Friday, February 27, 2009

Tactical Strength Challenge

I came across this challenge the other day. It's called the tactical strength challenge. TSC. Max effort deadlift, followed by max number of pull ups you can do, followed by how many kettlebell snatches you can do in a five minute period. So it tests max strength, relative strength and cardio. We are near the end of our season here with the bobsled team and workouts haven't been as consistent as I would like. To top it off I have been dealing with a chronic sinus infection, so I wasn't sure what I could do, but enough excuses. The people over at TSC are having an international lift day on April 4th, so here is where I am right now. Deadlift 429, pull ups 15, KB snatch 76. I didn't enjoy the 5 minute KB snatch at all, probably because I haven't done anything cardio related in a long....long.....long...time! You can find more information here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Importance of Dorsiflexion

The least trained movement in most programs is dorsiflexion. Simply pulling your toes towards your shins. Dorsiflexion plays a huge role in sprint mechanics as it gets you ready for ground contact. It places the weakest joint in the leg, the ankle, in the most stable position. It places the gastroc/soleus complex under stretch so that allows more speed and power upon ground contact. It also places the fascial linkages in the posterior chain under stretch. This will pull the leg back under the hips quicker during the flight phase, which minimizes breaking forces. Minimizing breaking forces means you spend less time on the ground, which means faster sprint speeds! So don't neglect dorsiflexion.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jaw pain: A Cause and Solution

Your jaw closes every time you swallow. When it's efficient, you don't even think about it. If there is a bit of muscle incoordination it will become a chronic pain site. This muscle incoordination can come about from many reasons. Any type of contact sport can lead to premature contact called interference. Ever been hit in the face? Been in a rugby scrum or had your bell rung playing football? Even just grinding at night can lead to interference.

So when you have this interference, problems occur. Your body senses this early contact on the back molars and contracts a muscle called the Lateral Pterygoid to slightly shift around the interference. As we stated early every time you swallow your jaw closes, so if there is interference, every time you swallow that lateral pterygoid muscle will contract. So you know have a hyperactive muscle.

This muscle also has influence on the disc that you have in your TMJ complex. It pulls the disc forward. Another problem arises when this muscle is hyperactive is that it can actually pull the disc in front of the jawbone. This will give you the "pop" sensation you may feel or hear when you open the jaw wide. The ligament that is playing tug of war between the disc and lateral pterygoid muscle also goes under a lot of stretch stress and can be another sight of jaw pain. This hyperactive muscle can also cause sinus pressure and pain behind the eye ball.

So the easiest way to try to calm this viscous cycle is to get the lateral pterygoid to relax. Make sure you wash your hands first! No use in getting rid of jaw pain and catching a cold. Open as wide as you can place your middle finger on the back of your upper molars. Play around with the area and slowly rub around. You will probably find many tender areas. Keep applying pressure as you slowly open and close your jaw. Do this a few times a couple times a day. It should help reset the tonicity of the muscle and stop the pain cycle.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Spirit of Competition

A friend asked me the other day if any of the US athletes cared that I worked on other countries every now and then as they are the competition. He kind of viewed it as giving up a competitive advantage. I thought I knew the answer, but to make sure I asked some of the US athletes. To a tee, they all said the same thing, "No, I want to be the best, because I'm the best, not because someone may be hurting. If they can beat me on the ice then they deserve to win. I want to win because I've prepared, I've worked and I'm the best, I don't want to slide into first.

Being around Olympians all the time you realize a few things. They work harder and are more dedicated then 99% of most people and they all possess the spirit of competition. They love to compete. I've also come to realize that it holds true for anyone great in their profession. The better they are, the more likely they will help you out. They possess a confidence in their own abilities so they don't have a fear of yours. The small minded inferiority complex that you may see in someone that lacks a true belief in their ability to succeed isn't there. They have a peace about them. They don't fear competition. So ask yourself, do you fear competition or relish it. If it's the latter, chances are your great at what you do.


