I tried to perfect the Ginger and Brazil Nut Tofu recipe again today, but no dice.

CIMG5727

I combined 6 Brazil Nuts, a 1-inch portion of a ginger root, 1/2 tablespoon dried ginger, pepper, and EVOO in my food processor and then coated 1/2 a box of extra firm tofu in the mixture.  I baked it for 30 minutes at 375.

CIMG5724

Maybe ginger just doesn’t work on baked tofu, but I feel like the taste was lost.  Any suggestions?

 

I had the tofu with a little more than 1/4 cup of brown rice and broc.

CIMG5728

It was a pretty nice lunch!

 

I also drank some Amazing Grass + unsweet almond breeze for a mid-morning snack around 10:00 AM.

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Stretching Questions

 

Based on my online research, I’ve determined one of the primary reasons I am having so many knee problems is the biomechanics of my leg muscles. Basically, some muscles are tighter/stronger than other muscles, which causes my patella to shift into the wrong spot.  Over time, this has caused damage to my cartilage.

 

This morning I realized my leg muscles (especially surrounding my knee) was SO tight.  The joint itself doesn’t hurt (which is awesome because I went on a 2.0 mile run last night), but I can feel the muscles freaking out.  I stretched out for like 3 minutes last night and some more this AM.   I feel like I’m not stretching deeply enough or long enough though.

 

How do you stretch? For how long? How often? And if you are a runner, do you stretch before a run?

{ 60 comments }

 

  • tfh June 3, 2009, 8:44 am

    I used to suffer from knee problems and think your diagnosis is spot-on. Do you use a foam roller? Mine is seriously the best thing that ever happened to the muscles surrounding my knee. Better than stretching or yoga, even! (Second best might be the Stick.)

  • runnerskitchen June 3, 2009, 8:49 am

    Oh boy, I am having so many running related problems right now (especially with the right leg!) I've been stretching the IT band a lot, doing shallow leg squats to strengthen the area, foam rolling, and icing everyday. I wish my legs could talk and tell me EXACTLY what stretches they need, but it's kind of a guessing game. I think I'm going to post photos of the stretches I do soon. Maybe we can all learn techniques from each other šŸ™‚

  • Amelia (AC/DC: Highways to Health) June 3, 2009, 8:49 am

    I'm trying to get better about stretching. I really slack off on it now. I just got a foam roller so I'm hoping that will help motivate me! šŸ™‚
    Before a run I usually do a little walking/slow running to warm my body up. AFTER the run is when I stretch. I think I read something about how it's bad to stretch your muscles when they're "cold."

  • FoodsThatFit June 3, 2009, 8:51 am

    I agree with tfh, foam rolling has saved me with my past knee issues. I do it twice a day (once before a workout and once after)for about 5-10 minutes each time. Usually when I am watching the news or something like that.

  • Katie June 3, 2009, 8:51 am

    To make a stretch count, you must hold it for at least 10 seconds. 30 seconds is better, 60 seconds will increase your flexibility further. Make sure you never bounce. I think ACE suggests taking an hour 3 days a week to stretch all major muscles. Also, massage does wonders!

  • Brandi June 3, 2009, 8:52 am

    the tofu looks great – maybe try doing a mix of fresh AND Ground ginger?

    I don't stretch enough, probably, but we do stretch our legs before and after we go running, usually.

  • EmLit June 3, 2009, 8:54 am

    I'm not all that good about stretching consistently. I'm a runner, and I always stretch after a run, but never before. Some people I know swear by stretching beforehand, though. I was at a running/tri store the other day picking up a pair of tri shorts and one of the sales guys there told me that biking is a great complement to running because it balances out the muscle development–hopefully all the cycling you've been doing lately will help with the knees in your running!

  • Jennifer @ His N' Her Health June 3, 2009, 8:55 am

    I try to stretch every day… but it doesn't always happen. I hold it for 30 seconds and do each stretch 4 times… basically that is what we do in dance so that is what I do at home. and definitely no bounce!

  • Mica June 3, 2009, 8:58 am

    I've been really bad about stretching, but I'm getting better. I make a point to stretch my quads, hamstrings, calves, hip flexor, and IT-band after most runs.

  • recipesforcreativity June 3, 2009, 9:03 am

    I'm not sure what would help bring out the ginger flavor…I make a brown rice dish with ginger and it also has lots of garlic, cashews, and dried cranberries in it, and I definitely taste the ginger that way. Hmm, maybe that recipe could be modified to also have tofu and broc in it, just all mixed up?

    As for stretching…I am terrible at the stretching part of a workout, so I'm not the right girl to ask!

