The most important facet to athletic recovery is sleep. This naturally recurring state of mind and body characterized by altered consciousness provides benefits to mental health, hormone balance and muscular recovery. Getting enough sleep typically means anywhere from 7-10 hours a night for most athletes.
Sleep helps your brain work properly! While sleeping your brain forms new pathways to help you learn information. If you are trying to learn a new instrument , perfect your golf swing or hit that new PR on your lifts. Sleeping helps enhance your learning ability and problem solving skills in addition to helping you pay attention, make decisions and be creative. For children and teens being sleep deprived can lead to anger, impulsiveness, mood swings, sadness, depression or lack of motivation.
Chronic sleep deprivation can set off numerous hormones and metabolic processes in the body. Sleep deprivation can increase your risk of obesity as alterations in glucose tolerance which causing your body to feel hungrier than it should causing you to reach for that extra helping or mid-day sugar binge resulting in taking in excess calories that get stored as fat due to the impaired glucose tolerance. Sleep deprivation has also been shown to lower leptin (an appetite suppressing hormone produced by fat cells, normally produced in abundance at night) and ghrelin (hormone release by the stomach that stimulates hunger which is also secreted at night). Sleep deprivation also has an effect on cortisol levels which are associated with stress and belly fat. An overall decrease in this hormone leads to an increase in likelihood of developing diabetes and obesity.
During sleep your body recovers from exercise, repairs itself and generates new muscular tissue. Your body maximizes its output of growth hormone during sleep and at the same time replenishes neurotransmitters (specialized chemicals) needed for focus, attention, motivation, overall energy levels and muscular contractions. These neurotransmitters include dopamine, adrenalin, noreadrenalin, acetylcholine and more..
Hours slept before 12 at night are proven to be more effective than those slept after
Sleep in the most natural setting possible with minimal to no artificial lights.
Wake up with the sun if possible
Fresh air and cooler temperatures provide better sleep environments
To fully understand the difference among the three phases of exercises we must first define each phase. Endurance is defined as a group of muscles that can generate sub-maximal force over a sustain amount of time or through repeated movements. Strength is defined as the ability of specific groups of muscle that producesmax force to overcome a resistance within a single exertion. Power is defined when a group of muscle is able to produce maximal force in a short amount of time possible.
When applying the phases to your exercise regime Trainers, Coaches, and/or Strength Coaches usually follow the standard repetition, sets, load and rest according to NSCA guidelines (National Strength and Conditioning Association). For Power examples like Olympic lifting, long jump and shot put are all events that require a huge amount of explosive force. According to NSCA guidelines if you are doing a single effort exercise it should be between 80-90% 1RM for 1-2 Reps and a multiple effort exercise 75-85% 1RM for 3-5 sets and 3-5 reps per set with a rest period between 2-5 min.For Strength, it requires heavy resistance, a low number of repetitions and a very long rest period. According to NSCA guideline for strength training is between 70% – 85% of your 1 Rep Max, between 2-6 repetition and 2-6 sets with a rest period between 2-5 min. For Endurance type activities think of your long distant runner or marathoner. All of your reps and sets are increased more between 12-15+ reps for 3-5 sets, but your rest period and working load are decreased.
Consult with a health professional to get help assessing your strength, power and muscular endurance. Always consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise program. Your doctor or other medical provider can assess your general health and tell you if the program is right for you.
Now that the weather is warmer it is common for people to start transitioning from the gym to running outside again. Here are some tips to promote safety when running this spring and summer!
According to Runner’s World,
1) If you can avoid running with headphones in. If you do, make sure you keep your music volume at a low enough level where you can hear on coming traffic or other pedestrians /runners approaching you. Try wearing only one ear bud in so you can still hear adequately.
2) Make sure you always run against traffic so you can see any on coming cars or vehicles to avoid being hit on roads. Always move out of the way if you feel a car is driving to close to you. Try to avoid narrow roads and areas with high traffic where cars speed or there is lots of congestion. Whenever possible stay off of the road and run on the sidewalk, the shoulder or trails especially in busy or hilly areas. Follow the traffic laws in the area especially in intersections.
3) Make sure that you alert people when you are going on a run and where so that your friends and family are aware of your whereabouts and for how long. Carry a cell phone and identification with you incase anything happens to you on a run.
4) Wear appropriate clothes for the weather and time of day. Use sun glasses, a hat and sunglasses if the sun is bright. This improves your ability to see and protects your skin from harmful UV rays. Stay hydrated before, during and after a run. Wear clothes that are cooling on hot days and wear bright clothes that make you visible to cars especially if running in the evening or night. Runner’s World also suggests that runners wear reflective clothing as a great way to stay visible when the sun is setting. A head lamp is great for your own visibility and other drivers after dark.
5) If you haven’t run in a long time during the winter ease yourself into training. Increase your mileage slowly and steadily to avoid injury if you are not in the shape that you are accustomed to or if you are new to running.
For other great tips or suggestions for safe running you can check out this article
Making sure that you find time to exercise is difficult for a lot of people especially for people with careers and children in their lives. Fortunately, there are a few ways to try and promote a healthy life style where you can raise your heart rate or get on your feet even if it is for short periods.
For example, exercise trackers like a FitBit are great ways to promote walking and standing to get steps in during a busy day. Even if you are just taking the stairs instead of the elevator this is a great way to get more walking and exercise in a normal day. Even choosing to park farther from the store to walk farther is an easy way to walk more. Have the motivation like a tracker helps people to get up a move when they normally wouldn’t and try and get more walking in than average for them.
Another way to try and get more exercise in is to get a gym membership. Gyms offer group exercise classes, private trainers and lots of machines to allow variety in training. Paying the fee for a gym membership also promotes compliance with exercise as there is more of an incentive to make up for the price. If it is hard to get to the gym a good way to get there is by going straight from work or before work Packing clothes to take allow you avoid multiple trips.
