Selecting the right shoes for walking

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avoiding-foot-painAll shoes are not created equally. If wearing the wrong type of shoe, you run the risks of having foot problems and even injury. There are shoes most ideal for certain surfaces as well as for low impact exercises. If you are an avid walker, it is important for you to find the right shoe for the job. Here is how to select the right walking shoes.

Know the arch of the shoe

Examine the arch. The arch of the shoe can be measured using a variety of methods. Step on a paper bag and see how much your foot protrudes. Depending on whether or not half or the entire arch is seen, your shoe should be selected accordingly. A wider arch means that more support is required. A higher arch requires a softer midsole. A person with a normal arch may not require as much support.  I’ve been pretty obsessed lately with outside of the foot pain after my latest sports injury.  This foot doctor claims insoles in your shoes can help this type of pain.

Flexibility and the walking shoe

Consider the flexibility of your shoes. The perfect shoe promotes flexibility. Consider where the shoe is most flexible. Softer components in the shoe promote flexibility. The shoe should have the ability to flex in an upward direction while the heel should have substantial support. There should be little give in the twisting motion in the front portion of the shoe. The foot should have no problem flexing as your foot moves from heel to toe during a step taken.

Heel support in walking shoes

Make sure that you have the right level of support in the heel. Walkers require more support in their heel region because their stride puts most of the impact in the rear of the foot. A good walking shoe should have greater support in the heel area. The heel area should be relatively flat in a good walking shoe. The heel should never be flared because it doesn’t provide adequate support for the heel.

Walking form and the shoe

Pay attention to your walking form. Some runners may be prone to what’s called overpronation. This may require that a person begin wearing shoes especially design to restrict motion on impact with each step taken. Overpronation is common among overweight runners. Shoes especially designed for walkers with this problem need support to prevent the foot from striking the ground incorrectly.

Find the correct shoe size

Know the size of your foot. Any type of shoe used in exercising should be slightly larger than the person’s regular shoe size. Experts recommend that the shoe size be one-half size larger than the nature shoe size to give the person room. There should be ample wiggle room for the toes in the shoe area.

When trying on walking shoes, it’s best to wear socks to evaluate the amount of space in the shoe.  Here’s a great video about how to buy socks.  Finding the right shoe may take testing out a few shoes. In some cases, one may have to go to a specialty store especially designed for people with foot problems and needs. Finding the right shoe makes it easier to maintain an exercise routine without sustaining an injury.

Get Your Gear Ready for Skiing

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skiingIn the US, summer is approaching.  But, in some parts of the world, ski season is in full swing.  It’s fun to travel during the typical summer months to try skiing in a different locale.  Proper preparation means you can hit the snooze button a few times and still get the first lift up to perfect, pristine snow, rather than spending the morning fussing with your gear and not hitting the slopes until after lunch. The right time to get ready for skiing is a few weeks before local resorts open or before you leave for a ski vacation, not during prime ski time.

Performance-Ready Skis

Get a full professional tune-up sometime between the end of one ski season and the beginning of the next season. This should include cleaning the ski bases with a strong solvent, filling any gouges in the bases, sharpening and beveling the metal edges, and stone-grinding and structuring the ski bases. If it will be more than a few weeks before you use your skis, ask for or do a storage wax, in which the skis are hot waxed, but not scraped, so that the wax covers the metal edges and prevents them for rusting or corroding in storage. The night before skiing, scrape off the excess wax with a plastic scraper and use a brush or kitchen scrub pad to emphasize the base structure. Here’s a nice video that demonstrates ski scraping.  Checking your boots is integral in preventing injury and pain.

Safe Bindings

Ski bindings are relatively low maintenance, but they do need annual check-ups. The dirt and salt you accumulate when you walk in your ski boots can damage your bindings. Have a certified technician replaced worn or damaged anti-friction plates and check to see if the bindings release correctly. Also, if you have gained or lost weight, or changed ability level significantly over the season, you may need your binding settings adjusted.

