My grandparents knew a time when what they ate for dinner was simply called food. It wasn’t “organic”, “free range”, “natural” or “conventional”. It was just dinner. Life is a bit different these days. We have an abundance of food choices in America, a fact that is both a blessing, and a curse. Read More
It seems like every day someone asks me, “Is (insert a food here) bad for you?” It’s also common for people to insist on me hearing their “food confessions,” and accompanying excuses. These often sound something like: “I’m trying to quit red meat because I know it’s bad, but once a week the guys and I go to Capital Grill and I get the rib-eye, I can’t stop doing that.” Read More
Feelin’ the Burn?
It’s totally common to feel a bit worse for the wear the morning after your first Broga class. Introducing any new exercise to your fitness routine, or lack there of, stresses and strains your muscles in new ways, causing actual cell damage that takes time to heal. It’s this damage, and the inflammatory-repair response that it triggers, that cause stiffness and soreness for typically 24 to 72 hours after a workout. It’s so common it even has a name: Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness – or DOMS. So you’re sore, and now you know why…what do you do about it?
Don’t be discouraged! In fact, get off the couch, stretch out, and go for a walk, or better yet, take another Broga class ASAP! I know this seems counter-intuitive, but it really works! One of the fastest ways to silence achy muscles is to stretch them out, and get them moving again. You may feel like you lack some range of motion due to muscle tightness, so don’t over do it. Let your instructor know that you are feeling a bit sore so he can let you in on any modifications that may be a bit lower-impact.
Your muscles need fuel for repairs. A post-workout snack may help provide your muscles with the necessary tools to begin repairs quickly, resulting in less soreness the next day. It’s pretty common knowledge that protein is essential to muscle building, but you won’t return to pain free movement if you neglect other key macronutrients. Carbohydrate rich foods help the body restore muscle glycogen (stored energy your muscles need to function) quickly and fat is essential for cell repair. An ideal post-workout snack should be mostly carbs, some protein, and a little fat. Oh, and don’t forget to drink lots of water!
Chocolate milk has been touted as the ultimate post workout snack because it loosely meets the guidelines above. But before you grab the Hershey’s syrup, ask yourself, do you really think there is a nutritional benefit to chocolate syrup? Make each part of your snack count by smartly selecting carbohydrate, protein and fat sources that are all beneficial to your body. Many super foods have anti-inflammatory properties, and work essentially the same way that NSAID pain relievers (like ibuprofen and aspirin) do. Try to work them into your snack routine.
So, what’s the ideal snack for post-Broga muscle repair? Try low-fat yogurt with fresh (or dried) blueberries, or cherries, with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. If you like the idea of a beverage better, add some ice, or better yet use frozen fruit, and turn this combo into a smoothie. Feelin’ better already?
Interested in learning more about the nuts and bolts of muscle response to exercise? Check out this article from Scientific American.
What do you think? Do you have a post-workout favorite food? Maybe a smoothie recipe you’d be willing to share? Share your input in the comment section below!
Jennifer Jasmin is a nutritionist and freelance writer living in Watertown, Massachusetts. She holds a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College, and a Graduate Certificate in Dietetics from Simmons College. In her work, Jen strives to help people find balance between real nutrition facts, and realistic health and fitness goals. Her background also includes over 15 years working in the food service industry, which adds to her unique perspective on eating well. She shares her insights, personal cooking lessons, and recipe ideas on her blog at: www.skeletonsinmykitchen.com. In addition to writing, Jen shares her passion about healthy eating in casual, approachable nutrition seminars and workshops in both corporate and community settings. To Jen, the journey to wellness is incredibly personal, and should be approached in a way that is individual, actionable and unpretentious.
Like running, skiing, playing basketball, lifting weights, shoveling heavy snow, or anything else that involves pushing your body’s range of motion and stamina, practicing yoga can lead to injury if not done with care, moderation, and self-awareness.
Here are 3 simple ways to avoid injuring yourself as you tap into the many benefits of yoga.
