Why Do We Eat “This” When We Know We Should Eat “That?”

Jannine Myers

One of the greatest challenges for so many people, is consistently making healthy food choices. No matter how strong the desire to stop buying drive-by sodas or sweetened lattes, or to resist late-night snacking temptations, it seems that the foods and drinks we really want to avoid are the ones we continue to eat.

Dr. Douglas Lisle, coauthor of The Pleasure Trap gives the following TedX talk to help us understand why it’s so hard to stop doing what we don’t want to do.

If you didn’t have time to watch the video, here’s a recap of his talk:

The male shrike is a songbird that kills it’s prey – typically small rodents, other birds, and insects – and then impales them on tree spikes inside their territory. Females eventually appear, and after a quick analysis, will mate with the male who has the largest catch of prey. Why is this significant? Because the entire orchestration of how the shrike goes about his business has helped psychologists to answer what has been a very puzzling question:

  1. If people were intelligent, alert, and conscientious enough, and if they heard the right messages about health and the right path to take, why is it so hard to choose that path?

The shrike has strong instincts, influenced by his genetic code but activated by environmental cues – cues that lead him to think, then feel, and then finally respond. What he ultimately seeks is sexual pleasure, not just because it’s rewarding but because it’s also associated with survival and reproduction.

All creatures seek the same thing; embedded in our genetic code is a motivational system comprised of three components that work together to influence our behavior towards an end result that’s associated with gene survival. The three components are:

  1. Pleasure – food and sex
  2. Avoidance of pain
  3. Energy Conservation

The key objective for all creatures, including humans, is to seek pleasure as much as possible, while staying alert to cues that indicate that pain is present and/or an energy cost is involved.

Getting back to the shrike again; imagine if the shrike were encaged and within his reach were two buttons that led to two different outcomes. One of the buttons – a blue one – would open a trap door from which a female would emerge and enter his cage. The other button – a red one -would result in the release of a cocaine-filled pipe that would insert directly into his head and drive pleasure to the very core of his brain. The red button is the one he will choose, because every time he hits it, his pleasure center will be activated by the flooding of dopamine. Both options provide pleasure but the one that releases dopamine, and hence the sensation of excitement and euphoria, is more efficient.

The problem with the above scenario, is that the shrike was misled by an unnatural stimulus that caused him to think and feel that he was making the “right” choice; that he was being extremely biologically successful, when in fact he was behaving self-destructively.

We are no different to the shrike! We live in a world where our environment has been tainted with all kinds of “super-normal” stimuli. Our food supply consists of products that are designed to fool our senses so that we’ll keep choosing them over and over again.

That’s where the Dietary Pleasure Trap comes into play:

pleasure_graph

The Dietary Pleasure Trap contains five phases:

  • Phase One – illustrates how we should relate to food. Enjoyment of food should fall within normal parameters.
  • Phase Two – our tastebuds are introduced to “super-normal” foods; foods that give more calories/energy per bite and consequently provide more pleasure.
  • Phase Three – we eventually habituate to the abnormal stimuli. In other words, our brain and censors are eventually dulled and we end up getting the same amount of pleasure that we used to experience in Phase One, except that now we are used to eating mostly junk food.
  • Phase Four – our habitual junk food choices result in obesity, heart disease, and other serious illnesses, and so now we start to pay attention to all the health specialists who are saying that we need to move in “this direction” if we wish to regain our health. So we try to change direction and re-introduce wholesome and healthy foods to our diet.
  • Phase Five – this is the phase that leads to recovery, however this phase takes several weeks and very few will go the distance.

And this brings us back to the question we started with: why is it so hard to do the right thing? Why do so few people make it successfully through the fifth phase of recovery; that part of the trap where following the right path and making healthier food choices is best for us? It’s simple: we live in a modern world that releases into our environment cues that fool our instincts, and lure us into the Pleasure Trap.

So, how does one get out of the trap?

