Alexandra: Hey Amy, we are almost BFFs now, because you are so good about sending us questions (we just answered one from Amy about half marathons). We moved your question up the queue since we know your race is pretty soon. First of all, you have to be pain free before you can do strengthening exercises. Freeze water in a Dixie cup. Before and after your runs, ice down your shins, peeling away the cup as the ice melts.
Kymberly: Not to shirk my duty here, but my advice is to check with your medical professional. I always advocate solving the root of the problem, which are weak arches, in your case. Why are they weak? What is causing their collapse? All the issues you describe emanate from the arch collapse, so until you address the biomechanical or anatomical issues there, you will always be playing catch up with your injuries. I feel like the grinch of running, but there it is. Think of it this way — you have an issue at the bottom of your body — the arches. You feel a problem higher up the body — the shins, and not surprisingly the pain travels higher, reaching your knees. Next up the chain– back pain. Do you see where I am going with this? Up and up unless you go back down, all the way down to the arches. Solve that issue and the others get solved as well.
Nevertheless, we can and do offer you some ideas for strengthening your shin area as you work to resolve the original problem of collapsed arches. Does that get me out of grinch status to ultimate “gifter?”
A: Another thing – get an insole insert to go under your arch. Shin splints occur with over pronation or overuse, and inflammation occurs due to the injury at the posterior peroneal tendon and anterior portion of the lower leg. So you need to keep the arch up to prevent overuse of those muscles that lift your foot. And break in the inserts in before your race.
K: Surprise, surprise, but Alexandra and I don’t always agree. For instance, I am not a big fan of inserts. At most, use them temporarily or the muscles that are designed to lift your arch will atrophy even more. Will inserts help get you through this race more safely and with less pain? Probably. The long term solution is to strengthen the tibialis posterior, tibialis anterior, and the foot musculature.
Try barefoot sand walking (I was about to say “beach walking” but not everyone is as lucky as a ducky to live near a beach). Also do heel raises, standing barefoot and lifting in an almost pigeon-toed direction with the toes straight ahead and the ankles thrusting outwards as you rise up. (You can see the move in this short video from “not us”). This exercise will specifically help the posterior tibialis and cut down on the pain you are describing.
Lastly, maybe change your twitter handle from “splintergirl” to something that avoids the word “splints” and does not sound so painful. Yowzah!
Picture credit: Mayo Clinic
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
To get where you’re going, you need to know where you start. Or something like that. We were tempted to start with “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Perfect Posture,” but you might have thought we were pickled.
Your first step is to know your current posture — unchanged, unmodified, no artificial sticks-up-the-wherever added. But how can you establish your normal stance without already thinking about trying to “correct” it?
Cue the trumpets as Fun and Fit talk you through an easy way to get to your regular, 100% all natural beefcake posture. Once you have that established, you are in the perfect position to make assessments, observations, and improvements. And with enough comments on this post, we might make those video sequels showing you how to assess and progress. For now, don’t mess with what you have going now. Just know what you are dealing with. Us! And You!
Photo credits: Creative Commons
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra: Dear Amy: First of all, my condolences. In my vast experience of running races (none), I believe that’s 13 miles. My first reaction is to advise you to drive–you’ll definitely meet the 14 min/mile rule. But you seem intent on actually running. Sigh. You know that cars have been invented, right?
During your race, if you find energy gels to be more convenient or mentally a “boost,” choose that. Researchers tend to differ, but it does seem that most of them held hands, sang “Kumbaya” and decided to agree that you are just as well off with a less expensive alternative. Say, you can even put some grape jelly into a baggie, then cut a hole and squeeze that into your mouth during the race. Urgle – I feel saccharine-sweet just thinking of that! Heck, the Stone Research Foundation even recommends a Pop-Tart over an energy bar!
Kymberly: As to the decision about Gatorade or water, we will say that the most important aspect is taking in carbohydrates and electrolytes when engaging in a true endurance activity. So a sports drink is probably better than water since you’ll be running for 183 minutes, which is essentially two soccer matches. Now we’re talking!
K: We asked a few of our experienced running friends to comment on the hydration belt issue. They had some great comments:
Running Readers: is it all about distress or de-stress when entered in a half marathon?
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
BFC: Twins, how do you like to be properly addressed?
A: I never like to be properly addressed; improperly addressed is a lot more fun! But I go by Alexandra. On Twitter I am @AlexandraFunFit.
K: Please address me as “Kymberly, the much younger twin” aka @KymberlyFunFit or Kymberly Williams-Evans.”