  • Leslie June 3, 2009, 9:06 am

    Ginger: Try using fresh, and marinading the tofu in the mixture for a couple of hours (or even overnight). Or maybe you powdered ginger is more than a year old? Spices do lose their potency with age and when exposed to light/heat.

    Stretching: I suggest you consult a really good trainer, who can give you not only stretches to help your knees chill out, but exercises to strengthen the muscles that support your knees. While not a runner, I have a terrible recurring case of plantar fasciitis. I found a great trainer who worked with me on my gait, stretches and strengthening before our vacation, and I was able to walk 10+ miles a day without pain.

  • Katherine June 3, 2009, 9:10 am

    what is your secret to making the perfect tofu cubes???

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point June 3, 2009, 9:11 am

    katherine – my secret is that i buy pre-cubed tofu šŸ™‚

  • jane June 3, 2009, 9:14 am

    i've heard from various chiropractors and physical therapists that stretching BEFORE running doesn't actually do much- it's the stretching AFTER that is important. it sounds like your patella isn't tracking right, and that can be due to strength in some muscles and weaknesses in others. women have a larger "Q angle" (the angle where the femur meets the tibia) because of our wider pelvis. this can cause bio mechanical problems such as the ones you were describing. it can also cause a weakness in the muscles in your inner thighs (i'm blanking on the names). to strengthen these muscles, try sitting on the ground with you arms behind you to support your upper body and your legs straight out. raise one leg off the ground about 4-6 inches and hold for ten seconds. then try turning your foot out so the side of your leg is facing up and again lift the leg about 4-6 inches. this will probably be MUCH harder cause these muscles are weaker. it's super hard to explain without showing you, but it's a great stretch for those muscles.
    lastly, i can't emphasis enough the importance of good shoes. many biomechanical issues can be addressed with good running shoes, so hit up your local running store where they know what they are talking about and get you gait analyzed and the whole nine yards. i bet they could tell you some stretches, too.
    wow, was that comment long enough? šŸ˜‰ hope everything works out and feel free to ask me anything if you are confused by my sad attempt at describing a strength exercise!
    oh, and here's some extra reading material in case you are interested: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-241-285–7773-0,00.html

  • Beth June 3, 2009, 9:16 am

    When I last had knee pain due to running, my doc told me it was essential to use the foam roller on all the muscles of my leg. I roll over my quads, hams, calves and – ouchie – my IT band. It works wonders if you do it after every run. Do you have a foam roller?

  • Victoria June 3, 2009, 9:17 am

    I have ridiculously tight hip joints/muscles so I always do 20-30minutes of yoga after a run. I'm usually still a bit sore but not near as stiff as I would be otherwise.

  • Marissa June 3, 2009, 9:17 am

    I also have the knees of an 80 year old woman. I'm taking a break from working out and focusing on stretching. I would highly suggest getting a foam roller. I use mine in the morning and at night. I did go to physical therapy for a couple months and they taught me some exercises to do which i have also been doing.

  • Chrissy June 3, 2009, 9:22 am

    I can't run very often due to my knees, but what has been working wonders recently is similar to what Victoria said above but I actually do 20 minutes of hardcore yoga stretches (usually Bikram style)BEFORE I run…I was never taught to stretch before a run when I used to do track in High School, we always did it after. I still can't go very far or long, but it has helped me so much!! If I don't stretch I can't go more than .5 miles sometimes…if I do, I can go 2-4!

  • Mrs. LC June 3, 2009, 9:24 am

    I know tofu is very sponge-like and absorbs flavors easily, so maybe you just need a crap-ton of ginger? Have you seen those tubes of ginger paste (there are other herb pastes too) in the produce section at Publix? Maybe try using a bunch of that, maybe thin it out with a bit of water (or coconut milk or almond milk!) and let the tofu marinate all morning? Then you can toss it with the brazil nut/ dry ginger mixture? Just an idea!

  • K from ksgoodeats June 3, 2009, 9:26 am

    I LOVE STRETCHING!! After a quick little warm up, I do a quickie stretch session that works my whole body (about 10 minutes) three times a day. I don't know if I've sent you this website or not but it has a lot of really good stretches:

    http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/sma/sma_index.htm

    There's a section dedicated to the knee too šŸ™‚

  • Stacey June 3, 2009, 9:38 am

    I've read on Runner's World before that there is no point in stretching before a run but it is VERY important to stretch after a run.

