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Myofascial Release – Why should I be doing it, is it better than stretching?

To undertand the need for either modality and when to do either, I believe you need to know what each is doing and what you are mobilizing.  The human body is made up of more than bone, muscle, tendon, blood and organs.  What else is in the body?  Let’s look at the phrase myofascial release and break it down to simpler terms.  MYO – means muscle, FASCIAL = later on this, and RELEASE – yup you guessed it, relaxing something.  So, what is this fascial thing?  Well, it is a 3-dimensional web that covers our muscular system, organs, cells and cavities from head to toe.  There are 3 different types, superficial (close to the skin) that is directly below the skin layer, deep covering the muscle, bone, organs, blood vessels and nerves, and finally there is the deepest type which is within the dura of the cranial sacral system.  We are concerned with the superficial and the deep layer.  The fascial system is an organ.  It has a blood supply and is bound by the same mechanisms as all soft tissue.  In other words it can bruise, tear, and affects our posture.  A dysfunction to the fascial system can happen through trauma, prolonged postural positions, positional faults, and inflammation.  These dysfunctions can cause tightening and adhesions.  What are these? Well, you would see tightening as a postural change, so rounded shoulders, are not only from the pec, lat and subscapularis, oblique, rectus abdominus and serratus anterior tightness but also the facial net that surrounds the shoulder girdle, and the abdomen.  Adhesions are those spots that you roll over that are excruciatingly painful.  More on this in a minute.  Tightening and adhesion cause:

  • Mal alignments:  pain and dysfunction
  • Nerve and vascular entrapment:  neurologic or ischemic disturbance
  • Limited muscle length:  limited strength and potential muscle contraction.

                So what does this do to my body when the fascial net is compromised?

  • Poor muscle biomechanics (positional faults)
  • Altered structure alignment (postural changes)
  • Decreased strength
  • Decreased muscles endurance
  • Decreased motor coordination
  • Pain

Stretching is an elongation of the muscle usually via a single joint motion that you hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  This is very beneficial but your timing of when you perform these stretches is just as important as the timing of your food post workout.  If you stretch a cold system, ie, walking into the gym or box and just laying down and stretching various muscle you will not get the benefit you are looking for.  The adhesions that are binding the fascial net and muscular system together will only stretch or elongate the soft t issue above and below the adhesion, thus increasing the stress to the soft tissue that is adhered and at times increasing the inflammatory process that creates more adhesions.  This is why a light warm up and dynamic stretching is so important before you prepare for your workout.  Increase the tissue temperature of the body, loosen some of the adhesions and dynamically move through immobile spots.

Is myofascial release beneficial and when should I use myofascial release?  Should I stretch, I was told to stretch?  Well yes, yes and yes.  There is a benefit to all modalities that mobilize our soft tissue.  So when is it optimal to do these modalities?  So, before your classes you instinctively run, row, ride a bike or perform a DYNAMIC warm-up.  Now, if you were to roll on the foam roller or PVC pipe just after a light warm-up, you would loosens those adhesions more efficiently because the tissue is warmed up and more malleable, increase the circulation and decrease the friction between the soft tissue.  Then perform your workout.  Now at the end of your workout, if you felt tighter in some areas and feel you need to open up the corners go back to the foam roller or PVC pipe then stretch the tissue with some dynamic or static stretches again.  Watch your range of motion increase by leaps and bounds at the end of the workout.  The downside to this is the memory of the fascial net, the muscular cross bridges and the collagen of the skin and matrix.  The tissue will cool down and regain is normal resting length.  But, if done daily you can make a consistent change to these soft tissues and feel the benefits of myofascial release, and stretching with improvements from positional faults, improved circulation and decrease in the onset of soreness.

