020718 Avoiding Exercise Rhabdomyolysis

Avoiding Exercise Rhabdomyolysis

A classic case of too much, too often, and too soon is seen in those who suffer the ill and sometimes fatal after effects of working out far beyond their physical capacity.

Rhabdomyolysis in much simpler terms means that the exercise has been so extensive and strenuous that the muscle fibers themselves have not only broken down but have separated from the main fiber itself. This leads to these wayward fibers entering the circulatory system.

Some of these bits of tissue are toxic to the body and can result in kidney damage.

The person most at risk for this condition is inexperienced in exercise and is pushed either by themselves or an incompetent coach far beyond their limits. Others who may be put in the danger zone are military recruits in basic training, those who are dehydrated or suffering from heat related issues, and the circuit trainee under the supposed guidance of a personal trainer and of course the ultra marathon and triathlon athletes.

The clues of this dangerous condition are found in the abnormal and dark colored urine of the individual. This urine will have a dark, red or cola color to it.

This is a danger sign that should not be dismissed. If rhabdomyolysis is suspected, take immediate steps to have the symptoms and potential life threatening condition expertly evaluated by a physician.

Saving the life of another may be at stake here.

261217 Is your grip width destroying your shoulders?

261217 Is your grip width destroying your shoulders?

Where you grip the bar may be the best predictor of how you will injure your shoulders. Research in England has determined that certain widths related to a person’s body size may increase your chance of becoming injured while performing the bench press. A closer look at the anatomical structure of the shoulder may help to explain why this is such a common occurrence.

The shoulder, unlike the hip joint which is a true ball and socket joint, is a semi and shallow ball and socket joint. This means the skeletal bones directly involved in the bench press motion are not mechanically secure. Unlike the hip, the integrity of the shoulder primarily relies on the muscles, ligaments and tendons to keep it intact and not the joint structures. Incidentally, in some literature the shoulder is not even considered a true joint. I consider the shoulder as a joint and as such will continue to refer to it as one.

One of the main primary structures within the shoulder is the glenohumeral joint. When bench pressing this part of the shoulder supports the weight and is subjected to the constant heavy loads of the active lifter.

While benching wide with the upper arms at or near perpendicular to the upper torso the shoulders are placed into external rotation. According to the research ‘ninety degrees of abduction combined with end of range external rotation has been defined as the “at risk position” that may increase the risk of shoulder injuries.’

Now comes the pay attention part of this article. These research findings have clearly shown that benching with a hand grip greater than or equal to ‘2’ bi-acromial widths-the distance between the acromion processes, i.e. shoulder width, is destructive to your shoulders. For the ease of conversation the bi-acromial width is basically measured at the ends of both of the collar bones.

In fact a grip width greater than 1.5 bi-acromial width increases the torque on the shoulder by 1.5 times when compared to that of a narrow grip less than 1.5 bi-acromial width.

For those of you who think that taking up a wide grip on the bar (100%-190% biacromial width) gives you additional pounds you are exactly right; it does. You may realize a slight gain of less than 5% total to your maximum with these extreme grip widths but over the long haul the cost to your shoulders may be prohibitive. At the outer ranges of width the recruitment and activation of your pectoralis major is nearly insignificant in comparison to the narrow and safer grip.

When using the narrower grip positions your triceps brachii are more involved thus making this an ideal triceps building exercise while at the same time saving your elbows from potential damage.

Summary: Constantly bench pressing with a wide grip on the bar is a prelude to an eventual shoulder injury. This is a classic case of risk versus benefit; is it worth your shoulder health to be able to bench a few more pounds?

NSCA Strength and Conditioning Journal October 2007. The affect of grip width on bench press performance and risk of injury by Green, C. M. and Comfort, P.

031017 Question of rest time between exercise sessions

031017 Question of rest time between exercise sessions

I’m a little confused on how long I should wait in between strength training sessions. I was always told 2 days but now someone has told me that if I do an intensive lower body training session I should wait an entire week before going back to that muscle group to allow a true and full recovery. Is this true

Answer:
In my opinion a week is way to long to wait between sessions. Your muscles will be into the detraining zone. Two days isn’t bad but you lose a lot of training time waiting. I would not suggest a one weeks wait in between muscle groups, even the largest muscles in your body, i.e. your back and legs should be recovering within two to three days at the most. The majority will recover within one to two days even after an intense workout. Are you getting my training newsletter? If so I am addressing recovery issues for the next several months.

