Nutrition for athletic girls is a source of confidence!

March is National Nutrition Month and we’d like to share tips on good nutrition for girl athletes.  Balance is key. It is important to include lean protein, nutrient rich carbohydrates (whole grain, non GMO if possible), low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables in an athlete’s diet. It is essential to be properly hydrated, so drink your water throughout the day! Some folks say 1/2 your body weight in ounces – shoot for at least eight glasses.

To prep for a game, start out with a hearty breakfast rich in carbohydrates to keep your energy up, move on to a balanced lunch containing protein vegi, carbohydrate combination, spread out protein consumption throughout the day, try to avoid bad fatty foods (eat the good ones like avocado), and eat your last meal two to three hours before game time to be sure you have digested it. For our recommendations for post-game recovery foods check out our guide here!

Join the conversation and leave us a comment on what food routine works for you.

(photo source: mountain-bike-world)

Dynamic Stretching advice from Dr. Lindsay Di Stefano and Dragonwing

Spring sports tryouts are underway -and warming up safely is key to playing well and minimizing the risk of injury. In this blog, we asked Dr. Lindsay Di Stefano to provide readers with evidence-based, practical information to help encourage safe and healthy participation in sports for all athletes, but with a special focus for pre-adolescent and adolescent girls.

First Step to Any Activity: A Proper Warm-up

In the past, you may have witnessed this scene –fifteen girls put their bags down and jog around the soccer field together. They stop at midfield and align themselves in a circle with one teammate in the center. This “captain” leads her team through a series of static stretches by counting off 30 seconds per stretch. After the team has completed a few stretches, they walk off the field to their waiting coach and begin practice. Have you seen this scenario before?
I surely have! Here is an example of another common scenario frequently played out on youth sport fields: The team arrives, they start talking to one another, catching up on the day’s events, and may start juggling or passing to one another before the actual practice begins. Or a third scenario occurs when an athlete walks out of their front door and starts running three miles. Unfortunately, the athletes in all three scenarios are not helping themselves be as prepared as possible for any training, practice, or game. Not only are these athletes not putting their bodies in the best condition for performance, but they may also be increasing their risk of injury.
A better solution to these examples above is to gradually prepare your body for the upcoming activity. Generally, the first thing to do is to start increasing your heart rate, which will begin to “warm-up” your muscles. There are many ways to accomplish this goal. You can walk at progressively faster speeds, leading to a jog, possibly incorporate some quicker runs, or you can ride a bike with low resistance, or even play a small game that involves low to moderate effort. The goal is to just get your body moving!
After you are feeling “warm” and perhaps even sweating a little bit, you can start performing some specific exercises for various muscles. These exercises will help the muscles get used to working (producing force) while they are moving. Here is where the big difference lies between traditional “static stretching” and a “dynamic warm-up”. Once you have “warmed up” your body through gradual exercise, you do not want to stand in place and essentially cool it down. Static stretches that are held for a long period of time may also interfere with your muscles’ ability to work effectively. Research has shown that a dynamic warm up helps to more effectively prepare the body for athletic participation.

Instead of performing static stretches, try some of these dynamic movements. Similar to the warm up activity, you should gradually progress the speed and intensity used for these exercises. The goal is that you are ready to jump into full-speed activity when you are finished with these exercises.

Walking knee to chest
Walking knee to opposite shoulder
Walking quad stretch
Walking hamstring stretch- one foot in front, sit back onto back leg and lean forward towards front foot, front knee straight and back knee bent, toes down to the ground
Walking calf stretch- same as the walking hamstring stretch expect pull toes/foot upward
Walking lunge/hip flexor stretch- walk out into a lunge, keep body upright,
Side to side lunge/groin stretch
Walking cross over/piriformis stretch
Walking lunge with rotation
Heel walks/Toe walks
Butt kicks
Hamstring kicks
Skipping
Carioca
Lateral shuffles

So next time you see athletes start performing “static” stretches before any physical activity, suggest to them that they should try out some new moves that might help prevent injury and may improve their performance!

The “why” of Dragonwing girlgear.

kickstart_bannerPeople often ask me why I am so passionate about sports and girls and I have a simple, important reason – we need this generation of girls, now more than ever, to reach their potential.  Sports participation at any level is one path to actualizing potential –it is established and proven – we don’t need to create a new program or study its benefits.  But social expectations and social media are getting in the way of girls.  When I realized “the underwear experience” could have an impact, I had an aha moment that I could do something about it.

Let’s take Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid.  On one level of the pyramid is community or village – we all know and accept that it takes a village to grow a strong confident girl.  We are happier with friends, family, a team, a tribe.  Belonging is important.   Connections give life meaning (Brene Brown).  Sports provide a natural community.

The next level of the pyramid is self-esteem.  Sports build self-esteem in so many ways, such as setting and achieving goals, graciously winning, building resilience, pushing your comfort zone for what you think you can do and then exceeding it – just to name a few. For more on this, check out this TedEx talk by Alisa Herr.

