Wednesday, 28 August 2013

10 Ways to Take Care of Your Body

Every day we expect something from our body. We expect basic (actually not that basic) bodily functions to kick into action and work on command as soon as we wake. We eat a mixture of foods and textures and expect the body to take it and make use of it. We mix and match our sleep and rest patterns and expect the body to keep up. Then, we add in exercise and stretch the body, pound it on paths and treadmills and put unheard amount of weight and torque through our joints. Then to bed – we might be sleeping but we still expect the body to do its bit. Then wake up and do it all over again!
It’s not easy being a body! We can’t expect it to just keep on giving and keep on giving before something gives way and injuries, illnesses or more complex personality and relationship issues occur.
It’s time we gave back! Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. Here are my top methods/products for giving back to my body. Take a few minutes every day and give back to yours and see how much better you feel in all aspects of life. The focuses here are robustness, performance and general wellbeing...

1)      Escape Fitness Foam Roller - £25

This had to be number one. I carry it everywhere and it has relieved pain for me, eased tension for me, helped me to move better before and after exercising, it’s even improved my mood. This Escape fitness one is ideal! Most others are too soft and lose their shape – this is firm and gives deep pressure in more fleshy areas like your backside. If it’s too hard, layer up in more clothes. Best to have a roller that’s too hard and adjust your position and clothing accordingly, than a useless one that’s too soft. I also like that it’s smooth and not like the “grid” style rollers that lots of people use. If you want more specific, localised pressure for trigger point work, see point number 2). Get this roller today from: Escape Fitness Online Enter the reference code MDARREN – if you do buy one please.
2)      Lacrosse Ball -£5

I use this in a similar fashion to the roller above. The lacrosse ball differs as it offers a much more localised pressure and allows you to focus on smaller areas. It’s also an AMAZING way to release the fascia in your feet by simply rolling the sole of your feet hard against the ball on the floor. Try this after a day of walking around – it’ll change your life.
One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen done with this is “Whacking” to improve ankle mobility and as a result, squat depth – I now use this myself most weeks and it’s brilliant! Take a look:
I’ve tried other objects and sports ball like tennis balls, golf balls, hockey balls for similar trigger point work  – stick with the lacrosse ball – nothing compares. The texture, weight and density are ideal. What’s great about having a ball is that it travels easily too. My current lacrosse ball has some serious air miles to its name – it’s great to use after long journeys or hours of walking around on holiday. Get one today from
3)      AdiSage - £22

That’s right – flip flops! Anyone that has ever played rugby with me over the last 8-10 years will know that this is my essential post-training and post-game footwear. So comfortable and also the little “numbles” act as mini lacrosse balls if you like (only much softer) and gently add some trigger point pressure to your feet. Perfect after a day in shoes or sports footwear. Plus, they look ace! I love them that much, I’m going to buy a pair for around the house too. Available from: Adidas Online

4)      Recovery Leggings

Now, I get some stick when I wear these but I can HONESTLY say, these have been one of my best purchases of the past 10 years. I have on-going arthritis issues in my knees and I’ve found that the additional high level of warmth and compression has really benefited me. I sleep in them fairly regularly and by the morning feel brilliant in comparison to when I went to bed. There are different versions or purposes to leggings so be sure to get the right ones. 2XU (the brand of my latest ones) pictures above, do an “Active” pair – basically for warmth and general sports wear. Some kind of Cross-Active pair which is part recovery and part for sport (ie: You can wear for either), but I opted for the all out “Pure Recovery” ones. This may make some men feel a little uneasy... they only come in stockings. Throw a pair of shorts over the top and no one knows the difference. Available on sale at the moment, sickeningly for me at half the price I paid for mine, at Rat

