BRAG ALERT! This post was inspired by me having comfortably run a sub 2 hour 21km, 'barefoot*', after only 9 weeks of running. More detail later. *I wore barefoot shoes for this particular run.
It is generally accepted that somewhere between 40 - 50% of runners are injured every year (Some say 80 - 90%. The difference? How one defines 'injury'.). Running injuries are classic overuse injuries: they are caused by poor bio-mechanics or lack of conditioning. While bipedal gait is the definitive movement of humans, running is a high level skill that needs to be trained in order to be performed in an efficient injury free way. It would appear that correct running technique is fairly 'universal', it is the same whether the runner is shod or not (I will however briefly venture into the 'barefoot' vs shoes debate). ...continue reading "Towards Injury Free Running"
We are all, I hope, aware of the benefits of an active lifestyle, however there are also risks associated with participation. Female & young athletes are at the highest risk. Sports injuries are the leading cause of adolescent visits to emergency rooms. Injuries delay or even derail athletic progress & may impact on other areas of the athlete's life. Some injuries including brain damage & osteoarthritis may only manifest years later. While it is impossible to completely avoid injury a large percentage can be predicted & prevented. The US CDC claims that over 50% of sports injuries in children & adolescents are preventable. In order to develop strategies to prevent the injuries we first need to understand the causes & look at the special cases of female & young athletes. ...continue reading "Attention to Prevention: Sport Injuries"
These 3 interrelated concepts form the foundation of functional movement, the ability to actively move through the full range of motions with stability. Gray Cook pioneered the concept that certain joints need to be mobile while others need to be stable in order for us to move correctly & to maintain proper posture. Starting from the ankle & working our way up the body & down the arms the pattern is:
- feet -stable
- ankles - mobile
- knees - stable
- hips - mobile
- lumbar spine - stable
- thoracic spine - mobile
- cervical spine - stable
- shoulders - mobile
- elbows - stable
- wrists - mobile
Unfortunately many people have exactly the opposite pattern (immobile ankles, unstable knees, etc.) which inevitably leads to dysfunctional movement, poor posture, discomfort & ultimately injury. Immobile hips for example will often result in unstable, painful knees & invariably in lower back disorders & pain. Various solutions to the problem have been developed, in a nutshell they all boil down to: make the immobile mobile & the unstable stable (in that order). However before we go too far it's probably worth taking a step back & looking at what we mean by mobility, flexibility (the astute may have noticed we haven't even mentioned this one yet) & stability. ...continue reading "Mobility, Flexibility & Stability"
Endurance athletes' energy requirements are far higher than the average due to the large output as well as their raised metabolisms from the training. Unless the intensity of the event is low enough for fat to be used as the primary fuel, endurance athletes need to make up the bulk of their energy intake from carbohydrates. Athletes also need to ensure that they consume enough protein, fats & oils as well as vitamins, minerals & other micro-nutrients to support recovery from training. In order to maximise performance it is important that the athlete gets to the start line in peak physical condition & with maximum energy stores i.e. maximum levels of muscle glycogen. It has been known since the Swedish studies in the 1960s that supra-normal levels of glycogen in the muscles enhances performance in events that last longer than 60 minutes. ...continue reading "Endurance Fuel"
"Lifting weights & being strong doesn't win fights. Having great timing & being very intelligent wins fights." - Floyd Mayweather Jr
Mayweather is simply the latest of the greats to apparently dismiss weight / strength training. Bruce Lee, Mohamed Ali, Rocky Marciano & many others have said similar things & even refused to do weight training. Many claim that it will slow you down or reduce your endurance. Yet it's obvious that to be a fighter you do need strength along with the speed, endurance & timing (& intelligence) & of course they all did strength training even if it was 'just callisthenics & heavy bag work'. So why the apparent contradiction? There are 2 answers to that. The first & the reason I chose the Mayweather quote is, fighting is a very technical sport where posture, leverage & timing through good technique generates maximum power. Particularly in MMA where the athlete needs to be well rounded & possess the skills of multiple disciplines, by far the majority of a fighter's training time should be dedicated to skills acquisition. Conditioning, vital as it is, must always play a supporting role. The second, which we will look at in more detail later, is there is a big difference between 'body building' (which is / was for most synonymous with weight training) & functional sport specific strength / power training.
...continue reading "Fighting Fit"
"It’s still the old patriarchal fear, or doubt, that women can do outstanding athletic performances. If they do, they can’t be real women. It’s that clear, it’s that prejudicial..." Bruce Kidd talking about the IAAF & IOC's 'gender policing'.
In a previous post I spoke about how our immersion in a patriarchal society makes us blind to the existence of the biases that surround us, define our world view & even ourselves. Gender roles dominate our lives from the moment we are born. We are welcomed into the world with an "It's a boy/girl!" & from that moment forth that's the role we are assigned. Boys are wrapped in blue blankets, girls in pink & of course given 'suitable' names. His & hers toys & attitudes are bought & trained. Dirty, sweaty & bruised boys are praised while a girl in a similar condition is at best a 'tomboy'. This binary stereo typing leaves little room for the spectrum that is gender.
Female athletes face many hurdles on their way to the top that few male athletes are even aware of. It is seldom if ever enough to be excellent or even the best; you have to look good doing it too, in a stereotypical feminine way of course (certainly can't have them coming across as 'dykes'). Even then there is little chance of earning the same reward or even achieving the same fame as their male counterparts. It's difficult to achieve stardom when the media barely covers women's sports events & when they do it's often biased & sexualised. ...continue reading "Trivialising Female Athletic Performance"
"A gym gotta be hot..." - Floyd Mayweather
You don't have to be a championship fighter or an ultrarunner preparing for Badwater to benefit from heat training. Even if you don't specifically need to acclimate to exercise in the heat there are benefits to be had:
- Weight Management
- Cutting Weight
- Enhanced Aerobic & Anaerobic Endurance
- Improved Immune Function including Anti-Cancer
...continue reading "Beat the Heat"
Very few people would start a journey without knowing where they are going, how to get there, measure progress & tell when they arrive. True, we've had some awesome holidays by picking a direction & seeing where we end up, but even there, we knew what we were looking for (a place to enjoy) & a direction. A bit like learning a skill / art for its own sake rather than to achieve a particular goal. An approach to life & learning which I do enjoy, you end up doing things in places you never imagined, but I digress... Most people start a fitness / nutrition programme with specific goals in mind. The questions are: How do you gauge progress in order to make adjustments along the way? & How do you know you've arrived?
Continuing with the travel analogy, before you can plan a route to your destination you need to know your starting point (the initial assessment). Once you know where you are & where you'd like to go, you can plan your route (the programme). You will need gauges in your vehicle & signs along the way to tell you where you are & how you are doing (regular follow up assessments). In addition you will need your travelog (training / food diary), so that you know how you got from A to P & at each stage along the way. ...continue reading "Keeping Track to Stay on Track"
Learning to crawl can help people with dyslexia & other learning difficulties, stuttering, ADHD, PSD, coordination issues, clumsiness (& more) & at the same time promote healing, reduce stress, increase energy, increase focus & prevent (& even reverse) brain ageing. How could all of this possibly be true? Is it because movement is...
...the Real Reason for Brains?
So there you have it, we have brains so that we can move. All brain function is ultimately tied to movement. Looking at infant development we can see how closely brain development & movement development are. ...continue reading "Emphasising Movement"