Archive for the ‘Recovery’ Category

Moist Vs Dry Heat (Part 3 in our Use of Modalities Series)

October 9, 2012

So far we have covered the use of ice and dry heat to assist in the recovery process. When we look at heat we have to remember that there are 2 kinds. Dry heat which we covered in part 2, and moist heat which we will discuss here.

Dry heat is a very good way to get circulation into the affected area. However moist heat is much more penetrating, so it must be more effective. Or is it?

Whenever I’ve used moist heat pads (aka hydrocollators) my muscles have felt suppler than using dry heat or ice. By the way, hydrocollators found in a rehab setting are kept in water at 170 degrees and will retain this heat for 20-30 minutes. In fact at home, after very long runs I have turned to sitting in a tub of hot water to assist in my recovery.

But the debate continues. Clinical studies do not support the belief that moist heat is more effective than dry heat. Moist heat gives the perception that the tissue is being heated more deeply.

A study was held by the University of Texas to find out if moist heat was more effective increasing flexibility than static stretching. Results showed significant benefits to increase hamstring flexibility when using moist heat over static stretching.

Okay so there are great benefits to using moist heat.  But what about the debate of dry vs. moist heat? Is it a matter of perception?

No matter whether it is dry or moist, heat is going to increase circulation by acting as a vasodilator which will increase the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the area it is applied to.

In summary.  When looking for the correct modality to use for soreness, pulled muscles and other strains use ice for the first 72 hours and then heat after that. Ice will reduce inflammation and heat will increase circulation so that the proper nutrients and oxygen can get back into the area. This will allow you to continue to increase your conditioning and fitness levels according to your goals.

What about you? Have you found other sources to aid in your recovery?

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Feel the HEAT!!!

September 4, 2012

This is the 2nd part of a series about recovery modalities. This post will exam using heat in order to recover from one workout to another. While cold is beneficial during the acute phase (first 72 hours). Heat is recommended after the inflammatory response has been resolved.

The application of heat increases circulation by dilating blood vessels which then allow enzymes and nutrients to reach the affected area in order to continue the rebuilding process.

I’ll use heat first thing in the morning. Many times I wake up with a tight back. I keep a heating pad close to my bed. So when this happens I’ll slide the pad under my back, turn it on and allow the heat to do it’s work. This is done by the heat increasing circulation. The increased blood flow loosens me up.

All heating modalities whether they are from a heating pad or heat pack should not be applied directly to the skin and should only be used for 20 – 30 minutes in order to achieve the correct physiological effect.

One thing you want to keep in mind during these recovery phases. Whether you are feeling the soreness of a hard workout or you have truly strained or pulled a muscle the first modality to use is ice. This should be easy to remember. The area that is affected is inflamed. You’re only going to bring this response down by cooling the area. After the first 48-72 hours and the inflammation has come down you add heat to the area. Heat increases blood flow which in turn allows nutrients to assist in the rebuilding phase. Here’s the tricky part. This will all work as long as you don’t continue to stress the area that is recovering. If you’re going to do this then it’s back to the ice.

Listen to your body. There can be fine lines between being injured and being very sore from hard work. There is no reason why you can’t work other body parts while another is recovering. Your body changes during the recovery phase. NOT during your workout. The workout is the vehicle in which your body is forced to change to adapt to the intensity you just placed on it. And this is all done during the recovery phase.

Do you use heat for recovery? If not what do you do?

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Ice, Ice Baby!!!…….What do you do for recovery??

August 17, 2012

This will be the first in a series about recovery modalities. What assists your muscles during the recovery phase so that they can be ready for another workout in order to continue to increase your fitness levels?

My muscles are sore!!! ……Well how does that happen and what can you do about it?

DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the pain felt in muscles several hours to days after strenuous exercise. DOMS is the result of ruptures within the muscle, as well as damage to the muscle’s connective tissue.

So what can you do about it?

ICE, ICE, ICE!!!!!!

I have made this recommendation to those suffering countless times. It shocks me when someone comes in the gym complaining of an injury. I ask them if they’ve iced and they just look at me with a distant stare.

But it really can be that simple.

The application of cold for the treatment of injury is widespread in sports medicine today.  Ice applied to the injured area will help prevent or reduce swelling. Which then will allow the tissues and muscle to repair quicker than if it is still fighting off the inflammation first. Ice packs, ice massage, gel packs can all be used to reduce inflammation. Hence reduce the soreness you are feeling and then allowing you to hit it hard in the weight room quicker than if you don’t bring the inflammation down.

Ice should be left in place for approximately 15-20 minutes. You won’t get any additional effect by applying it any longer.

In the future we will explore the use of heat and moist heat when recovering from one workout and getting ready for the next.

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April 20, 2011

Napping. Yes what we’re talking about is that brief time period we have when we lie down during the course of our day to recharge our body’s batteries. What?!?!?! You mean you don’t NAP? Maybe you should.

We are told that it is best to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. But the reality is that most of us live very busy lives. It is more likely that we are getting 6 to 7 hours of sleep and maybe even less. The average sleep duration is now almost 2 hours shorter per night than it was 50 years ago. Although this may not seem like a significant difference when we continually sleep this way we’re actually causing a “sleep debt”. Which can then show up as poor physical health, increased stress and emotional instability. Sleeping less has been linked to increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular problems.

Benefits of napping include:

  • Relaxation
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Increased alertness
  • Improved mood
  • Improved performance, including quicker reaction time, better memory, less confusion, and fewer accidents and mistakes

So how long should you nap? And is there an ideal time of day to do this?

