Thursday, July 28, 2011

Post Injury Muscle Inhibition: 101

Regardless of whether you have been injured by an acute accident or have been diligently damaging the tissue through repetitive activity, certain muscles will always get inhibited when the joint sustains some type of trauma.  Macro or Micro.

Trauma or dysfunction to the neck will allow the deep neck flexors (longus coli, longus capitus) to become inhibited.  They are your cervical stabilizers.  When they don't pull their weight, you're looking at the scalenes and levator scapula becoming tight.

Shoulder trauma will almost certainly bring about inhibition of the subscapularis.  Subscap is one of the 4 rotatore cuff muscles.  Often the other rotatore cuff muscles (teres minor, infraspinatous, suprasinatous) will become tight.

Low back dysfunction/trauma will shut off the deep multifidi muscles.  We are learning more and more about this muscle.  It was once thought that it had rotatory capability.  We now know it's primarily flexion/extension and that its primary roll is proprioception.  Sometimes the errectors will tighten to stop movement.

I also see lots of glute max inhibition with lower back pain.  It's hard to say if it was there before the injury though.  Needless, it needs to be addressed after low back dysfunction.

Knee trauma is always followed by the inhibition of the vastus medialis oblique.  VMO for short.  This little tear drop shaped muscle plays a healthy roll in patellar tracking and in proprioception.  It will call on the muscles of the pes anserine to tighten up to help out with medial stability.

Ankle trauma will have peroneal muscle inhibition.  This guy is part of your lateral stabilizing unit.  It also has a big roll in proprioception.  When you feel like you have "weak ankles" this muscle isn't stabilizing you.

You may wonder why your body automatically inhibits certain muscles.  The answer is it's trying to save your joint.  If it doesn't provide the information and stability to the joint, it thinks you will hopefully stay off it.  

When you continue to use it, that's when the onion of compensation starts to grow.  Other muscles get tight.  That's why when you are working on someone or being worked on, you fix one thing, and another thing shows up.  Pealing the onion back to get to the original problem.  You constantly stretch a muscle that in reality is staying tight to help you.  So understand that stretching something that is tight, may in fact be doing more damage then help.

These are the main guys I see with joint trauma and weakness.  Next week I will go over some recovery strategies I use to help break the compensation patterns.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Know Your Recipe for Low Back Pain

One of the most important lessons you can learn to keep yourself healthy, is learning what your personal recipe for disaster is.  Disaster can have many flavors, pulled muscles, low back pain, shoulder pain, name it, there are triggers.  Learn them well.

My own recipe looks like this for low back pain:

1.  Extensive sitting in a car.  (Longer then 12 hours over 36 hour period)
2.  Dehydration.
3.  Tight Hip Rotatores.
4.  On my feet all day without a lot of range of motion movement.

Whenever these 4 things cross paths, it's like a perfect storm for low back pain for me.  Sad as this sounds, it took me several episodes of low back pain for me to realize it.

There have been times when I have had one or even two of these, nothing really happens besides feeling lethargic.  It's the combination of all four that brings on the week long and even longer lingering dysfunction.

Whenever there is something like pain and dysfunction going on in your body,  think back or better yet write down, things that may have contributed to this.  Over time, you will hopefully come to find out just what exactly your recipe is.  Then you will  be on a better path towards health and optimal performance.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

French Contrast or Insider Contrast Training

Explosive Contrast training has been around a while and by itself is a very productive training method to develop strength and power in athletes.  This type of training consists of lifting a heavier weight for low reps.  This is then followed by lifting a lighter load, but lifted explosively.  An example is Heavy Box Squat for 3 reps at around 85 % of your Max Effort, this is then followed by dumbell jump squats, hurdle hops or box jumps.

Lately I've been reading some work by Gilles Cometti, a french sport scientist.  I had seen a powerpoint entitled French Contrast Training awhile back.  Having never heard of French Contrast, I did some reading and found that most people  call it Insider Contrast Training.

With Insider Contrast Training your taking some of the principles that have been proven with the Explosive Contrast and manipulating the reps/tempo/weight within the set, hence the name, Insider.

So an example would be 2 reps done with heavy weight (85%) strip the weight off quickly or have a partner do it and do 2 reps explosively (40%) and then do 2 reps slow(3-1-3 Tempo) with the same weight.  This would be one set.  Rest 3 minutes and do 3-5 sets.

