Your Guide To Myofascial Release

Myofascial release is a massage therapy that is used to treat skeletal muscle immobility and pain by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood circulation, and stimulating the stretch reflex in muscles. This technique, also known as "foam rolling," is a massage technique previously reserved for professional athletes and physical therapists, but is now being adopted by people of all fitness levels to prevent injuries and increase performance.

In reality, Myofascial release is just a fancy term for self massage that is performed to remove the tension or "knots" that develop in muscles over time. This tension can be caused by overuse, underuse, previous injuries, stress and/or poor posture.  By applying pressure to specific points on your body, you are able to aid in the recovery by restoring blood flow and pliability of these muscles. With regular practice, you will be able to improve the mobility, elasticity and function of these tissues.

This kind of self-massage can be performed with a variety of tools such as a foam roller, massage ball, Theracane or your own hands. If just starting out, choose a softer foam roller and work up to a firmer roller. Use the foam roller to apply moderate pressure to a specific muscle or muscle group using the roller and your bodyweight. You should roll slowly, no more than one inch per second. When you find an area that are particularly sensitive, pause and relax as much as possible. After the initial discomfort, you should feel the muscle slowly releasing after 5-30 seconds. If an area is too painful to apply direct pressure, try shifting the roller to apply pressure on the surrounding area to gradually work and loosen the entire area.

Foam rolling will initially feel uncomfortable but should never be done to the point of extreme discomfort. The goal is to restore healthy function of muscles. Never foam roll directly on bones and avoid rolling your lower back. These areas tend to be more sensitive and can require more advanced attention from a medical professional.

Below is a photo tutorial to massaging different areas of the body:

CALVES:

Calves

ADDUCTORS:

Adductors

TFL:

TFL

PIRIFORMIS:

LAT:

foam roll - lat.jpg

THORACIC SPINE:

As a start, try adding 5-minutes of foam rolling to the beginning of your warm-up to prime your muscles for your workout. Foam rolling is also a great technique to use on active-rest days, as a way to relieve soreness and improve mobility.

Get in touch with me to find our more ways to improve your mobility and overall fitness!

-Isaac

Fighting the Sitting Position

Throughout history, humans spent most of their time moving around. But now, we spend far too much of our time sedentary. We all tend to sit too much and it is a product of the digital age we live in. We go from sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day at work, to parked on the couch in front of the TV when we get home. All of this sitting can have negative consequences on our health, increasing our risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. 

Sitting hunched over all day causes the chest muscles to tighten, which internally rotates the shoulders and pulls the spine forward while also loosening the muscles of the upper back. To counteract this, perform stretches and exercises that relieve tension in the chest and strengthen the upper back. Give a few of these techniques a try to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting:

Looking for more ways to improve your posture? Get in touch with me for a free consultation to discuss your fitness goals!

-Isaac

The 10 Best Running Shoes of 2016

Spring is a favorite time of year for athletes in the Northeast because it signals the return of outdoor running. It also marks the beginning of the NYRR Five-Borough Series. This string of half-marathon races kicked off on March 20th with the NYC Half.

Runners can be spotted all over the city training for these events and donning their race shirts from years past. But road races aren't the only activities people are training for. Companies like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race now sponsor races across the country with the rise in popularity of obstacle course racing.

No matter what type of running you are interested in, proper footwear is essential to maximize your performance and prevent injury. Whether you run on the road, trail or a mix of both, here is my round-up of the 10 best running shoes of 2016 to get you going this year.

Training for a half-marathon or obstacle course race and need a partner, a great training routine or added motivation? Schedule a complimentary appointment with me to see how I can help!

-Isaac


ROAD:

Nike Free RN Distance

The flexibility and range of motion of a Free, with the added support to go long. This lovechild of the Nike Free and Lunar bring together the best features of each model to create a shoe that's great for logging miles.


Brooks Ravernna 7

Designed as a half-marathon and marathon runner, this shoe is great for a neutral runner who is looking for comfort and moderate support.


Under Armour Speedform Apollo 2

This update of the popular original features a Charged foam midsole, giving it a bouncier response, with added rubber on the outsole, for more durability.

UA Speedform Apollo 2.png

Saucony Triumph ISO 2

For the runner looking for full heel-toe cushioning, this Saucony update also features a snug fitting heel and toe box that offers a smooth ride on long distance runs.


