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Chicago parks, activities Chicago, active, Chicago athletes

7 Ways to Be Active In Chicago This Summer

With its bold architecture, exciting events and stunning views of Lake Michigan, Chicago is one of the most exciting cities in which to spend your summer.

 

Chicago is packed with activities to enjoy during the summer months. With the season comes sunshine – and lots of it. It gets hot – sometimes too hot to get outside and comfortably exercise. At the very height of summer it’s important to stay hydrated, stay in the shade and wear sunscreen, but there are plenty of ways to stay active without overheating or risking your health.

 

With warmer weather just around the corner, we’ve compiled a list of 7 awesome ways to stay active in Chicago this summer. Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or simply love the fresh air, these are the best ways to be active in this iconic city at summertime.

 

1 – Go Swimming

 

Chicago pools, Chicago parks, Chicago activities, fun Chicago, Chicago summer

 

Swimming is a great activity for when the weather’s hot. Cool off and take a dip in one of Chicago’s many swimming pools or outdoor swimming areas.

 

For those looking to experience swimming in a natural setting, all you need to do is head eastwards. Chicago is of course built on the shores of one of the world’s biggest freshwater lakes; and with so many different beach entry points, Lake Michigan is one of the easiest places to enjoy a cooling swim in the summertime. Oak Street beach, Ohio Street beach, and Harold Hall Quarry beach are all lovely and are monitored by lifeguards, making them great for families. You can enjoy a calming swim right alongside the city walls, then dry off and head straight into town for a well-earned drink.

 

For those who prefer to swim in a pool, Chicago has plenty of indoor and outdoor pools to choose from. Practice your lengths at Chicago Park District pool or head to the Olympic-sized pool at Washington Park to get in your mileage.

 

2 – Play Indoor Sports

 

When it gets really hot, it can be exhausting to be out in the sun and exercising. Chicago has plenty of indoor sports clubs where you can enjoy all kinds of activities in their dedicated (and air conditioned!) studios.

 

Join Chicago Sport and Social Club, where you can enjoy a range of sports all year round, including softball, basketball, in-door volleyball and floor hockey. Combining high caliber sports leagues with great social events, Chicago Sport and Social Club is a fantastic place to stay active and have fun during a Chicago summer, and throughout the rest of the year.

 

3 – Take Up Yoga or Pilates

 

Eternally popular with people of all ages, yoga and pilates classes can be found everywhere in Chicago. Both activities are great ways to get fit: they help build core strength, improve flexibility and reduce stress, and can be done outside or inside during the summer months.

 

Choose from one of the many high quality yoga and pilates studios including: Amplified PIlates Center, Pilates ProWorks, CorePower Yoga and (last but not least) Yoga Six Lincoln Park.

 

Yoga Six has both indoor and outdoor classes. In the summer though, there’s nothing like the feeling of the sun on your face and the fresh breeze of Lincoln Park while you work out, complete with iconic views of the Chicago skyline. This studio is dedicated to helping you achieve balance and streamline your fitness – the perfect place to get active during summer in the Windy City.

 

4 – Explore Chicago By Foot

 

There are few things more lovely than a walk around the streets of Chicago on a sunny day. Book a tour with Chicago Walking tours and experience everything that this eclectic city has to offer.

 

Explore some of the fabulous parks this city has to offer by taking a stroll from Millennium Park to Maggie Daley Park. Amble around the farmers market, visit Lincoln Park and the surrounding area (packed with cafés, bars and a zoo – enough to fill an entire summer day), or explore the long-awaited Riverwalk which takes you along Lake Michigan to Wolf Point, with plenty of beautiful sights to see along the way.

 

5 – Go Paddleboarding on Lake Michigan

 

Chicago active, active, Chicago athlete, Chicago summer

 

Stand-up paddleboarding has taken the world by storm. It’s fun, playful and great exercise to enjoy out on the water. What better place to stay active and soak up some sunshine than on Lake Michigan? Head to its breezy shores to book a day out at one of its dedicated paddleboarding clubs.

 

Chicago Paddle Company offer training days and sessions for kids, adults, seniors and where experienced paddleboarders can rent their own boards on an hourly basis.

 

For those looking for a more contemporary atmosphere, head to Chicago SUP in downtown, where you can rent boards and get lessons, as well as join excursions around the lake or book party boats for you and your friends.

 

6 – Cycle Everywhere

 

Chicago is regarded as one of the best US cities for cycling. Since the dawn of the bicycle in the 19th century, Chicago has been home to dozens of cycling clubs, and was originally one of the key distributor hubs for bikes and cycling equipment for the whole of the United States.

 

Nowadays, keen cyclists can enjoy the many parks and trails designed specifically for bikes. Explore Burnham Park, Grant Park and the Lakefront Trail this summer. There are literally hundreds of places where you can rent and buy bikes, including Village Cycle Center, Cycle Smithy and Edgebrook Cycle, or take a cycling tour and experience what is arguably the best way to view this iconic city.

 

7 – Be Active at Home

 

There’s so much going on in the city that sometimes it’s nice to just chill out at home. Stay active at home by engaging in some vigorous housework, gardening or check out some online fitness videos to keep yourself toned and active during the summer months – without risking the sunburn!

 

Staying Safe In the Sun

 

Summer in Chicago is a wonderful time to enjoy everything this diverse city has to offer. During the warmer months, the temperature often rises into the 90s and the sun can be very strong. If you’re out and about during the summertime, it’s important to take certain precautions to keep yourself safe from heat and sun-related risks.

  • Walk in the mornings and evenings – the sun is strongest during the middle of the day. These are also some of the most beautiful times to see the city when it’s less busy.
  • Wear sunscreen – protect your skin from scorching summer sun by regularly applying sunscreen.
  • Wear sunglasses and a sunhat – keep your eyes and head cool to avoid heatstroke.
  • Stay hydrated – very important! Drink plenty of water and carry water with you when you’re out and about during the summer months.
  • Keep in the shade as much as possible – avoid standing in the sun for too long. Chicago is full of gorgeous parks, so why not have a picnic in the cool green shade of a tree?