Dr. Lisle offers a couple of tricks:

  1. The water trick – drink only water for a period of 24 hours straight; this should help the tastebuds to increase sensitivity and allow for a favorable reintroduction of healthy food.
  2. The juice fast – drink only fruit and vegetable juices for several days; this should help to re-set the fat and salt receptors so that tastebud sensitivity is recovered.

These are just ways to get you started and help lead you out of the trap; remember – it takes several weeks to make it through the Recovery Phase. But, if you have the drive and willpower to endure, your body will eventually re-set itself and you’ll find that eating wholesome and healthy foods is much more pleasurable than eating the kinds of overly processed foods that we were never designed to crave.

Additionally, Dr. Lisle says that there are numerous support groups and websites available to assist you with recovery efforts:

www.drmcdougall.com

True North Health

Dr. Neal Barnard

PCRM.org

T. Colin Campbell

Engine2 Diet

 

 

Are Restorative Exercises Something Runners Should Learn About?

Jannine Myers

Kristin Marvin is a Performance Recovery Specialist who challenges mainstream approaches to improved performance and recovery. Marvin is one of a growing number of specialists teaching what is called Restorative Exercise (also known as Nutritious Movement).

When runners are asked to describe what their ideal conditions for optimal recovery are, Marvin says that they’ll typically refer to one or all of the following:

  • Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Post-run stretching
  • Alternative therapies such as massage and chiropractic adjustments

These are all important, but Marvin and other specialists trained in her profession encourage clients to focus more on the non-running hours of life – which, for most runners, equates to about 23 hours. It’s everything a runner does outside of running, says Marvin, that more than likely impedes recovery efforts and causes running injuries.

Two things in particular (and there are several other contributing factors) that Marvin believes significantly attributes to delayed recovery and increased injury risk, is a lack of mobility, and the all-day-every-day wearing of shoes.

With regards to mobility, Marvin claims that besides the daily hour or two of running each day, most runners spend the rest of the day in a sedentary position; she referred to such runners as being “actively sedentary,” a term used to describe a person who moves on average about 4% of the time and remains sedentary the remainder of the time.

The problem with so much time spent sitting, is that our bodies have become accustomed to the lack of mobility and we consequently feel stiff and achy as a result. In turn, the stiffness and aches affect our ability to run, causing further damage since our bodies are not moving in the way that they should.

Then there is the problem of wearing shoes all day; our feet make up 25% of our muscular skeletal system (they contain a lot of vasculature; they provide sensory and proprioception information; and they push blood back to the heart), so when we cast them in shoes for long periods of time we make them susceptible to weakened sensitivity and mobility, and loss of intrinsic muscle. Restorative Exercise specialists believe that if your feet are weak, then many other parts of your body will also be weak.

So what should runners do to improve recovery and reduce injury risk, especially if lifestyle and job situations make it difficult to walk around barefoot, or to walk around much at all?According to Marvin, we can start by incorporating short bouts of activity frequently throughout each day. Any opportunity to take a break from work or any other type of sedentary activity should be taken advantage of; move as often as possible and in as many different ways as possible.

And if you must wear shoes, she says, then make sure that all of your shoes fit properly. You can do that by tracing your feet on paper, cutting it out, and then placing the paper inside your shoes; if any part of the paper comes up on the sides, the front, or the back, then it’s time for those shoes to go!

There is so much more about Restorative Exercise that I wish I had room for in this post, but I’ll have to let you do your own further research. If you’re a little skeptical so far, I’ll leave you with one of Marvin’s quotes (words in parentheses mine), to help you decide if you’d like to learn more:

  • All your trillions of cells talk; every single move you make [or don’t make] has a significant impact on today and tomorrow……

One last comment; to all you Hoka-wearers, Marvin says if you’re going to wear them, then you for sure had better make time daily for restorative exercises.

RExI-Logo_Rev_CMYK-Color

 

Some useful links:

http://kristinmarvinfitness.com

https://nutritiousmovement.com/

http://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1007576-12-easy-anytime-moves-strengthen-feet-ankles/#slide=4

http://www.alignmentlab.net/blog/

https://www.bewellbydrfranklipman.com/healthy-living/exercise-restorative.html

https://runnersconnect.net/running-interviews/kristin-marvin/

Hitting The Wall Might Just Be An Excuse For Quitting

Jannine Myers

Ai55IHr

This week’s post is one that will hopefully give you something to think about the next time you run an endurance race and encounter the dreaded “wall.” For those of you not yet familiar with the term “hitting the wall” (or “bonking”), it refers to a point in a race where an athlete suddenly loses energy and consequently slows down or gives up altogether.

