Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Do I Need to Deload?

One of the core principles I've always followed when I write a training program for someone is rest/recovery days and deload weeks.  Basically a deload week is a time to really let the body recover and get ready for the next microcycle of training.  In theory, this principle is critical...when working with very disciplined, elite athletes.  Athletes whose job is to train or type A individuals who follow such rigid guidelines in their training/life that without a programmed deload time, they make up things to do.

Lately, I've come to realize that more and more people are probably more like myself when it comes to training.  I lift weights a few times a week, try to get in one HIIT (sprints, hills, ect.) and one aerobic workout in a week.  I throw in mobility/recovery type work in those sessions.  Do I need a deload week anymore?  No, between work, family, friends, hobbies, life responsibilities, there are enough unprogrammed deloads to keep me from over training or getting burned out.

So for those not attempting to win an Olympic medal, finish an Ironman or make money from your sport, rest/recovery is important, but the deload week probably will end up doing more harm then good.  Get in solid training when you can.  The longer rest period will probably take care of itself.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

When Should I Run Again?

If you ever watch a local 5k road run or a massive race like the Riverbank run, you may see thousands of runners.  What you will also see is thousands of running forms.  Like fingerprints, gait is a highly unique, individual quality.

A patient or athlete will often ask when they should run again, or how often can they run.  There is no one answer in terms of time that is correct.  A highly trained runner may be able to run everyday for weeks on end before he needs a recovery day.  A new runner may be only able to pull off once a week.  Run before your body has recovered and you are doing more harm then help.

A new rule I have been applying recently with pretty good success is this.  Run only after your inside shins aren't tender.  For example, you run on Monday, post run, you do your cool down and myofascial rolling for the specified muscles.  Tuesday you do your warm up and check the inside of your shins, still not tender, go for another run if that's in your schedule.  Again, post run, you do the post run activities.  Wednesday, warm up and check the inside shins.  This time you notice that the inside of one of your shins is pretty tender.  Guess what, today you cross train or rest.  Post workout or during the day sometime if resting, you do some myofascial rolling.  Thursday, check your shins, feel good.  Go for a run.

I think you get the picture now.  While this is by no way a fool proof plan, it's a pretty decent indicator of how well you are recovering between runs.  The inside shin muscles, tibialis posterior, flexor digitorum and medial soleus, takes a beating during distance running.  When they are healthy, there is a much better chance you will stay healthy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

JDRF Death Valley Ride Report

92 miles into the Death Valley Ride to cure Juvenile Diabetes, we came to the top of the last hill.  We had just climbed out of the lowest place on the face of the earth.  The only thing left was a short roll down to home base.  Gravity would do the last of the days work.  8 hours and some change later, we were finished.

The ride was an out and back, with several aid stations paced out every 12-18 miles.  The whole ride could be 105 at max and as short as 20 miles.  Riders had the option to turn around at any point, so essentially choosing your own ride distance.  We were warned, where ever you decide to turn around, view it as 1/3 done, not as half.  The ride back would have the full heat and way more uphill.

Leading up to the ride, we had the chance to meet some pretty awesome people.  One lady had never ridden a bike before she bought one in March to start training for this ride.  I saw her finish the whole ride. There were many diabetics riding and monitoring their insulin at each aid station.  There were old people, over weight people, young and old, super fit and the not so.

About 10 miles into the days adventure, you truly start to feel the desolation that is Death Valley. While beautiful, it is other worldly, how you may picture Mars.  Growing up a Star Wars nerd, if you remember the scenes with Luke Skywalker on planet Tatooine, Death Valley is where they filmed it.  It wasn't hard to picture a Tusken Raider hiding out in the hills.

4 hours into the ride, the heat was really starting to pick up, it would reach 103 that day.  Two years ago over 100/320 riders were sag wagoned home, unable to make it back.  Last year, they didn't allow the full ride to happen as it was a record high.  My only real goal as I started the day was to ride back in and not get sag wagoned.  Old athletic pride still runs deep.

