Tag Archives: fitness

RELIEVE YOUR BACK PAIN NOW

The bad news is that back pain will likely plague you at some point in your life, and probably more than once. The good news is there is a lot you can do to prevent, manage and relieve that pain. Heat and ice treatments work wonders and both bring easy, convenient, and fast relief.

WHEN TO HEAT AND ICE
You can treat any sprain/strain injuries with hot and cold packs because both help reduce muscle spasm and pain. There are differences in these temperature treatments though. Ice reduces blood flow thereby quieting swollen tissues. Heat, on the other hand, stimulates blood flow. The increased circulation brings more nutrients to the injured site and helps relax sore muscles.

At the first sign of an injury it’s recommended that you start with ice to calm the swelling. Ice the area for about 15 minutes then repeat the icing in about an hour. After 24-48 hours, move to heat treatments.

Note that alternating ice / heat is a general recommendation. Because both ice and heat are pain-relieving, do which ever makes you feel better. There’s no magic rule. Some people like to alternate hot/cold packs, while others prefer to stick one temperature.

PACKAGED AND DIY PRODUCTS
There are a lot of products on the market today that make hot/cold back therapy easy. They can be conveniently heated in the microwave or cooled in the freezer. Look for those which are large and can be draped around an area. Some are specially made for the lower back and attach with Velcro much like weight belt.

No cold pack? A bag of frozen peas can do wonders in a pinch. Whatever your do, avoid putting ice directly on your skin, it’s irritating. Place ice cubes in a bag, wrap a towel around it and apply. Be patient. It takes a few minutes for the cold to come through. Likewise, you can heat up a moistened towel in the microwave for a comforting moist heat wrap. Again, take care when applying to skin. You may need a second towel wrapped around the first.

PREVENTING BACK PAIN
A strong healthy body with good core strength helps prevent back pain in the first place.  Pilates is all about the spine and among the best ways to keep your back healthy for life. There are some simple exercises to bring quick relief such as this easy to do anywhere anytime upper back release.

THE MIGHTY MUSHROOM

There has been much ado about eating colorful produce for health.  While it’s true that deep color is an indicator of phytonutrients; that might lead you to believe mushrooms, especially the white button variety, may pale in nutritional comparison.  Not so. Turns out mushrooms are a very good source of a number of nutrients for example, selenium. They contain more of this immune-enhancing mineral than any other form of produce. They are also a good source of B vitamins, including riboflavin and pantothenic acid.

Read more about how vitamins and minerals perform mini miracles in your body in The Essential Guide to  Healthy and Healing Foods, a book I co-authored with R.D. Victoria Shanta Retelny. 

WHAT’S INSIDE THE WHITE
The button is the most widely available and least expensive mushroom variety.  Research published in the Society of Chemical Industry’s Journal of Food and Agriculture cites that the humble white has as much anti-oxidant properties as its more expensive rivals, the maitake and the matsutake mushrooms – both of which are highly prized in Japanese cuisine for their healthful benefits including lowering blood pressure and their suggested ability to fight cancer. Mushrooms are also the only veggie with vitamin D.  About five white button mushrooms provides 15 IU of D (or 4% of the daily recommended value).

Check out this cast-iron mushroom recipe to get all the mushroom benefits plus iron!

Farmers markets and produce aisles will soon be bursting with blueberries, tomatoes and the ubiquitous white mushroom.  Eat to your heart’s content. Then freeze some to enjoy in smoothies and stir-fry.

For more information on how to freeze food, check out the recipe section of The Green City Market.   In Chicago, this market dedicated to local and organic farmers is now open.

Enjoy!

JoAnn

What’s SUP? Stand-Up Paddleboarding.

Stand-up paddleboarding that what’s up.  The sport is a combo of kayaking and surfing. You stand on a wide board and paddle your way through the water. Originally used by ancient Polynesian cultures, it’s been steadily making its way from Hawaii  as a great way to play on water and get a good workout too. Talk about balance and power, you’ll need that plus a sense of humor when you fall off. Read and see all about it here, at SUP magazine.

NEW CITY VIEW
Finally thawing out of the cold, cruel and LONG winter this year, we Chicagoans are every ready to get out and play.  Enjoy the city skyline in a whole new way, by jumping on a board.  Yeah, Lake Michigan can be choppy, but hey there are rivers too and some days all our waters are as calm as glass.  This outfitter will help you get started with gear and lessons.

