How to Massage Feet to Relieve Aches

Feet ache for many reasons — standing too long, walking too much, poorly fitted shoes or minor injuries. A good foot massage can help feet feel better, but professional massages can be expensive or inconvenient. With just a little massage oil, you can relax your feet, stretch and soothe the muscles, and reduce swelling that causes pain. Trigger-point massage involves looking for tender spots in your feet and pressing on them while stretching and flexing your feet. These tender spots feel like little sore nodules or bands. Oil massage helps to move blood and lymph, stretch muscles, and make the feet more flexible.
Use your thumbs to march across the bottom of your feet inch by inch to find tender spots.
Hold each tender point with medium pressure — until the pressure “hurts good” — while you wiggle your foot until the point stops hurting. Then search for the next tender point until you have found them all on the bottom of your foot.
Repeat the thumb pressure on the top of your foot, marching across the top of the foot, around the ankles and between the toes, looking for trigger points. Hold each trigger point with medium pressure, as you did on the bottom of your foot, and stretch and flex the muscles while you hold each point.
Repeat the trigger-point work on the other foot. At the end of the trigger-point work, your feet should feel warmer, more flexible and less painful.
Warm 1 tbsp. of your chosen massage oil, cream or lotion in the palms of your hands. Apply the oil or cream to your foot, rubbing it lightly all over your foot, toes and ankles.
Wrap your fingers and thumbs, using both hands, around your foot. Use your thumbs and fingers to make circular movements all over the bottom and top of your foot and around your ankles. Take your time, rubbing slowly with moderate pressure.
Rub your foot lengthwise, from the heel to the toes and back on the bottom of the foot, from the ankles to the toes and back on the top of the foot. You’ll be able to feel a long tendon on the bottom of your foot from the heel to the ball of your foot. Rub across and along that tendon. Try to rub between the long bones and tendons on the top of your foot.
Rub your toes, pinching and squeezing each one. If it feels good, pull on each toe to stretch it a little. Use your entire hands to rub briskly on the bottom and top of your foot, to make some heat with the friction. Repeat the massage movements on your other foot.
Put a few drops of peppermint essential oil in your massage oil, lotion or cream and use the blend to massage your feet. Peppermint essential oil makes the skin feel warm at first, and then cool and refreshed when it is exposed to air.
Freeze a couple of inches of water in small paper cups. When your feet are sore and hot, peel the bottom off one cup, revealing the ice. Use the rest of the cup as a holder and massage your feet with the ice.
Pour a little witch hazel in the palm of your hand and rub it over your feet, massaging it into the skin.

What Do Rugby Players Wear?

Rugby is a very aggressive contact sport. Unlike other contact sports, particularly football, rugby players wear a minimum of gear. Rugby players, or ruggers, worldwide wear essentially the same pieces of equipment. There are no helmets or pads, only uniforms, cleats and mouth guards. These few items are important elements of the sport, both functionally and culturally.
Rugby players wear short, stiff shorts called scrum shorts. Scrum shorts are less stretchy and more durable than soccer shorts, to withstand the wear and tear of tackling and grabbing. They generally end above the knee and have no pockets. They fit tightly around the waist to prevent them from getting pulled down.
Rugby players wear jerseys very similar to soccer jerseys, except that they usually have collars. They are traditionally made of cotton, but may be made of other materials. Rugby jerseys tend to be very colorful, displaying the colors or emblem of the team or country. The player’s number is printed on the back of the jersey in large font. The number helps to identify the player and his position. Rugby players must tuck their jerseys into their shorts during games.
Forgo flash for comfort. Whether you’re flat-footed or have a high arch, it’s important to be fitted by a professional. You also have to consider your position in the game when buying boots. As a forward, you’ll need extra protection around the ankle; while kickers want a boot that will allow them to feel the ball. Choose between leather and synthetic, or a combination of both; they all have something in their favor. It depends on what you prefer.
Ruggers wear knee-high socks that fit tightly around the feet and calves. Rugby socks often are decorated with the same colors as the player’s jersey. Rugby socks must be well-fitted to avoid blisters and prevent them from falling down during matches.
Though rugby players disdain pads and helmets, they do wear mouth guards. Mouth guards help protect against concussions, broken teeth and other mouth and head injuries common to the game.
Some ruggers, especially forwards, wear scrum caps. A scrum cap is simply a slightly padded helmet that fits over the top of the head and ears. It is the only protective piece of equipment that ruggers wear other than mouth guards ¡ª and it is completely optional. Some ruggers vehemently reject the scrum cap while others embrace it as a useful piece of gear.

How Does Participating in a Sport Relieve Stress?