Wearable Ski Clothing

Try on your favorite ski outfit a few weeks before the start of the season. If everything still fits well, check over each piece carefully for wear. Look for loose buttons, malfunctioning zippers, small tears, and other problems. Mend what can be fixed easily and replace what cannot be repaired. Apply conditioner to leather gloves and garments to keep them supple and waterproof. Be sure to wear socks that wick away moisture to avoid nasty things like athletes foot and foot odor. You can read a cool article with more tips about this here.

Small stuff matters

A bad sunburn or foggy goggles can ruin a ski day. At the start of each new season, invest in a new fog cloth, small tube of sun block, lip balm, and liquid ski wax to carry with you as you ski. Throw out leftovers from the previous season, as they may be dried out or spoiled. Either buy a few small packets of tissues or make your own by filling a few sandwich bags with tissues from a larger box. Store all these items together in a single clear freezer or sandwich bag.

Location, Location, Location

You can’t use your ski gear if you can’t find it. Organize your gear carefully, with skis and poles in a ski bag, boots, socks, gloves, and boots in a boot bag, and clothing in a duffel or on one or two hangers in your closet, so that you can find and pack up everything you need quickly. That way, whether you are heading out for a vacation or you are taking advantage of early season snow at your local resort, you are ready to catch fresh tracks rather than wasting good ski time dealing with your gear.

Fitness after 40

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The quest for physical fitness does not end with the onset of middle-age. Your 40th birthday is not a harbinger of declining strength and fitness. The truth is, exercise is more important after age 40 than ever before.

But your body changes as you age and your fitness training must change with it. Adapting your middle-age fitness training program to your body’s changing needs enables you to maintain or improve your fitness as you navigate through your 40s, 50s, and beyond.

Here are some ideas for training effectively in your 40s:

Take More Time to Warm Up: Aging makes you more susceptible to injury. It also increases injury recovery time. The last thing you need is a pulled hamstring, a torn pectoral, or a strained foot.  Have you ever searched for the term “pain in heel“?  Articles like this are plentiful for a reason!  Injury is most likely to occur during the first few minutes or reps of your workout. In middle-age, warming up properly is a critical part of your fitness program.

Warm up for a minimum of fifteen minutes before strenuous exercise, especially weight training. Start off with five minutes of gentle leg stretches, and follow that with five to ten minutes on the stationary bike, treadmill, or elliptical. Finish with some light range-of-motion movements. You can check out YouTube for some helpful videos and tips, just be sure to check with your doctor first.

Reduce the Weight and Increase Repetitions: Maintaining muscle mass in middle-age is not difficult, provided you train smart. That is the good news.

Here is the bad news: Training with heavy weights, as if you are a body-builder in his prime, is courting trouble. Though heavy iron may have built your body in your youth, it is likely to tear it down in middle-age. Training with less weight and higher repetitions allows you to maintain muscle mass while reducing injury risk. For additional muscle stimulation with little added risk, sustain the contraction at the peak of each repetition.

How much do you really care about your one- rep max deadlift, squat, or bench press?  The smart answer is “Not at all.” Take some weight of the bar and avoid injuries.

Listen to Your Body: Take a day or two off when you are feeling achy, lethargic, or over-trained from previous workouts. You might have tried to push through the tiredness in the past, but after age 40 the smart move is to wait for a better day. App[y this rule to individual exercises as well. Use caution with your first few repetitions of each exercise. Do not continue the movement if something feels “off” that day.

Include Cross-Training in Your Workout Program: Weight-training alone is not enough to maintain optimal fitness.  Alternate your workouts between weight training, flexibility, cardio, balance, and other forms of exercise. Try to reduce weight training to three days per week.  You can still exercise on the other days, just vary your activity.

Mix it up when you are not weight training. Take a day to run hills or stairs. The next day use an Arc Trainer at varying inclines and resistance levels.  Ice-skate or cross-country ski during winter months. Join a weekly basketball game. Visit a local facility that has a simulated rock-climbing wall. Take a yoga class. The possibilities are endless.

Vary Intensity of Cardio Programs: Use different types of equipment and vary levels of intensity of your cardio programs for varying lengths of time. One day do high intensity interval training (HIIT) on the treadmill for 30 minutes. The next day use a stationary bike for an hour of steady-state cardio. Mixing it up keeps your body guessing and avoids the pitfall of overburdening some muscles at the expense of others.

