More stories

  • in

    The 8 Best Groin Stretches For Anyone Who Sits All Day Long

    When it comes to propelling your body in multiple directions, all while keeping your torso strong and stable, consider your groin a superstar. And no surprise here: It’s pretty complex, consisting of three fairly large muscle groups – the abdominal, iliopsoas, and adductors. With so many muscles involved, the area also desperately needs some superstar groin stretches to go with.
    Here’s a quick breakdown on each area that, together, make up the groin:

    Your adductors work together to adduct (or move toward the midline of the body) the thigh while keeping your lower extremities and pelvis stabilised.
    The abdominal muscles help stabilise your spine.
    The iliopsoas, on either side of your hips, help stabilise and flex your hips and stabilise your lower back.

    READ MORE: 7 Best Lower Back Stretches To Ease Aches And Pain
    Since your groin works at its peak when you’re running, walking, bending forward, twisting – literally moving in any direction – too much sedentary time can cause it to tighten up quick, according to Annie Mulgrew, founding instructor for CITYROW and certified personal trainer. She notes that since the groin is so crucial in moving your legs and stabilising your pelvis and spine, it’s super-important the area is both limber and strong.
    “If you’ve been immobile, or sitting, for an extended period of time, it’s best to stretch [the groin] in a dynamic way similar to a yoga flow, moving fluidly from stretch to stretch to increase the heat in the area and minimise stiffness,” she explains.
    How To Stretch The Groin Area
    Mulgrew adds that you can separate stretching into two different categories: dynamic and static. “Dynamic stretching is a great way to prepare for a workout,” she says. (Try this dynamic stretching routine.)
    “Static stretching, on the other hand, focuses on holding stretches and positions for a period of time. These are great to do post-exercise.” One 2016 study found that roughly 60 seconds of static stretching was associated with a reduced risk of injury and an increased range of motion, aiding in overall athletic performance.
    But when should you not stretch your groin? “If you’re recovering from an injury, especially in the groin area, consult your doctor or physical therapist before doing any concentrated movements [in that area],” Mulgrew says. “That said, the best way to prevent the injury in the first place is to keep the body in motion.”
    The 8 Best Groin Stretches
    Here, Mulgrew shares eight of the best groin stretches to do after a workout. Hold each stretch for 10 deep breaths, or 45 seconds.
    Frog Squat
    How to: Stand facing forward with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed outward. With your arms stretching straight to the floor in front of you, sink into a squat. As you’re sinking, use your arms to gently press your inner thighs outward. While your aim should be to touch the ground, ensure your heels stay flat on the floor (so if you can’t quite reach the floor, that’s okay!). Don’t forget to switch sides.
    Frog Squat With Arm Raise
    How to: Moving directly from the first stretch, place your left hand on the floor, continuing to gently push your inner thigh outward, as you reach your right hand directly up to the ceiling, fingers pointed upward. With every breath, twist your torso slightly further, reaching as high as you can. Your left heel should raise slightly. Don’t forget to switch sides.
    READ MORE: 10 Yoga Stretches That’ll Ease Lower Back Pain And Open Up Tight Hips
    Wide-Stance Sumo Squat
    How to: Rise to a standing position, allowing your legs to lengthen and rest for roughly 10 seconds. From there, widen your feet roughly two inches to either side, continuing to point the toes outward. Place either hand on top of your knee as you sink into a squat, thighs parallel to the floor. Inhale deeply as you twist your right shoulder downwards. Continue to inhale and exhale, and with each breath, attempt to twist your torso forth. Don’t forget to switch sides.
    Cossack Squat
    How to: If needed, rise again to a standing position to allow the legs to rest for roughly 10 seconds. Return to a wide-squat stance position, but this time, point the toes directly forward. Inhale, then exhale as you push your weight to the right, placing your hands directly above your knee to support your upper body. Keep the left leg completely straight, both feet planted firmly on the ground. Don’t forget to switch sides.
    Wide-Leg Forward Fold
    How to: Move to a seated position, extending both legs out to either side of you (as far as is comfortable). Feet should be flexed with the toes pointed upwards. Keeping your back straight, hinge at the hips as you lean forward, extending your arms out straight, fingers slightly splayed. Reach as far as is comfortable, attempting to reach further with each exhale.
    READ MORE: The 14 Yoga Stretches To Do Daily If You Want To Become More Flexible
    Wide-Leg Side Bend
    How to: Remain in a seated position, legs still extended outwards. Move the left foot inward, pressing the bottom of the foot to the inner portion of the thigh. Bend the torso to the right as you reach the right hand to the right knee, calf, or foot (whichever location is most comfortable). At the same time, either extend your left arm upwards, fingers pointed toward the ceiling, or bend the left elbow, reaching the left hand behind the head. Don’t forget to switch sides.
    Runner’s Lunge
    How to: Get on all fours, facing the front of your mat. Plant your fingertips or palms firmly into the ground as you extend your left leg behind you, keeping your knee rested or lifted slightly. Press your left heel toward the back of the room. Bring your right foot forward so it’s in line with your right hand. Keep your head upwards. Inhale and exhale, driving your hips further into the ground with each breath. Don’t forget to switch sides.
    How to: Move to a seated position. Bring the bottoms of both feet together, with heels as close or far away from your groin as is comfortable. Bring your hands to the outsides of either feet to stabilise you as you breathe in and out, gently allowing your knees to drop with each breath.
    *This article was originally published on Women’s Health US

