Sunday, December 13, 2009

Get your blood flowing....the SIMPLE explanation for Compression

One of the best methods out there for reducing recovery time is compression - but there seems to be some misconception and confusion out there as to what these garments ACTUALLY do. Compression garments have long been used in medical settings to help patients recover better from surgery.

But the simple reason for athletes to utilize compression is that it aids in increasing blood flow BACK to the heart. This increase in blood flow reduces the swelling and inflammation therefore allowing the muscles to rebuild from the microscopic tearing of muscle fibers (Exercise Induced Muscle Damage or EIMD).

It should be noted that compression garments - particularly calf sleeves and arm sleeves SHOULD be tighter at the furthest point from the heart (i.e. ankles and wrists). The pressure should DECREASE within the garment as it moves closer to the heart. This is called Graduated Compression and is essential to the effectiveness of compression garments. When combined with the muscle pump effect of the calf, graduated compression promotes increased circulation of blood and lymph fluid through the legs.

Check out for compression gear from Zoot and Zensah -- both featuring Graduated Compression engineered for improving athletic performance.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cold Compression Therapy

Ice Baths -- recovery or torture?? Well, a little of both I suppose. There are definitely benefits to taking a dip in icy water after a hard workout. The theory goes that exposure to the cold will constrict the blood vessels and reduce inflammation in damaged muscles. Then after warming back up, blood flow is restored and helps to flush lactic acid and metabolic wastes from the damaged muscles. This helps to reduce the dreaded DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. You know -- the achy sore feeling that hits you about 24-48 hours after a really hard workout.
There are a lot of pro and elite athletes that swear by this method for recovery............ but if you're like me (i.e. NOT A PRO or ELITE athlete) then submerging yourself in freezing cold ice water isn't a very practical or appealing method.

So, you ask, what are the alternatives??

Cold Compression Therapy! There are several brands and methods out there but the best one I've found so far is made by Recover Gear. They use a compression garment which has pockets over the muscles for inserting a Thermafreeze ice pack. The Thermafreeze pack can also be heated up for warming therapy as well. They've got a complete line with shorts, tights, calf sleeves to ankle, knee and even shirts. Set up time is quick - just throw the shorts on and insert the frozen packs. (No waiting for the bath to fill up and dumping ice) You can wear the shorts underneath a pair of baggies or just by themselves. This past summer on long rides and runs, I would be 'craving' my Recover Gear shorts. The cold packs really felt great on my legs after being out in the 95-100 deg Florida heat for 4-6 hours. I could always tell a difference after using the Recover Gear. My legs wouldn't have that 'dead' feeling later in the day or even for the next day's training.

The Recover Gear method is by far the easiest way to ice down your legs, joints, or upper-body after a hard workout or even if you're injured. Check out the complete line of Recover Gear Products here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So you may have been wondering........

........ what is this all about? Well, coming soon - we're going to be switching over to our online store which will feature gear and products designed to help athletes like you to GET FASTER BY RECOVERING BETTER.

We will have the best recovery products from manufacturers like Zoot, Zensah, Pacific Health Laboratories, Qoleum, TriggerPoint Therapy, Nubound, RecoverGear, and more.

This aspect of an athlete's training program should not be overlooked - as 'Recovery' is where the training is 'realized' by your body as it adapts and rebuilds from the stress and overload of training. Our products will provide a benefit to the athlete in that they will be able to reduce their recovery time and maximize the rebuild cycle.

We'll be selling products that are tried and tested by actual athletes (like us) who train and compete. If we don't use it - we won't sell it. That's our promise to you.

So check back soon - we should be up and running SOON!
Thanks -
Sean and Stephanie

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Self Myofascial Release Therapy

Self myofascial release therapy (SMRT) is becoming more and more prominent amongst athletes who are looking for relief from injuries and their chronic aches and pains that are commonly associated with training loads.

Fascia & Trigger Points
Fascia is a specialized connective tissue layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints and gives support and protection to the body. It consists of three layers - the superficial fascia, the deep fascia and the subserous fascia. Fascia is one of the 3 types of dense connective tissue (the others being ligaments and tendons) and it extends without interruption from the top of the head to the tip of the toes.
Fascia is usually seen as having a passive role in the body, transmitting mechanical tension, which is generated by muscle activity or external forces. Recently, though, some evidence suggests that fascia may be able to actively contract in a smooth muscle-like manner and consequently influence musculoskeletal dynamics.

Trigger points have been defined as areas of muscle that are painful to touch and are characterized by the presence of taut bands. Tissue can become thick, tough and 'knotted'. They can occur in muscle, the muscle-tendon junctions, and / or bursa. Trigger points can be accompanied by inflammation. It is important to know that if trigger points remain untreated for a long duration, the once healthy fascia is replaced with inelastic scar tissue.