Up until recently the general consensus has been that race exhaustion, followed by a decline in performance, is attributed to physiological factors (specifically, depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles). But new research suggests that there is also a significant psychological component at play, and that with the right type of brain-training it might be possible to override sensations of fatigue and discomfort. A tired runner, for example, could potentially ignore perceived threats of “bonking” and continue to perform well all the way to the finish line.

Dr. Samuele Marcora is the exercise physiologist leading the argument that endurance fatigue is nothing more than a perceived state of mind. He explains that under extreme conditions, as when we exert ourselves physically for an extended period of time, our brains attempt to direct our decision-making to prevent us from compromising our ability to survive. Hence, an athlete may think that he or she is exhausted, when really there is enough energy tucked away in reserve to keep going.

The good news then – or bad, depending on how you look at it – is that the wall is probably as high or as low as you want it to be. You can decide that it’s low enough to get over, in which case you’ll have to get serious about devoting time to mental training. Or, you can decide that it’s too high, but now that you’ve read this post you’ll be making that choice knowing that Dr. Marcora says you’re actually choosing to be a quitter! 

[For more detailed information about Dr. Marcora’s research, read this article]

Cultivating a Winning Mindset

Jannine Myers

People often use running as a metaphor for life, because as Oprah Winfrey once said, “You get out of it what you put into it.” I was thinking about this the other morning, as I reluctantly tied up my shoe laces to head out for a run. Some days I really don’t feel like running, yet I still run. I’ve said before in other pieces that I’ve written, that one of the reasons I’m able to ignore my lazy urges is that I dislike the feeling of not completing a workout, more than the lazy urge itself. While I get that that is a powerful motivator for myself, I also realize that it does little to motivate others. So, for those of you genuinely wanting to win your daily mind games (in all areas of life, not just running), here’s a list of – hopefully – motivational behaviors and habits:

1. Establish your own personal set of everyday “Non-Negotiables”

I have a few daily non-negotiables; they include waking up early every day, making my bed as soon as I get up, listening to or reading something positive before I start my day, and always exercising before breakfast. I call these my daily non-negotiables because that’s what they are; they are habits that are locked in and only occasionally compromised. I do these things because I believe that the act of practicing them daily sets the tone for an overall disciplined approach to life.

2. Plan, Schedule, Organize!

Former NFL punter, Steve Wetherford, says that his incredibly busy life as a husband, father, and sought-after spokesperson, would not be manageable if he didn’t plan each week. He sits down every Sunday evening and writes down what he intends to accomplish during the week ahead. With a broad over-arching goal in mind, he then breaks that goal down into daily tasks and objectives. He admits that sometimes his weeks don’t go as planned, but having a general map to guide him through each day of each week helps him to use his time purposefully.

I think one of the greatest dangers of not planning is a tendency to become complacent. A lot of people spend their days simply existing – they wake up, go to work, go home, watch TV or hang out on social media, go to bed, and repeat – it’s too easy to live this way if you don’t intentionally plan your days.

3. Learn to say “No!”

Lewis Howes, host of the podcast talk show The School of Greatness, encourages his listeners to get into the habit of saying no to people and things that don’t serve their vision. It’s not always easy to say “No” – especially if you’re a “people-pleaser” – but if you keep your focus on the things that matter to you and what you ultimately hope to achieve, you’ll find it easier to justify your response.

[On the flip side, don’t be all about yourself either; paying it forward by encouraging and helping others is where you will find the most joy and motivation].

4. Divorce yourself from the past – or, only look back if you have something to learn from it!

The key to forward progress is looking forward; visualize your dream and start moving towards it. Trying to grow and move forward – while hanging on to things that once held you back – is like trying to run while pulling a tire; in other words progress will be slow!