 

The birthplace of so many innovators and artists, Chicago never disappoints when it comes to entertaining its visitors and its locals; whichever of these you are, we hope you have a lovely summer in this special city. Stay safe and enjoy this unique city in all its sunny glory.

runner, outdoor running, running Chicago

No Gym, No Problem! Best Outdoor Running Trails In Chicago

Love keeping fit but can’t get to a gym? Want to remain active while enjoying the outdoors? There could be multiple reasons why you decide to opt for outdoor running in Chicago as your chosen way to keep active. Some of you may just prefer being out in the fresh open air, while others like enjoying the views of surrounding sights as they run. Luckily Chicago is a great city for those who love outdoor running, with plenty of trails and running paths across different terrains and surfaces to choose from.

 

Whatever your reasons are and whether you prefer city trails or park runs, we’ve got you covered. Check out the list of our favorite outdoor running trails in Chicago:

Chicago Lakefront Trail

Set between the famous Lake Michigan and Lake Shore Drive, you’re going to enjoy many sights as you run along this 18.5-mile trail. There’s a great view of the Chicago skyline for most of it. The length of the trail runs from the South Shore area to Lakeview, taking runners past a range of parks, beaches, and harbors. You’ll also spot Chicago landmarks such as the Navy Pier or the Shedd Aquarium as you pound the pavement here. The large number of amenities here make it a major attraction for tourists and locals alike, and some may find it too crowded for their outdoor running tastes, especially on warmer days.

 

Chicago Riverwalk

If you’re a lover of architecture, this may be the best outdoor running trail in Chicago for you. In fact the entire run could actually be compared to an architecture tour of the city. The Chicago Riverwalk is under Wacker Drive and takes you past the downtown part of the Chicago River. There’s a great buzz and lively atmosphere to soak in as you run here. And if the sight of water as you run helps you feel good, this could be the ideal outdoor running trail for you.

 

Lincoln Park

Many Chicagoans consider this the best part in the city. And there’s certainly a lot going on. With the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Chicago History Museum, and the North Pond Nature Sanctuary among other attractions here, you might find that that the outdoor running trail can get a little bit crowded at peak times. But there’s also a lot of positives to using this spot for an occasional run. You can take in the spectacular skyline views and lush natural scenery. There’s also plenty to do and see in the surrounding area if you feel like it before or after your run.

 

Grant Park

Moving on to another famous Chicago park, Grant Park has been around for a long time.  Grant Park is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city, but try not to be put off by that. This park covers a whopping 319 acres of space, leaving you plenty of room to find a serene outdoor running spot. There are plenty of running trails to explore and work your way through here. The park is also home to many well-known attractions such as Buckingham Fountains and the Art Institute among others.

 

North Shore Channel Trail

Though it’s located pretty much downtown, the amount of greenery surrounding this outdoor running trail makes you feel far removed from the city. It starts at the Foster and Lawrence junction and stretches towards Evanston. You will enjoy river views as you run along the North Branch of the Chicago River and the North Shore Channel. This running trail is a great choice for you if want to enjoy a bit of natural serenity in the city.   

 

Northerly Island

With a view out into Lake Michigan, this man-made peninsula is our personal favourite outdoor running spot in the city. It spreads over 91 acres, and despite its central location near the museum Campus it has a surprisingly tranquil atmosphere. The native prairie of the island has been carefully restored. It makes a stunning set against the spectacular Chicago skyline. If you haven’t tried running here before, we’d highly recommend giving it a go.

 

Humboldt Park and Boulevards

Over the 219-acre Humboldt Park, you will find plenty of outdoor running tails, restored prairies and fantastic city views. Even as you leave the park to head into the surrounding trendy neighbourhood, you’ll find a few dirt paths to run in the nearby boulevards such as Humboldt Boulevard and Kedzie Boulevard.

 

Bloomingdale Trail (The 606)

This concrete trail runs over 2.7 miles from Ridgeway Avenue to Marshfield Avenue.  The Bloomingdale Trail is part of the 606 park system, and is an elevated ‘rail-trail’ in northwest Chicago. You’ll be running almost 20 feet over some of the city’s most hip neighbourhoods, including Wicker Park, Logan Square, Bucktown and Humboldt. You’ll need to run up an access ramp from the street to get here, and it’s easy to get to. If you enjoy elevated views of the city, this one’s for you.

 

Fox River Trail

This trail features 43 miles of asphalt, concrete, and crushed stone surfaces to run on. It may be a better fit for outdoor runners who have been training for a while, as it can occasionally be a little challenging. You will see some impressive scenery along the way though, and there are also views of the beautiful Fox River. Many locals come here to bike and hike as well as to enjoy cross-country skiing in the winter.

 

Palos Trail System

This 25-mile trail system is made up of several different forest preserves within the Cook County Forest Preserve System. It makes a great choice for those of you who like your outdoor running off-road. There are nine trails to explore here with varying levels of difficulty, and also plenty of hills if you want to enjoy a good hike. It takes only about 30 minutes to get here from downtown, but you’ll feel completely removed from the city.

 


Waterfall Glen

If you’re a lover of wildlife or nature, this could be just the outdoor running trail for you. The Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve trail system runs around the entirety of the park. The preserve itself has gorgeous natural scenery, such as ravines and rock ridges carved with glacier. The 700-acre forest is home to many rare plants and some very beautiful oak and maple trees. The trail is made of a limestone surface so is fairly easy to run on. It makes the perfect choice for those who want a retreat into nature in the city.

 

Salt Creek Trail

Covering almost 27 miles, the Salt Creek Trail takes you from Brookfield Zoo to the Busse Woods Forest Preserve. It is connected to many other woodland areas as well as other county forest preserves. Though some parts of the trail have a paved surface, it sometimes transitions into a limestone surface. Though there are plenty of signs throughout, make sure you don’t get lost at one of the many junctions.

 

We hope you enjoy trying out some of the Chicago outdoor running trails on this list. Even if you’ve found a running spot that you love, it can be fun to mix it up a little and explore new spots from time to time so you don’t find yourself stuck in a running rut. Happy running!

tech neck, neck pain, pain relief, Chicago chiropractor

Tech Neck: The Health Epidemic of the Millennia

 

Desktop PCs, laptops and mobile devices have become commonplace in society today, and whether they’re being used for work or for leisure, you’re bound to use at least one of these gadgets at some point during the day. While these electronic devices are an essential feature of the modern world and bring with them a host of benefits, they also cause unique problems of their own too, and one of those is the phenomenon known as Tech Neck.

