They see me rollin’

People often forget that exercise doesn’t only revolve around the actual workout that they do. What matters just as much, is how you treat your body pre and post workout, and what you do to further enhance your performance during a workout. I had never heard about trigger point release or foam rolling until I came to Australia. Probably spent my first 6 months in a gym here just rolling around and pretending I knew what I was doing, then I saw an exercise physiologist, and whoa my mind was blown.

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The body is connected by various lines, so let’s say someone has poor stability in their ankles, but also suffers from headaches. Could that be connected? Hell yes. Let’s consider me, myself and I in this case. I have the worst ankles (aka torn ligaments in both), one knee with 2x surgery that still isn’t fine and one knee that acts up all the time, one hip flexor is incredibly tight, I’ve got a winged scapula, and I’ve had weekly non-migraine headaches since I was about 12. I did my knee for the first time when I was 12, but no one has managed to tell me that it could be related to the headaches until about a few months ago. In other words, my spiral line is affected, and my body is compensating for the pain in the lower parts by giving me pain in other places.

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And this is where foam rolling and trigger point release comes in. The general rule is that you start at the bottom of your body and work your way closer to the heart and head. Find a point where it hurts at about 7/10, breathe into the pain, hold until the pain releases at about 4/10 and work your way up the body. Tip; inner thighs and front of thighs hurt like hell. Don’t resist the pain by tensing your muscles, as that will work against the purpose and make it worse. Also, when foam rolling or releasing trigger points, your body will be releasing and flushing out toxins that has been stored in your body for a long period of time. The first time I did it, I actually felt really sick, and my face kind of turned green and I felt like I was about to throw up… My point is, that it works. I feel better, I move better, and I don’t have to force anyone else to give me a massage when I can just release the pain on my own.

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I can’t believe I’ve worked as a PT for over a month already, time goes by so fast, and I swear I’ll probably be 25 (that’s when life ends) before I even notice. Anyway, what I’ve realized is that people tend to trick themselves. The amount of people who claim they eat healthy….. When they tell me what they’ve eaten that day, it’s typically sugar with sugar on top, with a little bit of sugar next to the sugar. Most people are generally good with their dinners, but let me just tell you – it doesn’t matter how many veggies you put on your dinner plate, if you eat crap for the other 3 meals of the day.

Be good with your food, do some foam rolling – and take care of your bodies!

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The essential fitness equipment

I overheard someone on my way home from the gym today talking about how they couldn’t afford working out because it’s so expensive. Now, I believe that working out can be pretty much free if you want it to be – the nature is there for everyone, and there’s not much stuff you need to live a healthy lifestyle. Forget all the super-foods and seeds, forget the designer workout clothes and forget the ab-roller from TV-Shop, here are my personal essentials to being active and healthy every day.

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Proper running shoes

I cringe inside whenever I see people running in Nike shoes with no support. Try twisting the shoe and it won’t even resist you from bending it in two. Yeah, they’re awesome, they look fresh and they are fashionable, but they will eventually injure your feet, legs and back. Get your feet checked out by a specialist and listen to their advice regarding what shoes you should wear. A person who has supinated feet and runs half-marathons will be needing other shoes than the best friend who pronates and likes running intervals. I’ve tried numerous brands, but have come to swear by the Asics Nimbus model or Mizuno’s shoes, based on my feet and my exercise needs. These brands have started following Nike in terms of cool design, so if you’re one of those running with Nike’s on your feet – pretty please find a better alternative.

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A heart-rate monitor

Yeah, it’s a tad expensive, but exercising becomes so much more fun if you have one. It’s of course a bit more useful for running in terms of logging distance etc, but I only run intervals once a week (inside), and the rest I sort of only do weights, and I still use it every day. It’s great to pay attention to what heart rate zone you’re working in in terms of what your goals are when you lift weights, it’s motivating you when you run and it helps me stay in the fat burning zone when I do cardio at night. Mine also has the option of downloading workouts and will thereby tell you when to rest between your sets etc. I prefer Polar, but I’m sure there are others out there that are cheaper – mine gives me a star or trophy if I’ve worked hard enough that week too. Bonus points.

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Lifesum App (previously called ShapeUp)

When I was losing weight, I tried paying attention to the amount of protein I ate based on my exercise, and also made sure I ate the amount of calories I needed. In the beginning I sort of wrote it all down and made calculations online, but that proved to be slightly time consuming, until I discovered the app that was then called ShapeUp. It lets you put in your details, your goals etc, and makes calculations on how much protein/fat/carbohydrates/calories you need. Now, I’ve had some questions regarding if you should trust this app, and the answer is to some extent no. Let it serve as a guide, but don’t obsess over it, I’ve found that it for example suggests the minimum amount of protein you should eat each day, rather than the optimal amount. Let it track your food and workouts, but use it with a little dose of common sense – we’ve learnt to not fully trust technology by now, haven’t we?

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Don’t worry about the supplements, or all the complicated things you can get into when researching exercise. Just get started!