Summer Temps are Here — here are the guidelines to stay hydrated!

With the temps and humidity climbing as we head into July, it’s time to take another look at your hydration patterns.  Are you heading out for training well-hydrated or are you trying to make up for neglected hydration during training?

To help you navagate this critical part of your training, here are some guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine:

1. Drink 16-20 fluid ounces of water at least 4 hours before exercise

2. Drink 8-12 fluid ounces of water 10-15 minutes before exercise

During Exercise:

1. Drink 3-8 fluid ounces of water every 15-20 minutes when exercising less than 60 minutes

2. Drink 3-8 fluid ounces of a sports beverage (5-8% carbohydrate with electrolytes) every 15-20 minutes when exercising more than 60 minutes

3. Do not drink more than one quart per hour during exercise

 Following these guidelines will help you stay hydrated but it’s important to remember that there is a high degree of variability in fluid loss between athletes.  If you’re wondering how to tell if you’re getting dehydrated , you can weigh yourself (without clothes) before and after your workout.  (Workout clothes will be sweaty after practice and throw off the measure of weight you lost through sweat).

Compare your pre- and post- training weight to see where you fit in this chart:

% Body Weight Change

Well Hydrated -1 to +1%

Minimal Dehydration -1 to -3%

Significant Dehydration -3 to -5%

Serious Dehydration > -5%

Based on these numbers, you should have a good feel for if your hydration patterns are sufficient for the temperature, humidity, and workout intensity and duration.  Now you’ll be able to make educated adjustments going forward.  Remember, not only is dehydration dangerous, it also impairs your thinking and reflexes.  If you want to excel, you have to stay hydrated!

Interested in more education on the science of hydration?  Click here to read ACSM’s handout on Selecting and Effectively using Hydration for Fitness!

Several Definitions of Prehab

Medical News Today hosted an interesting article on the injuries and prevention in youth athletics.  The whole article was informative and I found the discussion of the special problems associated with youth ACL repair especially helpful.  The article also highlighted the relatively new uses of the word prehab.

Most commonly, we use this term to mean the supervised pre-surgical physical therapy designed to improve the outcome of a surgical intervention. But another, increasingly common, use of the term denotes specialized, professionally supervised training, often done by a strength coach, to significantly decrease the risk of a particular injury before the injury occurs.  This type of training combines strength training, balancing opposing muscle groups, and re-training muscle memory patterns.

The benefits of improved strength to support joints through complex movements is obvious.  A little less obvious may be the importance of having hamstrings and quads, biceps and triceps, or abdominal muscles and back muscles in optimal strength ratios.  In many cases, opposing muscles group ratios are not 1:1.  For the most part, one muscle group of the pair will need to be stronger (but not too much stronger) than its opposing muscle group.  Ensuring these optimal ratios improves any athletes safety and performance.  Movement pattern training targets those bad jumping/landing/cutting habits likely to produce injuries and replace them with patterns that will not only keep athletes safe but also increase their performance.

I especially like this version of prehab because it focuses on bringing in the professionals before an injury occurs.  If you’ve ever experienced a significant injury, you know how hard it is to come back from even the most “routine” surgery.  Added to this is the special case that kids are experiencing significant injuries at a higher rate than ever and the complications to their general growth and development (let alone their athletic performance) can be impeded from the surgical fixes common for these injuries in adults.

With all the money now being spent on specialized gear, travel, lessons, and year round play, it seems like a worth while investment in your youth athlete to get them in to see a professional for a prehab assessment.  We want these youth athletes to have years and years of competitive play and not have to retire their athletic dreams in their early teens due to injuries, as so many athletes are doing now.

 

Good Form in the Weight Room — do you know what you’re doing?

Summer is a great time to slow down and focus on what’s important.  For many athletes, that can be building strength and athletic skills to support their sports training during the other parts of the year.

One area that can always use improvement is strength training technique.  If you think your technique is pretty good, let me assure you, there’s always room for improvement!

Many athletes have never had formal technique training in the weight room.  Even those who have, often times, fall out of the habit of using solid form.