What You Need to Know About the Tech Neck Epidemic

What Is Tech Neck?

 

If you’ve ever experienced an ache or a pain in your back or neck while you’ve been working on a computer or mobile device it’s highly likely that the discomfort you have experienced is the phenomenon known as “Tech Neck”.

 

 

Tech Neck is a pain which builds gradually over time and may possibly go away completely in a few days, or alternatively, may return time and again for years. The stiffness and soreness in the neck may even travel to the middle of the back and the shoulder blades, and could even spread to the arms.

 

The pain can vary between a dull ache and a sharp pain that occurs during movements, and the sufferer may even experience headaches as part of this condition. Sometimes, the sufferer experiences the pain while they are using their electronic device, but other times, it may only come on later in the day. Eventually, the pain will start to have an impact on everyday activities.

 

Almost everyone experiences some type of back or neck pain at some point, and, contrary to popular belief most of these conditions are not caused as a result of lifting something heavy or from a trip or fall. In fact, around 70% of these conditions start with everyday repetitive activities such as spending time using electronic devices.

What Is The Cause Of Tech Neck?

 

Tech Neck is caused by a combination of repetitive strain and poor posture, either occurring over a short time frame or over a longer period.

 

Posture

 

When viewed from the side, the spine has 3 natural curves – a curve towards the throat in the neck, another curving backwards in the middle of the back and a third which curves forwards to the abdomen in the lower back. If the back and neck is not maintained in the right position in those natural curves, eventually pain will be the result.

 

Repetitive Strain

 

The definition of repetitive strain is a subtle, small amount of overuse, force or strain over an extended period of time.

 

Why Does Poor Posture Cause Pain?

 

When someone its in a slouched, poor posture, their lower back will not be forming its natural curve. Their neck will also have a more increased curve forwards while the middle of the back will have a larger curve backwards. This posture will abnormally stretch the spinal discs, the ligaments and the muscles and eventually pain will develop. Sometimes, it will take several months, but for some people the pain can occur in as short a time as a few minutes.

 

The pain may also spread to the legs and arms, and can also cause headaches. Sometimes, the sufferer finds relief from changing position, but this is only a temporary solution since if the poor posture is allowed to carry on unchecked, eventually the pain will continue regardless of the position adopted by the sufferer. This is because the ligaments and muscles eventually shorten and tighten, causing a loss of flexibility in the back and neck.

 

Pain While Using The Desktop Computer

 

Many people who spend the majority of their day working at a desktop PC adopt poor posture that results in Tech Neck. The spine adopts abnormal curves with the middle and lower back in a C shaped curve due to slouching. While the curve in the middle of the back is exaggerated, the chin and head jut forward causing excessive curve in the neck. This means that the muscles of the upper back and neck are being strained and the result will eventually be aching and pain. When using a desktop PC, the head should remain balanced on the shoulders with the curves of the spine taking a natural and balanced position. The face and head should look straight ahead without any downward angle while the elbows should lie at the sides of the body. Adopting this posture when working at a computer will minimize neck and back pain.

Pain When Using A Cell Phone

 

When using a smartphone to text, browse the internet or send emails for an extended period many people hold their device in a low position with their elbows held away from their sides. Their head will therefore have a downward tilt adding too much force on the neck muscles. Meanwhile, the abnormal spinal curves and slouched posture add to the problems and the abnormal load on the back and neck will almost certainly result in a painful case of Tech Neck. When using a smartphone, users should hold their device in a higher position, keeping their elbows close to their sides to reduce the downward angle of their head. By adopting an upright posture, the neck and back will be brought into a more natural position and will engage the core, trunk and back muscles to stay in the correct posture. Smartphone users are advised to either use a chair with a well-shaped back piece or to stand while using their device to promote a more natural posture.

Back And Neck Problems When Using A Laptop

 

Many people slouch on the couch when using their laptop and that leads to a slumped posture that ends in Tech Neck. While the couch may appear to be a comfortable place to sit and work or browse the internet, they lack the support necessary to maintain a normal sitting position and are not ideal for use when operating a laptop. Instead, it makes sense to sit in a firm and upright chair when using a laptop which makes it easier to keep the head balanced on the shoulders and to align the curves of the spine in their proper positions. Users should angle the screen upwards to maintain the optimal viewing angle and, wherever possible, putting the laptop on a desk and using an external keyboard or mouse is the best idea for promoting good posture.

 

How Can Tech Neck Be Treated?

 

There are several things that can be done to treat Tech Neck. One way to relieve the pain at home is to perform a neck retraction exercise intermittently during the day. Sufferers should aim to perform this exercise at least five times every couple of hours as it is an effective way of elongating and stretching the neck to remove tightness and strain.

 

The best treatment for Tech Neck is a course of physiotherapy focusing on the root cause of the condition. By working on body mechanics, posture and the muscles, Tech Neck can eventually be improved. As part of a physiotherapy treatment, the sufferer will learn more about their neck and will discover how to reduce the stress and strain on its muscles as well as learning exercises to reduce the strain, to stretch and strengthen tight muscles and to promote speedier healing.

 

A physiotherapist can also help to ease the pain and discomfort with a hands-on treatment to apply pressure on the spine to promote healing and movement, and to reduce pain. By learning effective self-treatments which they can use themselves at home or work, patients can also prevent the problem from reoccurring in the future so that they can continue to work and to enjoy their electronic devices free of pain and discomfort.

 

By addressing the problem sooner rather than later, sufferers of the peculiarly modern condition stand the best chance of minimizing their suffering and preventing any long-term problems that could seriously impact on their enjoyment of everyday activities.

routine, health, wellness, body, sleep

Master the Morning: How to Create a Daily Routine That Will Make Your Jump Out of Bed

Morning and Night Routines to Help You Live Better

Does the following scenario sound familiar to you? You sleep through the alarm and wake up in a panic. You have to rush around the house to get ready, and with no time for breakfast you just grab a cup of takeaway coffee on the way to work. You arrive feeling stressed and underprepared which sets you up for a challenging day. After work, you get home exhausted, flop down on the sofa and watch bad TV all night. You don’t get to sleep until late and then wake up several times during the night, so you sleep in again in the morning. Is that you? Do you find that you’re completely burned out longer before the week’s over, but don’t know how to get out of the rut? A routine is what you need. Having a healthy morning and evening routine primes you for a successful day and better well-being. You’ll achieve more, be able to think more clearly and, most importantly, you’ll feel better. They key is discipline, and if you take the time to set up healthy and structured routines to get your day started and ended well, you’ll soon see the difference.

