Monthly Archives: July 2017

5 Ways to Soothe Sore Muscles Naturally

Being a runner and one who enjoys strength training, sore muscles are bound to happen.   A speed work session at the track, heavy weight lifting at the gym, or just over doing it, can all cause muscle soreness.  Lactic acid builds up in the muscles, which is normal.  This can aggravate your muscles and cause pain, soreness, and stiffness.

There is also delayed onset muscle soreness know as DOMS.  This soreness develops 12-24 hours after exercise.  This may be due to microscopic tears to muscle tissue.  Inflammation and swelling can also occur.

I always like to find natural ways to relieve pain or discomfort versus taking any type of pain reliever.

I’d like to share 5 natural ways to relieve sore, tender, or stiff muscles!

  1. Tiger Balm:  I found this a few years ago at the grocery store.  Tiger Balm has been used for nearly 100 years and is sold throughout the world!  The smell reminds me of vick’s vapor rub.  It has herbal ingredients and provides heat to the muscle, which I find soothing.  I’ve used it on my legs, neck, and back.  My husband and kids have used it as well.
  2. Arnicare Cream:  Arnica is a natural, homeopathic medicine.  It “works naturally with your body”.  Homeopathic medicines have been used for more than 200 years.  It states that you can use it before or after exercise, but I’ve only used it after.  It comes in a gel, cream, or ointment.  I’ve used the gel before, but I prefer the cream.  The cream seems to absorb faster and has no odor, which is nice.
  3. CryoMax reusable cold pack:  I bought this years ago when I had a sore hip.  It’s been in the freezer ever since and has gotten plenty of use!  This cold pack is very durable.  I like how it comes with a support wrap, so it stays in place and conforms to your body.  I’ve heard some say ice therapy is “nature’s ibuprofen”.
  4. Compression Socks:  Nothing new here.  Compression socks are all over social media.  I’m not sure if wearing compression socks offers any performance benefits, but I believe they do help with recovery and helps reduce muscle soreness.  Last week was the highest mileage running week I’ve ever had.  I was sure to wear compression socks after each of my runs and my legs felt fresh and less sore (I slept with them on too). I purchased these socks off Amazon and love them.  If you decide to try compression socks, Berkeley Wellness advises to “avoid socks with high compression or going above the knee“.
  5. Kinesiology tape:  KT tape is an elastic sports tape that is light weight and comfortable to wear.  It’s “designed to relieve pain“.  It can be used on your knee, shoulder, back, or just about anywhere.  KT tape provides support without restricting range of motion and also reduces pressure to tissue and helps lessen pain.  It is important to apply it correctly!
Do you have sore muscles? Here are 5 ways to soothe sore muscles naturally! Click To Tweet

Stretching and foam rolling are always good options as well.  Being physically active, you’ll probably deal with muscle soreness, aches and pains at some point.  Give these a try and help soothe those muscles!

How do you deal muscle soreness or stiffness?

Any tips to share?


Should I do fasted cardio?

Pre-race breakfast

What happens if you run or exercise on an empty stomach?  What are the potential benefits?  Is there a downside?  There has been a lot of talk about fasted cardio and becoming “fat adapted”.  Personally, I find it hard to run on an empty stomach, but I have been curious about the overall benefits.  Could it lead to better athletic performance?

Fasted cardio is when you exercise, usually first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach in a fasted state.  If your glycogen stores are depleted, your body has to use a different source to fuel your workout….fat.

From what I’ve read, the purpose of doing cardio in a fasted state is to train your body to use it’s fat stores for fuel.  Basically, burning more fat for fuel versus burning the carbohydrates from the food we just ate.

The primary reason I found this interesting is that burning fat for fuel would come in handy while running long distances.  I’ve only run four marathons, but I’ve found it hard to find the perfect fueling strategy.   Could I avoid “hitting the wall” during a race by training my body to use fat for fuel?

When trying to train your body to become fat-adapted, you must do some “glycogen-depleted” workouts.  (Glycogen is a stored form of fuel for the body)  This means to do an early morning run with no food before or during.