1.) Go to an appropriate class (in two parts).
Part 1 – Choose the right class – i.e. type of yoga & level of class:
If you are new to yoga (even if you’ve taken a few classes), are slightly out of shape, don’t get a lot of exercise, have some chronic pain, or know that you are a little stiff in the joints, you should ONLY be taking an introductory yoga class. Don’t push it. I’ve been practicing yoga for almost two years and still get just as much out of an introductory class as I get out of an intermediate level class. I know people who have practiced much longer than I have and they say the same thing. We see a lot of guys who show up to our Broga II class (presumably believing that the Broga I class is too easy) that really shouldn’t be there. We make sure to communicate this professionally and respectfully whenever necessary and recommend the Broga I class, but you (the student) should recognize when you’re out of your comfort zone. When you’re in the right class, you’ll know it because it will feel right.
There are many types of yoga and many types of classes. Our recommendation is that you find a yoga class that is specifically designed for you. You wouldn’t go to a prenatal yoga class (unless it was prenatal for couples) right? If you look around you’ll find a class that is specifically for you.
Part 2 – Choose the right instructor:
Once you find the type of class that you want to attend, you should then find the best available instructor for that class. Friends and colleagues can give you a good recommendation, but you need to ask the right questions. If someone who has been practicing yoga for 10 years recommends a yoga instructor, ask if that instructor pushes them. If so, it’s probably something that they appreciate, but you won’t (unless you have also been practicing yoga for 10 years). You need an instructor that will guide you through every movement with clarity and care.
Also, once you identify what seems like the best class and teacher, go a little early – good teachers (often) have full classes. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to the teacher and see #2.
If your first class isn’t what you’d hoped or expected DON’T GIVE UP. You’ll have good days and bad days (so will teachers) so assume it just wasn’t a great day and try again. You should give it at least a second chance before you decide to throw in the towel or look for another class/instructor. On the other hand, if you’ve done a bit of research, you’ve probably found the best class right away. If so, it should be a challenging, but rewarding first experience.
2.) Tell your instructor if you have any injuries or limitations or concerns.
Most good instructors will ask if anyone has any injuries or limitations at the beginning of every single class. If you do have an injury, even if you don’t think it’s a big deal, MAKE SURE YOU TELL THE INSTRUCTOR. If the instructor doesn’t ask, he/she isn’t being responsible (dock them 10 points and don’t go back), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak up. Your yoga class is FOR YOU, not your teacher or even the other students. Be smart. Be a little selfish. Protect yourself. Make sure you are clear, even if it feels weird to speak up, about your injuries or limitations or concerns. Most good instructors will keep you in mind throughout the class and will give you variations of poses to help you get the most out of the class – without hurting yourself.
3.) If it don’t feel right, don’t do it!
There is absolutely no reason that you should do anything in a yoga class if it doesn’t feel right. If you’ve been injured before, you know that “Uh-oh” feeling when some part of your body goes past the point of no return. If you are paying attention to your body (as you should be in a yoga class) you’ll sense when your knee, or neck, or back, or hip starts to feel a little “tweaky”. When you feel that, back off. A yoga practice should challenge you, push you to your edge, cultivate a sense of awareness, and help you improve your body and mind, but it shouldn’t push you past your edge, make you take risks, spur a sense of competitiveness, or cause injury. If it don’t feel right, don’t do it!
Bonus: Be your own advocate and guide. Go with intention. It takes motivation, maybe some encouragement from friends or relatives, and willpower to go to a yoga class. Maybe there are other things you could be doing or maybe you went out last night or you have a cold or you’re “just not feeling it”, etc. When you do surmount your personal obstacles and decide to go to a class, go with a good attitude. Go with intention. Go with a desire to learn something “about yourself” and to take yourself to the edge. Go with the intention of coming home and feeling better than you did when you left. And go knowing that you won’t hurt yourself.
How did we do? Have you been injured in a yoga class (and learned something from it)? Did we miss any tips? Let us know! Leave a comment.