Are You Ready For Spring Sports

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The crack of a baseball blasted over the fence; the whack of a golf ball blasted off the tee; the sound of lacrosse pads smashing against each other. These are all signs spring is in the air, and with it, spring training for many of our children.

Are you ready?  Are you physically ready for the season?    Not just ready to run sprints on the first day of practice, but strong enough to complete day-in and day-out for the next 3 months.

are-you-ready

We’re encouraging our student-athletes to follow their training guidelines, eat healthy meals and drink plenty of fluids, and most importantly, listen to their bodies. Minor aches and pains from training and activating those dormant muscles are normal, but prolonged pain that causes difficulties with your training regimen is not and may be a sign of injury.

More than 2.6 million children are treated in the emergency department each year for sports and recreation-related injuries.

Sadly, many of these injuries can be prevented through proper training, which MUST include muscle prep activities such as foam rolling and stretching.

Athletes must listen to their body as spring training gets underway and see your healthcare professional when those minor aches persist. There are so many treatment options as basic as the use of ice packs and cold compresses to myofascial release which will improve your injury recovery.

These are a couple steps to stay healthy during spring training and through the season:

  • Get a physical. Ask your primary care physician to give you a physical exam. He or she can then clear you for participation in your sport.
  • Seek support. Your school has athletic trainers, use them. They can guide your training efforts and help you safely prepare your body for your sport.
  • Protect yourself. Use the correct protective gear for your sport – helmets, knee and elbow pads, goggles, ankle braces, etc. Make sure your protective gear fits, is worn correctly and is in good condition.
  • Practice your form. This can prevent many sports-related injuries resulting from improper swings, kicks, throws and other sports mechanics.
  • Make sure you hydrate. Prevent dehydration by drinking lots of fluids, preferably water. Sports drinks are OK, too.
  • Get enough rest. Your muscles need some time off to heal and ultimately help you get stronger. Plus, resting prevents your muscles from becoming overused which can lead to injury.
  • Take care of your head. All concussions are serious. They can lead to a host of problems including, but not limited to, nausea and vomiting, headache, mood swings, altered sleep patterns and more.

Spring training brings with it renewed championship hopes and dreams. Do your part to make sure you perform your best this season without having to experience an avoidable injury.

As always, K2 is here to help you get ready for the spring season!!  You can check out our schedule  at http://www.k2strength.com/schedule.html.

If you are looking to take your game to the next level and stay strong all season long…… K2 is the place to be!

Please call me if you have any questions and / or concerns. I look forward to hearing from you.

Kevin Haag
908-803-8019 (Call or Text)

 

A Low Carb Diet Meal Plan and Menu That Can Save Your Life

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A low-carb diet is a diet that restricts carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary foods, pasta and bread. It is high in protein, fat and healthy vegetables.

There are many different types of low-carb diets, and studies show that they can cause weight loss and improve health.

This is a detailed meal plan for a low-carb diet. What to eat, what to avoid and a sample low-carb menu for one week.

A Low Carb Diet Meal Plan

What foods you should eat depends on a few things, including how healthy you are, how much you exercise and how much weight you have to lose.

Consider all of this as a general guideline, not something written in stone.

The Basics

Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, high-fat dairy, fats, healthy oils and maybe even some tubers and non-gluten grains.

Don’t Eat: Sugar, HFCS, wheat, seed oils, trans fats, “diet” and low-fat products and highly processed foods.

Foods to Avoid

You should avoid these 7 foods, in order of importance:

  • Sugar:Soft drinks, fruit juices, agave, candy, ice cream and many others.
  • Gluten Grains:Wheat, spelt, barley and rye. Includes breads and pastas.
  • Trans Fats:“Hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.
  • High Omega-6 Seed- and Vegetable Oils:Cottonseed-, soybean-, sunflower-, grapeseed-, corn-, safflower and canola oils.
  • Artificial Sweeteners:Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose, Cyclamates and Acesulfame Potassium. Use Stevia instead.
  • “Diet” and “Low-Fat” Products:Many dairy products, cereals, crackers, etc.
  • Highly Processed Foods:If it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it.

You MUST read ingredients lists, even on foods labelled as “health foods.”

Low Carb Food List – Foods to Eat

You should base your diet on these real, unprocessed, low-carb foods.

  • Meat:Beef, lamb, pork, chicken and others. Grass-fed is best.
  • Fish:Salmon, trout, haddock and many others. Wild-caught fish is best.
  • Eggs:Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs are best.
  • Vegetables:Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and many others.
  • Fruits:Apples, oranges, pears, blueberries, strawberries.
  • Nuts and Seeds:Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • High-Fat Dairy:Cheese, butter, heavy cream, yogurt.
  • Fats and Oils:Coconut oil, butter, lard, olive oil and cod fish liver oil.

If you need to lose weight, be careful with the cheese and nuts because they’re easy to overeat on. Don’t eat more than one piece of fruit per day.

Maybe Eat

If you’re healthy, active and don’t need to lose weight then you can afford to eat a bit more carbs.

  • Tubers:Potatoes, sweet potatoes and some others.
  • Non-gluten grains:Rice, oats, quinoa and many others.
  • Legumes:Lentils, black beans, pinto beans, etc. (If you can tolerate them).

You can have these in moderation if you want:

  • Dark Chocolate:Choose organic brands with 70% cocoa or higher.
  • Wine:Choose dry wines with no added sugar or carbs.

Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and may provide health benefits if you eat it in moderation. However, be aware that both dark chocolate and alcohol will hinder your progress if you eat/drink too much.

Drink

A Sample Low-Carb Menu for One Week

This is a sample menu for one week on a low carb diet plan.

