Wednesday, December 30, 2015

RAD Roller and HELIX Review


There are so many options of foam rollers, self-massage tools, and vitamins that claim to help you recover faster or become more injury resistant.  They come in all shapes and sizes, cost anywhere from a little to a lot, and help to focus on different areas of your body.  I saw a roller called the HELIX from RAD Roller.  It had a very different shape than many of your typical foam rollers or sticks.  I was fortunate enough to be able to test out the HELIX and another product that they offer called the RAD Roller, their original product.

RAD Roller is based out of Boulder Colorado, one of the healthiest places in America.  Michael Mallory, a biomechanics specialist, and Dan McIntosh, a professional triathlete, came up with the idea to fill a void in the massage tool industry.  They wanted to create a massage tool that could be used on the back that would not put pressure on the bones in your back and neck.  This is a common complaint I have with almost every foam roller out there.  That is where the RAD Roller came into existence. 

After a short time, the RAD Roller was expanded from the original (blue) to a firmer model (black) and a softer model (green).  They look like two racquetballs that are attached in the center.  The balls dig into the areas along your spine in your neck and back, but the gap between the balls does not put pressure on the spine itself.  I have found that my back and neck are two areas where I really have to take care of because they are areas that I tend to be more injury prone. In fact, I have had neck pain off and on for years and after only a few weeks of using the RAD Roller, I have notice a significant reduction in neck pain.  All I have to say is WOW!!!

The HELIX is another great tool for unlocking stiffness in your neck and back and is also great for flushing out toxins from your muscles.  The HELIX is 12.5 inches long and 3 inches wide.  It only weighs one pound and is has a unique shape.  RAD Roller designed the HELIX shape to mimic the double helix, which are the building blocks of our bodies.  The design, like the RAD Roller, has a void in the center of the roller to ensure that you do not put pressure on your spine.  It doesn’t make sense to hurt yourself when you are trying to relieve stiffness does it? 

I have to say that I really like both the RAD Roller and HELIX.  I find that the RAD Roller can be used to work out knots and stiffness in almost any muscle.  It really gets into those muscles in ways that larger foam rollers cannot.  I tested the original RAD Roller and found that the stiffness was just right for me.  The HELIX is great for really working on your back and neck.  I found that it took a little while to get used to the smaller diameter because I was used to larger diameter foam rollers. Don’t let this scare you though.  The HELIX truly does work muscles in ways a traditional foam roller cannot. 

The main reason why they made their products the sizes that they do is to make sure that they are easy to pack for your family vacations or races out of town.  Try doing that with your 3 foot long foam roller. Click here for HELIX exercises. Click here for RAD Roller exercises.

Pros:
Great Prices
Can easily travel with you.
Can release tension and toxin in hard to reach areas
Multiple firmness options for the RAD Roller

RAD Rollers’ Media Links:






I am so glad that I stumbled across the RAD Roller and HELIX.  They are both amazing products that could really take your recovery and training to the next level.  You can pick up the RAD Roller for $24.99 and the HELIX for $49.00.   They are both available on the RAD Roller website and at Amazon.  They also offer kits that include multiple RAD Roller products.  Check them out and let me know what you think.


Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Pistachio Chewy Bites Review

I am always looking for healthy snacks, but a majority of the snacks out there have too much sugar, artificial ingredients, or tastes horrible.  I had the opportunity to try Pistachio Chewy Bites from Setton Farms. 

Setton Farms is located just North of Bakersfield, California.  Setton Farms sells pistachios, nuts, dried fruit, edible seeds, snacks, trail mixes and confections, offering over 1,000 different snack products. They have been recognized as a leader in the snack industry for over 50 years.  Don’t let their success fool you though, they strive to offer products that are synonymous with superior quality, innovation, and great taste.

The Pistachio Chewy Bites contain Roasted unsalted pistachios, dried cranberries (cane sugar, sunflower oil), agave syrup, brown rice syrup, sunflower oil, natural cranberry flavor, and sea salt.  That’s it!!!  Each serving (2 bars) is 210 calories, 13 grams of healthy fats, 16 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugars, and 7 grams of protein.  This is a great pre or post workout shack because you get natural carbs to help fuel your workout and protein for rebuilding your muscles. 

I really liked the taste and texture of the Pistachio Chewy Bites.  There are over 50% pistachios in each bite.  The balance of pistachios to cranberries is very good.  Pistachio Chewy Bites are gluten and dairy free, are a great source of dietary fiber, and vegan friendly.  They have no preservatives either. 