Naps should be kept short. 15 to 30 minutes is optimal. Napping longer does have its benefits but you can also risk disrupting your sleep later in the evening. As far as what time of day, many studies have been completed and there are many variables to be considered. But typically after lunch our bodies go through what is known as a “post-lunch dip” in wakefulness. This is a time when sleep propensity is at its highest. So if you can the ideal time would be an hour and a half to two hours after lunch. This is the time that you can recharge your batteries in order to end your day with a flourish of energy.

Truth be told due to the hours I sometimes work. I’ve been known to sneak out to my truck even at a late morning hour and grab 15 minutes in order to refresh. So when the need hits don’t fear the nap. Embrace it! It’ll do your body good!

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Overtraining – Is This You?

April 5, 2011

How many times a week do you workout? Notice that I said times not days. If you’re doing a class in one part of your day and then running for a period of time or lifting weights during another part of your day then you’re working out more than once in that day. Count these, not the days. How many days a week do you take off?

How do you feel when you wake up the morning after a workout? Are you still tired? Have you become a little more irritable? Are your legs feeling heavy when you’re going for your next run or workout? If any of this sounds familiar you may be suffering from overtraining.

In a very detailed paper published by the School of Physiotherapy at Curtin University, they define over training as – “an imbalance between training/competition versus recovery. Alternatively stated, it is too much training or competition combined with too little time for regeneration.” They list symptoms among others as “waking unrefreshed, loss of competitive drive, injury, muscle soreness and joint pain.”

Butler Universities Adrian Shepard goes a little further and lists other symptoms as

  • Decrease in performance
  • Increase in resting heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increased muscle fatigue, disturbed sleep patterns
  • Depression, irritability, apathy and low self-esteem

Dr William Kraus a cardiologist at Duke University who studies exercise adds that “you just feel bad. The spark is gone.”

Dr Steven Keteyian, director of preventative cardiology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit says ‘there’s another trap, athletes are obsessed and gullible. They will do anything they can to improve their performance and they don’t know when to stop.”

As many of my clients have heard from me, the real work happens after the training ends. It begins with the recovery process. When the body has a chance to rejuvenate itself and prepare for the next load that is about to be delivered. If your body does not get this time to rest then you will continue to tear it down and it will NOT have a chance to increase its condition, and you can risk injury.

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Muscle Recovery

December 20, 2009

People who are new to working out often ask why they can’t exercise the same muscles everyday. In brief this is what I tell them.

First off for a true workout to be successful you want to exercise to the point that your muscles are tired. Sometimes they’ll even hurt a little. When you fatigue your muscles in this way you are making them feel something that their not use to. (Physiologically you are breaking them down)

Since they haven’t felt this before, their reaction to this action is to ready itself in case it happens again. In effect their saying “Holy cow we better get ready before THAT happens again!”

Blood pours into the area that has just been exercised, tissues are being mended and your muscle is being repaired. But this time even tougher and stronger.

True muscle growth happens during this period of recovery. The process can take up to 24 – 36 hours immediately after you stop exercising.

If you are going to train the same body part two days in a row you are not giving the muscle its chance to repair and then truly change. You won’t be giving your muscle a chance to come out of fatigue.

Now keep in mind I never said that you shouldn’t exercise everyday. I’m just pointing out why you want to work on different aspects of your fitness each day.

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Why Am I So Tired????

October 25, 2009

My alarm goes off at 4:10am. My first appointment of the day is at 5:30am. My last will end at 7pm. I make my way to bed by 9:30pm and then repeat this process for the next 5 days. This has been my schedule for the last 10 years. Funny thing is although this may seem like a lot. I know quite a few people who work hours like this. In fact we Americans work more hours and take less vacations than other westernized countries.

We are workers. We put in the hours. Aren’t we told that this is what it takes to be successful? Aren’t most of the successful people you know doing just this?

If I don’t get to bed by 9:30 and get the sleep I need, then I may not feel the effects the next day. But by the time the end of the week comes, I’m a zombie.

When I feel myself struggling towards the end of the week, because I haven’t gotten enough sleep. I will often take a nap in the afternoon. Now I realize that a lot of people don’t have this luxury. But a 20 to 30 minute rest is all it takes to recharge your body.

Sleeping is overrated!! Not really. I’ve known many college students that have come down with colds right after final exams. Why is this? Well they have been spending many nights before their tests studying to ready themselves for that one day. Sleep deprivation breaks down your immune system, hence the cold.

Not only does missed sleep effect your immune system but it can also decrease your

  • Motivation
  • Patience
  • Judgment
  • Performance
  • And much more

Although, this is a general guideline and needs vary from person to person. Research done at the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center in La Jolla, Calif., has shown that 6.5 to 7.5 hours of sleep a night is ideal.

So what about you? How much sleep do you get? How much do you think you require? How do you feel if you haven’t gotten enough sleep? What can you do to change this? (hint: the answer isn’t more caffeine!)

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Stretching…..Do You???

August 15, 2009

This week I had a conversation with a fellow that I have been training for several years. In the past year he has stepped up his running and in fact is going to join our team for next year’s Ragnar Relay. I was taken back when he told me that he didn’t stretch after his runs. After some thought I realized that this was actually pretty common. Stretching after running should be as automatic as running itself. Not having enough time is not a good enough reason to not stretch. After all it really doesn’t have to take any more than 3 to 4 minutes to complete. After running I religiously put my knees through their full range of motion by doing 10 squats then do a standing quad stretch for 30 seconds each. After this, what is left is to stretch my hamstrings, again for 30 seconds each. This really assists in stopping a lot of the soreness that I would feel had I not gone through this routine. What do you do after running? Do you have a different routine that you follow? What can you share with the rest of us to assist in our recovery?