Archive | June, 2015

Authentic Performance: Fundamentals of Acting Now in Portland

Posted on 28 June 2015 by Jason

Laura Handke, a certified Transformational Voice® Teacher with over 18 years of adult stage experience, presents Authentic Performance: Fundamentals of Acting in Portland this September.
This class is ideal for adults curious about what acting entails, beginning or intermediate actors who want to practice and improve their skills, and speakers who want to improve their public speaking skills by learning to more easily, reliably and consistently access their emotions.
“The profession of acting can be inherently competitive,” Handke says. “I intentionally create a non-competitive, safe, nurturing and fun environment where people can come to practice their craft.”
Handke defines authentic performance as: “The courageous and generous act of feeling heart-felt emotions and expressing yourself by sharing those emotions with an audience. (Or: You can’t fake it; you have to feel it!)” The eight-week term focuses on emotional expressivity—touching an audience emotionally—through a combination of in-class improvisations and working with a partner in scripted scenes from a play. In addition, students will learn the Cycle of Breath Based Vocalization and tools for speaking in their authentic voice.

Visit LauraHandke.com for more details and contact Handke at 503-409-0421 or LauraHanj@comcast.net with any questions. The term begins September 12 and is only $150 for all eight classes.

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For Inspiration Visit New Renaissance, the Conscious Living Store

Posted on 28 June 2015 by Jason

New Renaissance Bookshop, located on NW 23rd Avenue at Pettygrove, in Portland, has everything needed for mindful, inspirational and conscious living—from how to increase our spiritual practice to recapturing the Feng Shui in our home to searching for the perfect gift.
Each month features various metaphysical and spiritual events to inspire, educate and enlighten, as well as a free weekly meditation and monthly Kirtan for the community. Daily intuitive, tarot, astrological and other readers at New Renaissance can help clarify patterns, remove blocks and bring clarity to your questions.
Explore new arrivals in books, DVDs, jewelry, crystals, home décor, clothing, metal bowls, statues, incense, flower essences, essential oils and much more. Discover what others are reading, listening to and watching with their Bestsellers List—Bestselling DVDs: Power of the Heart, Talking Story, Walking the Camino: 6 Ways to Santiago, I Am and Down the Rabbit Hole. Bestselling CDs: Singing Bowls of Shangrila, Crystal Bowl Sound Healing, Your Best Music for Sleep, Kirtan and Shamanic Dream. Bestselling Books: E Squared, Only Little Prayer You Need, Mindfulness On The Go, Hooponopono and Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Sign up for their newsletter to receive weekly updates on products, monthly sales, and personalized interviews with visiting authors. July’s sale includes 20 percent off clothing and enjoy free 7-day DVD rental each time you visit the store.

For more information and bookshop hours, call 503-224-4929 or visit NewRenBooks.com.

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Free August Event at The Wellspring School

Posted on 28 June 2015 by Jason

The Wellspring School for Healing Arts is a great resource in Portland for nutrition-minded individuals. There are classes, events, clinics and opportunities aplenty for everyone, whether just beginning to scratch the surface of the nutrition world in an effort to nourish themselves and their family, or for individuals with an established professional practice. This summer is no exception.
The Wellspring School’s Wholistic Nutrition students will be hosting a free community event on Friday, August 14 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. This event will feature student research, handouts, recipes and samples on an exciting variety of topics from Cooking with Kids – Simple Summertime Snacks, to Sea Vegetables, Shrubs and Drinking Vinegars for Health, to so much more!
For individuals looking for a more personalized experience, the same group of soon-to-graduate Wholistic Nutrition students will be hosting their Wholistic Nutrition Student Clinic. Appointments at the clinic will be available September 26 and 27 and October 24 and 25. There will even be an opportunity for follow up appointments.
The Wellspring School looks forward to welcoming the community to learn alongside and from its students. A complete list of events, classes and happenings can be found at TheWellspring.org.

For those interested in becoming a student at The Wellspring School for Healing Arts, get your questions answered by visiting thewellspring.org, emailing info@thewellspring.org or by calling (503) 688-1482.