Pros:
Decent price for an all-natural product
Tastes great
Individually packaged for on-the-go snacking

Setton Farms’ Media Links:



The taste and the fact that the Pistachio Chewy Bites are made with 100% natural ingredients is a huge selling point in my opinion.  In a world where almost everything is made with artificial ingredients, it is nice to know that there are snacks that are still healthy.  You can purchase your Pistachio Chewy Bites on Amazon for $7.79 + shipping.  You get 6 bites or 3 servings (because there are 2 squares per serving size).  Puritan's Pride is offering a buy 1 get 1 free so you get 2-packs of 6 bites for $12.99 + shipping.  Also, several major grocery stores carry Pistachio Chewy Bites as well.  They retail for $1.99 for a 1-serving pack.  Get yours today and let me know what you think.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Therawheel Review



In the world of recovery, there are tools that come in all different shapes and sizes.  I have tried rollers, lacrosse balls, roller sticks, foot rollers, and compression gear.  I got the Therawheel to test out and I was excited because it combines an ab roller and tool to roll out muscles.

The Therawheel was designed by Certified Athletic Trainer Tom Jennings.  Tom has over 25 years in the sports and fitness field.  He has helped people from the weekend warrior to Olympic athletes prevent and recover from injures.  Tom also spent 6 years working for the Indiana Pacers. 

The Therawheel looks like an ab roller, which is not a new tool.  Tom took this idea to a whole new level by making small changes in the design for use in trigger point release is new.  Tom made the wheels concaved with wider and thinner sections, depending on what part of the wheel you use on your muscles.  I really liked this aspect of the Therawheel because it made it simple to adjust the amount of intensity you wanted to use on a specific muscle. 

I tried the Therawheel Core.   This model has two wheels that are attached to a padded shaft.  The wheels roll easily and you can find several video’s on YouTube if you type Therawheel in the search bar.  Here are two videos that are common injuries for new runners.    



Pros:
Multiple uses (massage/exercise)
Decent price
Can adjust intensity easily

Therawheel’s Media Links:







I really like the Therawheel.  It really got into some muscles like no other tool I have tried.  In my testing, I used the Therawheel for ab workouts and some existing issues that are a result of my marathon training.  The Therawheel Core costs $49.95 an can be purchased at the Therawheel website.  I will continue to foam roll and stretch, but the introduction of the Therawheel is just another tool that will help me to remain injury free and work through any injuries that I experience.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Oral IV Hydration Review


Hydration should be a part of your run/race plans.  If you don’t properly hydrate, it can lead to a decrease in performance as well as an increase in time it takes for you to recover from a workout or run. 

This is especially true in the summer when dehydration can occur more easily.  When you sweat, your blood volume decreases, which leads to less blood being pumped to your heart.  This in turn reduces the amount of oxygen rich blood that is pumped back out to your muscles.  That is why you will run at a slower pace when you are dehydrated.  Also, in the heat, your body sends more of your blood to the surface of your skin to help remove heat.  You will have to work a lot harder to maintain the same level of exercise.  So why should you take in electrolytes?

Electrolytes drinks usually are made up of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and artificial sweeteners.  There are theories that electrolyte drinks can prevent cramping but there is just as much proof against that theory as for it.  The true benefits of taking in electrolytes is that it assists in fluid balance and absorption.  The flavoring of these drinks is to make them more appealing.

I ran across Oral IV in a Facebook ad.  I wanted to see what it was all about and after reading the information and reviews online, I knew I wanted to see if it really worked.  I reached out to Oral IV and they sent me some samples to test.  The package showed up about 2 weeks before my marathon, so I had a great opportunity to put OralIV to the ultimate test.  I also had my running partner try it out.

Oral IV is different from your normal electrolyte tabs or drinks.  First of all, Oral IV comes in a little plastic vile with liquid inside.  Oral IV is made with a group of trace minerals including sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, manganese, selenium, copper, calcium, silicon and zinc.  These trace minerals make up a formula that activates your body’s hydration processes.  Oral IV is made from natural raw materials to avoid contamination and are biologically made so they do not have to be digested in order to be rapidly absorbed into your system.  The mineral absorb directly through your soft tissues in your mouth.  I know that this is a lot of technical information, so I will cut to the chase.

The Oral IV vial is small enough to keep in a pocket or water belt.  You simply twist off the plastic top and drink.  There is no flavor and no artificial ingredients, sugars, or stimulants which I really like.  I like to put the Oral IV in my mouth and mix it with a gulp of water.  The directions say you can take it before and after your workout and every 2 hours for longer trainings or races. 

