Understanding your Nervous System

A healthy nervous system allows us to perform at a high level. Using particular methods we can tap into the subconscious side to improve the running of vital bodily functions.

You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails

Our nervous system has a connection to all structures in the body. Without a healthy working nervous system most bodily functions suffer, our performance in life situations and sport are hindered and recovery from injury is impacted.

The Nervous system

Part of our central nervous system, within our subconscious is a mechanism for handling stressful situations. This is called the Autonomic Nervous system. It branches into two parts; the Sympathetic NS (SNS) and Parasympathetic NS (PNS). The SNS stimulates the bodily functions preparing us for the “fight, flight or freeze” in life threatening situations. The PNS is the other branch that prepares us for “rest, digest and heal”. It’s the PNS that should be the primary driver of our physiology.

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Using the mailman and dog as an example. Most canines are territorial and when unknown visitors arrive they become defensive, will bark and jump at the door. It’s ready to fight. When the postman leaves, the dog quickly forgets what happened and is able to fall asleep within minutes. It recognises the threat has gone and can immediately relax.

Consider yourself in the same situation, feeling threatened of an intruder. You might shout at them to leave or prepare to engage with them. When the person retreats could you relax straight away or will you be on edge for hours or even days?

The SNS is important but only has a purpose for the short term, to allow us to deal with threatening situations. Unfortunately with hectic lives, our brain interprets these physical and mental stresses as life threatening, which frequently triggers the SNS on a daily basis. Constantly stimulating SNS can lead to chronic issues…

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disorder
  • Non-working muscular tension
  • Hyperventilation
  • Adaptation failure
  • Cognitive dysfunction

The brain struggles to identify physical stress’ and imagined stress’. Anxiety of an electricity bill, job cuts at work or relationship issues will fire up the SNS.

Throughout exercise/sport our PNS and SNS working in balance. Depending on particular stressors like speed, distance, duration, the SNS may start to have a greater influence. It’s important to get into our PNS state for improved decision making, better oxygen delivery and for achieving optimal recovery.

Ways of Activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System

The PNS is the system we should be using most frequently . Therefore finding methods of staying in this state even when put under perceived levels of stress are important.

1. Breathing Mechanics

The way we breath has a deep connection to the autonomic nervous system. Shallow, apical breathing has a direct link to our SNS. But taking Deep diaphragmatic breaths stimulates the PNS. Using breathing exercises daily can help train you into a more relaxed state.  Methods such as….

Wim Hof Method

Apnea Breathing

Kapalbhati Breathing

2. Meditation Practices

Through channeling your thoughts and breathing, meditation can help induce a state of relaxation. Following this 5-10 minutes daily can help improve many different functions. Easy to use apps for this are…

Head Space

Wildflowers

                      SoundCloud – Mindfulness Works

3. Muscle relaxation

Using methods like meditation or yoga are ways of achieving muscle relaxation. Having massages and soaking in a hot bath also offers a way of relaxing muscles. The release of tight muscles indirectly sends signals to the brain to activate the PNS and switch off the SNS.

Continue reading “Understanding your Nervous System”

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Whether your running, rowing cycling or lifting. Repeated knee flexion may irritate structures on the outer knee. It is important to get on top of this condition to stop it hindering your training.

Setbacks are the perfect opportunity to grow

Iliotibial band syndrome is most commonly experienced with runners. But also in all sports that require repetitive knee flexion under high load. Early signs and symptoms often go unnoticed (or ignored) until it’s blown up into a fully-fledged injury.

What is the Iliotibial Band?

Iliotibial band

The Iliotibial Band (ITB) is a thick fibrous band of strong connective tissue running down the lateral side of the thigh. Its attachment points at the hip are from the Glutes at the back and Tensor Fascia Latae at the front. The bottom connection feeds into the outer border of the knee and patella. It’s at this attachment point that pain and inflammation develops and would be classed as Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS).

