Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve Random

A friend that practices in the Kansas City area just sent me a link to Very interesting blog for anyone interested in paleo dieting. Also, sent this very, very interesting link to running and your health. Think your running is helping you stay healthy? It will at least make you think.

Just read an article on Steve Nash, how he gave up sugar and never felt better. The average American will eat 2-3 pounds of sugar a week. I believe I've read that a teaspoon of sugar will suppress the immune system for 6 hours. My advice is to avoid sugar when traveling or under extra stress then you normal experience, (final exams, High Intensity WKT's) if you can't just go spartan and avoid it.

Check out this months Mens Health. There is a pretty cool article on bobsled athlete Justin Olsen. Gives you a quick glimpse in some of the training methods he uses.

Just finished reading "Superfreakonomics." I like the original better as I think it caught me off guard, but this is still worth reading. Always fascinating to look at apparently unrelated things and see the relationship and also to find the key, incentives. Looking into the new year, it would be wise to figure out your own incentives behind the goals you set for yourself this year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Butyrate, Fiber and Health

For a long time fiber was touted as a prevention for colon cancer, but the New England Journal of Medicine showed in a pretty strong study that fiber did not have that big of an effect on it. So I really made no concentrated effort to keep fiber in my diet. Along comes butyric acid or butyrate.

Butyric acid is the most important source of energy for the large intestine. Particularly the intestinal epithelial, the layer between the intestinal wall and the rest of the body. Its produced by intestinal bacteria from dietary fiber. It has potent anti inflammatory effects. It helps to prevent the loss of intestinal permeability.

Research has shown that butyric acid can improve the antioxidant status of the intestinal wall: glutathion levels increased, an indication that the gut’s immune function was strengthened.

Good sources are real butter, this has around 3-4% butyrate, and good fibers sources are sweet potatoes, beans, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Learning more about butyrate has convinced me that fiber is indeed an important part of your diet. It also reminds me of how vital probiotics can be in your supplement support group. I believe more and more performance breakthroughs will come from the enteric nervous system and fascia and butyrate will help keep gut health at its best.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Monday Motivation

Todays Monday motivation comes in the form of a book. A friend recommended, "Lone Survivor," by Marcus Luttrell. It's the story of a Navy seal team and what they go through. You will be blown away by what they physically go through to become a Navy seal. It again pushes back the boundaries of what you can physically do and presents that in actuality it's the mental part that will limit performance. Your capacity is far greater then you can fathom and we will probably will never push ourselves hard enough to find it. But it's deeply satisfying knowing that our bodies are capable of and also deeply troubling that we may never challenge ourselves in that way. So find something this coming year to challenge yourself physically, really challenge yourself. Push back your mental limit, your physical limit will not be met I guarantee it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

World Cup Race #5

The final race for the first half of the bobsled season had some up and downs, and boy was it cold. Temps were hovering around -20 degrees Celsius. Guys were getting frost burns from any skin that was exposed to the bobsled on the rides down. The two man race saw a crash on the mens side for USA 1 in the 2 mens race. The upside is that he bounced back to take the silver medal in the four mens event. The four man push crews powered there way to the first and second fastest starts of the day for the second push. On the womens side, Shauna Rohbock finished with the bronze medal. Like I said last week, anytime you can go on a German track and walk away with medals, it was a good week. Last but not least, all the athletes are healthy going into the break. Less then two months to the Olympics!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Random Thoughts

1. Doing myofascial work with the hamstring in a supine position, I was able to find adhesions that had alluded me in the prone position. I believe it was the lack of tension that position afforded me, that allowed for greater depth.

2. I have been paying closer attention to standing glute fold symmetry. After adjusting and doing some A.R.T. on a few structures, the low glute fold was improved but not all the way. After working the glute minimus pretty hard it was fully symmetrical.

3. A very interesting article in National Geographic about the Hadza tribe in Tanzania. They are one of the last true hunter/gatherer societies. Give it a read.

4. Gyokuro tea has high levels of theanine which helps you focus. If your feeling a little ADD give it a shot.

5. Every tissue in the human body has a capacity and every task you require has a load. The key to injury prevention is to never have the load exceed the capacity. Strength training is simply increasing your bodies capacity to handle work.

6. Rhodiola rosea supplementation could be a next big thing kinda thing. It's been around for awhile, but the new information coming out about it are pretty cool. It's an adaptogen, which means it helps your body handle stress and trauma better.

7. Maintaining flexibility in the anterior chain (rectus, psoas, rectus femoris,) is crucial for fast sprinting speeds.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

World Cup Race #4

Winterberg Germany was another pretty successful week. The women had a high finish of 3rd and the mens four man teams took home fifth and the Gold. Any time you can beat the Germans on a home track, you know you did a great job. It went USA, Germany 1, Germay 2, Germany 3, and USA 2. Again, the four man push crews were dominate, pushing the 1st and 3rd fastest times of the day.

This week we are again in German home territory on the Altenberg, Germany track. For many years, this track wasn't open to the west during the Berlin wall days. It's a very tough track, but very unique in that if you drive it well, its very smooth and fast. If you drive it poorly it gets dangerous really quick.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Dangerous Side

Sometimes daily routine can become a mask for some of the dangers that inhabit high speed sports. That can all change in a blink of an eye though. Today was a reminder that bobsled can be dangerous, it can be rough, that there are risks. This is a picture of a helmet of one of the athletes after a four man crash today in Winterberg, Germany. It landed the pilot in the hospital, although his crew was ok, minus four cracked helmets. There are no easy tracks, just less rough and when your going at 80 plus miles per hour, life can change quickly.

Recovery Study

Reading through Conditioning Research, (a pretty interesting blog) they posted a study that is quite interesting. It supports what a few strength coaches I have talked to seem to have reached. Ice isn't a big influence on recovery or to improve performance. They used contrast (ice/heat), stretching and a control following vigorous stair stepping workouts. Neither the ice or stretching grouped faired better then the athletes that did nothing. Remember this was for recovery from a workout, not an acute injury. Big difference. You can read the abstract at

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bikes, Bobsled and your Support

To all my friends out there that love riding bikes and love helping out a cause, I got a good deal for you. For five bucks you can buy a raffle for a chance to win this sweet bike. You will also be helping out US bobsled athlete Bill Schuffenhaur. Many people don't know, but the US government doesn't support Olympic teams, and most athletes are self funded. This means there not getting paid to do this. So any little bit will help out a long way in helping athletes pursue their Olmypic dream. Plus, this is a sweet bike.

World Cup Race #3

The men and womens teams capped a great weekend in Torino, Italy. The men finished 3 and 5 in the two man event and the women finished 6th, 5th and Train Out Pain athlete Shauna Rohbock winning the gold. The next day the men finished 9th and 1st with Steve Holcumb and his crew crushing the field for the gold medal. Next up Winterberg, Germany!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Releasing Groin Tension

My last year of bobsled I had recurring groin pain that was mostly felt with any high speed sprinting, nothing else. I could squat, lunge and do resistance runs without pain. But with any type of high speed sprinting, I felt close to pulling my Pectineus muscle. I got adjusted, ART on the hip flexors, adductors but never received any relief, luckily because of the mechanics of pushing, I never had any problems. Testing a 60 meter sprint, was another problem entirely though.

Fast forward four years and I had an athlete with a very similar problem, but not quite to the extent as myself. After playing with different things I finally found an ahah moment. I have been moving away from static analysis, instead I'm watching people move, squat, bend forward, lunge. One movement I like is high knee raises. For this athlete I was watching him raise his knees and watched as his knee above 90 degrees didn't track as well midline as I thought it should. I found a culprit. The Glute max/IT band tie in with a bit of the biceps femoris fascia tied in was completely adhered. But in a very fine fashion. I was unable to feel it through spandex.

