Mouth-clogging, breath-stealing powder days are here! Whether you glide through the powder on a pair of sticks or astride a board, you’ll need strength, endurance, flexibility and balance to make it through the ski season with your dignity (and your bones, joints and muscles) in one piece.
According to www.ski-injury.com, damage to the knees, including the ACL, accounts for 30-40% of all alpine ski injuries. And if you’ve ever heard the dreaded popping noise that comes with a sprained or torn ligament, you know your season’s just been cut painfully short.
But Joanna Kahn, licensed Physical Therapist based in Park City, Utah, points out there’s plenty you can do before the season’s in full swing to protect your knees now and happily ever after. In fact, studies published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine (as cited in Horwitz, 2008, pg. 15) show that with the right training, serious knee injuries can be slashed by as much as 62%!
Top 4 Ways to Prevent a Knee Blow-Out
Kahn tells us the top 4 causes of skiing-related knee injuries and how to counteract them:
1. Give “Kissing Knees” the Kiss Off
When your knees collapse inward, it puts a lot of stress on the supporting knee ligaments. Avoid “kissing knees” by keeping your hips, knees and ankles in alignment. Whether you’re doing squats at the gym or just walking up stairs, be conscious of your form. Keep your knees over your ankles and pointing forward.
2. Balance Your Quad to Hamstring Strength Ratio
Your hamstring muscles protect the ACL by supporting it. Weak hamstrings can lead to ACL injuries. If the hamstring in the back of the leg is no match for the power, strength, and speed of the quadriceps in front, this imbalance causes considerable stress to the ACL. Counteract imbalances by focusing on strengthening those quads and hamstrings before ski season starts.
3. Strengthen Your Hips
Hip strength is key to how well you perform on the slopes, and it protects your knees and back. Your hip muscles – especially the external rotators and abductors – hold your knees steady, keeping them from collapsing inward as you put pressure on your ski edges to turn. Strong hips will not only help you avoid those kissing knees and maintain proper skiing form, but they’ll take a lot of stress off your lower back.
Strengthen your hips with lunges, lateral lunges and side planks. Add exercises that challenge your balance, such as standing on one leg, or on a BOSU ball, to round out your training program.
4. Better Core Control
Balance is critical in winter sports. Having a strong core translates into better balance and stability on the slopes, and less stress to the knees. And since skiing involves plenty of twisting and turning, a powerful core will help you stay in control while maintaining good form. This greatly reduces your risk of injury!
3 Smart Tips to Squeeze the Most Out of Every Blue Bird Day
Kahn emphasizes that the best way to prevent skiing or snowboarding injuries is with conditioning programs you start at least six weeks before hitting the slopes. But, it’s NEVER too late to start.
Here are Kahn's top three recommendations for getting the most out of your winter sports:
1. Be Flexible
A big part of injury prevention is warming up specific to your sport. Kahn points out that more recent research shows doing static stretches (when you hold a stretch for up to 30 seconds) before engaging in your sport, “has the potential to decrease your strength – and you don’t want that before heading out on the slopes.”
Instead, she recommends doing a dynamic warm-up that mimics the movements you’ll be performing in your sport. By actively engaging the muscles you’ll be using, you’re increasing
circulation and warming up the tendons and ligaments, so they’re more pliable and less likely to strain or tear. This is especially important when doing outdoor activities in cold temps.
Kahn suggests these dynamic warm-ups to stay pain-free: http://www.personalptparkcity.com/Personal_PT_Park_City/Videos.html
As for those static stretches, don’t throw them away. Save them for your cool-down when you’re done skiing. These stretches will help rebalance your body for the next day’s activities.
2. Listen To Your Body
So often, ACL tears happen at the end of the day when ‘I just went for one more run.’ When you’re tired, it’s easy to tweak a knee or tear something. Ski easier at the end of the day when you’re fatigued. Listen to your body and stop when your body tells you it’s time.
3. Work On Your Endurance, Strength & Flexibility Throughout the Year
“Building strength takes time. It’s not like you can do it this week and be ready next week,” Kahn points out. “After all, it’s not about getting stronger now, it’s about getting strong and staying strong throughout the seasons. Build on your conditioning every season – you’ll be really impressed with your performance.”
