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7/13/18 WOD

E2MOM for 10 minutes
A1) Front squat
Sets: 5
Reps: 5
Load: 80%
Tempo: 2.0.1
Rest: minimal 

A2) Hang snatch + snatch
Sets: 5
Reps: 2
Load: 75%
Tempo: X
Rest: until next minute

B1) For time

1-2-3-4-5
Squat Snatch 175/115
Turkish get-ups (each side) 

C1) Dumbbell on knee external rotation
3x8 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-HPt0d05es

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7/12/2018 WOD

E2MOM, done as a superset:

A1) Deadlift
Sets: 4
Reps: 8
Load: 70%
Tempo: 2.0.1
Rest: minimal 

A2) Bench Press
Sets: 4
Reps: 5
Load: 80%
Tempo: 2.0.1
Rest: 2 minutes 

B1) 7 RFT
2-4-6-8-6-4-2 Atlas stone ground-to-shoulder (alternate shoulders)
100m prowler sled push (7/10 RPE for weight)

C1) Trap 3 Raise
Sets: 3
Reps: 10
Rest: 45-60

 

 

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7/11/2018 WOD

A1) Pistol
Progressions
Sets: 4-5
Reps: 5-10

Countermovement (use a weight to balance your movement)

B1) Beep Test

C1) Single arm DB rows
Sets: 4
Reps: 10
Tempo: 2.0.2
Rest: minimal

C2) DB Front rack split squats
Sets: 4
Reps: 10
Tempo: 2.0.2
Rest: 45-60

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7/10/2018 WOD

A1) 10 min OTM 2 power clean + jerk
Sets: 10
Reps: 1+1
Load: 70-80%
Rest: remainder of minute 

B1) Grace

30 reps for time of:
• Clean & Jerk 135/95#

C1) Handstand/Handstand walk progressions

Work on what makes sense for you:
Handstand walks
Handstand
Handstand with support (from partner or wall)
Negative handstand (eccentric focus)
Headstand

 

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7/9/2018 WOD

E2MOM for 10 minutes
A1)Back Squat
Sets: 5
Reps: 5
Load: 75%
Tempo: 2.0.1
Rest: minimal 

A2) Pull-ups
Sets: 5
Reps: 5
Load: BW+
Tempo: 4.0.1
Rest: until 2 minutes is up

B1) 8 Min AMRAP
30 DU
8 Front Squats (115/75)
8 C2B Pull-ups 

C1) TRX fallouts
3x10

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7/7/2018 First Saturday WOD

A1) 1RM Deadlift
Warm-up based off estimated 1RM
- 5 reps at 50%, 5 reps at 70%, 3 reps at 80%, 1 rep at 90% and work from there
- Rest - 90-180s between sets

B1) Partner Fight Gone Bad

Three rounds of:
• Wall-ball, 20 pound ball, 10 ft target (Reps)
• Sumo deadlift high-pull, 75 pounds (Reps)
• Box Jump, 20" box (Reps)
• Push-press, 75 pounds (Reps)
• Row (Calories)
No rest at end of sets

C1) Seated db on knee external rotation
Sets: 2
Reps: 12
Tempo: 4010
Rest: 45

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7/6/2018 WOD - Don't forget about First Saturdays!

Remember, the first Saturday of the month (which is this Saturday) all guests get free access to either the 9am CrossFit class or the 10am Bloc class. 

Skill

A1) Muscle up progressions

Ring-row transfer to dip 

Those that have muscle-ups should work on strict muscle ups 

If skill work isn't your thing...
Ring rows
Sets: 4
Reps: 8
Tempo: 4210
Rest: 60 seconds

8 Minute E2MOM, alternating minutes of:
B1) 2HPCL + 1 PCL @ 75% 
Sets - 4
Reps: 2+1
Tempo: X
Rest - 0-30

B2) Ring/bar muscle-ups or 5-10 ring dips as an alternative
Sets: 4
Reps: 3-5
Tempo: X
Rest: until 3 minutes is up

C1) Metcon

800m run buy-in

Then 3RFT
6 PSN 135/95
9 TTB
12 Burpees
16 Overhead walking lunges 45/25

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Supraspinatus tendinopathy case study: What I did in school last week #3

Last project of the semester focused in on a case study involving supraspinatus tendinopathy, more specifically tendinosis. Tables of anatomical actions and their associated muscles, origins/insertions, isolated functions, and planes of motion were omitted from this as the tables didn't transfer over well in this format. Additional animations (circles, arrows pointing to things in pictures, etc) also didn't make the cut. Videos are linked to MyDartfish, an analysis tool used in breaking down movement. 

Introduction

A former collegiate softball player and highly active recreational athlete with an exercise program encompassing Crossfit, high-intensity interval training and hypertrophy-focused work developed shoulder pain. Pain was present both anteriorly and posteriorly, impacted overhead mobility and strength as well as distal horizontal abduction or adduction in end range of motion. After consulting with an orthopedic doctor and physical therapist, a clean MRI ruled out any labral tear or other maladaptive structures in the shoulder. Supraspinatus tendinopathy, specifically tendonosis, was identified as the cause of pain and a rehabilitation program prescribed. 

This article will discuss the potential causes that could have led to the development of supraspinatus tendonosis. Through movement examination and analysis, this document will look at shoulder biomechanics, specifically the glenohumeral (GH) and scapulothoracic (ST) joints, and how a predisposed internally rotated and anteriorly tipped shoulder imbalance has led to injury in a possibly overtrained and under-recovered athlete. Five key positions will break down the movement and establish potentially overactive and underactive tissues involved in present postural dysfunction with this athlete. Corrective exercise procedures will be given accompanied by video analysis of proper execution of the press. 

Movement Analysis and Mechanism of Injury

Client has no prior incidence with any sort of shoulder injury and had no specific acute traumatic experience with the shoulder. Pain accrual was gradual, starting as an annoyance and progressing towards having an impact on activities of daily living (ADL), such as reaching for objects and impacting sleep. This pattern of pain progression suggests an overuse injury. Cook & Finch (as cited in Cools et al., 2015), define overuse injuries as resultant of the cumulative process of tissue damage. As demonstrated below, the left shoulder presents in obvious internal rotation (IR) and anterior tipping of the joint. This imbalance, coupled with her high volume program and possibly under-recovered system, may have exposed the shoulder to repetitive stress patterns, compensatory patterns of movement, and injury. 