    READ MORE ON: Fitness Advice Mobility Stretches More

  • in

    Pelvic Floor Exercises: What Are They & How, When And Why Do You Need Them

    Pelvic floor exercises are a bit like flossing – you know you should do them, but making them a part of your regular routine seems near-on impossible. You’re not alone. Most women don’t give pelvic floor exercises a second thought until they need to – mostly after childbirth – but as we all know, prevention is better than cure.
    There are so many benefits to pelvic floor exercises (better sex, don’t ya know?), and we’re not just talking about kegels. Read on for everything you need to know about pelvic floor exercises – from what they are, to how often to do them.
    READ MORE: 8 Pelvic Floor Exercises That Are Better Than Kegels
    What are pelvic floor exercises?
    Pelvic floor exercises are, simply put, moves that strengthen your pelvic floor. Stephanie Taylor, founder of pelvic floor health company Kegel8 and supporter of #pelvicroar, a physiotherapy-led campaign hoping to break taboos surrounding pelvic floor health issues, explains that your pelvic floor is formed of hammock-like muscles and ligaments that stretch from front to back to support your pelvic organs (bladder, vagina and bowel).
    ‘Think of it as a piece of steak,’ says Taylor. ‘You want yours to be like a fillet: thick and juicy. A weak pelvic floor is the equivalent of a flattened minute steak.’
    Helen Keeble, a clinical specialist in pelvic health and co-founder of Umi Health, adds that most ‘lower body exercises‘ qualify as pelvic floor exercises as they benefit the pelvic floor (more on this to come), but affirms that, ‘If you want your pelvic floor to be stronger, you need to do daily isolated pelvic floor squeezes – i.e. kegels.’
    So, pelvic floor exercises and kegel exercises are essentially the same thing. But pelvic floor exercises can also refer to exercises that incorporate other parts of the body, which will dial up the strength of your pelvic floor. Read on for specific examples of general pelvic floor exercises to complement your kegels.

    But first: What are kegel exercises?
    Kegel exercises involve tensing and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles in isolation, without moving the rest of the body, for a few seconds at a time. Keeble (that’s Keeble, not kegel) breaks the process into five easy steps further down.
    READ MORE: Why A Tight Pelvic Floor Isn’t The Same As A Strong One
    And how do I perform them?
    Do your kegels right with Keeble’s five-step guide.

    Begin lying down comfortably and take deep breaths.
    Imagine you are trying to stop wind, so tighten and lift the anus, then let it go again. Do this activation in between breaths, with the sequence: breathe in, breathe out, squeeze, let go. The movement is subtle.
    Once this feels easy, build up to holding the squeeze for ten seconds at a time.
    When holding, remember to breathe normally, don’t hold it.
    Once you’ve nailed this, progress into doing the move while sitting, then standing.

    Can you fix a prolapse with pelvic floor exercises?
    First things first, Keeble explains what a prolapse actually is. ‘It’s when the pelvic organs – the bladder, bowels or uterus – is sitting a bit lower and/or for longer than it usually would.
    ‘For most women with a prolapse, a few simple changes to their daily habits will resolve the symptoms.’ These include:

    Eliminating strain on the toilet
    Not holding tummy muscles in
    Using a pessary

    And, case in point, performing pelvic floor exercises ‘correctly and with diaphragmatic breathing’. You should aim to put all of these lifestyle changes into place in conjunction with one another, so, to answer your question, yes, pelvic floor exercises can help to fix a prolapse – if practiced alongside other lifestyle habits.
    READ MORE: Kegel Balls Are Basically Little Weights For Your Vagina
    Do pelvic floor exercises work?
    Yes, yes and yes, providing that you practice them consistently. Keeble backs us up, adding, ‘So much so that they are the first line of recommended treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction in the NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) national guidelines.’
    Contrary to popular belief, it’s not only your sex life that will rocket, either.
    ‘If your pelvic floor is weak, it won’t be getting as much blood flow or oxygen,’ Taylor says.
    In contrast, a strong pelvic floor can mean:

    Milder menstrual cramps
    Better core strength
    Better posture
    Better sexual function
    Reduce lower back pain
    Heightened self-esteem
    Improvement of urinary incontinence and leaking

    ‘Kegel exercises have up to a 90% success rate in treating stress incontinence,’ says Taylor. ‘Remember, leaking is never normal.’
    How to do pelvic floor exercises
    As we’ve mentioned, what we’re talking about when we say ‘pelvic floor exercises’ here are lower body moves that have big benefits for your pelvic floor. These can complement kegels (isolated pelvic floor squeezes).
    READ MORE: This 5-Move Pelvic Circuit Will Totally Change How Your Orgasm Feels
    Pelvic floor exercises for women
    ‘It’s really important for your overall pelvic health that your lower body muscles are strong and flexible,’ Keeble tells us. These are the best moves to incorporate into your routine alongside kegels and why, according to her.
    Sumo squats
    How? Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, your toes pointed out at 45 degrees and your torso leaning slightly forward. Bend your knees and sink your hips down, stopping when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Drive through your heels back to starting position. That’s one rep.
    Why? ‘They’re great for your inner thigh muscles and flexibility, which benefits your pelvic floor.’
    Glute bridges
    How? Lie on your back on a mat, with your knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be hip-width apart. On an exhale, squeeze your glutes and push your heels into the floor to lift your hips up towards the ceiling. Pause for a moment at the top before slowly lowering back down (first shoulders, then lower back, then bum) to the mat. That’s one rep.
    Why? ‘Strong glutes support the pelvis which in turn, benefits the pelvic floor.’
    Tip: Add a block in between your knees and squeeze at the top to make your pelvic floor work harder.
    Lateral lunges
    How? Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a big step to the side with your left leg, then bend your left knee, push hips back and lower until your left knee is bent 90 degrees. This should take around two seconds. Push back to start. You can alternate, or complete all reps (10-12 should do it) on your left before moving on to your right. Exhale to reverse the movement and stand tall. That’s one rep.
    Why? ‘For inner thigh strength and flexibility, and working your glute muscles to support your pelvic floor.’
    How? Lie on your left side on the floor, with your hips and knees bent 45 degrees. Your right leg should be on top of your left leg, your heels together. Keeping your feet in contact with each other, raise your right knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis. Pause, then return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
    Why? ‘For hip rotator strength and flexibility, which support your pelvic floor.’
    Tip: Try to incorporate the movement involved in kegels (i.e. tensing your pelvic floor) as you do all of these moves.
    How to do pelvic floor exercises after giving birth
    Your pelvic floor needs even more attention after giving birth than it did before, and Keeble has outlined a handy timeline to follow.
    1-2 weeks postnatal
    ‘Regardless of delivery type, the best thing to do is regular deep breathing, kegels and pelvic tilts. The goal here is to reconnect these muscles to the brain – simple activations are key.’
    2+ weeks postnatal
    ‘Continue kegels and deep breathing, but add in some bodyweight moves such as squats, bridges, lunges, as well as light, slow walking.’
    4+ weeks postnatal
    ‘Continue kegels and deep breathing, along with low impact cardio such as static cycling or cross training, depending on what kind of birth you had and your energy and comfort levels.’
    6+ weeks postnatal
    ‘Continue kegels and deep breathing, and if all healing has gone to plan, consider introducing light weights. High impact exercise such as running and tennis isn’t usually advisable until you’ve passed the 3-month point.’
    She adds: ‘If in doubt, always consult a pelvic health physiotherapist. Acknowledge that each postnatal journey of recovery is different and move at your own pace. There’s no rush.’
    READ MORE: “I Tried Pelvic Floor Therapy After Having A Baby”
    How often should you do pelvic floor exercises?