Joanna Kahn is a Park-City based physical therapist licensed in Utah and California. Joanna offers personalized, one-to-one treatments at her Personal PT clinic in Prospector or in the convenience of clients’ homes or lodging accommodations. For more information, please visit: http://www.personalptparkcity.com
Here come the holidays again! And that means an endless circuit of feasting, festivities, friends and family. Either you love this frenzied time or you despise the stress of the season. But with a little practice and a sense of humor, you can put some of that fun back into the holidays that you once enjoyed when you were a wide-eyed kid reveling in the anticipation and excitement.
Take a Deep Breath... and Move It!
Taking the time to move your body every day is a fabulous gift you can give yourself, especially during the fast-paced holiday season. Maybe you’re thinking, "How the heck am I gonna find a spare hour to exercise?" But it's well worth the time you put into it. Regular exercise will undoubtedly put a spring into your step and give you that extra bit of energy you need to tackle your mile-long to-do list. In addition to a positive mental boost, you’ll torch calories and keep those extra holiday pounds at bay.
Consider Cutting Back
Got a mammoth shopping list that's stressing you out? Think about making a few cutbacks. Sure, 'tis the season of giving, but you don't want to exhaust your finances and go into debt all for one day out of the year! Consider trimming that shopping list to family members and a handful of close friends. For everyone else you want to remember during the holidays, send a card or pay them a personal visit with some tempting homemade treats no one can refuse. This will slash stress during the holidays, and give you more time to spend with loved ones.
Laugh It Off
Throughout the holidays, try to hang on to your sense of humor. This will help you better cope with those frustrating traffic jams and crazed shoppers that can get under your skin if you let them. Rather than get mad when a frantic shopper grabs the item that you were looking at right out from under your nose, laugh. That's right, laugh out loud. You may get a few stares, but who knows, maybe someone will laugh along with you. Or not. But the point is, if you get angry, it will just set off a chain reaction of negativity. Instead, giggle a little and find the humor in a silly situation.
When you get caught in that nightmare traffic jam that stretches to the horizon, just turn up the radio and tap your feet. Take the extra time to relax and think.
Focus on the Sights & Sounds, Not the $$$
In today's materialistic world, it's hard not to get caught up in the commercialism of the season. Encourage your family to focus on what they already have, instead of what they want. The holiday season has so much to offer -- the twinkling lights, the delicious tastes and smells, the sounds of festive music. Take your loved ones to look at the lights, go sledding or skiing in that winter wonderland, or enjoy a warm bowl of chili or soup in front of the fireplace. Get caught up in those priceless moments that don't cost a cent!
Make Someone Else Smile
Do you know a widowed neighbor or a struggling single mom or dad? The holidays can be a tough time for people who are alone, dealing with divorce, illness or any other life challenge. Brighten someone’s day with a visit or a phone call. Lend a helping hand by volunteering at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
Recharge Your Batteries for Next Year
This busy holiday season, instead of getting swept away by all the hustle and bustle, take some time to down shift and recharge your “batteries” for the coming year. You can boost your well-being now and into the new year by slowing down and taking the time to eat nutritious foods (along with the treats), moving your body more, being with the ones you love and doing things that add a sense of purpose to your life.
_During the holidays, we hear plenty about what we shouldn't eat and how to avoid the slow creep of weight gain. But that all gets so tiresome after awhile! It's easy to overlook the healthy foods that are abundant during this festive season. You just might be surprised at how many traditional favorites are actually good for you (not counting the extra fat and sugar we often add).
Skinless turkey breast is low in fat and high in protein: 3 ounces provides 20 grams of protein and hardly any fat -- all in only 100 calories! Not only that, but you get 25% of the recommended daily value for both niacin and vitamin B6. These important B vitamins boost your energy levels and help you fight illness.
Turkey is probably the best choice of meats you can serve to your guests during the holidays, in terms of being low-fat and low in calories. So gobble up and enjoy!
Fans of low-carb diets may not like this, but potatoes are actually good for you – in moderation. They have plenty of vitamin C, iron, potassium and fiber, as well as B vitamins. When you boil them, some of the vitamin C does leach into the water. To hold onto more of this immunity-boosting vitamin, use some of the water you boiled the potatoes in when mashing them rather than a higher-fat cream or milk.
Sweet potatoes contain plenty of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant not only believed to protect your eyes, but also reduce cancer risk and slow aging. Only four ounces of this colorful tuber gives you half of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C, and plenty of fiber. Just go light on the brown sugar, butter and Grandma’s marshmallow topping when making and enjoying your favorite sweet potato dish.