While fasted runs can help the body adapt to effectively burn more fat for fuel, it probably won’t improve your endurance or aerobic conditioning.  According to Lauren Antonucci, RD, you can train your body to burn more fat than carbohydrates, but for most people you won’t see any long term athletic benefits.

Here are some findings in an article from Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:

“depletion of carbohydrate stores is associated with fatigue in the form of reduced work rates, impaired skill and concentration, and an increased perception of effort”

“carbohydrates provide a key fuel for the brain and central nervous system”

“there is significant evidence that the performance of prolonged sustained or intermittent high-intensity exercise is enhanced by strategies that maintain high carbohydrate availability

Another reason that fasted cardio might not be the best choice, as stated by health and fitness expert Pete McCall, is that “it could cause the body to burn protein for fuel, which would reduce the amount to be used to help build and repair muscle tissue.  If carbs are not available for energy, the body can convert proteins for fuel, which leaves fewer proteins available to re-build muscle post exercise.”  

I have also come to find that individuals who are fat adapted still need to ingest some form of carbohydrate during endurance races.  If this is the case, what is the point really?

I guess in the end it all depends on your goals.  If you are looking to lose weight, then this strategy may work for you.  According to Women’s Health magazine, some studies found that exercising while “fasted” can burn up to 20% more fat than if you ate before exercise.  (With that said, I believe weight loss comes down to overall lifestyle changes that are sustainable and not trying to “force” your body into burning fat).

Fasted Cardio. Should I try it? Is it right for me? Click To Tweet

Some people prefer to exercise on an empty stomach or just don’t have time to eat before an early morning run.  If this is the case, it’s important to pay attention to how you feel, as far as energy levels, nausea, or feeling light headed.  You don’t want to struggle during your runs or workouts.

Personally, I like to eat something before running.  After discovering that there is most likely no potential benefits in athletic performance, I will continue to do so.  I feel that even just a small amount of food gives me more energy and makes my run more efficient and enjoyable!

As for fueling for my next marathon, I will be relying on carbohydrates.  Through trial and error, I will find what works best.

Do you exercise on an empty stomach?

Have you become a fat adapted athlete?  I would love to know if anyone has had positive results using this strategy!

How to set SMART goals

Goal= “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result“.  Goals are an important part of life.  They can give you a boost in motivation and help with staying organized.

We can have short term goals, such as completing three workouts per week and long term goals, like weight loss.  Goals help us focus our attention on what we want to achieve and keep us on track.  Small steps and short term goals keep us on the right path to accomplish our long term goals.  Goals help us determine what’s important to us and keeps us focused.

We can “get to work” on our most challenging struggles with goal-setting.  Whether it be health goals, fitness goals, or work related goals, making a specific plan is key.  We want to be able to focus our time and energy on what we want to accomplish and also be able to track our progress along the way.  An effective way to prepare for success is by setting SMART goals.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.  SMART goals will help “pave the way” for your success!

SPECIFIC:  What do you hope to achieve?  Your goals should be clearly defined.  You should state exactly what you want to accomplish.

MEASURABLE:  How will you know if you achieve said goal?  Being able to see the progress you’ve made will help your motivation to continue.

ATTAINABLE:  Is your goal really one that you are actually able to achieve with a reasonable amount of work?  The goals you set should be sensible and practical.

RELEVANT:  When you reach your goal, how will it make you feel?  Choose a goal that is important and worthwhile.  You want your goal to be appropriate to your needs, interests, and skills.

TIME-BOUND:  When do you want to accomplish your goal?  If you specify a particular date by which you want to reach your goal, it will keep you on track.  Consistently keep an eye on your progress to make sure you are moving forward toward your goal.

When setting goals, make sure they are SMART! Click To Tweet

Having SMART goals will certainly increase your chances of success.  This will help change a non-specific plan into a clearly defined plan.  Defining your goals this way will motivate you and help you remain focused.

I think it helps to actually write it down.  Seeing your goals spelled out on paper makes it “real”.  Taking the time to sit down, make a plan, and knowing the steps that you need to take gives you accountability.  Increase your chance for success and make your goals SMART!

Do you set specific goals?