 

What Is A Routine?

 

The definition of a routine is a sequence of actions which you repeatedly carry out. For example, if you wake up at 6am every day, that’s a routine. If you always read the newspaper and eat toast before heading out of the door, that’s a routine too. Routines set the rhythm of your life, however just because they are a routine doesn’t make them a healthy routine. Routines have power, and if you choose to have unhealthy routines, you will end up trapped in an unhealthy cycle. Conversely, if you choose healthy ones, your life will change for the better.

 

So, what kind of routines are beneficial for our lives?

 

Good Morning Routines To Kick Off The Day

 

Rather than your old unhealthy routine of sleeping through the alarm and rushing around like an idiot, you can replace it with a healthier schedule to prepare you for success.

 

Get Up Early

 

Getting up early will help you to prepare adequately for the demands of the day. It will prevent you from experiencing the stress and panic of running behind, and will help you to put in place other healthy routines that will set you up adequately for the day ahead. What are the benefits of rising early? For a start, you are naturally more creative as your mind has been refreshed from sleep, and there are fewer things to distract you early in the morning. The early exposure to sunlight increases your feelings of well-being and positivity and if you use some of that extra time to meditate or work out, you will feel less stressed and more energized too.

 

Recite Affirmations

 

As part of your morning routine, you should set aside some time to recite some positive affirmations. These statements can be used to reframe the way you think and feel about yourself and the day ahead. They can help you to overcome negative feelings and will help you to visualize the good things that will happen. By saying simple statements such as:

 

“I will be successful in everything I do today.”

“I am a strong and beautiful person.”

“I am liked and respected by those who know me.”

 

By visualizing and affirming the things that you would like to happen in your life, you are focusing on them and believing that achieving them is possible, and this, in turn, enables you to act on them and make them become a reality.

Take Some Exercise

 

Exercise is one of the best things to introduce into your morning routine. By boosting your blood flow, releasing endorphins and strengthening the body, exercise prepares you physically and mentally for the day while also keeping you healthy. By helping to fight anxiety and depression, and by keeping your body fit, introducing daily exercise into your morning routine will improve your well-being.

 

Eat A Healthy Breakfast

 

When you were running late, you probably grabbed an unhealthy fast food snack on the way to work, or just ate nothing at all. Both of these scenarios were bad for your health. Consuming the right fuel at breakfast time has a major impact on your day, so schedule in time for a healthy breakfast that is low in sugar and low in fat, such as a smoothie, oatmeal or yogurt and fruit. This will help to curb food cravings and give you energy to set you up for the day ahead.

 

Good Evening Routines To End The Day Positively

 

Ending the day well is just as important as beginning it properly. By putting in place a healthy evening routine, you can prepare yourself for a good start the next day. Here are some suggestions for good evening routines that will set you up for a restful night.

 

Prepare Your Goals

Before going to bed, determine your goals for the day ahead. This will help to get the tasks that need to be achieved clear in your mind, and will allow your brain to start thinking about how you will accomplish those tasks in advance. You’ll be well prepared in the morning.

 

Reflect On What You Achieved

 

An important part of every evening should be to reflect on all of the things that you achieved during the course of the day. It can be all too easy to forget about the positives if just one or two things went wrong, however taking the time to celebrate your successes will put them into perspective and encourage you in achieving your goals.

 

Clear Your Mind

 

You can’t sleep well if your mind is still buzzing with all of your worries, stresses and fears. Before you go to sleep, you need to clear your mind and put aside those challenges for the night. You can do this by reading for a short while, listening to some calm music, meditating, writing a journal or watching a relaxing TV show. Focus on something completely unrelated to work before bed.

 

Be Prepared

 

To minimize the rush and panic of the morning, take the time before bed to prepare things in advance. Choose your outfit, make your lunch, get the coffee maker ready to go and pack your work bag. By doing these simple things, you’ll be freeing up a lot of mental energy.

 

Tidy Your Home

 

A messy home means a messy mind, and waking up in an untidy room can leave you feeling unmotivated. Put aside 10-20 minutes every night to do a quick clean up, to wash the dishes and to wipe the sink and you’ll feel more refreshed in the morning.

 

Sleep Properly

 

The key to a good night’s sleep is to stick to a set schedule for going to bed and waking up. If you have a mobile device that has a night mode, you should select this in the evenings, and minimize any blue light from device screens. Set your bedroom temperature to between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit and make sure your room is kept as dark as possible. Quality sleep means quality rest, and quality rest means that you feel much better the next day.

 

Introducing a routine into your everyday life may not be the easiest thing to do, but it can make a huge difference to your day. Although it will require some dedication and discipline at first, you will soon become used to it, and will begin to notice the difference.

 

The longer you stick to your routine, the easier it will become to stick to it, and soon it will be ingrained in your life. You will find that each day flows more smoothly, and you will become more productive, more healthy and, essentially, more happy.