Below is the link to the movement and it’s associated dysfunction. 

http://www.dartfish.tv/Dispatch.aspx?target=collection&CR=p124779c210069m3676132&sh=li&aid=eddab357-1600-4238-8e99-b108581391a0

First Key Position - Postural Assessment

The standing position demonstrated in Figures 1a-d (below) point out a few observations of the left shoulder, giving possible insights into the potential causes of the gradual injury amplification the client identified. Figure 1A. shows the client’s upper trapezius is elevated, indicating hypertonicity and overactivity in comparison to the uninjured shoulder; this also includes the levator scapula. Figure 1B. point out unilateral scapular winging with the scapula clearly jutting out, suggesting a weak serratus anterior. Lastly, in comparing the healthy right shoulder to the injured left in Figures 1C-1D, there is clearly excessive protraction and internal rotation. 

Analysis of this first position can indicate several dysfunctions in shoulder mechanics that with excess volume and load could lead to a degradation of the joint. This would make sense considering the client’s pain presentation pattern. Table 1.1 points out the basic movement patterns and muscles associated with internal rotation and anterior tipping, including the pectoralis (IR) major, latissimus dorsi (IR), teres major (IR), anterior deltoid (IR), subscapularis (IR), pec minor (protraction/anterior tipping), levator scapula (anterior tipping), and upper trapezius (anterior tipping). Brookbush (2017) states that common shoulder compensatory patterns involve an overactive latissimus dorsi, teres major, and subscapularis in regards to glenohumeral IR, while he also notes that the anterior tippers could also play an overactive role in this postural dysfunction. The upper trapezius hypertonicity on the left shoulder is a primary indicator of a muscle synergist overworking to create movement and stabilize the shoulder. Opposing this function, Brookbush adds that an underactive serratus anterior could be involved in the faulty shoulder mechanics due to the presence of scapular winging. 

Figure 1a. L Shoulder Elevation        Figure 1b. Elevation and Scapular Winging 

  Figure 1c. Protraction/Anterior Tipping      Figure 1d. Healthy Right Shoulder 

Second Key Position - Overhead Press Starting Position Assessment

The second key position further elaborates upon the points established in analyzing the first key position. Figure 2. demonstrates the natural shoulder position of the healthy right shoulder. The shoulder is slightly externally rotated, while the left shoulder, with the complications previously assigned to overactive anterior tippers and internal rotators, has a different starting position from which to initiate the overhead press. This builds on the ideas set forth in the first key position that this is a postural dysfunction. 

Figure 2. 

Third Key Position - Concentric Portion of Overhead Press

As the participant presses overhead into the concentric phase of the movement, the postural deficiencies noted in the first two key positions display their impact on the action. The left upper trapezius becomes noticeably more engaged, elevating the scapula. In addition to this, examining external rotation of both shoulders shows that the right shoulder is better able to spin and glide in the glenoid fossa. The left shoulder, however, is unable to match that external rotation due to the above-mentioned postural asymmetry and this increases the likelihood that the humeral head is pulled anteriorly and superiorly in the glenoid fossa. Close inspection of the elbow angles also suggests a compensatory pattern has developed to allow the client to continue to press as the body will always search for the path of least resistance to accomplish a task. 

 Figure 3. 

Fourth Key Position - Overhead Isometric in Full Glenohumeral Flexion and Abduction

Upon reaching the top isometric position of the press, there is a small dysfunction present during the last 10° of flexion. In Figures 4A. and 4B. the right shoulder is fully able to get into 180° of flexion while the left shoulder, limited by postural deficits, can’t quite get through the full range of motion. As echoed previously, this places an asymmetrical pattern of loading on the body, which has the potential to lead to other compensatory patterns through the shoulder girdle, thorax and hip complex.   

Figures 4A. and 4B. 

Fifth Key Position - Eccentric Portion of Overhead Press

The final position presents a similar disposition to that seen during the concentric portion of the press expanded upon in the third key position. However, there are a few noticeable differences. First, despite a slightly uneven bar path, the arms present in a better angle that suggests more overall control of the movement and the upper traps are closer to symmetrical when compared to Figure 3. This may indicate that the client has better mechanics for pressing during the eccentric portion of the press, which may help guide exercise prescription for the rehabilitation process. 

Figure 5.  

Understanding Supraspinatus Tendinosis and Corrective Exercise Applications

According to Bass (2012), tendinosis is a “degeneration of the tendon’s collagen in response to chronic overuse; when overuse is continued without giving the tendon time to heal and rest, such as with repetitive strain injury, tendinosis results”. Bass goes on to sate that tendinosis shows an increase in immature type III collagen fibers as opposed to the mature type I fibers that are normally considered healthy. These fibers are unable to link properly, and as such, their ability to handle load becomes compromised. In addition to this, Weber (2017) notes that there is increased cellularity and neovascularization that are common conditions associated with tenodonosis. Cells found in tendinosis are degenerative in nature, with Khan describing the types of degeneration as mucoid, which causes softening of the area, or lipoid, which is an abnormal increase in lipid material in the tendon. In neovasularization, new blood vessels are arranged randomly, with blood vessels having even been found to form perpendicularly to the original origination of the fibers (Weber). In regards to treatment, Weber (2017) states that treatment starts with stopping the degenerative cycle and then restoring normal collagen synthesis, strength, and function. 

From a corrective exercise perspective, Brookbush (2017) suggests addressing joint imbalances with a release, stretch and integration model of therapy, which can be tailored to both training and therapy professions. This process involves first releasing overactive tissue, stretching the same tissue, and then activating and integrating the weak and long structures in the joint. 

While this is a simplified model for the purposes of this project, it is an effective implementation process for the corrective exercise specialist. 

Based on the findings with the five key positions, the tissues identified as overactive include, but are not limited to the anterior tippers - pectoralis minor and levator scapula specifically - and the internal rotators, primarily the subscapularis, latissimus dorsi, and teres major. An example of the release for the pectoralis minor can be seen below. Basic guidelines for release are dependent on the client, but typically a period of 30-120 seconds works to release the tissue, allowing for the next step of stretching the same tissue. An example of a stretch for the pectoralis minor is also seen below. 

Pec Minor Release 

http://www.dartfish.tv/Dispatch.aspx?target=collection&CR=p124779c210069m3681107&sh=li&aid=eddab357-1600-4238-8e99-b108581391a0

Pec Minor Stretch 

http://www.dartfish.tv/Dispatch.aspx?target=collection&CR=p124779c210069m3681111&sh=li&aid=eddab357-1600-4238-8e99-b108581391a0

Lastly, the process comes down to activating and integrating weakened tissue. KIM, SY; et al (2015) found that concentric and eccentric training for the supraspinatus can have equal value in strength development, but that eccentric training may have the added advantage of maintaining or improving muscle fiber bundle length and could help promoted tendon healing. With a focus on utilizing eccentrically-controlled tempos (4.0.1 for example), the goal of strengthening the supraspinatus takes precendence, with the lateral band raise providing an example below. Execution will take the arm angle to about 90°, which is within the active range of motion for the suprapinatus. On top of this, it would be recommended to address the external rotators - teres minor, infrapsinatus, and posterior deltoid - which would help create better balance with the overactive internal rotators listed above, the lower trapezius to aid in strengthening scapular depression, and the serratus anterior, to address scapular winging. Examples of activation exercises are provided below.  