The idea is to create adaptations for strength and power and some hypertrophy.  Try this for a period in your training program when you're looking for a nice change up.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

High Intensity Continuos Training On Spin Bike

I misspoke in the video. This is High Intensity, Continuous. The idea is that when the effort is high, your fast twitch muscles are recruited. Because you are not going fast, you are able to keep it from getting purely anaerobic. This is to build up endurance in your fast twitch muscle fibers, by essentially increasing their oxidative capabilities. This is great training for MMA, Cyclocross bikers and Rugby players.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Health Benefits of Ghee

Ghee is clarified butter.  Ghee is produced by separating the milk solids from the liquid.  Essentially, the thought is to get the water and impurities out and be left with pure fat.  This leaves an amber colored solid.  I had never heard of it till last year and never tried it till lately.

Ghee is over 2000 years old and has been used in Ayurveda medicine for just as long.  It is said to have anti viral and anti cancer properties.  It's a great source of Conjugated Linoleic Acid  (CLA), which helps fight belly fat.

It has a high heating point 240 degrees F.  It is said to help assimilate other nutrients.  What really got me interested was the fact that Ghee has Vitamin K2.

Vitamin K2 is a very important vitamin that is hard to come by.  The great nutritionist Weston Price, declares that it is vital for health and is one of the missing ingredients in toady's modern life style.  Weston Price authored the now legendary book, "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration."

Weston Price travelled all over the world researching nutrition practices of ancient tribes from Inuit to Masai.  He found that the fat soluble vitamins were of vital importance.  Vitamin A, D and K2.   The tribes were healthy and strong.  Some had limited protein sources, some had little fruit, little vegetables.  All were very healthy.

K2 seems to magnify and be synergistic for the other fat soluble vitamins.  We all know now how important Vit D is now.  Try Ghee and see if you notice any health benefits.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Finite Life

I hope this post finds you doing the things you love to do, pursuing your hobbies and interests, spending time with your family and friends, putting life in your days.

Life isn't guaranteed.  This was no more apparent then on Thursday here in Grand Rapids, MI.  A guy shot and killed 7 people, was in a high speed chase that put many people in danger, shooting at police officers the whole time it seemed.

I have several police officers as patients.  I think we all appreciate what they do for our community.  Something like this just struck home at what price sometimes they risk to do that.  It's sad that it takes the violent acts of a crazed individual to remind you to be thankful for people that risk their lives to keep us safe.  It's unfortunate that it takes death to remind us (me) that your not guaranteed another sunrise.

Don't procrastinate.  Don't waste time.  Be thankful for those that try to keep us safe.  Pursue your health so that you keep the good life in the years that you have.  Pursue something worthwhile.

Randy Pausche, author of the Last Lecture ( a book you must read if you haven't)  said something I like.

“We don’t beat the Reaper by living longer. We beat the Reaper by living well.”

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Few Good Reads/Studies

If you haven't seen this study, it does a great analysis of the deadlift vs the trap bar deadlift.  Essentially you could swap out a squat or a trap bar deadlift to hit the same musculature.  Here it is.  Trap bar vs deadlift.

If your looking for an interpretation of what it may mean for your training.  ANALYSIS.

Here was a study done on swishing  a carb drink in your mouth vs just water as two groups of cyclists peddle for performance in an hour time trial.  The carb group had significant improvements.  Pretty cool.  All you cyclocross riders take note!  Carb Mouth Rinse Study.

This study was from a Poliquin note.  Haven't found the exact study, but I've heard this before.  Groups were used to see if cooling the palm, heating the palm or nothing improved short intense exercise.  Cooling the palms was the big winner.  They did bench with 85% max weight.  The cooled palms group were able to do more reps.  I remember a few years ago reading about a glove that was being developed out of Stanford that cooled the body.  The subjects were able to keep up their max effort pull ups for much longer.  Nice.  Take those frozen bottles to the gym!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Claw Toes and Flexor Digitorum Longus

One problem often seen with runners is the development of claw toes.  While this can have a few reasons as to why, a very important cause to rule out is the health of the flexor digitorum longus muscle.  This muscle as the name implies, flexes the last four toes.  

