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3 Quick Fitness Hacks for Injuries, Sleep, and Breathing

In this episode, learn three quick fitness hacks that will help you overcome hamstring injuries, sleep better, and enhance your breathing.

By
Ben Greenfield,
August 3, 2015
Episode #246

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In the recent Get-Fit-Guy episode, “Does Biohacking Your Body Really Work?” I introduced you to some fitness shortcuts that actually do work, like electrical muscle stimulation and hypoxia. Since then, I’ve come across several other interesting practices that could probably fall into the category of fitness hacks, so I thought I'd share them. Specifically, you’re going to learn a useful injury-prevention tip, a quick tip for sleeping better, and a way to enhance you breathing.

1. Heal Your Hamstrings

I recently discovered this infographic about a hamstring strengthening and lengthening technique, which is based on the concept that most hamstring injuries happen as your hamstrings are lengthening and stretching beyond their normal limit, which may happen if you are sprinting or kicking a soccer ball very hard.

The trick is to train your hamstrings to become stronger when lengthening (the lengthening phase is also known as the “eccentric” phase, something I’ve written about in detail here).

So, how do you do this?

Simple: it’s call the Nordic Hamstring Exercise. According to studies, almost two-thirds of hamstring injuries might be prevented with this move. Here’s how to do it:

Kneel on the ground, with a partner behind you holding your ankles. Then, slowly and smoothly lean forward so that your chest gets closer to the ground. Use your hamstrings to “put the brakes” on your forward momentum until you can no longer resist gravity, and at that point, put out your arms to stop your fall. Finally, allow your chest to touch the ground, then push yourself upright to repeat the exercise. If you don’t have a partner to support you on this exercise, you could use a heavy barbell, or a couch or table you can get your feet under. If you’re a fitness newbie, try just five reps. If you’re a Get-Fit-Guy veteran, then shoot for as many as 30 reps, at least once a week (and more frequently than that if you’re prone to hamstring injuries).

2. Cool Your Feet

This video about a sleep hack got me thinking about this trick.

Here’s how it works: keep one foot, or both feet, outside of your blanket. It could help you both sleep better and fall asleep faster. A recent New York Magazine article interviewed Natalie Dautovitch, who is a spokesperson for the National Sleep Foundation and a psychology professor at the University of Alabama. Her research focuses on chronopsychology, which is the study of how our routines and biological rhythms fluctuate throughout the day and night. This includes studying the connection between sleep and temperature.

Right before you fall asleep, your body temperature starts to drop, and in the deepest stages of sleep, your body is at its coolest. A few of the things you can do to help this cooling along are to sleep in a cold room, take a cool shower before bed, and in the case of this particular sleep hack, stick your sockless feet or foot out from underneath the covers.

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