gym | siłownia, running | bieganie, sport & fitness, travels | podróże

LACROSSE BALL

As a continuation of my traveler guide #part 1 today I will talk about one of my must-have item that I always carry with me – LACROSSE BALL

Living nowadays is very fast and stressful for most of us. We have some many things to do during the day that we almost forget about ourselves and our bodies. It is challenging to fit everything in our daily schedule. Especially when we have our work, duties, travels, studies it is difficult to find time for family and friends. Exercising and training regularly are also time-consuming. But we all know that day has only 24 hours(!) and we need to prioritize our stuff and cut off some things.

For example, how many times have you skipped stretching in your training? To make your answer simpler – I will tell you, that me I SKIP IT often ! (:O) Yes, I am honest with you, sometimes, unfortunately, there is no time to do it…

And how many times have you tried to spend a bit more time at gym and do self-massage?

Never? Once per 2 weeks? It is not good. Believe me, I understand you, as me also I usually have very tight chart during the week, and that’s why I try to keep up with and make up for my missed self-message sessions with LACROSSE BALL.

No matter if you are an athlete or not, I want to recommend it to EVERYONE, as this simple tool is just a real wonder for our muscles and tendons. For these who sit all day at the office and for those who train a lot!

WHY

In my post about foam roller – you could see that it is great for improving range of motion and reducing muscle soreness. But you can also use a small, hard ball, like a lacrosse ball, to practice self-myofascial release and work out muscle kinks and soreness. On top of this, it is a simple tool, small and strong, so it can get into areas a foam roller can’t. It also happens to be super inexpensive! (I bought mine for around 7$ 🙂

So are you ready?!

HOW

To use a lacrosse ball correctly, place it under a part of your body (like your shoulders, hamstrings, or butt), and let your body weight push down on the ball. Roll around while you sit or lay on it until you find a spot that feels a little uncomfortable. Stop there and breathe in for four seconds. Then clench the muscle where the ball is and hold for four seconds. Finally, relax the muscle and exhale for eight seconds. Repeat this breathing technique until the area has softened up and then move on to the next spot.

REMEMBER

  1. Set Aside 10 Minutes

While it might not seem like much, setting aside 10 minutes while you are on train/plane to massage your feet. Or try to massage before bed and roll out your legs, shoulder, back. That’s long enough to make a difference but not so long that you overdo it. Plus, soft tissue work can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply ;).

  1. Remember To Breathe

When you’re working on easing tension—targeting tough spots and pushing through the soreness—maintaining a steady breath may take a backseat. It shouldn’t. In fact, your breath should play a big role in the process and help to relax your mind and body at the same time.

  1. Target One Area At A Time

Don’t think of lacrosse-ball release as a full-body workout. This is one case where less is more. Instead of going from head to toe, spend one night working on your legs and the next on your upper back. Each time, move your focus to a different muscle group with the goal of hitting all major body parts by end of week.

The one thing to remember: Make sure to hit both sides. If you do your right leg, do your left leg the same night!

Need some inspiration for where to target? Put the ball under a spot you feel stiff.
If you have pain somewhere, think about targeting the surrounding areas. For instance, if your knee kurts, lie down and put the ball under the quads over the knee.

  1. Stop If It Hurts

Discomfort, especially at first, is nothing to worry about, but if you feel sharp pain, stop! If it hurts bad enough that you can’t take a full, deep breath, you need to back off the pressure by supporting your weight with your hands.

Everyone can use lacrosse ball to ease stiffness, reduce pain, and ultimately help body positioning and performance. After all, teasing out muscle kinks and working connective tissue, ligaments, and fascia takes effort. But it’s time well spent. For me this is real life-saver and easy to use when I travel and my body, especially legs need extra release and care. It makes my life better as a runner, model and traveler to keep me ready to go!

Inconspicuous friend for sore legs 😉
gym | siłownia, sport & fitness

Stability Ball

Rounded, big and bouncy 😉 that is how we usually describe swiss balls ;).
Also called stability balls, are often seen at gym and are often avoided but they are a really great tool for exercising and if you are not a good friend with it yet, you should definitely get to know it more and incorporate to your workout!

I really like to use it, it is great for strength and stability, as well for developing flexibility and balance. Works perfectly for abs, legs and glutes muscles. I used to underrate it for a long time, until I started to use it and I truly regretted avoiding it before. So do not do the same mistake and start to use it in your next training session!

5 reasons to roll out the gym ball!