Tire-Prowler

5. Find something to be grateful for everyday!

Bob Harper, one of the personal trainers on the hit TV show The Biggest Loser, believes that one of the reasons some people fail to achieve long-term health goals is because they perceive the quality of their lives to be pretty dismal in comparison to that of others. His thinking is backed up by other fitness professionals, including bodybuilder Steve Cook who said in a recent podcast interview that if you can’t find things to be happy about today, then you probably never will. What he was inferring is that if you always see yourself as never having enough, or never being good enough, you’ll allow those thoughts to penetrate your mind and influence the decisions you make each day. He suggests starting each day with positive thoughts and actions that lead to feelings of thankfulness and happiness.

6. If you really want to win in life, stop thinking “short-term” and start thinking “long-term”

When most people set out to lose weight or get fit, they set themselves a “finite” goal; for example, “I just need to lose 20 pounds,” or “I just want to look toned this summer.” If there is enough of an incentive the goal will be achieved, along with a sense of pride and accomplishment. But sadly, that pride lasts about as long as the weight stays off, or as long those muscles stay nice and toned – yeah, not so long unfortunately.

Short-term food and fitness challenges are always a huge hit, but they are not sustainable and they produce only temporary results, causing participants to repeatedly sign up. You need to be willing to accept that long-term results call for long-term changes, in the form of daily choices that you’re willing to make every day, of every week, of every year. That’s why those everyday non-negotiables matter!

7. Surround yourself with people who love, support and accept you and your goals, and disconnect or limit your time with those who don’t.

Positive people draw positivity; negative people draw negativity. It’s as simple as that!

8. Be prepared to dream, visualize, and actually work!

Here is the final kicker – and the one that I think is the most difficult. Almost everyone loves to dream and visualize their goals (goals of weight loss, improved strength and fitness, more income, travel opportunities, etc.) but beyond visualizing and planning, very little is actually done. Why? Because it’s easier to settle for what you already have today, than work hard for something that may take a year or more to come to fruition.

What it all boils down to is this: there are lots of dreamers in the world and only a few doers; it’s up to you to decide which camp you want to be in!

Should You Try to Improve or Change Your Running Form?

Jannine Myers

My oldest daughter came to visit a couple of weeks ago, and during one of our many conversations we talked a little about running. She works part-time at a fitness center on her university campus, and one day while running on one of the treadmills at her work, a fellow co-worker (and running coach/instructor) corrected her running form. My daughter said she was a little surprised – since she had been feeling great while running – but she took his advice anyway and attempted to apply his recommendations.

I’ve often wondered about running form, and how important it is in the big scheme of things. A couple of years ago when I was training for the 2014 Boston Marathon, I followed a training program prescribed by New Zealand running coach, Barry Magee. Barry’s training plan and tips were great, but I remember feeling a little skeptical when he assured me that my natural tendency to heel-strike was perfectly okay. I had been told on two previous occasions by different running gait analysts that I should try to improve my form by becoming a mid or forefoot striker; so confusing!!!

With so many “experts” and specialists all giving widely different views on which type of foot strike equates to best running form, as well as postural advice, correct arm swing, as well as stride length and frequency, it’s all a bit overwhelming. And yet it comes up in conversations and debate over and over again.

I’ve switched shoe types several times; I’ve tried correcting my exaggerated left arm swing by running with a stick in my hand and thrusting it straight forward instead of across my chest; I’ve tried counting my foot strike; and I’ve tried perfecting my stride length to where it’s neither too short nor too long. Guess what? Nothing has changed. I always end up going back to what feels natural to me, not because I mean to but because anything that doesn’t feel natural is too difficult to stick with.

My left arm always swings across my chest instead of straight forward

My left arm always swings across my chest instead of straight forward

So, do I have any great advice for those of you who are also throughly confused about correct or proper running form? Sadly no. However, I did come across one runner’s thoughts on a social media group page, and his advice made sense to me; he basically said that there are only two scenarios that would warrant an attempt to change running form:

  • 1/ if you are a competitive runner who is not seeing gains in performance, or 2/ you’re a runner who repeatedly suffers from the same injuries. Otherwise, he said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”.