If you follow the sweep of the glute max fascia there is a meeting point that I found to be extremely leathery. We worked three sessions and cleared up both sides. He said it was the biggest change in movement he'd felt in years. Walking up stairs felt effortless. Checking others that have a history of either adductor tension or heavy doses of back squats, I found pretty similar results. No amount of foam rolling or stretching would have been able to correct this. I'm actually looking forward to having someone do this on me and see what I feel afterwards.

So I hope this information helps someone out there get rid of some nagging adductor problems. I wish someone had figured this out 4 years earlier for myself. Good luck and let me know if this helps.

Friday, November 27, 2009

November Book Review

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and is enjoying what hopefully turns out to be a great weekend. I am in for a long travel day, flying to Munich, meet back up with the bobsled team and driving another 7 hours to Torino, Italy, sight of the 2006 Olympics. The last few weeks have been hectic so haven't had as much time to read, but did manage do some light reading and finish AJ Jacobs, "The Guinne Pig Diaries." I really like Jacobs writing, it is fun and poignent. The premise of the book is that Jacobs does mini one month "life experiments" on himself and writes how it affects him and his view of the world. For instance, one chapter was devoted to outsourcing everything imaginable in his life to a virtual assistant in India. Another was he was forced to live by George Washingtons 110 rules for life. The big take home point throughout his book and that he realizes is this, Behavior shapes your thoughts. You want to change, force yourself to do the things first. In his month of absolutely no lying no matter what the circumstance, he found himself telling less white lies, exagerations ect. In a month where he was forced to buy his wife a gift a day, he found that the act of picking something out and up, reinforced his love for her. Behavior shapes your thoughts. It's a pretty powerful message in a really fun read.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

High Speed Gait Analysis

This year I have access to a high speed film camera that we have been using with the system dartfish to film starts and loads for the bobsled team. I also starting playing around with it filming athletes sprinting, lifting and working out. It's been a pretty interesting to see some of the early results. Here is Bobsled athlete Jessie Beckom pulling a sled. He had been having problems with a right hip flexor/adductor. Under load it gets magnified a bit and you can see how high the left arm is driven to try to compensate for the problem.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

World Cup Race #2

It was a great weekend for the US bobsled team this past weekend in Lake Placid, NY. The women put one sled in the top 6 and the men's team of John Napier won the two man event. The following day the mens four man team showed dominance as they took first and second. They were equally dominate at the start pushing the fastest and third fastest times of the day. The teams have a week off of competition as we head over to Europe for a race in Torino, Italy, sight of the 2006 Olympics.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lake Placid Track Life

Here are a few pics of the top of the track at Lake Placid World Cup. The women and mens two man race tomorrow. The pic of the cleared parking lot is where the athletes warm up. The other is of the start looking up the track. The last one is of the work area where the sleds are kept before being brought to the line. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is Rest Still Appropriate?

How many time have you heard the old adage, "Just rest it," after complaining of a sore hurting muscle. How many have heard it from their doctor? How many runners see a podiatrist and say "my calf has been really hurting me on long runs," only to be told, "well rest it for three weeks and try again."

Rest was the prescription for many things awhile back. Fast forward to the present. Rest isn't the answer, unless you have a tear. If the muscle is torn or severely strained, then yes rest is the answer. But persistent pain, will in fact persist.

Pain in a muscle is usually a warning that you have exceeded it's capacity for tolerance. In the above example, you may only have the strength in your calf to run 3 miles before your overpronation causes your tibialis anterior to give up, and yet your trying to run 4 miles on it, so your body sends pain to your calf to get you to quit. Sure you can rest your calf until it feels good enough to run again, but as soon as that 4 miles comes around again, here comes the pain again.

Rest will get rid of the pain, because you've gotten rid of the stimulus. But, bring the stimulus back, and back comes the pain. Understand that load and capacity are a seesaw, keep them in balance. More importantly realize that their is usually always a cause for pain and that rest very rarely is the answer.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Quote

‘Between stimulus and response there is a space, and in that space lies all our freedom.’

Viktor Fankl, the Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, wrote this in Man’s Search for Meaning. So the next time something happens that you feel you have no control over, think again.

Friday, November 13, 2009

World Cup Race #1

Today is the start of it all. Bobsled world cup race number 1 in Park City, UT. The women kick off at 3 and then men at 7pm central time. It's been a long time since the last race, but it's finally here. I believe there is 90 days till the 2010 games. On a side not the bobsled and skeleton federation (USBSF) has decided to support the following organizations this year.

American Cancer Society
Leukemia & Lymphomas Society
Make-A-Wish Foundation
National Breast Cancer Foundation
Autism Speaks
Seattle Childrens Hospital

If your interested in seeing how you can lend support or in just following the team as they compete up to the Olympic Games, visit,

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hip Internal Rotation Evaluation

Internal hip rotation is a crucial component when it comes to proper sprinting and athletic performance. It also plays a significant role with healthy backs. Normal internal rotation for the hip is around 45 degrees. In most really good sprinters, it tends to be a little more, in the athletes I've evaluated.

So when your checking for this one thing to keep in mind is what can inhibit this motion. The number one obvious culprit is tight or short external rotatores of the hip. These smaller muscles, that lie under the glute max can exert a strong pull on the hip, limiting the motion. Another less obvious soft tissue problem is tight psoas/adductors. These muscles when tight together, will have a combined vector pull to inhibit internal hip rotation.

The motion when lacking, will cause an increase demand on the glute medius eccentrically. So doing all the glute med rehab exercise will be like hitting your head against a wall, useless. Fix the problem, don't patch it. Not only will the glute med become overworked and inhibited, the piriformis will now take on a much larger roll and become hyperactive. This will place more stress on the sciatic nerve.

The most common predictable common factor in low back pain is lack of internal hip rotation. This is part of the biomechanical arsenal of things I always check on my patients in Grand Rapids. They have done many studies that have linked low back pain, SIJ problems with greater external rotation. So again, the importance of hip internal rotation, can not be stressed enough. Here is a link from Mike Reinhold, that lists several studies that have been done with hip rotation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fascia, Fascia Release and Results

The last few days a couple of the bobsled athletes that are heavy squatters, had been having some TFL, IT band discomfort with some of there heavier sets. Upon inspection, I released a lot of adhesion's in the vastus lateralis. To my surprise, both experienced visual growth in the quad, with one experiencing new found "cuts" in the vastus medias, lateralis and rectus. I had heard that this can happen with the biceps with guys that work arms a lot and don't do much stretching or self care. It was pretty cool to visually see the quad flex harder and larger on completion of the releases.