It provides less than 50 grams of total carbs per day, but as I mentioned above if you are healthy and active you can go beyond that.

proteinrules

 

Monday

  • Breakfast:Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch:Grass-fed yogurt with blueberries and a handful of almonds.
  • Dinner:Cheeseburger (no bun), served with vegetables and salsa sauce.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast:Bacon and eggs.
  • Lunch:Leftover burgers and veggies from the night before.
  • Dinner:Salmon with butter and vegetables.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast:Eggs and vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch:Shrimp salad with some olive oil.
  • Dinner:Grilled chicken with vegetables.

Thursday

  • Breakfast:Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch:Smoothie with coconut milk, berries, almonds and protein powder.
  • Dinner:Steak and veggies.

Friday

  • Breakfast:Bacon and Eggs.
  • Lunch:Chicken salad with some olive oil.
  • Dinner:Pork chops with vegetables.

Saturday

  • Breakfast:Omelet with various veggies.
  • Lunch:Grass-fed yogurt with berries, coconut flakes and a handful of walnuts.
  • Dinner:Meatballs with vegetables.

Sunday

  • Breakfast:Bacon and Eggs.
  • Lunch:Smoothie with coconut milk, a bit of heavy cream, chocolate-flavored protein powder and berries.
  • Dinner:Grilled chicken wings with some raw spinach (salad) on the side.

Include plenty of low-carb vegetables in your diet. If your goal is to remain under 50 grams of carbs per day, then there is room for plenty of veggies and one fruit per day.

If you want to see examples of some of my go-to meals, read this:
7 Healthy Low-Carb Meals in Under 10 Minutes.

Again, if you’re healthy, lean and active, you can add some tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as some healthier grains like rice and oats.

Some Healthy, Low-Carb Snacks

There is no health reason to eat more than 3 meals per day, but if you get hungry between meals then here are some healthy, easy to prepare low-carb snacks that can fill you up:

  • A Piece of Fruit
  • Full-fat Yogurt
  • A Hard-Boiled Egg or Two
  • Baby Carrots
  • Leftovers From The Night Before
  • A Handful of Nuts
  • Some Cheese and Meat

Eating at Restaurants

At most restaurants, it is fairly easy to make your meals low carb-friendly.

  1. Order a meat- or fish-based main dish.
  2. Ask them to fry your food in real butter.
  3. Get extra vegetables instead of bread, potatoes or rice.

A Simple Low-Carb Shopping List

A good rule is to shop at the perimeter of the store, where the whole foods are likelier to be found.

Organic and grass-fed foods are best, but only if you can easily afford them. Even if you don’t buy organic, your diet will still be a thousand times better than the standard western diet.

Try to choose the least processed option that still fits into your price range.

  • Meat (Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, bacon)
  • Fish (Fatty fish like salmon is best)
  • Eggs (Choose Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs if you can)
  • Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Lard
  • Olive Oil
  • Cheese
  • Heavy Cream
  • Sour Cream
  • Yogurt (full-fat, unsweetened)
  • Blueberries (can be bought frozen)
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Fresh vegetables: greens, peppers, onions, etc.
  • Frozen vegetables: broccoli, carrots, various mixes.
  • Salsa Sauce
  • Condiments: sea salt, pepper, garlic, mustard, etc.

I recommend clearing your pantry of all unhealthy temptations if you can: chips, candy, ice cream, sodas, juices, breads, cereals and baking ingredients like wheat flour and sugar.

How to get a Fast Metabolism

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Your metabolism is the chemical engine that keeps you alive.

The speed at which it runs varies by individual. Those with a slow metabolism tend to have more leftover fuel (calories), which gets stored as fat.

On the other hand, those with a fast metabolism burn more calories and are less likely to accumulate a lot of fat.

This is a review of why some people have a fast metabolism and how you can speed up your metabolism to burn more calories.

Young People Running on Treadmills

What Is Metabolism?

Metabolism is a term that collectively refers to all the chemical processes in your body. The faster your metabolism, the more calories your body needs.

This is the reason some people can eat a lot without gaining weight, while others seem to need less to accumulate fat.

The “speed of metabolism” is commonly known as metabolic rate. It’s the number of calories you burn in a given amount of time, also known as calorie expenditure.

Metabolic rate can be divided into several categories:

  • Basal metabolic rate (BMR): Your metabolic rate when you are asleep or at deep rest. It is the minimum metabolic rate needed to keep your body warm, lungs breathing, heart pumping and brain ticking.
  • Resting metabolic rate (RMR): The minimum metabolic rate required to keep you alive and functioning while at rest. On average, it accounts for up to 50–75% of total calorie expenditure (1).
  • Thermic effect of food (TEF): The number of calories burned when your body is digesting and processing food. The rise in metabolic rate after meals usually represents about 10% of total energy expenditure (2).
  • Thermic effect of exercise (TEE): The number of calories burned during exercise.
  • Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): The number of calories burned during activities other than exercise. This includes fidgeting, changing posture, standing and walking around (3).

Summary: Metabolic rate is also known as calorie expenditure. It is the number of calories used by the body in a given amount of time.

What Factors Affect Metabolic Rate?

Numerous factors affect your metabolic rate. To name a few, these include:

  • Age: The older you get, the slower your metabolic rate becomes. This is one of the reasons people tend to gain weight as they age (4).
  • Muscle mass: The greater your muscle mass, the more calories you burn (5).
  • Body size: The bigger you are, the more calories you burn (6).
  • Environmental temperature: When your body is exposed to cold, it needs to burn more calories to prevent your body temperature from falling (7).
  • Physical activity: All body movements require calories. The more active you are, the more calories you’ll burn. Your metabolism will speed up accordingly (8).
  • Hormone disorders: Cushing’s syndrome and hypothyroidism slow down metabolic rate and increase the risk of weight gain (9).

