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Don’t Be a Pain in the Foot

Ask any astrologist and they will tell you the Pisces notoriously suffer from painful feet. Sure enough … I’m a Pisces. But I don’t attribute the issues I have had with my feet to my star sign. Instead, I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the way I spent several decades walking in ill-fitting shoes from Payless.

pisces

Each human foot is comprised of 26 bones, over 100 muscles, and numerous ligaments and tendons. If your feet are sore, that indicates a problem with how your foot is interacting with internal and/or external factors. As soon as your feet become sore, you may unintentionally change the way you walk or use your feet, and this may possibly lead to bunions, plantar fasciitis, and hammertoes. Although severe foot problems should be treated by a doctor, there are stretches and treatments that can help foot pain and change habits so that it does not become a severe problem.

foot-anatomy

When we run with regular sneakers or running shoes, our heel tends to strike the ground first. This is particularly true with the numerous “athletic” shoes that have thick and heavy heels. When the heel hits the ground, it acts like a hammer to the heel. This impact travels up to the knees and hips. This is one reason why some people get knee or hip pain when they go running!

How can we alleviate foot pain?

• Align your feet. Stand with your feet facing forward and use a straight surface like the edge of a rug, a wall, or a yoga mat to align one foot and then the other so that the feet are facing straight forward. This may feel uncomfortable at first but will ultimately improve your posture to the point you no longer think about it.
• Walk barefoot with good alignment. Schedule some time at home to walk around barefoot. This can increase foot dexterity and stretch the muscles.
• Do toe stretches. Stand up and step forward with your right foot and transfer weight to your right foot. Curl your left toes under so that the tops of the toes touch the floor. Lean forward slightly until you feel a stretch on the top of your feet. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the stretch 2 to 3 times on each side.
• Use your hands to stretch your toes/feet. Sit down and put your right leg on top of your left thigh. Place the fingers of your left hand between the toes on your right foot. This helps to widen your toes and stretch them. Do this stretch for 1 to 5 minutes, and then repeat it on the opposite side.  If you happen to have an awesome wife, you might even be able to get her to do it for you!
• Implement the RICE method. Treat foot soreness with the Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) method if your foot pain is severe. Place an ice pack or a bag of ice wrapped in a towel on the most painful parts of your feet and wrap them with a bandage or towel. Elevate your feet so that they are above your heart in order to reduce inflammation.

hippo-feet

Preventative Steps

Evaluate your shoe choices. High heels and shoes with little or no arch support may be the reason your feet are hurting. Invest in a few pairs of shoes that are designed to cushion your foot bed and alleviate pain. If you have shoes that cause you discomfort, chunk ‘em.

Choose shoes with a negative heel. These shoes place the heel slightly lower than the ball of the foot and take pressure off the ball of the foot. They can also stretch the calf muscles. This can help alleviate pain especially for people who have intense pain in the front or ball of the foot.

Always stretch your feet. Many people do not address the muscles in their feet when they stretch. Develop a routine to help alleviate day to day pain.

hippo-feet-2

Foot pain can almost feel crippling. Do not let this set-back keep you from achieving your goals. Instead, use these Powerful ‘Potamus tips to soothe the feet so you can get back on them and get back on your mat.

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Put It On Ice!

As many of you know, last week I traveled out of state to put the finishing touches on my upcoming wedding. Meeting with venues, officiants, DJs, caterers, cake bakers and so forth left literally no time to squeeze in a workout. Here I am a fitness instructor and personal trainer, going nearly a week without ever working out! What a great example I was setting, right?

To be fair though, it was a perfect recreation of events that so many of us encounter over and over again. Sometimes you just get too darn busy to workout.

And then what happens after that first workout when you get back on track? You find yourself as sore as can be. So how does the ‘Potamus handle it?

Ice.

ice-01

Icing your muscles after working out can help bring down unnecessary swelling and reduce pain to preserve muscles for your next training. During an extreme workout, your muscles tear in tiny amounts, which later heal, creating stronger, tougher muscles. This regrowth of stronger muscle tissue is ultimately what athletes desire, but the inflammation directly after the workout causes discomfort and requires attention.

A cold sensation triggers blood vessels in your muscles to constrict. This reduction of swelling in the muscle tissue slows down the metabolic activity, giving your muscles a chance to properly recover from your workout. After your skin is warm again, the blood vessels open, and the blood returns fast enough to flush the metabolic buildup from your muscles quickly and efficiently without hours of pain and with less muscle tissue loss than if you had left your sore muscles untreated.

Icing is an essential component of the best exercise recovery practices. Icing is especially important after hard workouts, but if you have time you should really ice after every workout. Apply ice to your legs (or other muscle groups used) with an ice pack or bag of ice. Icing can facilitate injury prevention by reducing inflammation in the body before it causes tissue damage. If you engage in high impact exercise, such as running or dancing; you should ice for 15 to 20 minutes after each session. You can ice as much as 15 to 20 minutes every hour. You should ice anything that feels swollen.