    Stretching before a run may open up leg muscles a little, but not enough to prevent injury, the stretching afterwards is what helps injury prevention

  • Leila June 3, 2009, 9:40 am

    Stretching is probably the most underrated part of exercise. I injured myself a few months ago and as a result my muscles have got a bit messed up. As part of my recovery I spend almost 45 minutes a day stretching my legs (I break it out to be bearable). I"m also the crazy on the street that's stretching her quad or calf randomly at the light.

  • Frannie June 3, 2009, 9:41 am

    Have you tried any yoga? I shyed away from yoga for sooooo long because I never felt I was doing anything for myself, but it's become key to my post-run stretching and strenghthening. Any kind of flow that incorporates elements of a traditional Sun Salulation B…especially all the warriors, lunges, and triangle poses…should help you.

    I only warm up and stretch before races if I plan to go fast.

  • Jennifer June 3, 2009, 9:44 am

    Sometimes you can have knee issues (or ankle or shoulder or…) because the muscles around the joint aren't very strong, so in addition to stretching, you might benefit from some strength training specific to your quads/hamstrings which insert around the knee… you may already be doing this, but just a thought! Also, would you maybe post some of the "best of" suggestions to this question? I'd be interested to read them later!

  • Peanuts & Crackerjacks June 3, 2009, 9:45 am

    I've run 7 days a week for 6 years and I JUST started stretch after I run. Embarrasingly enough I also do professional dancing….no probs stretching there of course!! But for some reason after running I never have the urge!! I do foam roll though every day…I have a wonky sciatic nerve

  • Trish June 3, 2009, 9:55 am

    I am so bad about stretching. I like taking yoga classes because then I get into taking care of my poor, aching body. šŸ™‚ But left on my own, I don't stretch enough. And yes, my joints are not so good because of it. I have been having some foot and knee issues and I really need to stretch more because I know that will help remedy it -at least a bit.

  • Kelly June 3, 2009, 10:01 am

    I need to work on stretching too. I have the same problems with my knee(s) and the doctor and physical therapist told me it's because of tight muscles. I have to second the commenter above who suggested a foam roller. It's hurts so bad to do it but it's really great for the knee. I just bought one yesterday. I also got a bunch of specific stretches for my knee that I am planning to blog about this week so I'll let you know when I do so you can use them too!

  • Island Girl Eats June 3, 2009, 10:04 am

    I am a runner and I totally stretch before I set out. I walk for a little bit of a cool down and then stretch when I am done.
    Someone told me they run for about 5 minutes and then stretch while the muscles are warmed up. I have never tried that though.
    Do you think that you will be able to get over your problems and run again?
    http://islandgirleats.blogspot.com

  • Amy June 3, 2009, 10:13 am

    I stretch for 5-10 minutes post-run. I tend to not stretch before I run unless I've done a warm up. Otherwise I feel that stretching "cold" muscles might end up making things worse. Hey, if you have on demand comcast, check out the fitness channel. They have a section called pink ribbon workouts that has a strength program (it's only 10 minutes long) for runners to help prevent knee injuries. That could help balance out your leg muscles. If you don't find it on there, you can find it at exercisetv.tv.

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point June 3, 2009, 10:14 am

    thanks for all the great suggestions! i do have a foam roller but i need to get dedicated to using it.

    island girl – i do not know. my knees have not gotten any worse sent april; actually, they have gotten better, but i have not been running. i hope there is a way for me to run, but i dont want to be in pain or need surgery when i am 30.

  • Jessica June 3, 2009, 10:21 am

    The best advice I have been given re: stretching and running is to not stretch before you run because it is pointless – you can't stretch cold muscles. My uncle, who is a marathon runner and track coach, says you should do a quick five minute warm-up(either a jog or a walk) and then stretch your muscles once you are warm. I have tried this and it definitely makes a difference.

  • Sistercooks.blogspot.com June 3, 2009, 10:23 am

    well, I have really bad knees- one of my muscles are so tight that I am going for surgery to cut it, so my knee cap isn't so tilted, but there are all sorts of stretches you can do- you should be doing them 2-3 times a day, and foam rollers are great, although extremely painful- if your insurance covers it, can you go to a physical therapist for one session so she can give you a stretching regimen and make sure you are stretching correctly….

  • Jessica June 3, 2009, 10:24 am

    Tofu: perhaps fresh ginger, or even the pre-sliced jarred ginger in the refrigerator section would intensify the flavor. Also, instead of the EVOO, maybe some soy sauce or tamari sauce?

  • Ashley June 3, 2009, 10:25 am

    I never stretch pre-run unless I'm at a race but I try to always stretch for a few minutes post run, although honestly, I'm not that great about it. I'm a huge proponent of Yoga though. My running has improved 200 percent since I took up Yoga.