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Functional Nervous System Issues Can Cause Chronic Physical Problems

Posted on 28 June 2015 by Jason

Identifying functional issues doesn’t have to be mysterious or complicated; check: balance, muscle strength, eye movement, rapid finger or ankle movement, breathing movement, the physical ability to start and stop and the mental ability to think flexibly.
Consider two common examples: With women it is important for the pelvis to come together after giving birth. If that doesn’t happen—on top of having pelvic pain—the pelvis will be weak and unable to handle its share of the structure. With men who have back pain after sports, it’s often important to lengthen the hamstring. This is not solved by stretching if an underlying brain issue is telling the hamstring muscle to tense.
Both examples build internal inflammation creating adhesions on the nerves and organs. Day-to-day life may be fine, but when life gets complicated, breathing movement can stop as the body braces for extra forces. Because the brain needs oxygen, movement and nutrients to be and stay healthy, this gradual locking of the body’s systems can cause brain degeneration.
Once identified, this cycle can be reversed. Dr. Judith Boothby’s gentle adjustments push the body back together, release adhesions, and restore ground support. She assigns exercises to strengthen and protect the fragile nervous system while patients learn to breathe gently no matter what. This style of self ownership, combined with small developmental steps, is an excellent way to achieve health goals.

For more information on Dr. Boothby or Third Way Chiropractic call 503-233-0943 or visit ThirdWayChiropractic.com.

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Activate Your True Power with Ancient Heart Wisdom

Posted on 28 June 2015 by Jason

Join award-winning author and speaker Dana Micucci in Portland this month on a dynamic journey into your heart.
Her “Embodying the Wisdom of the Heart” workshops will take place at Unity of Beaverton, Sunday, July 5, from noon to 2 p.m. (UnityOfBeaverton.org), and New Renaissance Bookshop, Thursday, July 9, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (NewRenBooks.com).
Micucci will be sharing powerful heart-based teachings and practices from some of the world’s wisdom traditions (Tibetan, Mayan, shamanic, Egyptian, mystical Christian) gleaned from her lifetime of travel.
Drawing on her memoir, Sojourns of the Soul: One Woman’s Journey around the World and into Her Truth, and her new novel, The Third Muse—a metaphysical mystery celebrating the divine feminine teachings of the Magdalene Order and the healing power of love—she offers a blueprint for profound transformation.
Learn how to harness the wisdom and power of the heart to improve your health, center your emotions, manifest your goals, master your energy, and become a healing force through your very presence!
Of Micucci’s The Third Muse, Marci Shimoff, New York Times bestselling author of Happy for No Reason and Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul, said: “This beautifully written mystery, set in the international art world, expresses a deep heart-centered wisdom inspired by Renaissance ideals and the goddess archetype.”
Micucci’s Sojourns of the Soul was a gold winner in the 2013 Nautilus Book Awards. She also has a private healing practice and conducts transformational events nationwide.

For more information visit DanaMicucci.com.

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Herbs for Performance, Enhancement and Recovery

Posted on 28 June 2015 by Jason

Outdoor summer activities can sometimes leave the body a bit bruised and battered. While the tendency is to take extra care of ourselves only after the damage has been done, taking a proactive approach by using herbs to prepare for exertion can cut down on post-workout pain, improve athletic performance and help recovery.
Before heading outside to work out, Nature’s Rite Founder Steven Frank recommends using sweet marjoram for muscle cramp relief, peppermint leaf to improve circulation and witch hazel to lubricate muscle fibers. Penelope Ody’s The Holistic Herbal Directory suggests that using these herbs can also cut down on discomfort during strenuous physical activity. Devil’s claw can be applied to provide joint relief.
According to Andrew Chevallier’s Natural Health Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, applying juniper berry to flush lactic acid from muscles and white willow bark for pain relief can help to offset effects of pushing the body harder than usual during exercise. After the workout is complete, Ody’s Natural Health Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs recommends the application of comfrey to increase fibroblast activity for building new muscle fibers and repairing micro-tears in tendons, as well as Arnica montana to break up micro-clots to clear the way for recovery while easing pain.
Frank says, “Each of these herbs, roots and bark can be combined in a water decoction to provide the right preparation for outdoor activities. The mixture should be sprayed on or wiped on large muscle groups and joints for maximum effectiveness.”

