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With extended periods of working from home, new social distancing measures for nearly every brick and mortar type, and seemingly little certainty as to when “normal” may return to our daily lives, a new age of fitness is upon us. From a dramatic rise (out of necessity) for virtual workouts, to people taking up running, cycling, powerwalking, and more like never before, we’re all diving headlong into new modalities of staying fit. In fact, in a recent survey, Mindbody found that roughly 33% of people have been exercising more since COVID-19 hit. (Insert “gaining the COVID-19" joke here...)
So, with increased exercise and all this running around, it’s safe to say that we’re also going to be experiencing some chinks in the armor, as it were. Some aches and pains in places we didn’t know existed. A lovely dull sensation here and there. Or a sharp and stabbing assault on a hip flexor... (speaking from very personal experience.)
This is precisely why we are so excited that our friends at RAD Roller have been helping us out. We recently used a few of their products to relieve pressure from sitting all day in our uncomfortable chairs, recover from our first 10-mile run, and align our bodies, so we’re able to work out tomorrow—and the day after, and so on, and so on, and so on...
Here are our experiences live and direct from the Mindbody HQ (AKA: our own homes):
Oh, the pressure of working from home. It’s definitely getting to all of us. Since I started working remotely, I’ve felt more pressure than EVER... in my back and neck.
When I worked in the office, I had a perfectly ergonomic desk setup. But now, I find myself hunched over my laptop on the couch most mornings—and at the end of the day, my neck and back feel it.
Pre-COVID, I had been to some yoga classes that involved roller balls (shout-out MELT at Yoga Branch Studio in North County, San Diego). I remember noticing such a difference in overall pain and tightness from the start of class to the final Savasana, just from rolling some magic little balls on a few points on my body.
So... when I saw RAD Roller’s Point Release Kit, I knew I had to try it. I read the reviews—most notably, one that mentions an ex-girlfriend's cold, dead heart—and was sold even further. I ordered it right away, and it was on my doorstep in days—a beautifully packaged block, three rounds, and a RAD Roller.
My first thought was, “WOW.” And my second thought, “What the hell do I do with this?” I started unfolding large posters with drawings of people using the product. Not gonna lie, I was a little overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, these drawings were super informative and easy to follow, but I just didn’t know where to start. So, I did what any sane person would do—I went to the internet.
After one quick Youtube search, I found a whole library of videos on RAD Roller’s channel. Because my goal (for now) was to focus on my back and neck, I chose this one and this one—and it hurt, so good. After following those videos just one time, I already noticed a huge difference in the tightness and mobility of my spine. I started doing these exercises, along with more I found on their channel, nightly to relieve my back pain and loosen up sore muscles after working out.
I cannot tell you how much of a difference this made.
I started incorporating the Point Release Kit into my at-home yoga practice. I typically flow every night before bed to wind down at the end of my day and stretch out my sore muscles. And often, I’ve felt like I needed a little extra help—especially since I’ve been feeling that extra pressure lately.
After just a couple weeks of using this kit in my practice, I already feel so much better. The biggest difference I notice is I’m sitting a lot more comfortably. I knew I was tense, but I didn’t realize just how tense everything was when I was just sitting or lying down. I feel more relaxed overall, settling comfortably into my makeshift WFH couch desk.
Magic little balls to the rescue.
Getting back into in-studio fitness is a hard thing to do post-COVID lockdowns. The classes and studio procedures are unfamiliar, and the workouts are hard. Like most people, I have been doing at-home classes, and it’s not quite the same. It’s easy to skip out on a cardio blast or come out of that plank early because no one is holding you accountable.
After getting back into in-person classes, my body felt really sore (my back and neck, especially, since I wasn’t used to working out this intensely). Enter: RAD Roller. It completely helped my body get back to feeling great again.
The RAD tools designed for the back all have a unique feature in common, the spinal recess. It’s a groove that allows you to avoid contact with the delicate bones of your spine and keep the release where you want it—in the muscles. It comes in all the right intensities, so you can pick the right level for you.
After using the RAD Roller, I did not expect my body to feel so good. I use it almost every day now and cannot live without it.
“Please remember to stretch, Will.” This is my wife after every single run I take. Roughly 50% of the time, I totally adhere to her advice (which I also read now as a plea). I’ve been running for years, but actively take time off when a new modality strikes my fancy—yoga and mountain biking, really.
