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Inflammation and Your Diet (Part 1)

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Throughout the day the body is constantly being bombarded with substances that can trigger inflammation.  Inflammation is not all bad, like when the body responds to an injury with swelling and blood clots to form a scab or to heal a bone.  But rather exposure to irritants like mold, pollen, chemicals, even foods that the body thinks is a threat to its’ health.  Autoimmune diseases or allergic reactions are thought to be linked to this concept. By repeatedly facing toxins, infection possibility, or trauma, it is almost like constantly being hit by strong waves at the shore of the ocean; it is never allowed to heal properly because the body cannot get back up on its feet again.  Sometimes immune cells start to perceive healthy tissue as unhealthy, here inflammation or in the former case, chronic inflammation is the result.  Hives, digestive issues, fatigue, headache, weight gain, mood swings, joint and nerve pain all can be linked to inflammation.


What can we do to combat these ever looming potentials for disaster?  Build a Wall! No, well, sort of; maybe one to improve health.  By using food!  Think about it, food is mandatory to survive, something we need every day and something that is the easiest way to have an immediate and long term effect on how we feel.  It provides the fuel we need as well as the building blocks to create cells.  We are what we eat after all! 

Sometimes it is challenging to get everything we need to assist our anti inflammatory diet by food alone.  This is where a supplement may be helpful.  They come in many forms, can be added to foods like smoothies or simply taken in pill form.  In this article, I will be discussing five common vitamins that have been shown to have anti inflammatory properties and may be helpful in creating a more calm and happy body.

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Is Something is Better Than Nothing?

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RS2273 shutterstock 263097353When it comes to strength training, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Most of us are aware of the benefits of strength training in areas like everyday physical function, bone rebuilding, self-confidence, fat reduction, and elevated metabolism. But did you know that strength training can also help prevent diabetes, enhance your cognitive ability, reduce blood pressure, reverse the aging process associated with muscular decline, and help balance your cholesterol levels?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends strength training exercises for all major muscle groups 2-3 times a week: upper body, lower body, core, chest, shoulders, and arms.

But let me be honest, I haven’t always practiced what I’ve preached about strength training. Running has consistently been a part of my life since high school, but it’s a struggle to maintain a regular strength routine. However, as I’ve dealt with knee, lower back, and hamstring injuries  in the past few years, I’ve learned that I need to incorporate some basic strength training if I want to continue to run.

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My Journey to the Olympic Trials

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Betsy OlympicsThis July, I had the opportunity to compete in the US Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene , Oregon.  My event is the steeplechase, a 3000m (7.5 laps, 1.86 miles) race over barriers.  There are 35 barriers and one each lap has a water pit on the other side. For women the barriers are set to 30 inches.  Unlike hurdles that you may be used to seeing on the track, the barriers cross three lanes, are made of wood and don’t fall over if you hit them.  It adds another dimension to distance running.  I’ve heard people call it ‘terrifying,’ ‘difficult,’ and overall unappealing, but I call it fun.

 To qualify for the Trials in track, you have to run a qualifying time (under 9:53 for women’s steeplechase this year) within the year leading up to the race. I qualified in 2012 in the same event and decided then to make it back in 2016.

The experience, especially the build up to the race, taught me a lot about life and running. The beginning of my season didn’t go exactly as planned.  My first race was a good start, but my second race was poor.  My third attempt was interrupted by a thunderstorm.  The disappointment left me questioning my ability and purpose.

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What is a rotator cuff? We all hear about injuries to the “rotator cuff” but what is it, what does it do, how do we injure it and how do we fix it?  The rotator cuff is located in the shoulder joint and is comprised of the following muscles, teres minor, infraspinatus, supraspinatus and subscapularis. These muscles connect the top portion of the humerus to the scapula, or shoulder blade. Together these muscles help the shoulder joint internally and externally rotate.

          TAP 450x550  There are many different ways to injure a rotator cuff.   Injury can occur from over use of the shoulder in either a repeated motion or simply over time.  It is a common injury in throwing athletes, baseball and softball players, as well as swimmers and football players.  We are also prone to injuring our shoulder simply by falling and trying to catch ourselves with an outstretched arm. There are different types of injuries that the shoulder can suffer from.  The rotator cuff can become impinged, or it can be partially torn or completely torn. Another common shoulder injury is adhesive capsulitis, or a frozen shoulder. This occurs when the joint itself no longer is able to move pain free. The tissues around the joint have stiffened and possible scar tissue has formed, limiting motion and making it painful to try and use the shoulder.

            When someone injures their rotator cuff, sometimes they report feeling and/or hearing a pop in their shoulder, followed by pain.  The pain may last only for a moment or linger. Others may have shoulder pain for a period of time and let it build up until they can no longer stand it and then seek treatment. Some symptoms of a shoulder injury are weakness, and an inability to sleep on the injured shoulder.  One may also notice snapping and cracking with movement.  There may also be pain trying to move the shoulder in certain directions and performing certain activities after a tear has occurred. 

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