One of the last big hills we churned up before we turned around, I started to get the inkling that my quads were on the verge of cramping.  This has essentially been a pretty big theme in my endeavors. Anything that lasts longer then 2 hours, good chance I'm cramping, first my quads then my calves or vice versa.

But, they never did.  Low and behold, I may have found a solution.  I've written on cramping before, how there are several theories, but science still doesn't really know why.  Two days before the race we had the opportunity to meet and hear a doctor that specialized in diabetes research and endurance activities in general.  He couldn't stress enough that you had to get 1000-2000mg of sodium per hour.  Research from the last 6-9 months. Dude, that is a lot of salt.

I sweat a lot.  Looking back at many of the activities I've done, I can bet I was only getting close to 400mg at the most.  A typical energy gel may have 200 if it's 4x sodium.  I pounded salt tablets, beef jerky, pretzels, Cheetos and water.  It was surprising how difficult it was to get that much sodium hour after hour.  But,  it worked for this race.

We agreed to turn around at mile 46.  There was a 5 mile climb left up Jupiter's pass to do the whole 105, but knowing the ride back was 2x as hard, I wussed out made the smarter decision and  started the ride back.   It was indeed a smart decision, as hard as the ride back was, it was still enjoyable.  I had done a century ride before where the last two hours I was in such utter misery, I was hating life.

The ride support for Death Valley was amazing, so many volunteers.  Lodging was great, food was great, people were awesome.  If you ever get the chance to be apart of their rides, I highly encourage it. All in all, over 1.2 million dollars were raised with this race alone.  It was a bucket list kind of ride and day.  Death Valley didn't disappoint.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Basics of Navigating the Arm Pit

When you first start addressing issues that can arise from dysfunction happening in the arm pit, it can be a bit daunting.  It's not taught very well in my opinion, yet it yields huge results when done correctly.  Some symptoms that may present from dysfunction in the arm pit include any type of numbness or tingling below the arm pit.  Sharp pain in the front of the shoulder on flexion and frozen shoulder.

The below picture is to try to get you to imagine the arm pit as a cave.  The top of the cave is the pec minor.  The floor entrance is the lat/teres major, further caudal is the serratus anterior.  Going deeper into the cave is the subscapularis.  The wall towards the head is the arm muscles.  The wall towards the waist are the ribs.  

There should be a pocket deep in the arm pit.  When there isn't, often times the muscles are dysfunctional that can create muscle imbalance or compression on the neuromuscular sleeve.  As you palpate the arm pit, if you move the arm overhead, if you feel the roof collapsing very tightly on your finger/thumb that is palpating, often times the pec minor is very tight.  If the floor pops up at you, the subscapularis or lat (depending how deep you are)  is to tight/short.  If the superior wall seems to cave in, the arm muscles (long head of tricep or coracobrachialis) is to tight.  

Next time you are dealing with some shoulder/arm issues, don't get scared away from exploring the arm pit.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tibialis Posterior's Role in Gait Propulsion

I listened to a great interview with Podiatrist Emily Splichal on propulsion.  She classifies propulsion with three key steps.  Step one is supination of the forefoot through concentric contraction of the tibialis posterior.  2nd, dorsiflexion of the big toe. 3rd, windlass mechanism by activation of the plantar fascia.

I will try to sum up the first step as best as I can.  Tibialis Posterior (TP) is the key supinator of the foot. Understanding the anatomy lets one understand the importance of it.  It has expansive connections not only into the navicular, but it fans into every bone of the foot except the 5th metatarsal.

Concentrically TP is supinating, eccentrically it is decelerating pronation.  It dissipates ground reaction forces and prepares the foot for push off.

3 things control the optimal function of the TP.  Ankle mobility, foot strength and hip strength.  If the ankle doesn't have enough mobility, one will tend to overpronate and it will change the lever arm of the TP.  Must train the TP eccentrically, concentrically and isometrically.  Cal Dietz, triphasic training comes to mind.  Hip strength will profoundly influence foot strength, they work together.  If we want stronger TP the hip external rotators must get stronger.