Fascia interpenetrates and surrounds all organs, muscles, bones and nerve fibers, creating a unique environment for body systems functioning. Lately I've been reading about fascia may be considered an organ of support for the human body. In it's simplest example, it forms a support tube around the muscle. When the fascia gets to tight from adhesion's, the muscle has no where to go on contraction. So the contraction isn't as powerful or is painful. When you release the fascia the muscle is able to contract to its full capability, so the muscle didn't exactly grow, you're just taking away it's restriction so to speak. Interesting to see for the first time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Motivation

Pretty cool piece about San Diego State Football. Another clip that will definitely get you moving and into the gym!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lunge Assessment pt2

Last week we looked at one of the things to look for in doing a lunge. These clues will show you or your patients and athletes what can be going wrong with their bodies. This week as you lunge, look at the front knee, does it stay stable and straight ahead, or does it deviate towards the midline. If it deviates towards the midline it may be because a decrease in force production from the external rotatores of the hip. These are the muscles that lie underneath the glute max. Often times the decrease in force production may be caused by tightness or adhesion's in these muscles.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Groin pain and the Femoral Sheath

Last week, one of the bobsled athletes I take care of complained of some pinching pain on hip flexion, with some sharper adductor pain as well. Checking the adductor group, I couldn't really find any tightness or adhesions in the muscles themselves that would make me think that it was a concern. While there was a feeling of pinching on hip flexion it wasn't sharp and alignment of the hip/pelvis was good. Thinking the sharp adductor pain could be referral pain, I started checking structures around the pinching site in inguinal triangle. I finally found that the femoral sheath wasn't sliding under the inguinal ligament. After several passes of Active Release Technique to free up the sheath under the ligament, hip flexion was now much less irritated and upon a few strides the adductor had no pain. This was the first time I had ever felt this. Thought this was an interesting case to share. Again this shows how the site of the pain is very rarely the site of the problem.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hip Extension and the Neck

For athletes, hip extension is one of the most important movements. It is the key to running fast. Most training programs are geared around increasing the strength of hip extension. Not only must athletes posses great strength, the flexibility must also be there. There are quite a few things that can limit hip extension, tight hip flexors (tfl,psoas,rectus femoris), sacrum dysfunction, weak glutes/hamstrings, to name a few. One surprising thing that not many will think of, is suboccipital muscle dysfunction. These tiny muscles are at the base of the external occipital protuberance. They are loaded with muscle spindles, (receptors that report on body function).

This past week I've been working on many of the US Skeleton athletes. The way they are positioned on their sleds, requires a lot of neck hyperextension, which over time, creates tightness in the suboccipital muscles. After clearing out all the primary hip extension antagonists, I released the suboccipital muscles and rechecked hip extension. To a tee, they gained around 3-4 inches of more hip extension range of motion. So if your hip extension on yourself or athletes isn't there, and you clear out the primary structures, look to these small muscles.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lunge Assessment

I am a big fan of watching someone move to help figure out what is going on with the body. One especially important motion is the in place lunge. Simply lunge forward, push back off to a standing position and lunge forward with the opposite leg. This can give you many clues as to what is going on with the body. Will go over several of these this next week. The first tip to look at is this, does the upper body lean forward as your in the lunge position. If it does, most likely your have a weak hamstring. The body moves forward to put your glutes in a better mechanical advantage to push off. So next time your watching patients or athletes move, look for this little tidbit and correct it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tiger Woods golf swing in slow motion

Check out the hip mobility, the core strength. Mostly, check out what unwavering perfect practice looks like. It's inspiring to try to do whatever it is you do that well.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pull Up Instructional

Check out Mike T Nelsons sight, he has a great post on perfecting the pull up with a few neurological tricks to do and not to do. Very cool stuff.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thoughts on Back Squatting

I found the following link on back squatting from Mike Boyle. I first started thinking about getting away from the back squat after tweaking my back a few times, watching athletes lose training time from injuries and hearing Mike talk about it. I'm not sure I am at the point where I would totally eliminate back squatting, but I haven't coached even 1% of what Mike has either. It definitely raises the question if you can get your legs stronger without loading the spine, is there a good reason to do it? What are your thoughts on this?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Flu shot/Swine flu: Ingredients

This was just readily available across the Internet after doing some digging. I just cut and paste. The big thing to take note is that Thimerosal is in the flu and swine flu shot. This ingredient is now illegal in childhood vaccinations. Makes you think.
1. What’s in the regular flu shot?

Egg proteins: including avian contaminant viruses
Gelatin: known to cause allergic reactions and anaphylaxis are usually associated with sensitivity to egg or gelatin
Polysorbate 80 (Tween80™): can cause severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis
Formaldehyde: known carcinogen
Triton X100: a strong detergent
Sucrose: table sugar
Resin: known to cause allergic reactions
Gentamycin: an antibiotic
Thimerosal: mercury is still in multidose vials (really want that in your body?

2. Swine Flu

The solution for vaccine manufacturers, allowing them to stretch the vaccine to go further, could be the addition of ingredients called adjuvants. According to breaking news about the use of adjuvants in the H1N1 vaccine, Bloomberg is reporting these compounds have never been approved for flu vaccines in the U.S. and some studies have shown they cause immune disorders in mice
MF-59 is an oil-based adjuvant primarily composed of squalene, Tween 80 and Span85.
All oil adjuvants injected into rats were found toxic. All rats developed an MS-like disease that left them crippled, dragging their paralyzed hindquarters across their cages.
Squalene caused severe arthritis (3 on scale of 4). Squalene in humans at 10-20 ppb (parts per billion) lead to severe immune responses, such as autoimmune arthritis and lupus.
If you feel you must get a swine flu vaccine, get the one that doesn't contain Thimerosal. Yes, there is one.
I know it says its only used in trace amounts, if I had a cookie and told you it was made with dog crap, would you want it? Well what if I said it only contained trace amounts?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cuban Press w/ Flex band in Grand Rapids

A nice prehab exercise with a band. You can do these with light dumbells as well. I like throwing these kinds of exercises into the rest periods of major strength lifts. Use your rest for productivity.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Shoulder Labrum

The shoulder joint is an amazingly complex and fascinating structure. It needs incredible mobility and stability for it to function optimally. What I want to do is paint a clearer picture of the shoulder labrum, it's anatomy and function.

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, similar to the hip, except for one thing, there is no bony socket. The humeral head rests in the glenoid fossa, which is essentially flat. This is where the labrum comes in. The labrum is essentially a fibrous structure that attaches to the glenoid and forms a concave cup. This creates up to 50% more contact surface for the humeral head, thus creating more stability. This is considered a passive structure. The glenoid humeral ligaments and joint capsule make up the other passive structures.

The rotatore cuff muscles are a dynamic stability system of keeping the humeral head in the glenoid fossa. Now when there is weakness or dysfunction with this dynamic system,t he static stabilizers are called on to do much more work, their load goes way up. After time, you can develop ligament laxity or even a labral tear.

O'briens is an orthopedic test, to test for a labral tear. Shoulder raised to ninety degree in sagital plane. Adduct the arm 10-15 degrees. Thumb down, arm straight. Apply pressure. Now, turn the palm so it faces up. Apply pressure. If there was deep pain with the first and either no pain, or superficial AC joint pain with the second, you may have a labral problem.

The best way to treat a labral problem, minus surgery is to really correct the movement pattern of your rotatore cuff/scapulae and restore strength. This will shift the load from the static to dynamic stabilizers.

Congrats Marathoners

Congratulations to all the runners that participated in yesterdays Grand Rapids and Detroit Marathons. It was a great day for running, low 50's, somewhat sunny, but no rain. For many runners it was the culmination of a long summer of training. So to all the athletes that put in the time and effort and raised there hands after 26.2 miles, no matter what the time, Congratulations!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Product Review: TRX

Last month I went ahead and purchased a TRX. If you haven't seen them, they are becoming somewhat of an "in thing." I already own Elites Blast Straps that I found to be useful for doing pushups and inverted rows, but not a lot else. What I was seeking with the TRX was a more versatile and portable piece of equipment. I liked TRX's ability to put your feet into them and do things like supine leg curls and glute bridging. The other thing I really liked was that you can adjust the length on the straps really, really quickly. I'm not convinced there worth the price tag quite yet though. I honestly wish I knew how to sew nylon webbing as I think you could make your own for super cheap. But it's lightweight and you can do quite a few bodyweight exercises with it. I will be travelling with it this winter with the bobsled team and I plan on sneaking in some workouts in my hotel rooms with there door adaptation kit, so I will see if my opinion changes. Overall, I'm not disappointed with my purchase, but it hasn't blown me away either. I hear jungle gym offers a very similar product for about half the price, but I have not used it. If your really into bodyweight culture or travel quite a bit and never know what type of hotel gym your going to have, I would say it's worth it. If your looking to add something to your budding garage gym, I would say pass.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Adductor Magnus

The adductor magnus is the beefiest of the five adductor muscles. (add. brevis, add. longus, pectineus, gracillis) It has insertions on the adductor tubercle, linea aspera of the femur and origins on the ischeal tuberosity and the ischiopubic ramus. It has two innervation's, posterior obturator nerve and tibial nerve. It adducts, flex's and extends the hip. How can it both flex and extend? Well the adductor is actually two portions, hence the dual innervation's. The posterior part is actually referred to as the fourth hamstring, and it's embryological origins are with the hamstring, hence the tibial innervation.