    1. Universal and simple
      It can be a secret weapon in your build-a-better-body arsenal because it’s one of the most versatile bits of kit in your gym and its potential uses are only limited by your imagination. What’s more, because it’s cheap and lightweight and can be quickly inflated and deflated. You an also buy it and have in your home!
    2. Increases the ROM
      If you’re smart, you can use the gym ball to increase your range of motion (ROM) for some abs and lower back exercises. This is useful because working through a greater range of motion will present more of a challenge to your muscles, leading to greater size and strength increases.
    3. Helps Your Posture and Upper Body Soreness
      Stability ball is the best friend at your work place. Sitting for over 8 hours daily influences very badly on your spine and back. Try to replace your chair and sit on swiss ball instead. This way you to maintain proper posture to stay on the ball and work your core at the same time! By toning your core muscles, exercise balls can do wonders for your posture.
    4. Helps With Rehabilitation
      These balls are so good for helping relieve strain and preventing future injury, they’re often used by physical therapists for back rehabilitating back injuries. The ball can be used to support your body while you stretch or build muscles. Those with back injuries may even be able to find some relief from pain by lying on the ball.
    5. Strengthens Your Core Muscles
      When you do exercises on a ball, your abdominal and back muscles are constantly working to make adjustments and keep you balanced.
      Unlike traditional exercises, the ball works the muscles on the front and back of your body at the same time, promoting a more balanced and healthy physique.
      Even if you’re targeting a different area, your core muscles are still getting exercise. Plus, there are tons of exercises you can do on a ball that focus on strengthening and toning these muscles even more.

Swiss Ball Exercises

1. Stability ball alternate scissors 

Lie down with extended legs. Raise up legs parallel to the ground and hold stability ball with straight arms. Lower alternate leg and arm to the ground, pause for a second and back to the starting position. Lower another leg and another arm and hold for a second. Back to the starting position. This is one repetition.
Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps.

2. Stability ball crunch

With the ball beneath your lower back, lie back as far as you can. Curl your shoulders up, keeping lower back on the ball. Pause at the top, then lower slowly to start.
Do 3 sets of 20 reps.

3. Stability ball hamstring curl

Position the ball so that when your legs are extended your ankles are on top of the ball. This will be your starting position.
Raise your hips off of the ground, keeping your weight on the shoulder blades and your feet. Flex the knees, pulling the ball as close to you as you can, contracting the hamstrings. After a brief pause, return to the starting position.
Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps.

So what are you waiting for? With all these benefits you can’t afford to not go out and try to exercise with stability ball!

gym | siłownia, running | bieganie, sport & fitness

Recovery tricks&tips

Ok, so you woke up early, hit to the gym and killed your workout. Either you just finished your post-work 7 miles run or cycled 20 miles.
Great job!
But a few hours later after settling in at work, it hits you… overall body tiredness, tight legs, the arms that feel like spaghetti.
Or you hit your sofa/bed after the evening workout and do absolutely NOTHING except for snacking.
Then, the following morning you are not able to stand up from your bed.
Does it sound like story of your life?
Well, the workout is one thing but post-workout recovery habits are essential and (believe me) make such a difference for your body. Iit will be grateful to you for taking care a little bit more.

To avoid muscle fatigue and keep your body fresh and ready for another training add these following tricks&tips to your everyday routine:

1) Foam rolling!
One of the best treatment you can serve yourself.
Foam rolling is a sort of mini-massage where you roll parts of your body over a foam cylinder to relieve soreness and tightness.
It can be slightly painful but it is a good pain. However be careful while you use it! More helpful information and directions how to use it you can see in this post.

2) Espom salt
It has been used for hundreds of years to ease all kinds of aches and pains. A simple soak in the tub helps you and your body feel better. You can find it in most drugstores and it costs really little!
Dissolve it in warm water and take a bath for 10-15 minutes. In water, Epsom salt breaks down into magnesium and sulfate that can help relax muscles and loosen stiff joints.

3) Streeech and do yoga
We all know we should stretch more after working out. Sometimes we skip it as we find it as a boring liability or we are in the rush after our workout. (It happens to me very often!) However stretching routine is very helpful for keeping your muscles relaxed and helping them to rebuild after exercises.
I am not the most flexible person either. It is my weak point so I  have just recently started my 8 weeks challenge. I will practice yoga 3 times per week for 2 months at @yogatothepeople. Do you wanna join? 🙂

4) Compression Socks
Some people slip on a pair of compression socks after an especially tough run, or after it’s been a while since hitting the trail, to help with calf soreness.
I use CEP socks for long runs and races. Also, they are my must-have item in my hand-luggage on the long-haul flight! They improve circulation in legs so I do not have swollen calfs after long hours of sitting on plane.

