Love Notes by Jari Love

Posts in the stress management category

5 Reasons you need a massage if you exercise regularly

by Jari Love

Aaahhhh, massage. Just the word alone conjures up images of scented oils and blissful relaxation. I could go for one right about now. But, did you know that massage can help make working out better too? 

Turns out, massage isn’t just a luxury you splurge on at the spa. It can also seriously boost your workouts so you’re getting the results you want. 

“Some kind of massage for people who work out is vital,” says Kimberly Dawn Neumann, an American Council on Exercise-certified fitness instructor at Equinox gyms in New York City. “You don’t have to destroy your body to have the body you want. Taking care of it and being kind [to yourself] has its own benefits.” 

Here are five ways massage can help improve your fitness routine. 

  1. It enhances your post-workout recovery 

A good, therapeutic massage helps loosen up your muscles after an intense workout, which in turn allows you to recover from the impact better and faster than you normally would. “You spend your time tightening and toning your muscles doing weight work and they start to feel like they’re going to snap, they just get so tight,” says Neumann. “Massage helps restore some pliability.” 

  1. It soothes the pain of sore muscles 

Those muscles can really ache after you put them through the ringer at the gym or while pounding the pavement during a run. But, massaging and stretching them can help work out the knots, flush out the toxins that contribute to the “ouch” factor and get the blood flowing again so they don’t hurt so much. 

  1. It makes your muscles work better 

Regular exercise not only puts a strain on your muscles, ligaments and tendons, but it also messes with those connective fibers under the skin known as your fascia — which help the muscles work smoothly and efficiently when they’re in good shape, according to Neumann. 

“The fascia can get really gunked up with repeated exercise, and that makes it harder for muscles to slide past each other easily,” she says. Massage helps by loosening up those fibers so the muscles are doing what they’re supposed to with much less effort. And then, bingo! Your workouts get a nice boost. 

  1. It can increase flexibility 

“Massage can help loosen up the muscles and restore some flexibility,” Neumann says, adding that for most people, flexibility starts decreasing at the ripe old age of 12. “Unless you continually stretch to keep your muscles lubricated, you will get stiffer with age.” But a massage, especially one that includes some stretching exercises, can reverse at least some of that process and give you back a bit of the incredible flexibility you had as a kid. 

  1. It helps you feel better, mentally 

“If you’re just beating yourself up with high-intensity classes or weight training, that’s not going to be completely beneficial,” Neumann explains. “Massage can give you a nice balance with the happy endorphins from working out. It’s a cortisol reducer as well — a stress reliever.” 

She says the best workouts are those combining exercise with what she calls self-care. 

“Instead of saying, ‘I’m going to get the best body, damn it,’ and push push pushing yourself, remember to give yourself care. Massage can be a nice part of that,” Neumann says. “You need both the exercise and the maintenance. That’s part of a well-rounded fitness regimen.” 

Makes perfect sense and sounds great… in theory. But, what if you don’t have the budget for regular professional massages by a therapist or at a spa? 

Neumann suggests hitting up your significant other if you have one who’s willing. Otherwise, there are plenty of ways to do little massages on yourself using foam rollers, tune-up balls and other fitness accessories you can buy for a lot cheaper than booking a weekly massage. You can also just use your hands to work out the knots in the spots you can reach. 

“Many of those will have the same effect from a muscle standpoint,” she says. “You won’t have the same relaxation or the benefits of healing touch, or the fun spa part of it. But you will actually be keeping your muscles in top shape by using some of those self-massage methods.” 

So, what are you waiting for? After your next workout, hit up your guy for a nice back-and-shoulder rub, book a deep-tissue appointment at the local day spa or DIY a massage if you’re feeling adventurous. You’ll get a lot more out of all that exercise and feel much better in the long run. Via sheknows.com

Jari Love – original creator of Get RIPPED! DVD series and group exercise classes. The hot-selling and critically acclaimed Get RIPPED! series enables individuals of any fitness level to burn up to three times more calories than the traditional weight-training program, and has received rave reviews from fitness critics throughout North America since the first title debuted in late 2005.