For more information, email SteveF@NaturesRiteRemedies.com or visit MyNaturesRite.com/blog.

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Food Democracy By the People, for the People and Toward a Stronger Nation   by Melinda Hemmelgarn

Posted on 28 June 2015 by Jason

 

To more fully understand the concept of democracy, we can look to some past U.S. presidents. Abraham Lincoln defined it as “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Thomas Jefferson said, “An informed citizenry is at the heart of a dynamic democracy.” Harry S. Truman further recognized that “secrecy and a free, democratic government don’t mix.”

 

By extension, “food democracy” describes a fair and transparent food system in which people have informed choices and control in determining what and how they eat. It’s what happens when we view people as citizens, rather than consumers, and treat food as a human right, reports the Oakland, California-based Pesticide Action Network (PAN).

 

Kelly Moltzen, a registered dietitian in Bronx, New York, and member of the Franciscan Earth Corps, defines it as having the freedom to make choices about the integrity of our food from farm to plate, so that we can support the health and well-being of ourselves, the Earth and all organisms that inhabit the ecosystem.

 

Food Sovereignty Feeds Independence

 

A PAN report on food democracy describes food sovereignty as the international equivalent of the U.S. movement to re-localize control over our food and farming. It’s rooted in regenerating historically autonomous food systems with, for and by the people.

 

John Peck, Ph.D., executive director of Family Farm Defenders, in Madison, Wisconsin, explains that the term “food sovereignty” was coined about two decades ago by the globally active La Via Campesina, comprised of family farmers, farm workers, fishing folks, hunters, gatherers and indigenous communities in the world.

 

“At its most basic,” Peck says, “Food sovereignty is about reclaiming local democratic control over our food/farm system from corporate agribusiness.” This way, “Everyone has the right to decide what is grown or raised in their community, whether animals are treated humanely, if family farmers and other food workers are paid a living wage and can collectively bargain and whether people have access to safe healthy food—as well as the right to know what is in their food, how it is produced and where it comes from.”

 

Peck believes that if we want a cleaner environment, healthier people and more vibrant communities, “We need to be citizens who care about bringing democratic accountability, social justice and ecological integrity to all aspects of our food/farm system.”

 

 

Local Food Strengthens Communities

 

In their report, Deepening Food Democracy, the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), in Minneapolis, describes how U.S. food and farming has increasingly become concentrated, consolidated and controlled by the few. Local food enthusiasts want to take back their food system from industrial, corporate masters that lobby for legislation which denies citizens the right to know how their food is produced or if it contains genetically modified ingredients (GMO). The growing local food movement is as much about returning power to communities, food workers, farmers and farm workers as it is about producing and distributing healthy, sustainably grown food, reports IATP.

 

Anthony Flaccavento, an organic farmer in the Appalachian region of southwestern Virginia, has been working on national food and sustainable farming initiatives for nearly 30 years. In a recent Food Sleuth Radio interview, he described the resulting tremendous, multiple positive impacts of strong local economies, noting that a strong local food system is usually at their center.

 

“Once you have vibrant, diverse local economies,” says Flaccavento, “you have better health, lower crime and incarceration rates—and more civic participation.” Basically, a more democratic food system could help fix many of the maladies ailing our nation today. The steady growth of farmers’ markets, farm to school programs and food policy councils prove that Americans are hungry both for clean food and an enhanced sense of community. While Flaccavento appreciates conscious consumers that support local food providers, he emphasizes, “Just acting locally isn’t enough. We need to re-engage with bigger social and political debates, as well.”

 

Growing Vegetables and Democracy

 

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Jenga Mwendo knew she had to leave her high-powered job in New York City and return to her home in the devastated Lower 9th Ward.