But that still doesn’t tell us what we need to do If it is broke, i.e. if you feel that your running form is hurting either your performance or your body. So here’s my two cents worth (I never said I had no advice; I said I didn’t have any great advice):

  • Find another sport
  • Reduce either one, or all of the following: training intensity, workout frequency, and overall volume of running
  • Act like you don’t feel any pain and just keep running like you usually do
  • Pull up a bunch of articles on “proper” running form and foot strike, then play Eenie Meenie Miney Mo; whichever article wins is the one you should follow
  • Find someone who legitimately changed their running form and as a result saw improvements in performance or a decrease in injuries; ask them to show you what they did
  • Make room in your budget for regular massage visits and deal with your regular aches and pains that way
  • OR, ignore all of these and chime in to tell us what has worked for you

 

Don’t Take Diet Short Cuts and Expect Long-Term Results

Jannine Myers

In the New York Times best seller, Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell presents the 10,000-Hour rule, explaining that the ability to be great at anything hinges upon the need to devote at least 10,000 hours of practice time (about 90 minutes a day for 20 years) to whatever it is you’re wanting to be great at. Honestly, that’s a little discouraging for most people; the good news is that there are other reports out there that dispute the 10,000-Hour rule and give the average person hope of obtaining at least some degree of proficiency in new areas of learning.

That brings me to the subject of diet and nutrition, and the aspiration of so many women to learn how to lose weight and keep it off. One UK study, conducted by Kevin Dorren, Founder and Head Chef of Diet Chef, suggests that “the average woman diets twice a year, losing 11lbs each time.” If women are dieting twice a year on average, and each time losing 11lbs, the inference is that they keep dieting because they always regain the weight that they lose. Why can’t they keep it off?

In my experience and observations of women trying – and failing – to permanently lose weight, it seems to be largely due to a desire to lose weight quickly and at any cost. In many cases women seek to lose weight for a specific occasion, for example a wedding, a milestone birthday, a summer vacation etc., and so the motivation is there and hence also the likelihood of success. The problem however, is that the kind of diet strategies they employ usually involve either drastic calorie reduction or significant deprivation of some sort; these types of overly restrictive diets are simply not sustainable and eventually fail.

Getting back to the 10,000-Hour rule……… getting good at losing weight and keeping it off won’t cost you a “20-year” learning sacrifice, but at the same time you can’t expect to enjoy long-term weight loss by using extreme and unsustainable methods. Permanent and healthy weight loss is only achieved through improved and non-restrictive lifestyle habits; habits that are practiced over and over until the brain and body is conditioned to do them automatically.

If you truly want to get off the “yo-yo dieting” train, you need to stop buying into quick-fix diets and short cuts and start making baby steps towards permanent lifestyle changes. Yes, the changes may be difficult at first and the weight loss might be much slower, but just remember – when you were a baby learning to walk, you didn’t quit the first time you fell over! You kept getting back up and falling back down, and eventually you walked! So, go educate yourself on what habits you need to change and then with the determination of a stumbling baby, endeavor to take daily steps towards those changes.

With time and practice you’ll hopefully achieve your weight loss goals, as well as the type of lifestyle that supports a long-term approach to maintaining a lean and healthy body!

New-Habits-Take-Practice

Spirulina Breakfast Bowl

Jannine Myers

Are you familiar with the health benefits of Spirulina? Spirulina is a natural algae powder that’s impressively rich in protein, antioxidants, B-vitamins, and other nutrients. It’s often recommended to vegetarians because of it’s high protein and natural iron content, and that also makes it a fantastic food source for pregnant women, or for anyone recovering from illness or surgery, and most certainly for female athletes. 

Here’s a super nutritious “Spirulina” breakfast recipe for you to try:

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Ingredients

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 ripe nectarine, pit and skin removed

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

Handful almonds

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

1 tsp organic spirulina powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of sea salt

3 ice cubes (or 1/2 frozen banana if you prefer a slightly sweeter taste)

 

Directions

Throw everything into a blender and pulse to the consistency of a smooth puree. Pour into two serving bowls, add some home-made granola, and top with a little shredded coconut.