Supraspinatus - Lateral Raise with 4.0.1 Eccentrically-controlled tempo. 

http://www.dartfish.tv/Dispatch.aspx?target=collection&CR=p124779c210069m3681110&sh=li&aid=eddab357-1600-4238-8e99-b108581391a0

External Rotators - External Rotation - 4.0.1. Eccentrically-controlled tempo 

http://www.dartfish.tv/Dispatch.aspx?target=collection&CR=p124779c210069m3681112&sh=li&aid=eddab357-1600-4238-8e99-b108581391a0

Lower Trap - Trap 3 Raise - 4.0.1. Eccentrically-controlled tempo 

http://www.dartfish.tv/Dispatch.aspx?target=collection&CR=p124779c210069m3681109&sh=li&aid=eddab357-1600-4238-8e99-b108581391a0

Serratus Anterior - KB Protraction - Controlled

http://www.dartfish.tv/Dispatch.aspx?target=collection&CR=p124779c210069m3681105&sh=li&aid=eddab357-1600-4238-8e99-b108581391a0

Proper Video Analysis of Overhead Press Movement, Related Biomechanics, and Potential Movement Deficiencies

http://www.dartfish.tv/Dispatch.aspx?target=collection&CR=p124779c210069m3681113&sh=li&aid=eddab357-1600-4238-8e99-b108581391a0

References 

Bass, E. (2012). Tendinopathy: Why the Difference Between Tendinitis and Tendinosis Matters. Retrieved June 25, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312643/

Brookbush, B. (2017, January 06). Introduction to Activation Exercise. Retrieved June 25, 2017, from https://brentbrookbush.com/articles/corrective-exercise-articles/activation/introduction-to-activation-exercise/

Brookbush, B. (2017, April 08). Upper Body Dysfunction (UBD). Retrieved June 25, 2017, from https://brentbrookbush.com/articles/postural-dysfunction-movement-impairment/upper-body-dysfunction-ubd/

Brookbush, B. (2017, June 21). Shoulder (Glenohumeral) Joint. Retrieved June 25, 2017, from https://brentbrookbush.com/articles/anatomy-articles/joint-anatomy/shoulder-glenohumeral-joint/

Cools, A. M., Johansson, F. R., Borms, D., & Maenhout, A. (2015). Prevention of shoulder injuries in overhead athletes: a science-based approach. Brazilian Journal Of Physical Therapy / Revista Brasileira De Fisioterapia, 19(5), 331-339.

Heber, D. (n.d.). Tendinosis vs. Tendonitis. Retrieved June 25, 2017, from http://elitesportstherapy.com/tendinosis-vs--tendonitis/

Khan, KM., Cook, JK. Overuse Tendon Injuries: Where does the pain come from? Clinical Sports Medicine

Kim, S. Y., Ko, J. B., Farthing, J. P., & Butcher, S. J. (2015). Investigation of supraspinatus muscle architecture following concentric and eccentric training. Journal Of Science & Medicine In Sport, 18(4), 378-382.

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What I did in school last week #2 - Research review with kids and technology

Quick hitters

  • Type of article: research review and summary 
  • Article name:  Finger and Wrist Pain in Children Using Game Consoles and Laptops: Younger Children and Longer Time Are Associated with Increased Pain
  • Basic anatomy of the shoulder: finger and wrist flexors allow us to grab and hold things
  • Mechanism for injury: tissue overload of the finger and wrist flexors due to repetitive stress created from fingers and wrists being constantly flexed while holding/using technology 
  • Why is this significant? Because of how young all these participants are (9-14 years old) and how prevalent the use of these basic technologies is in activities of daily living. If they're hurting now, what happens with another 50+ years of usage?

Introduction

This study introduces the first study of its kind examining the impact of handheld technology, including gaming controllers, phones, and laptops, on the development of wrist and finger pain in children. It has been found previously in smaller studies that excessive smart phone use has led to tendon rupture due to usage and tendinopathy in video game players. This study aimed to determine if there is a potential link between duration of usage of these devises and wrist pain. 

Participants and Methods

Students attending two schools in St. Louis, Missouri participated in this study. Basic demographic information and device use exposure, as well as pain assessments on a 0 to 10 numerical rating scale were collected. Two separate questionnaires were utiized; the first explored view game system exposure; the second captured laptop computer usage. Summary statistics of demographic variables, electronic device usage, and pain levels were estimated. Beta regression models were estimated associating pain with demographic and exposure variables. 

Results 

In study 1 (171 children), which examined video game play, any combination of console usage, age, and hours of play were associated with increased odds of pain presentation as opposed to not playing any device. Gender was not a determining factor. 


For study 2 (307 children), examined laptop usage, results show that usage of five or more hours demonstrated a significant correlation with increased odds of wrist pain, particularly in comparison to those that used this resource less. Other time frames of usage were found to be not statistically significant. Again, there was no difference in genders. 

Discussion

Over two-thirds of the participants used at least one device, and over half used more multiple devices for more than one to two hours per day. Longer use was predictably associated with increased pain. The findings of this study suggest that there can be a musculoskeletal impact in children with more access to these devices.

Analysis 

The results of this study are reasonably predictable, but what stands out as particularly informative is the fact that children are developing pain responses due to overuse at such a young age. This study was a short-term study, but the implications for long-term ramifications could lead to a rise in wrist and finger related injuries. When considering the excessive usage of finger and wrist flexion, it might be worthwhile to start implementing students address this concern through multi-planar wrist and finger movement, with special focus given to creating extension.

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What I did in school last week #1

This series is meant to give you an inside look at what I'm going to be working on for the next five semesters during my Master of Science in Applied Exercise Science program. Whether it's updated research, new views on anatomy and biomechanics, or just something interesting, I thought it would be a cool little experience to detail along the way. I will give you some quick hitter points and the full assignment in detail after for those that would like to delve in more to the topic at hand. 

(Side bar: for those looking for a little more information, without too much science, dive down to the Discussion and Analysis portions at the bottom for the application of the research)

Enjoy!

