To Stretch or Not to Stretch: That is the Question

Should we stretch or not?  There is a lot of debate among experts if stretching helps or hinders performance.  One, a study  published  in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2010; 24 [9], 2274–79),  “concluded that if you stretch before you lift weights, you may find yourself feeling weaker and wobblier than you expect during your workout. Those findings join those of another new study from Croatia, a comprehensive re-analysis of data from earlier experiments that were published  in The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. Together, the studies augment a growing scientific consensus that pre-exercise stretching is generally unnecessary and likely counterproductive.”

A Few Key Terms:

Flexibility is mobility or range of motion around a joint.  You probably know some “double jointed” people, which is really a joint that is hypermobile.  There are many reasons, that I won’t get into now, for hypermobility but it can lead to painful injuries such as dislocation, fractures, disc prolapse, ligament sprains, muscle strains, pulled tendons and so on.

On the other hand, there are those that can barely reach behind them, or those that can’t touch their toes- Inflexible   

Stretching is the movement or exercise we do to try and improve our range of motion.  According to About.com, “Biomechanic experts and physical therapists generally use the norms for normal range of motion around a joint as the basis for determining muscle imbalances.”

Does Stretching Hamper Performance

Most of the studies, I read, conclude that static stretching hampers performance in strength and explosive power, more so than endurance.   However, many studies conclude that  , for endurance events: “performance was significantly greater in the non-stretching vs. the stretching condition, for an endurance event with significantly greater energy expenditure during the stretching compared with the non-stretching condition.”

What should athletes do to Improve Performance

Warm-up dynamically, by moving the muscles that will be called upon in your workout.  Dynamic stretching  combine the stretch and warm-up.  Examples of this would be :

  • walking lunge
  • high-knee running
  • butt kickers
  • carioca
  • side shuffle

 Everyone is Different

 There are a variety of reasons for increased or decreased Range of Motion (ROM).  After years of training a variety of different clients, I’ve come to understand that everyone is different, their genetics, their injuries, their muscle imbalances.  I start to get concerned when limited ROM prevents my clients from doing normal activities.  Also, I’m concerned for athletes doing repetitive movement and training for a sport, resulting in muscle imbalances.

Experts still debating on the stretching issue. Always consult your physician if you are going to start an exercise program or perform any at home testing.

 

Important Questions to Ask

 

 Have you ever had more flexibility?

Has your flexibility changed recently? 

Is your flexibility or lack of preventing you from doing normal activities?

Do you do anything repetitive (work or sport)? 

 There may be many reasons why you may not perform the following flexibility tests optimally. But that is for another post. Remember; never overstretch a muscle to get a better score. Always know your limits and don’t push it.

Here are a couple of common tests that can be performed to see if you are at the optimal ROM for a joint. 

Groin Flexibility Test–  (Sometime called Butterfly)  Sit on the floor with your knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor and legs together. Let your knees drop sideways as far as possible keeping your feet together. The soles of your feet should be together and facing each other. Hold on to your feet with both hands, and pull you ankles as close to your body as possible. Measure the distance from your heels to your groin.

Use the table below to convert the score measurement to a rating.

Ratings           Score

Excellent         5 cm

Good              10 cm

Very Good     15 cm

Fair                 20 cm

Poor                25 cm

Trunk Rotation Test–  Mark a vertical line on the wall. Stand with your back to the wall directly in front of the line, with your feet shoulder width apart. You should be about arms length away from the wall, though you may need to adjust the distance from the wall once you start the test. Extend your arms out directly in front of you so they are parallel to the floor. Twist your trunk to your right and the touch the wall behind you with your fingertips, keeping your arms extended and parallel to the floor. You are allowed to turn your shoulders, hips and knees as long as your feet don’t move. Mark the position where your fingertips touched the wall, and measure the distance from the line. A point before the line is a negative score and a point after the line is a positive score. Repeat for the left side with your feet in the same position.

Take the average of the 2 scores (left and right sides). Use the table below to convert the score measurement to a rating.

Ratings         Score

Excellent         20 cm

Good              15 cm

Very Good     10 cm

Fair                 5 cm

Poor                0 cm

My Favorite Stretch   (tight glutes and back)

Sit in a chair with your leg crossed (Like a man sits). Sit up nice and tall.  Keep your back flat.(.do not round it) then lean forward. You will immediately feel it in your glute area.  You can also try this stretch lying down.

What are your favorite stretches for tight muscles that are causing you pain or limiting you?

Notes:

I am not a doctor, please consult your physician when attempting any new exercise or stretch.

The Show Down- Oil of Oregano vs Cinnamon Oil

Essential Oil King

Essential Oil KingWow, when I went on this investigative journey, I had no idea that I was going to “get into the weeds” with this.