diet, nutrition, pre workout, exercise

To Eat or Not to Eat? Maximize Your Pre-Workout Fuel

In the internet era, we are buried beneath an abundance of conflicting information. Even well-read students of exercise and nutrition find themselves at the crossroads of differing internet opinions. So what wisdom should you follow regarding pre-workout fuel-ups?
A number of studies have proven arguments for and against eating before meals. To keep things simple, the most important variable is workout intensity: the harder the workout, the more important the pre-workout meal. So we’re writing with the assumption that you’re about to go beast mode and embark on a pretty good, sweat-inducing workout.
What’s Happening In Your Body?
When you train/perform exercise on an empty stomach, the body does indeed seek stores of fat at the first fuel source. Sound beneficial, right? Many studies demonstrate just that. However, your body will soon move beyond burning fat to devouring hard-earned muscle as its energy source. As the body becomes low on sugar, it begins to feed on muscle tissue instead. While you’re in the gym working to build muscle, your starving body is eating it. Talk about irony.
So yes, you get the benefit of burning fat on an empty stomach. But that benefit turns into a disadvantage as the duration lengthens and intensity kicks up.
Conversely, there’s an entirely different metabolic process occurring if you’ve consumed a proper meal before training. With the right pre-workout meal, your body instead leverages its stores of glucose (blood sugar). After glucose, the body shifts to your storehouse of simple and complex carbohydrates (glycogen). Glycogen is critical in giving you the energy you need to power through your workouts and, the greater storage of glycogen, the more energy you have as fuel.
To put it plainly, eating before working out is important. And the more intense the workout, the better the supply of energy you’ll need. Can you skip a meal with less intense workouts? Technically, yes. And many do. In these cases, strenuous workouts cause the conversion of muscle tissue into glucose instead of the body leveraging glucose and glycogen from a pre-workout meal.
The consequences of skipping pre-workout meals can result in:
  • A wonky metabolism
  • Injury
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness associated with low blood sugar
Getting The Timing Right
Timing is one of the most important aspects of the pre-workout meal dilemma: the farther away from your workout you are (2-3 hours), the bigger the meal you can afford. The closer you are (45 mins or less), the smaller the meal should be. Not only is size important, but what should be consumed changes as well.
If your workout is 2-3 hours away, you can afford a larger, more complex meal, consisting of protein, fat, and carbs and totaling about three to four hundred calories. You don’t need a massive meal, you only need to feel satiated and have the right storehouse of fuel to power your workout. An egg white and spinach omelet with whole wheat toast, fruit, and yogurt gives you a nice balance of carbs, protein, and fat.
The closer your workout, the smaller and more simple the meal you should consume. The main reason for this is that you don’t want to tax the body with the unnecessary expenditure of energy from digesting a large meal. You’re also giving the body just enough time to extract the glucose from the gastrointestinal tract (GI) so your food can and converted into the necessary energy to power the workout.
Stick to a simple meal, one that is high carbs, low on fat, and has some protein in the mix. Try fruit with yogurt, or a small bowl of oatmeal, for example. Fruit, containing simple sugars, is perfect because it gives the body a quick boost of energy.
Also, gauge your food intake by the intensity of your workout. If you’re an MMA fighter and you’ve got four hours of intense training before you, you’re going to need much more energy than a Dad taking his infant for a morning stroll on the beach.
Pre-workout Meal Options
Carbs are critical to your fueling process. So when you’re close to beginning your workout, you want to ingest a carb-rich meal of around 200 calories. Bananas are a great selection: they’re filled with great, digestible carbs, and of course, loaded with potassium. Other options include a handful of fruit, yogurt & fruit, or a small bowl of applesauce.
When you’re about to eat right before training, try to narrow your meal toward foods containing simple carbs, which are quickly broken by digestion. A piece of whole grain toast is ideal, which you can supplement with simple sugars (fruit) and a little protein (milk products contain simple sugars and protein).
While not perfect, the simple sugars in refined sugar products are quickly absorbed by the body and will add energy to your body even though they aren’t the best options for nutrients. So it’s better to stick to fruit, nature’s candy. Ideally, you would eat a mix of complex and simple carbs for optimal fuel. Sugar adds a boost of energy while the carbs give you the slow-burning fuel necessary to endure your workout.
And don’t forget protein. Protein fuels your muscles with oxygen and nutrients and aids in preventing muscle breakdown during training. So an ideal pre-workout meal contains protein and simple and complex carbs.
Pre-workout food ideas:
  • Whole grain toast
  • Shakes w/ fruit, yogurt, and granola
  • Two eggs w/ whole grain toast
  • Avocado
  • Brown rice or quinoa
  • Oatmeal with fruit
  • A minimally processed nutrition bar or nut and fruit bar
  • Apple or banana and almond butter (mix of carbs and protein)
  • Whole grain toast, almond butter, glass of milk (mix of carbs and protein)
Things to Keep In Mind
Fatty foods, which you’re probably hoping to avoid most of the time, are a bad option no matter how much time you have. If you’re sensitive to certain foods or know that things like beans or broccoli give you gas, avoid them as well. Excessive burping during burpees certainly isn’t cool. And lastly, some individuals know their bodies very well. Runner’s, for example, may understand after years of training what gives them Runner’s Stomach (symptoms include cramps and vomiting) and may know how far they can push themselves on their preferred empty stomachs.
With a ton of studies on this very subject, it’s difficult to comb through them all and make sense of the opposing points of view. Suffice it to say that it is certainly possible to workout on an empty stomach and many people do it all the time either through ignorance or personal preference. However, the positives to a pre-workout meal outweigh the negatives. You can avoid hunger, push harder, and avoid the risk your body chowing on its own muscles as an alternative source of fuel. And, last but not least, don’t forget to hydrate. Liquids are important too!
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Don’t Walk It Off: Injuries to Halt Training Over

Whether we’re star athletes, weekend warriors, or casual intramural dabblers, injuries hold no prejudice when they strike their victims. So often, we nonchalantly shrug off these injuries, barely even reaching for a bag of ice before we’re back out on the track or in the gym. Meanwhile, your body is weeping on the inside, hoping that you’ll get the idea and rest, repair, or even visit a doctor or physical therapist. But which injuries are serious enough to demand some time on the bench? That’s where we come in.

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Tendinitis

Tendinitis is defined by an inflammation or irritation of the tendons, the thick cords that connect our muscles to our bones. Now, even if you’ve never heard of tendinitis, you’ve probably heard of (or maybe even had) some of its nicknames like “tennis elbow” and “golfer’s elbow”.

Tendinitis arises from a multitude of activities: repetitive movements can contribute to the formation of tendinitis, or it can derive from a single, serious injury. Swinging tennis rackets and golf clubs, pitching and throwing, and even gardening or painting can all cause tendinitis. Popular locations for tendinitis include the hips, shoulders, knees, and elbows. Other factors can influence tendinitis, including gout and rheumatoid arthritis.

How To Know If You Have Tendinitis

If you’re experiencing significant pain at the tendon and any surrounding joints, you may have tendonitis.

How To Deal With Tendinitis

After stopping the activity, there are two routes available depending on the severity. For mild cases, rest the affected area and break out the ice packs to help manage pain and inflammation. Raid the medicine cabinet for anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen. Keep yourself on the sidelines until the pain resides and range of motion returns comfortably. However, if treating your case of tendinitis still feels beyond your capabilities, you should set an appointment with a doctor or physical therapist.