BFC: What is the name of your magazine, class, program, or blog?
A: The name of our blog is “Alexandra is Infinitely More Interesting than Her Stinky Sister Kymberly.” For short we call it Fun and Fit.
BFC: How would you describe it to someone who has not read it before?
A: For people who have not read our blog before, tell them it’s lots of naked pictures of us from our college days. For those who have read our blog before, it’s more of a lighthearted look at fitness, exercise and good health, backed up by current research. We answer fitness questions from real people, create videos to enhance readers’ workout results, do reviews of stuff we find interesting, and post inspirational stories about people who have made a healthier life for themselves. Once in a while, we do weird stuff, such as smash strawberries all over ourselves, but that’s only when Kymberly forgets to provide proper supervision!
K: What we really do with our blog is wait by the phone for people to call and hire us as speakers, emcees, or writers once they see how edu-taining we are. tick tick tick. Rrrring! Oh yay! Gotta go. Phone is ringing!
BFC: How did you get interested in writing?
A: I got interested in writing about 20 years ago when I discovered you can get paid for it. I didn’t realize they meant in zlotys! Besides, my brain goes too fast for my tongue so I need another way to get my thoughts out as my tongue was exhausted.
K: My start in writing hearkens back to high school, when I discovered I could tussle with words and win! Since then I have been writing non-fiction of all sorts. Our Fun and Fit blog is the first place and time I have co-written with what’s her sissie, Alexandra. She cracks me up so I has me some reel fun writin’ wid her!
BFC: What is your favorite workout?
A: My absolute favorite workout is the one someone else does. Why should I have to do all the sweating? But I love soccer, step and walking. Er, um, I don’t actually play soccer anymore, but I still have delusions of a fabulous soccer career! If my parole officer weren’t looking, I’d say that my favorite workout involves Clive Owen or Colin Firth – curse that restraining order!
K: My favorite workout is Advanced Step with complex choreography and a skilled group fitness instructor. My second favorite workout is any power walk in beautiful scenery. My third fave is on a cardio machine with my headphones on watching “Dancing With the Stars.” My fourth favorite workout is the one I’ll be doing when DWTS calls Alexandra and me to appear as their first set of twin contestants! (Pick up the phone NOW DWTS people! How hard does a person have to hint around here?!)
BFC: Who are your “fitness heroes?”
A: My fitness heroes are all from the fitness industry: Len Kravitz, Aileen Sheron, Fred Hoffman, Carrie Ekins – they all are ehhhhh-xcellent at what they do and they make it accessible for everyone. FYI, Len is actually a researcher and professor; he hasn’t taught classes since the 80s. So I guess I’ve been tracking his action for a while.
K: My fitness heroes are the people who take my group exercise classes. They come every week with great attitudes, energy, willingness to work hard, and fun personalities! I am on the schedule to be in class; they could have stayed home, but they came to move and groove with me instead.
BFC: The biggest physical challenge you have overcome?
A: Shoving Kymberly out of my way at press conferences. And knee replacement surgery. That sucked. Shoving my sister is way more fun!
K: I am tempted to say “holding my ground while A tries to elbow me out of the way,” but my biggest physical challenge really is staying active after two knee surgeries. My soccer and running days may be over, but I am thinking of finding a knee-friendly sport and entering the National Senior Games. Once I am old enough, I mean……. AND right after Alexandra and I compete in DWTS (ABC — you have a second chance here!)
BFC: Besides your blog posts, what are you favorite reads?
A: I like to read my laundry tags so I’ll know if I’m doing the laundry right. Otherwise I get laundry guilt–very traumatizing. I have some blogs I love – lifeofanarchitect, coffeewithanarchitect, modernsauce, kittenagogo, lifelessonshalfwaythrough. – because they are funny and poignant.
K: I LOVE reading lots and oodles, so it’s hard to narrow this down. I am going through a phase right now reading about the connection between the brain and movement: “Incognito,” “The Brain That Changes Itself,” “Prime-Time Health,” The Magnificent Mind,” and “Spark.” I also love reading whatever my sister writes, especially if it’s a check to me!
BFC: What is your favorite TV guilty pleasure?
K: Favorite tv show? Duh, Dancing With the Stars, unless they don’t call to get Fun and Fit on the show. Then it’s any soccer game that happens to be airing, especially if it’s Women’s World Cup USA action with Hope Solo, as then I get both soccer AND a Season 13 contestant all in one.
BFC: If you could trade places with a specific person from any time in history for one day, who would it be and why?