The role of the ITB is to provide the knee with stability and to abduct the hip outwards. When we walk, run or squat it’s working hard to keep the knee in the correct position and force is distributed evenly.

What are the symptoms of ITBS?

Problems arise when the lower limb moves in abnormal directions repeatedly, causing the band to flick over bony structures of the knee, leading to irritation. It may also get tighter than normal through shortening or over activity of the Glutes and Tensor Fascia Latae. This results in the ITB becoming a tighter band pulling more at its attachment and compressing other tissue around it.

ITBS usually is a sharp pain or burning sensation in the lateral knee. Generally, felt during exercise when the knee flexes repeatedly through mid-range. This range of 30-40 degrees is when pressure of the ITB against the bone is at its highest. If this movement is repeated enough, it causes friction and irritates the tissue.

What causes ITBS?

There are a number of factors that can cause a stir up of ITBS. Physically there could be a muscle imbalance, with tightness or weakness around the pelvis, hip or knee, reduced balance, and reduced ground reaction time. Mechanically, often due to the physical limitations that cause incorrect movement patterns, poor weight transferring and distribution of load.

On top of this are issues with training error. How quickly a programme is progressed, especially if it involves load or speed. From running to weight lifting, training loads need to be gradually increased to reduce the risk of injury.

Management of ITBS

Initially you may be restricted from doing the activity that caused your pain while your body recovers. An assessment will help you identify what factors are triggering your ITBS. Treatment will be multifaceted providing advice for tissue loading, gait retraining and specific muscle strengthening and stretches. Additionally, soft tissue manipulation, strapping and dry needling.

With the improved running form, increased strength and flexibility you will gradually be introduced back into the activity. This will make you overall better at your sport and reduce the risk of this problem returning.

Evidence shows that ITBS responds well to conservative management with a success rate as high as 92%.

If you’re struggling with recovering on your own contact me on 09 5290990

Strength Training for Endurance

This is a literature review of the benefits of including resistance training into your running or cycling training programme.

Rønnestad 2014

For recreational runners and cyclists, strength training is not always considered important when developing increased pace, endurance and mechanics. But this paper from 3 years supports the involvement of explosive strength training as part of a training program for endurance runners/cyclists. With benefits of improved endurance to muscle fibres when in an anaerobic state, increased tendon stiffness and greater explosive power.

The study went on to find numerous benefits with the addition of strength training. And provided these recommendations.

  1. To improve the chance of increased endurance performance following a strength training program, the resisted exercises should engage similar muscle groups and imitate sport specific movements. This will result in firing up the same neural pathways connected with the motion of running or cycling.
  2. Force output may increase the ground strike in runners or force velocity in cycling if an explosive focus is put on the concentric phase of the muscle. For example pushing fast out of the back squat.
  3. At least 2 sessions per week of strength training to develop maximal strength over a 12 week program. Beginning with lighter loads in the first 3 weeks to learn correct form before increasing load. Working within 8-12 reps and 2-3 sets.

Some beneficial lifts for runners and cyclists would include back squats, dead lifts, hip thrusters and bent over rows.

Abstract

Here we report on the effect of combining endurance training with heavy or explosive strength training on endurance performance in endurance-trained runners and cyclists. Running economy is improved by performing combined endurance training with either heavy or explosive strength training. However, heavy strength training is recommended for improving cycling economy. Equivocal findings exist regarding the effects on power output or velocity at the lactate threshold. Concurrent endurance and heavy strength training can increase running speed and power output at VO2max (Vmax and Wmax , respectively) or time to exhaustion at Vmax and Wmax . Combining endurance training with either explosive or heavy strength training can improve running performance, while there is most compelling evidence of an additive effect on cycling performance when heavy strength training is used. It is suggested that the improved endurance performance may relate to delayed activation of less efficient type II fibers, improved neuromuscular efficiency, conversion of fast-twitch type IIX fibers into more fatigue-resistant type IIA fibers, or improved musculo-tendinous stiffness.