I tried Oral IV twice before my marathon and during the marathon itself.  The effects that I felt include a reduced need for water and I felt like I recovered from these runs faster than normal.  I had my hydration backpack and did not drink as much water as I normally would have, but did not feel like it hurt me at all.  I think that is a direct result of taking Oral IV. 

Pros:
Convenient small package (easy to take with you)
Decent price (for occasional use)
Sugar-free, stimulant-free, and artificial ingredient-free
Rapidly absorbed into your system
Helps maintain top performance
Decreases recovery time

Cons:
A little pricey for everyday use

Oral IV’s Media Links:






I definitely see the benefits of taking Oral IV, especially in my summer races when I tend to sweat a lot.  It is vital to stay on top of hydration at these events and I will be taking Oral IV for sure.  It costs $12 for a 4–pack, $50 for a 25-pack, or $100 for a 50-pack.  While it may be pricey for everyday use, I think this is ideal for races and even your most grueling workouts.  I am really glad that I got to test out Oral IV and would definitely recommend it to my readers.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tommie Copper Recovery Gear Review



There are numerous reports that say recovery is more important than the intensity of your runs.  Most people train really hard, follow their training plans to the letter, and then don’t give themselves enough time to recover properly.  Having a good recovery plans consists of having a good balance of easy and hard runs, stretching, and nutrition.  One way to recover quicker is to utilize compression gear.  I have tested a decent amount of compression gear from some of the leading companies like 2XU, McDavid, Zensah, CompressionZ, and CEP.  I heard about Tommie Copper from a friend and wanted to test out some of their gear. 

I got to test Tommie Copper’s recovery tights, recovery shorts, and their knee sleeve.  Each Tommie Copper item uses what they call Copper Znergy™.  It consists of a proprietary fabric that is infused with copper and zinc, which they claim can provide several benefits.  Copper Znergy™ inhibits the growth of odor-causing microbes on the fabric.  That’s always a plus; nobody wants stinky clothes.  The fabric has a UPF 50+ rating to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays.  Each Tommie Copper product features a light weight, breathable design made with Cool Copper™ which is moisture wicking and has anti-chafe seams. 

The recovery tights, shorts and knee sleeves felt awesome from the moment that I put them on.  They made my legs feel cool, which is nothing I have felt in any other recovery gear that I have tried.  I really felt like they had just the right amount of compression without being too loose or tight.  This is not always the case, it just depends on the brand.  I felt that the materials were very durable and that their construction will make these last. 

Tommie Copper recovery gear can be washed in and dried, although you should not use fabric softener or bleach.  Just wash them like you normally would and dry them on a gentle cycle.  Their website says that they will retain their benefits for at least 50 washes. 

Pros:
Best compression gear I have tried
Great materials
Feel Awesome
Can be used for extended amounts of time

Cons:
Some of the gear is a little pricey (but worth the money).

Tommie Copper’s Media Links:






I have to say that I love all three of these products for different reasons.  The recovery tights cost $79.50, the recovery shorts cost $49.50, and the knee sleeve is $24.50.  Be aware that they are all sold individually so if you want 2 knee sleeves, you will need to order 2.  They are a little pricey, but it is well worth the money.  You can order them on the Tommie Copper website.  If you order soon, Tommie Copper is offering 25% off by using the code “HOLIDAY25” at checkout.  Shipping is free for all orders over $75 (Free 2-day shipping on orders over $150).  You will also get a 60-day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with your purchase.  Give Tommie Copper recovery gear a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

ACV Cramp Cure Review


Many runners experience muscle cramps at one point or another.  It can be during a hard workout, sprints, or even on a day when you aren’t running as hard as normal, but your body just cramps up.  What causes muscle cramps?

For years, runners were under the impression that muscle cramps were caused by a vitamin deficiency, dehydration, or fatigue.  Many people take salt pills, electrolytes, or eat bananas to try and keep dreadful leg cramps away.  New research is pointing toward another reason for why you get muscle cramps and how to treat them.

“The Real Cause of Muscle Cramps.” By Dr. Bob Murray discusses that when you decide to move your legs, your brain sends signals to nerve cells in your spinal cord, which connects to your muscles.  The stimulated muscles contract and that is what makes you move.  Basically, Dr. Murray says that the issue is not with your muscles but your nerves.  Research has shown that you can activate sensory fibers in your mouth and throat to send signals to the nervous system.  This will in turn tell your muscles to relax.  That is where ACV Cramp Cure comes in. 