The adductor magnus though, is often overworked. It has a misconception that it can get tight, but in reality it is often just really really tired from other imbalances going on in the body. First, the sciatic nerve can become entrapped at the external rotatores of the hip. Second, the posterior capsule of your hip can be very tight. Third, the adductor magnus and the medial hamstring can become "glued" together with adhesion's. Fourth, your iliolumbar ligament can be sending refered pain to the adductor magnus.

So instead of just stretching and stretching away, check these four possible sights for a more likely culprit.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Movement Motivation

I've always loved watching break dancers. This video makes me see the possibilities for movement, what the body is capable of. Do your mobility drills and watch your athleticism increase.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bonus Book Review of October

First up is Chuck Klostermans, "Downtown Owl." I actually read this on a plane trip a few weeks back. It was a fun read, I like Chucks writing style, he throws a lot of pop references around, that when you understand them, makes it feels like he's writing for you.

The second up is Jon Krakauer's, "Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman." I've read all of Krakauers books and found them to be enjoyable while learning a lot about his characters and issues he's trying to bring to light. If you don't know who Pat Tillman was, he's worth getting to know. A very complicated man that chose interesting life paths. Woven throughout the book is the story of the Afgan war that was essential to the Pat Tillman story. It's definetly worth reading. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Work your Posture

We know with forward head posture certain imbalances will start to show themselves. The SCM, upper trap and levator scapulae shorten. This pulls the shoulder blade up.

First lets target the muscles that will hold the shoulder blade in the proper position. Let's target the lower trap. This muscle is just at the bottom of your shoulder blade. Get in an athletic stance like your guarding someone in basketball. Lean forward a little bit more. With your arms straight, thumbs up. Raise your arms till they are parallel to the floor. This is a Y raise. If you were standing straight up, you would be making a Y with your body. Second, the serratus anterior. This little important muscle is almost under your arm pit on your rib cage. Get in a push up position. Keep your arms straight, elbows locked throughout the whole move. Let your shoulders fully retract and then push your shoulders blades as far apart as you can. This is called a push ups plus.

Now lets stretch those tight muscles. First up SCM. With your right hand behind your back, bend your head laterally away, so your left ear is trying to touch your left shoulder. Keeping your lateral bend, rotate and look up to the right. Repeat for both sides. For the levator, it's the same move, but instead of rotating and looking up, rotate and look down towards the opposite.

Then be conscious of your posture. Doing a few exercise here and there, but sitting in poor posture for 8 hours will never bring back the head into proper alignment.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cervical Posture and Consequences

I've talked before about forward head posture and some exercises to help correct it. This will get a little more anatomical. We all know that cervical posture is important, but do you know how important? We all have seen the classic forward head posture, chin sticking out at the world. On the flip side, you have military neck. Straight up and down. Let's look at some implications of poor posture.

First, forward head posture goes hand and hand with rounded shoulders. When the shoulders round, the body must shift the center of gravity of your head forward for balance. As the head comes forward what is happening anatomically?

1. There is an increase in lordosis. (curve of the spine) This will put increased stress to the cervical facet joints. This in turn will also put the articular cartilage at risk, which can lead to arthritic change.

2. The increased lordosis will also increase the shear force in the neck, this puts your discs more at risk.

3. The increase in forward head posture forces the mid cervical spine into hyperextension. This puts a lot of stress at the C4-C5 and C5-C6 joints.

4. C2-C3 are also put under much stress, because of the narrowing at the intervertebral foramina. (where the nerve exits) This can lead to stress on the nerves and recurrent chronic headaches.

5. The SCM, levator scapulae and upper trap shorten, which results in an elevated scapulae.

When the opposite occurs and the spine straightens, commonly called military neck cause other problems.
There is a balance between compressive and shear forces on the disc when your posture is good. When it's faulty, forward head posture increased shear. When the spine straightens, the load is straight up and down so your compressive force on the disc increases.

In the next post we'll go over some corrective exercise strategies to help balance out the body.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Motivation

Even if you don't play rugby, this will get you off the couch and moving!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Colds and Flu: A Few Nutritional Strategies

My wife and I got sick last week and it got me thinking about some possible nutritional strategies that can be used in the follwoing months. I figure it's never to early as I see flu shot signs in all the local Walgreens and CVS stores.
The first symptom of many people is a sore throat. When sore throat accompanies cold symptoms (runny nose and cough without fever or red throat), there’s no need for antibiotics: Their overuse is giving rise to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. But this is about prevention. These three foods are important as they are both anti viral and anti bacterial.

Coconut Oil contains Lauric Acid which can be converted in our bodies to Mono-Laurin which is used to destroy the cell wall of virus and enable them to be destroyed. Mono-Laurin has been shown to be extremely powerful anti-viral activities against colds, flu and even Herpes and HIV.

Cod Liver Oil contains the immune supporter and anti inflammatory Omega 3 fats DHA and EPA. Especially important for people living in the northern climate, it also contains Vitamin D which is a key immune factor. The increased incidence of many illnesses in winter is theorized to have a link to lower Vitamin D levels. Cod Liver oil is also high in Vitamin A which has potent anti-viral effects.

Garlic is also a potent addition to your diet. Allicin is one of the sulfur-compounds responsible for garlic's characteristic odor, this is a powerful antibacterial and antiviral agent. In research studies, allicin has been shown to be effective not only against common infections like colds, flu, stomach viruses, and Candida yeast, but also against powerful pathogenic microbes including tuberculosis and botulism.

So start to slowly incorporate these foods into your diet as you start to support your immune system for this upcoming winter season. Are there any foods or supplements you have found to help out? If so please share in the comments section.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

October book Review

I normally don't read a lot of fiction, but I am a big Dan Brown fan, so I did take on his latest thriller this past weekend. "The Lost Symbol" is the latest in Dan Brown's trilogy featuring Robert Langdon. I wont' give anything away in terms of plot, but one of the things I enjoy about his novels is he weaves modern sayings into his books with historic content. An example of such things are the beginnings of the tie, the origens of "abracadabra" and other things of this nature. He still infuses freemason conspiracy theory and hidden meanings in famous paintings. As a whole, if you like Dan Brown, you will enjoy this book. I don't think I enjoyed it as much as his first two, "Angels & Demons, The Davinci Code," but it's a fun read none the less.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shoulder Prehab w/external Rotation

With a light band, as you strengthen the external rotatores, the opposite shoulders internal rotatores are forced to isometrically contract. Try 3 sets of 15. This is what I consider a filler exercise. In between work sets, throw some of these in to keep your shoulders healthy and stable.

Monday, September 28, 2009

100 Mile Race Report

This past Sunday I finished my first 100 mile road ride. It had been a goal of mine for some time, one thing on the old bucket list. My longest ride to date had been 74 miles earlier in the week. The first snafu came Thursday night when I started to get a cold and by Friday had a fever and chills. By Saturday, the last thing I wanted to do was jump in the car and leave for the ride that would occur early Sunday morning.

