Self-Care is Important: Here’s Why You Should Make It Part of Your Routine

By: Dr. Stephanie Duffey • Feb 10, 2020

 

A girl taking yoga — westerville, oh — empower physio & wellness
Have you ever heard the expression, “You can’t pour from an empty cup?” When I was taking a yoga class the other day, the teacher mentioned this when we were holding a stretching posture for a particularly long time. While I was uncomfortable, her words really resonated with me.
 
All-too-often, we don’t take the time to slow down and take care of ourselves. This is especially true when it comes to our fitness routines. A lot of people focus on the hard stuff, but the recovery time is equally important because that’s when your muscles rebuild from the intense workouts. There are actual chemical changes that happen in your body to help rebuild your muscles and if you skip out on slowing down, you’re not getting the maximum benefit from your workouts. Proper self-care reduces your risk of injury, helps you feel healthy and strong, and is great for overall mental health.
 
My key tip for showing yourself some love is to focus on recovery. This means getting enough sleep, fueling your body with nutritious food, staying hydrated, and incorporating stretching into the mix.
 
Remember, workouts don’t always have to be so intense, they can be enjoyable too. Listen to your body and if you aren’t feeling it, slow down and recognize that the recovery time will be better for you in the long run.
 
If you need a little inspiration, here are a few of my favorite ways to practice self-care:
  • Foam rolling
  • Slow yoga (yin and deep stretch)
  • Going on a walk
  • Writing in my gratitude journal
  • Going to bed early
  • Enjoying a massage 
  • Knitting and watching Say Yes to the Dress (guilty pleasures!!)
I hope this encourages you to find a productive way to slow down and nurture your body. Need help developing a self-care plan? Let’s chat!

8 Steps to Relieve and Prevent Back Pain

By: Dr. Stephanie Duffey • Mar 02, 2020
Experts estimate that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives. While common among many people, back pain is NOT the norm and there are many steps you can take to relieve and prevent it from occurring. Today, I’ll break down 8 steps that I’ve implemented into my own life to help reduce back pain.
 
  1. Watch how you lift. Whether you’re lifting a squirming child or weights, be sure to lift with your legs, not your back. The quads and glutes are waaayyy stronger than your small back muscles, so be mindful.
  2. Take a posture check. How you sit (or stand) during the day is really important. Desk jobs in particular bring you forward and cause you to slump. Think of it this way: For every degree your head comes forward, your spine muscles have to work exponentially harder. Not sure what your posture looks like? Have a co-worker take a surprise picture of you sitting at your desk to get a good glimpse of your posture during the day.
  3. Use a lumbar roll, especially if you work at a desk or drive frequently. A lumbar roll is a squishy pillow that you can place behind your low back to create additional support. It also helps your posture when you’re seated. Here’s the one I use from Amazon.
  4.  Take a stress test. What repetitive motions do you do frequently exhibit throughout the day that cause aggravation? Maybe it’s reaching for something, picking up an infant, or some other movement. Make a tally of what’s causing irritation in your back on a daily basis.
  5. Strengthen your core correctly. By activating ALL the core muscles (not just the six-pack in the front) you take strain off your back. While strengthening your core isn’t the only way to resolve back pain, it certainly is a game-changer.
  6. Move your body. Incorporating movement into your daily routine can significantly reduce back pain. The next time you miss your workout, notice how you feel. Chances are, you’ll feel much better when the muscles are loose from working out.
  7. Stretch your hips, mid and upper back. Practice mobility work so you can move through these areas and you aren’t relying only on the mobility of your back alone.
  8. Use good pillow support when you’re sleeping. If you’re a belly-sleeper, you may try placing a pillow under your hips. You should also consider training yourself not to be a stomach-sleeper to take some of the pressure off of your back. If you’re a side-sleeper, put a pillow between your knees to keep your legs stacked. This helps take the twist out of the low back). Back sleepers should try placing a pillow under the knees for additional support.
 
It’s never too early to start taking preventative measures to protect your back and it’s never too late to start living a pain free life! If you’re experiencing back pain and need help from a professional, let’s chat!