  • Leslie June 3, 2009, 10:27 am

    Not sure if you've heard about this article in Monday's New York Times, but maybe this might help…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/health/02well.html?_r=1&em

  • Susan June 3, 2009, 10:29 am

    I stretch for about 5 minutes before a run (or bike ride) and do a 5-10 minute warm-up (either walking, or easy spinning) I've started doing 15-30 minutes of yoga poses afterward. Instead of doing a yoga video, I just go online and look up poses that stretch wherever I'm feeling stiff, then hold them for a couple minutes each. Doing this has almost healed a hip injury and will hopefully prevent any further ones!

  • Matt June 3, 2009, 10:29 am

    I stretch before (when I wake up), after, and before bed. Sometimes a mid afternoon stretch as well. I also use the stick 3 times a day.

  • Rebeca @All Vegged Out June 3, 2009, 10:45 am

    Maybe you could try infusing the evoo with the ginger so it can truly coat the tofu? I know it works with herbs and garlic (I love sticking fresh rosemary, sage and thyme in EVOO for a day or so, and it makes my baked tofu have a roast chicken-like quality).

    I stretch daily in the morning I do some minor things before getting out of bed and throughout the day, at my desk and with my students I do stretches. Plus I do yoga often for deep stretches. It keeps me sane!

  • seesaraheat June 3, 2009, 10:45 am

    I used to think stretching before a run was a no-no because you could pull or tear a muscle. But I have found recently if I "gently" stretch just a little bit before a run (or a race) that really eases pain later on. I ran a 5k two weekends ago and I never felt a thing!

    After a run, I do some really deep long stretches. I do some standing up (like quads) but for the most part I lay down and really stretch out every part of my legs and hips. Good luck!

  • Danielle June 3, 2009, 10:55 am

    I need to stretch more, I know I'm doing my body a disservice but I sometimes don't do it as well as I should.

  • seejenneat June 3, 2009, 11:26 am

    I don't stretch before I run; I've heard it doesn't do much good. I try to always stretch after working out, but sometimes I'm guilty of skipping it. Could be why my ankle is messed up a tad šŸ™

  • stephanie p June 3, 2009, 11:31 am

    two words: foam roller. the best pain you'll ever invest in.

  • Natalie M. June 3, 2009, 11:44 am

    LOL @ the reaction vid. I love the campiness of the series and I found the twilight saga to be an awesome distraction from everyday life but crying!? LOL WOW!

    If you want a more grown up version of twilight with some pretty darn good twists and turns you should check out True Blood on HBO… Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series makes Stephenie Meyer look like chopped liver… trust me!

  • Angela June 3, 2009, 12:53 pm

    I dont stretch enough and my muscles always get SUPER tight too. Thanks for the reminder to stick with it!

  • Katherine June 3, 2009, 1:19 pm

    I'm so lazy about stretching and I've lost a lot of flexibility in my hips due to my negligence. When I DO stretch though, I try to hold each stretch for 15 seconds, no bouncing, and I use a foam roller, basically until rolling doesn't hurt anymore šŸ˜‰

    I also use The Stick, but I find it's kind of awkward to maneuver and I prefer the roller.

  • Heather June 3, 2009, 3:43 pm

    I use ginger paste in a marinade for my tofu but I've never used fresh ginger — guess I'll skip trying that out.

    I'm not a runner but I've always heard/read that you shouldn't do static stretching before a workout, only after. My trainer has me doing body movement warm-ups like jumping jacks, arm circles, neck clocks, etc.

    Good luck with your knees!

  • nibblesandwiggles June 3, 2009, 6:29 pm

    From everything I've heard you should only static stretch warm muscles.

  • Kelly A June 3, 2009, 6:29 pm

    I know that you aren't suppose to stretch cold muscles. Maybe the best thing to do would be to get a quick warm up in and then stretch. And then do a really good stretch after your workout? Can't wait to get back on the bike for another long ride!

  • Melissa @ For the Love of Health June 3, 2009, 6:54 pm

    That's too bad your tofu dish didn't turn out! Maybe some spices are needed?

    My knees aren't too bad but from time to time I suffer from a little knee pain. I get tight hamstrings after a long run. I do a simple stretch routine but I really need to do more. I think I will research on line for best stretches for runners.

    I hope your knee isn't too sore tomorrow!

  • HangryPants June 3, 2009, 7:19 pm

    I very rarely stretch before running. I always stretch after – 10 mins. to as long as I have to spare!

  • Christina June 3, 2009, 8:32 pm

    I don't stretch as much as a feel I should. I usually do a minute or two after a workout, but never beforehand! Lately I've been trying to do at least 5 minutes afterward to help with soreness. I wish I had time for yoga!