    It’s a resounding answer from all experts: daily. ‘If you have symptoms of prolapse, or incontinence, then it’s recommended to do approximately 8-10 squeezes, three times a day,’ Keeble advises.
    ‘If you have no symptoms and want to try and keep it that way, do five short and five long squeezes while standing, daily.’
    *This article was originally published on Women’s Health UK

    READ MORE ON: Fitness Fitness Advice More

  • in

    5 Benefits Of HIIT That Will Have You Literally Jumping For Joy During Your Next Workout

    Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to boost heart health, keep blood sugar levels in check, and maintain the health of our minds for the long haul. But just as there are a multitude of ways to work out and keep your body (and mind) healthy and strong, there are a trove of different approaches you can take to doing cardio. Enter: HIIT, or high-intensity interval training.
    READ MORE: Try This 25-Minute Total-Body HIIT Workout And Torch Calories Fast
    HIIT’s definition is a heckuva lot more simple than you might think, says Annie Mulgrew, founding instructor for CITYROW and Certified Personal Trainer. “High-intensity interval training is a form of interval training that alternates between short bursts of intense energy or activity followed by minimal rest, ideally until that person is unable to continue,” she explains.
    What Makes A HIIT Workout
    And, as Mulgrew notes, HIIT can be just about anything – from swimming to running to mountain climbers in your apartment to even weight training. The key, she says, is ensuring that the “short burst of energy” is at least 80 percent of your maximum effort (so, 8 on a scale of 10).
    “For HIIT to be effective, your ‘on’ intervals need to be all-out,” she says. Mulgrew also notes that your rest period shouldn’t exceed your active period (try, 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off). That rest period can contain no movement or moderate-effort movement – that part really isn’t important, she says. Those maximum-effort bursts are where the gains are made, Mulgrew reiterates.
    In Mulgrew’s CITYROW classes, for example, that on/off scheme translates to both metres rowed on the rowing machine, as well as resistance training off the rower. “You may find short rowing distance repeats or hip thrusters programmed as 40 seconds on and 20 seconds off,” she says.
    READ MORE: 5 Workouts To Help You Tone, Trim, and Build Muscle This Summer
    If you’re using weights for your HIIT workout, choose a weight that allows you to complete 10 to 20 reps repeatedly in your “on” periods, Mulgrew recommends. Beginners should aim for no more than 20 minutes of HIIT total. And if you’re a total HIIT nut, keep it no longer than 50 to 60 minutes (so the actual HIIT portion of the workout is around 30 minutes and the warm-up/cool-down roughly 20 minutes). “Going any longer than that would most likely mean you’re not able to maintain the intensity you need in order to achieve the benefits of a HIIT workout,” she says.
    Speaking of benefits, here are five major health perks associated with HIIT, plus, how to maximize your next interval workout.
    1. You’ll burn a boatload of calories – even after you’ve finished working out.
    Although aerobic exercise is a great tool in maintaining your heart health, as far as weight loss tactics go, that steady-state run isn’t the best calorie-burner. And while weight training is typically the most reliable weight loss tactic when it comes to fitness type (remember though, weight loss is achieved through a calorie deficit, which is most easily achieved through diet), if there is one form of cardio that blasts calories, it’s HIIT.
    One 2015 study (of healthy men) that compared calorie burn after 30 minutes of HIIT to other forms of steady-state exercise noted that HIIT burned 25 to 30 percent more calories. Other studies (also on men) have noted that HIIT propels your production of human growth hormone, or HGH, upwards of 450 percent in the 24 hours following a session, increasing overall calorie burn.
    2. They may help you lose fat quicker (especially around the midsection).
    Yep – a study in Journal of Diabetes Research confirmed this. The researchers divided obese, sedentary women into groups: those who partook in a HIIT program and those who did a moderate-intensity (but continuous energy expenditure) routine. The former group achieved similar body composition and aerobic capacity results in half the time.
    READ MORE: This 4-Week Bodyweight Challenge Is The Ultimate New Year Workout Plan
    3. It doesn’t require doing crazy workout moves.
    One major (assumed) drawback to HIIT, of course, is the notion you need to be flying, flailing, bounding, and sprinting (with a series of complicated tools, no less) in order to achieve a solid workout. But as Mulgrew points out, the hallmark of HIIT lies in exertion, not the modality, so pretty much any form of exercise fits—and that includes the simplest form of cardio there is: walking.
    In one Japanese study, for five months, 700 middle- and older-aged adults engaged in walking intervals (shorter bursts of speed interspersed with periods of rest). At the conclusion of the study, the individuals had noticeably improved endurance and strength.
    4. HIIT keeps your brain in shape.
    Studies have shown that regular HIIT exercise can boost your memory and make you sharper in everyday decision-making. One (potential) reason why, according to Mulgrew: “During a HIIT workout, you have to stay focused,” she explains.
    5. It’s the perfect exercise for that perpetually strapped-for-time person.
    And, what’s more, you don’t have to sweat for very long in order to see results. A 2006 study compared two groups of college men for two weeks: those who did stationary bicycling at a moderate pace for roughly an hour-and-a-half to two hours for three times a week, and those who did six 30-second all-out sprints with four minutes of recovery.
    Surprise, surprise: The HIIT-ers were just as fit (in terms of exercise performance and muscle growth) as those moderate-intensity exercisers by the end of the trial—with far less time invested.
    *This article was originally published on Women’s Health US