5) Drink water!
Bottle of water should become your friend. We should hydrate ourselves to keep the body acidity low. It is important to choose the water with minerals that we loose every day. After heavy workout I would recommend to make your own electrolyte drink (these in stores are full of preservatives  and artificial substances). Simply mix water with juice from one freshly-squeezed lemon, add pinch of himalayan salt and 1 tablespoon of honey. It replenishes your body and lost minerals.

6) Sleep well!
This is crucial factor for ANY recovery. Probably the most important thing you can do! Do not waste your time (if not necessary) before going to bed in front of computer or TV. Instead, go to sleep and wake up fresh the following morning. You would be more energetic, awake and ready for new day.

gym | siłownia, running | bieganie, sport & fitness

Foam roller, what is it? | Roller, co to takiego?

I can still remember a time when foam rollers were the latest novelty in training rooms. Probably if not my good friend, I would still not pay attention to it that much. Thanks to him I start to do some research and use it during my workouts. It a lifesaver. To make your life easier and better you should definitely know what are these and start to use it. I am serious! The sooner, the better!

Before, rolling out in public usually got you quite a few stares and hardly anyone knew what a foam roller was, let alone how to use one correctly. Nowadays, foam rollers can be found almost at every gym.
And that’s great because, unlike many training trends, foam rollers actually work! The benefits of foam rollers for our sore muscles are almost endless. You can use it on almost every muscle of your body, from your calves, all the way up to your shoulders and neck.
If you have had a long day at work, foam rolling your back just feels so good and gets out a lot of the knots.

Have you ever wonder how foam rollers work?

Let me introduce ‘fascia‘ to you…
Running and exercising cause your muscles to go through a constant process of breakdown and repair. Over time this causes the muscles to become tight when the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles, starts to thicken and shorten to protect the underlying muscle from further damage.
Sometimes the fibers and fascia contract so much they form trigger points, which manifest as sore spots needing to be released.
That is a problem. Because it means fascia is impacting your movements, for better or worse.
Fascia is made primarily of densely packed collagen fibers that permeate your muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organs. (There isn’t a place in your body where fascia doesn’t exist.)
When fascia becomes restricted, adhesions form causing soreness, restricted movement, gait change and potential injury.


For example, tight fascia around your IT band can cause your IT Band Syndrome, meaning your knee cap will track incorrectly. If you loosen the muscles around your it band, your knee cap begins tracking correctly and your knee stops hurting.

How does foam rolling help my fascia?

Foam rolling, also known as myofascial release, is the application of pressure to eliminate scar-tissue and soft-tissue adhesion by freeing up your fascia.
The good news is fascia and trigger points can be released! Also, once released, every one of the problems tight fascia and muscles have caused usually clears up.
The goal of myofascial therapy is to stretch and loosen the fascia so that it and other structures can move more freely.


This results in decreased muscle and joint pain, increased circulation and improved mobility, balance and gait for peak performance.
The use of a foam roller helps you become a stronger, faster and less injury-prone run athlete.
Sounds great, right? Foam rolling can be the savior for injury-prone runners and those training extra hard — if used the right way.
If not, you risk irritating, and possibly injuring, your body further 🙁 .
To help you get it right, see below how to use the foam roller right:

1) DO NOT roll directly on an injured area
Rolling directly on the hurting IT band would not help alleviate that trouble spot.
As body doesn’t work this way for a number of reasons.
First, when it comes to foam rolling and myofascial release, constantly working the area of pain could create more inflammation and tension in the area, further tensing the muscles and fascia. Second, where you feel the pain is not always the source of the injury.
Do not work directly on the area that causes pain.

DO: Slowly foam roll your way away from the pain center to the connecting muscles. Once you hit the attachment areas, work those thoroughly. Then proceed back to the area of pain and work gently at first. Visualize yourself “melting away” the tightness. Not only will you avoid inciting excess inflammation this way, but you’ll target the real source of your injury.
2) DO NOT Foam rolling too quickly
Foam rolling hurts. Period.
Runners that know they should foam roll sometimes speed over areas because it hurts less than using slow, deliberate movements. Unfortunately, foam rolling quickly doesn’t accomplish the objective – releasing fascia and relaxing muscles.

DO: Fascia is a thick, fibrous web of tissue. As such, it can’t be released with a quick pass of the foam roller. Releasing fascia takes time. You need to be slow and deliberate in your movements. Once you find a sensitive area, slowly work back and forth over the spot.
Again, be thoughtful and think of foam rolling like melting through the muscle and fascia.
3) DO NOT Stay on one spot too long
It’s not a contradictory statement to previous point.
Staying on one spot for too long might irritate a nerve or damage the tissue, which can cause bruising and further inflammation.

