Reblog from our resident Massage Therapist, Nancy “Shots” Stenger from Rest Day Massage.
Massage and recovery go hand in hand. It doesn’t take a massage therapist to know that stretching sore muscles is going to help them feel better.
Actually, massage is instinctual.
Think of the times you shook out your hands before jumping back up on the pull-up bar or grabbed your quads because they were on fire after rowing. It’s hardwired in us to get blood flow back and to dull the senses in an area of pain, and that’s essentially what massage is.
Ok, if it was really that simple, then I wouldn’t have a job. But the point is, our bodies naturally crave massage to feel better.
As athletes, we are constantly pushing our bodies, and that can take a toll on our muscles. Below are the top 5 ways massage can help you become a better athlete.
1. Accelerates recovery
Massage increases blood flow both locally and system-wide.
That increased blood flow flushes out metabolic waste from the muscles (aka the lactic acid that makes your muscles feel like they are on fire). It also brings in nutrients and oxygen back into the muscles to help them regenerate torn muscle tissue and return back to their normal balance so you can hit the workout just as hard the next day.
Added bonus: The increased blood flow also helps the body circulate lymph, which is a fluid that helps destroy pathogens in the body. This allows you to fight off sickness quicker or helps you avoid it altogether.
2. Reduces the risk of injury
Dysfunction causes injury. Let me repeat that, DYSFUNCTION CAUSES INJURY.
When our bodies are 100% balanced, nothing short of a catastrophic event would cause tears, sprains, or strains. Unfortunately, no human is free from dysfunction. So what do I mean by that?
3. Restores mobility and flexibility
Duh. Seems like a no brainer. Stretching muscles promotes mobility and flexibility, but with the help of a licensed massage therapist, you can make sure you are hitting the stretches that your body REALLY needs and make sure that you are doing them properly.
4. Increases body awareness
Remember when you first started CrossFit and you were sore in areas that you never knew were possible? It’s like that with massage as well.
During a massage, you become more aware of muscle groups. Tight muscles are loosened up, and your body becomes aware of aches, pains, or even injuries that it just wasn’t concerned about at the time.
A massage is also an opportunity for a professional to look at and feel your muscle tissue. Between my BA in Biology and my certificate in Massage Therapy, I’ve studied anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and pathology. I’ve been trained on how the human body is supposed to work as well as seeing when something isn’t quite right.
It was actually on a massage table when I learned about my hamstring imbalance. My right hamstring is much more developed than my left, and my massage therapist pointed it out to me.
I notice it all the time now! My right heel pops up first when I squat, my right leg tightens up faster on runs, and I put my weight on my right foot when I’m standing still. I notice it ALL THE TIME!
Remember what I said before, dysfunction causes injury, so I’ve incorporated more exercises to strengthen my left hamstring muscles. I’m started to feel more balanced, my lifts seem smoother, and I’ve potentially lessened my chance for injury. Boom!
5. Promotes healthy tissue growth
Like I said before, massage increases blood flow to the area which starts the repair process. But repairing muscle, and repairing muscle correctly aren’t the same thing.
Massage helps lay down tissue in the correct muscle fiber direction. This helps ensure that the muscle is moving how it was designed to. It also helps break up scar tissue and fascial restrictions that inhibit proper muscle movement.
Halloween is just the beginning of all of the treats that accompany the holiday season. It’s so easy to grab a handful of candy when it’s sitting in excess around the house. Here is a fun game to play with your kids to get rid of all the extra Halloween candy. It’ll benefit you AND them!
Ghouls, Goblins, and Monsters all sweep the streets on the last night of October. You prep your kiddos to be scary, cute, fun and cool for a chance to stay up late and get candy! Halloween is the one night you get to be someone (or something) else, walk alongside people in your community, subject yourself to a haunted house or two, and take candy from neighbors.