    READ MORE ON: Fitness Fitness Advice HIIT HIIT Workouts Total Body Workouts More

  • in

    How To Adapt Your Fitness and Nutrition For Every Age

    30s: The decade to… optimise your prime
    So your face has a few more lines, your hairline some silver intruders and your list of responsibilities… let’s not go there. But arm yourself with some essential skills and you’ll enjoy your best decade yet.
    Support your fertility
    If you’re looking to start a family now or later, there are practical steps you can take. Here, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Larisa Corda and nutritional therapist Melanie Brown walk you through the essentials.
    Mind your movement
    “Sitting down all day can reduce blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, so stand up as much as possible,” says Brown. Be careful about overexercising, too. “Exercising too intensely for too long can increase levels of cortisol in the body, which can be a barrier to conceiving.”
    Mitigate stress
    “This is essential if you’re looking to get pregnant,” says Dr Corda. Plot out your stressors on a page, then note the things you can’t control (an unwell parent, for example), the things you can take steps to address (long working hours) and the things you can fix without much hassle (too many plans).
    Reach your body’s happy weight
    “If you’re overweight or obese, take sustainable steps to reach a healthy weight,” advises Brown. “If you’re underweight, increasing your body fat will signal to your brain that your body can support a pregnancy.”
    Eat for balance
    “It’s important to consume enough complex carbs,” notes Brown, who points to research indicating that they promote ovulation. “You need good fats for fertilisation, and quality protein provides the building blocks to eggs.”
    Panic stations
    As the responsibilities start to bite in your thirties, you’re more vulnerable than ever to anxiety-based mental health problems, such as panic attacks. Use our expert-backed timeline to dial down the intensity.
    0 to 3 mins 
    What’s happening: A panic attack occurs when the mind makes a negative interpretation of normal events. When your boss sets you an impossible deadline, for example, your hypothalamus activates your pituitary and adrenal glands, causing stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol to flood into your system: the fight-or-flight response. The result? Shallow breaths, an accelerated heart rate and trembling.
    Your defence: A US study found that refocusing the mind on simple tasks can calm you down. The solution can be as mundane as counting the number of tiles on your office ceiling until the panic passes.
    3 mins to 2 hours
    What’s happening: Adrenaline has a half-life of three minutes, so the initial panic soon passes – your breathing normalises and your heart rate falls. Cortisol, however, sticks around for longer. It can take two hours for your more chronic feelings of stress to subside.
    Your defence: Take a 10-minute break and divert your attention to what’s around you, even if it’s just your neighbour taking the bins out. Your cortisol levels will fall and you can return to a more even keel. Ahhh…
    1 week 
    What’s happening: Anxiety can easily extend beyond a specific stimulus and its chronic form can leave your hypothalamus in a state of constant agitation. It’ll keep releasing adrenaline and cortisol and, with levels set to surge at any point, the simplest upset can burst the dam.
    Your defence: In severe cases, doctors may prescribe you anti-anxiety medication, along with beta blockers, to steady your heart rate. Omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish can curb adrenal activation caused by stress and there are cortisol-slashing B vitamins in legumes, meat and eggs. Plus, a run produces mood-boosting endorphins while using up extra adrenaline.
    Nutrient to know: healthy fats
    Found in olive oil, avocado, nuts, mackerel and anchovies, they’re hallmarks of the Mediterranean diet, which studies suggest can reduce your risk of heart disease. That shoots up in your forties, so take pre-emptive steps now. Doubts remain about the effectiveness of supps, so stick to natural sources. More

  • in

    10 Insanely Challenging Yoga Poses That Build Serious Strength

    There’s no shortage of hard yoga pose #inspo on the net these days. But what if you’re actually inspired to try one yourself? Where would you even start? Megan Hochheimer, founder of US-based Karma Yoga Fitness , USA who frequently posts her own impressive “physics experiments” (her words), shares the benefits of pushing the boundaries of your practice, the requirements for nailing next-level poses, and of course, 10 hard yoga poses to set your sights on along with some pro tips. (Note that many of these tricky poses have a variety of names; the ones included here are what Hochheimer calls them.)
    First and foremost, have fun with it: “Where else can you be a grown-up and get to be barefoot and roll around on the floor and breathe as loud as you want? In your yoga practice, all those things are welcomed, so there’s no reason why some of these tricky poses can’t be a fun adventure.”

    The Benefits of Hard Yoga Poses
    You’ll learn more about your practice.
    “Sometimes I’ll see something in a picture and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, definitely I could do that.’ But then I end up laughing at myself because there’s no way,” says Hochheimer. On the flip side, with good prep work and practice, she’s nailed poses she never thought she’d be capable of. “It’s cool to find where those nuances are in your own body. That self-study is something that is so encouraged in yoga.”
    You’ll hone functional strength.
    “When you build that strength to get up and down off the ground, balance on one foot or balance on your hands, you’re honing those parts of your physicality that are going to help make all the rest of your activities of daily living so much more enjoyable,” says Hochheimer.
    You’ll finesse your proprioception.
    Other perks include working on your proprioception which, when dull, can lead to balance issues. “In most of these tricky poses there is this element of balance, whether one knee is on the ground, one foot is on the ground, you’re arm balancing, or you’re in an inversion,” explains Hochheimer. “When you start to build that, you’re building concentration and proprioception.”

    The Hard Yoga Pose Prerequisites
    Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously.
    Some poses could take years to master while you may be able to do others right away. “What’s really important is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously about any of it,” says Hochheimer. “If you’re going to approach this in a really competitive way, sometimes that invites injury. Whereas if you approach it in a playful way, and just stay with yourself through the process, I think that it’s a very healthy exploration.”
    Bail Like A Kid.
    Know this: You’re going to fall out of arm balances and inversions. “All of us who have learned how to do them fall in one way or another, so the more you can understand your body mechanics and how you do that, the safer you can be when you do have to bail.” When you’re a little kid, you’re riding your bike, you fall off, you roll into the grass and you’re not hurt that badly. So, before attempting any of these poses, just do some cartwheels and rolls on the ground to get back in touch with that part of yourself and practice safely falling.
    Really, Really Warm Up.
    The better you warm up, the better you’ll be able to get into these poses. And not for nothing, Hochheimer notes that they’ll look more aesthetically pleasing to boot. A 10-minute vigorous flow should get your heart rate up and muscles warm, but be sure to specifically target the areas you’ll use in each pose as well.
    Take Videos or Photos.
    “Sometimes in my head I thought things were going to look one way, but then they look a different way in a picture or video,” Hochheimer says. “Viewing them afterwards helps me to make tiny adjustments or understand that I need to do my homework and develop more triceps strength with decline push-ups, or foam roll, or whatever it is. That helps you learn because you’re not just then repetitively going back into these patterns of failure.”
    Practice—And Consider Pro Help.
    Remember: These are hard yoga poses! “With all yoga, a lot of it is practice so just keep coming back to it,” advises Hochheimer. Working with an experienced teacher can help you to more safely and quickly nail them.