A: I’d trade places with any of my former bosses so that I could give myself a big honkin’ raise.
K: How fun could this be? Sooooo, I would either want to trade a day with an upper class Victorian woman from London who wields enough clout to have some independence. She could enjoy my life for a day seeing how far women have progressed since Victorian times. Motivating for her; interesting for me! Orrrrr, trade with myself in high school and kick some butt from my more mature perspective. Plus I’d make some investments using my magic time travel knowledge so that I’d come back to now with serious moolah and “visionary” real estate purchases.
BFC: How do you motivate yourself when your mind & body are saying “Ugh, not today?”
A: I say, “How can I embarrass my teen sons if I don’t stay one step ahead of them?”
K: After having read the books I mentioned above, I think of the effects on my brain and intelligence that exercise confers and that motivates me to giddy up. I want to be a mentally with-it older person one day. Heck, knowing how much exercise helps brain power, I am motivated to motivate my husband, daughter, and nephews to exercise as well. You can imagine how FUN I am at those moments. They love my helpful
BFC: What’s your favorite place in the world to chill out?
A: Inside a cathedral with great acoustics when the choir is practicing. Then I can sing along.
K: Outside the cathedral with the doors closed. Meeeeoooowww — are those caterwauling cats I hear or a certain “A” personage? Or snorkeling anywhere with calm, warm water and lots of marine life.
BFC: Who/what makes you laugh when you need a mood lift?
A: I have a few weird friends who will text me or send me tweets that are hysterical. But if they’re not around, I go to my friends’ blogs and post snarky comments. That always cheers me up. Oh, by the way, check your inbox!
K: My daughter, my husband, and the older adults in my Friday “Senior Strength and Cardio” class crack me up almost as much as Alexandra does. Gotta admit I also love the “Jon Stewart Show,” “Steve Colbert Report,” and “Whose Line is it Anyway?” That’s my final line, and I’m sticking with it!
Photo credits: Creative Commons and the dusty archives of A & K.[plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
Enjoy a quick video tutorial from Thing 1 and Thing 2:
And now, a message from your sponsor (the obliques):
For those of you who like the nitty-gritty, oblique-y details, here’s an excellent definition by our colleague Dr. Len Kravitz, who teaches at the University of New Mexico and is way smart!
Now you know the official terms for “I want my waist to be fit and trim, but don’t want to copy any of those lame exercises I see people do in the gym that are destined to hurt their back or neck.”
Well, did you do the oblique crunch along with us? Feel free to post a video of your wrong or right favorite ab move on our fan page. Or comment below between reps. 412, 413, 414, 415 ….
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly:Thirty minutes of exercise times thirty years of a hiatus equals = eat breakfast! Yes, eating relative to exercise really matters. Breaking a fast also matters. Science says many things (So does my sister. Have you heard our radio show?): “eat first so you have energy to maintain intensity;” “eat at least 4 hours’ prior to exercise,” which means getting up at an hour known only to nocturnal animals, graveyard shift workers, and vampires (the “real” ones as in “Twilight”, not the fake ones elsewhere); “eat after working out when your metabolism is revved up and digests food better.” What’s a person to do? Call FunandFitBusters (well, we are not busters per se, but sisters).
What it comes down to is what works best for your body? Do you feel more energized and ready to work out when you have some brekkie in you or do you feel weighed down and lethargic if you eat first? Who cares what statistics and general averages say when your body is having a different conversation. For me, I have to eat first or I drag and feel lightheaded. For you, it sounds as though you should keep up the (ahem, healthy) eating then attack the day in a fitnessy way.
Alexandra: I was laughing because when I first read your question I thought you were asking if we thought you should give up eating! Hahahaha. No. Just give up eating fake food. Anything covered in sprinkles or glaze is probably fake food! To cheer you up, here is a post we did that gives you some food suggestions.
K: More good news– you do not even have to give up wake-up coffee as it has beneficial properties. You might have to give up your record of 30 years’ avoiding gasp! exercise. But then you might also give up the extra weight and health risks. Woo hoo![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4xNrSbw5Iw[/youtube] [plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
Way back when headbands, leotards, slouch socks and even Marty McFly silver shoes were in fashion, there was high-impact aerobics and few other indoor cardio options. And so we jogged in place. Same with runners getting revved up for the big outdoors. Took a while (and some ice, shin splints, ace bandages and research) before we realized there was a wrong and right way to get our cardio legs running! Well, here it is, well into a new century, and often we still see the style that will cause leg pain and injury! Yes, we see you kicking back (literally).