DO: Be gentle at first.
Start with half your body weight, using your hands or other leg to adjust pressure, and slowly work into full body weight. The maximum amount of time you should spend on any one area is 20 seconds or so. If you have a really troublesome area you can always come back for another session in the evening when the muscles have had time to relax.
4) DO NOT: Use bad posture and form
Foam rolling is hard work. (For example: The IT band position places almost all your body weight on your one supporting arm. Rolling the quads is basically the plank position.)
Do not drop your pelvis from not having tight abs when doing quad work or your hips my sag while working on the IT band. This can exacerbate existing injuries, form flaws or muscles weaknesses.
Don’t approach foam rolling haphazardly.

DO: Stay focused on your form throughout your entire session.
If you find yourself too tired after a hard workout, come back to foam rolling after you’ve rested or maybe in the evening.
It hurts, but it is worth it, so hang in there, and notice how much better you feel when foam rolling becomes a consistent part of your recovery plan.
(In the next part, I will write about perfect foam roller moves that you should add to your training routine.)

Nadal pamiętam czas, kiedy widok rollera na siłowni był dla mnie jedną wielką niewiadomą. Z pewnością do tej pory nie zdawałabym sobie sprawy z jego korzyści i zastosowania, gdyby nie uwaga mojego dobrego kolegi, że z racji mojego tygodniowego kilometrażu powinnam zacząć używać rollera, bo rozciąganie to za mało. do tej pory jestem niezmiernie wdzięczna za tą poradę. Żebyście Wy dłużej nie mieli obaw i problemów z czym to się naprawdę je poniżej dowiecie się o rollerze i o tym, że powinniście używać go podczas treningów na siłowni (oraz w domu). Czym szybciej, tym lepiej. Naprawdę! Wasze ciało będzie Wam wdzięczne!

Jeszcze niedawno widok rollera na siłowni zadziwiał, a ‘wariatów’ wałkujących się na rolce traktowało się niepoważnie. Na szczęście obecnie to się zmieniło, rollery są coraz bardziej popularne i znacznie więcej osób używa go bez pardonu.
Bardzo się z tego cieszę, bo roller, to nie jest kolejny ‘gadżet’, a narzędzie, które sprawia cuda. Koniec ze spiętymi i bolącymi mięśniami. Roller można używać na całe ciało, od stóp i kostek, aż po ramiona i szyję. Zapewniam, że nie ma nic lepszego, niż masaż rollerem po ciężkim dniu pracy.

Czym jest powięź?

Słyszałeś kiedyś o powięzi? Nie? Najwyższa pora wiedzieć co to jest!
Biegając, ćwicząc, trenując na siłowni mięśnie ulegają zniszczeniu (dopiero później po treningu, regenerując się we właściwy sposób, odbudowywane są nowe, mocniejsze komórki mięśniowe). Tkanka mięśniowa staje się sztywna ponieważ otaczająca je powięź (błona zbudowana z tkanki łącznej włóknistej zbitej, której zadaniem jest zewnętrzna osłona poszczególnych mięśni, grup mięśniowych i całej warstwy), skurcza się i grubieje, aby chronić znajdujące się po nią mięśnie przed dalszemu niszczeniu. Niekiedy tkanka mięśniowa oraz powięź skurcza się tak bardzo, że tworzą punkty spustowe (ang. trigger point) – nadwrażliwie miejsca, które sprawiają ból pod wpływem ucisku.

Powięź wpływa w ten sposób na możliwy zakres ruchu tkanki mięśniowej. Składa się ona głównie z gęstych włókien kolagenowych, obecnych w mięśniach, kościach, organach, naczyniach krwionośnych i nerwowych. (Nie ma miejsca w ciele, w którym nie byłoby powięzi).
Kiedy powięź jest zbyt obkurczona, zaczyna sprawiać ból, ograniczoną elastyczność oraz mobilność mięśni, co sprawia potencjalne zagrożenie kontuzji.

Jak działa roller?

Wałkowanie/rollowanie (masaż powięziowy, ang. myofascial release) jest techniką masażu, dzięki której poprzez nacisk na tkanki głębokie rozluźnia się je. Dzięki temu można wyeliminować zbitą powięź oraz punkty spustowe. W ten sposób uwalnia się również oraz rozluźnia otaczające mięśnie dzięki rozciągnięciu i rozluźnieniu tkanek.

