Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Gift of Pain

I always try to let people know of good books or what I'm reading.
There is an amazing book called, “The Gift of Pain,” by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancy. If you get a chance, read it. The book tells the story of Dr. Paul Brand. It describes his work and research with leprosy patients in India. It talks about his new ways of treating babies with club feet. What he learned eventually even began to show important new ways in how severe cases of diabetes should be treated. What he discovered was that pain is ultimately needed for survival. When you don’t perceive pain, you don’t know what is causing harm to the body. If you couldn’t feel the burn from the hot stove, you would just burn your hands and get infections. If you didn’t receive a jolt of pain every time you stubbed your toe, eventually this would lead to much larger problems down the road. Pain is your bodies protection system. Lets face it, without it, many of us would run our bodies into the ground. The slight tweak in the hamstring, sure it hurts, but if it didn’t, you can bet most of us would run through it until the tweak turned into a tear. Instead of 3 weeks of adjusted activity, now it’s 6 months!
Pain is a gift that no one wants. Realize this point, if your feeling pain, your body is working. That is a great epiphany.

Monday, March 30, 2009

My Favorite photo of 2009

This was taken in the early morning hours in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The track was still lit up it was so early. This is a totally man made track, so if you go visit in the summer there is nothing there! They shave giant chunks of ice and recreate this famous track every year. Pretty amazing.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gait Analysis

It's pretty cool to be able to have the time to video and analyze the athletes your working with. Here we have Bill Schufenhaur 2x Olympian and medal winner. I had him run at about 50%. Just to see if there was anything we could tweak to enhance performance. I could see an ever so slightly difference in rotation on the left side. We worked his obliques and noted a smoother second run. Now this was done with nothing bothering him. Why then do you do it? We're looking for even the slightest bit of difference. Remember that at the highest level, a hundredth of a second can be the difference between gold and silver.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Creatine and the future

Creatine is probably the most researched supplement of all time. I have always had an interest in this supplement and even did my senior thesis research project on creatine. There have been more studies done on this performance supplement than any other. It currently holds 10% of all the sports supplement industry. It has been proven to be safe and proven to be effective for increasing anaerobic performance. But what is the best way to take it, for how long ect., lets get started.

1. You don't need a loading phase. It's a waste. Your body uses about 3 grams a day. So supplement with 3-5 grams. Post workout.

2. Meat is the only food source. So if your a vegetarian your lacking. The good news is that supplementation has been shown to get your levels to that of meat eaters.

3. If your a big meat eater, you probably won't find a huge difference in supplementation. So try it for a month and if your lifts don't go up, don't waste your money.

4. It takes about a month for your creatine levels to get back to "normal" if you have been supplementing.

5. I came across this the other day, and they credit the great strength coach Tudor Bompa, "Don't use it during maximal strength, explosive periods. Use only during hypertrophy phase. The reason is that the creatine increases cell volume which slows neural drive, which in turn slows speed. Interesting! As a side note this points that creatine should be periodized.

6. Don't take those fancy expensive sugar laden drinks. Take creatine monohydrate. It's pure form is what gets researched and it is inexpensive. Take it with warm water and some salt. Creatine is transported by the NaK (sodium potassium) pump, not insulin.

7. Caffein and glutamine can interfere with absorption.

8. The future of creatine research is not in sports. There is a ton of research going on with various muscular and neurological diseases. Really cool stuff. ALS, Huntingtons, Muscular Dystrophy all have shown a bit of promise. If you have a nerve injury it may show some promise as well!

Hope you learned a bit more about the most popular sports supplement out there!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Quote of the week

I saw this on Alwyn Cosgroves blog the other day and I have not been able to get it out of my head. Makes you want to train harder. Learn more. Get better at whatever your striving to do.
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations – we fall to the level of our training”
-Archilochus, Greek Soldier

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Random Facts and Thoughts

I haven't posted random thoughts and facts in a while, so here's a few to think over that I have read or am reading on.

1. The main anti-oxidants in the blood are Vitamin C and E, and Uric Acid. Polyphenols, "the miracle antioxidants" found in plants and berries ect...actually are a toxin that prevent mineral absorption. Your body secrets uric acid to counterbalance this. So it's not actually the miracle its been claimed.

2. On that note, you may have seen inosine in some sports products. Oral inosine has been shown to convert to uric acid. It was big in the seventies with no real results though. Right now it's being tested with MS patients.

3. I love learning about the hip. If you have decrease IR (internal rotation) at 90 degrees of abduction, it's the inferior capsule that is tight, not the posterior. Probably the quickest way to get this restored is through gentle mobilizations.