4 Natural Ways To Soothe An Angry Gut

by Jari Love

It’s pretty much impossible to dodge the occasional upset stomach, diarrhea, or constipation. Tummy trouble is just a part of life. Fortunately, a cranky belly tends to feel better quickly if you keep hydrated and stick to easy-to-digest foods.

But for people with “functional bowel disorders”—doctor-speak for conditions that cause chronic stomach pain and other digestive problems—a stomachache isn’t just an every-now-and-then thing; it’s a debilitating ailment. The most common bowel disorder is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which affects roughly one in 10 Americans, according to H. Christian Weber, MD, a gastroenterologist at Boston Medical Center. For the millions of people with IBS, letting stomach pain run its course isn’t an option.

Fortunately, there are several drug-free methods proven to calm an angry gut.

1. Ditch these foods.
Whole wheat, honey, beans, and even garlic can cause trouble—or not. The tricky thing about bowel disorders is that everyone’s gut is different, so what irritates one person’s gastrointestinal tract may be harmless for someone else’s. That said, something called “the low FODMAP diet” should work for just about anyone, Weber says. FODMAP is short for “fermentable oligo-di-monosaccharides and polyols” (say that three times fast), and it targets natural sugars that pull water into the intestines and make digestion difficult.

There’s a long list of foods forbidden for people on a low FODMAP diet, including watermelon, lentils, and chickpeas. But passing on hummus is a no-brainer compared to suffering through chronic stomachaches or diarrhea. Also, you may only have to give up your favorites for a few weeks, says Stephanie Moleski, MD, a gastroenterologist at Thomas Jefferson University. After a 2- to 6-week “elimination phase,” during which you ditch every FODMAP food possible, you can reintroduce items one at a time until you’ve identified your triggers.

2. Get off the couch.
Exercise is a potent remedy for everything from depression to Alzheimer’s disease. A workout can also quell the discomfort associated with digestive disorders, research suggests. “Endorphins are painkillers,” Weber says. And exercising releases them while upping the amount of oxygen circulating in your body, which makes you feel better—albeit temporarily. Weber says exercise doesn’t really address the underlying causes of your angry gut. Still, if you’re looking for natural relief, a little sweat is a great way to sidestep ibuprofen. Research isn’t clear about whether aerobic exercise is better than strength training, so Weber suggests you try both and stick with whatever type makes you feel best.

3. Assess your stress.
A big interview, public speaking, or other stressful activities can launch stomach cramps, feelings of nausea, and gas. Some experts attribute this to something called the brain-gut axis. Basically, your brain and your gut talk to each other. When one’s upset, the other may feel junky, too. (Some research suggests those with bowel disorders like IBS also tend to feel depressed or anxious.)

As a result of this brain-gut connection, stress can be a big trigger for people with chronic stomach problems, Moleski explains. “When you’re having a lot of stress, it’s going to wreak havoc in the intestines,” she says.

There are several quick ways to slash stress. Finding a method that works for you may make your gut happier in the long run. In one study, people with bowel disorders spent 15 to 20 minutes a day fighting stress with yoga, meditation, or prayer. After 9 weeks, they reported less pain, lower anxiety, and better quality of life.

4. Grab some peppermint.
Although he doesn’t usually recommend supplements, Weber says anyone looking for a natural way to ease stomach pain could try peppermint oil, which studies show can calm symptoms of IBS. But Weber cautions against picking up peppermint supplements at your nearest health store. They’re only lightly regulated by the FDA, and are often loaded with unnecessary additives that could do more harm than good. He advises talking with your doctor before trying a supplement.

via prevention.com

Jari Love
– original creator of Get RIPPED! DVD series and group exercise classes. The hot-selling and critically acclaimed Get RIPPED! series enables individuals of any fitness level to burn up to three times more calories than the traditional weight-training program, and has received rave reviews from fitness critics throughout North America since the first title debuted in late 2005.

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