Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Usain Bolt - The Fastest Man Alive (The Movie)

Interesting insight into the personal and professional life of Usain Bolt as he prepares for London Olympics.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Breathing Ladders: The How and Why

Breathing ladders were a new concept to me.  I'm not sure where I first heard of the concept, but then I saw it everywhere.  Essentially, what you are doing is taking and exercise and pairing it with controlled breathing, working up in reps, and then down in reps.

Each rep corresponds with one breath.  Two reps, two breaths, 18 reps, 18 breaths.  Get the picture?

The concept is to try to force the diaphragm to breath efficiently and to cut out the habit of mouth breathing.  Controlled stress.  It's also a very easy way to get in volume.  A ladder from 1 rep to 20, back down to 1 rep, would yield 400 reps.

The breath should be in through the nose and work to feel the lateral ribs expanding.  Work the diaphragm.   It often helps to breath out the nose as well.  Just keep the mouth shut.

An example for a nice exercise would be a kettlebell swing.  One swing, put the weight down, one big breath.  2 swings, put the weight down, 2 breaths.

Play with this style of exercise and training and see if your breath, recovery improve as you get in quality volume.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Centration by Any Method for a Healthy Body

I started thinking the other day on why pain happens.  The cascading events that lead to pain and also the cascading events that  result from the pain and finally the cascading events that lead out of pain.

What started me thinking was Evan Osars book, "Corrective Exercise Solutions."  I had a chance to meet Evan awhile back at a Strength/Performance Enhancement seminar and have since tried to read all he puts out, great information.

He uses the term centration quite frequently.  Centration is simply the optimal access of range of motion in a joint.  When the body has centration, it has ease of movement, no compensation and no pain.  If centration is lost, compensation occurs, pain is experienced....eventually.

Unless there is trauma, car accident, a football blown knee, falling down some stairs as examples, most of what is felt has had years to develop.  That herniated disc didn't happen from picking that weight off the floor, that was just the last insult the body could handle.

It is possible that actually correct optimal movement of the joint was never learned.  Neuro development is a hot topic and it appears that the crawling pattern that occurs is more important then previously realized.

An old injury that doesn't even come to mind is a possible reason for loss of joint centration.  I can recall so many times athletes telling me that they can't recall how many severe ankle sprains they have experienced.  Ever had a bad ankle?  You limp around for days, sometimes weeks.  That is disrupting your recruitment pattern, the ankle centration has been altered.

For centration to occur, optimal muscle stability must occur.  A joint can not move correctly if there is not stability to allow mobility to occur.  An injury to a muscle will alter joint centration.

This brings us to the old saying, "Methods are many, Principles are few."  It doesn't matter the method, if the principle is achieved.  So whether the method is an adjustment, myofascial work, muscle energy, muscle activation, corrective exercise or a combination, know that ultimately the goal is proper joint centration.

Achieve joint centration, achieve ease of motion,  achieve a pain free body.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Motivation: London 2012

The Olympics start on Friday! I'm pretty excited to watch, hope you are ready!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Small Overlooked Muscles: Rectus Capitis Posterior Minor

The sub occipital muscles consist of the Superior Oblique, Inferior Oblique, Rectus Capitis Posterior Major and Rectus Capitis Posterior Minor.  All of these muscles can contribute to headaches when tight or short.  A very common headache comes from an entrapment of the greater occipital nerve in the Inferior Oblique.

Now an often overlooked contributor to headache is the Rectus Capitis Posterior Minor (RCPMinor).  It has connections to the posterior arch of C1 and travels up to the nuchal line on the occiput.  Often overlooked and I believe very important is that it also has connections into the spinal dura.

These connections seem to somehow help monitor the cerebral spinal fluid.  We do know that all the sub occipital muscle have loads of muscle spindles in them to provide proprioception to the Central Nervous System.

If the RCPMinor becomes tight the atlantooccipital joint is not as stable.  Proprioception will be hindered and perhaps most importantly, cerebral spinal fluid will be altered.

On a personal side note, every person/athlete I have ever treated post concussion have had extremely tight RCPMinor and Major.