5)      Becoming a Supple Leopard - £35

Featured above in the lacrosse ball/ankle mobility video is Dr Kelly Starrett, the author of this book. He is the guru of all things mobility based – if you need mobility help just search him on YouTube; he covers it all. Before you assume it, no, he isn’t a skinny guy that practices just Pilates – he’s a pretty big and athletic dude too. This book isn’t cheap but it’s the only reference you’ll ever need to improve your own mobility for exercise and general wellbeing. There are some free extracts available online if you want a preview and I believe it’s also a little cheaper if you download it onto a kindle etc. Buy the hard copy here: Amazon

6)      Massage - £15+

So you may not want to put the time or money aside for regular massages and sure, your daily maintenance with a foam roller and lacrosse ball will go a long way towards keeping your engine oiled. But, it’s the pure escapism of massage that I think is so valuable. If you don’t want to commit financially to the idea or can’t commit monthly to it, why not join Groupon? They send you email offers of massages and similar on a regular basis – often up to 80% off. Why not wait for one in our local area and take advantage of the deals sporadically? You owe it to yourself.

7)      Sleep - £Free

Probably the easiest and definitely the cheapest of my suggestions. Sleep more. Rest when you can, get your feet up when you can, nap when you can. Don’t be afraid to allocate time to sleep or weekend naps.
Sleeping is extremely helpful and it’s when your body gets the most rest and opportunity to repair and recuperate itself. If you want to sleep well it’s important your bedtime routine and surroundings are correct. A few simple tips: Try to avoid all electronic goods (TV, phone, iPad etc) for 30-60 mins before bed. Brush your teeth and wash as early as possible. Use black out blinds for a fully dark room. Breathe slowly and learn to calm yourself in the time leading up to sleep.

8)      Holiday / Outdoor Breaks - £0+

A holiday doesn’t need to be expensive or even abroad, but they need to be factored into your year. I genuinely believe in the power of change;  change of scenery, change of focuses and priorities and a change of mind set for a few days does you, your mind and body the world of good. Avoid taking work related items or methods of contact if possible. If this isn’t possible then restrict your time with your phone to an hour in the morning and again in the evening.
If you 100% cannot afford to get away, even within the same country then make sure you get outside. Whenever you can, get outside. Fresh air and vitamin D are great catalysts for improving mood, health and general wellbeing. If you work at a desk all day - walk in your lunch break. If you’re going to eat at home at the weekend – eat outside; however you do it, take time to be outside.

9)      Laugh and have fun

It’s incredible how much better you can feel within your body once you’re in a happy mind set. Consciously make time to have fun. I don’t mean visiting the pub, I mean have fun. Good, old-fashioned, clean fun. Ride a bike, laugh with friends, take the dog to a park and run around and play with it, do something stupid and exciting – whatever you do, DON’T let yourself get stuck in a rut. Take time to forget your worries for a few minutes and let your mind focus on other, seemingly less important things. When you go back to reality it often makes things appear that much clearer.
10)   Eat Well

Eating well and eating lots are very different things. Feed your body fresh grown produce without preservatives and sweeteners. Give your body natural and easy to digest food that is high in nutritional value. It may cost a little more at times but consider this: Eating well isn’t too expensive – eating badly is too cheap! Feed your body junk and you can expect the output to be sub-par. If you’re not even going to make any effort with your food then why should your body? If you want to find some reasonable and varied food alternatives try the “Exotic Meat” section on ... Zebra anyone?..
Giving back to your body is a physical and mental process. Allowing your muscles, joints and mind to rest from their daily rigour is essential if you want the best from them. Don’t go half a year and realise you haven’t been doing any of the above; schedule them in and make them as much a priority as your exercise regime.
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  1. Massages are very effective, especially as an alternative therapy for reducing stress. Regular daily or weekly massages can also be very good for your muscles and circulation in general.

    Aaron |
    Mobile Massage

    1. They sure are! You can get many similar benefits with a foam roller (though not always as good) which is great if time and/or money is short. But yeah for sure, massage is great. Especially if they do corrective work in areas you might not have noticed without them "checking you over."