“My parents raised me to contribute,” Mwendo explains. “My first name means ‘to build’ and my last name means ‘always progressing’.”

 

In 2009, Mwendo founded the Backyard Gardeners Network (BGN), a local nonprofit organization that restores and strengthens what had once been a thriving, closely knit, self-reliant community, rich with backyard gardens and citizen engagement. Residents went to work, recognizing the potential of community gardens to revitalize their neighborhood and bring affordable healthful food to residents, many of them suffering from obesity, heart disease and diabetes. The BGN both revitalized a community garden and converted a blighted lot into a Guerrilla Garden, where people of all ages gather to grow food, share stories, embrace their cultural heritage and learn how to become responsible citizens.

 

“We bring people together and make decisions collectively,” says Mwendo. “The garden is for our community, by our community.” Understanding the value of involving children and teens, she adds, “Kids know they will be loved here. This is a nurturing environment.”

 

Like Mwendo, Stephen Ritz, a top 10 finalist in the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize, is reaching youth through food. Based in New York City’s South Bronx, one of the country’s poorest school districts, he and his students are growing vegetables in school, thereby improving children’s diets, health, school performance and future potential. “We are contributing to food democracy by making sure every child we touch, regardless of income, zip code and skin color, faith or nation of origin, has access to fresh, healthy, nutritious food that they help grow,” says Ritz.

 

So far, his Green Bronx Machine community has raised 30,000 pounds of vegetables. “We’re growing justice,” Ritz announced in his March 2015 TED Talk. “My favorite crop is organically grown citizens—graduates, voters and students who are eating [better] and living healthier lives!”

 

Kitchen Gardens Nourish the World

 

Roger Doiron is the founder and director of Kitchen Gardeners International (KGI), an online global community of some 30,000 people in 100 countries that are growing some of their own food. He spearheaded First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House Garden. Doiron’s campaign to bring a food garden back to the White House (presidents John Adams, Jefferson and Jackson all had edible gardens) began in 2008, went viral, took root and the rest is history. Today, the first lady continues to champion garden-fresh food to improve children’s health.

 

From his own 1,500-square-foot garden in Scarborough, Maine, Doiron and his wife harvested 900 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables worth $2,200 dollars in a single season. “Talented gardeners with more generous soils and climates are able to produce even more food in less space,” he says, “but maximizing production is not our only goal. We’re also trying to maximize pleasure and health.”

Doiron believes that, “Quality food is central to well-being and one of the best ways to unite people of different countries and cultures around a common, positive agenda.” He’s convinced that kitchen gardens will play a critical role in feeding a growing population faced with climate challenges. On July 4, his organization celebrates Food Independence Day as a way to recognize the role of home and community gardens in achieving self-sufficiency.

 

Saving Seeds, Saving Democracy

 

Jim Gerritsen operates Wood Prairie Farm with his family in Bridgewater, Maine. He’s dedicated to using organic farming methods to protect the environment and food quality, provide ample harvests and foster good jobs for the next generation of young farmers.

 

As president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, Gerritsen led a lawsuit against Monsanto in 2011, challenging the validity of seed patents. In a Food Sleuth Radio interview, he explains, “Patented seeds cannot be saved and replanted. To take that right away from farmers was a terrible mistake on the part of the Supreme Court.” Seed ownership belongs to the people; our seed resource is part of our common heritage. “Genetic engineering was an invention to take away from the commons, the ownership of seeds,” he continues. “Regaining control of the seed supply is one of the most pressing battles we have in agriculture.” Gerritsen encourages everyone to plant an organic garden using organic seeds and to advocate for GMO labeling.

 

“Let’s let transparency reign, which is a hallmark of a democratic system,” he proclaims.

 

Melinda Hemmelgarn is a registered dietitian and award-winning writer and nationally syndicated radio host at KOPN.org, in Columbia, MO (FoodSleuth@gmail.com). She advocates for organic farmers at Enduring-Image.blogspot.com.