ACV Cramp Cure claims that their drink can typically relieve cramping within 60-seconds.  That is a very bold statement right?  While I did not have a full blown muscle cramp, I did test this twice when my legs were starting to tighten up.  I also had my running partner test out ACV during our marathon on Sunday.  We both felt almost an immediate relief of our leg tightness. 

ACV Cramp Cure is made up of Purified Water, Apple Cider Vinegar, Sugar, Natural flavoring, Stevia, Lime Juice, and capsicum.  It is 100% all natural.  I will warn you that it does have a bit of a bite, so be ready for it. 

Pros:
Convenient small package (easy to take with you)
Decent price
Caffeine free
Gluten Free
No GMO’s
Works in less than a minute

ACV Cramp Cure’s Media Links:



I will be carrying ACV Cramp Cure on my long training runs and future marathons.  I am a true believer!  ACV Cramp Cure costs $4.49 each or 5 for $17.00.  They have larger packages as well.  You can get yours at the ACV Cramp Cure website today.  Nothing is worse than running a great race and being taken down by leg cramps.  Now you can be prepared and finish strong.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Apace Vision LED Safety Lights Review


I have been running quite a bit lately, either early in the morning or at night after I put my kids to bed.  Both times require me to run in the dark.  While I live in an area with well-lit sidewalks, I prefer to run in the bike lane on the road (facing oncoming traffic).  In doing so, I need to take extra precautions in order to ensure cars see me.  Clip-on lights, light vests, and reflective clothing are all great to wear.  Some of these items can be rather pricey like my favorite light vest, the Noxgear 360 (on sale for $52.50, regularly $69.95).

I found a cheaper option though.  The Apace Vision LED lights are inexpensive and come in a package of two.  You also get 2 spare batteries, Velcro straps, and a miniature screwdriver, which you will need to change the batteries.

You get two LED lights per package.  They either come in red or blue.  The lights can either produce a solid light or strobe effect.  It is as simple as pressing a button at the front of the light.  I got 2 sets to test out so I used one blue and one red light on the front of my hydration backpack.  I set the lights to the strobe effect and then enjoy watching cars put on their brakes because they think they see a police car in the distance, but it’s just me.  It’s the little things that keep me sane on my long runs.

The lights are weatherproof and the LED lights are really bright.  My only complaint is that the Velcro straps were made to go around a belt or bicycle handlebars so they are really short.  They will not fit around a wrist, arm, or ankle.  The lights clip right to your clothing or running gear so the short Velcro strap is not a big deal at all. 

Pros:
Bright LED lights
2 modes (solid or flashing effects)
Replacement batteries
Clips to clothes or running gear
Great price

Cons:
The Velcro straps aren’t long enough to go around a wrist, arm, or ankle.
 
Apace Vision’s Social Media Links:

The Apace Vision LED safety lights are a great deal at $19.97-$20.97 on Amazon.  What makes the deal even better is that you get spare batteries, which would probably cost you $6-10 for two.  I was really pleased with the quality of the materials and the lights seem like they will last for quite a long time.  Apace offers a 30-day money back guarantee and a 1 year warranty.  That way you can test them out risk-free.  Running safety is something that you should take very seriously and being seen is the best thing you can do to ensure your safety.  For more information on staying safe when running in the dark, see one of my old blog post (click here).

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Gear Under $50



It is that time a year again where we try to find the perfect gifts for our significant other, children, and parents.  If they are runners, you are in luck because there are plenty of great products for under $50 to choose from.  I have put together a list of some of my favorite products.

Runners who train at night:

This is a very simple product that can keep you safe when you run at night. The pair of clip-on LED lights are bright and can either provide a steady light or a strobe effect for more visibility.  I like to run with one red and one blue light clipped on the front of my hydration backpack.  People definitely see me coming.  


The Nathan Sports Orion Strobe light combines a LED light to guide your way and a red light to make sure you are seen.  The lights can be set to solid or flashing in many different combinations.  It clips to your clothes or the included belt.  You will never have to buy batteries because the Orion Strobe Light comes with a rechargeable lithium ion battery and a built in USB charging. 
If you get hurt on a run, would the paramedics know how contact your loved ones? With the Wrist ID Sport from Road ID, they would. It is a comfortable bracelet with reflective strips and a metal plate that your emergency contact information is engraved onto. It comes with a Velcro enclosure for ease of use.


For the new runner:

Swiftwick claims their socks are “the best socks you will ever wear guaranteed.”  Their claims have merit to them.  Swiftwick socks are durable and feel great thanks to the premium materials and compression technology.  That means that you will have a blister free run with superior wicking.  If you don’t like them, Swiftwick will buy you another pair of socks.  Now that’s a guarantee!