Elite athletes are lifting up to 14 times a week. You may not be in the elite ranks right now so it may be better to lift according to your experience level. For instance, if you have been lifting under six months then twice a week will get you going. Over six months you may consider three times per week. In my gym after a year of training time I have many of my trainees on a four day program. With the exception of my competitive athletes I am not saying I want them in my gym four times a week. Since most of them have their own gear I eventually want them lifting at home or elsewhere. I am not in favor of creating a dependent relationship with those who train with me. I expect them to learn and apply what they have learned to their own circumstances by thinking about their training and discovering what is working and what isn’t, then they plan their own course of action.

Taking into consideration the issue of muscle soreness as a reason to wait seven days; if you are still sore seven days post exercise then you have possibly suffered an injury. On the other hand being sore is not an indicator that you need to stop exercising as this soreness will evaporate shortly after the first one or two movement specific warm up sets. Joint tightness helps produce more power output as the joints aren’t fighting a loose set up but are instead closer to the levers actual working ranges.

260917 Recovering from an exercise session

260917 Recovering from an exercise session

Exercise is a way of life for many people; they stay active longer into their lives while remaining mentally and physically sharper than their non-exercising friends. An active lifestyle requires a firm dedication to living a healthy life through good food choices and exercise. Sometimes being active brings with it a few aches and pains.

There are moments though when, especially after a particularly hard training session, soreness may occur. Even though this may be a cause for concern, there are strategies that may be used to relieve some of this discomfort.

Use a cool down after your session is completed. These few minutes of less vigorous activity help your body to return to its pre-exercise status by lowering your breathing, heart rate, and temperature back to near normal numbers. This time aids in the recovery of the muscles and cardiovascular systems.

Static stretching after the initial cool down gives the muscles a chance to relax and gives you a moment or two to improve your flexibility at the same time. Stretches are particularly effective now because the muscles, tendons and ligaments are all warm and flexible; just what is necessary to be productive.

Athletes generally weigh themselves before and after training sessions. This is to ensure they are staying properly hydrated. A recreational athlete might consider doing the same for the same reasons because a loss of fluids causes a loss of mental and physical sharpness. The rule of thumb is a pint a pound. Therefore, for every pound you lose exercising you need to drink at least 16 ounces. The exception to this is for an extreme endurance athlete or the salty sweater (1), not only is water important but so are the electrolytes.

Give your muscles the nutrients necessary to repair themselves after the session. Low fat chocolate milk is ideal in this situation because it has a good balance of carbohydrates and protein in each pint. Drinking one of these within ten to fifteen minutes pushes the glycogen back into your muscles and this helps them recover faster meaning a quicker return to your favorite activity.

270317 Recovery methods employed after heavy exercise. (1/2)

270317 Recovery methods employed after heavy exercise.

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A.CSCS*D

Let us briefly discuss a few of these and the way in which they are applied during the recovery process. Use these various modalities between sets or between days of training. Experiment until you have found the ones that work best for you.

Use of the various means of recovery should be included as a part of the over all design package of your work out plan. You will find some that fit you very well, just as some exercise seem to be tailor made especially for you. However, keep varying the different modalities, as your body will soon accustom itself to those, which are applied most frequently. The benefits will diminish if they are over used. The bottom line on the issue is this: just as you change your exercise selections around each training day so must you change your recovery modes around.

The most intensive recovery methods are utilized after the heaviest workouts. Apply the recovery modes not just directly after the workout, but later in the day after your body has adjusted to the stress of the training session. Wait at least three hours before starting the recovery process. If you wait 6-9 hours, the recovery is made much more effective and will raise the work capacity higher the next day.