 

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Food Gleaning Harvesting Leftovers Feeds the Hungry   by Avery Mack

Posted on 28 June 2015 by Jason

 

Americans annually discard more food than plastic—35 million tons in 2012—an amount that’s tripled since 1960 according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Most of the waste is fruits and vegetables, seafood, grains, meat and milk. Because waste starts in the fields before it compounds via restaurants, grocers and families, the easiest starting point is with farmers.

 

“Farming’s a high-risk business. Farmers can’t predict weather, sales or equipment problems, so extra is grown,” explains Laurie Caldwell, executive director of Boston Area Gleaners, in Waltham, Massachusetts. “Up to 20 per cent of U.S.-grown food isn’t harvested. Gleaners save what’s left behind for hungry people in need.”

 

Everyone Benefits

 

“Income disparity, economic vulnerability and lack of knowledge leads to unhealthy choices,” adds Caldwell. “The negative consequences become a community burden.” Countering the problem, “We’ve seen a shift in priorities, with food pantries offering fresh, quality food and educating both staff and recipients,” she reports. In 2014, Boston Area Gleaners harvested 34 farms, contributing 177,000 pounds of primarily vegetables encompassing 60 varieties.

 

California’s fruit is abundant because of the state’s year-round growing season. Until the 1960s and the advent of Silicon Valley, this was the world’s largest fruit-producing region. Some of its apple trees date back to the Gold Rush and still produce. “We glean backyards and orchards here,” says Craig Diserens, executive director of Village Harvest, in San Jose. “Apples, pears, cherries, peaches, plums and apricots, plus citrus fruits—it’s ladderless picking, to protect both volunteers and trees.” Telescoping tools pluck out-of-reach fruit. The nonprofit gleans 15 to 20 times a month via volunteers ages 5 to 90. In 2013, its Harvesting for the Hungry program distributed 245,000 pounds of fruit.

 

The Feeding America West Michigan food bank, headquartered in Comstock, provides more than produce, with donations from manufacturers, wholesalers, restaurants and stores adding meat, dairy, frozen foods and bread. Volunteers repackage donations into usable sizes, do clerical work, pick produce, sort, pack, store and deliver food.

 

While most of the nonprofit’s yield is distributed through 1,100 food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens, many can’t store perishables. Working with churches, schools and community centers, the organization’s mobile units deliver fresh food directly to recipients, often the same day it is donated. Each unit can carry food for 100 to 200 families. This local Feeding America outreach group serves an estimated 492,000 people each year.

 

The Society of St. Andrew often rescues the “ugly” produce—potatoes not well-shaped for chips, oversized peaches, too-long green beans, too-ripe strawberries and apples that aren’t picture perfect. “Farmers get a tax benefit and people get fresh food,” says Bruce Oland, the Triangle Area coordinator in North Carolina. “Farmers let us know when they’ll harvest a crop and we have a few days to glean what’s left before they replant. We pick anything edible—kale, lettuce, tomatoes, cantaloupe and lots of sweet potatoes.” In a single harvested field, volunteers have gleaned seven tons of sweet potatoes.

 

The society’s gleaning and feeding ministry has regional offices in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Additional areas are located in Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio and Pennsylvania (see EndHunger.org).

 

Jason Brown, a former St. Louis Rams’ center with a five-year, $37-million-dollar contract, traded his cleats for a tractor. Now in Louisburg, North Carolina, he calls First Fruits Farm home and plans to donate the first fruits of every harvest to food pantries. He learned about farming from YouTube videos, computer searches and other farmers. The first crop on five acres yielded 100,000 pounds of sweet potatoes; Brown gave it all away. With 1,000 acres to farm, he’s set to tackle hunger big time.

 

It doesn’t require a big time commitment to help feed the hungry. Backyard gardeners can start by planting an extra row (Tinyurl.com/PlantRowForHungry). Since its inception in 1995, the Plant a Row program has collectively turned 20 million pounds of produce into 80 million meals.

 

Offer to pick a neighbor’s excess produce or herbs, and then check with others nearby. Get the kids involved. Volunteer at or make a donation to a soup kitchen. Gather a group of friends, family, members of an organization or congregation to glean or repackage produce one day a month. If a local food pantry can’t accept perishables, leverage social media to spread the word about which day free food will be available at a church or school. Everyone can help. No one should go to bed hungry.