While there are so many positive sides to trick or treating, there is one major negative side. The CANDY! In all its glory and yumminess, candy is not an ideal part of a well-balanced diet! It can cause hyperactivity, weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and so much more. So how can you alleviate the burden of such a monumental part of Halloween?
Introduce the Switch Witch!
The Switch Witch is a fun and exciting way to get rid of all the excess candy. After a fun night of Trick-Or-Treating, have your kids choose the top 5-10 pieces of candy that they want to keep and then put the rest outside of their bedroom door when they go to sleep.Why would they do that you ask? Here’s more on the Switch Witch:
Not sure what to do with all of the excess Halloween candy? We are donating to Operation Gratitude this year. It is an organization that sends donated Halloween candy to our troops overseas. We will be collecting excess candy for donation through Monday, November 4th to send out on Wednesday the 6th! Drop your candy off at Icehouse and we will take care of the rest. 🙂
Goals can be scary. Even more terrifying when we put a deadline on them. Why is that? It’s scary because it takes comitment to make those goals happen, and the truth is no one else can do the work for you to make it happen. When you put your goals out into the universe, you have just taken the first step to making it a reality. In this blog im going to talk about how to set a goal, and then make it a reality. We will be following a common principle called SMART goals, with a few added steps that we here at Icehouse believe really “bring the magic.”
Step 1: Chose a Goal
This can be be anything, literally anything. It just has to be real. For the sake of the blog, I’m going to use something that we often hear. “I want to get in shape, I want to get jacked, I want to get toned, I want to get fit, I want to look good and feel good.” All of these mean the same thing, and are a great goal to have. But lack a few key components that can take them from a good goal, to a great one.
Step 2: Get Specific
When I say get specific, I mean what does that look like. I want to get in shape can mean a lot of things. Being “in shape” is very different for a strongman competitor vs. a competitive CrossFit athlete. For most of us this simply means, gaining muscle, and losing body fat. We have now taken our next step in setting a goal. We have morphed “I want to get fit” into “I want to gain muscle and lose body fat.” Another example might be, taking “I want to be a better basketball player” and morphing it into “I want to be better at shooting, or dribbling, or passing.”
Step 3: Make it Measurable
With the goal of losing body fat and gaining muscle we can measure that by getting on the inbody scanner. We can take progress pictures. You can even take body measurements. Find a data set, and get tracking! We now have a goal, and a way to measure your progress. The stats will not lie, if you are not making progress. you will be able to see it in your tracking.
Step 4: Is it Attainable?
There are certian things that are out of your control. This is not an excuse to not set the bar high for yourself. For example Navy Seal recruits must be between the age of 17 and 28. If you are 29, you will not be allowed into training. Thats out of your control. Thats the type of thing that I am looking at for attainability.
Step 4: Set Realistic Expectations
I’m not talking about the goal as a whole. Who am I to tell you that you can’t accomplish something? If you truly belive that you can, then it doesn’t matter what anyone tells you. I’m talking about being realistic about the time, and work that it will take to accomplish your goals. With the goal of gaining muscle and losing bodyfat, it is unrealistic to think you will trade 30 lbs of excess bodyfat for 30 lbs of fresh lean muscle in a month. It just doesn’t work that way. You are not going to see results eating pizza and drinking beer for every meal. Lets say you have 30 lbs of fat to lose. With excellent nutrition and consistent exercise you can expect to loose 1-2 lb a week. That means around 4 months at the quickest and 8 months on the slower side with both nutrition and exercise dialed in. Sure you see some people try a new fad diet and lose 30 lbs in a month. More often than not they gain most of it back in a few more months. Muscle is even harder to gain, that reqires not only a balance of eating enough to grow muscles, but not so much that you gain a bunch of fat with it. Any mis-steps and you add time to your goal. You’re going to have to eat your meal prep sometimes instead of going out to eat, and you are going to have to go to the gym when you don’t feel like it. How bad do you “Want to get in shape?”
