Tag Archives: recovery

Product Review – TIUX Compression Socks

I occasionally review products that are sent to me, but only if they fit my criteria:

  • it was a product that I actually wanted to try for myself
  • and as long as I was not OBLIGATED to blog about it.

The first condition is because I want the product to be useful.  Why post it otherwise?  The second condition is because I only want to post reviews that are positive AND reviews for products I in which I truly have trust and confidence.

I am happy to report that I recently received one such product:  Tiux Compression Socks.

About Compression Socks/Gear:

Recent research shows that compression gear does not enhance performance except as a placebo effect.  There are two areas where compression gear still prove to be very important.  First, that placebo effect is big.  That feeling of protection that some folks get when they wear compression socks during a race is very real.  You should try it a few times to see if it helps you.

The most universal and important positive effect is not during a race, but after.  Recovery is expedited by better flow of blood.  That is the main purpose of compression socks.  The snug fit with a firm grip does not allow blood to pool in any one particular area.  The blood must flow.  Better circulation leads to quicker healing.  That is a huge advantage.  I wear compression socks or sleeves after every race.  After big races, I might wear them for several days.

Bottom line: Compression socks work.

tiux 5About TIUX Compression Socks:

TIUX is a start-up company that is dedicated to quality compression gear.  That being said, I came into this experience with a critical lens: Could this start-up produce a quality product to compete the big companies?

I put them on the minute my new TIUX Compression Socks arrived.  The first thing I noticed was the fit.  I usually wear size medium in compression socks because larges are too loose.  This pair was large and in charge!  They were clearly large in size, but they gripped my calve, ankles, and feet firmly.  Good start.

The next thing I noticed is that they felt extra thick.  After wearing them for a day, I was thinking that these thick socks might be best suited for winter. After the first wash, however, I changed my mind.  That feeling of thick socks went away.  That first time through the washer and dryer seemed to magically transform my TIUX compression socks to the perfect thickness.

Still, I refused to draw any firm conclusion until I had worn them and washed them many times.  How did they hold up?  Extremely well.  They still have that snugly, yet firm, grip.  They still fit exactly the same.  They still feel just right.  I have used them to recover from a tough race and several tough workouts.

The final report card:

Quality = A
Durability = A

TIUX compression socks have one more feature that is outstanding:  price.  TIUX has chosen to cut out the middle-man to save you money.  You can only get TIUX Premium Performance Compression Socks by visiting their web site at http://tiux.co.  [That is NOT a typo.  There is no “m” on the end of the web site.]

tiux 4

 “Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

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Gluten Free Supplements for Runners and Other Athletes

Living gluten free can be challenging.  Food labels are often vague or simply do not mention gluten, wheat or allergens.  Does it include wheat, barley, malt, or gluten?  If not on the ingredient list, was it manufactured in a facility that also processes foods that have these ingredients?  If it fails to mention anything about any allergens, should you trust the product?  It gets very old, very quickly.  I am worn out by the constant need to be vigilant.  Eating out can be a minefield for the gluten intolerant or Celiac.   Things are getting better, but at most cooks and waiters still have precious little knowledge or understanding about gluten and the needs of the consumer.

Now enter the world of an avid fitness fanatic and/or athlete.  The same issues arise.  If it is a pill, it is possible that there is hidden gluten used as a binding agent to form the pill.  How about whey protein?  Shouldn’t that be safe?  Why would there be wheat or gluten in a milk product like whey?  Guess what?  There is gluten in a large portion of the whey protein products available.  At one local store, I found that 9 of 10 whey protein powders could possibly contain gluten.  Only one safe protein supplement in the store.

Thankfully, I have found a brand of nutritional supplements that is almost entirely gluten-free.  Muna heard about it from other fitness trainers and we investigated it together.  I started by using the basic Genesis Pure products like the Daily Build liquid multivitamin, the Goyin balancing Blend, and the Liquid Cleanse.