Often times the toes will appear flat and normal, but if you do a calf raise or dynamic lunge, you will see the toes claw the ground to gain stability.  I was reading a post by Charlie Weingroff the other day and he believes that not only does the clawing inhibit the deep intrinsic muscles of the foot, but because the clawing allows less of an arch, it neurally inhibits the hip muscles.   Your body doesn't feel the strong arch, so it doesn't think you need the hip strength, because you are not in a propulsive position.  How interesting is that!

I have seen this in my own practice, but didn't really correlate it with inhibition of the deep intrinsic muscles and neurally inhibiting the hip.  I always assumed by bringing back the length of the FDL muscle, the whole fascial chain got stronger.

A quick evaluation you can do on yourself is to just get up on your toes and do several calf raises.   Do your toes start to claw?  If you do, do some myofascial work on the flexors and then proceed to concentrate on keeping the toes flat into the floor as you do another set of calf raises.  I find it helps to feel the big toe push into the floor as well.  Keep this up for several weeks.  In the long term it will help keep gait smooth and relaxed.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Got Heart? Eccentric vs Concentric Heart Hypertrophy and How it Applies to Training

Growing up I always watched the cartoon GI JOE.  They always ended it with Sergeant Slaughter giving the advice "Knowing is half the battle."  Training is the same.  Knowing what you want, why and how to achieve it.

I'm going to outline a two methods to increase blood volume.

Eccentric Cardiac Hypertrophy:

The goal is to improve the ability of your heart to deliver oxygen and develop more blood vessels peripherally.  The work your doing stimulates eccentric cardiac hypertrophy.  You get a bigger left ventricle.  This gives you the ability to pump out more blood per heart beat.  

The bigger heart allows you to pump out more blood with less heart beats, so less work.  This allows more oxygen to your muscles.  More oxygen equals better aerobic capabilities.  

This is best developed by staying in a heart rate about 130-150bpm.  The session has to last at least 30 min with 60-90 being the optimal period.  If you currently have a resting heart rate in the 60-70s, this would be a good type of training to engage in.  If your returning to training after a long lay off, again this would be a great place to start.  

Now, if you go over the 150bpm, you are doing to much intensity.  What happens physiologically is that you don't give your heart enough time to fill up with enough blood to cause a stretching thus causing the eccentric hypertrophy to occur.  

Concentric Cardiac Hypertrophy:

So now if you start going over 150bpm what happens?  Well it depends!  If you apply the correct stress/reps/rest you get thicker walls of the heart. 

The goal again is to increase how much blood can be pumped.  Instead of getting a bigger left ventricle where it can push out more volume, you get a thicker heart with stronger contractions which can push out more volume. There seems to also be an increase in the number of mitochondria in the heart as well.  

These adaptations come into importance when the intensity of your activity increases.  This improves the power endurance of your heart.  

This adaptation is best developed by going all out (heart rate as high as possible)  for 60-120 seconds and then resting for up to 5 min with keeping your heart rate around 120-130.  If it takes shorter or longer you start the next rep when your heart rate reaches the targeted number.  

This is again information I've been reading about through Joel Jamiesons Ultimate MMA Conditioning and some other materials.  The big takeaway is that you should know the goals of your training.  Know the adaptations your trying to achieve.  Know how to achieve those adaptations.  Good luck.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Don't Go Further, Go Faster

The more I read foreign translated articles and books about strength training and the more I get to talk and interact with a few foreign coaches, the more I see a different paradigm when it comes to endurance training.

In the US, I predominately see a go further attitude.  Other places it's a go faster attitude.  Time and time again, for example,  I will get a patient in that wants to run their first 5k or reach 40 miles in a week.  They may have some  setbacks, but eventually they reach their goal.

What happens next, I've observed,  is quite interesting.  Predominately, most will then say, I want to do a 10k or hit 45 miles next.  I've had very few people say, I want to run faster.

Here's the thing, you can go further, without really getting better as a runner.  You cannot run faster without getting better as a runner.  To run faster, you have to get stronger, get more energy efficient, improve biomechanics or some kind of combination.

Now I didn't say you wouldn't get better if you ran further, but it's not guaranteed.  Run faster though, it is guaranteed.  So go get faster!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Health Talk: Deskbound by Kelly Starrett

This is an excellent talk. This is essentially a ton of information that I try to teach my patients. Shoulder/Hip mobility and strength. Ergonomics. Dehydration and water, one nifty trick to find out if you are dehydrated. How to take care of yourself. Highly recommended.