But when COVID-19 hit, I decided I was going to finally start my training for a marathon. Starting small, I logged 4-5 miles a day with times ranging from 6:45/mi to 7:45/mi depending on my rum intake from the night prior. This blossomed into 8-10 miles/day at the same paces. And THIS quickly resulted in aches, pains, sprains, and tightness in areas I didn’t even know I had.
Luckily, around this time, and with having enough time on my hands to actually care about recovery and making sure I can sustain my running (and not injure myself), I got into rolling. I came back from a quick 10-miler (shut up, Will), to find an All-In Kit waiting for me courtesy of my friends at RAD Roller. TO say I was stoked would be a semi-understatement. Not even waiting for the sweat to dry, I ripped into the kit, grabbed the RAD Rod, and went to town on my quads. “It’s OK to cry, Will...” I kept telling myself.
After a few rounds with the rod, my quads were feeling, well, flushed and refreshed. So I decided to keep going and broke out the various rounds in the All-In Kit. I started with the Green massage ball and, proceeded to dig that bad boy into my hip socket (a recent pain point from my extended runs.) After more tears welled in my already-red eyes (it’s a good hurt, remember), I treated myself to quite literally a little pleasure. See, there’s this little black ball in the kit that, when you rub it in your hands or cheeks in just the right way, feels like what I imagine wellness heaven feels like.
I don’t go a day without using RAD in some way. From bored on Zooms to actually getting down and dirty on the floor, my body is in a constant state of alignment and refreshment.
From hyperextending my glutes while a collegiate athlete to tearing my calf last year in the middle of a workout class, if it’s a weird fitness-related injury that makes hilarious cocktail hour talk, I’ve done it. Suffice to say, I (and my legions of physical therapists) know the value of soft tissue recovery.
My current dilemma is related to my core. I’m a Pilates instructor, and teaching virtually means you work out while talking the whole time, which is extremely taxing on the abdominals. (It’s seriously tough, so thank your favorite instructors for being there for you!) It’s not uncommon for me to hit my weekend rest days with extremely sore abs and obliques. Unsurprisingly, I was stoked to try out the Centre, Rad Roller’s inflatable massage ball designed for the abdomen.
I’m not gonna lie and say my first use was pleasant, since it turned out that my abs needed A LOT of TLC. I started by just doing a few passes over the most tender parts of my core, spending just a few seconds in each spot while wiggling my body to keep the ball in motion. Over a few days, I was able to stay in each spot a bit longer and began exploring other parts of my body that could benefit from a soft-touch release.
The best spot? My wrists, hands, and forearms. I’m a writer by trade, which means they get a lot of abuse from typing, and don’t get a lot of recovery love. The Centre is soft enough that I can passively roll back and forth throughout my workday, and help loosen up some tight spots in my hands. Added bonus? It's a great way to use excess energy during your umpteenth Zoom meeting of the day.
I was not designed for the work-from-home life. My extrovert self misses my team, lunchtime walks, the ability to be in the same room for epic brainstorming, and most of all—our onsite massage therapist, Rob Chang.
At the beginning of shelter-in-place, I wasn’t ready to admit that I could be working from home for a while. I refused to set up a home office and instead hunkered down 8 hours a day at my dimly lit dining room table on a hard wooden chair. The weeks went by, and the work was stressful. I wasn’t prioritizing self-care, and it started to catch up with me. I gradually started to pain in my back where I’ve never felt it before, so much so it felt numb at times. My resistance to adjust to working from home was coming back to bite me—Rob Chang would not approve.
I finally gave in and got myself a desk, some monitors, an ergonomic chair, and even a footstool, but nothing helped to fix the damage I had already done—until I found the RAD Roller. Working with this little wonder after work each day has been a game-changer. A quick roll on my back and shoulders, followed by some pressure point work in the sweet spots is all I need to feel better at the end of a long day at the “office.”
Want to see what the hype's about? Shop online at radroller.com
Since 1992, April has been recognized as Stress Awareness Month. It was established to help shed light on the issues behind stress, teach us how to fight it, and create methods to overcome it. While this initiative has existed just shy of three decades, this year it seems particularly important.