For my fitness and performance needs, I also use these general supplements:

  • Mila (Chia Seeds) – omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, antioxidants, and minerals
  • Coral Calcium – extra calcium and magnesium for bone strength and muscle function
  • Organic Sulfur – joint health
  • Greens – wheat grass (no gluten here), spirulina, and about 30 other natural nutrition sources

recoverySpecifically for the athlete, Genesis Pure offers the GPS line:

  • Moomiyo Edge
  • E2 – Energy drinks for before training
  • Pro-Arginine – Muscle health
  • Hydration mix – Electrolytes and fuel during training
  • Recovery – To maximize recovery and growth after the training

The products are effective.  Moreover, I like the convenience of getting all of my gluten-free supplements from the same trustworthy source.  If you are looking for gluten-free products, Genesis Pure products are worth trying.

Where to Find Genesis Pure Products

You will not find Genesis Pure products in retail stores.  You can get any of the products online at Amazon.com, but the prices are higher there.  The best and most affordable way to order Genesis Pure products is by using  the 25% membership discount.  There is a $39 initial enrollment fee, but then you are free to order at the discounted rate.

Once you join, you will also have the choice to turn your membership into a business opportunity if you are so inclined.  Most importantly, your membership can save you both time and money by finding all of your gluten-free supplements in one place.  :)

For More Information

If you are interested in learning more about Genesis Pure, the supplements, and/or the business opportunity, you can watch the 23 minute introductory video at:  http://wiserunning.com/about-us/gluten-free-supplements-and-business-opportunity/

You can also email me at pmark.runner@gmail.com.

Let me know if you have any questions about nutritional supplements, their purpose, or how to find if they are gluten-free.

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor

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Stretching Before Running

wise running logo 7_25_12

When I was young, I stretched because my coaches told me to stretch. I have never been that  flexible, but I never really understood the benefits. Here are the things that we are typically told about stretching:

  • Stretching prior to any type of exercise gets the muscles ready for the more intense exercise that follows.
  • A well-stretched muscle moves through a full range of motion with less effort. Therefore, stretching prior to physical activity will help you conserve energy and thereby improve performance.
  • Because our muscles get cold and tight from hours of sitting or standing at our jobs, periodic stretching will keep the blood flowing and allow the muscles to move through a full range of motion.
  • A muscle is more flexible when it is warm and stretched, and it is less likely to tear or overstretch from an abrupt movement.
  • Stretching increases the blood supply to the muscles and joints.  This keeps the muscles supple and healthy.
  • After a workout, stretching your muscles will keep them from immediately shortening and tightening as they cool down.

stretchingIn high school, I ran both cross country and track. My cross country coach had us stretch before running and encouraged stretching after the workout. Our head track coach, however, made us run a mile first and then stretch. Both seem like pretty good ideas, but which is right? I have great respect for both of those coaches, so I am going to say that I agree with both coaches MOST of the time.

Right now, however, I am suffering a round of tight muscles in my calves. Over the past few weeks, when I stretched BEFORE the run it felt very artificial.  My muscles would not stretch unless I forced them. Bad idea! They just would not budge until I pushed to the point of pain… and the led to more pain and more tightness. In short, stretching a muscle that will not cooperate is a bad idea.

Does that mean that I should run without stretching? I tried. Bad idea. It just forced the muscle to stretch under duress, just like stretching before the run. That led to worse pain and increased tightness.

How do you stretch a muscle that is firmly against the idea? Stretching first is bad and stretching after a mile is bad… where do you go from there?

The Technical Truth about Stretching

An extensive meta-analysis of the research on stretching reaches two unavoidable truths:

  1. Static stretching, the old method of stretching and holding a stretch before your run, can reduce your power by as much as 5.5%.
  2. Dynamic stretching through gentle movement and gradually attaining your full range of motion is much safer and more productive.

You can find a lot of dynamic stretching ideas out on the web, but here is what is working for me:

  • Warm up the sore & tight muscles by slowly and carefully moving through their comfortable range first.  Not by running, but just gently going through your comfortable range of motion.
  • After the muscles begin to warm up, the comfortable range of motion will begin to gradually increase.
  • Take that warm-up/stretch combination as far as your muscles will comfortably allow in a few minutes.
  • Begin to run at an easy pace and gradually increase your speed.
  • Stop to do a little more dynamic stretching if you feel the need.

This may not be new to you, but I was never told to warm up the muscle and stretch simultaneously. I suppose you could say that I am employing a combination of the advice of both of my high school head coaches. It just goes to show that the lesson that you teach to youth may be lost on them in the moment, but they can keep learning from that advice years later.