So for you, dear exercisers, we have a short little video that will delight, entrance, enlighten and frighten you as you discover how to get your jog on safely![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OsBk8Xe5Wo[/youtube]
So, are you ready to go out and buy some ultra-trendy silver shoes?
For all you Marty McFly “Back to the Future” shoes fans, this one’s for you:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yiSdjwi_bg&feature=player_embedded[/youtube] [plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
The problem is that most people do them wrong, then wonder why their backs or knees hurt. So Kymberly put on her booty boots, Alexandra put on her best “squint into the sun” face, and we decided to show you both the wrong and right way to do a squat. Come on now, do them with us! Even better, practice sideways to the mirror to check your form.
Well, are you and your now-perfect squat form ready for some boot-scootin’ boogie?
Photo credit: Creative Commons-Sanchom[plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
At the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention, we tracked down the ten top programming trends so we could share them with you. How many do you agree with?
1. Balance training: Not just keeping your equilibrium, but also symmetry between left and right sides
2. Functional resistance training: Training to enhance the coordinated working relationship between the nervous and muscular systems
3. Mind-body programs (Pilates, Gyrotonic, tai chi, meditation)
4. Body weight leverage training: You know, push-ups fall into this category. Which means, boys and girls, it’s time for…..a word from our sponsors (me):
Besides the trend of me trying to hold my abs tight, there are officially six more:
5. Personal training that two people share
6. Stretching/ Flexibility: We’ve talked about this quite a bit, especially as we (all of us, not just F&F) age!!!!
7. Personal training that 3-5 people share: Share the love; share the cost!
8. Group exercise programming – dance, cycle-based, core conditioning, muscle conditioning, boxing based, branded choreography, circuit classes: This one has us quite excited, especially with the advent of Batuka andLaBlast. Look for these in 2012. We’re predicting these will be big!
9. Strength training
10. Outdoor activities: walking, outdoor personal training, group hiking, running, cycling Hmmm, shouldn’t “moseying” be on this list?
So, which was more exciting for you – watching me doing push-ups or seeing the programming trends for fitness? (Psssst, there is only one right answer)[plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
Guest post from Karen Whittier
Just like every other working mother out there (I know that’s redundant) spare time is something rare. So when I did have the opportunity to get some exercise, I’d go run figuring running gave the most bang for my pavement-pounding buck. Sure I knew runners were supposed to stretch—either before or after running depending on who you listened to. BUT they just didn’t understand…I didn’t have time for that.
Over the years, the body will try to do what it can to keep going. It’s very easy to choose to ignore your body’s signals that things are amiss. I certainly ignored warnings from my body, but I didn’t want to change my workouts or admit anything was wrong. Sooner or later, though, the body’s quiet distress signals will become full-fledged screams.
The usual progression of overuse leads right to injuries. I had a handful of injuries, leading up to the one that definitely got my attention. I was out running when I heard a pop and simultaneously jumped straight up; crumpling on the trail when I landed. Unfortunately I was out a distance from my car and so I did my best to shuffle/limp the rest of the back. My tight, unpliable hamstrings were the culprit and I was forced into some stretching exercises with physical therapy when my injury healed. I even voluntarily tried some yoga classes.
I guess this is an indictment on my intelligence but once I started feeling better I lapsed right back into the prior patterns. It wasn’t too long before injuries and newly diagnosed arthritis knocked me out of action again.
I credit yoga with reclaiming my physical freedom. I’d gotten to the point where, almost every day, I’d be in tears suffering from chronic pain and stiffness from arthritis. I was given more and more medication. None, except cortisone shots, did anything to alleviate the pain and unfortunately cortisone shots are not something that can be done routinely.
I was getting to the point of desperation. I faintly remembered feeling better when I’d done yoga. I decided to commit more fully to it and, sure enough in not too long a time, the range of motion in my hips and shoulders increased; I stood up taller and moved more fluidly. Having my brain work with my body, as partners, has made all the difference! I’m not 100% pain free every day and I’ll never be described as flexible, but I am no longer taking anti-inflammatories and I’m much, much more flexible than I was.
I was so impressed by the results yoga gave me I ended up going through a teacher training program. I’ve been able to unite my passion for health and wellness through yoga with my commitment to fight disease with a new business, Embrace Activism. You might not be able to envision just what you’ll discover once you begin your yoga journey, but I can promise you it’ll be life-changing.
Dear Readers: Add to your online workout buddy list and actively embrace Karen over at her site, www.EmbraceActivism.com.[plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]