Is lifting technique important?
YES, YES, YES! Without practicing proper technique, we are doing our bodies a disservice and putting ourselves at a higher risk for injury.  We are in the weight room to prevent injuries and to perform better, right?!

Below are 5 suggestions that may be helpful to add or utilize throughout your training program.

1. Be cautious of using exercises from a fitness magazine you have not tried — especially without guided help from a coach or lifting partner. Remember, those exercises may not be appropriate for your training level and/or training goals.

2. If you are new to strength training, learn the basics first. Ask a qualified trainer or coach to help you develop a program specific to your needs and skill level.

3. Utilize mirrors during your training session (to keep an eye on your posture and technique – NOT to check yourself out!)

4. Never sacrifice technique for more plates on the bar.

5. Make sure the machines or equipment is set up and adjusted properly to fit you! We are all physiologically unique — take the time to set up your equipment properly!

This is important work!  Don’t leave it to your gut feel or trying to figure things out from some health magazine.  There are plenty of options for connecting with professionals to teach you proper approach and execution of the lifts that will make you a stronger, more resilient athlete.

Learn the correct way now and be more effective in all your workouts to come.

The Tip to Turn Pre-Competition Stress into a Performance Boost

Can a quick mental redirect change the chemistry of your body from tension-fill pre-competition anxiety to performance-boosting focus?

“…The way that you think about something can actually transform the effect that it has on you. Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, author of the new book The Upside of Stress, explains how positive thinking can put you on the road to positive outcomes while negative thoughts run the risk of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.”

Interested?  Click the link to watch Kelly’s short video explaining how to harness the power of that stress!

“Optional” Strength Training for Runners

Runners love to run.  As a general rule, however, they don’t like to strength train – and this is causing runners to have higher injury rates than necessary.

Why is it so many runners feel more running is the answer to running faster, safer, or generally more efficiently??

While it is true running is necessary to improve your cardiovascular and metabolic capacities that allow you to improve your PRs, if you don’t have the musculature to stabilize your joints and support your movements, you are going to end up limping no matter what your aerobic capacity.  Need proof?  A quick Google Scholar search pulls up 134,000+ articles on how strength training can impact many aspects of running capacity.  More running does not improve your muscular strength.  That is the job of a well rounded strength program but many runners just don’t want to listen.

A common reason cited for not strength training is lack of time.  Truth of the matter is, your strength program doesn’t have to be extensive and time consuming to be effective.  A focused 20 minute program 3 days a week using complex movements targeting multiple large muscle groups (think squats because you are moving lots of weight through coordinated hip, knee, and ankle range of motion while balancing and stabilizing) will help your training stay efficient and effective.

There are many programs designed to achieve this goal available online, some of them more reputable and effective than others, so be warned to use your critical thinking skills to weed out the ones carelessly put together and thrown up on the web.  If you’re currently having some aches or nagging pains, it may well be worth the time and money to have a professional design a workout for you and walk you through it to make sure a. it’s right for you and b. you are implementing it correctly.  In your effort to get stronger, you don’t want to use a poorly designed plan that sets you back!

And as always, we are here to help!  Feel free to contact Jen if you have question about how Borgess Athletic Performance can help you become the athlete you were meant to be!

Summer Play

The end of the Spring sports season is here and many athletes are thinking about how to spend their summer vacation.  In the US, many athletes will spend the summer playing for a travel team in the same sport they participate in during their school year.  It seems commonsensical that greater time spent in specialized play equals a better athlete in that sport.  But this is one area where gut feel and research are at odds.

Much of the recent research on what makes a great athlete (you know the ones I’m talking about — the ones with huge contracts and millions in endorsements) – show they played many different sports in their younger years and held off specializing until late in high school or even in college.

What is it about late specialization that benefits these athletes?  Research indicates these athletes are stronger both physically and mentally because they have encountered a larger variety of physical and mental stresses.  These stresses cause them to have greater adaption proficiency that athletes specializing early in a single sport.

Adaption to stress, from the stress of lifting more weight to the stress of becoming adept at anticipating the movement of the ball or another players and intercepting either one faster, is the stuff of which athletes are made.  The quicker and more successful the adaptions, the more successful the athlete.