Summary: Multiple factors affect metabolic rate, or the number of calories burned. These include age, muscle mass, body size and physical activity.

Are Some People Born With a Fast Metabolism?

Newborn Twins Sleeping

Metabolic rates vary between people, even when they are newborns.

In other words, some people are born with a faster metabolism than others.

Although genetics may contribute to these differences, scientists don’t agree on the extent to which they affect metabolic rate, weight gain and obesity (10, 11).

Interestingly, most studies show that obese people have a higher total and resting metabolic rate, compared to normal-weight individuals (12, 13, 14, 15).

Researchers have pointed out that this is because obese people have greater amounts of muscle to help support the extra weight (15, 16, 17).

Yet, studies indicate that obese people have higher metabolic rates, irrespective of the amount of muscle mass they have (18, 19).

In contrast, other studies show that formerly obese people have a 3–8% lower metabolic rate, on average, than those who have never been obese (10, 20).

One thing is clear — not everyone is created equal when it comes to metabolic rate.

Most of this variation is due to people’s age, as well as their environment and behavior. However, the role of genetics in these individual differences needs to be studied further.

Summary: Metabolic rates vary by individual, even among infants. However, it is unclear how much of this variation is due to genetics.

Metabolic Adaptation

Metabolic adaptation, also known as adaptive thermogenesis or “starvation mode,” may also play an important role in the development of obesity.

Starvation mode is the body’s response to a calorie deficit. When your body doesn’t get enough food, it tries to compensate by reducing its metabolic rate and the number of calories it burns.

The extent to which metabolic rate decreases during calorie restriction and weight loss is highly variable between individuals (21, 22, 23, 24).

This metabolic slowdown is more pronounced in some people, especially those who are obese. The greater the slowdown, the more difficult it is to lose weight by dieting or fasting (21, 25, 26).

Starvation mode is probably partly affected by genetics, but previous weight loss attempts or physical fitness could also play a role (27, 28).

Summary: Metabolic adaptation or starvation mode is when metabolic rate slows down during a calorie-reduced diet or a fast. It varies between people and tends to be more pronounced among obese individuals.

Can You Speed up Your Metabolism to Lose Weight?

Weight loss isn’t only about eating fewer calories. Effective weight loss programs also include strategies to speed up metabolism.

Fortunately, there are multiple ways you can do this. Below are eight simple methods.

1. Move Your Body

Aqua Blue Running Shoes

All body movement burns calories. The more active you are, the higher your metabolic rate becomes.

Even very basic activity, such as standing up regularly, walking around or doing household tasks, makes a major difference in the long run.

This boost in metabolic rate is technically known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).

In severely obese individuals, NEAT may account for a significant portion of the daily calorie expenditure due to the extra burden they have to carry around (3, 29).

There are several ways in which you can boost your NEAT. If you spend a lot of time sitting, here are a few strategies:

  • Stand up regularly and walk around
  • Take the stairs whenever possible
  • Do household tasks
  • Fidget, such as bouncing your legs or tapping your fingers
  • Chew calorie-free gum (30)
  • Use a standing desk (31)

If you have a desk job, using a standing desk may increase the number of calories you burn by 16% (32).

Another study showed that spending one afternoon standing burned an extra 174 calories, compared to sitting (33).

Even seemingly insignificant activities like typing may increase your metabolic rate by 8%, compared to doing nothing (32).

In the same way, fidgeting can make a significant difference (34).

One study found people who sat motionless for 20 minutes temporarily increased their calorie expenditure by 4%, compared to when they lay motionless. In contrast, fidgeting while seated increased calorie expenditure by a whopping 54% (35).

Regular exercise is highly recommended for anyone who wants to lose weight or improve their health. But even light activities like walking around, doing household tasks or fidgeting, can give you an advantage in the long run.

Summary: The more you move your body, the greater your metabolic rate becomes. If you have a desk job, you can improve your metabolic rate by walking around regularly, chewing gum or using a standing desk.

2. Do High-Intensity Workouts

One of the most effective forms of exercise is high-intensity workouts, also known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

HIIT is when exercise involves quick and very intense bouts of activity, such as sprints or fast push-ups.

It really speeds up your metabolism, even after the workout has finished — an effect dubbed the “after burn” (36, 37, 38).

Summary: High-intensity interval training is one of the most effective ways to boost your metabolic rate and burn more calories.

3. Strength Train

Dumbbells

Another excellent way to speed up your metabolic rate is to strength train (39, 40).

In addition to the direct effect of the exercise itself, strength exercises promote the growth of muscle mass.

The amount of muscle you have is directly associated with your metabolic rate. Unlike fat mass, muscle mass significantly increases the number of calories you burn at rest (5, 41).

One study showed that doing strength exercises for 11 minutes a day, three times per week, resulted in an average increase of 7.4% in resting metabolic rate after half a year. This translated into an additional 125 calories burned per day (40).

Older age is generally associated with muscle loss and drops in metabolic rate, but regular strength exercise can partially counteract this adverse effect (42, 43).

Similarly, a calorie-reduced, weight loss diet often results in the loss of muscle mass and decreases metabolic rate. Again, strength training may help prevent this decline (44, 45).

In fact, a study in overweight women showed doing strength exercises on a low-calorie diet of 800 calories daily prevented decreases in muscle mass and metabolic rate, compared to those who didn’t exercise or only did aerobic exercise (46).

Summary: Strength training can increase metabolic rate by promoting the growth of muscle mass. It may even counteract the drop in metabolic rate associated with aging and low-calorie diets.

4. Eat Protein

Eating adequate amounts of protein is essential if you want to build or maintain your muscle mass. But dietary protein also has other important qualities.