A very big congratulations goes to Train out Pain athlete Shauna Rohbock. Shauna and her brake men Ellana Meyers pushed and drove themselves to a silver medal in the womens bobsled this weekend. World Championship medals are hard to come by, you have to be consistently great over 2 days and 4 runs. Many athletes will compete their whole careers and never achieve this. Way to cap a great season!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Box Jump

Box Jumps are a great way to implement a Dynamic Effort work load. They are relatively easy on the body but they keep the athlete from getting slow. It's a great way to get the body moving explosively after doing heavy squats or deadlifts. As the athlete progresses up in height, it also is a great hip flexibility gage as you will have to really be able to open up the hips to get to maximum height.
Shown here is Alex Sprague US National boblsed member training in Koonigsee, Germany.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Record Breaking Pull Up

Congrats to Train Out Pain athlete Valerie Fleming for breaking the Olympic Training center Pull up record. Val pulled 40K (88lbs) at a body weight of 75K. Whats even more impressive is that this is one of the main lifts that the sport of Luge trains at.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Importance of Anatomy

There are a few things that trancends language and culture. That everyone will understand. One of these is pain. A painful lower back or neck can be understood no matter what the language. Whether you are watching someone walk down the street in Ireland, Russia or New Zealand a painful lower back is just that, painful. This is where the importance of knowing your anatomy and biomechancics and neuromechanics of the body comes in handy. These things are important when you can take a detailed history and ask questions and have a correspondance with the patient or athlete being treated. But when you don't understand them, and they don't understand you, it becomes even more vital. So far this season I've had the privelege to get to not only work with the US team, but have worked on athletes and coaches from Monaco, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Swiss, Bulgaria, Australia, Korea and Austria. Sometimes we've understood each other and sometimes not. But biomechanics and anatomy are universal. Release what isn't moving and should be, strengthen what is moving and shouldn't be, activate the sleeping muscles, quite the hypertonic muscles and more often then not you'll get another universal sign, a smile.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Great Quote

"I am not a hamster and life is not a wheel."

Think about that and let it sink in.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Whenever I travel with the bobsled team we always look with dread having to go Europe from anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks.  There are the long flights and even longer car rides.  You don't really get to see much of what most tourists travel over there for.  So I've always wondered do the Europeans feel the same way as they travel over here and have to spend 5 weeks in North America?  

Turns out they hate it just as much as we hate going over there.  But for one completely different reason.  They hate our food.  Eating with the Netherlands team last night, the Dutch all said our food tastes like chemicals.  "I'm surprised you guys don't glow at night from the radiation."  Interesting and sad and enlightening all at the same time.  We need to really pay attention to what we put in our bodies.  

Support your local farmers markets.  Support the local community that you are living in by buying local.  The old addage you are what you eat is pretty true.  Who needs red dye number 5.  Check your labels.  If it has more then a handful ingredients, keep looking.  Your health, immunity and vitality will thank you.  

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Congratulations to Shuana Rohbock for another Gold medal performance in womens bobsled at Whistler, BC this past weekend.  Shauna had the fastest run in the first heat and carried that through to victory.  The Whistler track, which will be the sight for the 2010 winter Olympics, is officially the fastest track in the world.  

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lat Stretch

Can stretching the lats make you a better runner?  Perhaps.  It's been well documented that a forward head posture causes a shorter stride length.  One reason that forward head posture can creep up is that the body must displace it forward to keep it in balance as the shoulders roll forward.  In our flexion dominated society, a pretty easy thing to do.  One of the main muscles that can contribute to the forward shoulder is the latissimus dorsi.  

Shorten stride length is important from a health standpoint, not just performance.  When you shorten your stride length, you have more of a flat foot strike instead of heel strike.  So your ankle will take more of a beating.  

So grasp a fixed object.  Squat back and lean away.  With your free arm, rotate through and under your fixed arm.  Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground.  So the next time you go for a run, try stretching your lats and see if it helps free you up a bit more.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Random Thoughts

1.  Hypertrophy from high reps is sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, therefore there is not contractile component.  That means if your a strength athlete, you got bigger but not stronger!  

2.  How much protein to take in post workout?  
-72 reps = .6g/kg/lean body mass.  
73-200 reps = .8
200-360 = 1
360-450 -1.2
Or if your like me and don't want to do math or count reps everyday.  15g for 50lb of body weight

3.  Every .5 cm of forward neck placement ages the neck by 5 years.  Not to mention it slows you down as a runner.  More on that later!

4.  Another reason High Fructose consumption sucks is that it leads to increased glycation which equals increased muscle stiffness.  

5.  I read this the other day...I have no idea where or why or if its legit....if you get leg cramps at night in the left leg its a sign of magnesium deficiency.  If it's in the right leg a sign of potassium deficiency.  If anyone knows this is true or why, please let me know!

6.  Rethink treadmills.  Every spring I treat countless runners who worked up to like 10-15 miles on the treadmill in the dreary Michigan winter.  First sign of warmth they head outside and try to do the same mileage and hurt the hamstring/calf.  Treadmills can create faulty movement patterns.  In running you use the hamstrings to extend the hip.  When your on the treadmill it does this for you.