Step 5: Give it a Time Domain
Now that we have made the goal specific, measurable, attainable, and have set realistic expectations, we are ready to give it a time frame. Be realistic with your timeframes and do not set yourself up for failure. We know the time that its going to take if we do everything right, but we are human, and we need to have a few things to keep us sane. So knowing its going to take 8 months minimum, lets set the time frame of next year. (It is October now, so I will use next October.) Our goal then becomes, “By next October, I want to loose 30 Lbs of fat, and gain 10 Lbs of muscle.” BOOM we have a vision people! That means we had better get to work. Not tomorrow. TODAY.
Step 6: No more “I want to.”
When you use the words “I want to.” You allow yourself the chance to fail. Quit it. You are better than that and you owe it to yourself to believe in your ability. If you don’t truly believe deep down in your heart that you can do something. Then don’t make it a goal. We have now changed our goal from “I want to get fit.” To “By next October, I WILL lose 30 lbs of fat, and gain 10 lbs of muscle.” That is starting to look like something!
Step 7: Have a Why
If you can not look me in the eye when I ask you why you want to get fit, and tell me with pride your reason behind the goal, then you have not dug deep enough. Everyone has a different why. I will never be able to find your why. You’re gonna have to dig that one up on your own, and it may change over time. Attach your why to your goal and it becomes extremely powerful. “By next October, I will lose 30 lbs of fat, and gain 10 lbs of muscle, because if I don’t, my children will not get to grow up with a parent that could play with them.” Pretty motivating, right?
Step 8: Lay Out Your Plan
A goal without a plan is like trying to take on a house fire with a squirt gun. How are you going to reach your goal. You already know what it’s going to take. So lay it out, and get the help that you need. “By next October, I’m going to loose 30 lbs of fat and gain 30 lbs of muscle. Because if I don’t my children will not get to grow up with a parent that can play with them. I will go to the Icehouse Fit 3x a week because the coaches care about me, and the members help hold me accountable. I am going to get 6 months of nutrition coaching from because that will teach me how to eat healthy and sustainibly for the rest of my life.”
Why We Need Goals
Keep this blog in mind when you fill out your next goals sheet. It is important that you take some time and really fill them out with a great goal so that we can help you. Without knowing your goals, and why you chose them it is extremely difficult for us to motivate you in the way that you need, it is difficult for you to motivate yourself without sharing your goals with someone who understands and truly wants to help. When you turn in your goals to your Primary Coach, be sure to use some of the things you have learned in this blog. You, and your coach need more than “I want to get fit.”
Jordan Halvorson is a coach at Crossfit Icehouse who believes that the scientific principles of strength training and the mindset behind personal growth can be applied to everyone to make their lives better. He is also a barbell addict.
It’s almost October which means the Open is just around the corner! What is the Open you ask? Some of you may know it better as Friday Night Lights, which yes we did in February, it’s a Friday full of competition and setting some new goals for the following year.
A little background…
The CrossFit Open use to be the only pathway to the CrossFit Games. Everyone doing CrossFit, including the big names Fraser and Toomey could only get to the CrossFit Games through the CrossFit Open. It’s a time where mere mortals like myself and champions of CrossFit had the same weekend to do the same workout. Pretty rad really! All of CrossFit could test their times against the big dawgs! Anyway, I digress, now we have fun things like Sanctionals (yes that’s a real word) where athletes can qualify to go to the games. If you are familiar with Granite Games it is a Sanctional to the CrossFit Games.
What’s the Point of the Open Now?
The Open is a chance to test your fitness. If you haven’t done one before this will set the benchmark for next year. It’s a great place to reflect on your CrossFit journey and see how far you’ve come and how far you want to go. The cool part is they repeat at least one workout each year so you’ll have a solid baseline. They repeat several moments like pull-ups, thrusters, wall balls and of course double unders. Yeah you’ll see all of those in some form in the Open. Don’t worry, just like at Icehouse, there’s a scale for Everything so no matter your fitness level this will be a great test!