Adidas Energy Boost 2

A balance of soft and responsive cushioning, this follow-up to the original Energy Boost highlights the superior cushioning and unmatched return of the Boost foam.


TRAIL:

Solomon Speedcross 3

A phenomenally popular trail runner that has remained unchanged for several years. The aggressive arrowhead lugs on the outsole offer unmatched traction in snow or mud.


Merrel All Out Crush

The signature shoe of Tough Mudder is light, soft and super flexible. The hyper-flexibility of the shoe allows it to be dynamic on many different kinds of surfaces, making it great for obstacle course racing.


Montrail Trans Alp Trail

A trail running shoe aimed at tackling rough trail and mountain conditions. A rigid midsole gives a smooth ride on rugged terrain.


La Sportiva Akasha

The Akasha comes in with a roomier toe box and super cushioned midsole, providing support for long trail runs.


Saucony Peregrine 6

The Peregrine is the trail cousin of the best-selling Kinvara which features a minimalist design that is built for speed and responsiveness.

Zucchini Noodles with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

We could all benefit from adding more vegetables to our diets. Are you looking for a new way to incorporate veggies into your meals? Look no further than my new favorite kitchen tool, the spiralizer.

Try swapping out your regular pasta for nutrient-rich zucchini noodles instead. These noodles are quick and easy to prepare and bring the texture of spaghetti without the carbohydrate load.

Check out the recipe (adapted from GI 365) below:

Ingredients:

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:

  • 2 roasted red peppers
  • 1 Tablespoon EVOO
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • sea salt & pepper to taste

Zucchini Noodles:

  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1/2 cup white onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 lbs zucchini, spiralized into noodles

Directions:

  1. Roast the red peppers under the broiler until charred, remove skin.
  2. Add the peppers to the blender with the rest of the sauce ingredients, and blend until smooth.
  3. For the noodles, heat a large 15" skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and garlic with olive oil for 2-minutes or until onions are translucent. Add the zucchini and sea salt to the pan and sauté the noodles, tossing regularly with tongs. Cook until the zucchini is nearly softened then add the sauce and finish when the sauce is heated.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.

The Basic Principle of Healthy Eating

“Let your food be thy medicine, and your medicine be thy food." -Hippocrates

Food is energy for your body. Nothing more, nothing less. Diet and nutrition are two of the most hotly debated topics in health, and rightfully so, because they're the cornerstones to living a healthy lifestyle. There are many popular diets out there to follow, but I'm going to share the basic principle of healthy eating that is true across them all:

Our bodies crave nutrients and the best sources of these nutrients are from whole foods. Focus on food quality and on eating foods that are in as close to their natural state as possible. That's it. 

Don't get caught up in labeling your dietary habits either. It doesn't matter whether you are "paleo" or "vegan." And although both of these diets offer a great framework for nutrition, labeling how you eat by placing yourself in one category or another only leads to a dogmatic approach toward eating. I believe this is unproductive and causes feelings of guilt when you're not able to follow a particular diet exactly as it's written. Understand that nobody is going to be perfect about their diet all of the time. Whether you're out to dinner with friends or traveling, just do the best that you can in the situation you're in.

Tips for eating more nutritiously:

  1. Learn how to cook - Cooking for yourself is empowering and a great way to take control of exactly what kind of foods you are putting in your body. Preparing food ahead of time will also save you time and money.
  2. Focus on plant-based nutrients - Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber; cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens are some of the most nutrient rich; aim to eat a rainbow of colors daily.
  3. Treat protein as a side - Incorporate lean protein such as fish, chicken, or beef in your meals but portion it as a side to keep the focus on your plant-based nutrients.
  4. Enjoy healthy fats - Avocados, nuts and seeds are a great source of monounsaturated fats. Fatty fish such as salmon and herring are rich in polyunsaturated fat, including Omega-3’s. Avoid trans fats found in processed foods.
  5. Drink plenty of water - Get a water bottle and carry it around with you everywhere. Drink from it when you’re thirsty.
  6. Limit sugar & sodium - This can easily be accomplished by avoiding processed foods. Opt for natural sweeteners such as maple syrup and raw honey, but use sparingly.
  7. Embrace moderation - Indulge in your favorite "not-so-healthy" foods once in a while and enjoy yourself.
  8. Make changes gradually - Eating habits are formed over our lifetime -- it's a marathon, not a sprint.

So what's the best diet plan for you? The answer is: the one that you stick with.

Need help implementing healthy eating habits into your daily routine? Get in touch to setup a free consultation.

