In honor of November and POUNDgiving, we’re excited to launch a series of blogs about giving back. To kick things off, we’re focusing on ways to give back to our BODY. We connected with ICON Michelle Opperman to learn how she gives back to her body on a regular basis.
I love this topic on self-care and I am stoked to share my top 3 favorite ways to give back to my bod. Sending love to all of you rockstars!
1. Incorporate Myofascial Release
One of the simplest and most effective ways you can care for your body is to incorporate self myofascial release (SMR) techniques into your fitness routines. Current research suggests there are many benefits of SMR, including:
- Muscle imbalance correction
- Improves your joints range of motion
- Relieves muscle soreness and joint stress
- Improves circulation
- Relaxes muscles
- Improves neuromuscular efficiency
So what is Fascia and why should you care for it? It was recently named the largest organ in the body and can affect every system and function of the body. It is actually one continuous structure that exists from head to toe without interruption. Each part of the body is connected to every other part by the fascia—like the yarn in a sweater. Evidence suggests that our issues live in our tissues and therefore when the fascia is damaged, this is reflected in how we feel on an emotional and physical level. If one part of the body is not working efficiently, then the other parts will compensate, which will lead to muscle imbalances, tissue overload, fatigue and injuries. This can happen from repetitive movement or from sitting all day.
Taking care of your fascia will help bring your body to optimal health. And just like anything, consistency is key. A little rolling every day goes a long way. Some of my favorite tools for Myofacial Release are the Grid Roller, Rad Rollers and I never leave home without my Guasha. Remember to be easy on yourself. Most of your nerve endings live in your fascia so it can feel intense at first. It is important to take your time, move slow and breathe.
“Take care of your body, it is the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn
2. Practice Hot/Cold Therapy
This process is also simple, super effective and can make you feel superhuman when you do it. I got in the habit of doing cold therapy about eight years ago and I can honestly say it is life changing. My preferred way is to do full immersion at a Banya or spa starting with hot—usually the sauna—then a cold plunge after my body gets super toasty. But, I have recently discovered I can get the same effect in the comfort of my own home in the shower!
The idea is you want to get the blood flowing with warm water since the warm temperatures will open the blood vessels and flush the body with blood. Then switch to cold, which will drive the blood inward to warm and protect the internal organs from the cold, then go back to warm to get the blood going again, etc. Some of the amazing benefits of hot/cold therapy are:
- Improves lymphatic circulation
- Improves cardiovascular circulation
- Reduces muscle inflammation
- Boosts happiness levels
- Increases metabolism
My suggestion is 3-4 cycles of hot then cold. Do it for the length of time that makes sense for you. Stay calm and breathe. Conditioning your brain and your body to accept, endure and embrace cold water immersion may be challenging, but the health benefits in both the short and long-run are well worth it. It is also a great lesson in learning how to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. If I have time after I will meditate for 5-10 minutes. The cycle of hot/cold can sometimes feel like HIIT training so meditating and focusing on gratitude after while your body comes back to its resting state can make you feel even more superhuman.
3. Hydration on the Cellular Level
Of course drinking enough water is very important part of self-care. And my hope is that you all are in the habit of drinking water. I have recently discovered in my own life though that it is possible to drink a lot of water and still be dehydrated so I felt the need to share. Proper hydration is not just about drinking water, but more specifically, it’s about getting the water inside your cells. Oftentimes the water you drink will simply be urinated out before it has a chance to get into your cells. And, without proper intracellular hydration, your health and energy levels can suffer. To put it simply, we want our cells to be like plump grapes rather then shriveled up raisins. The more water in the cells, the more energy they can transmit and the better you feel. Some symptoms to be aware of are a decrease in exercise performance, muscle cramping, headaches, nausea and fatigue.
My favorite ways to hydrate my body to feel amazing are putting a little Himalayan pink salt in my water or use a product called NUUN. Water depends on electrolytes for proper absorption in the body (hydration). And it is the minerals in the salt or NUUN that provide the electrolytes that allow the cells to retain the water. For a community like ours that loves a good sweat, this can be a game changer!
There you have it, Michelle’s 3 tips to giving back to your bod. We’d love to learn about the ways you give back to your body in the comments below!