    1. Camel Variation

    Expert Tip: Camel Pose is such a great opening of the front of our body that sometimes gets tight with a lot of our more strenuous Vinyasa. The arm variation here is a big shoulder stretch. Be sure to warm up your shoulders extra well before trying it.

    2. Peacock Pose

    Expert Tip: Remember that your legs are just as strong when you get upside down as they were when you were standing on them—keep them super active in this pose.

    3. Tripod Headstand Variation

    Expert Tip: Work on you scapular mobility before you try this one. To do so, hold a yoga block overhead between the hands on its widest angle. With straight arms, try to “push” the block towards the ceiling without shrugging your shoulders up around your ears. As you “pull” the block back down, don’t bend the elbows but do use the back muscles to create the sensation of the pull. Keeping squeezing the block between the hands through both phases of the movement. Repeat several times for scapular mobilisation.

    4. Eight Angle Pose

    Expert Tip: This one grows out of that Baby Grasshopper. Work on your Chaturanga or tricep push-ups as prep work and focus on squeezing your inner thighs in the pose.

    5. Baby Grasshopper

    Expert Tip: Sit on the floor with the right leg extending out in front. Step the left foot over the right leg and twist the torso to the right so that both hands come to the floor in line with the left foot. Press into the hands and bend elbows into chaturanga (upper arm parallel to the floor). Practise engaging the inner thigh to lift the right leg up (or use a block under the right hip to get lift off). Lean towards the right inner arm and use core muscles to hold the body still as the left hand grabs right big toe.

    6. Baby Crow Pose

    Expert Tip: If there’s a pose here to try first, it’s this one. It’s deceptively tricky-looking, but not as hard for most people to accomplish. It’s almost like a flying Child’s Pose. Start in a forearm plank, then walk your feet a little wider and start to tippy toe in until you feel your knees touch the backs of your arms. Then, come into a Cat spine, look forward, and shift your weight forward.

    7. Split Pose Variation

    Expert Tip: Work on hamstring, quad, and hip flexor mobility before attempting this pose. You could try Pigeon Pose and half splits with blocks.

    8. Side Plank With Big Toe Grab

    Expert Tip: Here, you’re working internal rotation of one leg, external rotation of the other, core strength, and balance. The prep for balancing in this pose can be found in the Pose of Infinity: Lay on your right side with a yoga strap in your left hand. Rest your head on your right hand or arm. Extend both legs and try to keep the body in a straight line. Reach down and pull the left foot into the strap. Slowly extend the left leg up towards the ceiling. Use the strap in your left hand to control the stretch and hold the left foot up and focus on keeping the torso and right leg stable (try to limit the wobble forward and back). Repeat on the other side.

    9. Bound Forward Fold

    Expert Tip: This one goes in the family of the Kneeling Compass (and it’s a prep for Bird of Paradise). The difference is that this one requires a bind, which means you’re taking double internal rotation of your shoulders. Use a strap in your hands as they come across your back to make it more accessible.

    10. Fallen Compass

    Expert Tip: This tricky “fallen” variation marries Compass and Bridge poses. Warm up the hamstrings and lateral bending as much as possible before attempting.

    The article 20 Hard Yoga Poses That Build Serious Strength And Confidence was first published on Women’s Health.

    READ MORE ON: Difficult Yoga Poses Fitness Tips Yoga More

  • in

    15 Best Running Shoes for Women + How to Pick The Right Trainers for You

    Finding the right running trainers for you is just as important as correct form and technique. (And, yes. That includes getting your running warm-up and cool-down done, too. No skipping!). Plus, with it being a new year, it’s a pretty good time to treat yourself and get all kitted out.
    READ MORE: 5 Workouts To Help You Tone, Trim, and Build Muscle This Summer
    Why are good running shoes so important?
    Making sure you have the right running shoes is a point certified strength coach and footwear expert Emma Kirk-Odunubi stresses, especially because different runs demand different footwear:
    ‘As your distance increases many people generally want to increase the cushioning level of their shoe. For (postponed) half marathon or marathon runners, having greater cushioning over longer distances can have its benefits.’
    But we get it: good running shoes are an investment and the price tag can often exceed what you’d budgeted to spend on new takkies. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a mix of the best women’s running trainers so you can shop to your feet and budget’s content.
    What to look for in running shoes for women

    Cushioning: This helps the ground feel softer underfoot and encourages ground-contact stability.

    Weight: Lighter shoes typically have less cushioning, giving an increased rebound off the ground. They’re designed for speedy splits and powerful runs. For longer distances choose heavier shoes with more cushioning.

    Drop: This is the difference in the cushioning level from the rear foot to the forefoot. The lower the drop, the more conducive the shoe is for a speedy running style. Speed shoes will tend to have around a 4mm drop.

    READ MORE: How Much Muscle You Build Running Ultimately Depends On How You Run
    Best Cushioned Running Shoes
    1. HOKA Clifton 8

    Best for: Long distance training
    Weight: 215g
    Drop: 5mm
    How much? R2 599.95

    The Clifton 8 from Hoka are a dreamy neutral, cushioned shoe that gives you consistent support without weighing you down. Perfect for taking on longer distances, they offer a stable ride as you pound out the kilometres.
    ‘They’re a shoe I don’t think about being on my feet and I mean that in the best possible way. I can run for [kilometres] and [kilometres] of marathon training without feeling the time in my feet,’ says runner Francesca Menato. ‘There’s enough bounce that you don’t feel like you’re missing out on something super responsive, but mostly they’re an incredibly comfortable shoe.’
    You can wear them for any distance but they’re not designed to give you as much bang for your buck if you’re trying to knock out a 5km PB. That said, they’re a great all-rounder.