Cranberries are a traditional favorite at most holiday tables, and they’re good for you, too! They contain ellagic acid, a compound believed to fend off cancer. These festive red berries also help to prevent urinary tract infections. Add oranges to your favorite cranberry relish and you get a nice dose of vitamin C, too!
What holiday table would be complete without pumpkins in some form or another? Pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A (good for your peepers); giving you a whopping 3½ times the recommended daily amount, plus plenty of fiber, too. You can use pureed pumpkin to replace the fat or oils in baked goods for a delicious, moist texture.
"Now Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding..."
An excellent source of dietary fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants, figs make tasty snacks by themselves or combined with cheese. They’re also a good source of bone-building calcium and potassium, a mineral believed to help control blood pressure.
Speaking of figs, this fig dish makes a festive holiday treat:
"Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire..."
Don't forget the chestnuts this holiday season! They are the only low-fat nut with 1 gram of fat (the heart-healthy type, mind you) and only 70 calories per dried or roasted ounce. So if you haven't tried roasted chestnuts, what are you waiting for? They’re delicious and good for you!
Don’t Be a Grinch – Savor Your Faves!
The holidays only come around once a year, so there’s no point in being a Grinch about the foods you eat. Enjoy your seasonal favorites with these smart tips:
American Dietetic Association. n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2011. <www.eatright.org>
_ No other body part gets quite as much attention as the abs. Seems everyone wants that elusive "six pack." But there are plenty of misconceptions floating around about how to get that chiseled midsection. It’s time to set the record straight about the top three myths in abdominal training:
Myth #1: Anyone Can Have Six-Pack Abs.
Sorry to burst the bubble, but genetics have an impact on overall muscle definition – and how close you’ll really get to that coveted six-pack look. According to William Kraemer, PhD, exercise physiologist at the University of Connecticut and a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), "Mass in the abdominals is based on the amount of muscle fibers that are there genetically."
Richard Cotton, exercise physiologist and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) points out that six-pack abs are a “pre-cellulite” condition that is usually reserved for teens and 20-somethings. As we age, we tend to accumulate more subcutaneous body fat – making that sculpted look harder to attain.
Women, in particular are at a genetic disadvantage. Because their bodies are equipped to bear and nourish children, they naturally store more fat as a primary energy source than men do.
But don’t despair – men and women in their 30s and 40s (even 50s – just look at Madonna) can still flaunt ultra-taut abs. Since you can’t build your abs past their predetermined size, that chiseled look mostly comes from physical conditioning and having little abdominal fat covering the muscles. Which brings us to Myth #2…
Myth #2: Abdominal Exercises Alone Will Get Rid of Ab Flab.
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as spot reduction when it comes to getting rid of that unwanted muffin top. While crunches and other exercises will firm and strengthen your abs, they alone won’t remove those love handles.
Your abdominal muscles are made up of three layers. The deepest layer is the transversus abdominis, which supports and stabilizes your body. The next layer is the rectus abdominis, which flexes the spine. The obliques are closest to the surface – you use these to rotate your torso.
Fat tends to accumulate just beneath the surface of the skin. Your muscles are under that fatty tissue. To see those muscles, you’ve got to torch the layer of fat that’s covering them!
To shed that extra fat, combine regular abdominal training with healthy eating habits and cardiovascular conditioning. Whether you choose to run, walk, bike or take a Zumba fitness class, cardio exercise will help you burn calories.
Myth#3: You’ve Gotta Do Hundreds of Crunches to See Results.
Many people mistakenly think they need to do hundreds of crunches and sit ups every day for a toned midsection. Not true. Your abdominals are just like any other muscle group – they respond to resistance. But you don’t have to do hundreds of sit-ups to see results. You can still work those abs effectively with just two or three sets of 10 to 20 repetitions.
Just as you most likely wouldn’t do 50 bicep curls at a time, you don’t need to do 50 crunches, either. Just work smarter by slowing down and isolating the muscles you are working. Include a variety of exercises that focuses on each of the abdominal muscles, two to three times per week.
Even more important than getting that sexy six-pack look is having a strong core – it’ll improve your posture, reduce your risk of injury and even decrease low back pain. And that translates to better balance and coordination in your favorite sports, whether you’re on the golfing green, tennis courts or ski slopes.