 

Connect with freelance writer Avery Mack at AveryMack@mindspring.com.

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Purr-fect Pet Sitters Make Sure Your Pet Enjoys Your Vacation, Too by Sandra Murphy

Posted on 28 June 2015 by Jason

 

Vacations bring rest and less stress, a change of pace and for some, a break from caring for the family pet, made possible by a growing number of professional pet sitters.

 

“I have more peace of mind with a pet sitter rather than a friend. Even if they’ve already had a long day, sitters still properly take care of the pets,” says Christina Pierce, a federal examiner of financial institutions for consumer protection in Little Rock, Arkansas. “Many professional pet sitters are trained to respond to potential health and other issues. Especially with small animals, early recognition of a problem is key.”

 

Pierce used to have chinchillas, and now has a cat she rescued and relocated from Dallas, Texas, plus two adopted former-foster rabbits.

 

“A sitter may be excellent, but not know your breed,” advises Rae Bailey, a retiree in Georgetown, Texas, who regularly uses sitters for her Scottie when she travels. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions.” She notes that dogs are particularly good judges of character, so if one doesn’t like the sitter, simply try another.

 

Pet sitting services use a contract to outline rates, what the sitter will do, the number and duration of daily visits, start and end dates and how the house key is returned when the job is complete. Regular clients may have the sitter keep the key handy.

 

Professional sitters are bonded, insured and background-checked, have experience with a variety of species and breeds, are fairly flexible and love animals. A pre-visit will introduce pets and sitter and address any relationship concerns and individual needs, such as medications.

 

“I had a diabetic Westie, a big consideration,” says Diane Meadows, a retired paralegal in San Antonio, Texas. “It was huge for me to hand over the keys and my trust, but our sitter was dependable and knowledgeable.” During one visit, her sitter also alerted her to a possible propane gas leak.

 

At the outset, have the sitter meet all the family pets to ensure mutual comfort. Show the sitter where the leash, toys, treats, food and water dishes are kept, supplies for cleanups, the family vet’s location, hours, office and emergency phone numbers and instructions for any security alarm system. Codes can be personalized and deactivated when no longer needed. Sometimes clients request extra services such as collecting the mail and newspapers, watering indoor plants and leaving lights on.

 

Both young and older dogs need three visits a day to avoid household accidents. Cats are usually fine with one. “Cats like to be pampered. A friendly sitter provides the care she’s used to, in familiar surroundings,” says Anne Moss, whose educational website TheCatSite.com, originates near Tel Aviv, Israel. “Kitty’s more relaxed and receives a higher level of care than at a boarding facility,” she notes.

 

A pet-sitting service offers the added benefit of backups in case the assigned sitter is sick or delayed. In Huntley, Illinois, Diane Muchow, an adjunct instructor at Computer Systems Institute, explains why she prefers a pet sitting service for her black Labrador mix. “Our first sitter was a one-woman business. One day, she forgot to crate the dogs when she left, and we came home to find the evidence of an accident on our new carpet throughout the house,” Muchow says. “We switched to a professional service.”

 

She sees the primary advantage of professional help as dependability and flexibility. “The service has a website to order the shifts we need, which are confirmed by email,” she notes. “It’s handy when my husband travels and I work.”

 

A kennel isn’t for all dogs, says Scott Mell, an area manager for JoAnn Fabrics in Affton, Missouri. He recalls his Bernese mountain dog’s first and only trip to the local kennel. Upon arrival, she climbed on top of the car, rather than go inside. “She was adamant,” he says. “I hired a sitter the next day. She loved her sitter’s visits.”

 

Whether pets need special attention, daily walks, a midday backyard break or multiple visits while the family vacations, a pet sitter can provide excellent care. Many owners like to receive daily text message updates and may even e-retrieve bonus selfies of their happy pets from home.

 

Connect with writer Sandra Murphy at StLouisFreelanceWriter@mindspring.com.