4. Nutrient deficiency can come from not eating enough of the nutrient. Eating enough of it, but not absorbing it. Finally eating it, but something blocking the absorption. Examples of this include, wheat bran and vitamin D, Omega 6 vegtable oils and vitamin E.

5. Multifidi actually strengthen with lengthening. I believe this is the only muscle to do so. This poses some interesting questions when it comes to exercise selection.

6. If your under stress for any reason, tests, work, lack of sleep, up your fish oil. It's a great stress way to limit your stress hormone output.

Hope this gets you thinking, and you learned a little valuable nugget to pursue more deeply.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It Takes Work

If anyone has been paying attention to either Mad Money or The John Stewart show, you are probably aware of their war of words that culminated in Cramer coming on Johns show. I found Stewarts quote to be quite interesting, "Isn't that part of the problem, selling this idea that you don't have to do anything? Anytime you sell people the idea that, sit back and you'll get 10 to 20 percent on your money, don't you always know that that's going to be a lie. When are we going to realize in this country that are wealth is work, that we're workers."

Whether you agree with the statement or not, I find that it is just as interesting when you apply it to training, losing weight or fitness. How many times are people trying to sell an easy fix when it comes to your health? Think 6 minute abs, or 12 minutes a week is all that you need. Seriously 12 minutes? Eat anything you want and still lose weight. Really, anything? Come on people we're smarter then that. When it comes right down to it, health and fitness aren't complex. Simple doesn't mean easy though. Nothing worth having is ever easy though, it takes work. So work at it and work for it, and enjoy the benefits of a healthy body.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jump Rope Challenge in Grand Rapids

I came across this challenge the other day. I'm not sure if it's a crossfit thing or what, but it's pretty fun. See how long it takes you to jump rope 1000 times. Take as much rest as needed or do it straight through. I did it in 10:26. I think I saw someone do it in 6:32. Next week I will try to break 10 minutes. Jumping rope is a great general conditioning tool. It's also great for coordination and foot quickness and can be done almost anywhere. How fast can you do the challenge? Let me know and have fun!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Multifidi and Low Back Pain

Everyone at some point or another will have low back pain. The statistics don't lie. 80% of Americans will experience it at some point and 90% of those will have repeated bouts. Low Back pain can have many, many causes. To many to go over in this blog post. But one that comes to mind is the paraspinal muscle dysfunction. Paraspinals refer to the rotatores and multifidi. They are small muscles that run from the sacrum up to C2. We're going to talk specifically about the multifidi around the lumbar spine. While the errector spinae will have more of a gross movement roll, big moves, big motions, the multifidi will have more of a segmental stability role. They have also been shown to have a large roll with proprioception. So when these muscles get tight and short they can compress the lumbars and create a facet hypomobility. If they become inhibited and weak they can lead to disc dysfunction.

So how can you tell if your tight or weak and inhibited? A short and tight multifidi will usually be present in and exaggerated lordosis. The lordosis will sometimes even be present when you bend forward. A weak, inhibited multifidi will often present with a bit of muscular atrophy. So more of a visual assessment. When there is weakness here, you won't have the ability to resist flexion/rotation and will have increased loading on the disc. Over time this can lead to disc symptoms like sciatica.

I usually see the tight short muscles first. Over time with increasing pain and lack of mobility at the segment that is locked. You will start to get atrophy of the multifidi and even some fatty penetration of the muscle fibers. So short, tight, local pain, becomes weak, inhibited radiating pain.

The good news is that joint mobilization has been shown to fascilitate the multifidi. A good chiropractor or manual therapist can work wonders and finally some proof!

After getting adjusted (mobilized), then you can start on some strengthening, rehab protocols. More on that later. Until then, if your having back pain, see if your in the short, tight category or the weak and inhibited one. So you know what to do about it!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Transitioning off the Treadmill

I've already talked about how I dislike the treadmill, how it disrupts natural running mechanics. But lets face it, Michigan winters suck. So you may have resorted to it. So if you've already built up your base this winter on this equipment, you may be getting ready to make the transition from indoor to outdoor running.

First, each spring I see countless runners get what I call the spring muscles. Slight strains of hamstring and calves that seem to come out of nowhere. They all say the same thing, "I have been doing 15 miles every other day on the treadmill, this was just an easy 5 miler."