Paul Poutouves, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC/L

Center Manager/ Physical Therapist

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Emergency!!! As it stands right now, the water company is replacing the water main outside our building, we have to CANCEL ALL CLASSES FOR TODAY ONLY!  SORRY FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE THIS HAS CAUSED!
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How to Strengthen Your Ankles
Strong ankles can lead to better balance and performance,  and reduce the likelihood of injuries. Here are some simple things you can do to strengthen them.
1. Ankle Turns
Sitting on a chair, slide a long rope, jumprope, or band under one foot ( just below the ball of the foot).
Holding on to the rope , pull left so you r ankle tilts left.
Going against the force caused by your arms, push your ankle right.
With your ankle now tilted right, pull right and push your ankle to the left.
DO THIS REPEATEDLY AND THEN DO IT WITH YOUR OTHER FOOT.
2. Alphabet Range of Motion
Sitting down , cross your left leg over your right leg. Imagine your left big toe as a writing instrument trace the letters of the alphabet in the air. Repeat with other ankle.
3. Ankle lifts
Create a triangle with a weight and rope/belt, sit and insert foot for lifts.
4. Toe raises
5. Toe taps
6. Heel drops
Put a large book on the ground. Stand on it with the balls of your feet so your heels touch the ground. Raise your feet up to form a 90 degree angle with the book. Hold for 10 sec, fall, and repeat.
These may seem too simple and time consuming but they work and are worth the extra mile. Have a great week!!
Dr. Meg


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This is the time of year when we start feeling run down, the seasons are changing, the allergies may be raging, and school for the kids is in full force.  Our immune system is our system of defense against infections and viruses. Here are a few foods to help ward off illness.
1. Foods high in Vit. C (antioxidant)
Citrus fruits
Kiwi
Red and green peppers
Broccoli
Strawberries
2. Foods high in Vit E (antioxidant)
Wheat germ
Almonds
Sunflower seeds
Hazelnuts
Peanut butter
3. Foods high in Zinc (essential mineral)
Oysters
Baked beans
Cashews
Raisin bran
Chickpeas
4. Foods high in Carotenoids (antioxidant)
Carrots
Kale
Apricots
Papaya
Mango
5. Foods high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Oily fish
Flaxseed
Walnuts
Don’t forget to add lots of garlic to your immune boosting dishes. Take probiotics in the morning and drink green tea!
Be healthy and well.
Dr. Meg


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Attention all you runners!! You don’t have to stop training due to cold and dark conditions…..
With the change in Daylight Savings complete, dedicated and newbie runners alike are having difficulty transitioning to running in the dark. Night running is a different animal for sure, but it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your running fitness or race goals.
Safety First, Then Fitness

Without a doubt the most important steps in the transition to night running revolve around personal safety. No single workout is worth risking your overall health or well-being for. With proper planning, night running should allow you to get your workout in with minimal risk. Here are some additional thought points to consider:
Well-Lit Route: Not only will other folks be able to see you (and vice versa), but you will be better able to see where you are running.
Keep It Simple: Rather than plot out a 10-mile run, consider finding a 5-mile course that you can double up on. Or better yet, a two mile loop that you can do as many times as necessary. This keeps you close to home should you need/want to stop, and makes sure you are 100 percent familiar with every nook and cranny in the road.
Be Visible: While most of us try to blend in, night runners can’t afford to. Loud colors with reflective material to catch passing headlights is a must. Add on a few flashing strobe lights (red for your back, white for your front) and you’ll be spotted for sure.
Reflective Vest: Preferably a mid-weight version, this full zip vest will make sure you are seen and help to keep your core warm. The zipper means you can adjust your internal temp, a very nice feature in the event you do get warm.
Headlamp: Not required, but a really nice to have item. It will cut through the darkness, allowing you to pick the safest path. It also helps with the visibility issue. Newer models are light weight enough to clip on to your hat or visor without much weight.
Pre-Run Snack: Odds are you will be running through your typical dinner time. If that’s the case, make a point to have a solid afternoon snack to keep your glycogen levels up. Most athletes can make it through from lunch to dinner, but waiting until just before you head out the door to down some carbs will most likely set you up for some gastric discomfort.
Post-Run Food: Ideally you’ll go right from running to a real meal, not a recovery shake. Try to incorporate some known recovery aids including high protein from lean meats. Be sure to include a few glasses of water with this meal. Eating early is key as your body not only needs the calories, but it needs to wind down from both the workout and eating. A big gap could delay your sleep time significantly.
What Not To Bring: Your Headphones

If you love to listen to your jams for inspiration, consider the consequences. At least for nighttime running:)

Dr. Meg


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How important is breathing?

There are three reasons why belly breathing (also known as diaphragm breathing) is more effective for CrossFit.