Dzięki temu zredukowany jest ból mięśni oraz stawów, zwiększona jest cyrkulacja krwi, poprawiona mobilność, balans oraz siła.  Używanie rollera pomoże być silniejszym i szybszym sportowcem. Brzmi super, prawda? Trzeba jednak wiedzieć jak poprawnie go używać, ponieważ jak każdy sprzęt, niewłaściwie stosowany może wyrządzić więcej szkód niż korzyści :(.

Poniżej znajduje się kilka wskazówek, o których powinieneś pamiętać wałkując się:
1) NIE
Nie masuj i nie rolluj najbardziej bolącego punktu! Uporczywe wałkowanie pasma biodrowo-piszczelowego nie załagodzi i nie zniweluje bólu, z wielu przyczyn:
Punkt, który najbardziej boli bardzo często nie jest jego źródłem. Przyczyna może leżeć zupełnie w innej grupie mięśniowej! Dodatkowo silny nacisk i masaż w danym miejscu może spowodować jeszcze większe napięcie a w konsekwencji stan zapalny i silniejszy uraz :(.

TAK
Rolluj się powoli, od źródła bólu, na zewnątrz. Masuj mięśnie, które są połączone z uporczywym miejscem. Wyobraź sobie, że chcesz ‘wymasować’ ból oraz ‘wycisnąć’ z jego centrum. W ten sposób unikniesz potencjalnego zapalenia, jak i zadziałasz na bezpośrednią przyczynę i źródło bólu.

2)NIE
Nie wałkuj zbyt szybko! Czasem nie mamy czasu, albo wydaje nam się, że im szybciej wymasujemy się, tym prędzej pozbędziemy się bólu i ‘odhaczymy’ rollowanie w danym treningu. Niestety, pospieszny masaż nie spełni swojej funkcji. Powięź to zwarta, sieć włókien. Z tego powodu szybkie wałkowanie nie pomoże zbyt wiele. Na rozluźnienie powięzi potrzeba więcej czasu.

TAK
Wykonuj ruchy powoli i spokojnie. Znajdując bardziej sztywny/bolący punkt, skup się na nim i roluj to miejsce kilka razy w obu kierunkach.

3)NIE
Nie przesiaduj zbyt długo na jednym punkcie! Jest to sprzeczne z poprzednim punktem, jednak pamiętaj, że zbyt uporczywy i długi nacisk może podrażnić tkanki dodatkowo, powodując stan zapalny i zaostrzenie bólu. Bądź delikatny.

TAK
Zacznij od niepełnego nacisku ciężarem własnego ciała, używając nóg lub rąk jako podparcia i zmniejszenia nacisku. Stopniowo zwiększaj go, aby finalnie naciskać całym ciałem. Należy czuć dyskomfort i ból, ale w stopniu, który jesteś w stanie znieść. W jednym miejscu powinieneś spędzić maksimum 20-30 sekund. Nie więcej. Jeśli masz naprawdę silny ból i miejsce, które wymaga większej pracy, zawsze możesz wrócić do niego wieczorem, kiedy mięśnie zdołają wypocząć.

4)NIE
Nie zapominaj o poprawnej posturze ciała i technice!
Masaż i wałkowanie to naprawdę ciężka praca. (Przykładowo: masując pas biodrowo-piszczelowy niemal cały ciężar ciała spoczywa na ramieniu, którym się podpierasz. Rollując mięśnie czworogłowe należy niemal przybrać posturę przy planku).
Nie spuszczaj miednicy z powodu słabych mięśni brzucha pracując na mięśniami dwugłowymi/czworogłowymi. Może spowodować to pogorszenie oraz zwiększenie istniejących urazów, spadek techniki oraz osłabienie mięśni.
Nie traktuj rollowania jako przypadkowe ćwiczenie i na chybił trafił ‘a jakoś to będzie’.

TAK
Skup się na technice przez cały czas. Jeśli czujesz zbytnie zmęczenie po treningu, wróć do rollowania później, np. wieczorem kiedy będziesz bardziej wypoczęty.

Rollowanie potrafi dać w kość i boleć, ale uwierzcie, że naprawdę warto włączyć go do swojego treningu i poświęcić się jemu kilka razy w tygodniu. Przy systematycznym stosowaniu, efekty przyjdą szybko i będziecie wdzięczni tej niepozornej piance, że potrafi zdziałać tyle dobrego. Jedyne co macie do stracenia to ból i sztywność mięśni, chyba warto zaryzykować? 😉

(W następnej części znajdziecie najważniejsze ćwiczenia do stosowania podczas rollowania.)