    2. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38

    Best for: All-round training
    Weight: lightweight
    Drop: 6mm
    How much? R2 399.95

    Runners LOVE ‘workhorse with wings’ Nike Pegasus trainers. A bounce around in these will have even the most tentative of joggers drawing up their marathon training plans. Signature responsive foam, a breathable upper and a wider fit at the toes mean you can clock up distances comfortably and recover swiftly, ready to take flight again.
    Having tried every type of Nike ‘Pegs’ since the 32s, Francesca Menato, took these for a spin.
    ‘I was in a committed relationship with the Pegs for years but we had to part ways a few iterations ago as they made the sole firmer and the shoe base narrower. So, sceptical but always hopeful, I tried the Pegasus 38. They may just be the middle ground between the old and new. A wider shoe with an update to the lacing, these feel secure and comfortable.’
    ‘For me, they take the term “neutral shoe” to the next level. They feel like the running trainers you could truck along in for [kilometres] and [kilometres].’
    Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38R 2 399.95BUY NOW
    3. Adidas Ultraboost 21s

    Best for: Road running
    Weight: 340g
    Drop: 10mm
    How much? R3 599

    Here are the specs you need to know before adding to basket – a sock-like fit with 6% more cushioning than previous Boost iterations; Primeblue material made with Parley Ocean Plastic (Adidas’ recycled high-performance fabric) and no virgin polyester; supportive heel counter and 115% increase in forefoot bending stiffness to make them your most responsive trainers yet.
    Be aware, they are heavier than the UB20s and as such definitely lend themselves to easy, longer mileage over a speedy 5k.
    Adidas Ultraboost 21sR 3 599BUY NOW
    READ MORE: 10 Steps To Becoming A Runner, According To Running Coaches
    4. Saucony Ride 14

    Best for: All-round training
    Weight: 238g
    Drop: 8mm
    How much? R2 649

    Lighter (and faster) than previous models these stealth-cool women’s trainers signal you know your sport. Designed with a durable outsole and PWRRUN cushioning, you’ll be springy, supported and stable as you get going. A firm run-favourite of Fitness Writer Morgan Fargo, these shoes are basically everything we love in a running shoe and more. Cheers, Sauc’.

    5. Asics Novablast 2

    Best for: Neutral runners who want extra propulsion
    Weight: Lightweight
    How much? R2 499

    If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’re running on a mini-trampoline – in a brilliant way – these Asics Novablast will do that and then some. The propulsive nature of the foam midsole means every step you put in will be energised, cushioned and keep you trucking on when the kilometres rack up.
    Shave seconds off your 5k, stay cool with a breathable upper or just enjoy the feeling of running on more cushion than you thought possible – Novablast are the running shoe for you.

    6. HOKA Carbon X 2

    Best for: Distance racing (and other bouncy long runs)
    Weight: 198g
    How much? R3 499.90

    You say cushioned, HOKA says cushioned. Another trainer that utilises the carbon plate, these shoes feel less aggressive in their propulsion than some of their counterparts. So, if you like the idea of super light, bouncy running shoes that secretly give you a helping hand in turning over your feet, we’ve found them. Ideal for springing your way through longer kilometres.

    7. On Running Cloudflow

    Best for: 10km race training
    Weight: 235g
    Drop: 6mm
    How much? R2 899

    A newer ON Running shoe, the Cloudflow, combines their Helion™ super foam along with a curved heel for ‘better hold, durability and comfort.’
    Basically, they’re going to feel light on the top of your foot, super cushioned underneath and cool thanks to the ventilated mesh. The new rubber traction base will also keep you more stable on slippery wet roads.

    READ MORE: This Is What Running In A Face Mask Does To Your Skin
    8. Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next %

    Best for: Speed training
    How much? R3 899

    Designed to go the distance, this Nike iteration of the cult-followed Next % trainers are the everyday companion for comfort and durability. The visible Zoom Air unit (the round disc) gives springy cushioning while the Nike React technology in the heel is lightweight to help keep your stride as efficient as poss.
    Be aware these are designed specifically for shorter ‘tempo’ runs. Hence the name. If you’re looking for an all-rounder, check out the Nike ZoomX Invincibles below.
    Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next %R 3 899BUY NOW
    9. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11

    Best for: Beginner distance running
    Drop: 8mm
    Weight: 230g
    How much? R2 599.90

    Cushioned, stable, lightweight – three words we love to hear when it comes to trainers that’ll more than do the job. A running staple, New Balance Fresh Foam is a style that’s been around for aeons – fortunately for us, they just keep making it better. This latest style has enough support for long-distance runs whilst the foam and cushioning helps you pick up speed too.
    New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11R 2 599.90BUY NOW
    10. Skechers Max Cushioning Premier

    Best for: Runners on a budget
    Weight: 213g
    Drop: 6mm
    How much? R1 499

    Skechers Max Cushioning Premier shoe adds extra comfort to your run (without weighing you down in the process) while letting tired feet breathe as they work. Cushioned, lightweight and breathable, these gems come in at under R1 500.
    Skechers Max Cushioning PremierR 1 499BUY NOW
    11. Nike ZoomX Invincible Run

    Best for: Injury-prone runners
    Weight: 253g
    Drop: 8.4 mm
    How much? R3 499