Rønnestad et al (2014). Optimizing strength training for running and cycling endurance performance: A review. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports

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Study: Resistance training on neck pain

This study found positive results with strengthening exercises to reduce muscle tension and pain with office workers suffering with neck pain.

Lindegaard 2013

Working in the office you’re bound to suffer with neck pain at some stage. If poorly managed this can progressively become chronic. Not only can this impact your function, but interferes with your levels of concentration and performance at work. This then feeds into your mood and becomes a negative loop which is then difficult to break.

When treating a patient with chronic neck pain there’s a range of manual techniques that have strong evidence to support them. But in addition to hands-on therapy, exercises are provided to assist in the recovery. These could be in the form of stretches, postural setting or strengthening.

This study focused on strengthening exercises using a resistance band  (Theraband). Over a 10 week period they performed lateral raises with the resistance band once per day to the point of fatigue or up to 2 minutes. They found at the end of the 10 weeks through EMG testing the neck muscles were more relaxed and had reduced pain levels.

Original Abstract

Background: This study investigates the acute and longitudinal effects of resistance training on occupational muscle activity in office workers with chronic pain.

Methods: 30 female office workers with chronic neck and shoulder pain participated for 10 weeks in high-intensity elastic resistance training for 2 minutes per day (n = 15) or in control receiving weekly email-based information on general health (n = 15). Electromyography (EMG) from the splenius and upper trapezius was recorded during a normal workday.

Results: Adherence to training and control interventions were 86% and 89%, respectively. Comparedh with control, training increased isometric muscle strength 6% (P < 0.05) and decreased neck/shoulder pain intensity by 40% (P < 0.01). The frequency of periods with complete motor unit relaxation (EMG gaps) decreased acutely in the hours after training. By contrast, at 10-week follow-up, training increased average duration of EMG gaps by 71%, EMG gap frequency by 296% and percentage time below 0.5%, and 1.0% EMGmax by 578% and 242%, respectively, during the workday in m. splenius.

Conclusion: While resistance training acutely generates a more tense muscle activity pattern, the longitudinal changes are beneficial in terms of longer and more frequent periods of complete muscular relaxation and reduced pain.

Lidegaard M, et al. Effect of brief daily resistance training on occupational neck/shoulder muscle activity in office workers with chronic pain: randomized controlled trial. Biomed Res Int. 2013.

Sleep Deprivation and Injury Risk

Acute and chronic sleep deprivation both have negative results with athletic performance. It also poses a greater chance of injury.

Optimal sleep can help minimise athletic injury

Skaggs 2014

For most of us sleep is not taken too seriously. We forgo sleep for other priorities in our busy lives. As I previously posted about the effects of sleep on exercise.  This study demonstrates that a lack of sleep increases the chance of injury. While this studied sleep deprivation of adolescents it can be easily applied to the wider population.

Deprived sleep will lead to higher perceptions of effort and fatigue, impaired strength, endurance and accuracy. Gym go’ers to aspiring athletes should look at this aspect of their life more seriously to protect themselves.

For optimal recovery we should prioritise sleep as much as we do with other remedies like recovery drinks, stretching, ice baths and foam rolling. Tapping into the right amount of sleep will improve performance and recovery from injury.

Original Abstract

Background: Much attention has been given to the relationship between various training factors and athletic injuries, but no study has examined the impact of sleep deprivation on injury rates in young athletes. Information about sleep practices was gathered as part of a study designed to correlate various training practices with the risk of injury in adolescent athletes.

Methods: Informed consent for participation in an online survey of training practices and a review of injury records was obtained from 160 student athletes at a combined middle/high school (grades 7 to 12) and from their parents. Online surveys were completed by 112 adolescent athletes (70% completion rate), including 54 male and 58 female athletes with a mean age of 15 years (SD=1.5; range, 12 to 18 y). The students’ responses were then correlated with data obtained from a retrospective review of injury records maintained by the school’s athletic department.

Results: Multivariate analysis showed that hours of sleep per night and the grade in school were the best independent predictors of injury. Athletes who slept on average <8 hours per night were 1.7 times (95% confidence interval, 1.0-3.0; P=0.04) more likely to have had an injury compared with athletes who slept for ≥8 hours. For each additional grade in school, the athletes were 1.4 times more likely to have had an injury (95% confidence interval, 1.2-1.6; P<0.001).

Conclusion: Sleep deprivation and increasing grade in school appear to be associated with injuries in an adolescent athletic population. Encouraging young athletes to get optimal amounts of sleep may help protect them against athletic injuries.

Lets stop calling it tennis elbow

This injury affects more than just tennis players. Unlike its name the treatment for lateral elbow pain has advanced.

Lateral elbow pain is a regular complaint from athletes to manual workers, even office workers are exposed to the risks of these injuries. Sometimes this injury can be difficult to shake off without the necessary changes being made.

Why tennis elbow and what should we call it?

The diagnosis of “tennis elbow’ dates back to 1882 described as “lawn tennis arm”. While it effects up to 50% of tennis players throughout their careers there are many other activities other than tennis that cause this problem.

Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy (LET) is a more appropriate and clinical description of the injury. It encapsulates both a tendinitis (inflammation of the tendon) and tendinosis (micro-tears of the tendon).

With repetitive use of the arm, whether you’re doing a swing, cleaning a 60KG barbell, hammering together a fence or typing up endless reports. As the muscles in the forearm are being used continuously without rest the immune and metabolic bi-products cause micro tears in the tendon, leading to scarring, swelling and lateral elbow pain over time.

What can cause LET?

Forearm anatomny.jpg

The most common cause for LET is mentioned above, the small tearing of tendon inserting into the lateral epicondyle (outer elbow). Most commonly the tear occurs with the small muscle Extensor Carpi Radialus Brevis due to its weak insertion into the extensor tendon. But there are several other wrist extensors that can also overload this tendon complex.

For a long time, it was thought the sole problem was with the tendon and its connecting muscle. But the most recent model of LET suggests that as well as inadequate muscle power and endurance, there are also external factors influencing the pain.

These external factors could be…

  • Neck and mid back dysfunctions – Particularly the lower Cervical spine, the nerves that supply the lateral elbow have nerve roots at this level (C5-6). If nerve roots are irritated at these levels it can enhance the feeling of pain in its pathway down the arm, into the elbow. Following the Law of Denervation (This is a whole other blog!).
  • Posterior shoulder trigger points – Following that same C5-6 nerve root into the shoulder, it supplies posterior shoulder muscles. The development of trigger points in these muscles can irritate the nerve branches travelling down the arm causing enhanced pain into the elbow.
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – This is another condition that effects the nerves supplying the arm. The pressure places on these nerves can also cause pain in the elbow.

As you can see all these external factors add a nerve component to the elbow pain and should be cleared in assessment to ensure they’re not involved or treated appropriately.

How long it takes to recover?

Like all injuries, it will vary. Depending on the severity and how irritable you are this could be a few weeks to a few months. Following the guidance and management of the injury from physio you will have greater success than treating it on your own.

If symptoms persist, with no overall improvement over 12 weeks an ultrasound scan may be indicated, followed by an assessment from an orthopaedic specialist.

How do I prevent LET?

LET is a silent assassin, it’s one of these conditions that develops unknowingly (with scarring and tissue inflammation) until it’s too late (when you feel pain).

If you’re involved in sport or work that uses repetitive motion at the elbow, you’re already a candidate for this type of injury. Consider that your warning and take control.

Firstly, those forearm extensors need to be managed. Taking regular breaks to stretch and strengthen the wrists will help. Rolling the lacrosse ball into the forearm and back of the shoulder to reduce tightness. Consider your posture when sat at work or in the car, aim for your head to be over the shoulders.

For those in the gym, look at your wrist position. Most movements other than front rack and press positions, you want to maintain a neutral wrist. Look at your kettle bell swing or pull up, keeping the wrist close to neutral will reduce the force through the muscles of the forearm.

How can physio help?

Depending your presentation when assessed there are a range of treatments that could include…

  • Soft tissue manipulation of the wrist extensors, neck and shoulder
  • Joint mobilisations to the elbow, cervical and thoracic spine
  • Dry needling of forearm wrist flexors/extensors, deep neck extensors, posterior rotator cuff.
  • Mobilisations with movement for the elbow, neck and shoulder
  • Strapping of rigid or kinesio tape
  • Prescription of elbow brace/clasp
  • Specific exercises to strength and stretching exercises for the wrist, shoulder and cervical spine
  • Mobility exercises for thoracic and cervical spine

There are many treatment options available but to help with a quick recovery it’s important to provide a tailored treatment plan to meet your individual needs.

For an appointment, call on 095290990

The effect of food on your recovery

When feeling sore or recovering from injury there are other lifestyle factors to consider. Your diet may be slowing down your rate of recovery.

Your nutrition could be what tips the scales on your road to recovery

You’ve come in for treatment of your shoulder. It’s to be expected that it will consist of some manual therapy and education, followed by a home exercise routine to develop strength or improve mobility. But then there are other factors that can impact your recovery. Lifestyle factors such as stress levels, sleep and diet. While carefully rehabbing the injury it’s important to consider what foods your putting into your body.

There are many studies that show the relationship of improved nutrition on overall health outcomes with chronic diseases. More importantly it’s specific role in reducing inflammation.

Making some dietary and lifestyle changes may help with weight loss, feeling emotionally stronger, and reduce pain intensity. Nutrition could be that missing link to recovering from your injury and also help prevent injury.

Many of you may have already found the right nutritional balance in your life. For those that may still need to make changes here are some recommendations based on evidence. Theses are the common problems associated with pain that can be alleviated with diet.

1. Inflammation

Large amounts of inflammatory foods, including refined sugars and vegetable oils, populate the Western diet. Most clinical studies show that a traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in healthy fatty acids, fruits, vegetables and fiber, provides anti-inflammatory benefits. There are other diets with smaller evidence bases that have similar anti-inflam benefits such as paleo and Keto.

Studies have also shown for specific conditions. The Med-diet is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants that provides anti-inflammatory effects that benefit individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Evidence shows an optimal diet can reduce inflammation and fight chronic diseases.

2. Obesity

One of the fastest growing problems across the western world. Obesity contributes to numerous chronic pain conditions. Multiple Studies show that weight loss is vital to overall pain rehabilitation.

3. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the gradually degeneration of joint surfaces, one of the main causes of increased OA is obesity. Studies have shown that obesity is the most modifiable risk factor for knee OA. Pain levels of knee OA have been found to half when reducing 10% body weight.

One systematic review found scientific evidence to support some specific nutritional interventions–including omega 3 fatty acids–to relieve symptoms among patients with OA. Studies also show various nutrient deficiencies, including vitamins C and D as well as selenium, contribute to OA.

4. Autoimmune disease

Over 80 autoimmune disorders exist, including Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes. Genetic predisposition and environmental factors play major roles in the development of autoimmune diseases. But increasingly, researchers believe adverse dietary changes over the past 50 years. Including gluten intolerance, altered gut bacteria, and vitamin D deficiency contribute to an increased rate of autoimmune diseases.

Those main changes being a high-sugar, high-salt, processed-food heavy diet that paves the pathway for autoimmune diseases. Nutrient depleted diets only worsen this problem with a studies showing vitamin D, vitamin A, selenium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and flavanol deficiencies contribute to autoimmune diseases.


Most patients I treat deal with inflammation in one way or another. But if you suffer from any of the other of the above issues, adjusting your nutrition could be the needle-mover to alleviate pains and helps your recovery.

This is only a recommendation for adjusting your diet if you think there could be something exacerbating an inflammatory response. For any major dietary changes seek the advice of a nutritionist.

Foods that fight inflammation

Anterior Knee Pain in CrossFit

Anterior knee pain is common in most sports. In CrossFit there is a lot of repetitive knee flexion, through full range. Look after your knees to prevent this condition.

Anterior knee pain or Patellofemoral pain is quite the common condition within sports. It affects up to 20% of active individuals (1). With CrossFit athletes, there’s no hiding from repetitive knee flexion. Whether you’re squatting, box jumping, running or doing pistols the load on your knee cap is being carefully balanced. If the load is too much it causes pain around the patella.

Symptoms

Patellofemoral pain usually is at its worst when bending the knee, running, jumping, climbing stairs, squatting or kneeling. It can make a noise when the knee bends and sometimes there’s swelling over the knee.

Potential causes of Anterior Knee Pain

Unfortunately for the knee cap, it’s stuck in a tug of war from forces in different directions. This suspends the knee cap as it tracks within the grooves of the knee.


  • Muscle imbalances: The Vastus Lateralus (outer quad) and Vastus Medialus Oblique (inner quad) are the forces from either side. This is one of the most common issues where your VL is overly tight, sometimes with trigger points. This causes a shift of the knee cap away from midline resulting in more pressure on surface of the patella.

A tightness of the quads muscle, particularly Rectus Femorus causes an upwards force on the patella. When the knee is bent under load this puts extra pressure on the surface of the knee cap.

  • Biomechanics: Our body moves as a functional unit and often the knee pain is a result of something more global. The knee sits between two other mobile joints, the hip and ankle. The ankle may be rolling in or weak Glutes are causing too much internal rotation of the leg. This changes the direction of force through the knee and patella.
  • Overuse: Repeated movements especially with a new movement pattern can put higher demands on tissue. If you’ve only just started doing CrossFit or doing high reps of pistols or box jumps you may feel some anterior knee pain.

Prevention and Self treatment

This word strikes fear into most Crossfitters – REST.

While it’s understandable you still want to train, there needs to be a compromise. We want to reduce the number of days training the initial few weeks to allow symptoms to subside. We also need to restrict the some of the deeper knee flexion movements and high impact activities.

We want to offload the force reaction on the patella when bending the knee. The more knee flexion the more force reaction. Deep squats might not be a good idea to start with when feeling anterior knee pain (see the table).

force.jpg

Activity Force % Body Weight
Walking 334 N 1/2 x BW
Bike 905 N 1.3 x BW
Stair Ascend 1760 N 2.5 x BW
Stair Descend 4000 N 5.7 x BW
Jogging 7.7 x BW
Squatting 6375 N 7.6 x BW
Jumping 20 x BW
Schindler (2011) (2)

If you’re feeling anterior knee pain you want to stick within a comfortable pain-free range. Try to understand that this condition needs to be managed carefully and with patience to ensure a smooth recovery.

Stretching and mobilising is important, especially the quads. If you’re unable to lie on your stomach and pull your heel to your bottom it’s a sign that your quads are in a poor condition. Regular foam rolling and stretches of the quads, glutes and along the ITB will help prepare you for training and prevent the onset of a patella dysfunction.

Practice the movements you’re struggling with. Ask your coach to look at the movement for correction or to be scaled in the interim until you’ve developed the strength. Also, practice soft landings, if everyone in the gym can hear you land, that’s a lot of force being passed through the knees.

What to Expect from Fundamental Physio

If you’re struggling to recover on your own don’t wait too long. The longer you wait the more chronic it becomes and harder to recover from. Putting up with patellofemoral pain has been shown to accelerate the process of patella osteoarthritis (3). 

Firstly, assessing your knee to test the mechanics of the joint with a series of orthopaedic tests to clear for any other pathologies. Then looking at how your knee and leg moves with different functional tests. This will help identify where you’re struggling and where you may be compensating.

Once we’ve identified the problem areas treatment will be more specific to your problems. This may consist of manual therapy such as massage, joint mobilisation trigger point release and dry needling. Depending on the stage of your recovery, strapping techniques with rigid or kinesio tape.

First we must break you down and then rebuild you…

While the aim is to get you back to functional movements, there may be some individual muscles that might have weakened. You’ll likely start off with some isolated exercises to build strength and control. Then putting it all back together in a compound movement. Correcting your on position, weight distribution and depth. You’ll have a lot more body awareness, rather than just doing the movement and it’ll help prevent an injury like this happening again.

If you’re struggling with recovering on your own contact me on 09 5290990

  1. Lack et al (2015), Proximal muscle rehabilitation is effective for patellofemoral pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis. 
  2. Schindler (2011) Basic kinematics and biomechanics of the patello-femoral joint. Part 1: The native patella. Acta Orthop Belg.
  3. Crossley, (2014) Is patellofemoral osteoarthritis a common sequela of patellofemoral pain? 

What’s in a warm up?

There’s a misconception with the warm up, that it’s mainly used to raise the heart rate and body temperature. But there’s much more to this part of your workout. If applied appropriately it can enhance your overall performance.

Warming up before sport or any strenuous activity it’s important to reduce the risk of injury (1-3). For the typical adult most of the day is sedentary (sitting or standing). Would you expect to jump straight into your fastest 100m sprint or complete a heavy dead lift? No is hopefully your answer.

What structures am I warming up?

Vascular System

When you move, changes happen to your circulatory system. There is increased blood flow to muscles, resulting in increased oxygen supply, along with delayed lactate buildup. 

Myofascial System

During the warm up the muscle and fascia (the connective tissue between muscles) begin to increase in temperature. Muscle fibers are prepped for a smoother contraction. A warm up allows fascia to slide easier.

Nervous System

This is the most important part of a warm up. Your nervous system is connected to every other system in your body. A warm up causes increased neural activity, increased sensitivity of nerve receptors and increased speed of nerve impulses. This provides improved balance, faster reaction times, increased speed, strength and flexibility. 


Warming Up Excites Neural Pathways

The nervous system is constantly responding to a multitude of sensory information to adjust muscle tension, movement patterns and balance. If a light jog was your standard “warm up”, but you’re training for heavy dead lifts. Will you have channeled the right neural pathways for this activity?

There’s a study showing improvements in vertical jump performance following sets of squat repetitions (4). It also demonstrated increased EMG neural activity following the squats.

A baseball study showed improvements in batting speed following warm ups with a weighted bat (5). This enhanced the neural motor pattern of this movement providing more speed and strength.


What’s in a warm up?

Really a lot depends on what you’re preparing for. Consider what muscle groups and movement patterns need to be primed. You need to be firing up your neuromuscular system and increasing your heart rate to enhance the vascular system.

Mobility – If you’re not doing this in your spare time, then check-in 10 minutes earlier to do foam rolling or some static stretches for those notorious tight areas.

Cardio – The best way of increasing your heart rate is a light jog or cycle, jump on the rower or practice some skipping.

Dynamic movements – This is where our nervous system gets kick started. Working on these movements will fire up movement patterns used when performing. These movements should engage our core stabilisors of the spine.

Plyometrics – Implementing this into your warm up will help fine tune your motor skills and ensure precision when training.

Explosive strength – Once going through the above warm ups. It helps to use extra resistance to improve those neural connections. Back squats before box jumps. Chest passing medicine ball for passing speed. Weighted overhead throw for spiking or serving.

Take the warm up seriously. By incorporating these actions to your warm up you will see great results and minimise injury.

  1. Emery et al, (2010) The effectiveness of a neuromuscular prevention strategy to reduce injuries in youth soccer: a cluster-randomised controlled trial. 
  2. McCrary et al, (2015) A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. 
  3. Al Attar et al, (2016) How Effective are F-MARC Injury Prevention Programs for Soccer Players? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med
  4. Sotiropoulos et al, (2010) Effects of Warm-Up on Vertical Jump Performance and Muscle Electrical Activity Using Half-Squats at Low and Moderate Intensity. J Sports Sci and Med
  5. McCrary et al, (2015) A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. Br J Sports Med

Best Drinks for Hydration

Keeping hydrated is important to maintain a healthy functioning body. This study examines different fluids to find the most effective hydrator.

Maughan 2016

Staying hydrated is important to us all. Following an intense workout or long run a high volume of water will have been lost through sweat. Keeping well hydrated has been shown in studies to help with brain function, recovering from injury, muscle growth, improving sleep and mental health.

What’s your go to drink to keep hydrated?

There was a study published in 2016 by Ron Maughan, investigated the beverage hydration index. Fluids that are consumed need to be retained. If you’re drinking a big glass of water but the peeing the same volume out, this is not effective hydration.

Maughan was looking at several different fluids, using water as the base to compare the other drinks from. Following the consumption of fluid, urine was measured over 2 hours and then compared with the volume consumed. There were some obvious results like coffee having a poor hydration index. Some surprising results with milk being one of the better fluids retained, results close to expensive electrolyte drinks. It is thought that the milk content slows down the absorption of water, which results in less fluid extracted by the kidneys.

Important to consider when trying to rehydrate. Other than just drinking water consider putting in some lemon or a small amount of sea salt (the potassium and sodium help slow down the water absorption). This was the first study of its kind. Hopefully there’ll be future studies about post exercise related hydration drinks.

FIGURE-2.png

Original Abstract

BACKGROUND: The identification of beverages that promote longer-term fluid retention and maintenance of fluid balance is of real clinical and practical benefit in situations in which free access to fluids is limited or when frequent breaks for urination are not desirable. The postingestion diuretic response is likely to be influenced by several beverage characteristics, including the volume ingested, energy density, electrolyte content, and the presence of diuretic agents.

OBJECTIVE:This study investigated the effects of 13 different commonly consumed drinks on urine output and fluid balance when ingested in a euhydrated state, with a view to establishing a beverage hydration index (BHI), i.e., the volume of urine produced after drinking expressed relative to a standard treatment (still water) for each beverage.

DESIGN: Each subject (n = 72, euhydrated and fasted male subjects) ingested 1 L still water or 1 of 3 other commercially available beverages over a period of 30 min. Urine output was then collected for the subsequent 4 h. The BHI was corrected for the water content of drinks and was calculated as the amount of water retained at 2 h after ingestion relative to that observed after the ingestion of still water.

RESULTS: Total urine masses (mean ± SD) over 4 h were smaller than the still-water control (1337 ± 330 g) after an oral rehydration solution (ORS) (1038 ± 333 g, P < 0.001), full-fat milk (1052 ± 267 g, P < 0.001), and skimmed milk (1049 ± 334 g, P < 0.001). Cumulative urine output at 4 h after ingestion of cola, diet cola, hot tea, iced tea, coffee, lager, orange juice, sparkling water, and a sports drink were not different from the response to water ingestion. The mean BHI at 2 h was 1.54 ± 0.74 for the ORS, 1.50 ± 0.58 for full-fat milk, and 1.58 ± 0.60 for skimmed milk.

CONCLUSIONS: BHI may be a useful measure to identify the short-term hydration potential of different beverages when ingested in a euhydrated state.

Maughan et al, (2016) A randomized trial to assess the potential of different beverages to
affect hydration status: development of a beverage hydration index. Am J Clin Nutr