They say half the battle in life is just showing up, just show up and good things will happen. I sucked it up and went. By Sunday morning was feeling ok. The first 82 miles were pretty solid, I mean I was tired, but not feeling horrible. The wind was killer and was sapping any type of coasting on the roads. Lesson one, don't mentally think your done, before your done. Those last 18 miles did me in. I have never physically been so miserable doing anything in my life. I'm a natural fast twitch muscle guy, so LSD doesn't come naturally. But I have never been in so much discomfort physically doing anything in my whole athletic life.

My back felt like it would seize up, probably from the tightness in the hip flexors shutting down the glutes. My feet were numb, my butt hurt like crazy and my neck was throbbing. Those last two hours were unbelievably painful. All in all, I spent 8 hours on the bike.

After finishing, I can't imagine the people that do Ironmen Triathlons, the idea of running a marathon seems absurd, after being on the bike for that long. Also, anyone that does this stuff, I give much props for the time that you have to devote to be good at it. Just finding the time to squeeze in a long ride, takes 4-6 hours. I'm glad I did it, it's off the bucket list, but I don't think I will be doing another one in the future.

The idea of doing one every week like my friend Danielle, seems crazy to me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Random Friday

If your looking for something to do this weekend in Grand Rapids, there are several options. If you like rugby, I've been working with the Davenport University Rugby team in a Strength and Conditioning aspect. Its been fun watching the guys learn correct technique and get stronger. It's even been more of a blast watching them play. In three games they have won by a combined score 218-0. This week they play cross town rival Calvin. The match kicks off at 1 pm at Davenport University.

If you like art, there are some really cool stuff all over downtown for the next few weeks. Thanks to the 449,000 dollar prize money, there are over 130 pieces displayed all over the downtown area. Grab a map and some comfortable walking shoes.

At John Ball Zoo, the anuall Octoberfest is going on. It last only Friday and Saturday, so don't miss out. They have some great beer and great atmosphere.

On a side note, I've been thinking about service and my question is how in the world does Blockbuster plan to stay in business? A new release is 4.99 cents. I can go to redbox and get the same movie for 1.00. I can join one of the online services for like ten bucks a month. AT & T cable service allows one to order movies directly on your t.v. There is even the cheap theatre that shows the movies for 3 bucks! I don't see how they will make it.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Your Mom Was Wrong!

Growing up how many of heard, "Sit still!" Whether it was in the back of the car, at the dinner table or at the movies, I'm sure many of heard that reprimand. Well I'm here to tell you, she was wrong. It's good to fidget, it's good to not stay in one position.

There is a process called hysteresis or creep. This more simply put, means that after about twenty minutes, your soft tissues take on that new position, and often times takes twice as long to reach there original position. So if your sitting in a car, at a desk, on a bike, your bodies structures are shortening. So you need to stop and break the cycle. Get up from the desk every ten minutes, even if it's just for a quick ten minute stretch. Move around in your seat while driving. Change your hand and head position often while your biking, get up out of the saddle and pound the pedals for a few seconds every ten minutes.

Your body was made to move, it loves motion. When you don't use it, you slowly start to lose it. Fidgeting is a good thing. Go tell your mom she was wrong.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

October Mens Health Magazine

Check out the October issue of Mens Health magazine. Chris McDougall, author of Born to Run, writes a great article called "Everything you know about muscles is wrong." I get a little shout out for a few stretch/activation exercises I like to use. He also gives a great job of explaining the new found growing knowledge and importance of fascia in health and sports. Give it a read!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Morning Motivation

This is one of my favorite athletes, Jonah Lomu. He played wing for the All Blacks New Zealand Rugby squad. If you've never heard or seen him, you tube his highlights, they are amazing. His story is even more incredible.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Interview with Cameron Gardner

This is an interview I did with Cameron Gardner. I have known Cam for a few years, going back to our rookie year with the bobsled team, when we were both rookies trying out for the US National team as push athletes. Cam is a firefighter out in New Jersey, but also one of the brightest strength coaches out there. To top it off, he is a class act, always willing to help out or answer a question.

Cam, tell the people who you are:

Hi, I'm Cameron Gardner CSCS
part owner of East Coast West Coast Strength, Speed and Conditioning.  I am a former 105kg Professional Strongman, USA bobsledder and sprinter.  I got interested in strength training when I began sprinting. As a competitive sprinter, I had a tough time finding a coach who knew how to weight train for speed development.  This forced me to learn as much as I could on my own. 

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your training strategy.  People, books..ect.
C-Initially, I have to say Charles Poliquin's early articles in Muscle Media 2000 opened my eyes to the world of sports specific training. Dr. Mel Siff taught me not to trust paradigms, Charlie Francis influenced my speed model, trial and error has been my biggest teacher though. 

I checked out your website  Very cool.  how did it come about.  
C-I've been involved with strength and speed development for over twelve years.  I mostly operated independently.  My training partner for most of those years was Scott Brengel another 105kg Professional Strongman and former football player. He and I studied a lot of the same material, worked with a lot of the top strength and speed coaches out there and tested and experimented with a lot of training methodologies together.
He moved out to the west coast years ago.  He trained some athletes privately out there.  About 6 years ago he trained a few football players who received scholarships from schools here on the east coast.  It would have been a shame to turn these athletes loose on their own.  Being here on the east coast it was only logical for them to continue there training under my guidance.  This was the beginning of the concept of ECWC.  We have recently decided to explore this business jointly by having an East coast operation based in North Jersey and a West coast operation based in Costa Mesa, California.  I focus mostly on football players, track athletes, and people looking to alter body composition.  Scott works with football players and Mixed Martial Artists,  however we can work with any athlete.  We share similar beliefs yet, we always get in to heated debates about training methods!  Anyone who works with us gets the best of both worlds.

What would be your training philosophy if you had to sum it up?

C-Specificity.  I think this principle if applied correctly is the most important factor in developing an athlete correctly.  Another favorite strategy of mine is you need only as much stimulus to elicit a training effect, no more.  Lastly, proper nutrition is the foundation for the rest.
Being a good coach is also an art.  The beauty of what we do is applying methods, means and exercises that are directly correlated to the athlete, energy system and sport.  This could be working weak links in the body, or developing an athlete with sports specific exercises.  I see so many coaches who throw in all kinds of fancy exercises that they see, but really there are only a handful of exercises you really need to adequately work an athlete for his or her sport.
I see football coaches who give all kinds of plyos, line hops, olympic lifts, power lifts, conditioning drills, sprints and exercises and wonder why all his players do not improve or are beat down all the time.  You must remember an athlete's primary goal is to get better at their respective sport not be the best in the weight room or in exercise performance.  Too many kids get caught up in gaining size.  Size may have a part in some sports, but it's not the end all be all.  Lastly, most of the time, the best athlete in a sport isn't also the strongest/fastest guy in the gym. 

I think RFD, is the key to improving most sports performance.  If you could only do things , what would they be for an athlete to do to develop better rate of force development.
C-Plyometrics, speed work, increasing strength will, by default, improve RFD up to a point.
Monitor body composition it has an effect on RFD.  Its about moving loads plyometrically, explosively, you can change the load and that will alter the rate.  You should look to move loads specific to your sport and at speeds related to your sport. 
For example, Having a sprinter drag a tire or sled out of the blocks will upset/alter his form and speed qualities too much to be of a benefit specifically, but if you have that same sprinter drag a 400lb sled, while not being specific,  he will still develop a general strength training effect without disrupting motor patterns related to sprinting. 

What do you do now, they you wouldn't have done a few years ago, and what do you don't do now that you used to do.  
C- I overtrained for years.  Not in the sense of being ill, but by not recovering fully to maximize my efforts. There is a concept in Supertraining, called transformation,  It's the time needed to realize complete recovery and gains associated with that.  It can be a few days to a few weeks.   During my sprinting days I never raced fully recovered and fresh.  Speed is the most temperamental quality, you have to be delicate with it.