[Recipe adapted from PoppiesandPapayas]

Don’t Be A Victim Of Facebook Envy

Jannine Myers

I spoke with a fellow WOOT member last week, and we both talked about our current training routines and how they don’t really reflect any impressive goals or achievements. That got me to thinking about “Facebook envy,” and how easy it is to look at other peoples’ training updates and consequently feel less adequate because you’re not out there doing what they are. If you’re someone who suffers from Facebook envy, I want to encourage you to stop; stop comparing your training – or lack thereof – with your fellow peers.

For me personally, my training is very “casual” at present; no fixed week-to-week workouts planned but more of a “play-it-by-ear” type approach. I’m getting ready to move soon and my focus is less on training and more on spending quality time with close friends and preparing for the move. I’m also not much of a summer-time runner – so running less through the summer months suits me just fine – however the main reason I’m able to feel fairly relaxed about not keeping up with my motivated running friends is because a) I accept that their goals are not my goals, and b) I make sure that despite my reduced mileage, I still maintain a certain degree of fitness.

Don’t allow yourself to be a victim of Facebook envy; remind yourself that you’re on your own training journey. Even if you admire what others are currently doing and wish you were doing the same, get your focus back on you! Ask yourself what you can do to maximize your time and potential given the circumstances that you’re currently in, and then commit to doing exactly that!

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Enjoying trail runs whenever I can and looking forward to my next season of training…..and, choosing not to feel bad because others are enjoying that season right now.

Heartbreaker Race Report by Lauren Thompson

Contributed by Lauren Thompson

On June 4, 2016, WOOT hosted the Heartbreaker race with the option to do a 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50K, up north near Okuma at Yui Yui kingdom. We were warned in the advertisement that it would be a suffer fest. I wasn’t sure what a suffer fest was, but I was drawn towards doing the 30k, getting a heart charm, and running the furthest I have ever ran.

On race day, the weather had just lightened up from three days of hard rain; it was humid but cooler than usual. Registration began at 5:15am; check in was well organized, and WOOT gear was there to purchase. Caroline, Jesse, Anna and others did a wonderful job making people feel welcomed; answering questions and making the event fun. The race brief was at 5:55 and the race began at 6:15.

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The start and finish loop began in front of Family Mart and then there was “The Hill.” Sweet Mother of Science the Hill was steep. It had inclines that were at 12 and 14 percent, 3 miles high and gorgeously green. It took a lot longer than expected to get up the hill, giving plenty of time to soak up the foliage and admire the sweat dripping off my hat. Most of the course I was alone, and surprisingly I enjoyed it. The race was a loop, making it possible to see all the other racers go by.  Racers are the most encouraging people, even when suffering; one of the wonderful reasons why I love the running cult.

This image from Tamara Webb shows the elevation - yikes!

This image from Tamara Webb shows the elevation – yikes!

Lauren running solo uphill

Lauren running solo uphill

Half way up the hill, there was a little fog and a nice breeze. At mile 2 and 4.2 was a popsicle stand. Anna and her girls were passing out the cold sweetness, taking pictures and cheering the runners on. It was a tough incline, but their positivity helped me keep going and feel safe, and the chill of the popsicle in my hand really helped my body cool down. At the very top of the hill was a guy with water and he passed out rubber bands to indicate each time we made it to the top. Never in my life have I worked so hard to earn a rubber band.

Running down the hill was more like flying. The closest race with an intense incline I’ve done was the Shouhashi Half Marathon, but that was not even close. There were a couple of times I had to stop; it was humbling, and I smiled at the challenge and just kept going. My abs and arms certainly were worked going down, and it was obvious that I had not done enough hill training but it felt great. As I was going down hill, I saw my running coach. She road her bike up the hill, cheered, and took pictures of me and the other racers. Very thankful for her support, especially as my family could not come; it calmed my nerves seeing her. As I mentioned before, the race is a loop, bringing me back to the start. Perfect for making a pit stop, filling the Camel Pack with water, ice, or getting more nutrition. Thank you Family Mart.