    One of Nike’s most popular running shoes for women (The React Infinity Run Flyknit 2) has had a revamp: enter the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run women’s trainers.
    ‘Injury plagues runners of all levels and it can be something that stops people from joining the sport or rejoining post-injury,’ says Brett Holts, VP of Nike Running.
    So what makes these so special? According to the brand, it’s ‘The Nike ZoomX foam, [it’s] our most responsive and soft foam—and we used a lot more of it than you’d find in most everyday Nike running shoes.’ They counteract the instability that comes with extra foam with the ‘rocker’ shape.
    After 12 weeks of testing, Nike found that these trainers had similar results to their predecessors. A study conducted by the BCSMRF showed that runners wearing those shoes had a 52% lower injury rate than those wearing the control shoe. So, if you’re constantly bemoaning a sore-this or a pulled-that, it might be time to invest in some kit that quite literally was made for the job.
    Francesca Menato was a bona fide Infinity React super fan and can attest that this latest iteration is just as bouncy and that the increase of a few grams can’t be felt. Nike wants to ‘make running feel easy’. In these, it’s certainly easier.
    Nike ZoomX Invincible RunR 3 499BUY NOW
    READ MORE: 10 Steps To Becoming A Runner, According To Running Coaches
    Best ‘Smart’ Running Shoe For Women
    12. Women’s UA Flow Velociti Wind Running Shoes

    Best for: Neutral runners who like to track their stats
    Weight: 227g
    Drop: 8mm
    How much? R3 499

    Under Armour’s speed-friendly running shoe comes with a personal running coach that when connected to MapMyRun™ tracks your stride length, cadence and pace and coaches you in real-time. As for the shoes, these kicks are designed for shorter, sharper sessions but unlike some running trainers designed for speed work, they still come with decent cushioning. The sole is shaped with a slight rock to propel you with every stride. Why thank you.
    Women’s UA Flow Velociti Wind Running ShoesR 3 499BUY NOW
    Best Road Running Shoes For Women
    13. Saucony Endorphin Shift

    Best for: Runners looking to up the distance
    Weight: 269g
    Drop: 4mm
    How much? R2 799.90

    So. You’ve completed the Couch to 5k app, you’ve been running on the reg and you’re looking to take it to the next level. These are the shoes for you. The Saucony Endorphin Shift promises to make every run feel easier – and it really delivers. How, you ask? The PWRRUN cushioning feels super plush, and the SPEEDROLL technology enhances each and every stride to keep you moving forward.
    Saucony Endorphin ShiftR 2 799.90BUY NOW
    14. Brooks Running Ghost 14

    Best for: everyday road runners
    Weight: 255.1g
    How much? R2 599.90

    Designed for a soft and smooth ride these Ghost 14’s are perfect for road running, with the midsole offering you that easy, comfortable glide from landing to toe-off. The cushioning isn’t too squishy either so you still feel supported and, importantly, won’t even notice the transitions as you run.
    Brooks Running Ghost 14R 2 599.90BUY NOW
    Best supportive running shoes for women
    15. Saucony Guide 14

    Best for: Cushioned support
    Weight: 244g
    Drop: 8mm
    How much? R2 799.90

    Looking for extra comfort when you run? The Saucony Guide 14’s are the kicks for you. Reliable, cushioned, with a fluid feel from heel to toe, you’ll be supported your whole run long. Plus, with reduced bulk, you’ll feel light and free as you stride. Love that.

    *This article was originally published on Women’s Health UK

    READ MORE ON: Fitness Fitness Advice Fitness Gear Running WH Tests It More

  • in

    A Lunchtime Workout Session Could Cure Burnout

    Whether you’re still working from home or have returned to the office by now, the 3pm slump is inevitable. In the morning, we’re efficient, making calls and organising team catch-ups and meetings, sending emails with speed and the kind of sign-off that demands a thoughtful and considered response.
    But slowly, as the day progresses, our energy wanes. And regardless of what we eat for lunch or the number of caffeinated beverages we choose to consume, 3pm comes around it suddenly feels like we’ve aged a decade. Unable to focus, time moves at a glacial pace for those remaining hours of the day and it’s all we can do to drag ourselves home and into bed.
    READ MORE: This 4-Week Bodyweight Challenge Is The Ultimate New Year Workout Plan
    This mental exhaustion is a common feeling for many but in some good news, it appears exercise might be the cure. As anyone who has been in the slump can attest, getting into some activewear and breaking a sweat is often the last thing on your mind. However, it might just be the thing you need. As a newly-published study by German researchers suggests, exercise can reverse this mental fatigue in just 30 minutes.
    For the study, subjects with cognitive fatigue were grouped into three interventions: 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, 30 minutes of easy stretching and 30 minutes of watching the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The group that cycled for 30 minutes on an exercise bike reported feeling less mentally tired, had improved mood and better perception of their mental capability, and also showed improved ability to take on new tasks. Ultimately, the 30 minutes was seen to restore higher-order executive functions, helping workers to get back online and ready for action.
    As the researchers found, exercise during lunchtime does wonders – not just in the short-term, but for the long-term too. Aside from feeling refreshed post-exercise, you can also combat long-term negative alterations in the brain structure and function that can come with chronic, persistent mental fatigue. The study found that the more fatigued someone felt, the more the 30-minute exercise cycle made them feel refreshed.
    READ MORE: 24 Motivational Quotes To Help You Push Through The Tough Days On Your Weight Loss Journey
    It’s worthing noting, though, that the study only looked at 30 minutes of easy aerobic exercise so it’s not exactly clear what the impact of doing, say, an hour’s run might be on mental stress, or a higher intensity exercise. As Women’s Running suggests, “Since we know that mental stress and physical stress build off each other, it’s likely that if a too long or too intense exercise session puts additional strain on the body, it could contribute to fatigue and not help you recover from it.”
    But despite exercise being an effective mood-boosting tool to overcome mental fatigue and the dreaded feeling of an afternoon slump, studies also show that people often blow off a workout when feeling overwhelmed because they feel the long-term benefits aren’t as important as their immediate need to chill. If this is something you’re guilty of, we’d suggest scheduling in 30-minutes of exercise just as you would a meeting or Zoom call, to hold yourself accountable and ensure you take that time. Because while your mind might be telling you to lounge and chill, exercise is exactly what your body needs to come back feeling energised and invigorated.
    And as the recent study suggests, you don’t need to push yourself. This isn’t a time for analysing metrics on your smartwatch or looking at data, it’s simply about connecting to your body through movement and allowing the tension you’ve built up in the day to release.
    READ MORE: 5 Workouts To Help You Tone, Trim, and Build Muscle This Summer
    Cape Town-based Jessica Naylor, a seasoned fitness trainer (group exercise) best known for her optimistic, high impact energy workouts has compiled a few fun, effective, equipment-free and lunch break friendly exercises. “All these workouts can be done anywhere, provided there is a bit of space. Prepare to tone and burn all in one,” she says.
    Move: Soccer Drill ​Nail it: Tap your foot, then the other foot, knee and then the other knee. Pick up the pace and double the time!
    Move: High KneesNail it: Keep your knees high and the power going, on the spot, in a sprinting motion.​
    Move: Arms For DaysNail it: Stand tall, keep your shoulders behind and tummy tight. Place your arms out horizontally. Palm open and thumb facing the roof. Pulse your arms back and forth. Make small movements and feel the burn!
    Move: Explosive Star ​Nail it: Slightly bend your knees. In one movement make your self into a star shape. Shoot arms and legs out and quickly bring yourself back to the starting position. Repeat this movement 20 times. Hello cardio!
    Move: Jump For Joy ​Nail it: Point on your toes. Arms stretched up above your head and bounce away!​
     Move: Quick FeetNail it: Make sure your feet are directly under your shoulders. Bend your knees slightly and run on the spot!
    The article Why A Lunchtime Sweat Session Could Be The Cure For Burnout was originally published on the Women’s Health Australia website. 