Your able to travel back and tell the cameron of ten years ago something about training, what would it be?  
C- I would focus on doing the least amount or work needed to elicit a response.  I would also be smarter and think about longevity.  A joint is composed of materials that can degradate.  You are only going to get so much life out of them.  The less you can do while still improving the better.  If you are a sprinter who is doing 8-10 100m, what for?  You will never need that much repeatability in a real meet.  Perhaps, a heat, semi's and finals.  Why do some many repeats.  Focus on the quality of them.  The same holds true for weight training.  If you are a powerlifter looking to raise a max attempt.  Why do 20-30 sets of 1-5 reps?  The law of repeated efforts will not improve strength in that manner. 

How can readers learn more about your services and get in touch with you.

Thanks man!

Quadratus Lumborum

The quadratus lumborum or (ql) for short is a muscle that runs from the last rib to the iliac crest. Some of the ql's fibers merge with the diaphragm, so if the ql is short, respiratory dysfunction must be considered. There are two distinct bands of ql fibers, medial and lateral. Trigger points in the medial portion of the ql can produce pain in the SI joint and into the buttock. Trigger points in the lateral portion of the ql can produce pain in the lower ribs and around the iliac crest.

A quick test to evaluate the overall dysfunction of the ql is to have the patient/athlete lay sideways. With one hand feel the glute med and the other the ql. Have the athlete perform hip ABduction. The correct pattern is glute med and at around 25 degrees the ql should kick in. If the ql is significantly short, the ql will kick in right away.

So now you have one more muscle to evaluate when back or glute pain is involved.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Morning Motivation

I'm up in Calgary for the week as it's the US's Push Championships for bobsled. Today was a big testing day for the athletes. It reminds me of this quote from Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland. To be an athlete you have to have this mindset, it may be your most powerful tool.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chin ups w/Swiss ball

I learned this little trick from reading Alwyn Cosgroves material. The swiss ball forces you to keep your glutes/hamstrings contracted. This help stabilizes your spine. If this makes your chin ups easier it may point to a need for stronger lower abs. Either way, it teaches full body tension. Always a good thing when your lifting.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cyclist Palsy

I've signed myself up to do a 100 mile road ride this fall, so naturally my thoughts on these long training rides center on what can go wrong with the human machine while training for this endeavour.

Cyclist Palsy is essentially a numbness that occurs in the ring and pinky fingers. Most of the time it comes from cocking the wrist and putting pressure on the ulnar nerve. If you get numbness in the index and middle finger that is true carpal tunnel and your putting pressure on the median nerve. On a road bike this occurs when you cock your wrist and angle it towards the pinky. The pinky numbness and ulnar irritation will come when cock your wrist and bend toward the thumb.

To keep this from happening a few easy things should be done. Make sure your bar tap isn't old. Wear gloves. Change your hand position every few minutes, even standing up every now and then to vary pressure on your hands. Another very important thing to check is your saddle position. Make sure your seat isn't pointed down, as this will transfer your body weight forward allowing more pressure to come through your hands.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Explaining the Thomas Test

The Thomas Test is an orthopedic test that can show some pretty good clues in assessing your self or an athlete/patient. I like it because in a matter of seconds you can find out relatively a lot of information.

To perform the Thomas Test. Find a relatively tall table, such as massage table. Start out with your lower back against the edge of the table. Lean back and grab one knee. So now your on your back, holding your knee to the chest, with the other leg dangling free. Now this is what were looking for.

Is your free leg off the table? It should be at a minimum of 180 degrees or parallel to the table. A little below parallel would be even better. If it's raised off the table, greater then parallel. You have a tight psoas muscle on your hands.

Next, check your knee to hip angle. It should be around ninety degrees. If it's greater then ninety, you have a tight rectus femoris.

Finally, check your hip alignment. Is the free leg off to the side, not directly in line with your pelvis? If it's abducted slightly, you have a tight Tensor fascis lata (TFL).

In the above picture, the psoas looks to be in good shape, but the rectus femoris looks tight and there is not way to tell from this angle if the TFL is healthy.

So in a matter of 30 seconds, you've assessed 3 muscles important for runners and cyclists. Remember if your not assessing your guessing.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

NSAIDS before competition?

A friend of mine turned me onto this study. There was an article in the NY times I believe just recently about this as well. Reasons and consequences of Ibuprofen use prophylacticly. I've had many people, both patients and teammates in the past, pop good old Vitamin I (ibuprofen) before competitions, races and matches. Well this research shows that unless there is an acute injury, ibuprofen could be doing more harm then help.

This study compared the blood work after races of those runners that did and did not take ibuprofen. Those that did, had more elevated inflammation. Read that again, the athletes that were taking it to lessen inflammation, had more! So leave ibuprofen alone unless you have an acute injury. The perils of this have been written before about the possible GI disturbance and damage, but now a little bit more information and reason to keep the use down even more.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Book Review: September

The first book came recommended by strength coach Alwyn Cosgrove, who if your into training, need to know. His program design is topnotch. But he recommends you read some management/business books on top of all the training type books and manuals. It's called The Starbucks Experience, by Joseph Michelli. Basically if your in any type of service industry, whether it be coffee, training or delivering flowers, anything where a customer is choosing you or your service over someone else, this is a good read. It gives some tangible principles to start putting into practice. It talks about how people have a "third place." They have there home, there work and then usually one more place where they chose to spend there time. If your a gym owner I think this is a good idea to try to get people to feel that it's there place.

For myself and many of my friends, our local rock climbing gym, HIGHER GROUND, in downtown Grand Rapids, is our "third place." It's as much social as it is fun climbing.

The second book I'm going to talk about is called, The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle. I feel a little like I cheated as I listened to this book on cd in my car. Amazingly, I didn't really drive anywhere to far this week, but still managed to listen to the whole book. Which goes to show you how much time you spend in your car without realizing it. Those ten to twenty minute trips add up quick.

This book is along the lines of Talent is Overated and Outliers. It was still highly interesting to me though. I am fascinated why some people keep improving, while others fall short. The easy explanation of, he was just born good, doesn't hold water anymore. This book is the book that opened my eyes on the importance of myelin. I would give the nod to Starbucks Experience if your in the service industry and the Talent Code if your coaching or parenting.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Fish Oil Study

In case you didn't figure it out, I'm a huge believer and advocate for the use of fish oil in the diet. I was reading Dr. Johnny Bowdens blog the other day and came across this outstanding study, that I will link at the bottom.

To sum them up, fish oil was just as good as Prozac and Paxil. This was only for those with unipolor depression, not bipolar. It did not help those that have an anxiety disorder that went along with depression. But, those that had major depression without an anxiety disorder showed as much improvement as those on medication.

So spread the word!

*Lesperance F et al. The efficacy of eicosapentaenoic acid for major depression: Results of the OMEGA-3D trial. 9th World Congress of Biological Psychiatry: Abstract FC-25-005. Presented July 1, 2009. Accessed at

*Stein J. WCBP 2009: Omega-3 Supplements Provide Mixed Results as Antidepressant. Medscape Medical News, July 4, 20009. Accessed at

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Myelin Sheath

The Myelin Sheath is going to be getting more and more attention in the next few years. It's already starting to become the star that it may very well seem to be. What is it? Myelin is the fatty substance that encases your nerve fibers. It's essentially a very important type of insulation. Every time your nerve is stimulated, the myelin gets a little thicker, your insulation gets stronger resulting in a faster signal. The faster the signal the better your skill and speed of delivery.

So when you practice a correct tennis stroke, your growing myelin to produce a better swing. Thick Myelin equals speed and skill. Every time you practice a skill, it's been said your creating muscle memory, it would be more proper to say your growing more myelin.

Multiple Sclerosis is essentially a nerve disease where the myelin starts to deteriorate, resulting in less skilled movement. There may be future evidence where the loss of myelin could be associated with other neurological diseases.