I continue to have some tension in those muscles, but it gets better every day. When my muscles rebel, I placate them with my new process of warm-up & stretching.

If you have been struggling with a tight muscle and just can’t find the right process to loosen it up, you might give it a try.

Be careful. Don’t overstretch.

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The other item to add is about devices for stretching.   Here are the two products that I use to aid in the stretching process, not before a run but hours before or after.  They are both designed to work out knots in your muscles by rolling – like rolling out dough with a rolling pin.  You lay on the foam roller and use your body weight to apply pressure.  A lot of runners have found relief.  I most recently rescued my knees by using the foam roller.

foam roller

View Foam Rollers

the stick

View “The Stick”

The Stick, on the other hand, has handles and you press down to apply pressure.   I found this tool especially wonderful for my calves.  Oh, yes!

I hope these work for you as well as they have worked for me.  :)

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“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

 

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & future runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

 

Ask P. Mark: Dealing with Shin Splints

Question 3 :   I’m currently using the “walk to running a 5K” plan from your book The Gift of Running. But I’m running into a minor problem and need some advice.   My shins are starting to feel sore during the running bits.

P. Mark’s Answer:  Shin splints come from a combination of poor form, running on hard surfaces, and changing intensity levels too fast.

As for form, the idea is to set your foot on the ground gently as you land.  A good guideline for this is the sound you make.  The quieter your foot is when it makes contact with the ground, the better your shins will be.

As for running surfaces, a nice rubber track is a very kind surface for running.  If that is not available, then remember this progression:

  • Grass and dirt are softer than gravel.
  • Gravel is softer than asphalt/blacktop.
  • Asphalt/blacktop is softer than concrete.
  • Stay away from concrete when you have shin splints!

If you are suddenly training much faster and/or farther than you have recently, this can also cause issues.

Remember: 
Fast progress leads to injuries!
Slow progress leads to health, happiness, & achievement!

It can take as long as two weeks before shin splints completely fade away.  To begin the process:

  1. Address the inflammation by icing your shins and taking anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen.
  2. While running, shift to softer surfaces & slow down, being careful to land gently.
  3. Make sure you stretch all muscles properly before and after running and walking.

You can run with some pain, but it should not be severe and it should not get worse.  In the case of shin splints, the old adage of “No Pain No Gain” makes no sense.  If the pain is too intense, skip the running for a few days.  Taking the time now will pay off down the road.

Be good to your legs and you will once again enjoy the run!

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The Gift of Running is now available in both paperback & e-book

Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

Ebook Version for Nook $2.99

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Ice Bath for Runners: Benefits and Recommendations

Since I have been dealing with some minor injuries lately, one my friends suggested that I take ice baths after my runs.  She specifically mentioned it as being beneficial in terms of my plantar fasciitis.  I have heard of ice baths, but had not followed through up to this point… mostly because I have not had any significant injuries.  With the luck that I have had lately, however, it sounded like a good idea.

ice bathAs I was taking my very first plunge, I began to wonder:  “Is it worth it?”.  I resolved then and there to search for the scientific foundation of this method of treating injuries.  Here is what I found in therms of benefits and recommendations:

Benefits:

Many elite runners and not-so-elite running enthusiasts that consider ice baths to be beneficial based on their own experience.   They claim that it leads to a quicker recovery and less pain.  So how does it accomplish this?  After about 6 minutes in the icy water, your blood rushes to the area to rescue you from the cold.  This rush is what helps to flush out the metabolic debris that might otherwise take days to flush out.  In the meanwhile, the cold is reducing the inflammation in the area.  This combination makes ice cold baths after a big workout a hot idea!

Recommendations:

While the current research does not tell us what protocol is ideal for ice baths, we do know a few things.  The most important thing to remember is that ice baths of over 20 minutes can be detrimental.  You body will actually begin to break down after 20 minutes in ice cold water.  Most experts suggest that runners submerge their legs for 6-10 minutes, just long enough to feel the blood rush in to save the day.

Possible Con:

One study found that ice baths after 90 minutes of exercise actually hindered the refueling process.  This is really only an issue if you plan back-to-back days with long runs, which is not a good idea anyway.

Conclusion:

From my experience, the recommendations of friends, and the scientific evidence, I would conclude that it is a good idea.  I will continue the ice baths as I recover from runs over 90 minutes.

What experiences have you had with ice baths?