Health-care professionals recommend physical activity as a key ingredient to any stress-management initiative. They suggest that playing sports and getting regular exercise can calm your worries and clear your mind, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of American. And it¡¯s not just veteran athletes who achieve these feel-good moments ¡ª even people who are out of shape can feel tension start to subside as they understand how participating in a sport relieves stress. As with any fitness program, seek your doctor¡¯s advice as you get started.
Pumping up a sweat releases mood-boosting hormones inside the brain called endorphins that swirl through your system and generate a buoyant feeling. This optimistic rush is nicknamed the ¡°runner¡¯s high,¡± but it¡¯s felt among participants of many sports including tennis, hiking and basketball. The upbeat aftermath of one aerobic exercise session can last up to 90 to 120 minutes, the American Council on Exercise says.
Electrical activity that¡¯s recorded in tensed muscles shows a decrease after a workout, according to the American Council on Exercise. Medical researchers also report noticeable drops in individual cases of hyperactivity and jitters in the aftermath of exercise. Taking up a sport can relax blood vessels, reducing heart rates and blood pressure that often accompany worry. The fight-or-flight response in challenging situations can cause a buildup of stress and glucose in your body. The American Diabetes Association recommends taking up a sport ¡ª whether it¡¯s ballroom dancing or bicycling ¡ª to help your body more effectively process the tension.
Participation in a recreational sport relieves stress by drawing your concentration toward your activity and away from that pile of responsibilities waiting for you at home and at work. As you swing your racquetball racket or paddle your kayak, you focus on your body¡¯s movements and temporarily forget about your other stress points. This diversion acts like a form of meditation. People who routinely engage in sports often experience a sense of accomplishment after a workout, and this soaring self confidence also can melt tension.
Workouts push you to adopt other healthy behaviors. Your indoor soccer league or evening hoops game encourages you to consume nutritious meals, snacks and beverages. Those rounds of touch football and weekend nature hikes help you shed pounds. Sleep disturbances often are linked to tension and anxiety, and sports participation improves your nightly bedtime routine. As you conquer each of these healthy changes, your body continues to achieve overall fitness and becomes more effective at handling your stress levels.

Why Is Team Communication Important When in Teams?

Almost everyone has worked in teams at some point in their lives. Within those teams, communication is crucial between all members, regardless of what role each person plays. Whether it is between two teammates on a sports team or two managers in a corporate office, communication is vital to success.
Teammates must develop trust, since it is not automatic. Accordingly, members must communicate more openly than they normally would in everyday life. There must be honesty on all ends of the team, since withholding the truth could damage the team’s integrity. Team members should always share information and feelings between each other. This allows for total trust between the team members.
Research has found that three or more people working together on a project are much more effective than a single person spending all of his time doing the same thing. However, without communication, the three-plus team members can be as useless as if the project went untouched.
Teams that communicate complete projects in a quicker and more efficient amount of time than others. They also are more accurate in their work than others. Effective communication also allows team members to understand their roles and the roles of everyone else on the team. It also gives room for understanding among the team members for what needs to be done.
Teams that fail to communicate effectively wind up wasting time and energy doing busy work and other work that is not required because of a lack of understanding of what needs to be done. These team members also misunderstand each other and their personalities. This often leads to conflict within the group and a lack of trust between group members. Team members in groups that fail to communicate effectively wind up not understanding what makes themselves more efficient, because they fail to get feedback from everyone else in the group, and there is no one else that they can compare their work to.
Research shows that good communication, mixed with strong organizational support, competence among the group leaders and clear group objectives can lead to the highest level of success in teams. Among those factors, good communication has shown to be the most important for success.

Timeline: History of Football Pads

Football pads were first used in 1877, not long after football became an established pastime on U.S. college campuses. The first football pads were much smaller and thinner than those used in today’s games. Over time, football pads evolved to cover more of the body, stand up to rough use and to be lighter and sturdier than the original pads.
In 1877, Princeton football player L.P. Smock designed the first football pads. Smock’s pads were thin quilted layers sewn to the shoulders, thighs and knees of the laced-up jersey and knee pants he designed as the first football uniform for Princeton’s players. The pads were not very heavy, and they also did not provide much protection.
The 1890s saw significant changes in football rules and the creation of better football pads. In 1894, the “flying wedge” formation was outlawed after it killed 20 collegiate players and injured 100 more in a single season. Meanwhile, sports equipment manufacturers, including Spalding and Victor, began marketing leather football pads. The pads were thicker than Smock’s original pads, and their leather construction made them more sturdy. Also, unlike Smock’s pads, the leather pads were designed to be sewn or strapped to the outside of the football uniform.
In 1915, sports equipment manufacturers developed and sold the first football helmets. These helmets were made of soft leather and were designed primarily to cover and protect the ears. Although early football helmets were called “head harnesses” by their manufacturers, their distinctive earflaps soon earned them the nickname “dog-ear helmets.” In the 1930s, the first hard leather helmets appeared, followed by rigid plastic helmets in the 1950s.
In the 1930s, football shoulder pads first took on the form we recognize today: a separate set of pads that cover the entire shoulder and upper chest area. The pads were first developed by the Spalding company and were made primarily of leather. Like some shoulder pads used today, they had laces in the front so players could adjust the fit. Although they offered greater protection than the quilted or leather pads, they were also significantly heavier.
During the 1980s, football padding and helmets continued to improve. Helmets developed full face masks that prevented injuries like broken noses. Manufacturers began to make shoulder pads using plastic and other synthetic materials that made the padding lighter and stronger. In addition, shoulder pads began to use a cantilevered design that dissipated the impact of a hit. Hip, thigh and knee pads also became common equipment. Today, college and professional football players are required to wear a helmet and pads when they play.

