Monday, March 31

Stretching: The Truth

by JCC Association and One Club

To stretch, or not to stretch before a workout? 

Experts used to claim that stretching before a workout can help decrease the risk of orthopedic injuries; however, more recent research shows that stretching is ineffective for warming up your body. 

Some research is even proving that pre-workout stretching can be harmful to athletic performance*.

As an active person, you may not always be looking for peak performance, but you always strive to be healthy and avoid injury. So what is the best way to warm up? 

A warmup should be designed to move your body in motions similar to the actions you’ll perform during your workout.  If you’re going to do an upper body workout, your warmup must simulate that action in your upper body muscles. 

A warmup should also increase blood flow, which in turn increases muscle elasticity. This process requires elevating the heart rate. 

Dynamic Stretching (DS) is stretching performed by moving a joint through its full range in a challenging but comfortable motion. The goal is to lengthen and shorten a muscle by activating your nervous system, and effect that static stretching doesn't provide.

DS can increase joint range of motion, increase blood flow and increase body awareness, just to name a few benefits. It also requires a fair amount of coordination, which stimulates neuromuscular activity and alertness.

*“Static Stretching Impairs Sprint Performance in Collegiate Track and Field Athletes;” Journal of Strength and Conditioning, Winchester, Nelson, Landin, Young, and Schexnayder.  Vol 22, Number 1, January 2008

Wednesday, March 26

Ten steps to a sun safe spring break

by Katherine Matutes, Ph.D.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, receiving more than 5 sunburns in your lifetime doubles your chances of developing melanoma skin cancer, the most deadly form of skin cancer.  

More troubling, 42% of the population gets sunburned once a year, making it is easy to understand why skin cancer diagnoses outnumber all other types of cancers...combined.  

Below are a few steps that you can take to develop a sun-safe spring break.

Wear sunscreen every day: Treat sunscreen application like your brushing your teeth - it’s just something you do before you leave the house, everyday. This ensures that the skin is protected from UV rays that filter through windows and sun exposure during short outings. It's not always enough to protect just for a day at the pool.

Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to going outside: Use sunscreen that has at least 15 SPF. 

Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours: This practice is especially important after profuse sweating or swimming.

Wear Clothing with an SPF rating: Clothing can help to cover and shade highly exposed areas, like the back of the neck, nose, ears and cheeks, and consider using hats or scarves when possible.

Know your sunscreen. As SPF ratings increase, there is only a minor increase in protection. Sunscreen with 15 SPF will block 93 percent of UVB rays while a 30 SPF sunscreen will block 97 percent. Notice that the percentage of blockage protection does NOT double even though the SPF rating doubles. Additionally, there are 2 types of sun rays- UVA and UVB, and both types can cause skin damage. SPF rankings only indicate the percentage of UVB rays blocked. Protecting against UVA rays requires specific ingredients, making it important to read the label and look for: avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, or zinc oxide.

Minimize sun exposure: Be aware of the peak sun hours of the day from 10am-4pm, and limit your time outdoors in this window of time.

Understand if your medications increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight: Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about this possible side effect of your prescriptions.

Hydrate: Dehydrations can quickly turn into heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Get plenty of water and maybe even a sports drink if you will be out exercising in the heat. Get to a cool location if you experience the signs of heat exhaustion including nausea, dizziness, a severe headache, extreme fatigue, pale skin and profuse sweating.

Protect your eyes: UVA and UVB rays can lead to eye damage, including the potential formation of cataracts or increased risk of macular degeneration.  Those with fair skin and light eyes are most likely to suffer more significant damage. Always wear sunglasses that bock 100% of UV rays, and go for the lenses that wrap around and block out reflective light as well.

Pace yourself: If you overdo the sun one day, choose to spend the next day indoors, treating your skin with aloe vera, drinking water and perhaps napping to allow you body the maximum time recover.

More About Katherine Matutes, PhD

Tuesday, March 18

I Don’t Need That…or Do I?

by Lev Rothenberg

When I began meditating over 40 years ago, I recall friends looking at me weirdly, a bit defensively, and telling me “I don’t need that.”

Years later, I do not stay in touch with too many of those friends, but I continue to meditate. If I saw any of them today, I would say, “Yep, I needed that.” I needed it to be who I am.

Who I am isn’t any better than who anyone else is. No, I cannot levitate or tell the future, and I am not enlightened. 

However, meditation has helped me learn to take a sabbatical by sitting still, to find peace within myself and to help accept myself for who I am. To me, that’s pretty important.

Meditation is not magic; it is not religion; it is not even based on faith. It is based on experience. Meditation does not carry you away. Rather, it can bring you home. 

The key to meditation, as with so many spiritual practices, is being in the moment, not fighting with reality (you will lose, but only 100% of the time) and allowing things to be as they are.

Look in the mirror. Look through the stress that sometimes seems to be what holds you together. Look through all the problems you think you must solve and all those tasks you think you must do. Look right through those things and guess what? That is really you looking back.

Starting March 22, two meditation classes are offered at the JCC: Beginning Mindfulness Meditation, for beginners, and Awakening to Your True Nature, for more advanced exploration.

More about Lev Rothenberg

Tuesday, March 11

March Exercise of the Month: Lunge Kick

Lunges come in many variations, and the compound movement involved engages a number of major muscles, like the glutes and quads. The Lunge Kick also can benefit your flexibility and balance.

Start Position
Glutes, legs & core

Power, strength

  • Stand holding a dumbbell in your left hand.
  • Lunge back with right leg until thigh is parallel to the ground.
  • Rise up as you kick your right leg out in front of you.
  • Step back to starting position.
  • Do 15 reps, then switch sides to complete set. Do two sets.

Backward Lunge

Front Kick