Quick hitters

  • Type of article: research review and summary
  • Article name: Isokinetic Rotator Cuff Functional Ratios and the Development of Shoulder Injury in Collegiate Baseball Pitchers 
  • Basic anatomy of the shoulder: external rotators and internal rotators provide support and rotation to the arm, thus functional ratios were developed to determine the best ratio of strength for internal vs external rotation to keep the shoulder healthy. 
  • Mechanism for injury: tissue overload of the internal rotators (subscapularis, pec major, lat dorsi, teres major, and anterior delt) due to stress created from the torque of pitching motion
  • Why is this significant? Most protocols focus on strengthening the external rotators as a weak link in shoulder mechanics, however, this research suggests the internal rotators could be more involved than previously thought. It would change how we approach preventive and rehabilitative exercise in throwing and non-throwing populations. 

Introduction

During a baseball pitch, an incredible amount of force is placed on the shoulder joint, leaving it at risk for chronic shoulder injury due to rotator cuff fatigue, weakness, or imbalances in the joint itself. To address this issue, functional ratios for shoulder rotation strength have been developed as a predictor of potential future shoulder issues, with major focus on the cocking phase and the acceleration phase of throwing. The cocking phase represents the transitioning of the arm from internal rotation (IR) to external rotation (ER), where the internal rotators are required to contract eccentrically to control the rate of external rotation. Conversely, in the acceleration phase, the opposite holds true, the external rotators fire eccentrically to control the internal rotation of throwing, while also keeping the humeral head in the proper position in the glenoid fossa. 

In recreational athletes for overhead throwing and female volleyball players, the cocking phase ratio of 2.09 at 90°s-1 and 2.23 at 60°s-1 were found and acceleration phase ratios of 1.03 to 1.21 were noted. 

Participants and Methods

15 Division I collegiate baseball pitchers from the same team participated in this study, all of which were free of any upper extremity injury at the time of testing. The study was conducted in two parts. The first involved an isokinetic test using a Biodex System 3 dynamometer to test shoulder strength in the off-season. Peak torque was collected for both the concentric and eccentric internal and external rotation at 60°s-1, 180°s-1, and 300°s-1 for six trials, separated by 90 seconds of rest. After a shoulder stretching warm-up, participants were instructed to produce maximal resistance through the entire range of motion in the modified neutral position (45° GH abduction, 30° elbow flexion).

Functional ratios:

Cocking phase: IRecc:ERcon 

Acceleration phase: ERecc:IRcon

Second, follow-up questionnaires were administered during the season to those who developed shoulder injuries. Participants were asked if they had pain during any training, practicing, or competing. If so, participants were then asked to rate their pain on a scale from 1-4, 1 being no pain and no need for medial intervention, 4 representing an intervention requirement and time away from baseball activities. 

Results

Analysis demonstrated that functional ratios were significantly higher during the acceleration phase ratio at 300°s-1 in the injured group as compared to the noninsured group. Secondary analysis found that IR peak torque was significantly lower during the IRcon of the injured group. 

There were no other significant differences in functional ratios between groups. 

These findings suggest that the higher acceleration phase ratios seen in the injured group might demonstrate a link to shoulder injury. For those that were injured, their lower IRcon at 300°s-1 could also be linked to shoulder injury. 

Discussion

As the results suggest, there was a correlation between the significantly higher acceleration phase strength ratio (ERecc:IRcon at 300°s-1, which most likely resulted from lower IRcon peak torque shown in the injured group. 

In attempting to determine the proper strength balance of ERcon:IRcon, it has been reported that normal external rotator strength was 66% the strength of the IR. A more modern study suggested 78%, which is related to the critical nature of the external rotators in the acceleration phase of pitching (they decelerate/stabilize the arm in this motion). 

Using the modified natural position typically leads to stronger readings of IR strength compared to other methods, which makes the findings even more interesting since IR was found to be weaker in the injured group despite the advantageous IR apparatus used in testing. 

Analysis and General Population Application 

Since injured participants struggled producing a forceful IRcon at 300°s-1, it may point out why injury occurred, considering pitching arm speed has been documented at over 6,000°s-1. 

The most interesting aspect of this article relates to the finding that weak internal rotators could be a signifier of potential risk for shoulder injury in throwing athletes. External rotation has long been a primary consideration in injury prevention/rehab approaches to accommodate for the large role the external rotators play in slowing the arm down from such a high peak force. To have a study find that the opposite could play a role in shoulder instability and injury rates in these athletes is a potentially dramatic change to rotator cuff physical therapy and proactive prevention programs. 

Shoulder issues are hardly limited to the throwing athlete, as many in the general population struggle with shoulder injuries. Poor general posture, overuse, and common faciliated/inhibited discrepancies plague these people and a logical next step would be to test this hypothesis on that population. Testing measures for strength would remain, although a new system of measurement outside of throwing may be required to assess peak torque values. Considering the common imbalances most people struggle with, this functional ratio of internal rotator to external rotator strength could eventually reshape standard programming for physical therapists, movement therapists, trainers, and coaches to implement. 

 

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Understanding Fish Oil For You

The biggest challenge when it comes to food and supplements is that there is SO much information available. Fish oil supplementation has been highly recommended for it’s heart-healthy effects, but understanding how this happens is important, because you might be using the wrong type of fish oil for your needs. 

Most common fish oils available on the market (Two great ones on Amazon are at the end of the article) have a balance of the fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They both have benefits, but the impact on your body is different, specifically in reference to their impact on high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). 

This quote from Gurevich in Labdoor magazine breaks down the difference nicely: 

    “It is important to note that LDL carries cholesterol and triglycerides from the liver to the body’s tissues. HDL, which is known to be a cholesterol scavenger, picks up excess cholesterol in the body and takes it back to the liver for breakdown. Therefore, while lowering LDL may slow down or prevent further plaque buildup, it may not reduce the risk of heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. On the other hand, increasing HDL levels will decrease levels of LDL and may reduce the risk of developing heart disease.”

Yikes, that’s a lot of information right there. The basic jist is this: it might be more beneficial to work on increasing HDL levels in the blood, as it has the dual function of picking up extra cholesterol lying around AND lowering levels of LDLs. This idea is really important in that most people struggle getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids into the system to promote HDL cholesterol in the body while keeping LDLs in check. 

With that in mind, lets break it down. 

Team EPA

  • EPA has been shown to significantly reduce LDL levels (good), but had no impact on HDL cholesterol (not as good) 
  • EPA has an impact on the body’s stress response by addressing stress-induced immune activity during more stressful times.
  • EPA has also demonstrated anti-depressive effects (about 1g EPA was most effective).

Team DHA

  • DHA increases both HDL (good) and LDL cholesterol, with LDL levels increasing by twice the amount of DHL (bad). 
  • Has been suggested to be effective in improving cognition and preventing cognitive decline, particularly in aging adults. 
  • DHA has been shown to significantly reduce adrenaline levels during periods of stress, with no impact on cortisol. 