Ready for some ab-sculpting exercises? Check out these fitness experts’ favorites:
And remember, consistency is key! Along with abdominal exercises, include regular strength and cardio training in your workouts. Combine these with a healthy, low-fat diet, and you’ll see yourself with that toned midsection you've always wanted!
Downs, Martin F. “Flat Abs for Men: Go-to Exercises”. WebMD. n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2011. <http://men.webmd.com/features/flat-abs-for-men-go-to-exercises>
Samataro, Barbara Russi. “Striving for Six-Pack Abs”. WebMD. n.d. 8 Nov. 2011. <http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/striving-for-six-pack-abs>
Sinclair, John, CSCS. “Seeking the Perfect Six-Pack”. My ePHIT.com. 22 May 2006. Web. 2 Feb. 2009. <https://my.ephit.com/en/clubhouse/library/details.asp?article_id=1234&back=true>
Finally made it to the wildly popular Zumba class at my gym. After weeks of peering into a room full of sweaty but smiling ladies shaking and gyrating to pumping music, I decided it was high time to join the dance party.
Zumba: Here to Stay or Just Another Fleeting Fad?
Zumba has shimmied its way into the top 10 fitness trends for the coming year, according to a survey by the American College of Sports Medicine. This super-charged dance workout is a fast-paced fusion of hip hop, Latin-inspired salsa and flamenco, and even a bit of belly dancing.
First introduced in Colombia in the 90s, today more than 12 million people flock to packed Zumba classes every week, according to an article in USA Today. Its popularity is no surprise. After all, it’s a fun workout that doesn’t feel like work. When you hear the music, you just want to start tapping your toes to the beat. And there's a class for everyone – regardless of fitness level.
Hey… Guys? Wait Up!
So how did it go, you ask? Let’s just put in this way – it was fun, and I won’t be invited to Dancing with the Stars anytime soon!
After a simple, easy-to-follow warm-up to Lady Gaga, the Latin beats started bumping. That’s when the foot work got tricky. It would have been easier to follow if I had posted myself behind the instructor or someone who knew what she was doing. But I chose my favorite, inconspicuous spot across the room by the window. I was constantly craning my neck to see what the instructor was doing.
Each dance was energetic and quick! Often, I found myself a couple of beats behind, clapping my hands and shaking to the left while everyone else was shimmying to the right. No matter, it was plenty of fun and a great way to break out of my comfort zone and try something new.
Is Zumba a Calorie Burner?
Did I sweat? A bit, but I didn’t burn nearly as many calories as someone who really knows the moves. I can see how it could be a good cardio workout with some practice. Experts say a person can burn anywhere from 400-1000 calories during an hour long class.
Final Words of Advice
If you want to break out of your same old, boring workout rut, give Zumba a try! Strategically position yourself behind the instructor or an experienced Zumba pro, channel your inner Shakira and just have fun!
Have you tried Zumba yet? Please share!
Lloyd, Janice. “Zumba brings the dance party into the health club”. USA Today. 26 Oct. 2011. Web. 1 Nov. 2011. <http://yourlife.usatoday.com/fitness-food/exercise/story/2011-10-27/Zumba-brings-the-dance-party-into-the-health-club/50940786/1>
“Survey Predicts Top 20 Fitness Trends for 2012 “. American College of Sports Medicine. n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2011. <http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2011/10/27/survey-predicts-top-20-fitness-trends-for-2012>
It's no surprise that kids love Halloween. After all, it's a fun holiday that fosters creativity and imagination. Besides, what other night of the year can a youngster ring a stranger's doorbell demanding candy with the simple but effective words, "Trick or treat"?
But what about children with diabetes? Do they have to miss out on this fun-filled candy-fest? Diabetes experts agree that although Halloween can be tricky for diabetic kids, with careful planning they can enjoy the treats in "trick-or-treating" too.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) emphasizes that parents of diabetic children can let their youngsters participate in Halloween and other holiday celebrations, as long as they plan in advance. Something that parents can do to plan ahead is count carbohydrate grams.
This allows a diabetic child to enjoy a sweet treat without sending blood sugar levels skyrocketing. Often, people mistakenly think that diabetics must avoid all types of sugar, but this is not totally true. Once in awhile, a diabetic may indulge in a small piece of candy as part of his daily carbohydrate allowances -- as long as the sugary treat is later replaced with another non-sugar type of carbohydrate, like potatoes.
