them if they were bored waiting for us, especially because my brother started cycling 3 years before me... so for about 10 years they sat on concrete stairs... They said they had a great time meeting with the other parents that became their friends... Hum...   
Now it's closed...

Swimming - 1982 To 1991

Long break after college...

I remember one Saturday evening after I got the finalized divorce paper in the mail, Mathieu was @ his dad & I was sitting at the beach smoking & looking at the horizon... (yeah, I smoked for 3 weeks @ that crazy time...). Then thinking: "what the hell am I doing here? That's not me... Who am I? Who did I become these past years?" That's pretty scary when you don't know what you're doing anymore & you realized you gave up a lot of things that made who you are... including sports...
I went back to my car & drove to the store. I spent my trimester bonus on running & swimming stuff. I was so happy to buy running shoes, I almost slept with them!
The next day I woke up early & went to the forest... When I started running, lots of memories came back & I felt so good! That was the beginning of my new life... and that happiness, nobody will ever take it away from me. :) 
I still have that "galet" on my shelf that I brought home that evening... I know it may sounds crazy but I just cannot get rid of it... :)

Moving to the States in 1999.
I didn't have a work permit & was bored @ home, couldn't find anything else to do that was not costing me a fortune than swimming, mountain biking & running. 

Anyway, in 2006 I started triathlon with sprint distance, then last year I did an Olympic & a half-ironman... Call me crazy but I just love the feeling of being able to finish something different, I don't care about timing... and that's a good thing because I suck at it! lol
I love the atmosphere of the race & meeting new buddies each time... the harder it gets, the more you see everybody supporting each other & that kind of feeling is hard to find anywhere else. :)

So here I am, thinking ironman... I know that will be a lot of training, dedication & motivation but I'm slowly preparing for it. :)