With a year under our belts in pandemic mode—a lot of us had to get creative when it came to keeping our cool. On top of that, everyday stresses didn’t just magically disappear during this time either. Just think about it—have you ever been in a situation that was overwhelming? Maybe you’ve had a looming deadline or a to-do list that seems, well...totally un-doable? If you’ve ever felt you were in over your head, please know you’re not alone—you never are. At one time or another, we’ve all been affected by stress—although each person may manifest it differently. Me? I'm definitely a frequent rider on the "hot mess stress express."
There are many ways to help combat stress—some of us seek out support from friends and family, while others find solace in taking up meditation or unwinding with a relaxing yoga class. Whatever helps you find peace, just keep doing you. But also know we have some resources to help you overcome stress whenever the need arises.
Here are some blog posts that are always available to you when you feel a little stressed out:
When in doubt, breathwork expert and sound healer, Shanila Sattar, always has tips to help ground yourself—especially in times of need. In this blog post, she gives you the recipe for incorporating self-love into your daily routine by encouraging us to ask ourselves these questions: How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love? As we all know, self-love defines and redefines itself for everyone over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep,” is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and it aims to restore the mind, body, and soul through deep, guided meditation. The way it works is like the way a power nap helps one feel refreshed during a particularly exhausting day, except you aren’t technically sleeping. I describe it as a long-form of savasana—anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. (Real talk: savasana is one of the best parts of practicing yoga, am I right?)
TLDR: I learned that I could conquer stress in a matter of minutes with Yoga Nidra.
Are we safe in saying this last year brought up a ton of emotions the likes of which we did not plan for? The good, the bad, the “unprecedented”—our hearts and minds have been taken on a wild rollercoaster ride, and for many of us, our mental health is suffering. With our minds running in thousands of directions, it’s hard to notice our own needs. Yes, our attention to the goings-on of last year is vital but caring for ourselves is as important as ever. Here are some tips from our favorite yoga instructor, Dani Schenone.
Have you been feeling it? The big emotion floating around the last year is the Big Anxiety. Coupled with the stress of what the COVID-19 pandemic has bought for millions of people, disturbed wellness routines, and worry, we have a recipe to create massive damage to ourselves. Adjusting to the new normal, with social distancing practices in place and adapting to precautions and routines, may be the root of even more anxiousness for many as we’re navigating uncharted territories.
If you've got those familiar feelings of stress and anxiety coursing through your body right now, you're definitely not alone. We get it. Times are uncertain, our mental health is taxed, we're doing what we can to reduce stress and anxiety in general, and relaxation has taken a back seat. It’s no secret that stress is proven to weaken our immunity, so now more than ever, it's important to relax, deal with what's happening, and find the coping mechanisms to help you reclaim your mental health and reduce your involvement in stressed moments. Let's deal with stress and anxiety together and see what we can do to reduce them.
Meditation will change your life if you let it. The pace of our modern life is at least ten times what it was just 10 years ago. Technology improved our lives but also created a more frenetic and stressful pace. If we decided to stop, breathe, and become more mindful, we would reduce stress and experience much more enjoyment in each moment of our everyday lives.
There’s always something to worry about. Whether it’s our career, relationships, dating, or trauma, we go through moments that bombard us with negative thoughts that can make us feel anxious and stressed. Our worries may often define our choices, our view of the world, or ourselves. This doesn’t mean they are faults, flaws, or downfalls—we just need to practice managing them in a healthy way, placing deserved value on self-care. Yoga is only one connection. Check out these seven yoga poses that can help your mind and body when you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or overall stress.
We’re all guilty of our routines and habits running our lives at one point or another. We’re all guilty of being attached to our schedules and our to-do list. We’re all guilty of running on a loop every now and then. As the energies of 2021 continue to shift, we get to ask ourselves the intentions of why and how we are participating in the places we are participating in, the thoughts we are thinking, the habits we are cultivating, and the communities that we are a part of. This intention and mindfulness process can not only shift our own experiences but of those around us as well.
If you have found meditation to be useful in trying times, right now is an incredible time to also try virtual sound baths to receive the deep sound healing benefits. As many of us are processing a variety of emotions as a collective—stress, worry, fear, anxiety, uncertainty—we can start to cause long-term damage to our bodies, especially to our immune and nervous systems. Giving ourselves self-care in a way that is easy, non-intrusive, and simple, can be the perfect way to help your body restore.
These resources aren’t the only thing we have to help you deal with stress—they’re just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, there are tons of classes available to you on the Mindbody app and through Mindbody Flex to help you reignite your calm whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. And always remember, at the end of the day, your best is always good enough.