While it is true that your child shouldn't gobble the entire contents of her trick-or-treat bag with gleeful abandon, there are some creative and tasty alternatives to the typical sugary Halloween sweets they can enjoy. Healthy alternative treats are:
And when handing out goodies, there are plenty of fun alternatives to sugary treats. Kids love small containers of Play-Doh, trinkets such as pencils, spider rings, bouncy balls, temporary tattoos and glow-in-the-dark stretchy skeletons.
Bag 'O Treats
But what do you do with that bulging bag of sweets that your child drags home from another successful trick-or-treating raid? Have your child choose a few of his favorite treats from the bag, and incorporate them into his overall diet plan. Another option is for parents to "buy" back some candy so their kids can get a non-food treat, like a game, a small toy or even money. We don’t want children to feel deprived or that they have to sneak candy.
Sweets in Moderation
The ADA agrees that sweets in moderation are okay. To get their list of the carbohydrate content of popular Halloween treats please visit:
Do you have a favorite Halloween treat? Please share it!
In the US, cider is simply apple juice that hasn’t been filtered to remove the pulp. Because it hasn’t been processed as much, cider offers more health-protective antioxidants than clear apple juice. But, even sipping cider won’t give you as many health benefits as munching on a whole apple.
A medium-sized, unpeeled apple offers you about four grams of dietary fiber and just 80 calories. That’s 15 percent of the daily fiber recommendation for adults. Studies show that fiber may help lower blood cholesterol levels and keep your digestion moving smoothly.
So, an apple a day still keeps the doctor at bay. But if it’s an apple beverage you’re craving, cider is a great choice. Keep in mind that cider straight from the mill has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. Although most of our immune systems can handle this, those who may be vulnerable include pregnant women, infants and children, the elderly and people with cancer, diabetes or AIDS. If you’re in this group, the FDA recommends that you boil unpasteurized cider before drinking it.
Few things are better than a warm drink on a frosty day. Beat the fall chill with a steaming cup of this Spiced Apple Pomegranate Cider.
1 gallon apple cider
6 whole cloves
3 (2-inch-long) strips lemon rind
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cups pomegranate juice
Each serving provides:
Fat: 0 g
Carbohydrate: 30 g
Protein: 1 g
Sugars: 29 g
If you’ve visited a Whole Foods grocery store lately, you may have noticed that fresh figs are plentiful these days in the produce section. And if you’re wrinkling your nose in distaste thinking of all those Fig Newtons you munched on as a kid, consider giving the fruit another chance.
Figs have been around for a long time. Favored by Cleopatra, and eaten by ancient Greek athletes for strength and vigor, figs were introduced in California by Spanish missionaries who planted fig trees. Today, there are over 150 varieties to choose from. Some of the most popular are:
And you can eat the skin. But fresh figs won’t last long at room temperature, so eat them within a day or two. Keep them in a mildly cool refrigerator and they’ll last a few more days.
Dried or fresh, figs are a sweet way to include more fiber in your diet. Try slicing them into halves and tossing them on your morning oatmeal or into a salad.
We wanted to share our absolute favorite figgy recipe (for now) with you. It's quick and easy and so mouth-watering good that you probably won’t want to share it.
Heavenly Honey-Balsamic Glazed Figs over Cottage Cheese
¼ cup pistachios, shelled
6 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
6 Tbsp. honey
12 oz. low-fat cottage cheese
12 large (18 small) fresh figs, halved
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Chop pistachios in a food processor and place on a baking sheet. Toast for 8 minutes. Remove and let cool. Set aside.
2. Combine vinegar with 4 Tbsp. honey in a saucepan. Boil, stirring often. Cook for 2-3 minutes until sauce reaches a thick, syrupy consistency.
3. Puree cottage cheese and remaining 2 Tbsp. honey until smooth. Spread on a serving platter.
4. Preheat broiler. Place figs cut side up on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, and balsamic honey glaze. Broil figs for 2-3 minutes until edges begin to brown.
5. Arrange fig halves over cheese, drizzle with balsamic glaze and sprinkle with toasted pistachios.
Each serving provides:
Protein: 9 g
Total Fat: 5 g
Carbs: 48 g
Cholesterol: 3 mg
Sodium: 159 mg
Fiber: 4 g
Sugars: 42 g
Adapted from Vegetarian Times.
What’s your favorite fig treat? Please share it with us!