When your year round training is designed to give you new experiences to which you need to adapt (i.e. different sports stress the athlete mentally and physically in very different ways), your training makes you a stronger overall athlete.  When this groundwork laid in a young athlete, they have a more solid physical and mental foundation upon which to build in their later high school and college years.

So the question becomes: how should your athlete be spending the summer:  doing more of the same?  Or, should they be seeking out new stressors to make a stronger overall athlete so when the high school and college seasons come around they are stronger, faster, and mentally more sharp?

Want to check out the research for yourself?  Click here, here, and here!

 

5 Tips to Stop craving Junk Food

Even the most determined and disipliced athlete deals with the cravings for junk food.  Salty or sweet, no matter the variety of your Achilles heel, here are 5 tips to help you steer clear and stay on track:

1. Don’t buy them — cravings are often times triggered by visual cues which is why there are so many junk food commercials on TV.  If they are not in your house, it is a lot harder to munch on them after the commercial comes on to trigger your craving!

2. If you do buy them (or others bring them home), keep them out of sight.  Again, if you see them, you’re more likely to crave them so put them in a cupboard that’s out of your normal traffic pattern or store them above or below eye level.

3. Treats are treats — that means you don’t eat them every day.  If you don’t eat them often, you won’t get habituated to the taste.  To make a clean break, try doing a 10 day cleanse where you cut all processed, convenience, and fast foods out of your diet.  It’s a challenge, especially if you’re stuck in a situation where you have to eat out.  This is enough time, however, for your tastebuds to start to reset to less salty or sweet flavor.  Be warned, the first 5 or so days of sticking to the cleanse are really difficult!  But if you can get through those, it will get easier.  And once done with the whole 10 days, you will be surprised how you don’t have the cravings for junk food.

4. Drink more water.  Sometimes you’re just bored and looking for entertainment.  Although water is not that entertaining, the mere act of drinking is sometimes enough to distract you from the craving.  Add in the mental imagery of washing away the craving as you drink and you will be reinforcing the positive behavior of water consumption and reminding yourself food does not need to be your source of entertainment.

5. If you’re going to breakdown and indulge, pay attention as you eat!  New studies have found being mindful as you eat increases your sense of satisfaction with smaller amounts of food.  So, if you can’t cut your junk food out completely, pay attention to taking smaller bites and chewing more thoroughly.  If you do this, you will actually taste and appreciate the junk food you do decide to eat.  More satisfaction with less of the health-derailing junk food!

You can make healthier choices and learn to control your cravings so they don’t control you.  It just takes willingness to make different choices and extra effort spent on learning new habits.  But you can do this — after all, those two skills are exactly what it takes to take you to the next level!

To treat injuries and nagging pain, it’s all about blood flow

I often get asked whether an athlete should ice or heat a minor injury or ache.  The simple answer is: it’s all about blood flow.

For example, if you’ve just sprained your ankle on the practice field, the treatment goal is to keep the swelling down.  That’s where ice and elevation come in.  Both of these treatments reduce the flow of blood to the injured area and keep fluid from pooling at the injury site.  This, in turn, reduced pain and allows the body to start to heal the damage done to the muscles.

For nagging, chronic aches, we aren’t worried about large amounts of swelling.  We want to have muscles able to stretch and contract smoothly — this is a job for heat.  Heat will reduce muscular tension and allow the muscle fibers to stretch and contract more effectively.

For those chronically achy areas that get inflamed after a workout, we may want to use heat before we start and ice after our workout.  Again, the goal is to manage blood flow — loosen things up before we start and reduce swelling once we are done.

And what if we opt to leave the swelling untreated?

Chronic swelling causes changes to the surrounding tissues making them less pliable and more rigid.  These are not changes we want to see!  On the other end of the spectrum, icing too long or with a pack that’s too cold  an cause damage to the skin in the form of frostbite.  Balance is the key, which is why the adage has been 20 minutes of icing each hour for the first 72 hours post injury.