So here's the plan. Take your longest training run on the treadmill and multiply by 1/4. So if your longest training run was 20 miles, your first outdoor run is 5 miles. Now your going to run this at your 20 mile pace! Here's a sample schedule.
Longest treadmill run 20 miles
Day 1 outside: 5 miles at same pace
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: 5 miles at same pace
Day 4: 5 miles at same pace
Day 5: 7 miles at 30 second faster per/mile pace
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: 9 miles at 20 mile treadmill pace
Day 8: 3 miles at fast pace
Day 8: PM 8 miles at treadmill pace
Day 9: Rest
Day 10: Rest
Day 11: 7 miles at an easy pace
Day 12: 14 miles at regular pace
Day 13: Rest
Day 14: 10 miles at best pace
Day 14: PM 10 miles at slow pace

Before each run. Dynamic warm up stressing the hamstring/glute function.
Here is a sample schedule to take two weeks to transition back to the roads and hopefully keep the strained hamstring/calf to a minimum this spring!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Midweek Quote

"Your prison is nothing in comparison with the inner prison of ordinary people: the prison of attachment, the prison of anger, the prison of depression, the prison of pride."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Peroneals, Hallux Limitus and Ankle Sprains

The peroneals are the muscles along the lateral aspect of your calf. They are very important stabilizers of the ankle, but also important for the proper function of the big toe as well. (hallux refers to big toe). How many times have you heard a million dollar athlete is sidelined from "turf toe?" How many know individuals that complain of having, "weak ankles?" They just give out on me!

The peroneals have a concentric and eccentric role. During gait, as your heel leaves the ground, there is dorsiflexion at the big toe joint (metatarsal-phalnge joint MTJP) and plantarflexion at the ankle. This causes what is known as the windlass mechanism, basically, it tightens the fascia on the under surface of the foot and plantarflexes the first metatarsal. Now, the peroneal longus stabilizes the first metatarsal against the ground during all of this, and causes a close packing of the calcaneo-cuboid joint.

Now, if there is peroneal inhibition or weakness, there will not be the ability to stabilize the big toe, thus one reason hallux limitus (big toe doesn't move) can occur. Now there are also other roles the peroneals play. They act as a counter balance with the posterior tibialis muscle. They work together to stabilize the foot. The peroneals evert and plantar flex, the posterior tibialis inverts and plantar flexes. Again, if we have peroneal inhibition or weakness, the posterior tibialis muscle will over power and put the foot into an inverted position, thus ankle sprains.

So there are two powerful reasons to spend a little time in strengthening the peroneal muscle groups!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Results are the bottom line

Results are the bottom line. In the end that's what it comes down to. Results. Did you win? Did you compete. I'm employed to help keep athletes healthy. To get them to the starting line and compete with confidence. To let the athlete compete to their full capabilities. I'm proud of this last season. We had 41 teams race races this past season that I was involved with. No athlete missed a competition due to injury. We had to be smart with some practice situations and be smart with training, but in the end, everyone raced. Don't get me wrong, I'm just a small piece in the puzzle. We had great ATC's this year. Byron Craighead was with us the last 5 weeks of the year. He's probably been involved with more athletic competitions than I can ever hope to be. He brought 30 plus years of experience working with everyone from the Raiders to Olympians to junior college athletes. Also, the athletes play a huge roll, smart warmups, cool downs, nutrition, stretching, foam rolling, ect...When everyone contributes, everyone wins!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Mitochondria and GPP

I love mitochondria. If you don't know, mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. They produce the ATP (adenosine tri phosphate) that power all the cells processes. They give you energy! Here's the cool thing. You control the amount in your body. It's up to you. Hows that for power. With proper exercise, you can double the amount of mitochondrial mass in your muscles. More mitochondria equals more energy and better metabolism. It's a big reason why GPP (general physical preparation phase) is crucial in designing programs. Now there are several reasons as to why GPP is important, but I think the crucial thing is that it raises work capacity. You can work harder and longer. A good estimate is 70-80% of max heart rate for 15 minutes. I'm not a big component of LSD (long slow distance), but pushing the prowler, pulling a sled, barbell complexes are all examples of things you can do in GPP to get those mitochondria up. You're in control, it's up to you. How much energy do you want?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


It is official, the 50 year drought is over. The United States has not had the gold medal in mens bobsleigh in 50 years. So the emotions were high going into the second day of competition. Driver Steve Holcumb, side pushers Steve Mesler, Justin Olson, and brakemen Curt Tomasevich, destroyed the competition in Lake Placid, NY. They beat second place Germany, buy almost a full second, which in bobsled is the equivalent of winning the 100 meter dash by a full second. Not usually done. From the push, to the drive it was excellence in action. World Champions has a pretty sweet ring to it. Congrats!