Unfortunately, feelings about breast development are a top reason girls drop out of sports.  According to a recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, “three quarters of school-aged girls report breast-related concerns regarding exercise and sports.”   75%!!!  That’s just not acceptable.  Starting and normalizing conversation about body changes can improve this.  Sports programs frequently recommend protective gear for boys, like cups, or compression shorts, but there is no comparable list recommended for girls. At Dragonwing girlgear, we provide girls that list and more.

Having an excellent-fitting, high-performance sports top – whether it is a bra, cami or thermal tee-shirt, that is designed especially for the athletic girl’s figure, can eliminate worries about underwear malfunction.  Embarrassment about changing bodies can alleviate concerns about body image.  At Dragonwing, we strive to free up emotional energy– so girls can focus on their game – and everything else they want to achieve… because when girls are confident, the possibilities are endless.

 

 

 

Brand-New Resources Page

We have added a new Resources page to our sideline chatter blog! This resource page, entitled “Essentials for a Confident Girl Athlete” includes a growing list of tools that we at Dragonwing think are vital for the empowerment and success of female athletes and for the aid of their parents! Visit our resources page now and keep checking our blog for weekly posts as we add more essentials to our list.

5 Running Tips for Non-Runners

Since my mother is such a powerful and voracious runner, I’m often asked “do you run?” The inquiry always puzzles me. Am I talented at running? No. Do I have what is traditionally considered a runner’s body type? Probably not.

Recently, though, I’ve been really inspired by body-positive campaigns that work to divorce physical activities from certain body types. For example, if you have a body and you’re wearing a swim suit, you’ve got a swim suit body! Likewise, if you have a body and you’re practicing yoga with it, that’s a yoga body. With those messages in mind, I’m challenging myself to answer “do you run?” with an enthusiastic “I try my best!”

 

dragonwing-girlgear-ambassador-celia-after-race-in-girls-sports-bra

Until high school, I was haunted by a memory of (barely) completing the mile during my first week of 6th grade PE class. (For anyone who was lucky enough not to be there, I threw up in the bathroom sink in front of half the girls in my grade after practically walking four dreadful laps on the track.)

With love and encouragement, I share 5 things that have helped me not only conquer my fears but also begin to enjoy running short distances:

  1. LISTEN TO GREAT MUSIC: Try songs with a beat similar to your pace (Spotify even has a really cool app that matches songs to your running rhythm.) Some of my favorites are classic wedding after-party songs like “September” and “Dancing in the Moonlight.”
  2. EMBRACE THE CONNECTION BETWEEN YOUR BREATH AND MOVEMENT: During Ashtanga yoga practice, yogis breathe with Ujjayi pranayama or “victorious breath,” a method which facilitates effortless body movement. I recommend experimenting with different breathing patterns until you find one that works for you! In contrast to #1: try running silently sometimes. There is nothing more grounding than hearing your own exhales.
  3. WALK WHEN YOU NEED TO: Challenge yourself, but listening to your body is important for your safety. Better to protect yourself for a future run than to over-exert!
  4. SET GOALS AND CELEBRATE ACCOMPLISHMENTS, EVEN LITTLE ONES: Whenever I’ve had to do something difficult in my life, from studying for the SAT to puffing through another mile, I’ve made a habit of promising myself a sushi dinner alone. Treat yourself.
  5. RUN FOR YOU: This last tip is a big one. Don’t compare yourself to your friend who is a UNC field hockey recruit, to your Super-Mom, or to famous athlete Shalane Flanagan. It’s great to set an intention for your work out or to dedicate a run to someone who needs it or to a great cause. Ultimately, though, the most rewarding thing about running is that, unlike most other sports, the only thing you need to run is you.

By putting one foot in front of the other and working up a sweat, you’re honoring your body and all the wonderful things it’s capable of doing, so run for yourself.

4 Tips Every Young Athlete Should Know for Staying Hydrated

After a long, cold winter just about everywhere in the US, what a relief it is to have warmer weather and longer days. Practices and games that occur during the heat of the day can bring the risk of dehydration, especially for young athletes.

Staying hydrated can help athletes feel and play their best. The U.S. Soccer Federation uses the acronym GOAL for its recommendations for youth athletes, parents, and coaches.

Get acclimated: Young athletes especially need to give their bodies time to adjust to higher, more humid temperatures. Wearing shorts, tops, and sports bras made of moisture-wicking fabric (not cotton) helps your body cool itself.

On-schedule drinking: Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Increase how much you drink throughout the day, every day. Develop the habit of drinking a glass of water before you go to bed or when you get up in the morning. And be sure to drink before practice or a game, too.

Always bring a drink to practices and games. Stay away from caffeinated, so-called “energy” drinks that can cause health problems, especially in young people. To replace electrolytes after you finish playing, try chocolate milk, V-8 juice, or 100% fruit juice, which contains more carbohydrates, potassium, and nutrients than a sports drink

Learn the signs of dehydration: dizziness, nausea, chills, and unusual fatigue. If you experience any of these, stop playing, move to a cooler location, drink fluids, and – most importantly – notify a coach, parent, or other adult.