 

ice-pack
Don’t have an ice pack? No worries. Here are two alternative ways to ice down after a strenuous workout.

Water Bottle: Freeze water in a regular plastic bottle to create an ice foam roller. Place it under your foot and roll it back and forth to relieve pain from plantar fasciitis and other foot aches.

Paper Cup: Fill a cup with water, place it in the freezer, and wait for the water to freeze. Unwrap the top part of the cup so some ice is exposed. Rub the ice over your swollen joint for an inexpensive ice massage.

So give those muscles a good challenge and, when you’re done, put ‘em on ice!

Poor Me?

Poor me.”

Poor-me

Let’s be honest … you’ve said it.  You’ve thought it.  You’ve felt it.  So have I.  In fact, chances are that one or both of us have said, thought or felt it recently.

The common theme in these thoughts is that others, the world or life is out to get us.  That someone or something has been unfair to us.  And here’s something to stew on:  you’re right!

Life sometimes deals us a bad hand.  Not just you, but me too … and pretty much everybody else you have ever met or heard of.  Sometimes life sucks.  People are cruel to one another, pure dumb luck works against you … but you are not alone.

The question is:  what do you do with this self-pity?  Can you turn it into a positive?

eeyore classic

I’m going to challenge you into believing that it can.  Our experiences, both good and bad, make up who we are today.  Embracing those experiences, learning from them and moving forward is the key.  You can avoid the pitfalls and mistakes of your past because you can now recognize them.  You can avoid those people who put a drain on your soul because you can now identify them.  You can take ownership of your life and your future and put up a fight against those negative elements that have led you to feel this degree of self-pity.
I now protect my happiness just as surely as I protect my family and my loved ones.  You want to take my joy (or at least my potential for joy) away from me?  Then you better be ready to put up a fight.

I recognize the beauty I have in my day-to-day life:  a comfortable home, a decent job, a growing “side career” that is fulfilling and a fiancé that makes it all worthwhile.  I take time to appreciate those things and I ignore the rest.  Sure … the house can become a mess, the job can become a hassle, the “side career” can be draining and my fiancé can tick me off … but that’s part of their beauty and charm.

Take a moment to feel sorry for yourself.  It is natural.  It is human nature.  But don’t let it consume you.

lift_others-up

Look at the other side of the issue that brings on these emotions.  Can you turn this disappointment into a strength?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But you certainly don’t have to make it worse by catastrophizing about bad events and unsettling behaviors of others.  You don’t have to be part of the vicious circle of people tearing down one another … take your lumps and the raise others up instead.  Turn self-pity on its ear!

You have control over so few things in this life … but you DO have control over your own well-being … and that includes EMOTIONAL well-being.

Cry Fowl!

Chicken wings, chicken soup, chicken stew, chicken breast … chances are you have some bird in your fridge right now and it is great for your health!  There are plenty of benefits to eating poultry.  When this fowl comes in a lean breast, it’s low in fat and calories and high in protein, which makes it ideal for weight maintenance. Not to mention that this bird is jam-packed full of essential nutrients and vitamins.

chicken
Here are some healthy benefits of eating chicken:

1. High in Protein
If you’re looking for a great source of lean, low fat protein, this bird is the word. The protein in chicken lends itself to muscle growth and development, and help support a healthy body weight and aid weight loss.  If you’re entering your senior years and you’re concerned about Osteoporosis or arthritis, eating chicken will aid in your fight against bone loss thanks to the protein punch it packs!  Chicken is also rich in phosphorus, an essential mineral that supports your teeth and bones, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system function.

2. Natural Anti-depressant
Chicken, like its brother fowl the turkey, is high in an amino acid called tryptophan, which gives you that comforting feeling after consuming a big bowl of mom’s chicken soup. In fact, if you’re feeling depressed, eating some poultry will increase the serotonin levels in your brain, enhance your mood, blasting stress, and lulling you to sleep.

3. Selenium
Chicken also abundant in selenium, an essential mineral involved in metabolic performance — in other words thyroid, hormone, metabolism, and immune function.

4. Boost Your Metabolism
Vitamin B6 (or B-complex vitamins) encourage enzymes and metabolic cellular reactions (or a process known as Methylation), which means eating this bird will keep blood vessels healthy, energy levels high, and metabolism burning calories so you can manage a healthy weight and activity level.  Chicken also happens to be rich in niacin, one particular B-vitamin that guards against cancer and other forms of genetic (DNA) damage.

apricot onion chicken wings
So break out your favorite chicken recipes and put the bird to work.  However you prep it, you’ll have some not-so-foul fowl benefits.