If you receive treatment or seek treatment for cervicogenic pain or tension headaches, make sure to ask about the RCPMinor.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Foam Roller vs The Stick vs Vibration for Mechanoreception

I'm a pretty big advocate of using a foam roller to help free up tissue, even if some people claim it's for a very small amount of time.  My views on this.  If one uses the new range of motion within this time frame, one gets stronger and gradually increases the tissue quality in that new ROM.

Is there a difference in the method one chooses?  I believe there is.

There are things called mechanoreceptors in your muscles, ligaments, joint capsules and fascia.  They respond to different pressures, frequencies and oscillations.  A few of these mechanoreceptors are called ruffini, pacini and interstitial receptors.  

Ruffini (type 2) respond to deep sustained pressure.  This would be where the foam roller would be of most value. It has the ability to inhibit the sympathetic nervous system.  When a muscle is tight or short, this is a good idea.  In the therapy world, myofacial release and massage would be of high value.  Our central nervous system receives the most input from the myofascial tissues.  (more then eyes, ears, skin)

Pacini receptors respond to vibration and rapidly changing pressure, many think a high velocity low amplitude adjustment (HVLA) common in chiropractic, stimulate this form.  This would also be where the vibration would be of value.  The biggest benefit to this is an increase in proprioception and kinesthesia.  One becomes more aware of posture and where one's body is in space.

Another home therapy tool is a popular product called The Stick.  This does the least amount in terms of therapy in my opinion.  It mostly just stimulates afferent impulses from the skin.  Similar to using a vegetable brush.  This would be something you could use to rapidly run across muscles before a lift or immediate activity.  

The interstitial receptors are the newest receptors discovered.  They are further classified into Type 3 and Type 4.  These in fact make up the majority of your muscle receptors at about 80%.  In the past they were thought to perform pain reception as they terminate in free nerve endings.  They are now accepted to be primarily mechanoreception, so they respond to pressure and mechanical tension, along with pain reception.  They also seem to have a huge influence on fluid dynamics.

The Interstitial receptors respond to slow deep sustained pressure, just like the ruffini.  So again the foam roller becomes the go to method.  It has been shown that their stimulation increases parasympathetic activity.  Global muscle relaxation is the outcome.  This is the goal for most people dealing with chronic pain, loss of ROM or increased recovery.

Choose your home therapy tool wisely.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Motivation: Run Through Your Hurdles

Sometimes you just have to get to the finish.   Run through your hurdles this week if you have to!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fascia Fitness Friday: The Role of Thoracolumbar Fascia

The Thoracolumbar fascia (TLF) is an important structure for movement and stability in the human body.  It intimately blends the latissimus dorsi with the gluteal complex, thus linking the arm to the leg.

In the awesome book, Fascia by Schliep, it is suggested it also has a few more roles.  It is a sheath around muscles to reduce friction, facilitate blood return to the heart, provide an exoskeleton for other muscles to attach and finally, to protect blood vessels from mechanical damage.

It is finally being researched as a potential pain source for "non specific low back pain."  For that to fit the bill it would need to contain enough sensory fibers.  Even in 2006, this was not even thought to be looked into.  Recently, experiments have been conducted on animals and the data is showing that there are indeed enough sensory fibers to convey nociception (pain.)

What I found most revealing about these experiments was that the researchers concluded that DOMS (delayed onset muscle syndrome) showed in human trials the fascia around the over exercised muscle become more sensitive then the actual muscle.

A way to train this I believe is a take away from Mike Boyle's book "Advances In Functional Training."
Force is transmitted from the ground through the leg to the hip via the biceps femoris (hamstring) and glute max.  The force is then transferred across the SI Joint into the opposite latissiumus dorsi.  For this reason, all rowing motions except the inverted row are performed with only one foot in contact with the ground.  One foot on the ground and the load in the hand opposite that foot, the athlete must now engage the biceps femoris and glute to transfer force from the ground via the pelvic stabilizers and the hip rotators. (big thanks to Stu McMillan for sharing his notes with me)  PS.  make sure to check out his blog.