So what does it all mean? As always, it really comes down to what you’re looking for. The benefits of DHA are more numerous and impactful than EPA, but EPA does a far better job of reducing LDLs in the bloodstream. Realistically, it serves the general population well to take a mixture of both, with special consideration for those struggling with elevated levels of LDL's in the bloodstream being mindful to take a more EPA-heavy brand of fish oil. 

Blood tests are still the best bet at determining what you need from your fish oil supplementation. The next time you get one, check your levels and make the adjustments accordingly. 

Here are the two I recommend (these links will take you directly to www.amazon.com for purchase!): 

Gurevich, P. (2014, July 09). EPA To DHA Ratio: a Benefits and Risks Analysis. Retrieved May 16, 2017, from https://labdoor.com/article/epa-to-dha-ratio-a-benefits-and-risks-analysis

Wei, M. Y., & Jacobson, T. A. (2011, December). Effects of eicosapentaenoic acid versus docosahexaenoic acid on serum lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved May 16, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21975919

Hamazaki, T., Itomura, M., Sawazaki, S., & Nagao, Y. (n.d.). Anti-stress effects of DHA. Retrieved May 16, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11237197

Martins, J. G. (2009, October). EPA but not DHA appears to be responsible for the efficacy of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in depression: evidence from a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Retrieved May 16, 2017, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20439549

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Dear Internet, You're Using Plyometrics Wrong. Stop It.

Have you seen Instagram lately? They’re everywhere. Squat jumps. Lunge jumps. Jumps with a twist. Use plyos to really get that heart rate going. Do 5 rounds of 30 squat jumps, 20 push-ups, 10 burpees. Do 100 box jumps for time.

Whatever. And by whatever, I mean what the fuck. 

Plyos are meant to be fast, reactive, and explosive. As such, they are naturally going to be limited by our ability to create energy to supply those highly explosive actions. In reality, they are far more connected to our nervous system and honing that for power production than for muscle development. There’s also more efficient, safer ways to work on anaerobic intervals. 

Think hard. Have you ever tried to max out a 30 second time period of squat jumps truly jumping as high as you can for each jump? I would venture to guess it would be REALLY challenging. There is going to be drop off in energy production because biology says so.

Here’s the biology tie-in. Plyo and power work are tailor-made to be kept to shorter intervals in conjunction with the ATP-CP energy system. This system provides the most amount of energy we can create, making it incredibly valuable for explosive movements like power cleans, box jumps, squat jumps, etc. However, we only get that massive output potential for about 10-15 seconds. After that we downshift into fast glycolysis. There is value up to about 30 seconds, but that’s about it. 

I would also challenge anyone who has ever played any sport or worked out to find an athletic competition that requires the participant to jump consecutively, with as much power as possible for 30 seconds. Football, one jump. Basketball, maybe 2 or 3. Baseball, 1. Hockey, that would just be scary. Crossfit, still not a sport. At most you might need three jumps, in reality, one jump will cover you for just about every sport. 

There’s no crossover. There’s no developmental or growth improvements for that type of endurance power production. Why even do it? Keep it simple and the next time someone tells you to do lunge jumps for 60 seconds, roll your eyes annoyingly, do a handful of reps at a time, keep it clean and crisp, and be smart! 

Side bar: Beware of doing these at the end of a session or class after you’ve already burned through a significant amount of work. The risk of injury goes up due to fatigue. Plyos should be done early in the workout to potentiate the nervous system, not beat the crap out of it at the end. 

 

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"Keep your knees behind your toes", Social Cognitive Theory, and the Game of Telephone

You’ve heard it before. As you’re about to go into a squat or lunge, the instructor tosses out the gem, “Keep your knees behind your toes”. This has a history in the business of course, going back to a 1978 study done by Laughlin, Lardner, and Dillman (1) that demonstrated that by keeping a more vertical lower leg shaft and shifting the hips back more in a squat (or lunge), this created less shear force on the knee. Not that most people know the origin of this, but this nugget has been passed on since the late days of disco to present day in an impeccable display of longevity for something that has been proven to be lacking proper context and individuality in execution for the fitness professional, and by proxy, the fitness client. 

This type of information exchange highlights an issue within the Social Cognitive Theory construct so often employed within the fitness industry. Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory, in it’s simplest form, is behavioral learning through observation, imitation, and modeling. A trainer learns from another trainer, viewing everything from client interaction and rapport-building techniques, to proper implementation of goal-oriented exercise programming, and client achievement through the accomplishment of meeting those goals. 

The theory works quite well in most educational settings, although there are two assumptions being made that need to be considered:

    1. That the person being imitated knows and fully comprehends what they are doing; 

    2. That the person imitating is gaining more insight into the proper application and procedure required to fully implement the above relationship with a client or class. 

And this is where the game of telephone goes awry. People hear the correlation, that by preventing anterior shifting of the knees in a quad-based movement the knees are kept in a more risk-free environment, thus, allowing for healthier knees. Except, like most news headlines, it leaves out perspective on the whole story and leads to the misuse of information within the fitness industry. 

In a study done by the University of Memphis in 2003 (2), research did indeed find that allowing the knees to drift forward past the toes placed 28% more shear force on the knees. Definitely something worth noting. However, in an attempt to keep the knees in a hypothetically “safer” position, this placed over 1000% more stress on the hips. That’s not a typo. 

1000% 

Just as a reference 1000 > 28. By like a lot. 

Here is some context. One of the things you learn about the knee joint is that it’s really just along for the ride when it comes to leg mechanics. As the Gray Institute tells its students, the knee is stuck in the middle with nowhere to go. In most situations with the knee and knee injuries, the fault comes in the form of a bottom-up driver, meaning there is something going on in the foot/ankle complex causing a corresponding issue at the knee, or a top-down driver, meaning there is an issue at the hip complex placing misaligned stress on the knee. 

No matter what the driver, placing 1000% more torque on any joint system is typically a training no-no, especially when it’s done on purpose. It may have a specific place for a specific person, as you can never say never to anything, but in general, artificially placing that much torque on the lower back and hips is unnecessary. The idea of “keeping your knees behind your toes” demonstrates the partial knowledge nuggets that get passed along in fitness. These statements are used as “truths” when in reality it is incomplete information being misrepresented and misused, and as such, becomes invalid without consideration to the whole individual. We are incredibly complex, integrated structures with unique functional capabilities, why are we limiting ourselves to rules instead of exploring possibilities?  

