Tag Archives: rest

Epsom Salt Baths…Who Knew?!

Your body is tired; your legs are sore; you are stressed; and you have a race coming up. What should you do? Try an Epsom Salt Bath. Runners swear by them and lots of others are becoming fast believers. I mean, if you can’t trust a runner who is taking a bath mere hours before the biggest race of his or her running career, who can you trust? Below, I’ve included a few other tidbits as to why soaking in a hot bath full of Epsom just may do the trick. (You can alternate between ice baths and Epsom Salt baths; just leave some time in between so there is no chemical burning of the skin from the temperature change!)

  1. Most know of the importance of iron and calcium for our bodies, but what about magnesium? It is the second most abundant element in human cells and the fourth most important positively charged ion in the body. Magnesium helps the body regulate over 325 enzymes and plays an important role in organizing many bodily functions, like muscle control, electrical impulses, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins. And most of us are deficient in magnesium, so soaking in a bath with Epsom salt, which is high in magnesium, is one of the easiest ways to get a quick lift.
  2. Epsom salt, known scientifically as hydrated magnesium sulfate, is rich in both magnesium and sulfate. While both magnesium and sulfate can be poorly absorbed through the stomach, studies show increased magnesium levels from soaking in a bath with Epsom salt! Magnesium and sulfate are both easily absorbed through the skin. Sulfates play an important role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the proteins that line the walls of the digestive tract. They stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and are thought to help detoxify the body of medicines and environmental contaminants.
  3. Researchers and physicians suggest these health benefits from proper magnesium and sulfate levels, as listed on the web site of the Epsom Salt Industry Council:
    • Improved heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure.
    • Improved ability for the body to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes.
    • Flushed toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances.
    • Improved nerve function by electrolyte regulation. Also, calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood.
    • Relieved stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.
    • Reduced inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps.
    • Improved oxygen use.
    • Improved absorption of nutrients.
    • Improved formation of joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins.
    • Prevention or easing of migraine headaches.

Directions

  • Measure 2 cups of Epsom salt into a standard bathtub. Instructions on the package will provide dosage for smaller baths, bowls and foot-soaks.
  • Fill the tub with hot water, checking the temperature to make sure it is safe and comfortable for soaking in. Swish the water around to dissolve the Epsom salts.
  • Soak the sore muscles or body in the Epsom salt bath for 15 minutes or so. The recommended minimum time is 12 minutes, three times each week, according to the Epsom Salt Council.
Sources 
Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/health-benefits-of-epsom-salt-baths.html#ixzz1uU0zmgHX

 

Wait…You Want Me To Take Time Off?!

Yes! It’s a shocking but truly critical part of training and running. You must take time off! Now, I’m not preaching for anyone to take off every other day or every weekend – and still expect to improve their running…but I am saying that moderation is important and therefore rest is a critical part of improving as a runner and athlete. Your body needs it to heal; and your head needs time off at times as well for a break!

Here are some of the reasons why a runner may need some time off from running:

  • A Planned Break: It’s been a long season with lots of hard training and racing. It may be the end of the school year and therefore end of the track season; it may be the conclusion of winter 5K and marathon racing in South Florida; and/or a full year of back to back to back marathons without sufficient race. All of this leads to the opportune time for a planned break in your training. In high school, Coach Rothman instructed us to take two weeks off from running in between Cross Country and Track. This meant immediately after Cross Country states or regionals, we took exactly two weeks off before beginning our training (low mileage to start) in preparation for Spring track. We did the same in the Summer right after Track and before the long summer of mileage build-up as well. Between High School and College, I personally took off approximately four weeks as instructed by my new college coach. (Looking back…I should have spent some time during those four weeks doing alternative exercise/activities and not just laying on the couch. It may the return to summer training much more difficult! Learn from my example!)
  • Aches & Pains…Or Worse…An Injury: Listening to your body as a runner is so important – potentially more than any other sport. All of us have aches and pains at times and you need to  know when something is hurting more than it should and/or for a longer period of time than it should. You need to know when simply applying ice or going for a massage will do and when you need to visit a trainer and/or doctor. When an injury happens, the doctor or trainer will often tell you to take off upwards of two or four weeks…so do yourself a favor and take off a few days, a week or more on your own when you are feeling a pain that you know isn’t going away. And in the meantime, try out some cross training. (Check out our recommendations/ideas here.)
  • Other Reasons: Taking a break may also be needed if you feel tired, sick, or that your training it in a complete rut and there is no way to get out. Sometimes in this case the running break will help you more mentally than anything!

According to experts, in the hierarchy of training, breaks rank right up there with threshold runs, intervals, reps, and steady running. All have a purpose and when placed in proper sequence can and will ultimately build on one another. Leading to a stronger runner, and a better you!

Remember, breaks from running are also a great opportunity to look into cross training. Take the time to bike, swim, roller blade, ski, etc. This may also be a good opportunity to focus on your strength training exercises and increasing the number of trips you are making to the gym to “just lift.”