All food leads to a temporary increase in metabolic rate, known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). However, this effect is much stronger after eating protein than after eating carbs or fat (47).

In fact, protein increases metabolic rate by 20–30%, whereas carbs and fat cause a 3–10% increase or less (48).

This boost in calorie expenditure may help promote weight loss or prevent weight regain after a weight loss diet (49, 50, 51).

The TEF is highest in the morning, or during the first few hours after you wake up. For this reason, eating a large proportion of your daily calories early in the day can maximize the effect (52, 53).

Eating high amounts of protein can also help counteract the loss of muscle mass and slowdown of metabolic rate associated with weight loss (54, 55, 56).

Summary: Eating adequate amounts of protein is essential to increasing or maintaining your muscle mass and metabolic rate.

5. Don’t Starve Yourself

Plate With a Small Broccoli Floret

While eating less is a key weight loss method, eating too little is usually counterproductive in the long term.

The thing is, calorie restriction causes a decrease in your metabolic rate, or the number of calories burned.

This effect is known as the “starvation response” or metabolic adaptation. It is the body’s way of warding off potential starvation and death.

Research shows that consistently eating less than 1,000 calories daily leads to a significant drop in metabolic rate that’s sustained after the weight loss diet is over (57, 58, 59).

Studies in obese people suggest that the starvation response may significantly reduce the number of calories burned. For instance, one study suggests this slowdown in metabolic rate spares up to 504 calories per day (60, 61).

Interestingly, intermittent fasting seems to minimize this effect (62, 63).

Summary: Sustained calorie restriction slows down your metabolic rate. This effect has been dubbed the “starvation response.”

6. Drink Water

Temporarily boosting your metabolic rate doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s as simple as going for a walk or drinking a glass of cold water.

Many studies show that drinking water leads to an increase in the number of calories burned, an effect known as water-induced thermogenesis (64, 65, 66).

Drinking cold water has an even greater effect than warm water, as this requires the body to warm it up to body temperature.

Studies on this phenomenon have provided varying results. About 16 ounces (half a liter) of cold water may cause anywhere between a 5–30% increase in the number of calories burned for 60–90 minutes afterward (64, 66, 67, 68).

It seems that increasing your water consumption is also beneficial for your waistline. Several studies show that drinking 34–50 ounces (1–1.5 liters) of water daily may lead to significant weight loss over time (64, 69).

You can maximize the benefits by drinking water before meals, as it also fills you up and reduces calorie intake (70).

Summary: Drinking more water improves your metabolic rate and may even cause weight loss over time. Cold water is the most effective.

7. Drink Caffeinated Beverages

Cup of Coffee

Although plain water is good on its own, caffeinated, low-calorie beverages, such as coffee or green tea, are useful as well.

Controlled studies show that drinking caffeinated beverages can temporarily speed up your metabolic rate by 3–11% (71, 72, 73, 74).

However, this effect is smaller in obese people, as well as the elderly. Additionally, seasoned coffee drinkers might have built up a resistance to its effects (75, 76).

For weight loss purposes, sugar-free beverages like plain black coffee are best. Like water, cold coffee may be even more advantageous.

Summary: Drinking caffeinated beverages may temporarily increase your metabolic rate.

8. Get Good Sleep

Getting inadequate sleep is not only bad for your general health, it may also slow down your metabolic rate and increase your risk of gaining weight (77, 78).

One study showed that metabolic rate decreased by 2.6% when healthy adults slept for only four hours per night for five days in a row (77).

Another five-week study found that sustained sleep disruption, along with irregular sleeping times, reduced resting metabolic rate by 8%, on average (78).

Accordingly, lack of sleep has been associated with an increased risk of weight gain and obesity (79, 80, 81, 82).

Summary: Lack of sleep and poor sleep quality may suppress your metabolic rate. For a healthy metabolism, you should aim to get enough high-quality sleep.

Take Home Message

Although your basal metabolic rate is largely beyond your control, there are various ways to increase the number of calories you burn.

The strategies mentioned in this article can give you a significant advantage in your battle against the bulge.

Foam Rolling for Athletes

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by Michael Boyle, MS, ATC

anna-on-roller
Anna working on spine mobility

A decade ago, strength coaches and athletic trainers would have looked quizzically at a 36-inch long cylindrical piece of foam and wondered, “What is that for?” Today, nearly every athletic training room and most strength and conditioning facilities contain an array of foam rollers of different lengths and consistencies.

What happened to bring foam rollers into prominence? The change has been in our attitude toward massage therapy. We have been slowly moving away from an injury care mode of isokinetics and electronics to more European-inspired processes that focus on hands-on soft tissue care. We now realize that techniques like massage, Muscle Activation (MAT), and Active Release Therapy (ART) can work wonders for sore or injured athlete.

In addition, the understanding at the elite athlete level is: If you want to stay healthy, get a good manual therapist in your corner. Thus, athletes at all levels are starting to ask for some form of soft tissue care.

What does all this have to do with foam rollers? As coaches and athletic trainers watched elite-level athletes experience success from various soft tissue techniques, the obvious question arose: How can I make massage available to large groups of athletes at a reasonable cost? Enter the foam roller.

National Academy of Sports Medicine (www.nasm.org) President Michael Clark, DPT, MS, PT, NASM-PES, is credited by many-this author included-with exposing the sports medicine community to the foam roller. In one of Clark’s early manuals, he included a few photos of self-myofascial release using a foam roller. The technique illustrated was simple and self-explanatory: Get a foam roller and use your bodyweight to apply pressure to sore spots.

Since then, many of us have discovered more uses for foam rollers, including injury prevention and performance enhancement. We’ve also moved away from the accupressure concept and now use them more for self-massage. And we’ve come up with specific protocols for different situations.