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Cycling Savvy Keep the Hard Knocks Out of Biking by Randy Kambic

Posted on 28 June 2015 by Jason

 

People are biking more than ever. Recreational bicycling ranked second to running as the favorite outdoor activity among both youths (6 to 24 years old) and adults (25-plus) in a recent Outdoor Industry Association study. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) further reports that from 2000 to 2012 the number of Americans biking to work rose from 488,000 to 786,000.

 

This positive trend also means more crowded bike lanes and other pathways to challenge the community infrastructure’s ability to keep up, raising safety concerns. Plus, we naturally want to avoid aches and pains while enjoying the myriad benefits of pedaling.

 

Find the Right Bike

 

“Having the right bike for one’s needs that’s properly fitted is crucial,” says Dan Moser, a founder and steering committee member of the BikeWalkLee community coalition and a traffic safety consultant in Fort Myers, Florida. “Use a local bike shop whose mechanics test and adjust the bikes they sell.”

 

A bike mechanic can determine the proper seat height and ideal distance from the handlebars to the seat tube. Back, knee or hip pain may develop if a cyclist has to stretch their legs to get to the pedals, explains Tim Bustos, a bicycling consultant in Pensacola, Florida, and former bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for Davis, California, which earned platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community status, along with Boulder, Colorado, and Portland, Oregon, from the League of American Bicyclists (LAM). On the other hand, “A biker doesn’t get proper leg extension if the seat is too low,” he says, possibly leading to leg muscle strains. “The legs should be almost, but not totally extended at the lowest point in the pedaling motion.”

 

Safety Alert

 

The latest NHTSA study charted 49,000 bicycle accidents in 2012, 1,000 more than the year before. Biking only in daylight and avoiding alcohol could improve those numbers because 48 percent of biker fatalities occur beginning at 4 p.m. and 37 percent involve a driver or bicyclist that has been drinking.

 

Even well-marked bike lanes don’t guarantee safety, so caution is required. Some motorists are careless about entering bike lanes and don’t correctly stop at crosswalks or look behind before opening car doors. David Takemoto-Weerts, a bicycle program coordinator at the University of California, Davis, member of the city’s Bike Transportation Advisory Committee and LAM-certified instructor, suggests keeping at least five feet from the sides of cars to avoid being hit. Cyclists are wise not to weave in and out of traffic, to signal turns and watch out for runners, walkers and pedestrians as they abide by normal traffic rules and flow. Takemoto-Weerts says that bikers sometimes overlook using the stop signal (left arm extended downward) to alert bikers behind them.

 

Wearing a helmet should be a standard practice. The University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center, in Chapel Hill, reports that wearing a helmet reduces the overall risk of head injuries by 85 percent. “Cyclists are part of traffic, whether operating on a road, pathway or a combination,” says Moser. “Being acutely aware of one’s surroundings and minimizing distractions, following the rules of the road and pathway, and being prepared to deal with others’ mistakes are all vital.”

 

Fitness Factors

 

Dr. Kim Martin, a certified functional medicine practitioner and chiropractor with North Shore Health Solutions, in Northbrook, Illinois, says that recreational bikers have visited her for knee, hip and neck soreness or strains. In addition to ensuring they’re employing proper leg extension, she advises, “Pedal a little faster in a lower gear; ideally, 75 to 90 revolutions per minute, which is easier on the knees and lessens muscle fatigue than traveling slower in a higher gear.” She explains that the correct seat height facilitates proper alignment of hips and a full rotation; if not, energy is forced outward, stressing the hips.

 

Martin adds that the neck might experience strain from tilting the head up for long periods. “This can occur by wearing a helmet that is too low or forward in the front or poor-fitting eyewear that inches forward down the nose.” Right after a long ride, Martin suggests that riders gently bend downward over their crossed legs a few times, alternately switching legs, and also slowly bending the head up and down, sideways and then in a circular motion for a couple of minutes. “Overall, the key is to have fun.”

 

Freelance writer and editor Randy Kambic, in Estero, FL, is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings.

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