She gives an example of squeezing a small ball between the heels and doing a calf raise. This will strengthen the TP as well as influencing the hip external rotators.

If you are interested in the other parts of the interview you can go to Movement Lectures.  I have found this to be a valuable learning resource.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

JDRF Death Valley Ride

I've been training for a 105 mile bike ride in Death Valley as part of JDRF fight to bring more research into Type 1 Diabetes.  I leave in a ten days.  The ride will be October 20.  My last bike ride in here in Michigan was in the 40's.  Temps in Death Valley will be close to 100.  I have never done that long of bike ride in that type of heat!  I will be riding out there with my sister and her husband and a few others that work in her clinic.  My sister actually entered and won a contest from a sponsor after already committing to do the ride and fundraiser.  An interview with her is at the bottom of this post.

My training pretty much consisted of trying to sit on the bike for longer periods of time each weekend.  I managed a few 4 hour rides, but alas, boredom set in and I went and did other things.  I've also been doing the local cyclocross series here, as well. If your interested in donating, you can visit my JDRF Fundraising Page.  I will hopefully give you a successful report back in a few weeks!

Saddleback in the Fight Against Diabetes
2012 JDRF Death Valley Ride For the Cure
My niece Grace was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes at the age of seven. To help put an end to this life-threatening disease, Saddleback is sponsoring a team for this year's Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF) Ride For the Cure Century Ride in Death Valley. It's a cool way to get together and show support and fundraise for a great cause. Saddleback, TrueBlue (our manufacturing facility) and CSI (our shipper, owned by Grace's mom) have come together to pledge $80,000+ to our riding team. All the money goes straight to JDRF's artificial pancreas research. 

I'm excited to Welcome Saddleback Family Member Robin Ross from Ann Arbor, Michigan onto Team Grace. She'll be riding with me and the rest of the team this October. Robin is a Vitreoretinal surgeon and diabetic clinical researcher. Sounds like she knows a thing or two about diabetes. She took a break from training and work for a chat with us.
Robin Ross  

Great to meet you, Robin! Tell us a little more about your work.
I manage diabetic retinopathy both medically and surgically. Diabetes can cause blindness, kidney failure requiring dialysis and nerve damage which leads to foot ulcers and amputation. By 2035, 439 million people worldwide will have diabetes. This potential for complications causes a huge personal cross to bear for each diabetic and a huge socioeconomic burden to our medical system and the lost work force. A cure for diabetes requires a "team" approach - researchers, physicians, and fundraising. 

Absolutely. What was your first Saddleback piece?
I bought several pieces at once preparing for a trip to Africa. I had a soft camera gear pack with three bodies and lenses no padding and I placed it inside the Saddleback Duffel and carried it on. I bought an iPad case and a MacBook Air sleeve and placed them inside a small backpack with all my camera cords. 

That's great. Any cool stories about your leather?

No Masai spear stories, but if you invent a classic leather saddle for my bike I would have one...just kidding. Coming back from Africa, I landed in Atlanta to return to my home state of Michigan. I had one hour to gather my luggage, clear customs, and get my passport stamped. I had checked only my Saddleback Duffel with my camera, tripods and accessory camera gear. It was first off the baggage carousel with a "handle with care" tag and it's own special bin. I grabbed it off the carousel thinking, "sweet"! Several people including the Delta attendant directing me said, "nice bag". I was surprised that it looked brand new still after the long journey back.

What are you most looking forward to about the ride?
The scenery. Rather than focusing on a finish, I plan to enjoy the beautiful time of year in Death Valley. It is perhaps the most beautiful time of year to see one of our most scenic national landmarks. This will be my first big century ride.

This will be Dave's first century ride too. Or any ride over 15 miles for that matter. Any cycling advice for him?
Have all your children before the race :). Change your office chair to a bike seat. Train part of the time in shorts without padding. Invent the first Saddleback classic leather bike seat - it will make a great "Dave video" and it will do a "twofer"; help with fundraising and be an additional classic Dave video that will continue fundraising after the race. Try to do at least 70 miles before d-day. Attitude and mental toughness is really half the battle.