How Many Push Ups Should I Do Before Bed?

Pushups increase strength and muscular endurance in the chest, one of the body’s major muscle groups. Doing pushups right before bed, however, may make it difficult for you to fall asleep. That said, if you’re able to sleep fine after exercising and can’t find time to do pushups elsewhere in your schedule, nighttime is an acceptable time to do pushups. There is no set number of pushups you need to do; pushups should be performed to exhaustion.
While pushups are an important exercise, right before you go to bed probably isn’t the best time to do them. Exercising within a few hours of bedtime may interfere with your sleep, and sleep deprivation will negatively affect your energy levels and workout performance the next day. However, exercising at night doesn’t cause sleep interruptions in all people, according to University of South Carolina in Columbia exercise science researcher Shawn Youngstedt. According to Youngstedt, people who feel that exercising before bed interrupts their sleep should exercise at a different time of day, but it is fine to exercise before bed if it doesn’t harm your sleep. Furthermore, as exercise is essential for good health, it’s better to do pushups at night than not at all.
The amount of pushups you should be able to do depends on your age, gender and level of fitness. While the average man in his 20s might be able to perform 20 to 30 consecutive pushups, a trained athlete or Navy SEAL might be able to do as many as 200 to 300 consecutive pushups. The important thing when it comes to building strength and endurance with pushups is to do as many repetitions as you can. With time and dedication, you’ll be able to increase the number of pushups you’re able to do. A regular exercise routine including pushups will help improve overall fitness, stave off age-related muscle decline and increase your safety by enabling you to break a fall with your hands.
Although it’s better to exercise at whatever time works best for you rather than not exercising at all, the optimal time of day for doing exercises like pushups depends your body’s circadian rhythms, according to the American Council on Exercise. Your temperature rises and falls throughout the day in accordance with your body’s circadian rhythms. According to ACE, when your body temperature is at its daily peak, muscles are warm and flexible and your exercise performance is at its best. For most people, this optimal exercise time is late afternoon, says ACE. Therefore, you might be able to do more pushups in the late afternoon than you would at bedtime.
To get the most benefits from pushups, it’s important to perform them properly. When doing a pushup, your body should form a straight line, from your shoulders to your feet, throughout the entire exercise. During the “down” part of the pushup, make sure to lower your body until your upper arms are parallel with the floor, and when pushing up into the plank position, arms need to be extended fully to complete the repetition. If you’re unable to perform a pushup, try a modified pushup on bent knees instead of your toes, or lean against a countertop at a 45-degree angle and press up and down, and eventually graduate to a regular pushup.

What Are the Dimensions of a Basketball Backboard?

The game of basketball has come a long way since a peach basket was mounted on a wall or wire-mesh board to provide the object of the game, sinking a ball through the basket. Having evolved from wire to wood to plate glass, the transparent backboard currently in use today was first approved in 1909. As basketball grew into a major spectator sport, the rules of the game increased from 13 to over 100, with several of those rules governing the dimensions and other specifications for the backboard.
The backboard dimension requirements set forth by the National Basketball Association have only a slight difference from the regulations of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. According to both organizations, the basketball backboard must be a flat, transparent board that is 6 feet wide. The NBA allows only one height, 3 1/2 feet. However, although the NCAA regulations favor a 3 1/2-foot height, 4 feet is allowed. High school sports are not as tightly regulated, so, although NCAA rules are generally observed, dimension variations are allowed if they are approved by the local governing body.