  1. Sleep is essential and having 7-9 hours increases the recovery rate by lowering the cortisol secretions. Growth hormones are secreted during the sleep periods but only nighttime sleep decreases cortisol and increases growth hormone secretions.
  2. Music with agreeable harmonies and with few changes in tempo has a tendency to calm, relax muscles and relieve anxiety, reduces the resistance in the respiratory tract and deepens the breath. After the heaviest work out, listening to this music for about thirty minutes before going to sleep is quite effective. During exercise, listening to music at about 40 decibels improves the mood and can be invigorating.
  3. Vibro massage and the regular massages afford the muscles, connective tissues and the nutrient feeding mechanisms the ability to be freed up of any constrictions. Massage is generally in the realm of a physical therapist or sports masseuse. Both of these specialties are highly knowledgeable in the use of massage to help the body restore itself after heavy exertion efforts.
  4. Ice massage is a very effective method and is accomplished by rubbing ice over the affected areas for 10-15 minutes after the exercise period is finished. The sensation sequence is cold, localized cold pain followed by numbness. At the numbness point, the massage is continued for several more minutes, being careful not to freeze the skin in the process.
  5. Contrast baths are a specific sequence of cold and hot water treatments. One that is commonly used is cold, hot, cold, hot, cold each lasting for about 5-6 minutes each. The theory is the cold slows down further degeneration of the tissue damage in the area. The hot then brings a great profusion of blood to the region, which then flushes out the waste products. More cold/hot repeats the process and so on.
  6. General Physical Preparation means the individuals level of physical preparedness. Is it up to performing the imposed volume and load? This portion usually implies a higher volume of training at a lower intensity.

060217 Pain and exercise

060217 Pain and exercise

Introduction

During the initial stages of an exercise program, a new trainee may not recognize what is a true and dangerous life altering pain and what is perceived but non-dangerous, pain. Certainly lifting weights can be quite the experience to uninitiated. However, there is dissimilarity between these different types of pain. One, the most dangerous, is from an injury and the other from the pain of fatigue, referred to as the pain of effort.

The pain of injury is the one to avoid and having a good coach is the key. Avoid this pain by lifting correctly, preventing contortions to move the weight,  not increasing the load beyond what the body can presently tolerate, following the correct rest periods, avoiding momentum, and preventing rapid shock load stresses on the joints.

As an example, a shock load stress to the knee results from an extremely fast drop to the bottom. The trainee does this in an effort to move more weight by letting the knee joint mechanically stop the downward movement of the bar in the hopes of creating an upward rebound effect.

Another example is when the bench press lifter lets the bar drop uncontrollably down, expecting the chest to first absorb the weight and then bounce it back up. Both of these examples, if continued, will generate an injury.

The result from this type of injury is the pain of injury. You will not soon forget this type of pain. It is immediate, painfully so, it will literally take your breath away; you may feel faint and have to lay down with your feet above your head. It feels like something has been broken, which it has.

If this injury is really serious, you will be unable to continue and probably will be seeking medical attention in a very short order to get it fixed.

In some cases, depending on the degree of injury, these take up to six months to recover from. This is a long time away from heavy lifting.

The other pain comes from fatigue. This is common with new lifters, those unaccustomed to the rigors of lifting and to the byproducts that show up in the blood stream during a moderate to strenuous lifting session.

An able coach modifies the workouts for these new trainees. These changes to their workout helps mitigate the after effects of the session and makes them less intense afterwards.

Recap

Pain of injury

Pain, from an injury, sets serious limitations on the ability to produce maximum effort or continue to lift heavy. This is a natural response from the body telling us that something is seriously wrong and whatever caused it must immediately cease. It is a strong signal that something is being damaged or soon will be damaged if the activity continues further.

Do not ignore this warning from your body because by doing so you risk potentially serious repercussions. No pain, no gain has no place in today’s lifting environment. Stop doing whatever is causing this pain from occurring or you will pay the price.

Pain of effort

Now I am not belittling anyone who is suffering from the pain of effort, as it can be real to them at the time. However, experience tells us that soon the body becomes accustomed to this type of pain and it begins to use it as a guide to the amount of effort going into the session.

This type of pain refers to each individual’s ability to tolerate exercise and the discomforts arising from doing the exercise or exercises. It is used consistently in monitoring the intensity of cardiovascular exercise. A prime example is working out in the target heart rate zone for X amount of minute’s per day.

This same type of rating scale can also be applied to endurance or strength training efforts.

230117 General Upper Torso Stretches

230117 General Upper Torso Stretches

Shoulder front

Standing upright with good posture put your hands together behind your back, keeping your arms straight raise them slowly upward to the rear. Hold for a moment then lower back down and begin again.

Shoulder rear

Continue standing with good posture in an upright position. Take one arm and hold it horizontal and parallel to the ground. Now move it across your upper chest so the hand is on the opposite side. With the opposing hand hold the elbow of the horizontal arm and begin pulling in a gentle manner toward your chest. Hold the stretch for a moment and release then repeat.

Favorite shoulder stretch

Stand facing a wall with outstretched arms. Lean into the wall and rest on your hands now look between your arms and lower your head toward the floor. Feel the nice stretch in your shoulders. This can also be done by placing your fully extended arms onto a bench or chair and leaning downward toward the floor.