A FESTIVAL AFLOAT
Up north, standup paddleboarding is exploding in popularity in Madison, Wisconsin.  This summer, industry leader SUP the Mag, is sponsoring the Midwest Standup Paddle Festival, a benefit for the UW Health Children’s Hospital and the Henry Vilas Zoo. It’s set for July 12 & 13, 2013 at Bishop’s Bay Country Club in Middleton, WI. The abundance of clean flatwater in the area plus the reputation Madison has for being such an active community led organizers to add Madison to its nationwide festival of events.  Madison is one of eight stops on their SUP America Tour.

STAY ON BOARD WITH CORE POWER
Your core muscles are like the glue that holds everything together while your arms push and pull you through the water. Lots of ways to keep that core strong as you move your limbs, and Pilates is one of the best ways to get in shape and stay in shape for all you do.  Great for post rehab and even better, Pilates is a highly efficient muscle balancing full workout that helps you avoid injuries in the first place. Good instructors can customize the workout for your specific sport.

Now go out and play!

Love,
JoAnn Milivojevic
Certified Pilates Instructor

GOT BACKBONE?

Your spine is, in many ways, the center of your universe. Knowing more about it and its function will help you understand why your posture and movement affect the health of your back. If something more serious should be the culprit in your back pain, anatomy basics will help you better understand what’s wrong. They’re your body parts. You own them for life. Why not get better acquainted?  Here’s a bit about your bones and in other blogs we’ll explore more.

THEY’RE ALIVE!

Bones are efficient and sophisticated bundles of tissue, minerals and water. Their jobs go well beyond basic skeletal framework. They are protective shells for vital organs such as the heart, the brain, and the spinal cord; they are scaffolding upon which muscles attach; and they are manufacturing centers for blood cells. Talk about multitasking! Linked by ligaments and moved by muscles, bones support a lot of weight without being crushed or broken (at least not until there is trauma or disease.)

SPINE FAST FACTS:

The spine is a stack of cylindrical bones called vertebrae. They form a natural double S-curve from your head to your hips.

The joint formed where the sacrum/tail bone intersect with the hips (SI joint) can be an overlooked source of back pain.

Muscles of the abdominals and back support your spine.

Nerves run through your spinal column and exit out to the rest of the body. Nerves can be compressed due to trauma or diseases leading to pain and lack of organ or limb function.

Vertebral bones are highly intricate bones supported by ligaments and moved by muscles

Intervertebral discs create a cushion between the vertebrae and also absorb the shock of movement.

For more about your spinal anatomy: http://www.spineuniverse.com/anatomy

PILATES – IT’S ABOUT THE SPINE

Bet you thought it was all about the core?  Well, yes and no.  Your core muscles support your spine, help you stay upright, and help you move in many beautiful directions.  A good Pilates session will take you through all the ways your spine moves: forward, back, side to side and twists. For more about Pilates: http://www.pilatesmethodalliance.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3277

Feel Better in 60-Seconds (or less!)

Back Pain is the second most common ailment in the United States (headaches are number one).  Most back pain is lifestyle and work related.  If you spend tons of time at a computer – this stretch will help you feel better in your body in less than 60-seconds.  Try it!

Check out my book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Back Pain, for more ways to be painfree.  Now available for Kindle!

Love,

JoAnn

Have Your Chips and Eat Them Too!

Want to satisfy that craving for salty crunchy snacking without eating oil laden, high fat, calorie-rich potato chips?  Well, if you tried rice cakes and felt like you were eating puffed air,  have I got a tip for you:

shop for snacks in the diabetic aisle

Don’t have diabetes you say?  Doesn’t mean you can’t gain the benefits of specially formulated snacks that are designed to be low calorie and nutrient dense (meaning you get high nutrition for relatively low calories).

Extend Crisps for example are:

  • high in fiber – so they break down more slowly in your body and help control hunger
  • high in protein – 7 grams in most single packs,  giving you more sustained energy
  • no cholesterol, no transfats, little to no sugar and gluten-free
  • low in glycemic index and load – again helping to stabilize blood sugar and keep your energy even keel
  • low calorie – about 130 per bag
  • great taste – REALLY chose from BBQ honey, white cheddar and zesty ranch

I stumbled upon these at the local Walgreens for $1.59.  I was surprised at how good they tasted.  The protein comes from mainly from soy.  And I’ve got to say, they really did satisfy my snack attack and my hunger.  Give ‘um a try and let me know what you think!

Snack Happy!

JoAnn

www.joannmilpilates.com