Learning to balance ice and heat is a critical component to injury management.  We want some blood flow to the injury site because that blood contains the cells that will repair the damage but we don’t want too much blood rushing to the site because the fluid build up actually works to compress the blood vessels and nerves causing prolonged pain and impairing the body’s ability to heal.

Understanding and following through on appropriate injury management is the fastest way to maximize your healing process and get back to performance enhancing training!

 

You want to be in this 2%

According to research, only 2% of Americans are getting enough potassium.  Why does that matter to you? Potassium:

1. helps to build muscles,
2. balances fluid and electrolytes in the body
3. controls the electrical activity of the heart
4. regulates blood pressure

All of these are important for the general public but even more so for athletes!

And, it’s not tricky to make sure you are getting the levels you need from the foods you eat.  According to WebMD, high levels of potassium can be found in these foods, as well as many others:

  • Winter squash, cubed, 1 cup, cooked: 896 mg
  • Sweet potato, medium, baked with skin: 694 mg
  • Potato, medium, baked with skin: 610 mg
  • White beans, canned, drained, half cup: 595 mg
  • Yogurt, fat-free, 1 cup: 579 mg
  • Halibut, 3 ounces, cooked: 490 mg
  • 100% orange juice, 8 ounces: 496 mg
  • Broccoli, 1 cup, cooked: 457 mg
  • Cantaloupe, cubed, 1 cup: 431 mg
  • Banana, 1 medium: 422 mg

Ask most of our grandmas and they will tell you bananas are a great source of potassium but you can see from the list, there are many foods packing an even greater potassium punch!  And, while you could get your levels up by using a supplement, these foods all come packed with fiber and additional vitamins and minerals that are easy to absorb and easy on the wallet!

If you want to be better than average, this is a great place to start!  Be one of the 2% of Americans ensuring you get enough of this important mineral in your diet!

(ht: Fooducate!)

4 Tips for More Effective Recovery!

This is a repost from last year but for those 1200+ Run Campers who up-ed their miles this year and for everyone else who decided this was the year they would start or re-start their athletic journey — it’s important to understand how critical intentional recovery is to improving your performance! Here are some tips to make sure you are recovering properly:

1. Water

Obviously, water plays a huge role in recovery.  The body needs plenty of water to flush out the lactic acid and other waste products of metabolism.  Although it’s likely the runners won’t be heading out for a long run today, hydration needs still need to be met to provide the optimal internal environment for recovery.

2. Nutrition

For most recreational athletes, just eating a healthy diet of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean meats is going to be enough to meet all of the nutrition requirements to rebuild and repair after your event.  Extra protein powders, recovery shakes, and those sorts of products (products as opposed to foods) really aren’t necessary if your are making it a priority to eat well-balanced meals and snacks.

3. Don’t stop moving

Keeping the blood flowing is a good thing.  Walking, swimming, or biking is a great way to keep the blood circulation while recovering. Blood flow brings nutrients to the cells which speeds cell repair and will help ease muscle soreness.  Yoga is another great way to make sure you are lengthening those muscles, increasing your blood flow, and staying strong while you recover.  If you don’t have access to a class close to you, try YouTube.  There are lots of videos to chose from but this one is one of my favorites for recovery.

Can’t see the video?  Click here!

And the most underutilized tool for recovery?  We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again:

4. Foam rolling

Can’t see the video?  Click here!

Foam rolling is another way to gently get the blood flowing and break down knots in the muscles.  Knots can form when the damaged muscle fibers clump together in an unorganized pattern.  Foam rolling along the length of the muscle causes the body to reabsorb the fibers not oriented inline with the muscle fibers. This produces a healthier, higher functioning, less painful muscle.

Just remember, as you’re rolling, it will likely be uncomfortable but should not be painful.  This is a gentle process where it is better to take it slow and repeat multiple times a day rather than trying to crush those knots out in one intense session.

Borgess Athletic Performance wishes all the Borgess Run for the Health of It/Kalamazoo Marathon athletes a quick recovery!  We look forward to seeing you back out on the streets soon but for now, enjoy your rest — you’ve earned it!!