In doing the above mentioned, you will be strengthening the Thoracolumbar fascia.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kimchi: Korean Super Food Explored

I recently stepped out of my culinary comfort zone and tried Kimchi, a traditional Korean side dish.  I'm not a big cabbage guy.  I'm not a big vegetable guy to be honest.  I hate shredded lettuce.  So I went in a bit doubtful, maybe a little more then just a bit.

I was pleasantly surprised that I actually liked it.  There is a good possibility that I wanted to like it because it is so healthy for you.  But who cares.  I've added a new super food to my pallet, and super food it is.

Pretty much anything fermented is pretty great for your intestinal health.  Kimchi is no exception.  It is loaded with the good bacteria that helps digest food and keep your "internals" running smoothly.

Dr. Bob Rakowski has a saying, "Devoid of trauma, stuff that is wrong on the outside, always starts with something wrong on the inside."  Keep your digestive health at the fore front of your health and performance goals.

Other benefits are more outliers,  potential to decrease the duration of colds and UTI's.   It is a good source of fiber.  Helps to reduce the hyperacidity that may occur from meat and coffee.  (A little side project I'm doing is measuring my acid/alkaline levels each day)

If you are in Grand Rapids, Nourish Market on Wealthy, has an organic version that you see in the picture.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book Review: Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

Scott Jurek, the ultramarothoner, came to speak here in Grand Rapids at a local shoe company two weeks ago.  I put it in my calendar to go and hear him speak, but totally forgot.  Instead, I bought his book EAT AND RUN.  

I'm always interested in learning how one of the worlds greats thinks, trains, eats, gets motivated and stays at the top once a clearly defined goal has been achieved.  If you have read the book Born to Run, Jurek is one of the runners that comes to Mexico to take on the local natives in the now famous race. Jurek is a vegan.  The book is as much a story of his diet as his running and life.  Full admission, I don't think Veganism is the answer.  But, that is another story.

Eat and Run is very easy, interesting read.  Childhood hardships shapes ambition and work ethic.  Pour hard work into running.  Passion starts to fade as what he loves becomes a business.  The search to find the passion again.   I hear and read similar back stories so often about trying upbringing as a child,  it makes me wonder if we are hurting our kids more if we work to give them, "the good life."

Each chapter covers some basic science of running and the adaptations that occur from training and running up to 160 miles at once!  I found this to be a bit lacking and would have liked more in depth analysis of the training adaptation side, but needless to say it was interesting.

Each chapter also ends with a Vegan recipe that he has used either for performance and recovery.  Going into the book, I thought this would be the least interesting.  I think I am going to take a few of these recipes and use them though.  In the end that may be the most valuable information I learned.

If you are a runner, I think you would enjoy this read.  I will let you know what recipes I try out and what I think in the future.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Preventing Kidney Stones

I have been looking into some kidney stone prevention ideas for a friend and found a lot of misinformation and some easy to follow guidelines.  First, there are four types of stones.

1. Calcium Stones:  This is the most common.  Around 80%.  Made of calcium oxalate.  You should avoid oxalate rich foods.  Dark green leafy vegetables, chocolate and nuts.

2.  Uric Acid Stones:  More common with gout, this is a byproduct of protein metabolism.  This seems to have the most misinformation about it.  Avoiding animal protein seems to be the common guideline.  From what I could find, this is only supported if there is kidney damage.

3.  Struvite Stones:  Found in women, this is the result of Urinary Tract infection.

4.  Cystine Stones:  Very minor, results from a genetic disorder.

The biggest prevention tip and most important, is staying hydrated.  Dehydration seems to be the number one cause of kidney stones.  Drink your water.

Whats seems counterintuitive, eat calcium rich foods.  Do not supplement with calcium.  A Harvard study showed that men who had a diet rich in calcium had a 1/3 less risk of developing stones.

Supplement with Magnesium.  This helps out not just with kidneys stones but with high blood pressure (another risk factor for stones).

Things to avoid.  Depending on the type of stone, oxalate rich foods.  Soy.  Soy is bad and that's a seperate blog post.  Caffeine.  This is a diuretic.  Sugar.  This disrupts mineral metabolism.  Salt, this includes processed foods that are high in salt.  This allows more calcium and oxalates in the urine.