 

Runner’s Knee

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), or “runner’s knee,” is the irritation of the cartilage on the underside of the patella (kneecap), with pain ranging from mild to severe. Often described as the most common running injury, you’ll feel a dull pain beneath the top of the kneecap that begins mildly and intensifies during a running session.

 

Sufferers of PFPS will feel pain during regular running/training, but especially as they are descending (stairs/downhill) and performing complex knee movements like squatting.

Causes

The general consensus is that the following causes contribute to the development of runner’s knee including:

 

  • Shoe selection (orthotics)

  • Muscle weakness in the quads, hip abductors, and external rotators

  • Poor flexibility in the calves/quads

  • Biomechanics, specifically the chain reaction of complex bio-movements in the hips, legs, and knees

 

Rest and treatment are essential to making sure no additional damage is being done. The resulting pain from runner’s knee can last for weeks or months at a time and it’s important to begin working on the problem early to reduce chances of doing further damage.

 

Ceasing running activities doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be unable to train, though. If continuing your regimen is important, do exercises that have little impact on knees: swimming, aqua jogging, and the elliptical machine are good ideas.

How To Treat Runner’s Knee

Some are able to remedy runner’s knee with a system of training/treatments that can be done at home, including building hip/quad muscles through various exercises (of course, avoid aggravating the knee), performing hip abductors, stretching, and foam rolling. In addition, try the following:

 

  • Ice the knee for 15-20 mins at a time

  • Reduce foot impact with better shoes or custom orthotics

  • Use anti-inflammatory medication

 

In worst case scenarios, when your own attempts to improve PFPS yield poor results, a trip to your physical therapist and a gait analysis may be necessary.

 

Shin Splints

Shin splints is another aggravating injury that plagues athletes everywhere. Identified by a pain that occurs at the front side of the shin bone, shin splints arise from any number of culprits: frequent stopping and starting, flat feet, extended periods of repetitive motions, or constant pounding of the feet as with jogging or treadmill walking. Together, these activities cause stress fractures in the bone and muscle, weaken stabilizing muscles, and create swollen muscles. When you feel this aching or throbbing in the shins, you should hang it up before you make the situation worse.

 

How To Treat Shin Splints

Rest so your shins have adequate time to heal. Icing will help to reduce swelling and ease the pain. Begin taking anti-inflammatory drugs. And look for a new pair of sneakers that better support your feet.

 

To get to the source and develop a program that will prevent shin splints from blowing the whistle on your workout, work with a physical therapist to pinpoint issues with posture and form that can contribute to the development of shin splints. They can also prescribe specific exercises, stretches, and movements to aid recovery and prevent future instances.

 

Muscle Strains and Pulls

What exactly does it mean to “pull” a muscle? Generally, we use the terms “pulled” and “strained” interchangeably; but they both actually refer to the act of tearing. When we pull our muscles, we tear them. These tears can range from minor to truly traumatic and can produce intense pain that requires serious treatment.

 

Causes

Muscle pulls can originate from complex training movements, as one would expect, or something as banal and commonplace as picking up a bag of dog food. They can result from:

 

  • Repetitive movements which overwork a muscle, like swinging a tennis racket

  • Abrupt, jerking movements

  • Heavy lifting

  • Aggressive movements and stretches

  • Awkward movements

  • Explosive demands on the muscle

 

Launching toward the rim for a dunk, jerking to block a slapshot, pushing yourself to cross the finish line tape—all can lead to a muscle pull.

 

How Do You Know You’ve Pulled A Muscle

A pulled muscle is unique in the sudden, odd, or sharp pain it produces after a movement. You know that something strange just happened, something your body doesn’t quite like. As a result, the muscle that has suffered the strain feels weaker. You feel pain when contracting the muscle in both directions. You see swelling, soreness, or redness in the affected area.

 

Symptoms can last from just a few days to weeks and range greatly in levels of discomfort. The worst muscle strains and pulls can put you out of commission for months and require a doctor, physical therapist, or even surgery followed by a serious rehab program.

 

How To Treat Muscle Pulls

Treatment varies widely based on the severity of the tear, which muscle was injured, and the resulting pain. The bigger the muscle and the deeper the tear, the longer you’re going to be on the sideline. The most important tactics for treatment include rest, ice, elevation, and compression. These practices will help reduce the pain and allow the muscle fibers to repair. Trying to exercise through the pain may make you feel like The Hulk, but we would advise against that. After a few days of rest, test the muscle: try moving through a normal range of motion. Improvements in motion and a reduction in pain are a great sign. However, if you see no improvements and the pain continues, it’s time to check in with a doctor or sports therapist.

 

Conclusion

Injuries happen. And we understand—you want to continue your training regimen. You figure that because you can still move and you’re not on crutches then it’s ok to keep going at it. As you can see, we beg to differ. When you’re the unfortunate recipient of a training related injury, do your body a favor and put yourself on the sidelines. Figure out what’s happened, then begin the process of restoring your health, whether that involves a few simple treatments and adjustments to your regimen or the assistance of a professional. If you do go the professional route, Advanced Spine & Sports Care would love to help get you back in the game!

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Stretches Prevent and Avoid Injury

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Stretching regularly is vital to keeping our bodies healthy, fit, and injury free. Despite these benefits, many are unfamiliar with the role of stretching in reducing muscle soreness, the buildup of lactic acids, and injury. Knowing this, the team at Advanced Spine and Sportscare wanted to put together a list of stretches that can provide you with many of the aforementioned benefits.

 

Quads

Quadriceps are the muscle group on the front of the thigh that inspires “leg day” dread for gym goers everywhere. One of the most basic quad stretches is The Flamingo. To execute, lean against a wall or stand up straight. Raise your left leg up at the knee, then grab your foot with your left hand. Slowly pull back on the left leg with your left hand until you feel a stretch in your quad. Hold for a few seconds and repeat for each leg.

 

This move can also be performed on the floor as a Kneeling Quadricep Stretch. Find a yoga mat or soft pad and plant your right knee on it. Step forward with your left leg and place your left foot flat on the floor so that your knee is at a ninety-degree angle. With your right hand, grab your right ankle. Pull your ankle toward your glutes and squeeze. Shift your weight slightly forward for a good, deep stretch. Feel that wonderful feeling? That means you’re getting a great stretch in your quads.