Nutritionally I think it makes sense to support the myelin growth with supplements like fish oil as it is made from fatty substance.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Are you a Warrior?

The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is 
that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary 
man takes everything as a blessing or as a curse.


The following is a parable I've always remembered.

A man had a very beautiful horse, and the horse was so rare that even emperors had asked the man to sell it--whatsoever the price--but he refused. Then one morning he found that the horse had been stolen.

The whole village gathered to sympathize, and they said, "How unfortunate! You could have got a fortune--people were offering so much. You were stubborn and you were stupid. Now the horse is stolen."

But the old man laughed; he said, "Don't talk nonsense! Only say that the horse is no more in the stable. Let the future come, then we will see."

And it happened that after fifteen days the horse came back, and not only alone--it brought a dozen wild horses with it from the forest. The whole village gathered, and they said, "The old man was right! His horse is back and has brought twelve beautiful horses with him. Now he can earn as much money as he wants." They went to the man and they said, "Sorry. We could not understand the future and the ways of god, but you are great! You knew something about it; you have some glimpse of the future."

He said, "Nonsense! All that I know now is that the horse has come back with twelve horses--what is going to happen tomorrow, nobody knows."

And the next day it happened that the old man's only son was trying to break in a new horse and he fell, and his legs were broken. The whole town gathered again and they said, "One never knows--you were right; this proved to be a curse. It would have been better that the horse had not come back. Now your son will remain crippled for his whole life."

The old man said, "Don't jump ahead! Just wait and see what happens. Only say this much, that my son has broken his legs--that's all."

It happened after fifteen days that all the young men of the town were forcibly taken away by the government because the country was going to war. Only this old man's son was left, because he was of no use. Everybody gathered--they said, "Our sons are gone! At least you have your son. Maybe he is crippled, but he is here! Our sons are gone, and the enemy is far stronger; they are all going to be murdered. In our old age we will have nobody to look after us, but you at least have your son and maybe he will be cured."

But the old man said, "Say only this much--that your sons have been taken by the government. My son has been left, but there is no conclusion."

Just state the fact! Don't think of anything as a curse or a blessing. Don't interpret it, and suddenly you will see that everything is beautiful.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Writing Workout Programs

When your writing a strength program for an athlete, there are several points I try to keep in mind and then many many thoughts I double check that with.

1. Stay Healthy. (this is your number one job, if an athlete comes to you for your help) If they can't compete, what is the point?

2. Improve performance for the sport. Great, you got your athlete to squat 500 lbs, did this increase his 5k time? I jest, but you get the picture.

Points to keep in mind that I tell athletes or remind myself. One work out will not make you, but one work out can break you.
You don't grow stronger lifting weights, you get stronger resting from lifting weights. Do you have enough recovery in their programs? What else do they have going on in their week or month? Travel, family, sickness are all variables that must be accounted for. Is it smart to have someone do a max effort squat after sitting in a plane for eight hours? Are you out thinking the plan? This isn't rocket science as many would have us believe, you get stronger a little by little, not with complex formulas that only 7th master Supertraining guru can decipher.

So these are a few thoughts and points I recheck when writing programs. Do you have any checks and balances? Lets hear them.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pool Jump

So there has been a lot of hoopla and one upsmanship going around lately with the latest athletic feat craze. Yea, the pool jump. I think it all started with the great fighter BJ Penn. It spread to a few guys in the NFL. Not to be out done, our own TJ Burns stepped up to the plate and represents the US National Bobsled team. Bobsled is up there with any sport in the world in terms of pure speed and strength translating into power. TJ is 6'3" 220lbs. He has a 39" vertical leap and has an ass to grass back squat of 450 for a triple. He is also the strength coach at Mount St. Mary's. This jump is at 3.5 feet. or roughly 41". Pretty cool stuff. I'm sure this is inspiring countless kids to try this at home and crack their knees on the edge!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Monday Morning Motivation

I love these adidas ads. Not enough to buy their, but they have a great message. Get your week started right!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Usain Bolt - 19.19 NEW WORLD RECORD - 200 meter

In case you have been living in a cave. This is what you call a superman performance. You don't get to see this kind of feat everyday. I think this is even more impressive then his previous superman feat in the 100m earlier this week. Is it possible that he can go sub 19? What do you think?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

World Record 100m - Usain Bolt - 9.58 HQ

In case you missed this. Simply incredible. Tyson Gay was second in 9.71 seconds, not to shabby I will be back with more posts after I get back in the swing of things from travel.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Please Excuse

Please excuse the lack of posts this week. I am currently in Costa Rica and will be back next week with new content. Until then please peruse the topics section that was just added to help more easily navigate this sight. Thanks

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Book Review: August

This past month finished up a few more good reads. The first I had passed on the bookshelves many times, dimmissing it because I thought it was just an exciting looking fiction novel. Little did I know that it's an incredible true story. The book is called "The Lost City of Z: A tale of deadly obsession in the Amazon," by David Grann. It's cool read about the adventurer Percy Fawcett. It's just a fun read.

One of the things I took away is the briallance of some of the native indians in dealing with their environment. There is a type of botfly that lays eggs on mosquito's. They in turn bite you, laying the eggs in your skin. They hatch and soon you have maggots growing in you. Yea...I got the chills thinking about that to. Now, you can do one of two things...smash the little crawlers as they worm there way around underneath your flesh, or wait till they get so big they stick their head out of your skin!

The first method, you will end up infected with rotting maggots underneath you, the second, if you wait to long, can be long and extremely painful. The Echojas indians invented a whistle noise that they make with their voices, it has the crazy ability to draw the maggots out and they pick them off. No one has been able to duplicate the noise. Crazy.

The last book I just read was called. "Halfway to Heaven: My White-knuckled--and Knuckleheaded--Quest for the Rocky Mountain High," by Mark Obmascik. This is the story of a middle aged man whose son plants the seed to climb all 54 of Colorodo's 14ers. Mountains over 14,000 feet. It's a pretty fun little read, I would recommend an interest in hiking or climbing though. It reminded me a little of Bill Brysons work, "A walk in the woods." What have you read this month? Until next month, keep reading something!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Park City Push Track

I often get the question, "Where do bobsledders train?" Here is a quick look at a typical push track. This is in Park City, UT. The only other place for this specific type of training in the US is in Lake Placid, NY.

This is Valerie Fleming pushing an old Bodyn sled. Instead of ice, there is track mat layed down and the sled is on a sort of railroad system. It's not perfect, but it gets the job done until the US can get an ice push track, such as the one used by the Canadians in Calgary.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dr. John Cannell on vitamin D

This is a great explanation on the potential benefits of Vitamin D. Something to keep in the back of your mind in a few months, until then, get outside and enjoy the sun!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Weekend Quote

“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.”

Carl Jung

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Favorite Training Tool

I've used the Vibram Five Fingers for the last two years. They've held up really well under the regular wear and tear that I've put them through. It's a way of training barefoot, without worrying about slivers, animal excrement or glass. I use them for everything from deadlifts and squats to walking my dogs and short sprint workouts. You really do get a feel for the floor, regaining that connection with the earth. Running on an open grass field with these is so much fun. I do feel that the small muscles in my feet have gotten stronger since I first started training in them. If you do decide to purchase a pair, I would just suggest you ease into training with them. As with any new variant in your training you will get sore. So slow and steady is the slogan, but this is a great and fun tool to own.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Renegade Row

This is a renegade row. I was pretty surprised at how tough this little exercise was on my obliques. This really challenges your stability and teaches you to really brace your body. You can add a push up in between each row to make it even more challenging.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Running in Intervals-The Best Way to Lose Weight

I hope you enjoy this guest post as I am out in Park City, UT working with some bobsledders.

