Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Yummy Chips I Have to Share

I just bought a bag of the most delicious chips and I have to tell you all about them. First of all, and most importantly, they have no trans fats and no ingredients that I can't pronounce. I don't often shop for or buy unhealthy snacks like chips . . . but these were sitting at the end of an aisle and caught my eye. I picked up the bag and inspected the attractive packaging (yes, I'm a graphic designer and that's what I do!) When I read the ingredients and noticed that the chips are made right in my hometown of Hartford, CT I just had to give them a try. Well, all I can say is YUMMY. You have to give them a try. Their website (which is very sparse) says they are sold all over the US so perhaps you can find them. The website is: http://www.foodshouldtastegood.com/

I have a feeling they will be your new favorite snack.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Improve Your Cycling with Yoga

I recently read an article about yoga and cycling. Since I'm a long distance biker, this interested me. Perhaps there are other avid cyclist/yogis out there that might like this . . .

Doing 15 minutes of poses after every bike ride will make you a stronger, faster cyclist. Yoga gives you everything you want while you’re on your bike: Strength, flexibility, power, and stamina. Yoga also makes you less injury-prone, promotes speedier recovery, reduces stress, and lengthens muscles to give you a longer, more powerful stride.

Some interesting points:

Recover without Being Sore
When you finish a ride, doing at least five minutes of post-ride posture will open your hips, back, and shoulders release lactic acid from your muscles to reduce soreness. Stiff muscles are dry muscles, so stretching and lubricating them increases recovery speed. This will also increase your stamina during training and guard against saddle-soreness tomorrow.

Do Triangle Pose: Stand with your legs 4 feet apart. Raise your arms shoulder-height, parallel to the floor with your palms down. Turn your left foot in about 45 degrees, and your right foot out 90 degrees. Your front heel should bisect the back foot. Bending from your hips, extend your torso to the right directly over your right leg, placing your right arm on a block behind your right foot. Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, keeping your shoulders stacked in a straight line. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Inhale to come up slowly. Reverse the feet and repeat to the left.

No Pain
The greater pain threshold you establish, the greater the cyclist you become. When done deeply and effectively, breathing delivers oxygen to muscles that are straining and cramping. Instead of traditional in-through-the-mouth-out-through-the-nose athletic breathing, pranayama or yoga-breathing increases your tolerance for torture by releasing toxins like lactic acid and carbon dioxide from your muscles. Use the following technique when you are on your bike and need to break the pain barrier.

Do Pranayama: Sit or lie in a comfortable position with your body completely relaxed. Breathe in through your nose. Place your hands around the bottom of your rib cage. This is where your diaphragm is located—the muscle that controls your breathing. Inhale and feel the breath expanding the bottom of your ribcage. You should feel your hands moving away from the center. As you exhale through your nose, gently contract your abdominals, squeeze around your diaphragm, and expel all of the air from your lungs. Again, inhale fully expanding the diaphragm, rib cage, and now take the breath further up and broaden the collarbone. Slowly exhale, gently contract the belly and squeeze the diaphragm as it contracts. Continue this exercise for 3 to 5 minutes until you feel comfortable with it.

Protect the Pedalhouse
Every pedal stroke counts toward accrued shortening and tightening in your legs muscles—a recipe for strains, pulls, and tears if you don’t attend to lower body imbalances. Riding creates shortened muscles that fatigue easily. Prevent overuse injuries by hitting the mat after every ride. Yoga will help you develop longer muscles, which puts less stress on your joints—especially those around your knees. You make sure your legs are lean, strong, and (sometimes) stretched, but your oft-neglected glutes deserve attention, too, as one of the largest muscle groups in your body. Thank them for generating the power behind “spinning.” However, your cycling will be ineffective if your major power center is too tight. Chill out while you loosen your legs and bum in Child’s Pose.

Do Child’s Pose: Kneel on the floor, sit on your heels, and separate your knees about hip-width apart. Exhale and lay your torso between your thighs, placing your forehead on the ground. Lengthen your tailbone away from your body. Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Stay here for 3 to 5 minutes—or more.

Get Down on Your Knees
Tight hips come from time in the saddle, but they off-set your alignment inviting overuse injuries in your ligaments and tendons. Hip flexors are the main muscle controlling the movement when you pull the pedal up and bring your knee toward your torso. Stiff hips translate to a tight iliotibial band, a ligament that runs from the top of your hips to the outside of your knees keeping knees stable as you cycle. Iliotibial band friction syndrome, one of the most common causes of knee pain in cyclists, occurs when the ligament rubs against a projection at the end of your femur causing pain and swelling along the knee. Keep your hips open and knees healthy in Pigeon Pose.

Do Pigeon Pose: Start on your hands and knees with hands directly below your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Slide your right knee forward, placing it between your hands. Lengthen your left leg straight back, and lower your hips toward the ground, keeping both hips facing forward. Press your shoulders back and down. Hold for one minute. Supporting your weight on your hands, return to starting position before repeating on the left.