To those newer to the fitness profession, don’t accept information without doing your own research and gaining more perspective on how this information should, if at all, be utilized. In reality, most professionals out there are regurgitating “knowledge”, giving a misrepresented “how” and not understanding the “why”. If you don’t know how or why, look it up. If there are conflicting answers, read both. Most often the answers are not a matter of right or wrong, but of understanding how to properly apply ideas and concepts in the best way for our clients. We have a responsibility to those who come to us for guidance to provide them with as much perspective as we can, to put them in the best possible scenario to succeed. Be better. Question everything. 

Oh, and for those wondering what a good cue is for squatting or lunging, encourage your clients to keep their upper body as vertical as possible and wherever the knees may go, they go. 

References

MCLAUGHLIN, T.M., T.J. LARDNER, AND C.J. DILLMAN. Kinetics of the parallel squat. Res. Q. Exerc. Sport 49:175–188. 1978.

Fry, A.C., Smith, J.C., and Schilling, B.K. Effect of knee position on hip and knee torques during the barbell squat. J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Nov;17(4):629-33

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How Your Body Actually Loses Fat

C55H104O6+78O2→55CO2+52H2O+energy

I know what you’re thinking…UGH! CHEMISTRY! EWWWW!!!

Wait! Don’t go! Come back! I promise this will tell you everything you need to know about how you actually lose fat. Minimal science guaranteed!

Ok, so that big long thing at the beginning of the equation is the esterified form of an “average” triglyceride, otherwise known as the fat you store in your adipocytes (yikes, fat cells). That’s fat being stored in all the places you don’t want it. Now take a look at the second part of the equation, particularly at the conveniently highlighted CO2 and H2O, simply carbon dioxide and water (plus the associated energy that comes from the chemical breakdown of a fatty acid). This means that once a fatty acid gets broken down, it gets released as carbon dioxide (when you exhale) and water (sweat, bathroom happenings, etc). 

So inevitably, you end up breathing out your fat. Crazy science. 

In an article published in the British Medical Journal, Ruben Meerman and Andrew J. Brown (found here) took this equation further, finding that 84% of fat is eliminated from the body as CO2, and a mere 16% from water. This, of course, lays credence to the vast evidence demonstrating that endurance, cardiovascular-based activity like running or jogging would be an efficient way to go about trimming off fat. Side Bar: It would be amazing to see the impact of interval training on this idea since technical HIIT work is entirely anaerobic, meaning it operates without the presence of oxygen and intervals are typically shorter with a fair amount of recovery. One step further would be to compare HIIT workouts vs endurance intervals (like in a Tabata set, :20 work/:10 rest for 8 sets). 


Before you go spouting off about the invaluable benefits of cardio, the point is not to tout the benefits of cardio for fat-burning, but to show how much a poor dietary intake is easily the biggest detriment to dropping unwanted fat from the body. Testing an average-sized person of 154 lbs, it was found that with a normal schedule, involving sleeping, eating, and light daily activities, a person would exhale roughly 203 g of carbon from the body during a day. Adding in an hour of cardio would eliminate about 39 g more carbon, which adds about 20% to the total (score!). Add in 100g muffin though, and that takes off 20% of an individual’s total daily energy requirement. That’s 20% of what should be ingested in a 3.5 ounce muffin. 1 muffin. 

The idea that you “can’t outwork a bad diet” never rang so true, and this study really elaborates on how sensitive our bodies are to the food choices that we make. 

Sources

Meerman, R. and Brown, A.J. BMJ 2014;349:g7257

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In Defense of Low-Intensity Steady State (LISS)

When it comes to modern day fitness, you can’t turn the page of a magazine or click on a website without coming across high-intensity interval training (HIIT) articles. Every last one talks about burning calories for hours or even days after a workout and that if you’re not doing HIIT, you’re wasting your time. Blah blah blah. Its out of control and it needs to stop. 

HIIT has it’s place of course, particularly at the end of leg day for 4-10 bouts of short 10-30 second sprints (with a good chunk of recovery). Maybe twice a week. Tops. But so does low-intensity steady state (LISS) cardio. More important for body development is lifting, but that’s a topic for another day. 

LISS gets a bad rap in research when compared with HIIT, where you can achieve similar if not better results to body composition, aerobic capacity, and muscular endurance and more. And rightly so, but rarely do people chat about how hard HIIT workouts are on the body. If you’re asking for maximum effort, the demand placed on the body is incredibly high. The body is a simple machine. Put too much stress on it, and eventually things break down. 

Here’s where LISS is so valuable. LISS allows you to keep moving, get bodily fluids pumping and encourages recovery from those tough workout days.  And no, this is not the same as running 10 miles as a “recovery day”. That’s not recovery. That’s achievement. It’s counterintuitive if your goal is to improve your body and not travel great distances on foot. If you want to be a better runner, variations on your long distance cardio is a must, but be mindful it doesn’t have as big of an impact on your body as you think if that’s your goal. You’re becoming a better runner in that instance. There’s a difference. 

It doesn’t even have to be challenging cardio when it comes to LISS. A solid walk will do. Plus you get most of the same cardiovascular benefits (decreased hypertension, lower cholesterol, improvements to diabetes, etc.) as you would while running AND you get the chance to help your body recover. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Not every workout needs to be a knock-down, drag out brawl with your body. Sometimes, a stroll will do just fine. Remember, this is not about walking being better than running. It's about using LISS as a measure of recovery and how it allows you to stay active on off days. 

So how long? 20-30 minutes works well for most, but if you have the time and something to watch on Netflix, 45-60 will do.

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Science Says Former "Biggest Loser" Contestants are Screwed. Here's Why.

A couple weeks ago, science examined past contestants from the show “The Biggest Loser” to see how their bodies responded after the stage lights were off and the trainers were gone. After getting hammered and finding “success” on the show, a vast majority of these contestants put at least some weight back on, some even more than when they started on the show. Which begs the obvious question, why?

Several things happened:

  1. Naturally, their metabolisms slowed. However, they slowed so much that at their new size their bodies were not burning enough calories to maintain their thinner sizes. 
  2. Even worse, their metabolisms still haven’t recovered. 
  3. Their leptin levels were almost nonexistent by the end of the show, and only recovered to about half the level of when the season started. Leptin is one of the hormones that controls hunger, and is associated with the feeling of satiety. Which means they are hungry all the time. 

These are all clearly incredibly bad things to happen to the human body. Here’s how you can avoid the unfortunate circumstances put on these contestants:

Don’t workout 4-6 hours a day. 

Do workout 4-6 hours a week. 