Why do you want to ride with Team Grace?
The opportunity to ride with Team Grace, encourage awareness of diabetes and help fundraise is a real honor. I am blessed with good health. When I am on the bike and riding and my butt hurts or my legs ache, I think about our diabetic patients with neuropathy of the legs and I think, they live with this ache day in and day out. You are healthy. This is a one day ride in a beautiful spot. Saddle up and ride.

Thanks for talking with us Robin! See you in the desert!

Every time you make a donation to Team Grace, we'll send you a cool leather JDRF Gracelet. This Death Valley ride is a great way for people to come together and show my niece Grace and others like her that this is a global effort to help save and extend lives. Thanks to Robin for all her hard work in the fight against diabetes. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Random Friday Things to Think About

I worked on my first Amish farmer the other day.  Very nice gentlemen, he had one physical feature that I found remarkable.  Massive muscular hands.  He was very average in build, but his hands were just strong and thick.  It was an impressive reminder what high volume/high frequency can produce.  Hours each day every day for years and years of farm work.

I'm having a triathlete that I'm helping do some chin-ups every time he passes under a door in his house to work this principle to bring up weak lats so he can be a stronger swimmer.

Saw this the other day and it just struck me as kinda awesome.  It's been called the Netherlands oldest extreme sport.  Canal Jumping!

Quit doing reverse curls, you are just overloading your pronator teres and will lead to flexor pain.  Bill DeSimone gives a great explanation of forearm anatomy in his Congruent Exercise book.

According to Ori Hofmekler author of several books, he believes the most important muscle fiber in your body is the Type 2b.  Type one is slow and burns fat, Type 2a is fast and burns carbs, Type2b is the fast/glycolytic and burns both, this is the fiber that should be trained.  I'm reading his book, "Unlock the Muscle Gene."

From a paper entitled, "Can the Body Use Fascia as a Method of Communication."

-the fascial system is the largest system in the body and is the only system that touches every other system. The fascia may be viewed as a single organ, a unified whole, the environment in which all body systems function.

-connective tissue forms an anatomical network throughout the body and functions as a body-wide mechanosensitive signaling network. The signals work by way of electrical, cellular and tissue remodeling. Signaling also occurs through changes in movement and posture, and signaling would be altered in pathological conditions such as local decreased mobility due to injury or pain.

Whats the take away?  Fascia potentially influences every other system in your body.  We can influence fascia through our movement and posture for better or worse and also it is compromised through injury and pain.  So if the fascia is poor quality, it stands in theory, that other systems in your body will begin to suffer.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Misleading MRI Information

I just received an informative email from Cal Dietz, strength coach for University of Minnesota.  His email went over the potential fallacies of trusting an MRI for various injuries.  I thought I would just present the highlights.  I've known about the herniation in healthy people study for a while, but the other body parts was new to me.

MRIs on people who had no back pain,  33% had spinal abnormality, and 20% had disc herniation, all under the age of 60.

MRI on pain free hockey players, 70% had abnormal pelvis and hips, 54% had labral tears.

MRI on knees of people age 20-68 with no knee pain.  60% showed abnormalities in at least 3 of the 4 regions of the knee.  "Meniscal degenerations or tears are highly prevalent in asymptomatic individuals."

MRI on shoulders showed that 23% of people with pain free shoulders had a rotator cuff tear.  Pain free overhead athletes in another study, 40% had rotator cuff tears, 0% on the non dominate arm.

So now you have pain, actual physical pain and you go in for an MRI and find something.  Is surgery warranted?  Maybe, but first exhaust all other avenues in terms of non invasive care.  Because even though the pathology fits the pain, doesn't mean that is the cause.

Thanks for Coach Dietz for providing this great info.  Pass it on when your friend says he or she is about to get an MRI.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday Motivation: Motivation, Health, and Excellence: Ed Deci

A little different today, won't make you run out the door and start training, but may help you understand why and why not you are motivated.