Trigger points can compromise the tissue structure in the area in which they are located, placing a greater strain on other tissues that must compensate for its weakness. These in turn can break down and so the spiral continues. According to many therapists, trigger points in the fascia can restrict or alter the motion about a joint resulting in a change of normal neural feedback to the central nervous system. Eventually, the neuromuscular system becomes less efficient, leading to premature fatigue, chronic pain and injury and less efficient motor skill performance.

Trigger points can be caused by:
  • Acute physical trauma
  • Poor posture or movement mechanics
  • Over training
  • Inadequate rest and recovery between training sessions
  • Nutritional factors

Self myofascial release therapy is a relatively simple technique that athletes can use to alleviate trigger points. Studies have shown self myofascial release to be an effective treatment for myofascial pain syndrome and relief from injuries.

Listed below are some Self Myofascial Release Therapy exercises that you can perform yourself to help you RecoverBetter........
For these exercises you will need a foam roller........

Adductor Self Myofascial Release.
1.Extend the thigh and place foam roll in the groin region with body prone (face down) on the floor.

2. Be cautious when rolling near the adductor complex origins at the pelvis.

Once a “tender point” is located, stop rolling, and rest on the tender point until pain decreases by 75%.

Hamstring Self Myofascial Release
1. Place hamstrings on the roll with hips unsupported.

2. Feet can be crossed so that only leg at a time is one the foam roll.

3. Roll from knee toward posterior hip.

Once a “tender point” is located, stop rolling, and rest on the tender point until pain decreases by 75%.

Quadriceps Self Myofascial Release
1. Body is positioned prone (face down) with quadriceps on foam roll

2. It is very important to maintain proper core control (abdominal drawn-in position & tight gluteus) to prevent low back compensations

3. Roll from pelvic bone to knee, emphasizing the lateral (outside) thigh

Once a “tender point” is located, stop rolling, and rest on the tender point until pain decreases by 75%.

Iliotibial Band Self Myofascial Release
1. Position yourself on your side lying on foam roll.

2. Bottom leg is raised slightly off floor.

3. Maintain head in “neutral” position with ears aligned with shoulders.

4. This may be PAINFUL for many, and should be done in moderation.

5. Roll just below hip joint down the outside thigh to the knee.

Once a “tender point” is located, stop rolling, and rest on the tender point until pain decreases by 75%.

Upper Back Self Myofascial Release
1. Place hands behind head or wrap arms around chest to clear the shoulder blades across the thoracic wall.

2. Raise hips until unsupported.

3. Stabilize the head in a “neutral” position.

4. Roll mid-back area on the foam roll.
Once a “tender point” is located, stop rolling, and rest on the tender point until pain decreases by 75%.

General Guidelines

· Spend 1-2 minutes per self myofascial release technique and on each each side (when applicable).
· When a trigger point is found (painful area) hold for 30-45 seconds.
· Keep the abdominal muscles tight which provides stability to the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex during rolling.
· Remember to breathe slowly as this will help to reduce any tense reflexes caused by discomfort. · Complete the self myofascial release exercises 1-2 x daily.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Recovery Benefits of Compression

Compression helps stabilize muscle tissue after a tough training session or strenuous competition, keeping the swelling and inflammation of muscle fibers at a micro and manageable level - this allows the muscles to rebuild themselves. Compression lets the athlete wake up the next day feeling fresh and rejuvenated instead of feeling the aches and pains typically associated with post-workout muscle fatigue and stress. This is how athletes get better, faster and stronger. Gravity can cause a build-up of fluid and metabolic waste in the muscles and surrounding tissue, especially after exercise, which increases swelling and increases recovery time. Exercise causes muscle damage, including micro-tears leading to inflammation. Compression helps reduce inflammation that might slow down the recovery process and therefore helps reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

Benefits of Wearing Compression Garments:

o Improved Circulation – faster warm up and recovery. When the blood can travel through your body faster the muscles will get the needed fuel quicker and reduce fatigue.
o Reduced Recovery Time due to the improved circulation muscles have less lactic acid build up thus reducing soreness and allowing you to train harder.
o Increased Endurance the tightness of the clothing decreases vibration of muscles thus increasing your ability to train and race longer.
o UV Protection – UPF 50+ protection from the sun´s harmful rays – while training and racing.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Epsom Salt Recovery Therapy