If getting a gym membership is not up your alley exercising at home is always a great option for people. Designating a work out space in your home creates a space for you to dedicate your time and effort to yourself. There are many work out videos, yoga classes etc on dvd, online or on demand that people can participate in their own home. With warmer weather going out for walks or runs is also a great way to exercise near home. Having a running or walking partner is a great way to stay active. Or taking longer walks with your dog than normal gets your moving more than you normally would.
Hopefully these tips help people stay active and healthy despite busy schedules and hectic lifestyles!
Exercise can be a great way to improve stress and energy levels in certain individuals. Endorphins are known to be correlated with exercise which can improve mood and relaxation. Most people are very active during the fall and summer since the weather is accommodating to outdoor activities. There is typically a drop off in activity levels when the temperature begins to drop during the winter months. Fortunately, there are ways to combat this and beat the lethargic effects of winter. The first is to try and join a gym. Gym’s offer a number of fun exercise classes and machines that are protected against the harsh temperatures of the outdoors. Not to mention paying for a gym membership increases the incentive to actually go to work out. If you are not interested in paying full price for a membership, ask your current employer about any discounts or offered insurance incentives for membership. If the gym is not your type of place to exercise, invest in warm weather apparel for outdoor activities. Hats, gloves and appropriate clothing are important to stay warm and safe during cold weather activities. Always be sure to check the weather before going out to make sure that you are well prepared. Or if you are more interested in staying inside there are also numerous exercise classes offered online, on demand with certain cable providers or DVDs/videos. Finally, an easy way to make sure you’re still moving is trying a fitness tracker like the FitBit to make sure you are walking throughout the day rather than sitting.
The biceps brachii is one of the most trained and sought after muscles among those who perform resistance training. But which exercise is the best to strengthen the biceps? The best exercise would elicit contraction of the greatest amount of muscle fibers.
The standard test to determine muscle activity is the electromyography (EMG). EMG studies conducted on eight of the most common bicep exercises reveal one clear choice. Exercises studied were the preacher curl, cable curl, incline curl, concentration curl, chin up and wide and narrow grip EZ curl. The exercise which elicited significantly higher biceps activation than the others was the concentration curl. This means that you use more of your biceps performing this exercise than you do with any of the others tested. Finishing with the least amount of muscle fibers recruited was the preacher curl.
So while the concentration curl targets the biceps most effectively, consider that isolating muscles during strengthening may not be the most functional way to train. Human movement is achieved not with one muscle at a time but with many muscles working in conjunction, therefore we may better improve our functional strength with a variety of multi-joint exercises and activities. If your goal is body building or simply to increase the size of your biceps, then the concentration curl will accomplish this for you.
From infancy bodies begin to make connections in the muscles that set a road map for the future of movement, according to Christopher Lybarger, physical therapist at Performance Spine & Sports Medicine in Lawrenceville, NJ.
Muscle memory begins the moment we start learning how to move.
“The aspects of our life effected by motor movements are in every motor task or movement from walking and running to grasping and drinking from a cup or brushing our teeth,” said Lybarger.
It’s also the reason we can all ride a bike even if we haven’t seen one in years.
“Anyone who’s hopped on a bike after a long hiatus understands the origins of the phrase, ‘it’s like riding a bike,’” said Lybarger. “Certain skills that you learn are pretty difficult to unlearn.”
He said muscle memory is one of the reasons an injured body can bounce back. The body never loses its muscle memory, but it does take time once an injury heals to get back certain movements. He said repetitious practice movements will help return a learned motor pattern more quickly.
“Muscle cells are large and one of the few in the body that are multinuclear. With initial resistance training, the overloading of the tissue causes a physiological response where new nuclei are added to the muscle cells, allowing them to grow larger and stronger,” Lybarger said. “This is why even if a person is inactive the body remembers what a person once did, as a result they are able to build muscle mass and strength more quickly as the body can skip a step.”
The glory of running and the defeat of injury are both well known to Dr. Mathieu Lentine, D.C.
Lentine was a competitive runner for nearly 16 years. He ran in high school, college and post collegiately. “I never liked to run but loved to race so that was what my training was always geared around,” Lentine said.
In high school and college he ran cross country and track and has ran every distance up through marathon. It was all of this running that led him to multiple knee injuries, one of which ended his college career.
Knee problems like his are common for runners. In fact the most common problem for runners is colloquially termed runners knee, though the technical term is patellofemoral pain syndrome. It is when the kneecap does not track/slide properly, especially with running. The tendons attaching to it can get inflamed or actually tear.
Another common cause of knee pain in runners is ITB syndrome. It occurs when the IT band that connects from the hip to just below the knee joint gets inflamed. This is caused by the motion of these joints during running. Also, small tears in the fascia from tight calves, low or high arches or sudden changes in running intensity can cause plantar fasciitis and result in severe pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel.
According to Lentine, problems like this can be life-long, as he is still slowed down by one of his knee injuries.
“I’m still dealing with it but physical therapy and being conscious of my movement, paired with proper training and progression, is crucial to getting back to running,” said Lentine.
He said that overuse injuries stem from a lack of mobility, muscle imbalance issues and progressing training too quickly, before the body is adapted to handle the volume/intensity or frequency of training.
He uses his own experience to emphasize the importance of doing stretching and mobility work prior to any workout.
“It’s not fun and it’s the easiest thing to neglect in a training program. However it is what keeps you running longer and with less or no injuries,” he said.
He also recommends starting slow and at a low distance. Runners can also try to mix up their routine by running on grass, gravel, pavement or the treadmill. He also recommends investing in quality running shoes which should be replaced every 300 to 400 miles.