I have always loved the idea of “Green” cleaning but I was probably like a lot of people thinking that if it didn’t make me feel like passing out, from the fumes, then it probably wasn’t doing a lot of good.  O.k., maybe that’s just me, but after going through the research I’ve learned that Essential Oils (EO) can be as good as or better than antibiotics and the most potent cleaner on the market.

My purpose for the journey was to find an EO that was best for a disinfectant cleaner and to find out if it is equal in results.  Let’s recap: In Parts 1 & 2, I explored many studies that showed Oil of Oregano and Cinnamon Oil to have antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties. But which one is “the king” of EO’s?

  Oil of Oregano vs Cinnamon Oil

Food Borne Bacteria

In International Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biological Archives 2012; 3(5):1106-1109  Cinnamon, Clove, Oil of Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme were tested against the food borne bacteria of Campylobacter., Listeria., Yersinia., Salmonella.and Pseudomonas.  You’ve probably heard some of these in the news…basically; it’s bacteria that cause food poisoning.  These results surprised me because it concluded that clove and cinnamon were “tops” when it came to inhibiting the food borne bacteria with thyme and oregano coming in 4th and 5th place.

 Antifungal Study

In a PubMed journal 2012 2008 Nov;54(11):950-6. doi: 10.1139/w08-097

Oil of Oregano tested # 1 for its antifungal properties with Cinnamon coming in second.

My personal Conclusion

After all of my research, I have concluded that my Disinfectant spray will have to have at the least 3 ingredients in it…Cinnamon, Clove and Oil of Oregano.

Not only were the claims substantiated but it actually surpassed many of my expectations.

Remember, when buying essential oils, they need to be at highest quality for them to be therapeutic. If it is low-cost, most likely it will be low quality.  Please don’t hesitate to ask, which companies are good because I’ve researched that, as well and will cover that at another time. I use both Young Living and Native American Nutritionals (merged with Rocky Mountain Oils) Please check them out at my online store http://astore.amazon.com/aspireswellness-20

You can also buy this   North American Herb and Spice, Oregaspray, 4-Ounces  that has both Oil of Oregano and clove or follow this  DIY recipe I found that includes the three EO’s mentioned; other ingredients in this recipe have also been found effective and blend nicely. 

 Antibacterial Essential Oil Blend

Makes 250 drops. About enough to fill 1- 15ml bottle: You can cut in “half”

 Ingredients

80 drops clove bud oil
70 drops lemon oil
40 drops cinnamon oil
20 drops rosemary oil
20 – 40 drops of Oil of Oregano

 Method

1.  Add oils, one by one, to your container of choice.

2. Shake bottle and use as desired.

3. From this blend you can use about 16 drops to 16oz distilled water in a spray bottle.

 NOTES:

1.  This recipe is specifically for an All Purpose spray, not to be ingested.

2.  This oil blend is hot. It can burn sensitive skin, or throat lining, etc. Use with caution and dilute appropriately.  I encourage you to do your own research to find out what dilution works best for you.

3.  Experiment with the blend that works for you. Some recipes call for 30 drops of Eucalyptus which includes  the traditional “Thieves” recipe and you can buy that here Thieves Essential Oil by Young Living Essential Oils – 15 ml
But if you are going to make it yourself use Eucalyptus Citriodora and not Eucalyptus globulus or Eucalyptus radiata oils. There is a component in those oils that according to
 some articles that is poisonous, however, you would need to ingest 3.5 ml (approx 87.5 drops) of it to be fatal. This recipe doesn’t even call for that amount and in the dilution for your disinfectant spray it’s even less. But to be on the safe side, you can use Eucalyptus Citriodora which is the milder form. Make sure to read the labels on your essential oils bottles carefully before using. You really could skip this oil if you wanted to.

Notes: 

Please do your homework and don’t use any oil you aren’t sure is sourced correctly. Essential oils are highly concentrated, strong, and powerful liquids that can be harmful if not used carefully and properly.  This is an especially potent blend of essential oils which could cause irritation when applied to the skin, even in diluted amounts. We advocate caution when using them, and do not recommend using essential oils internally.  Please keep essential oils out of reach of children. Not recommended for use on babies, toddlers, or children.

I am not a doctor, and you should always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or beginning any health routine.

 

The Bomb- Essential Oils Part 3

So I left my research a couple of days ago , thinking that Oregano Oil is “The Bomb”.  Well I still think that, considering an article in Journal of Applied Microbiology just came out saying that the ingredient in Oil of Oregano , Carvacrol, kills Norovirus.  Wow, I should have bought some stock in it.

Essential Oils Study

Well, my research continues and I am researching studies involving other essential oils.  Remember, I’m on a quest for the perfect Disinfectant All Purpose Spray.  In BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2006, 6:39,  they examined 21 Essential Oils (not including Oil of Oregano)  including cinnamon, clove, geranium, lemon, lime, orange , rosemary oils and others.  They tested these oils against gram postive (Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus)  and gram negative bacteria (Escherichia coli,Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus vulgaris,).  