Floor stretch

Get on your hands and knees. While keeping your arms straight set back on your calves with your buttocks touching them. Put your head between your arms and touch the floor with your head.

Towel stretch

The old standby for working the shoulder range of motion is the towel stretch. Starting with a bath towel or dowel rod slung over your shoulder and dropping toward the floor hold the top with one hand the bottom with the other in your other hand. Now you can go one of two ways: either pull down with the back hand or pull up with the hand at the top. In both instances, the pull should be gentle as your shoulders are in a vulnerable position and easily damaged. A soft pull is what you are looking at achieving, just enough to stretch the shoulders. The ideal is to be able to touch your hands together in the middle of your back. This may be nearly impossible if you are heavily muscled.

Chest
In a standing position interlace your fingers on top of your head. Now move your elbows and hands to the rear.

Chest favorite

Standing next to the wall, a door frame or better yet a power rack, reach behind and hold onto the surface. The stretch begins as you turn your shoulders and upper torso away from the wall, door or power rack. This works really well with the power rack.

210117 Aerobic exercise do’s and don’ts

210117 Aerobic exercise do’s and don’ts

If you are using a pedometer, keep in mind that step counts are not particularly accurate when it comes to high-intensity exercise measurements or of the quality of this type of exercise. You will be far better off getting a good heart rate monitor to track your exercise intensity. Once you have the monitor then set your sights on getting the necessary amount of minutes each day of cardio exercise.

The current recommendations of aerobic training are five days a week of moderate paced exercise for thirty to sixty minutes a day or at least one hundred and fifty minutes a week. On the other hand, if you are already doing this amount then up the ante and go for twenty to sixty minutes a day of vigorous-intensity exercise for at least seventy-five minutes a week.

140117 Maintaining range of motion

140117 Maintaining range of motion

Strength training and stretching go hand in hand towards increasingly better fitness levels. A loss of flexibility brings with it a loss of functionality in daily living activities as well as in the weight room.

Stretching is not meant to hurt unless you are in the active stages of recovering from a surgery to one of your joints or muscles. In which case the stretches will hurt, but a successful outcome depends on regaining the lost range of motion.

This involves loosening up the areas around the surgery and daily motion of the joint or muscle. It should not swell afterwards because if it does, then you have pushed it too far, too fast. Back off and get the swelling under control and then work the movements again being careful not to cause swelling again. Ice and compression are important tools to use after surgery and after exercising the area.

Prevention of the loss of joint range of motion depends on following a pattern of stretches that follow these minimal guidelines.

1. Static or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation general stretching programs involving the major muscle and tendon groups such as the shoulders, chest, upper and lower back, and the legs.
2. Do your stretching two to three times a week or after each strength training session.
3. Hold each stretch to a point of mild discomfort unless working past a surgery limitation then it will be a bit tougher and deeper into the discomfort zone.
4. Each stretch needs to be held a minimum of ten seconds for each static stretch and up to six seconds for each PNF contraction and then immediately followed by the assisted stretch.
5. Perform each selected stretch for three to five times each.

A little bit each day will produce amazing results in a very short time.

020117 Neurons and sarcomeres

020117 Neurons and sarcomeres

In the neuromuscular system, the neuron provides the link between the nervous system and the muscles. Without this interaction, no activity would take place.

The sarcomere is the smallest and most basic muscle unit. It contains all of the contractile and regulatory mechanisms necessary to function as part of the muscular system.

Muscle fibers contain hundreds to thousands of sarcomere. The muscles themselves are made up of numerous fibers.

Listening to your body

Your body tells you what is going on…if you pay attention to it. Sometimes it is obvious; a muscle tweak or worse, an injury. Often it is just a feeling that you can’t quite describe or put your finger on. In the latter case, it’s the status of your homeostasis being disrupted. You know it on a subconscious, internal sensation, level.

In order to recognize these inputs, you must practice paying attention to them. This observational attitude has to be developed. It is not easy, but can be done with practice. Notice how your body responds to different stimulate, or how the bar feels in your hand as you lift. How does it feel or what is your body doing during these activities that are creating these sensations?

With practice, you will become more and more aware of these ambiguous signs from within your body. You’ll be amazed at the detail provided by the movement and postures that take place during the exercise.

Learn to listen to these vague signals. You will be the recipient of valuable lessons and information. This will enable you to grow stronger and more powerful, both in body and mind.