Essentially, foam rollers are the poor man’s massage therapist. They provide soft tissue work to the masses in any setting. But you need to know their nuances to get the most out of them.

What, How & When

A foam roller is simply a cylindrical piece of extruded hard-celled foam. Think swimming pool noodles, but a little more dense and larger in diameter. They usually come in one-foot or three-foot lengths. I find the three-foot model works better, but it obviously takes up more space.

They are also now available in a number of densities from relatively soft foam (slightly harder than a pool noodle), to newer high-density rollers that feel much more solid. The denser the athlete, the more dense the roller should be. Large, heavily-muscled athletes will do better with a very high density roller whereas a smaller, younger athlete should begin with a less dense product.

The application techniques are simple. Clarke’s initial recommendation was based on an accupressure concept, in which pressure is placed on specific surfaces of the body. Athletes were instructed to use the roller to apply pressure to sensitive areas in their muscles-sometimes called trigger points, knots, or areas of increased muscle density. The idea was to allow athletes to apply pressure to injury-prone areas themselves.

The use of foam rollers has progressed in many circles from an accupressure approach to self-massage, which I’ve found to be more effective. The roller is now usually used to apply longer more sweeping strokes to the long muscle groups like the calves, adductors, and quadriceps, and small directed force to areas like the TFL, hip rotators, and glute medius.

Athletes are instructed to use the roller to search for tender areas or trigger points and to roll these areas to decrease density and over-activity of the muscle. With a little direction on where to look, most athletes easily find the tender spots on their own. However, they may need some instruction on the positioning of the roller, such as parallel, perpendicular, or 45 degrees, depending on the muscle.

The feel of the roller and intensity of the self-massage should be properly geared to the age, comfort, and fitness level of the athlete. This is one of the plusses of having the athlete roll themselves-they can control the intensity with their own body weight.

There is no universal agreement on when to roll, how often to roll, or how long to roll, but generally, techniques are used both before and after a workout. Foam rolling prior to a workout can help decrease muscle density and promote a better warmup. Rolling after a workout may help muscles recover from strenuous exercise.

My preference is to have athletes use the rollers before every workout. We also use them after a workout if athletes are sore.

One of the nice things about using the foam roller is that it can be done on a daily basis. In fact, in their book, The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, Clair Davies and Amber Davies recommend trigger point work up to 12 times a day in situations of acute pain.

How long an athlete rolls is also determined on a case-by-case basis. I usually allow five to 10 minutes for soft tissue activation work at the beginning of the session prior to warmup. If my athletes roll after their workout, it is done for the same length of time.

Some Specifics

While the foam roller can be used on almost any area of the body, I have found it works best on the lower extremities. There is not as much dense tissue in the upper body and our athletes are not prone to the same frequency of upper body strains as lower. The hamstrings and hip flexors seem to experience the most muscle strains, so we concentrate on those areas.

Here are some protocols I use:

Gluteus max and hip rotators: The athlete sits on the roller with a slight tilt and moves from the iliac crest to the hip joint to address the glute max. To address the hip rotators, the affected leg is crossed to place the hip rotator group in an elongated position. As a general rule of thumb, 10 slow rolls are done in each position (although there are no hard and fast rules for reps). Often athletes are simply encouraged to roll until the pain disappears.

TFL and Gluteus Medius: The tensor fasciae latae and gluteus medius, though small in size, are significant factors in anterior knee pain. To address the TFL, the athlete begins with the body prone and the edge of the roller placed over the TFL, just below the iliac crest

After working the TFL, the athlete turns 90 degrees to a side position and rolls from the hip joint to the iliac crest to address the gluteus medius.

Adductors: The adductors are probably the most neglected area of the lower body. A great deal of time and energy is focused on the quadriceps and hamstring groups and very little attention is paid to the adductors. There are two methods to roll the adductors. The first is a floor-based technique that works well for beginners. The user abducts the leg over the roller and places the roller at about a 60-degree angle to the leg. The rolling action begins just above the knee in the area of the vastus medialis and pes anserine, and should be done in three portions. To start, 10 short rolls are done covering about one third the length of the femur. Next, the roller is moved to the mid-point of the adductor group and again rolled 10 times in the middle third of the muscle. Last, the roller is positioned high into the groin almost to the pubic symphysis for a final set of 10 rolls.

The second technique for the adductors should be used after the athlete is comfortable with the first one. This exercise requires the athlete to sit on a training room table or the top of a plyometric box, which allows him or her to shift significantly more weight onto the roller and work deeper into the large adductor triangle. The athlete then performs the same rolling movements mentioned above.

Although I primarily use the rollers for athletes’ legs, they can also be used with upper extremities. The same techniques can be used for pecs, lats, and rotator cuffs, although with a much smaller amplitude-making the movements closer to accupressure.

Assessing Effectiveness

Foam rolling is hard work that can even border on being painful. Good massage work, and correspondingly good self-massage work, may be uncomfortable, much like stretching. Therefore, it is important that athletes learn to distinguish between a moderate level of discomfort related to working a trigger point and a discomfort that can lead to injury.

When an athlete has completed foam rolling, he or she should feel better, not worse. And the rollers should never cause bruising. Ask the athlete how his or her muscles feel after each session to assess if the techniques are working.

I also judge whether foam rolling is working by monitoring compliance. If I don’t have to tell athletes to get out the foam roller before a workout, I know the techniques are working. Most do it without prompting as they see the benefits.

Rolling vs. Massage

The question often arises: “Which is better, massage therapy or a foam roller?” To me the answer is obvious: Hands-on work is better than foam. Hands are directly connected to the brain and can feel. A foam roller cannot feel. If cost was not an issue I would have a team of massage therapists on call for my athletes at all times.