How to Break in Soccer Shoes

Players look forward to breaking in new soccer shoes at the beginning of every season. This is necessary to mold quality leather shoes to your feet over the life of the shoes. Top-end kangaroo leather, thin yet strong, makes an ideal soccer shoe upper to take the shape of your foot. These shoes require care and preparation before you can use them in live game play.
Purchase soccer shoes that are a half size to a full size smaller than what you normally wear. Check that the shoes are made of leather that will stretch to mold to your feet. You want the leather to hug the curves of your foot so that you have a better touch on the ball.
Wear the shoes on soft grassy ground with the same equipment you would wear in a game. Put on your soccer socks and shin guards, so that when the shoes start to take shape, they will form to the shape of what your foot will look like during the game. Do light exercises, such as walking, jogging, dribbling and juggling to begin to break in the leather.
Shower with your cleats and soccer socks on. Use warm water, as this will help to loosen up the leather. Keep the shoes on as they begin to dry, as this is when the leather will begin to form to the shape of your foot. Stuff the inside of the shoes with balled-up newspaper when you take them off, which will absorb excess water and retain the shape of the shoe.
Rub petroleum jelly or leather food onto the uppers to keep the leather soft and help prevent the formation of blisters.
Wear the shoes to practice before wearing them for a game. Bring an extra pair, so that you can wear the new cleats for a short period of time and then switch out of them. It will be much more difficult to change cleats if they begin to create blister during a game as opposed to a practice setting.

How to Train Like the Boxer Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest heavyweight champions in the history of boxing. He was a boxing phenom, winning the 1960 Olympic gold medal and then storming through the heavyweight division as a pro and defeating champion Sonny Liston. His epic series of bouts with Joe Frazier and his upset of George Foreman added to his memorable story. Ali had an outsized personality and was one of the most recognized athletes of the 20th century. In the prime of his career, Ali trained hard before his championship fights.
Run early in the morning. Muhammad Ali would get up at 5:30 a.m., don heavy construction boots and run six miles in under 40 minutes. Ali knew that his endurance was one of the keys to his success in the ring. If he did not get up and run early in the morning, he would lose much of the edge he had on his opponents.
Shadow box when you get in the ring. Ali would shadow box for five three-minute rounds. When you are an experienced fighter, shadow boxing can be an excellent tool to help you sharpen your skills and work on your strategy. It is also an endurance-building drill. Take a 30-second break between rounds.
Pound the heavy bag to develop punching power and balance in the ring. Hit the heavy bag for six three-minute rounds. Throughout his career, Ali did not have a reputation as a big puncher like Liston, Frazier and Foreman. But Ali stopped all three of those fighters and he was clearly a hard puncher. He used the heavy bag to develop his punch combinations.
Spar with your sparring partners to sharpen your ring skills as you get closer to your fight. In his later years, Ali hated sparring and would clown around when he got in the ring. This aggravated trainer Angelo Dundee to no end. But as Ali was climbing the ladder in boxing, he would spar six to nine rounds three or four times per week. He worked on his ring movement, his hand speed, his left jab and his punching combinations.
Hit the speed bag and jump rope to work on your quickness and hand-eye coordination. The biggest advantage Ali had in the ring was his speed and quickness. Boxing analysts rate Ali as one of the three best heavyweights in history, and he was clearly the fastest heavyweight fighter of all time. He would hit the speed bag — also known as the speed ball — for nine minutes. He would then jump rope for 20 minutes, always moving around as he worked on his quickness and balance.

How Do Men and Women Differ Athletically?

Athletic differences between men and women have much to do with innate characteristics determined by genetics and hormones. These include height, weight, muscle mass, body fat and aerobic capacity. As a group, women do not run, jump or swim as fast as men. Women are also more prone to certain types of athletic injuries than men.
Due to higher estrogen levels, women have more body fat than men. The leanest female athletes, such as top marathon runners, have body fat of approximately 8 percent, compared with 4 percent for their male counterparts. In addition, women’s bodies are less muscular, but their joints are more flexible, which gives them greater range of motion — an advantage in sports such as gymnastics. The wider female pelvis also affects the alignment and movement of the extremities. Men have higher levels of testosterone, which gives them a performance advantage in other ways.
Testosterone enables men to develop larger skeletal muscles as well as larger hearts. Men also have a larger proportion of Type 2 muscle fibers, which generate power, strength and speed. Testosterone also increases the production of red blood cells, which absorb oxygen, giving men an even greater aerobic advantage, reports “New York Times” writer Gina Kolata, in an interview with Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, an exercise researcher at McMaster University in Ontario.
Women are more prone to injuring joints such as the shoulders and knees. Weaker shoulder muscles and looser supporting tissues mean the joint is less stable than in men, reports writer Michael Lasalandra, in an interview with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center sports medicine physician Bridget Quinn. Also, the injury rate to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, a major knee ligament, is significantly higher in female than in male athletes. By proper training and strengthening of supporting muscles, women can prevent such injuries.
The gender gap in athletic performance, as shown in records from Olympic competition, has remained stable since 1983. The mean difference has been about 10 percent between men and women for all events. The mean gap is 10.7 percent for running, 8.9 percent for swimming and 17.5 percent for jumping. When performances improve, the improvements are proportional for each gender. Still, in sports such as running, a woman who is fit and well-trained can outperform a man who is not. In shooting and equestrian competition, where physical balance and mental concentration are essential, women can compete on a par with men.