 

Hamstrings

The hamstring is posterior leg muscle and is often overlooked when it comes to stretching. Like the quads, it’s important to ensure that you are properly stretching the hamstrings to prevent injury and counteract muscle tightness.

Hamstring Stretch: Lay down flat on your back. Use a long towel or bands and wrap them around your left foot. Keeping your leg straight, pull the towel or bands toward your body, raising your leg toward your torso. You should feel a great stretch in the hamstring. Hold for a few seconds, and repeat several times per leg.

 

Calves

Calf Stretch: Calf stretches can easily be performed against a wall. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and place your hands on the wall before you. Put your right leg forward while extending the left behind you. Flatten your left heel against the floor and straighten your left leg until you feel a stretch in your left calf. Hold a count for about ten seconds, then switch legs. Repeat a few times for each calf.

Heel Drops: Another great stretch for the calf muscle is the Heel Drop. Locate a raised platform—stairs, curb, exercise block, etc. Place your toes on the edge of this surface, keep your leg straight, and drop the heel down. Hold for several seconds, then switch legs and repeat for a few sets.

 

Back

Back pain runs rampant in modern society, the result of many factors including poor posture, incorrect lifting, and sore or weak muscles. Regardless of origin, it’s important to protect your back and reduce the risk of injury through quality stretches.

The Standing Back Arch is a simple move executable by all ages and fitness levels. Stand straight and place your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your palms on your lower back and push your torso forward, creating an arc through your legs, back, and shoulders. Keep your knees straight. Hold for a few seconds and repeat for a few more reps.

The Single Knee To Chest stretch is another exercise that hits not only the lower back but also the glutes and the hamstrings. Lie flat on your back with your legs resting on the ground and your knees slightly bent. Take a single leg, bend at the knee, and bring it toward your chest. Your lower back should press slightly against the floor. Hold the knee against the chest for a few seconds until you feel a good stretch, then alternate. This is an excellent move to prevent injury, relieve pain, and ease tension.

 

Triceps

Now that we’ve gotten some of the major muscle groups out of the way, let’s talk smaller muscles. The triceps, extensors of the elbow, give us the ability to straighten our forearms. The triceps rest behind the bicep, or at the posterior of our arms, and the muscles have three heads: lateral, long, and medial.

To stretch your triceps, place your arm across your chest and hold with your other arm. Hold for about fifteen to thirty seconds before switching. To hit the other heads of the triceps, hold the same pose with your arm in higher and lower positions.

Another great method for stretching the triceps goes as follows: raise your arm up in the air until it is parallel with your head/ear. Bend the arm at the elbow until it falls behind you. Reach with your other arm and tug the elbow backward until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Hold this stretch for about fifteen to thirty seconds, then alternate for three repetitions on both sides.

 

Chest

We a few simple moves, you can get a great stretch on your pectoral muscles that can help prevent injury. Find an open doorway or narrow space between two vertical bars. Place your hands on the sides of the doors or bars. Keep your elbows to your sides and your hands about halfway between your shoulders and your elbows. Grab the sides tightly, then lean forward (step forward if you need to steady yourself). You will feel a stretch in your chest muscles. Hold for a minimum of thirty seconds, then return to the starting position. To stretch the tops of your pecs, move your elbows up to the height of your shoulders. Once again, grab the sides, lean forward, and hold. You can also perform this movement with a single arm at a time, focusing your stretch on a single pectoral muscle.

If you are without a frame to support you, there’s another great stretch you can perform. Stand straight, legs shoulder-width apart. Keeping your arms straight, bring them together in front of your chest as if you were clapping. Begin to “pretend clap,” but don’t let your hands touch. Move your arms back and forth in a clapping motion before you, then gradually open the clap wider, eventually opening your arms as wide as possible until you get a great stretch in your pecs.

 

Shoulders

The previous triceps and chest stretches also work very well for stretching shoulder muscles. But the shoulders comprise several muscle groups and a variety of stretches are needed to hit them all.

Lateral Neck Flexion: Humans tend to carry a lot of stress and pain in their upper trapezius muscles, the muscle group that extends from the shoulder blades to the base of the skull. To perform the lateral neck flexion, cock your head to the left or right, bringing the ear to the shoulder and hold for 15 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

Overhead Wall Stretch: Place your hands on a wall over your head. Stand about 8 inches from the wall. With palms planted, begin to drop your torso down. Hold for about fifteen to twenty seconds and repeat two more times for a set of three.

Rhomboid Stretch: The rhomboid stretch is easy to perform and provides a wonderful stretch to the rhomboid-shaped muscles in our upper shoulders/back. Grip a pole or fixed object. Bend at the hips, pushing your buttocks backward, and pull at the fixed object. Loosen and relax your shoulders so that you get a good stretch running from your arms to your back. Hold for ten to thirty seconds.

 

Whether sports heroes, weekend warriors, or home improvers, injury can come for any of us. So a good stretching regimen is great for any person, regardless of age or fitness level. And, as you can see, you can perform stretches for any muscle group in mere seconds.

 

If you ever do find yourself injured or in need of therapy or back care, the team at Advanced Spine & Sports Care offers a range of chiropractic services, including spinal decompression, physical therapy, and chiropractic adjustments. We’ve served the Chicagoland area for seventeen years, building our business on honesty and integrity and we would love to be of service to you.

Sitting vs Standing: Finding A Perfect Balance

The controversy around sitting or standing while at work continues to grow. While many people firmly believe that the sitting disease will cause serious health issues (if it hasn’t already), others think differently.

Worried that too much sitting could seriously affect one’s health, consider investing in a sit/stand desks to prevent or even reverse these effects. However, Advanced Spine and Sports cares exercise and rehab specialist, Chris Fuller, urges patients to understand that standing all day isn’t the answer, either. He suggests say the solution is a chair that prevents the curvature of the spine, backaches, and hip pain—ultimately, a chair that finds a balance between sitting and standing.

Today many are eager to believe that standing is best for them because it will help to reduce their weight. Indeed, standing would burn more calories than sitting, but standing for extended periods could also strain your veins (causing varicose) and backs. Although, studies show that standing is best for your body as opposed to sitting, there is no definitive answer.