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“Train hard, race easy, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

 

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

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Muscle and Foot Relief: The Stick Rolling Massager

In the ongoing saga of tight calves and the foot problems they have caused, I have used several tools and tricks:

  • Stretching my already injured parts made things worse.
  • My plantar fasciitis night splints loosened things up enough for some temporary relief. I would recommend them to anyone with a long-term case of PF.
  • Rolling my foot across cold golf balls or frozen water bottles also offered temporary relief.

The one that really made the break-through and led to long-term healing, however, was “The Stick.”  This tool was recommended several times by my cousin who works in the field of therapeutic massage and sports medicine.  At first I resisted the notion that such a simple device could make a difference.  After all, it just looks like a few pieces of plastic tubing and a stick with handles.  After going through the list of tools and methods above, however, I was desperate!

I finally heeded my cousin’s advice and ordered The Stick from Amazon.com.  My Stick arrived in less than a week.  When it arrived I was both excited and disappointed.  It was smaller than I had imagined and it really did look like another fad piece of health equipment.

Wow!  Was I wrong!  There were not many instructions given, a sentence or two of specifics, just one warning, and a lot of suggestions via pictures.  Still, I had shelled out my $30, so it was time to try it.  After I rolled my tense, sore calves for about 45 seconds I could already feel it working its magic.  The Stick became my companion for the next week.  I rolled my calves when I first got up out fo bed, before and after a workout, and right before going to sleep at night.

I still carry tension in my calves as I always have, but The Stick helps me roll a lot of that tension away.  It is also great on cramps.  I saw one on television the other day during a college football game.  A trainer was working on the hamstring of the quarterback using The Stick.  I may not be an elite athlete, but I treat myself like one.  :)

As for my plantar fasciitis, it is fading away and almost gone.  I attribute this to my ongoing use of The Stick Rolling Massager.

Happy Calves = Happier Feet

Happy Running!

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The Gift of Running is now available in both paperback & ebook

Paperback Version – Amazon.com

Ebook Version – Kindle Store

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice for Runners

I took the Cheribundi Challenge!  Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice is supposed to pack a powerful punch of antioxidants.  Cherry juice is more potent than pomegranate, grape, blueberry, and other juices commonly offered for their antioxidants.  With this knowledge, combined with the fact that I have been plagued by minor injuries lately, I was more than ready to accept the Cheribundi Challenge

The official Cheribundi Challenge is to drink their tart cherry juice for four days.  Before the four days, you score yourself for sleep, athletic recovery, and aches& pains.  You revisit the scoring after four days of Cheribundi to see if it makes a difference.

I have gone over that by two days.  So far I have consumed an 8 ounce serving each day for six days.

On day 1, I drank Cheribundi Whey Cheri – with the juice of 45 cherries, 8 grams of whey protein, & a powerful ratio of nutrients, carbs and protein.

On day 2, I drank Cheribundi Skinny Cheri – with the juice of 40 cherries, but sweetened with natural Stevia so it has only 90 calories!

On days 3 through 6, I drank Cheribundi Tru Cherry – with the juice of 50 cherries and sweetened with natural apple juice concentrate, but still only 130 calories.

BEFORE taking the Cheribundi Challenge, I rated my sleep as somewhat restless.  I rated my athletic recovery as being far too slow (I am so impatient).  Most importantly, I rated my aches and pains as frequent because I was in the middle of issues with plantar fasciitis and related pains in the foot and ankle.

AFTER 6 days of drinking Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice products, I have to say that I am sleeping a little better and my recovery is a little quicker.  As for the aches and pains, I really do feel that the tart cherry juice has made my healing much quicker.  I have a lot fewer aches and pains.  The ones that remain are certainly less severe than before.

Conclusion:

I would not claim that Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice is a cure-all, but I do believe that it gave my body a lot more high-powered antioxidants than I usually give it.  This, I believe, is speeding my healing process.  I have more Cheribundi, and I am going to be drinking it regularly.

There are other sources from which I could get tart cherry juice to add to my diet.  Most of these are in concentrate form.  Cheribundi is not from concentrate and it comes in handy 8-ounce bottles which make it easier to deal with.

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The Gift of Running is now available in both paperback & ebook

Paperback Version – Amazon.com

Ebook Version – Kindle Store