However, having an abundance of massage therapists on staff is not in most of our budgets. Therein lies the beauty of the foam rollers: They provide unlimited self-massage for under $20. Sounds like a solution to me.


World famous strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle is Director of Elite Conditioning in Boston, MA. He is author of numerous videos and books and a featured speaker at seminars throughout the U.S, including Perform Better “Learn By Doing” Functional Training Seminars.

6 Amazing Exercises that Will Improve Athletic Speed

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By: Coach Lee Taft

Exercise #1 Medicine Ball Side Throw Progression:

A. Standing side throw– The athlete will face sideways to the wall in an athletic stance with the ball at chest height and elbows out. (stand roughly 10-12 feet away depending on the bounce of the ball)

  • Using the backside leg to drive the hips forward and taking a small step toward the wall with the lead leg…
  • Explosively drive the ball, keeping the back elbow up so the shoulder doesn’t get injured, into the wall.
    • The focus of the exercise isn’t so much on throwing, it is on understanding being in the best stance to drive the off the back leg like a lateral shuffle.
    • If the athlete is too narrow in stance or standing too tall the power production will be limited.
    • This exercise needs to be done on both sides

B. Forward shuffle side throw– The athlete will back away from the wall roughly 6-8 feet further. The exercise will be performed the same as the standing side throw but the emphasis changes to lateral speed:

  •  The athlete will shuffle one to two times staying in a good stance and then driving off the back foot and transferring the speed into the throw.
  • The athlete must use the back foot to push down and away to generate more speed on the throw.
    • If the athlete does not have a good athletic stance (foundation) they will not generate enough force to gain benefits.

C. Backward shuffle side throw– Same exercise but now the athlete will shuffle away from the wall. Start the athlete only 6-8 feet from the wall.

  • The athlete will shuffle aggressively one to two times away from the wall and plant aggressively to throw the ball.
  • This is the most important exercise of all to reinforce the athletic stance and the importance of plant leg angles.
  • If the plant leg of the back leg is too narrow when attempting to stop the throw will be weak.
  • The athlete wants to still get forward movement when throwing. I like to do 2-4 sets of 3-5 reps on each side. The exercise has to be intense. The wt of the ball, experience of the athlete, and skill level determines the sets and reps.

 

This is the stationary version of the Side Medicine Ball Throw. The forward shuffle throw and backward shuffle throw would still get the athlete back to this position. The backward throw crucial for teaching deceleration angles. If the plant is poorly done the throw will show it. Great feedback drill.

 

Excerise #2 One arm One leg tubing row

This is a great speed exercise because it focuses on both deceleration (which is what most quick athlete do better than other athletes in athletic speed) and acceleration.

a. The initial position is having the athlete squat/bend on one leg and resist the pulling action of the tubing. The decelerators are kicked on.

b. Then the athlete quickly stands and pulls on the tubing while driving the knee up. This recruits the accelerators.

c. The extra benefits of the this exercise is the balance and stability ttraining.

We normally do 2-4 sets of 5-8 reps per side. Slow down into the squat/bend and explosive up.

 

Exercise #3 Reactive Shuffles and Crossovers

In this shot the athlete is ready to react and shuffle or crossover in the direction the coach points. This is a real live setting for athletes to develop their skill and for coaches to use great feedback.

a. The athlete will get into a loaded athletic stance and be prepared to shuffle or crossover (already determined by the coach) and react to the coaches point.

b. This type of exercise is great for athletic speed development because the athlete must randomly react. The athlete will use his or her innate abilities. If a mistake is made the coach can easily correct and have the athlete reproduce a better pattern for many reps.

I normally will do 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps. The athlete will react out to the cone and get back as quick as possible for one rep. Because I am after speed I will allow decent rest so the athlete isn’t completely pooped out.

 

Exercise #4 Resisted power skips

I like resisted power skips for speed because it increases force production and extension of the hips.

a. The athlete must learn to drive hard to move the resistance of the tubing yet maintain good posture for acceleration.

b. The athlete will learn to coordinate the arms and the legs during this exercise. It isn’t easy at first.

c. The biggest benefit is that more muscle fiber gets recruited when attempting to power skip. This is the goal to generate more acceleration speed.

I like to perform 3-6 reps for 20 meters. This is enough distance to get enough quality push offs yet not too far to get overly fatigued and change mechanics.

 

Exercise #5 Pure acceleration starts

To increase the mechanics and efficiency of accelerating from various starts you must practice them.

a. I will use falling starts, get ups, box starts, parallel stance starts, and many other variations so I can coach the athlete on the proper technique.

b. The goal is to be consistent with leg and arm action as well as acceleration posture.

c. If the athlete has breaks in his or her form they can be addressed quickly.

I like doing 2-3 different stances and 3-4 reps of each. Plenty of time is available to teach the form well.

 

Exercise #6 Cutting skills

Teaching cutting is a great way to improve the efficiency of the athlete in athletic speed. Most court and field sport requires so much in regards to change of direction it is important to address it.

a. The first thing I want my athlete to understand about cutting is the reactive nature of it. There is not enough time to think about the cut. Just do what comes natural and we can correct mistakes if they present themselves

b. The athlete must learn to make the cut by re-directing the cutting foot outside the width of the body that meets the angle they cut will be made at. I do not want the athlete to purposely drop low with the hips if the cut must be quick and not real sharp.

c. If the cut is sharp and the athlete must come back then the hips may lower slightly but only enough to control the center of mass.

d. The key to cutting is to create separation if an offensive player and to close the gap if a defender. The better body position you have and foot placement the better the results

I like to do 3-6 reps of 2-3 different variations of cutting:

a. Speed cuts

b. Sharp cuts

c. Rehearsed cuts

d. Random cuts

e. Jump stop cuts

f. Spin cuts

g. More…

Yours in Speed,
Lee Taft

READY TO PLAY

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READY TO PLAY – How Nutrition may be the key to staying in the game.