-You will be able to more completely fill up your lungs with each breath, allowing you to get more oxygen in. Getting more oxygen in can significantly improve your performance in a CrossFit workout. Even if the weights are heavier, and the workout is not as “aerobic”, belly breathing will allow you to recover faster between reps.

-You will be able to breathe more effectively under a load. When you have to support a weight on your chest, like when doing front squats, the load impedes your ability to expand your chest to breath. This makes belly breathing even more critical as you become even more limited in the amount of air you’ll be able to fill up at the top of your lungs. Even when the weight is on top of your upper lungs, the bottom portion of your lungs (closer to your belly) will still be able to expand quite a bit to allow fresh air to come in.

-You will be able to breathe more effectively as your upper body becomes heavier during a workout. Most people don’t realize that if you have a significant amount of muscle in your upper body, than your upper body will become heavier. As your upper body becomes heavier, the ability of your upper lungs to expand becomes more limited and your ability to breath into the lower portion of your lungs becomes even more important.

How can you train this?

#1: “Lying Belly Breathing Drill”
At first, it’s best to start with the basics and learn what it should feel like to breathe through your belly. Lay down on your back and put your hand or other object on your stomach. As you exhale, try to pull your belly-button in towards your spine. As you inhale, try to push your bell-button out as far as you can. Your hand, or whatever object that is on your stomach, should visible lower and rise with each breath. Once you have the hang of it, try to focus on breathing this way as you perform other activities like when watching television or reading a book.

#2: “KB Rack Training”
No movement crushes the upper portion of the lungs like holding two kettle bells in a front-rack position. Because this position makes it so difficult to breathe in the upper lungs, it is the perfect opportunity to drill and really notice the difference in your belly breathing. Try adding in some KB Rack exercises during your training and it can help you practice your breathing while getting very instant feedback on whether your are doing it effectively or not. Other good options are to hold a sandbag in the front rack position or even just wear a heavy weight vest.

Movements you can use with the Double Kettlebell Front Rack Position”
-KB Front Rack Carries
-KB Front Rack Squats
-KB Front Rack Lunges
-KB Front Rack Step-ups

#3: “Belt Training”
Another method found to be effective is to do some aerobic training with a weight belt on. It shouldn’t be on very tight, but just enough so you can focus on pushing against the belt with your belly as you breathe during the training session. The belt helps you to physically feel your belly going out and in, and the feedback can be very useful when trying to reinforce this new breathing pattern. If you are used to breathing into your chest, it will become harder and harder to breathe through your belly as you fatigue, and having a belt can give you the tactical cue to keep your breathing on track.

Breathing is everything!!

Have a super week.

Dr. Meg


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Tim getting LOW
What you can do to give your wrists a break:
1. Shoulder flexibility: get on the foam roller, lacrosse ball and bands.
2. Elbow flexibility: this is an area that may be skipped a lot, but can be a major source of problems for the wrists. The muscles in your forearm and upper arm work really hard all day, especially when gripping heavy weights or the bar. The lacrosse ball is probably the best to get into the muscles, but just make sure you get the muscles all around your elbow.
3. Wrist flexibility: stretch your wrists! Easy, just pull your hand down/up and hold. Here’s some simple stretches.
         * elbows together hands clasped, move hands in circular motions in both directions.
         * pull fingers slowly and gently into extension, arm straight elbow and fingers pointing                downward.
        * use rubber band, double hook around thumb, surround all fingers in a bear claw with rubber band and move wrist in circular motions.
          * interlock fingers with palms together and lightly pull in opposing directions to traction the wrist joint.
4. Use wrist wraps, rock tape, kinesio tape during the workout.
5. Practice using the hook grip when appropriate! This will increase efficiency (so you don’t blow out your grip strength) and decrease stress additional stress on your wrists/forearms.  Proper mechanics is crucial in saving those wrists.
If the pounding or the repetitive motions of life cause wrist soreness, strain, and fatigue make sure you ice, massage the hand, forearms, shoulders, and neck with a lacrosse ball.  Ask one of the coaches to watch your form and be consistent with taking care of your body!! It is the only earth suit we get!!
Have an AWESOME week!
Dr. Meg