Sitting is inevitable, but too much standing has its problems as well. Sitting for too long, poses other risks that can’t be ignored. Thus when looking to find a balance between sitting and standing one should consider these tips:

  • Change positions regularly
  • Sit for no more than 20 minutes at a time
  • Stand in one position for no more than 8 minutes
  • Take a two-minute moving break at least twice an hour to stretch and walk around
  • Stretch even when sitting

These Exercises Will Work Wonders For Your Spinal Health

We all know that exercise is good for us. Some of us go for a run a few days a week. Others are sold on the benefits of weight training. Some people without the physical resources to perform more strenuous workouts opt for daily walks. There’s no doubt that any or all of these forms of exercise can be beneficial to your health. But at Advanced Spine & Sports Care we’d like to see everyone add yoga and pilates to their weekly fitness routines because both yoga and pilates are fabulous ways to maintain or improve your spinal health. Here are our five reasons why you should take up yoga or pilates (or both!) no matter what else you currently do to stay fit:

 

  • Yoga and Pilates Strengthen Core Muscles

 

An important aspect of spinal health is improving or maintaining the strength of your core muscles. Your spine on its own can only support about 30 – 40 pounds of body weight so it needs your core muscles to do a lot of the heavy lifting to help keep you upright. When your core is weak, your spine does extra work that wears it down and will ultimately lead to pain and injury. It’s also important that the strength of your core muscles is balanced: weak abdominals and strong back muscles can cause lower back pain. But doing sit-ups isn’t going to rectify this situation. Your posture is mainly supported by muscles deep inside of your body – muscles that are not worked by doing sit-ups. But the postures and movements involved in yoga and pilates are able to reach those deep core muscles, as well as the core muscles closer to the surface.

 

  • Yoga and Pilates Improve Flexibility

 

Another key component of spinal health is flexibility. When flexibility is reduced, we run the risk of pushing our body too far and causing injury. The best way to maintain or improve your flexibility is with gentle stretching on a regular basis. Both yoga and pilates deliver this kind of stretching to your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. When muscles, tendons, and ligaments are not regularly and properly stretched, they shorten and toughen, which reduces flexibility. This is especially important for those of us who spend hours on end sitting at a desk every day. Our bodies did not evolve to endure that much sitting and, as a result, without other forms of stretching, our muscles, tendons, and ligaments suffer. But don’t worry – even if you’re already experiencing lack of flexibility, it’s never to late to start. Yoga and pilates can help improve your flexibility by gently stretching the areas that need it.

 

  • Yoga and Pilates Promote Postural Awareness & Alignment

 

Good posture is really important for spinal health. The spine has a natural curve in it. While the spine is meant to move and be flexible, if it is constantly in an unnatural position, damage to discs and vertebrae and even nerves can occur, which will result in back pain and can even affect other areas of your body. Both yoga and pilates encourage practitioners to focus on correct posture and alignment during different poses and moves. This focus generally translates to a greater awareness of posture and alignment outside of yoga and pilates classes as well. Also, because yoga and pilates are strengthening your core muscles, it will be easier to maintain proper posture and alignment.

 

  • Yoga and Pilates are Preventative and Curative

 

If you are free of back pain – great! Now is the time to start yoga and pilates. Even if you follow another fitness regimen, adding yoga and pilates will almost definitely improve your fitness level, endurance, and performance because of its ability to improve core strength, balance, and flexibility. Keeping your core muscles balanced and strong and keeping the moving parts of your spine flexible will also help you stave off the degenerative process that happens as we age and will protect you from back and spine injuries.

If, on the other hand, you’ve begun to notice a lack of flexibility, balance, or core strength, yoga and pilates can help you repair the imbalances in your body. In fact, even if you are already experiencing back pain or if you are recovering from a spine or back injury, your doctor may actually prescribe yoga or pilates as part of your recovery. This is in part because your doctor will want you to start new habits that will support your spine health, even after your official treatment is over.

 

  • Almost Everyone Can Do Yoga and Pilates.*

 

No matter what your age, fitness level, gender, or weight is, it’s highly likely that you’re able to take part in a yoga or pilates class. Make sure you pick the level that’s right for you and, if you’re brand new to the practice, let the leader know ahead of time. While advanced yoga and pilates can be incredibly difficult, the basics are pretty easy and will still give you substantial spinal health benefits.

We think these are five pretty good reasons for you to give yoga or pilates (or both!) a shot. Since we are passionate about spinal health at Advanced Spine & Sports Care, we’d love to see everyone taking up yoga or pilates. If you’d like to know more about ways to maintain your spinal health, or if you are experiencing back pain or pain caused by a spinal issue, we encourage you to contact us online or by phone (773.868.0347) today.

*Always consult with a medical professional before beginning any new exercise routine.

Get the right care to heal and stay competitive

Whether the sport is marathon running or professional baseball, injuries unique to athletes take an experienced and knowledgeable practitioner to not only treat the injury but determine the best way to continue in the sport minimizing future risk.

Dr. Jason Ingham of Advanced Spine and Sports Care in Chicago sees a host of conditions from back and knee pain to shoulder and neck complaints. He believes in preventative health care using a natural approach.

As a chiropractic practice, Advanced Spine and Sports Care focuses on wellness — without drugs and surgery. Chiropractic care is based on maintaining the structural alignment of the spine and extremities and also takes into account the role diet, exercise, and emotional balance play in optimum health.

Spinal injuries often restrict range of motion, slow reflexes, shorten endurance, reduce strength and decrease performance. In recent years, chiropractic care has come front and center for the treatment of these types of injuries because it doesn’t take a band-aid approach but instead is result-driven, providing the relief patients sorely need. Recognizing chiropractic’s effectiveness in this field, professional sports teams, Olympic trainers, and competitive athletes are employing chiropractic doctors to help keep competitors at the top of their game.

“Throughout my life I have seen the many wonders of chiropractic, and I find the body’s power to heal itself through chiropractic, good nutrition and stress management to be astounding,” says Ingham. “I became a Doctor of Chiropractic in order to share my experience and to help as many people as possible by providing quality chiropractic health care.”

Advanced Spine and Sports Care is located at 4552 N. Magnolia Ave., Chicago. For more information, call 773-675-1434 or visit www.chiropracticsportscare.com.