Where did Friday Night Lights Go?
Don’t worry it’s not gone! As we went all out in February, we are throwing one big party at the end of this Open season and FNL will return in 2020. This year each workout will be during Friday classes starting October 11thso we encourage you to coordinate with your buddies and crush a Friday Open workout. We will be having a big party the final Friday, November 8th so mark your calendar. We can’t wait to have some fun in a few weeks.
Sara Mozingo is the Co-Owner, head coach, and programing wizard at CrossFit Icehouse. When she’s not developing rep schemes and diving into the nerdery she enjoys hanging out in nature hiking trails or climbing rocks with her side-kick Mr. Mosely.
We aren’t what we eat, rather we are what we absorb.
The digestive system is the foundation for all other processes that take place in the body. What we put into our body is what is mainly responsible for our energy, mood, performance, and overall wellness. In today’s age, there is a huge disconnect between what we put into our body and how that can affect our overall health. Poor nutrition, and even further, poor DIGESTION are major contributors to chronic disease.
I believe that proper digestion is the root to optimal health and here’s why: digestion begins in the brain. The brain signals saliva to be produced when we begin to chew food. Our saliva contains different enzymes that begin the breakdown of food. Chewing your food THOROUGHLY is extremely important for proper digestion. Ideally, we should chew each bite around 20-30 times (the average is 4). Chewed food becomes what is called a bolus that is swallowed and moved through the esophagus and down to the stomach.
WHEN DIGESTION IS OPTIMAL, adequate stomach acid is secreted in addition to pancreatic enzymes that further break down the bolus into a substance called chyme. Chyme is extremely acidic as it moves from the stomach into the small intestine. Once in the small intestine, the acidity of the chyme becomes more neutral thanks to additional enzymes that are secreted, as well as bile from the gallbladder. These are to further breakdown proteins and fats. MOST NUTRIENT ABSORPTION OCCURS IN THE SMALL INTESTINE. What is left from the chyme is passed through the large intestine where any remaining usable nutrients and water are absorbed before being excreted from the body.
This is why a properly functioning digestive system is essential to optimal health and performance. Every single thing we eat goes through this process. We can eat the healthiest diet, but if we are not digesting properly then we are not absorbing all of the nutrients our body needs.
As an athlete, we need a proper balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates because we expend a lot of excess energy during workouts. In addition, we may also need to consume more calories to adequately replenish our glycogen stores, repair damaged muscles, nourish the body and maintain general health. The digestive tract of an athlete is put under more stress than that an individual who does not regularly train. This is why it is incredibly important that as an athlete, we have a strong digestive system to break down food properly for optimal absorption of its nutrients within the body.
Tips to improve digestion:
Chew food thoroughly. Ideally 20-30 chews per bite.
Eat in a relaxed state. Sit down to eat your meals without any distractions as this will let the body solely focus on the process of digestion.
Drink warm lemon water before meals. This is very soothing to the digestive tract in preparation for eating and the acidity of the lemon may help with stomach acid production.
Try not to consume liquids during meals. Small sips of water are okay, but avoid chugging drinks as this can dilute stomach acid.
Eat a properly prepared, nutrient-dense, whole food diet. In addition to the macro-nutrients, whole foods provide many micro-nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
Eating seasonally is a great way to mix up your meals with fresh, in-season produce. Seasonal produce is purchased and consumed shortly after it has been harvested, and therefore when it is most nutritious. Even better, seasonal produce that is produced/purchased locally does not require long transport times and has moved from farm to table in a shorter amount of time.
Choosing local produce also has it’s own benefits:
Beneficial to our local environment.
Supports our local economy.
We are able to get to know our local farmers and growers who can tell us how their products are grown and raised.
Produce that is in season right now (early September) in North Dakota:
If you haven’t been to the Red River Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 10 AM – 2 PM, I would highly recommend checking it out! Get to know the growers and support the local community. Plus, the produce there ROCKS!