-Isaac

Getting Your Sleep In Order

Looking to get back into shape? Not seeing results from your workout? Get your sleep in order first!

It is a common misconception that we grow stronger while we are exercising. But whether lifting weights in the gym or logging miles on a bike or by foot, the fitness gains your body makes actually happen while you are sleeping. Most people don't realize that we actually break down our bodies when we workout and sleep provides us the much needed opportunity to recover from the physical stress of training. This idea is referred to as the ‘overload principle,' meaning that the body must be exposed to a greater amount of load than it is normally used to in order to increase fitness.

Putting in time at the gym isn’t enough. No amount of training will help you see the results you are looking for unless you allow yourself adequate time to recover. This is why sleep is so important, even though it is the most overlooked aspect of our health.

If you're just starting out on your journey into health & fitness, take an honest look at your sleep pattern, because getting the proper amount/quality of sleep is paramount to getting your whole body to function at its best. Getting your sleep in order should be your first priority when you’re looking to improve your health and athletic performance.

Because when your body isn't properly rested, everything in life is more difficult.

Photo by Tory Williams

Photo by Tory Williams

Here are a few tips to help you get better sleep:

  1. Make sleep a priority - Work out a schedule and stick to it. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep and shoot to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day (including weekends).
  2. Get more sunlight - Exposure to sunlight, especially early in the morning, will help dial in your body’s hormones and regulate Circadian rhythm.
  3. Reduce screen time before bed - This is often hard to avoid since we use our cell phones for everything these days, but make it a point to set the “do not disturb setting” on your phone and set it down for the night. Instagram can wait until tomorrow.
  4. Curb the caffeine - It’s no surprise that consuming caffeine later in the day can affect your sleep. Be mindful of your coffee/tea drinking and set an afternoon curfew to adhere to.
  5. Exercise regularly - Set aside a time each day to workout. Training based on functional movements will optimize your hormones for a better nights sleep.
  6. Limited alcohol - Even though drinking alcohol may make you feel drowsy and fall asleep faster, excessive consumption can disrupt your REM sleep, preventing your body from falling into that deeper level of sleep it needs for regeneration.
  7. Create a comfortable environment - Make your bedroom a sanctuary of relaxation. Invest in a comfortable mattress, pillows and sheets. Also, reserve the bed for bedtime activities only (sleep & sexy time).
  8. Start a nightly ritual - Practice a bedtime ritual each night that tells your body it’s time to wind down. Take a hot shower or bath, read a book, write in a journal, or meditate to prepare your body for sleep.
Photo by Tory Williams

Photo by Tory Williams

Start by incorporating each of these tips one at a time into your sleep routine, and you’ll be sleeping better in no time!

For more information about sleep, check out Sleep Smarter: 21 Tips To Sleep Your Way To a Better Body, Better Health and Bigger Success by Shawn Stevenson. In this book, Shawn digs into the science behind these principles in addition to offering more strategies to improving your life through sleep. I also suggest checking out his podcast The Model Health Show that I listen to regularly, which covers all things fitness & health.

Looking for help? Contact me to set up a free consultation!

-Isaac

A Little About Me

I was born with an innate desire to explore. Both my parents worked for Delta, so I grew up always wanting to travel the world myself. My first taste of travel came through playing ice hockey: visiting Germany when I was in middle school and later Sweden in high school. I’ve always enjoyed playing competitive sports (and still do) because it gave me the opportunity to push myself physically. The travel part? Just an added perk. 

Isaac-header8.jpg

I moved to New York in the summer of 2009 to pursue a career as a male model, and that was definitely out of my comfort zone. But my apprehension faded quickly as I eagerly embraced the opportunity to explore a new city. I got more and more into health and fitness, looking to get myself into the best shape possible. People started to notice. Friends started asking me for tips and wanted to work out with me and see my routine. And now, 7 years later, I’m ready to take on the next stage in my career. 

I feel my best when I’m challenging myself physically—be it with a new sport, travel destination or workout. I strive to be my best and want to help others achieve their potential and to help them tap into that amazing feeling you get when you challenge what you believe is possible. With this blog, and my personal training business on the side, I want to share my passion for health, fitness and adventure with others in hopes that they find a way to seamlessly incorporate it into their busy lives. 

So look around, leave comments, find me on social media or shoot me an email and let’s connect! Time to unlock your fitXplorer within.

-Isaac