Having a good pair of sunglasses that won’t bounce around and aren’t polarized can go a long way in making your run more enjoyable.  XX2i makes great sunglasses that are light weight and come with a case.  You also get the best guarantee in the business. You have 365 days to test them out and if you don’t like them for whatever reason, you can return them and get your money back.  They also have a lifetime warranty where they will replaced if you scratch or break them, you just pay a nominal shipping fee.  

Do you know when to change your running shoes? Most people don’t. The Mino is a pad that you put under your insole. The LED lights on the Mino will tell you when to buy a new pair of shoes before you injure yourself from running in shoes that are worn out. It’s that simple.  Get one for every pair of shoes.   


Products for Race Day:

Little things can make a huge difference.  I will never pin another bib to my shirt.  The Nathan Race Number Belt is a soft elastic belt that won’t chafe you.  It is adjustable and will fit most people.  There is a plastic clip and two toggles to hold you race bib on.
Nothing is worse than taking a shower after a race or long run and finding out that you have chafing issues.  Blue Steel’s Anti-Chafe Cream protects against blisters, skin rashes, chafing, and won’t stain your clothes.  It is made with tea tree oil which can soothe irritated skin as well.


When you are running for long distances, your body needs fuel to keep working at its peak performance.  Gu Energy Gels are only 100 calories and essential electrolytes.  There are dual sources of energy from maltodextrin and fructose for long lasting energy.  If you have ever been on a long run and ran out of energy, than you know how important fueling can be.  Gu’s Energy Gels are tasty and convenient.

Products to make your muscles happy:

OOFOS makes the most comfortable recovery sandal around.  Maybe your boss will be okay with you wearing them to work?  Not only does OOFOS foam absorb 37% more shock than other materials, but they cradle your arches as well.  They are machine washable and float. Beware, once you put them on, you won’t want to take them off.   

Many runners say that compression socks help to reduce swelling, enhance blood circulation, and reduce muscle vibration allowing you to run more efficiently and recover faster.  It may look like you are wearing knee high socks, but if you can get past that it may help your poor muscles recover for that next punishing run.  The Allrounder is an extremely comfortable compression sock that uses true graduated compression, unlike some of the cheaper compression socks out there.  They use seamless TekWeb technology to prevent blisters.  The Allrounder is also made with antimicrobial fibers to keep the socks from smelling, and they provide a cooling effect.

Stretching your muscles out on a regular basis will help you recover quicker, increase flexability, and reduce the risk of injury from running.  The OPTP Stretch Out Strap is 6’4” in length and has multiple loops to make it easier to hold while stretching.  The included exercise book comes with 30 exercises to help you along the way.  I use mine almost every night.
Sometimes you need to ice your muscles after a long run, but don’t have time to sit and break out the ice cup. Dr. Cool has a solution in their Ice/Compression wrap. Their wraps come in multiple colors to suit your personality and you can even get a travel case/cooler (the Dr. Cooler) for an additional $9.99. You simply wet the wrap, throw it in the freezer for 20-40 minutes, and wrap up that troubled area. Then you can go about your day while icing that pain in your… knee.


Awesome Deals:

Altra uses the best materials in their wide toe box shoes with zero heel drop.  These are some of the most comfortable around.  Altra made these shoes light weight, responsive, and flexible.  The Instinct 2.0 weighs 9.5 ounces and the Intuition 2.0 weighs 8.1 ounces.  They came out with the Instinct/Intuition 3.0 so you can get a killer deal on a pair of the Instinct/Intuition 2.0’s.  Get them while they last.


If you are a new runner or have been around the block a few times, you probably know that running brings out some smells that you never thought would come out of your body.  That leads to stinky clothes.  The good news is that Sport Suds can keep your clothes smelling and looking like new.  They have a variety of sizes to choose from as well as a washing machine cleaner.

Runner’s World magazine has great articles on how to improve your form, exercises, and nutrition that can be vital for newer runners. You also look at all of those runners that have 2% body fat and use it for motivation on your next diet. Runner’s World magazine has been around since the 1960’s so you know there is a lot of knowledge there.


Find a professional running coach who can help you to improve your form, becoming faster, or reach your goals. Go to the CoachUp website, answer a few questions and they will provide you with running coaches in your area. There are various prices based on the coach you pick. Become a stronger runner with help from a professional, not your friend Bob who keeps tripping over his own feet.