It should go without saying (but apparently it has to be said) that 4-6 hours of training a day, no matter what it is, is far too much for the average person, let alone considering where some of these participants were starting at. For most people (not necessarily these contestants), I would recommend 4 days of weightlifting - two upper body, two lower body- with HIIT sprints done on the rower, bike, or treadmill on lower body days. The other two to three days can be spent doing low-intensity steady state (LISS) work on any of the above mentioned apparatuses. Even a simple walk will do for 20-30 mins! Remember, you breakdown muscle to repair it. Give your body a chance to maximize all the hard work you put in!

Don’t think about burning off calories. 

Do think about building muscle. 

Too many people focus on the calorie burn. Unless you have specific achievement goals like running a marathon or improving your 400m time, the goal of every workout should be to maximize your muscle gain through proper breakdown and recovery protocols. While research has shown that the caloric demand of muscle vs fat is minimally higher in muscle, in my experience, those that can nail down nutrition and focus on adding muscle tend to trim up and stay leaner longer (and easier) than those focusing merely on how many calories they can siphon off during their workout. If you get in the habit of always having to cut calories and you never go through the process of developing any muscle, you will eventually end up running out of workouts to add or calories to drop. When you lift, you also get the big hormonal response that drives up the metabolism as well. 

Don’t cut your calories by 80%.

Do pay attention to the quality of foods, the calorie amounts, and the macros going in. 

These people went from somewhere around 8,000 calories a day (how many calories do you think it takes to maintain 450 pounds?) to 1200-1800, and it's rumored to be even lower than that. That’s an 81.25% drop in calories if you’re at 1500 calories. Avoid the drastic cut and make more moderate cuts if you have to, like 20% (think 2000 to 1600 calories), until you find a point where there is consistent progress. Even that might be too much depending on where you’re starting from. This, of course, would require you to track your calories and macros in the first place, which itself can have a rather large margin of error, but at least its something to work with.

These people didn’t need to make drastic cuts, just make small improvements. Drop from 8000 calories to 6400. Go for a 20 minute walk everyday for a couple weeks. Lets chat about nutrition. A lot. And how to find the right mix of working out and proper food choices based on their normal schedule and available resources. It’s not much for eye-popping TV, or ratings for that matter, but maybe we give these people the tools to succeed forever, as opposed to only for a season. Once some progress is made, then we slowly add on to the pile. Create habits that lead to success, then continue to hone in the process further. 

By making the small steps, as opposed to the big leaps, you give your body the chance to adjust to a new homeostasis point, which gives you a fighting chance at sustainability. 

You can check out the full article here.

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Dear Big Commercial Gym Master Trainer, please don't talk to my client ever again. Thank you.

Dear Big Commercial Gym Master Trainer, 

I wanted to reach out to you to thank you for taking the time to work with my client last week while I was out of town. It was nice of you to let her use one of her complimentary sessions with you. I did have a few questions though, and was wondering if you would be so kind as to answer them. 

I was curious about the assessment tools you utilized to “assess” my client, which was a bioimpedance analysis (BIA) handheld device and a scale. While the BIA handheld device is popular in gyms and in the distant past I’ll readily admit that I’ve used it as well, it’s unpredictability makes it essentially useless. It historically has a 3-4% margin of error, which can be impacted by anything from hydration levels, time of day, to the environment in the gym. It’s unrealiable. 

And a scale? Really? 

Knowing that there is no way for you to reliably determine body fat, the scale isn’t really going to be any more effective, is it? I mean you can’t determine how much of that is fat vs muscle, so no matter what you do, the only thing that my client is going to remember is that number. And regardless of what that number is, it’ll never be good enough. Don’t a ton of people, in particular women, already have an unhealthy relationship with their “number”. Do we really need to exacerbate that on the first date? 

Throughout the workout, my client discussed that you did timed sets of conditioning for the whole session. Interval training and metabolic conditioning can be amazing tools for a trainer to use, but it was apparent that you were pursuing exhaustion, not fitness.  I’m not sure about you, but having a client, or in this case a potential client, sucking wind for the entire hour isn’t exactly my idea of building up that client for success. In fact, it seems more likely that you used this method to make the client feel like they needed you. That by being out of breath, it is clear that this individual required your services. From what I was told, you actually told her that she was out of shape. Again, really? Who says that? Even if it was true, I would wager there’s not a ton of people that would respond well to that. It’s degrading. 

This part is frustrating for me, as I see this nonsense plastered all over the industry and it drives me slightly crazy. Trainers and instructors making things hard just for the sake of the “workout” being tough, as opposed to things being tough because the program was well built and ended up challenging the client appropriately on varying levels, not just anaerobic or aerobic conditioning. The difference may seem slight, but it’s actually the difference between a real trainer and being a drone. A drone being someone that falls into the category of mindlessly doing what everyone else is doing. Drones don’t think about how each and every rep impacts one’s development and if that makes sense for this particular person. They just do stuff to make the client tired, so that it meets the perception of what fitness is "supposed" to feel like. It’s really easy to limit rest, use fast tempos, and work against time to create fatigue. Creating fatigue just for fatigue’s sake is embarrassingly naive. 

At any point, instead of going through the “drill‘em and grill’em” routine, did you slow down? Maybe do some eccentric negatives to see how she moved? Could she control her body? Did you see the varus misalignment and correct it when necessary? Did you assess her movement as you pushed my client through conditioning sequence after conditioning sequence? Was her form perfect on every rep, even under fatigue? Did you catch the scoliosis? Or how her tight glutes and quads can sometimes limit her depth on squats or lunges? 

I think that instead of focusing on what a first session is supposed to be, you tried to prove your worth by beating my client down. By telling her that she was somehow (inexplicably)18 pounds heavier than last year. Or that she needed to drop body fat based on an unreliable method of testing. Or that she was out of shape. A first session is supposed to be about gaining trust, and instead, you utilized negative reinforcement throughout this session in an attempt to create a codependent relationship. You tried to create need through negativity. 

In fact, I believe you even mentioned to her that most people don’t last more than two sessions with you. If that is indeed the case, then I feel incredibly sorry for you because you are missing the entire purpose of why we do what we do. You seem to be more interested in satisfying your own ego. What we do is always, ALWAYS about the client. Everything we do is to build them up. We are the positive guiding light no matter how hard the struggle is for them. 

I’m not sure if it was meant to be, but two days after I had this conversation with my client, I had a memory pop up on Facebook, and it was of my client, exactly one year ago, doing exactly the same exercise I had her doing 365 days later. Seeing how far she’s come in the past year, let alone from our start over two years ago was absolutely fantastic. You could see it all right there. Her face had completely trimmed down, her arms leaned out, midsection was tight, and her legs had developed considerably. Complete visual evidence that her whole body had completely changed and I was so proud of her. She’d be the first to tell you there’s more to accomplish, but sometimes you have to look back on those things and take pride in everything you achieved. She looked like a knockout and also fit into a size four gown for her trip to Paris next week. Baller. 