This article is written by Kat Sanders, who regularly blogs on the topic of how to become a radiology technician at her blog The Overwhelmed Student Blog. She welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:

I’ve always been on the bigger side – large bones, tall body, and long legs. And although it’s nice to be tall and be blessed with legs that don’t seem to end, the problem arises when you put on weight – you start to look like a fierce Amazon rather than a seductive woman. So as I grew older, although I remained active playing tennis five days a week, it became more of a problem to keep my weight down. Until the day I took to jogging, that is.

A friend invited me to the gym to keep her company every morning as she tried to lose all the weight she’d gained during her pregnancy. It took me just one day to discover that I found it claustrophobic and longed to get out into the fresh air. And since I liked the treadmill the best, I decided to take to jogging. And take to it I did, like a fish takes to water. I found myself looking forward to waking up every morning and hitting the track around the park, breathing in the fresh, clean air and feeling the light breeze on my face.

I soon found myself setting challenges, trying to see how fast I could run one day or how long I could run the next. In conversation with a student from the local college, I learned about interval training, the kind that gets your heart racing and ups your fitness and endurance levels. And so I began to sprint as fast as I could for one round, and then walk for half. I alternated between walking and running, waiting to almost catch my breath when walking and then taking off into a sprint again. My observations:

• I found that I could run faster and over a longer distance in a shorter period of time.
• In just 10 days, I found that I had lost more than 5 pounds.
• My abdomen, which was always a little flabby, was more flat now.
• My legs and thighs were stronger
• I had more stamina during my tennis games
• I could run for longer periods of time during the interval training

If running was good, interval training was better, and losing all that weight was the best feeling ever.
If you’re new to exercise, you do need to exercise caution before you take on a high intensity workout like interval training. Start by alternating between jogging and walking before you continue on to running after a couple of weeks when your body is stronger and fitter. And also remember that you need to give your body adequate time to rest and recuperate; so it’s best to workout at high intensities only twice or thrice a week.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Morning Motivation

This Victorian Cross was a strength move deemed impossible. I guess they thought wrong.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Cinnamon, I think we all have had are share of this spice at some point. Reading this past week, I came across the fact that in ancient times cinnamon was as prized as gold. Some historians actually credit the search for cinnamon for the discovery of the new world and exploration of the unknown. So it got me wondering what importance it had and more importantly, does it still have an important health connotation.

Cinnamon was mentioned as far back as the Old Testament, it was used in ancient Egyptian practices for embalming purposes. It has used to fight tooth decay, clear up urinary tract infection, sooth upset stomachs, (similar to ginger) and allows diabetics to use less insulin. It has shown tendencies to fight the common cold, sore throats and diarrhea.

Studies in Japan have shown cinnamon can kill certain fungi, bacteria, and other micro-organisms such as those that cause botulism and staph infection. There are being studies done on how it may improve memory and cognitive function, may suppress ulcers and lower blood cholesterol.

If diabetic, use in conjunction with your doctor as it will affect how much insulin you have to take. Cinnamon should not be used when breastfeeding or when your on antibiotics or blood thinners.

There you go, hope you know a little bit more about the wonderful spice cinnamon. Have any favorite ways to use cinnamon that you would like to share with the readers?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Inflammatory Soup part 2

It's a bold statement but all pain arises from inflammation and the inflammatory response (IR). According to the American Pain Foundation 75 million people are in chronic pain. Thats a whole lot of inflammation out there.

Inflammation has three phases
1. Injury
2. Maintanace
3. Termination

Here is essentially a dumbed down version of the cascade that is taking place.

Injury>basophils,mast cells, plateletes release>serotonin, histamine, and nitric oxide> these bind to receptors and nerves and release> substance P and Calcitonin gene related pepteide.

clotting factors in blood release >inflammatory mediators> neurokinin a, bradykinin, kallidin, t-kinin>Increased blood flow>stimulate Arachidonic acid metabolism and get>prostaglandins and attract immune cells>neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages>release cytokines>more immune cells>white blood cells.

this is the initial cascade and results in an inflammatory soup of chemical mediatiors. prostaglandin, nitric oxide, tumor necorsis factor, interleukin 1 alpha, beta, interleukin 4,6,8, histamine and serotonin.

As you can see, there is a lot things going on in the body. Again this is a very simple version, there a many enzymes and other chemicals involved in inflammation. But what I'm trying to get at is that, it's complex, it's chemicals, it's going on in your body.

So with acute inflammation what can you do?

Supplement with Curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to combat tumor necrosis factor alpha. Fish oil, I've espoused on the benefits of fish oil in the past, but it has a direct effect on prostaglandins. Eat less grains. Grains have omega 6 fatty acids which increase your arachidonic acid. The more arachidonic acid you have in your body, the more prostaglandins you will have to be released. Boswellia. Boswellia works by blocking the lethal pro-inflammatory enzyme 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX). It also combats tumor necrosis factor alpha.

So there you go. With acute injury add these supplements and strategy to your diet and help keep the inflammation in check.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Inflammatory Soup

Have you ever been told such and such is inflammed? Ever hear, once the inflammation calms down, it will feel better? Of course...ever wonder what exactly is inflammation? Wonder no more.

Inflammation is your bodies self defense mechanism after some type of injury. It usually accompanies swelling, which allows many different cells to come to the area for "clean up" and repair of the damaged tissue. With injury the following are released in your body: prostaglandins, serotonin, protons, bradykinin, leukotrines, amines, nerve growth factor and cytokines. These are all very specific and only activate pain receptors in your body. A key fact here is that inflammation lowers your threshold for pain receptors and increases it's firing rate. This means that things that used to not cause you pain, will now cause you pain!

So now you can see that there is a chemical component to pain. Thats why diet and supplementation when an acute injury occurs is so important. In the next post we will get a little more specific on the cycle of the inflammatory soup and what diet/supplements we can use to combat this.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Relative Strength

There are many different strength qualities that an athlete can possess. Absolute strength is how much a person can lift maximally. Relative strength is how strong they are in relation to their body weight. Strength endurance, speed strength are a couple others.

Take two individuals, person A weighs 300 pounds, and person B weighs 150 pounds. Person A can deadlift 400 pounds. Person b can deadlift 300 pounds. Person A has greater absolute strength, but less relative strength then Person B.

The greatest example of relative strength I've come across are rock climbers. The ability to lift their body weight repeatedly and for such great time is a perfect example of this strength quality. Hope you enjoy the video of my friend Jessie Zinger climbing and demonstrating relative strength.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Plantar Fasciitis or Nerve Entrapment

If you have ever experienced the pain of plantar fasciitis, you know how a frustrating injury it can be. Every step becomes a small stabbing knife in the arch of the foot. Waking up in the morning and putting your weight on the feet can be such a daunting task that it makes you think of reasons to stay in bed.

True plantar fasciitis involves the inflammation of the plantar fascia. It's a thick structure that aids in the support of the foots arch, when it becomes inflamed there will be pain every time it tenses up.

Nerve involvement should always be considered as it may save you valuable time and frustration with conventional treatment protocols of rest, ice and NSAIDS. Two options should be considered. On the medial side, the tibial nerve can become entrapt about two centimeters posterior to the medial malleolus. Once past the flexor retinaculum the tibial nerve splits into the medial and lateral plantar nerves. This is the 2nd spot that can be entrapt. The medial plantar nerve can be entrapt where it runs deep to the abductor hallucis muscle.

A quick way for the clinician to check is to do the straight leg raise test and involve dorsiflexion and then eversion. If there is a nerve component to the fasciitis, this will usually create more discomfort in the arch. Test this on yourself, if this invokes a response, get some quality tissue work done on the stated areas. It is painful, but worth it.