    READ MORE ON: burnout Cognitive Fatigue Fatigue Fitness Advice Health wellness More

  • in

    The Wellness Gift Guide: WH Editors’ Wish List Picks

    A wellness gift guide? That’s right. Okay, it’s been one long year and you deserve everything. You and yours have earned the right to some great wellness gifts this holiday season, just for making it through the year. And since wellness can take many forms, there’s gifts for everyone; adventurers and beauty junkies, athletes and techies. We’ve curated some of our favourite things. In this lil’ gift guide we’ve picked items that pamper and look out for your well-being. From our WH family to yours.
    Running shoe
    Adidas Ultraboost 22. Fact: more than 50 percent of runners are women, and yet most running shoes are created with the male form in mind.  Tapping into an online database of 1.2-million female foot scans, the Ultraboost has been refined and re-engineered to create a 360-degree female fit. “The UltraBoost 21 was one of the most comfortable running shoes I’ve worn. The UltraBoost 22 tops that. This is such a cool motivation to lace up and go for a run. I’d recommend these to any female runner looking for a comfortable way to get in or get back to running. Plus, the sustainable aspect of this shoe really makes me feel good. Designed with our oceans in mind, it includes a natural rubber outsole and an upper made with yarn containing 50% Parley Ocean Plastic.” – Gotlhokwang Angoma-Mzini

    READ MORE: 16 Super-Stylish Stocking Fillers & Gifts Under R150 – That Aren’t Socks
    Garmin Lily Smartwatch. It wouldn’t be the perfect WH list without a smart watch, and this one takes the cake. “I’ve spent a few weeks reading and getting to know the Garmin Lily and found out it’s got major features in such svelte form.” It tracks your heart rate, stress, hydration and your menstruation cycle. When you want to relax or focus, you can start a breath work activity, and this watch will track your stress and respiration to help you get a better understanding of how you’re breathing.- Gotlhokwang Angoma-Mzini

    Garmin Lily SmartwatchR 5049BUY NOW

    A good book
    Vibrate Higher Daily Live Your Power by Lalah Delia. “I’m learning to sift through what should and shouldn’t bother me, while keeping my energy consistent at all times. I have been eyeing this book for a while, and think it will be such a great addition to this new journey.” – Kemong Mopedi

    A Raleigh 26″ Comfort Cruiser Bicycle. Like the name says, this is an easy-cruising laid-back comfort bike. You get a truly comfortable bicycle thanks to the thick padded saddle with memory foam. You’ll hardly feel any bumps. “I’m finally ready to get over my fear of riding — don’t ask! [chuckles]” – Kemong Mopedi

    Raleigh Comfort Cruiser R 2499BUY NOW

    Pocket knife
    Victorinox Classic Swiss Army Pocket Knife. The Swiss Army Knife is still an icon of sleek functionality. It has 7 functions — including scissors, a nail file and a screwdriver. Victorinox is famous for their high-carbon stainless steel blades, which hold exceptionally good edges and can easily be resharpened. “Great for cutting bagels on the beach or zip ties when travelling. Essential and multifunctional.” – Pia Hammond

    Victorinox Classic Swiss Army Pocket KnifeR 349BUY NOW
    Comfortable sneaker
    Nike Air VaporMax 360. Looking to add a fashion-forward bit of style to your look? This retro-inspired sneaker (yes, 2000s is retro now) gives remarkable and unquestionable underfoot comfort. It features a full-length foam midsole and VaporMax Air unit giving you remarkable underfoot comfort. “I’ve always loved VaporMax, they look like a soccer shoe hybrid, strong and good grip. And they just look badass.” – Pia Hammond

    NIKE women’s Air VaporMax R 3999BUY NOW
    Dyson Airwrap styler. The price tag might make you hesitate but believe us, this is as good a hair tool as you can get. Dyson’s Airwrap was the most awarded hair tool in 2019. It comes with 6 attachments; a pre-styling dryer (goodbye hairdryer), a firm smoothing brush (goodbye straightener), a soft smoothing brush, a round volumising brush (goodbye 80’s curlers), 30mm barrels for voluminous curls or waves and 40mm barrels for loose curls or waves (goodbye curling iron). You’ll get hairdresser quality hair in no time and at home. Need to see it in action? Check out the blowout tutorial below. “Hello new BFF” – Kelleigh Korevaar

    Dyson Airwray styler R 11499BUY NOW

    READ MORE: Find Spring In A Bottle With These 6 Floral Fragrances
    RVLRI Trust Gift Box. After being a “silver jewellery girl” for as long as I’ve adorned myself in metals, I’ve recently matured into a “gold jewellery girl”. Yes, very scandalous. That means I’m trying to find everyday gold staples that don’t break the bank. Enter RVLRI. Their Trust gift set contains a watch, circle of life pendant necklace and intricate circle earrings. That’s half your jewellery sorted in one beautiful box! And at a really great price, too! Who wouldn’t be stoked to receive this? – Kelleigh Korevaar

    READ MORE ON: Fitness gift Gift Guide Health wellness More