Towards the end of the race, I was sore, and stupid hot, but another WOOTer drove back in a truck to hand out cold fuel and motivation. It was the iced melon balls that are sold at Family Mart; they tasted amazeballs, perking me up for the rest of the race. After the amazeballs, the sense of gratefulness and accomplishment kicked in. I worked really hard and soon I would reach my goal of running a 30k.

At the finish line there were cheers, a finishing ribbon to run through, my running coach with the glass medal Tamara Webb had made to put on me, and the heartbreaker charm. I knew when I signed up for the Heartbreaker it was going to be an amazing race, and it was, it really was. Not sure what distance I’ll do next year, but I’ll certainly work my calves more to climb and fly down that incredible hill again!

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Massage Track Review

Jannine Myers

I was recently asked to review a product by MassageTrack.com; they sell a full-body self-massage kit that includes what physical therapists might refer to as “self-myofascial release tools.” My initial images of the product, without seeing any pictures or reading a full description, were of rolling pins or sticks – much like the foam rollers and running sticks already out there on the market. But the Massage Track kit is quite unlike anything I have seen, and after viewing a couple of videos and reading other reviews, I was keen to try it.

The package arrived with the following components:

– Neck Track, Body Track, 8 Balls, Netted bags for storage, and a Demonstration Video

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I’ll go ahead and say right off the bat that what I have to say about it is mostly positive, with the exception of one negative, but let me first list all of the pros:

  • The Massage Track is cost-efficient and will save you money in the long-run. It will set you back around $125, but when you consider how much it costs to visit your local massage therapist, you’ll clearly make your money back in no time. It’s nicer of course to have a massage therapist work out all the knots for you, but its also nice to know that in between appointments you can relieve any muscle pain yourself.
  • As a constant sufferer of tight and achy muscles, this product could potentially be the best thing that’s happened to me. I never liked the foam roller I used to own; I was never able to master control over it and figure out how to use it in a way that felt like I was getting results. But with the Massage Track, I can easily position any achy part of my body directly over the massage balls – held securely in place by the body track – and apply exactly the amount of pressure that’s needed; it allows for a preciseness that’s lacking in foam rollers and running sticks.
  • The kit comes with four sets of two balls each, and each set differs in weight allowing for a graduated progression of therapy. In other words, as a beginner, you start with the lightest balls and the least amount of pressure, and slowly work your way up to the heavier balls that provide a deeper and more intense treatment. A greater amount of relief is experienced, since you are required to hold and apply pressure for a certain length of time, as opposed to “rolling” over the area.
  • It’s portable!!! You can take it anywhere; it packs up easily into the netted bags and takes up little room.

With all that said, I have been using the Massage Track all week to reduce pain in my right upper back and shoulder area and also in my right hip and lower back area. I have been doing the recommended 12 second “beginner” holds, and will eventually extend the length of hold time to 60 seconds. For now, 12 seconds is about all I can tolerate, yet it’s all I need to get some temporary but immediate relief. I feel confident that if I can get myself into the habit of using the Massage Track daily, and if I can train myself to become proficient in using it, that it really will make a difference in my overall performance, recovery, and general well-being.

And that leads me to the one negative I mentioned earlier; the only fault I could find with the Massage Track (and it’s not really a product fault, but more of a human fault), is that it may not appeal to athletes like myself who dislike spending additional time on preventative training and therapies. I have a real aversion to stretching, foam rolling, yoga, dynamic warm-ups and cool-downs, and basically anything that forces me to slow down and restore my body; I can’t explain why except that I just don’t enjoy those things the way I enjoy actual training and working out.

However, I do believe that this product will absolutely benefit anyone who, as the website states, wishes to “get great relief from generic aches and pains, treat repetitive strain injury, and accelerate workout recovery.”

For more information on the Massage Track, and where to purchase from, visit their website here. And for a quick video demo, check out this one below that shows how to relieve pain in the upper and lower back: