Sleep Deprivation and Exercise

Trying to balance a busy life, the easiest thing to neglect can be sleep. Trying to exercise in this state can produce poor results.

Souiss 2013 & Rae 2017

How many of us burn the candle at both ends? Balancing a busy workload, maintaining a healthy and social lifestyle. What often leads to sleep deprivation.

These two studies demonstrate the impact of sleep deprivation on performance.

Souiss tested his judo athletes with a number of measures including grip strength, anaerobic capacity and isometric test of elbow flexion. Tests were performed at 9am and 4pm after a judo match. There were 3 scenarios, full sleep (7.5hrs), partial sleep early (10pm-2am) and late (3am-6am).

The results showed with a full sleep performance was better in the afternoon. But with both groups with only partial sleep performance dropped in both the morning and afternoon. The partial sleep group woken early performed worse later in the afternoon.

Rae’s study of cyclists, measuring their strength the day after high intensity interval training, one group with full sleep (7.5hrs) and partial sleep (4hrs). They tested 24 hours later, testing peak power output and surveying fatigue and motivation.

These results showed that with sleep deprivation peak performance output reduced compared with normal sleep. Also sleep deprived felt more tired and less motivated to train. This is just from one night of disrupted sleep.

Sitting back and thinking about the relationship of sleep and performance these results seem pretty obvious. Giving your self normal levels of sleep can improve performance and brain function. Try and make sleep more of a priority in the life balance. The choices we make, dictate the lives we live.

 

Souissi et al, (2013) Effects of time-of-day and partial sleep deprivation on short-term maximal performances of judo competitors. J Strength Cond Res.

Rae et al, (2017), One night of partial sleep deprivation impairs recovery from a single exercise training session. Eur J Appl Physiol.

Continue reading “Sleep Deprivation and Exercise”

Improving press position

The final part to the 4 shoulder positions that give us stability. The press position is used in so many ways, failing to find a good press shape can produce poor results and pose a risk to injury.

This is the final part of the 4 shoulder shapes we should all be able to achieve. Creating these shapes provides more efficient transitions when under load, making it easier and posing less risk to the shoulder.

So we’ve opened up the over head, front rack and hang shape. The last position is a press. Think of so many positions, bench press, rowing, burpee, chest to bar pull up, muscle up, ring dip….. If we create a poor, unstable position from this point it will make the movement much more difficult.

With the press we need to achieve full shoulder extension without the elbows flaring. Rarely do we get full extension in the shoulder. Even when sat at a desk typing were put in a perfect opportunity to hold the press position, but we get too flexed through the spine and the keyboard is placed to far away.

The other movement is internal rotation, which was part of our hang position. Good internal rotation at the shoulder will stop the elbows from flaring.

The last part being the lack of mobility of our lower cervical and upper thoracic spine. Which when stiff takes us into a rounded shoulder position. Trying to mobilise this area will help improve shoulder and head position.

Below are a series of mobility exercises to help with these directions.


Barbell hold – With the bar racked up to shoulder level and secure in the rack. Reach back with both hands, hold onto the bar and gentle lean forwards till you feel a stretch in the front of the chest and shoulders. Hold for 2 minutes. Gradually work your hands closer together.

Peanut lower cervical – This one you’ll have to get hold of a peanut (two lacrosse balls stuck together). Place the peanut at the base of the neck. Lift the hips to the ceiling. Some gentle rocking or arm movements through flexion or behind the back will help mobilise this point. 2 minutes

Lats smash with LaX ball – Take the ball under the arm pit into the meaty portion at the back, which is your lats. Roll into the lats with the arm in over head position lying on your side. 2 minutes.

Band hold – The other alternative to the bar hold is a band hold. Same position but hold the band behind you. Hold the stretch for 2 minutes.

CrossFit – How can Physio help?

CrossFit has its share of injuries like any sport. An experienced physio with knowledge of the training can get an athlete functioning pain free quickly and performing back to their best.

To perform at your best you need a strong mindset, great coaching staff that are strict with your technique and an experienced physio to prevent aches and pains

Most Kiwi’s are pretty tough, with a ‘she’ll be right” mentality when it comes to injury. You’d think that would be a perfect combination with the image CrossFit portrays. But when you’ve been carrying that niggle for so long and it starts getting worse, it could shut you down completely from training.

Physio and CrossFit work well together

Physio’s are specialists in movement analysis and CrossFit itself is a training regime that goes through gross fundamental movement patterns. So putting yourself through these movements and identifying your weakness’ gives me a lot more insight into where your problem could be coming from.

What are the common complaints?

There have been interesting studies done over the last few years into injuries within CrossFit. Interestingly the studies correlated similar with the same common areas being involved:

  • Shoulder
  • Lower back
  • Knee

Some injuries being severe enough to stop some from working, training and competing. These are the most common areas of injury I see come into the clinic from CrossFit, but I also see others suffering from:

  • Neck and thoracic strains
  • Ankle sprains and hypomobility
  • Hip impingement
  • Patella dysfunction from quad heavy squats
  • Wrist strains

How can Physiotherapy help?

As a physio it’s my job to get you functioning pain free as quickly as possible. Being a Crossfitter myself, who performs daily and understands the training styles, philosophy and terminology I can relate to the frustrations that you may face with limitations in training. Also working on site I can take you into the gym, look at techniques of different movements and provide you with additional drills to perform before your WOD.

What do I offer a CrossFit athlete?

  • An assessment of your movement patterns looking for weakness, asymmetry and any underlying mobility issues.
  • Hands on therapy for immediate pain relief, this may involve soft tissue massage, joint mobilisations and dry needling.
  • Localised taping of problem areas to assist you during your next training session
  • Diagnosis and ongoing management for acute or severe injuries, including referrals for further tests such as x-rays/ultrasounds, scans or to a specialist.
  • Educating you on what caused your injury or pain and steps to prevent further problems.
  • A personalised rehabilitation program – listing corrective, strengthening and stretching exercises to assist your recovery.
  • Liaising with and providing regular updates of your progress directly to your coach or trainer to ensure you get a coordinated approach to your rehabilitation. This also ensures that you are scaling or modifying WOD’s as required.

For an appointment, call on 095290990 

Montalvo et al (2017) Retrospective Injury Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Injury in CrossFit. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine

Keogh et al (2016) The Epidemiology of Injuries Across the Weight-Training Sports. Sports Medicine

Weisenthal et al (2014) Injury rate and patterns among CrossFit athletes. Journal of Orthopaedic Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, and Knee Athroplasty

Improving front rack position

Improving the front rack position can help us in so many movements. This page shows a number of stretches that will improve shoulder mobility. and help prevent injury.

This is the second part of the shoulder, expanding on a previous post about 4 important shoulder positions that we should all be aiming to achieve. It’s quite important that you can find these positions comfortably, especially under load, as it will help to limit the risk of injury but also make it easier for you to transition out of it.

So, we’re all now great with our over head position. Can you now transition back down to a front rack? à la thrusters, hand stand push ups or catching the wall ball into the squat. Front rack is the most complexed out of the 4 positions as there are so many structures feeding into that position.

With Front rack most of us struggle with finding that shoulder external rotation to get the hands outside of the shoulders while keeping the elbows high. This helps line the hands into a stable platform for the bar.

The forearms are often tight making it hard for the wrists to fully extend. How many of us get achy wrists after front squats? Create that stable platform with good wrist extension.

Our triceps can also restrict the elbow from going into full flexion. And finally good Thoracic mobility as mentioned in the over head position. It will impact achieving extension and getting the maximum lift through the elbows.

Below are a series of mobility exercises to improve that Front Rack position.


Stick external rotation stretch – Grab a stick, hold it outside the arm. Lift your elbow and pull the stick from underneath your arm, across the body. This will pull your hand out further and you will feel the shoulder wind up. Hold for 1 minute. To take this further by repeating a hold-relax method, pulling the stick inwards for 5 seconds then relaxing further into external rotation .

Banded External rotation – Put the elbow into the band, take the hand on the inside of the band and hold on. Keep the elbow close to your head and drive the arm pit forwards. Hold the stretch for 2 minutes.

Wrist Flexor stretch – Kneeling on the floor, with palms facing away, put your hands down on the floor and take the wrists into extension, moving your body backwards. Hold for 2 minutes. Next get the band and place the hand in the same position. Have the band pull away while doing small oscillating wrist extensions into the stretch. Repeat for 1-2 minutes.

Triceps smash – Excuse the facial expressions in this video, I don’t always look that way! Resting the tricep on the bar while flexing and extending the elbow. Start at the triceps tendon (above the elbow) repeat 10-12 reps then move higher up the muscle. To increase the pain….I mean load, use the band to get fascia tacked down to the bar.

Thoracic Mobility as mentioned above it’s important to extend at the Thoracic below are two basics.

Improving overhead position

Often we are restricted with overhead movements as it is an action we don’t use often enough. Try these exercises to increase movement if your tight reaching above your head.

So from the last blog we’ve learnt there are 4 positions of high torque when we wind up the shoulder capsule and surrounding muscles. By utilising these positions they will produce better pathways to move from and minimise the risk of injury.

We’ll start off with the over head positions. In every day life we don’t take our hands above our shoulders often enough. It’s understandable the shoulder will feel tight in these positions. But with a little regular mobilising we should be able to feel more comfortable holding our arms up there.

In the shoulder we have big internal rotators and some small external rotators which can cause a bit of an imbalance. Both internal and external rotation needs to be stretched to achieve full over head movement.

The other thing restricting our overhead movements is thoracic mobility. Another area that often gets stiff with a sedentary life. Additional extension at the Thoracic region without hyper extending at the lower back will give us better shoulder flexion.

Below are some basic mobility drills to improve Thoracic extension.

Foam Roller – Slowly moving over the foam roller, trying to extend over the top, keeping steady breathing throughout. Try to keep the neck in a stable position avoiding hyper-extending, also avoid rolling into the Lumbar spine.  Try this for up to 2 minutes. Once you find some stiffness, stay on that point and lift your arms straight above your head. 1 minute.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BT2yyupFzCP/?taken-by=fundamentalphysio

T spine extension – Kneeling, put both elbows up on the step/box. Drop the chest down to the ground. Feeling a stretch at the Thoracic spine and lats. Hold the stretch for 2 minutes. Try to stay strong at the lumbar spine avoiding extending.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BT2zxQgFaYu/?taken-by=fundamentalphysio

Below are just some stretches you can do to access both the internal and external rotation restrictions at the shoulder.

Pec major stretch – Using a resistance band, taking up the slack with the hand behind, turn your body away, producing a large stretch in the chest. Hold for 2 minutes.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BT20WulFJyD/?taken-by=fundamentalphysio

Under arm stretch – Attach a light resistance band to the opposite frame. Hold the other end with your hand behind the neck, pull into the opposite rack and drive the armpit into the poll. You’ll get a good triceps and lats stretch. 2 minutes.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BT20x4YFGYp/?taken-by=fundamentalphysio

Infraspinatus LaX ball smash – Direct the ball into the shoulder blade. With the pressure, take the hand across the body and over head. 1 minute each direction.

Does your shoulder get the green light?

Are you able to achieve full shoulder range and move efficiently with speed and load. Essential to preventing injury and getting the most out of your training.

The shoulder is such an interesting part of the body. It’s a joint that’s suspended by muscles and fascia and its only point of contact with the rest of the skeletal system is a dinky little joint at the collar bone. Which means that our musculature is doing all the work to maintain stability while moving through huge ranges.

Underneath the layers of muscle, the shoulder has a capsule and it has four positions where it winds up and reaches its highest levels of tension and stability. If we can achieve these positions from start to finish when transitioning through movement, particularly under load we’ll have less chance of injury.


  1. The first movement being overhead a combination of external rotation and flexion at the shoulder and protraction of the scapula (moving forward around the rib cage). Examples of this being the start position of chest to bar pull up or end position of push press. Our arms should get past our ears with the elbow pits facing each other.
  1. Next the front rack position is also flexion and external rotation of the shoulder. Obvious examples are a front squat or the bottom of a hand stand push up. This is elbows up to shoulder level, with the hands outside the shoulders and palms turned up.
  1. Hang position is a full internal rotation of the shoulder. This can be seen when we clean or Snatch. Elbows out to the side at shoulder level and hands down to floor, aiming for the forearms to be in line with the body.
  1. The press position consists of internal rotation and extension. Seen with the start of a bench press or bottom of a ring dip. The elbows are taken past the body as far as possible with hands at chest level.

Failing to maintain shapes of stability becomes more difficult to transition and finish safely to the next position. Make sure you have competency in all 4 positions. If you’re struggling with a position you need to be mobilising. If you’re having pain with these positions you should have it assessed to avoid being side lined.