Yes, injuries are often an unavoidable part of sports. And to recover fully, whether from a minor strain or major surgery, you must meet certain specific nutrition needs. The physical damage caused by training or injuries is the same as any other trauma. Even if sport trauma is anticipated and intentional, the body needs to repair and recover from that damage before it can handle more stress.

LET THAT SINK IN!!!

The body needs to repair and recover from that damage before it can handle more stress!

Recovery from injury is a complex process that involves fueling the healing process, removing damaged cells, managing inflammation and repairing damaged tissue.

  1. Fueling Healing

One of the most common errors in recovery nutrition is misunderstanding calorie needs. Many athletes underestimate how many calories it takes to heal. Depending on the severity of the injury, calorie needs can increase by up to 20 percent above baseline. Injured athletes should also realize they are often significantly reducing calories expended during activity. By accounting for both decreased activity and the increased healing factor, athletes are able to fuel recovery without promoting negative changes in their body composition.

Protein is often the focus of recovery, as it plays a major role in tissue regeneration and repair.  Athletes must consume enough protein. General recommendations for protein are between 0.8 and 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight, but injuries can push the need up to 2.0 grams per kilogram.

Injured athletes can often meet their additional protein needs though dietary changes. Many add whey protein isolate or a vegan protein option to help support their diet.

 

  1. Managing Inflammation

Swelling, pain, redness and heat are signs of inflammation that most athletes readily identify following an injury. Inflammation is an important and necessary part of injury recovery. It is triggered by the body’s need to clear dead and dying cells and to start the process of new cell development. For as many as four days post-injury, it’s important not to attempt to decrease this inflammation phase because it can impact recovery time. Following this initial stage, the focus should shift to managing inflammation.

A diet rich in fats knowns as omega-3s can help maintain the body’s normal inflammatory response to activity and injury.  Research has shown that consuming 2-3 grams of omega 3s daily can positively influence markers of inflammation in the body.  Athletes can consume this amount through a diet containing two servings of fish per week combined with increased intake of nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, chia and flax seeds—or through the addition of a fish oil supplement.

Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, has been shown to promote reduced swelling and bruising after surgery by helping to maintain a healthy inflammatory response to exercise and injury.* Bromelain is recommended in amounts between 150 and 500 milligrams per day. Although all parts of the pineapple contain bromelain, it is most abundant in the stems, leading many people to add a bromelain supplement to their diet.

  1. Repairing Damaged Tissue

The final piece of recovery nutrition involves supporting the creation of new tissue to replace the tissue damaged by injury. While many vitamins and minerals are needed to support recovery, vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc get the most attention.

 

Vitamins A and C help support the first few days of a beneficial inflammatory response and assist in the formation of collagen, which helps provide the structure of connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments and skin. Vitamin A has also been linked with a decrease in immune suppression normally seen after an injury.  Research has shown that a vitamin C deficiency can lead to irregular formation of collagen fibers, and hence to decreased stability of the tissues and abnormal scar formation.

Zinc plays a role in new DNA creation, the ability of cells to multiply and protein synthesis.* Zinc deficiency, which is fairly common, can inhibit wound healing.  Recovering athletes might consider a multi-vitamin containing vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc to assist in the recovery process

Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are the last area of consideration for the recovering athlete. In times of stress and damage, the body has an additional need for some amino acids.  Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the bloodstream. It is considered conditionally essential in times of trauma or damage as an important source of energy in recovering cells.

Leucine and its metabolite HMB have been shown to help slow muscle breakdown and nitrogen loss in injured patients.

Arginine can increase nitric oxide production, which can improve blood flow to damaged areas, providing important nutrients and promoting removal of dead and damaged cells.  Amino acids are part of complete proteins in the diet, some athletes prefer to take them directly in supplement form.

Understanding what is happening in your body following an injury can help ensure that your diet supports a full recovery so you can get back on the field or court quickly. The above recommendations are guidelines. It’s always best to consult a registered dietitian or your health-care provider when making significant dietary changes or introducing nutritional supplements. When choosing a nutritional supplement, it is imperative to look for a brand that has been certified for safety and is free of banned substances, as determined by a third party such as NSF Certified for Sport.

Special Thanks to Stack.com and Exos Performance for providing the information for this article.

Shoulder Strength and Movement

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Written on July 9, 2016 at 7:43 am, by Eric Cressey

1. In the upper extremity, the assessments are often the solutions, too.

Imagine you’re assessing an athlete, and their squat pattern is absolutely brutal. Usually, the last thing you’re going to do is go right to a squat as part of their training. In other words, simply coaching it differently usually won’t improve the pattern immediately. Rather, you typically need “rebuild” the pattern by working with everything from ankle and hip mobility to core control, ultimately progressing to movements that replicate the squatting pattern.

Interestingly, the upper extremity is usually the opposite in that the assessment might also be the drill you use to correct the movement. For instance, an aberrant shoulder flexion pattern like this…

…might be quickly corrected with some of these three cues on a back to wall shoulder flexion pattern.

This is also true of push-up assessments and shoulder abduction and external rotation tests we do; funky patterns are usually cleaned up quickly with some subtle cueing. This just isn’t the case as much in the lower body, though. Why the difference?