Cinnamon Oil

The conclusions showed that cinnamon oil (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), lime oil, geranium oil, rosemary oil, orange oil, lemon oil and clove oil had maximum activity over all the bacteria tested.  Aniseed oil, eucalyptus oil and camphor oil failed to inhibit any of the tested strains.  Cinnamon oil showed significant inhibitory effect against P. aeruginosa B. subtilis P. vulgaris K. pneumoniae  and S. aureus . Moderate effects were seen in lime oil, clove oil and lemon oil.

In a New York Times article dated, September 7, 2009, it featured 2 articles,  from Letters in Applied Microbiology and Journal of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery  concluded that cinnamon oil was a powerful antiseptic.

How to Use Cinnamon Essential Oil

When combined with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), cinnamon essential oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to baths.

Safety

Cinnamon essential oil should not be taken internally without the supervision of a health professional. Internal use of cinnamon essential oil may have toxic effects.

Some individuals may experience irritation and/or allergic reactions when applying cinnamon essential oil to the skin.

It’s also important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with cinnamon essential oil and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Pregnant women and children should consult their primary health care providers prior to using essential oils.

I am not a doctor and you should always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or beginning any health routine.

Next

So I’m left again with a task and that is to search the effectiveness of Oil of Oregano vs. Cinnamon oil and to see if there is any resistance of the bacteria to the EO.  I’m determined to find the perfect combination for my disinfectant spray.

 

 

 

Oil of Oregano-What is it? Essential Oils Part 2

The essential oils that I have in my home smell really good.   When I get a massage and the therapist applies essential oils, I always feel relaxed.  The literature accompanying any essential oil makes many claims.  ….but are there really scientific studies out there that prove it.  Take a journey with me as we find out.

When I started this journey I really had no idea the amount of research and scientific studies that were done on the effectiveness of essential oils. I would really encourage everyone to do their own research but I want to give you some of the tidbits I’ve discovered.  I just happened to mention to a client of mine that I really want to see a petri dish full of bacteria and see what effect the essential oil has on it.   Well guess what?  I found these studies, right on the internet. Who would have thought?

For the next few blog postings, I’m going to focus on the anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties of some of the best oils.  After all, I started this research in order to make the best All-Purpose Disinfectant spray for our house.

What in the World is “Oil of Oregano?”

As I began my research, I almost immediately came across a certain oil that was in multiple studies.  That oil is Oregano Essential oil.  Oil of oregano is not to be confused with common oregano that we use in our kitchens, which is usually marjoram (Origanum majorana or O. vulgare) but it is the  true oregano (Origanum vulgare).

What is in Oil of Oregano

Oil of Oregano contains the active ingredient carvacrol which may be an effective treatment against some drug resistant bacteria.   A study in Science Daily 10/11/2001, stated that Oil of Oregano,  at pretty low doses, was found to be effective against Staphylococcus bacteria and was comparable in its germ-killing properties to antibiotic drugs such as streptomycin, penicillin and vancomycin.

Vancomycin is one of the more potent antibiotics.  But the important thing about this is that, in the book, entitled Beyond Antibiotics: Healthier Options for Families, it states, “one of the advantages essential oils have over antibiotics is that bacteria do not develop resistance to essential oils. “  I think this is a super important fact considering all the drug resistant bacteria strains out there.

How does Oil of Oregano compare

Oil of Oregano was tested against 52 other plant oils and found to be the lead pharmacologic agent against Candida albicans (yeast), E. coli, Salmonella enterica and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. [Journal Applied Microbiology, volume 86, June 1999]  Pseudomonas is a type of germ that is getting more difficult to treat as it has developed strains that are resistant against antibiotic drugs.

More Health Claims of Oregano Oil

  • Inflammation resistant
  • Can help relieve congestion
  • Emmenagogue — Oregano oil can aid irregular menstruation and reducing the negative effects of menopause.
  • Anti-allergen — Oregano oils produce a sedating effect on the hyper-sensitivity of allergies.
  • Potent anti-oxidant capacity — Through neutralizing free-radicals, oregano oil helps us slow the process of cellular deterioration, thus slowing the process of aging.
  • Rosmarinic acid, a component of oil of oregano, is an antihistamine, and a more powerful antioxidant than vitamin E.
  • Digestive aid — Stimulates the flow of bile in the digestive organs
  • With regular use, oregano oil can help protect us against fungal infections.

Important Notes

Oregano Oil is not generally considered safe during pregnancy, though culinary use of oregano leaf is considered fine. Due to its highly potent nature, it should always be diluted for use on the skin or when taking internally. I am not a doctor or medical professional, and you should always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or beginning any health routine.

How does Oregano match up to popular Essential Oil Blends and how to do you make your own All Purpose Spray?  I’ll focus on that in my next posting.

Health and Fitness from the inside out

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