The Body's Most Valuable Mineral

Magnesium is the second-most abundant element in human cells and the fourth-most important positively charged ion in the body, so it’s little wonder that this low-profile mineral is also vital to good health and wellbeing. Magnesium is a major component of Epsom salt and also helps to regulate the activity of more than 325 enzymes and performs a vital role in orchestrating many bodily functions, from muscle control and electrical impulses to energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.
Studies show that magnesium is an electrolyte which helps to ensure proper muscle, nerve and enzyme function and is critical for the proper use of calcium in cells. Another benefit is that it can help prevent heart disease and strokes by lowering blood pressure, protecting the elasticity of arteries, preventing blood clots, and reducing the risk of sudden heart attack deaths. Magnesium may also reduce inflammation and relieve pain, making it beneficial in the treatment of sore muscles, bronchial asthma, migraine headaches and fibromyalgia.
Although magnesium can be absorbed through the digestive tract, many foods, drugs and medical conditions can interfere with the effectiveness of this delivery method. Therefore, SOAKING in an Epsom salts is one of the most effective means of making the magnesium your body needs readily available.
Epsom salt also delivers SULFATES, which medical research indicates are needed for the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the mucin proteins that line the wall of the digestive tract. Studies show that sulfates also stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and help to detoxify the body’s residue of medicines and environmental contaminants. Studies indicate that sulfates are difficult to absorb from food, but are readily absorbed through the skin.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rest and Recovery After Exercise - Improve Sports Performance

AFTER EXERCISE REST - Why Rest Days Improve Sports Performance

From by Elizabeth Quinn --

Building recovery time into any training program is important because this is the time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place. Recovery also allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues. Exercise or any other physical work causes changes in the body such as muscle tissue breakdown and the depletion of energy stores (muscle glycogen) as well as fluid loss.
Recovery time allows these stores to be replenished and allows tissue repair to occur. Without sufficient time to repair and replenish, the body will continue to breakdown from intensive exercise. Symptoms of overtraining often occur from a lack of recovery time. Signs of overtraining include a feeling of general malaise, staleness, depression, decreased sports performance and increased risk of injury, among others.
Short and Long-Term Recovery
Keep in mind that there are two categories of recovery. There is immediate (short-term) recovery from a particularly intense training session or event, and there is the long-term recovery that needs to be build into a year-round training schedule. Both are important for optimal sports performance.
Short-term recovery, sometimes called active recovery occurs in the hours immediately after intense exercise. Active recovery refers to engaging in low-intensity exercise after workouts during both the cool-down phase immediately after a hard effort or workout as well as during the days following the workout. Both types of active recovery are linked to performance benefits.
Another major focus of recovery immediately following exercise has to do with replenishing energy stores and fluids lost during exercise and optimizing protein synthesis (the process of increasing the protein content of muscle cells, preventing muscle breakdown and increasing muscle size) by eating the right foods in the post-exercise meal.
This is also the time for soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments) repair and the removal of chemicals that build up as a result of cell activity during exercise.
Long-term recovery techniques refer to those that are built in to a seasonal training program. Most well-designed training schedules will include recovery days and or weeks that are built into an annual training schedule. This is also the reason athletes and coaches change their training program throughout the year, add crosstraining, modify workouts types, and make changes in intensity, time, distance and all the other training variables.
Adaptation to Exercise
The Principle of Adaptation states that when we undergo the stress of physical exercise, our body adapts and becomes more efficient. It’s just like learning any new skill; at first it’s difficult, but over time it becomes second-nature. Once you adapt to a given stress, you require additional stress to continue to make progress.
There are limits to how much stress the body can tolerate before it breaks down and risks injury. Doing too much work too quickly will result in injury or muscle damage, but doing too little, too slowly will not result in any improvement. This is why personal trainers set up specific training programs that increase time and intensity at a planned rate and allow rest days throughout the program.
Sleep Deprivation Can Hinder Sports Performance
In general, one or two nights of poor or little sleep won't have much impact on performance, but consistently getting inadequate sleep can result in subtle changes in hormone levels, particularly those related to stress, muscle recovery and mood. While no one completely understands the complexities of sleep, some research indicates that sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), decreased activity of human growth hormone (which is active during tissue repair), and decreased glycogen synthesis.
Other studies link sleep deprivation with decreased aerobic endurance and increased ratings of perceived exertion.
Balance Exercise with Rest and Recovery.
It is this alternation of adaptation and recovery that takes the athlete to a higher level of fitness. High-level athletes need to realize that the greater the training intensity and effort, the greater the need for planned recovery. Monitoring your workouts with a training log, and paying attention to how your body feels and how motivated you are is extremely helpful in determining your recovery needs and modifying your training program accordingly.