My theory is that because we’re weight-bearing all day, the lower extremity is potentially less responsive to the addition of good stiffness in the right places. Conversely, a little bit of stiffness in serratus anterior, lower trap, or posterior cuff seems to go a long way in quickly improving upper extremity movement. My experience with the Postural Restoration Institute also leads me to believe that creating a good zone of apposition can have lead to a more pronounced transient movement in the upper extremity than it does in the lower extremity. This is likely because the rib cage is directly involved with the shoulder girdle, whereas the relationship with the lower extremity (ribs –> spine –> pelvis) is less direct.

Zone-of-Apposition-300x220

These differences also seem to at least partially explain why upper extremity posture is much easier to change than lower extremity positioning. It’s far more common to see a scapular anterior tilt change markedly than it is to see an anterior pelvic tilt substantially reduced.

Just thinking out loud here, though. Fun stuff.

2. Anterior shoulder pain usually isn’t “biceps tendinitis.”

First off, true tendinitis is actually quite rare. In this landmark paper, Maffulli et al. went to great lengths to demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of the overuse tendon conditions we see are actually tendinOSIS (degenerative) and not tendinITIS (inflammatory). It may seem like wordplay, but it’s actually a very important differentiation to make: if you’re dealing with a biceps issue, it’s probably tendinosis.

shoulder-300x300

 

Second, if you speak with any forward thinking orthopedic shoulder specialist or rehabilitation expert, they’ll tell you that there are a lot of differential diagnoses for anterior (front) shoulder pain. It could be referred pain from further up (cervical disc issues, tissue density at scalenes/sternocleidomastoid/subclavius/pec minor, or thoracic outlet syndome), rotator cuff injury or tendinopathy, anterior capsule injury, a lat strain or tendinopathy, labral pathology, nerve irritation at the shoulder itself, arthritis, a Bankart lesion, osteolysis of the distal clavicle, AC joint injury, and a host of other factors.

3. Thoracic outlet surgery really isn’t a shoulder surgery.

With Matt Harvey opting for thoracic outlet surgery this week, I’ve seen just about every major sporting news outlet call it “shoulder surgery.” Sorry, but that really isn’t the case unless you have a very expansive definition of the word “shoulder.”

With this intervention, the surgeon is removing the first (top) rib to provide “clearance” for the nerves and vascular structures to pass underneath the clavicle.

gray112-218x300

Additionally, surgeons may opt to perform a scalenectomy, where they surgically remove a portion of the anterior scalenes, which may have hypertrophied (grown) due to chronic overuse. Again, this is not a “shoulder” procedure.

Finally, more and more surgeons are also incorporating a pec minor release as part of the surgical intervention. This is because the nerve and vascular structures that may be impinged at the scalenes or first rib can also be impinged at the coracoid process of the scapular if an individual is too anterior-tilted. While the coracobrachialis and short head of the biceps both attach here, the pec minor is likely the biggest player in creating these potential problems.

pecminor-300x290

 

This, for me, is the only time this becomes somewhat of a “shoulder” surgery – and it’s an indirect relationship that doesn’t truly involve the joint. We’re still nowhere near the glenohumeral (ball-and-socket) joint that most people consider the true shoulder.

All that said, many people consider the “shoulder girdle” a collection of joints that includes the sternoclavicular, acromioclavicular, glenohumeral, and scapulothoracic articulations. In this case, though, the media just doesn’t have a clue what they’re trying to describe. With that in mind, hopefully this turned into somewhat of an educational rant.

4. Medicine ball scoop tosses tend to be a better than shotputs for cranky shoulders.

Rotational medicine ball training is a big part of our baseball workouts, and it’s something we try to include as an integral part of retraining throwing patterns even while guys may be rehabilitating shoulder issues. When you compare rotational shotputs with rotational scoop tosses…

…you can see that the scoop toss requires far less shoulder internal rotation and horizontal adduction, and distraction forces on the joint are far lower at ball release. The shotput is much more stressful to the joint, so it’s better saved for much later on in the rehab process.

5. Adequate rotator cuff control is about sufficient strength and proper timing – in the right positions.

To have a healthy shoulder, your cuff needs to be strong and “aware” enough to do its job in the position that matters. If you think about the most shoulder problem, there is pain at some extreme: the overhead position of a press, the lay-back phase of throwing, or the bar-on-your back position in squatting. For some reason, though, the overwhelming majority of cuff strength tests take place with the arms at the sides or right at 90 degrees of elevation. Sure, these positions might give us a glimpse at strength without provoking symptoms, but they really don’t speak much to functional capacity in the positions that matter.

With that in mind, I love the idea of testing rotator cuff strength and timing in the positions that matter. Here’s an example:

Eric-Cressey-Shoulder_OS___0-300x156

Obviously, you can make it even more functional by going into a half-kneeling, split-stance, or standing position. The point is that there are a lot of athletes who can test pretty well in positions that don’t matter, but horribly in the postures that do.

6. Pre-operative physical therapy for the shoulder is likely really underutilized.

It’s not uncommon to hear about someone with an ACL tear going through a month or so of physical therapy before the surgery actually takes place. Basically, they get a head start on range-of-motion and motor control work while swelling goes down (and, in some cases, some healing of an associated MCL injury may need to occur).

I’m surprised this approach isn’t utilized as much with shoulder surgeries. It wouldn’t be applicable to every situation, of course, but I think that in some cases, it can be useful to have a pre-operative baseline of range-of-motion. This is particularly true in cases of chronic throwing shoulder injuries where regaining the right amount of external rotation is crucial for return to high level function. Adding in some work on cuff strength/timing, scapular control, and thoracic mobility before hopping in a sling for 4-6 weeks probably wouldn’t hurt the case, either. And, as an added bonus, if this was more common, I think we’d find quite a few people who just so happen to become asymptomatic, allowing them to cancel their surgeries. It’s probably wishful thinking on my part, but that’s what these random thoughts articles are all about.