Additional factors beyond exercise play an important role in staying fit after 40. Proper nutrition and use of appropriate dietary supplements are vital to your continued fitness. Always consult a physician or nutritionist for advice on these matters.

New Challenge- Running in Winter Weather

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Winter runningRunning a few miles under the blistering sun on a muggy July afternoon might make you yearn for colder temperatures, but you will find that winter running presents many difficulties of its own. Slippery sidewalks and the bite of freezing winds are just a few things that keep runners indoors during winter months. But with a little preparation and the right gear, you can bust your miles out even in the dead of winter.

Gearing up for a winter run is not as simple as putting on your winter coat over your usual running clothes. Special attention must be given to the combination of materials in your outfit to prevent the cold sweat from chilling your body. The key is to dress in several layers which will wick moisture away from the body and allow it to evaporate into the air while simultaneously protecting your body from the frigid temperatures.  Check out this great article reviewing different pieces of winter running equipment.

- The first layer should be a skin-tight shirt and pants made of moisture-wicking fabric. This will prevent moisture from building up on your skin and producing a chill.

- Your second layer will provide most of the warmth. It must be a material that still allows moisture to pass through as it evaporates. The best option for this layer is a wool or fleece sweatshirt. Find a pair of pants made of similar material to keep the lower half of your body warm. Adding another warming layer may be prudent in particularly cold temperatures, but keep in mind that you will only feel cold for the first ten minutes or so. Your body heat will build up as you become exerted, possibly causing you to become overheated.

- Finally, the outer layer should be made of material that will block wind and precipitation while still allowing excess moisture to evaporate. A one-piece windbreaker suit is a convenient option. A plastic raincoat will provide maximum protection from the elements, but does not allow very much evaporation. If you choose a raincoat for your outer layer, make sure it is sufficiently ventilated to minimize moisture buildup on your body.

Of course, there are a few more accessories to consider. Thermal socks are a must for running in cold weather. If your running shoes are the lightweight variety made of thin material, two pairs of socks may be necessary. Just like the toes, the fingers will become cold very quickly and gloves will be required. Choose the warmest pair possible, even if they seem large and cumbersome. This will not be a hindrance because the fine motor skill of the fingers is not required for running. A good face mask will keep the ears and nose warm. If it covers the mouth, it will also warm the air slightly before it enters your lungs. Some face masks even come with goggles built in, forming a complete seal around the face.

Selection of the proper shoes is important as well. Most running shoes are designed with ventilation holes to keep your feet cool during sweltering summer runs. However, this feature can be detrimental in wintertime, letting in melted snow and freezing air. Before you embark on a long run, test your shoes out by walking around in a few inches of snow. If your toes feel wet and frozen, buy a new pair with less ventilation. The shoes should not be completely airtight. They just need conservative ventilation so that water will not seep in and chill your feet. Keeping two pairs of shoes is an option; many runners choose to wear a well-ventilated pair for summer and change to a more insulated type in winter.  According to this foot doctor, moist shoes can lead to athletes foot and odor!

When you are properly bundled up and head out for your run, the first thing you will probably notice is the different feeling of running on snow and ice. Your normal running technique will most likely feel labored and inefficient due to your feet slipping backwards on the ice. Focus on leaning forward from the ankles and falling into your next step. This way, you only have to lift up your foot and extend it forward. This minimizes the effects of the slippery ground and conserves your energy. You will find it easier to run on snow-covered grass than snow-covered pavement, as the uneven surface prevents flat sheets of ice from forming. Run on the grass next to the sidewalk if it is present on your running route.

Remember that dehydration is not just a hot weather problem; the body can actually become dehydrated faster during cold weather. This is because sweat will evaporate quickly into the cold, dry air, forcing your body to work harder. Even though you may not feel as thirsty as you would on a hot summer day, make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your run.

With a few changes to your outfit and technique, running in the winter can be an enjoyable change from the summer heat. Don’t let frosty temperatures stop you from getting your exercise in, and remember to stay safe.