Exercise principles are critical to training success, but the relationships we forge through fitness are always the foundation. I mean most of my clients attended my wedding reception. Several even flew to Italy to be at the actual wedding. Hugs are involved in almost every session. I spend more time with my fitness family than any of my friends or real family with the exception of my wife. When I was talking with my client about her experience with you, I was beyond upset. Why would someone willingly knock a person down that was clearly trying to improve themselves? I’m sorry to hear clients only last two sessions with you, but I completely understand why. You don’t get it. 

Thank you for your time, but please don’t talk to my client ever again.

Cole Cruz

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Muscle Development, Injuries, and Traffic

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Muscle Development, Injuries, and Traffic

So we start in the middle of nowhere, corn as far as the eye can see in a pre-modern major city, with one thin, dusty trail leading to the heart of the future mega-city. 

Dusty trail = your muscle. 

People start utilizing the trail and soon, more foot traffic (like from weight-training) naturally makes the dusty path a little wider, and bigger, slowly morphing our path into a dirt road (neural adaptation comes first, then muscles). Now, horses and wagons make their way to the town (bigger and more stimuli), leaving the city (your brain) no choice but to make that dirt road a paved road (receives feedback the muscle needs to be improved and sends nerve stimuli saying we need a stronger muscle). This paved road is obviously an improvement and able to handle more and heavier traffic (progressive overload). Then there are cars. And trucks. And semi trailers. More and more stimuli that transition the road to an avenue, and then a highway, and then a super-highway. And on to whatever that is in China above…

This all sounds great, but it’s obviously not that simple. At every junction along the development of our road, things happen. Potholes, accidents, or inexplicable traffic jams - just like injuries!

That man-sized pothole? Trigger-point adhesion. 

Those semi-fixed potholes that are still really bumpy, but sort of fixed? Muscles and joints that “kind of get better” (improved with collagen-infused scar tissue, but not stretchy any more so they lack mobility) with half-assed stretching, foam rolling, and at-home physical therapy work that nobody ever does. 

20 car pile-up? Too much stimulation leading to a muscle that can’t handle the amount of stress leading to physical and mental exhaustion, no muscular gains, and a broken body. 

Enter the construction crews for repair and maintenance…fascial stretch therapists (shameless plug!), physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, and more. 

Accidents, change of season, hazardous weather, salt, plowing…all that wear and tear leads to more potholes. 


Do you see where I’m going with this?

Lightbulb. You need to have construction crews routinely working to either expand or repair roadways. Whether that’s FST work, PT work, cupping, acupuncture, self-myofascial release, self-fascial stretching using a band/swiss ball, or whatever. This has to be an all the time thing, not a some or none of the time thing. Could you imagine what those roads would look like without any intervention? 

Whenever I get asked how often people should schedule FST and for what duration will they have to do it for, I sympathize but chuckle a bit. Injuries and pain are always going to be part of the process, particularly if you challenge your ‘road’ to keep growing. They can, however, be mitigated through being mindful of what is impacting your body and how things are presenting themselves day-to-day. 

The principles are always the same, stimuli in = reaction out. Your body is constantly reacting to stressors placed on it, and that includes trauma. The more you address these stimuli and reactions with pre- and post-rehabilitation work, the better that road will be built. Take care of your super-highway and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. 

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The Four Parts of the Equation

Exercise. 

Eat healthy. 

Sleep. 

Manage stress. 

That’s it. 

On the surface, it seems so simple. That one (sleepy?) look in the mirror every morning might beg to differ for a lot of people though. You could run those four phrases by just about anyone and be hard pressed to find someone that would disagree with you about the potential results you would reap following this equation. People get it. They understand it. Living it, however, just isn’t that simple. 

Look at exercise alone. The questions are endless. How much exercise? How many days/hours until the box is checked? What type? Strength or cardio? What exercises should be done for strength work? How many reps? Sets? What if something hurts? How much does it hurt and how do I modify things? How should I periodize my programming? What about cardio? Do you need any? Interval training or low-intensity steady state? Both? How long should the intervals be? How much rest? What about working in three planes of movement to maintain body balance? Core work? 

That was literally what I came up with in 30 seconds on the spot. The list could go on…and on…and on.

Nutrition questions are even more complicated than fitness, with infinitely more possibilities for answers on how to do things the “right” way. I know how I approach it, but I bet if you polled 100 trainers, dietitians, and “nutritionists”, you’d come up with quite a range of stances on how to address these questions. 

Sleep? Ha! The amount of people that tell me they don’t get enough sleep is rising, not falling. It’s pretty easy to see as well, from the way a person moves to the expressions on their face. This doesn’t even include the idea of getting quality sleep, or that in order to actually build anything of substance with a solid fitness and nutrition base, you need the sleep to recover and develop muscle. No sleep = no recovery = no results. 

And then, my absolutely favorite, is stress. This one, in my opinion, is the most brutal for people to work on, and there is a lot of crossover with sleep/stress patterns. I have had clients balloon up 8-10 pounds over two weeks because of lack of sleep and the ridiculous demands of their jobs. 8-10 pounds!!! I’ve even lost a client because he worked so much that he couldn’t fit two, one-hour sessions into his schedule each week because he worked from the time he woke up until the time he went to bed around midnight most nights. Even if you were to train, how much of an effort could you possibly give when you’re mentally fried like that? Jobs, kids, family, friends (read: life) create stresses that most people are simply not equipped to handle to take advantage of any good work they may be doing in the other health categories.

Ok. Slow down. Breathe

We’ll get through this. We’ll start at this place. We have the four categories. Now we have to assess, and we have to do so honestly. If you were to look at each of those categories - exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress - and score them on a scale of 1-10 in terms of how “good” you have been in each one, what would your score be? More than that, if you think you’re hitting a high score, but you’re not getting the results you crave, do you think maybe it’s time to reassess what’s going on? What would you change? How would you change it? Were you tracking everything the first time around to know what doesn’t work? 

There's no doubt it can get frustrating. And it’s not that I’m going to give away answers to solve this equation. That’s just not how this works. It’s never that simple with all those variables to consider, and the sooner you realize it, the better. Only when this happens, can the real changes start to develop. 

What I can do is provide perspective. This perspective, developed through years of experience, education, and experimentation (with many more years to come!), provides a framework for how to approach these issues and develop realistic approaches to better health and fitness. It may take some time, but we’ll get there. In the mean time, enjoy the ride, it can be the most enlightening part!

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Dear Diary

I made my first website - public to the world and everything! Well, technically my wife did...but we can share credit. First 'official' blog is brewing...more to come.

Talk soon.

Cole

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