  • prinny June 4, 2009, 3:29 am

    I'm not a runner, but work out quite a lot. I've always had proplems with my sciatic nerv, and found that stretching really helps, so now I do it religiously after every workout, even if I've "only" been riding my horse.
    But only after the workout, before doesn't do anything for me.

    The tofu looks great, will definitely give that a try. But I agree with the other comments, maybe marinate it to bring out the ginger flavor more strongly.

  • M-Rah June 4, 2009, 8:10 am

    I think Jane was the most "spot on" in her comment. She is exactly right about patellar tracking, the Q-angle, and the importance of quality running shoes. From a trainer's perspective–please never stretch before a run. Utilize a dynamic warm up or jog for 5 mins and then stretch. A foam roller will help to massage and stretch your IT band which I am guessing is tight. You want to stretch the tight muscles (the ones pulling your knee in one direction–possibly just the IT Band) and strengthen the opposite muscles (in this case probably your adductors). Basic squats and lunges might help–but to target the weak areas try plie squats and inner thigh workouts (such as lying on your side with ankle weights and lifting the bottom leg up; avoid lifting the top leg by first stacking one leg on top of the other, then bend the top knee so your foot is now behind you. Plant that top foot on the floor so it now forms a triangle behind your bottom leg. Now you can move your bottom leg freely.)

    You can absolutely google inner thigh workouts and IT Band stretches to help you out. Feel free to e-mail me at fitrun.brady@gmail.com

    Good luck!

  • M-Rah June 4, 2009, 8:13 am

    Oh, one more thing! Athletic trainers are now taught about the benefits of 'bouncing stretches' and such stretching should not be frowned upon until you study your own biomechanics and know what works for you. šŸ™‚

  • Kyle and Darci June 4, 2009, 9:24 am

    I'm curious if it's possible to over stretch…I heard someone mention that the other day and didn't even know that was possible. I am a fairly newbie runner…3 mile runs 5-6 days/week and i am starting to increase my distance my thighs are VERY tight!! Maybe you have some advice for this too!!

  • Jessica June 4, 2009, 9:46 am

    Along with the strengthening exercises suggested (single leg lifts), try doing single-leg squats. Keep the raised leg 1) in front 2) to the side and 3) behind you. Do 10-12 reps per position. Strengthening the butt muscles is important, too (adductor and abductor exercises are perfect). You want to strengthen those VMO muscles that control patellar alightment. And keep with the biking! Also, rather than the knee sleeves, you might try the Breg line of knee braces. They're pretty heavy duty, and wearing one has saved my running.

  • Jess June 4, 2009, 10:44 am

    I stretch a little before a run…just some moderate lunges and of course walk for the first 1/4-1/2 mile to get my muscles warm. Afterwards I've been trying to do 10-15mins of yoga including the warrior sequences, updog to downdog transitions, bound pose and wind removing pose, etc.

    I was wondering if you could describe what a foam roller is and what you do with it in your summary? I have the weirdest image in my head when you guys are taking about "foam rolling." All I can think of is those crazy foam dance parties and I'm sure that isn't right. šŸ˜€

  • NYgirl@heart June 4, 2009, 10:58 am

    Hey Caitlin!
    I don't really stretch before I run because it's hard to stretch my muscles cold (is it bad to stretch cold muscles?) I just learned how to use the foam roller and just wrote a post about my experience.
    The problem is that I'm very flexible so it takes a lot to stretch myself out (which is why my IT band is so tight and causing all the knee problems I have)
    After my run I take about 10 minutes to stretch my quads, calves, back, and I even do some deep breathing and meditate for a minute or two to end my stretch routine. I have no idea if what I'm doing is right but I do what I can.
    I would LOVE to learn more about better ways to stretch…can't wait to read your post!

  • Andrea (Off Her Cork) June 4, 2009, 12:33 pm

    Some physical therapy exercises might help balance out your muscles. I think you can find a few things online and they would be simple stuff using resistance bands. šŸ™‚

    I stretch really briefly before a run. Literally like a minute or two, stretch hams, calves, and thighs. Depending on how long my run was will determine how long I stretch afterwards. If it's a shortie (2.5) then only a few minutes. Anything longer than that, and I stretch for at least 10. Longer if the run is longer! šŸ™‚

  • catruns June 5, 2009, 5:47 am

    Forgive me if someone has mentioned this already, but pigeon pose from yoga is heavenly! Find it here: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/863 I lean forward over the front knee as far as I can. I love hip stretches!!

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