Nutrition Tips for Runners Who Want to Feel Good, Run Fast, and Recover Effectively

By: Dr. Stephanie Duffey • Apr 21, 2020

 

Sweet dish — westerville, oh — empower physio & wellness
As we gear up for the spring and summer, many of you are probably excited to capitalize on the warmer weather and increase your mileage. One of the best things you can do to feel great during your runs and promote effective recovery is to fuel your body with quality food. So, if you want to run better, recover faster, and feel AMAZING overall, I’m here to share my well-researched nutrition tips.
 
As you read through these tips, please be aware that this guidance is mainly for endurance athletes or folks running longer distances (between 45 minutes-1 hour). If you’re running for 30 minutes or less, the timing and precision of what you consume is a little more flexible. 
 
Before we get into the details of what and when you should eat for optimal performance, it’s important to understand the three types of fuel your body expends.

TYPES OF FUEL

1. Blood glucose is sugar found in your bloodstream and it’s the first source of energy your body burns because it’s highly accessible.
 
2. Glycogen is glucose in storage form and your body uses it when you’ve already tapped in to all of your blood glucose.
 
​3. Fat takes the longest to break down and is the last source of fuel your body uses.
 
Now that you understand how the body accesses what it stores, we can get into the fun stuff: The food groups!

FOOD GROUPS

1. Carbs give you immediate energy and are used right away (so if you’re a high-endurance athlete, just say no to Keto). 60-65% of your diet should consist of high-quality carbs, but be sure they’re low in fiber so you don’t activate your digestive system. Additionally, know the difference between simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs (found in sports drinks, chews and gels) give you the immediate energy you need right before a workout. Complex carbs (think bread and pasta) take a little longer to break down so eat these a few hours before your run.
 
2. b provides endurance energy and (despite popular belief) is actually a good thing. If you’ve been buying low fat versions of food at the store, this is a public service announcement to stop doing that! Low fat items strip out fat and replace it with sugar. Instead, focus on quality and get a mix of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
 
Examples: Saturated fat
  • Butter, coconut oil, red meat
  
Examples: Polyunsaturated fat:
  • Seeds, fish
 
Examples: Monounsaturated fat:
  • Avocado, nuts
 
3. Protein is not used to give you energy during long runs. Instead, it’s critical to recovery. When you lift or run, your muscles tear and reform as stronger muscles. The more intense your workout is, the more micro-tears in your muscles. Aim for 20 grams of protein between 20-40 minutes after a workout to rebuild your muscles and 60-65 grams of protein broken up throughout the day.
 
​Examples:
Fish, chicken, beans, eggs, protein powder, quinoa and barley

TIMING (AKA: WHAT TO EAT BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER A RUN)

Before
Before a run, fuel up on simple carbs low in fiber 30-60 minutes prior. You can also eat a big meal containing carbs the night before a morning run.
 
Some of my faves:
  • Toast with peanut butter and jelly
  • Banana and peanut butter sandwich
  • Oatmeal and fruit
  • Pretzels and hummus
  • Whole grain waffles and syrup
  • 1 cup of low fiber cereal with milk
  • Granola bar
During
Unless you’re running for a duration longer than 60 minutes, you don’t need to fuel up during your run. If you’re an endurance athlete running a marathon, you’ll want to consume approximately 15-30g of carbs every hour. But you need to figure out what works for you PRIOR to race day so there are no surprises.
 
Some of my faves:
  • Gels: honestly, I prefer chews over gels so I don’t have a go-to gel
  • Chews: Clif Bloks, Shaklee energy chews
  • Sports drinks: Shaklee hydrate, Nuun (skip the Gatorade and other drinks with high fructose corn syrup!)
After
Be sure you eat carbs and protein immediately after you finish your run, ideally within 30-40 minutes. If you wait, you significantly reduce the glycogen that gets put back into muscle storage. This can limit your endurance on your next run…no good. Glycogen stores in muscle are super important for distance running!
 
Some of my faves:
  • Shaklee protein shake with fruit (banana with chocolate protein is my go-to because of the potassium in bananas)
  • Chocolate milk
  • Fruit and cottage cheese
  • Trail mix
  • Energy bar with a good mix of carbs and protein
 
If you’re looking for some great recipes for runners, be sure to check out Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. ​ I’ve been loving this cookbook!