What you wear can help keep you cool, too. Dragonwing girlgear is made from fabric that wicks moisture so your body stays cooler. Check out our new Mesh Racer Sports Bra and Un-Dee Light Compression Shorts.

Are Sport Drinks Really Good For You?

In part 2 of our feature of nutritionist Kenlyn Young, the topic of healthy sports drinks is brought into the discussion. Is just water sufficient for an athlete? What about sports drinks? Below, our featured blogger answers some of your most pressing questions about sports drinks.

“Staying hydrated is a critical component of exercise. Drinking 2-3 glasses of water several hours before exercise is a must. And of course, during as well. Thinking of grabbing a sports drink? Think again. For most people participating in a sporting activity, drinking water is absolutely adequate. Sports drinks do provide sodium, the electrolye that is lost during exercise, however along with the sodium comes sugar, artificial colors, and brominated vegetable oil, a known harmful product. Most individuals have more than enough sodium in their diets to compensate for exercise. However, if one feels the need to replenish electrolytes after exercise a much better choice than a sports drink is V-8, chocolate milk, or 100% fruit juice. Fruit juice contains more carbohydrate, potassium, and nutrients than a sports drink.”

-Kenlyn Young

Snack on this: A nutritionist’s perspective

As a practicing dietician in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Kenlyn Young has a lot of advice for athletes who depend on good nutritional practices for optimal performance. Snacking is an integral part of an athlete’s diet, if done right. Here is some advice from Young for best snacking habits for an athlete.
“The goal of eating pre-exercise is to ensure the body has adequate energy for best performance and also to ensure that blood sugar levels don’t fall causing weakness, dizziness, or fatigue. Carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source and provide quick energy for our muscles. Great snacks to serve this purpose include 100% fruit juice, a piece of fruit (best choices bananas, fresh pineapple or dried apricots), pretzels, popcorn, or a granola bar. Avoid snacks high in processed sugar, fat, and protein for your pre-exercise snack. The no-no snacks include chips, cookies, donuts, etc.
After exercise, it is important to replenish and repair our muscles. The best snack for post-exercise contains both a carbohydrate and a protein. Great choices include cheese and crackers, apple with peanut butter, yogurt with granola, carrots with hummus, almonds and raisins, even chocolate milk.”
-Kenlyn Young

Looking for a New Sport? Try Rock Climbing!

Hey Girlz 2 Women!

I wanted to share a bit about a different sport- ROCK CLIMBING!  If you’ve never tried it before, it is a blast.  I know many people who have tried other sports and they feel awkward, unfit or uncomfortable for any number of reasons, but then they found climbing.  Rock climbing is a whole different world that helps you explore your inner self, test your limits, learn about your body and feel great in the process.

I’m 42 (old in girls years) and only started climbing when I was 34, much later than most people.  But in that time, I have found a better sense of self, learned not to second-guess myself so much, met so many wonderful people in the climbing community, and explored beautiful places around the country where I’ve climbed for days at a time.

Triangle Rock Club is a climbing gym in Morrisville, NC where I now teach climbing.  One of the classes I teach is called Women on the Wall, which is focused on general climbing techniques, and a brief history of female climbers and exploration of the benefits we have as women in the climbing world.The class is an empowering atmosphere in which to learn the basics.  If you are interested in exploring something new, you can find more info at www.trianglerockclub.com.  Feel free to ask for me!

There is a wonderful blog online focused just on girls and rock-climbing.  You should check it out – you’ll actually find a little feature on little ol’ me – http://girlcrushrock.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/sarah-wolfe-you-rock/ .

Rock on, girlfriends!

-Sarah Wolfe, Rock Climbing Instructor at Triangle Rock Club

Combating the Cold Weather

As we trudge through the thick of winter, it becomes increasingly difficult to muster our strength and go outside to exercise. Whether it be a walk, run or an evening soccer practice, doing any these activities requires commitment by our bodies to absorb the cold air and crank out sweat. This combination between cold, wind-whipped air and the heat inside of us, causing our muscles to scream, is a tremendous burden to put on our bodies.

But don’t let winter stop you from enjoying your sport. If you can play indoors, then take advantage of that. Look for a local facility where you and a few friends can kick the soccer ball around, hit a few tennis balls, swing a few bats, shoot a few hoops or even run a few miles. Or, if you can’t get to an indoor facility, try doing some small exercises at home to get your muscles working. From core exercises, to pushups, to even some comfortable and relaxing yoga, you can turn your house into your own personal gym.

Sure, it’s tough to stay as active during the winter as you are during the summer. But remember, athletes train every season, including Olympic athletes. The winter is just another challenge to conquer. Also, chances are most of your fellow teammates or opponents aren’t doing that much this winter, so take advantage of that and come out spring season flying!

However, for the brave few that can combat the cold, remember: be smart when the weather dips below freezing; your body can only take so much.