Athlete Care

Coaches Tip: Run Better and Safer

IMG_0397.JPG

The running equation is pretty simple: Speed = stride length x stride rate (cadence). So if you want to run faster, you can either increase your stride length (take bigger steps), or increase your stride rate (take more steps per minute).

  • Stride rate (cadence). Studies of elite runners suggest an ideal cadence of about 180 strides/minute or more. Taking smaller, quicker strides minimizes the impact on your joints, decreases the risk of overstriding, and helps prevent injury.
  • Stride length. Too often when runners try to pick up their pace, they end up overstriding (reaching out too far with each step, exaggerating the heel strike and increasing the force through the knees, hips, and back). To increase stride length without risking injury, increase stride length on the back side of your stride rather than reaching forward. In other words, use your glutes and hamstrings to push the ground away, rather than reaching forward with your front foot to lengthen your stride.

Written By:  Kate Blankshain, PT, DPT

Eat This/Not That: Staying Hydrated

IMG_0395.JPG

We’ve all been raised to believe that we need eight glasses of water a day. But what’s a glass? When do you drink? What should be in that water? Does it need to be water? What about during workouts? Here are some answers.


Why drink? Sixty percent of your body is composed of water, including 75 percent of your muscle and 85 percent of your brain. It’s why a headache, fatigue, and weakness are the first signs of dehydration. You need water to absorb vitamins and nutrients; to ensure proper digestion; and to detoxify your liver and kidneys.

Does coffee count? Actually, no. Coffee and energy drinks with caffeine (as well as alcohol) act as diuretics and thus contribute to dehydration.

How much to drink? The idea we need to drink 8 glasses (2.5 liters) stems from a 1945 government recommendation. But the reality is that how much you need to drink depends on your own individual composition and activity level. I recommend drinking at least 25 percent of your body weight in ounces with an ideal goal of 50 percent. So if you weigh 140, aim for 70 ounces (about ten, 8-ounce glasses). And make sure you drink after workouts. The American Heart Association recommends a pint of water for every pound you sweat.

Should I drink during workouts? If you can. If you’re dehydrated, studies find, it could affect your performance. And make sure you hydrate before a workout, too.

Do I need sports drinks or added electrolytes/carbohydrates? Not unless you’re engaged in duration exercise, something like Murph, or it’s really hot. For our typical workouts, plain water is fine. There’s some evidence that cold water is even better in terms of performance. Having said that, if you work out early morning before you eat consider adding some Xendurance Fuel 5+. It contains a blend of sweet potato carbohydrates and caffeine to provide quick energy.

Is there such a thing as too much water? There sure is. It’s called hyponatremia and it can actually be fatal.

So how do I stay hydrated? Glad you asked. My best tip is to carry a water bottle with you throughout the day and keep it filled. If plain water is boring, add fruit or cucumber slices or sugar-free flavorings. Just keep sipping!

Take Care of your Hands!

Contrary to the machismo central to CrossFit, ripped hands are not cool. And, if you’re taking care of your hands, they shouldn’t happen. That’s why proper hand care is crucial.

I’m not talking soft hands; you need your hands to be tough enough to handle our rigorous workouts. But you also need to find a happy medium between tough and calluses the size of marbles. Otherwise, when you’re hanging on the bar doing pullups, toes-to-bar, or other gymnastic moves, those calluses will rip right off.

Here’s what I do to protect my hands (and I never tear):

  • Moisturize daily. The worst thing is dry skin, which creates the perfect environment for growing calluses. This is particularly important in the winter. If your hands are really dry, moisturize them when you go to bed and sleep with socks over your hands.
  • Shave your calluses once a week. This keeps the skin from building up too far. I use this callus remover.
  • Use a Ped Eggas needed to remove dead skin and keep your hands smooth. Just don’t overdo it!

Let me know if you have any questions or want a quick hand appraisal!

IMAGE.JPG

Coaching Tip: It’s All About the Thumbs

How do you grip the pull-up bar? If you say with all five fingers over the bar (like a monkey grip) then you need to change. To ensure the right grip, reduce the risk of tearing, and stay safe, you should grip the bar with your pinky knuckle over the bar and your thumb wrapped around the bar, not on top. Also, grip the bar across the middle of your palm, not where your fingers meet the palm. It’s the same way you’d grip a barbell.

Correct Grip  

Correct Grip  

Wrong Grip

Wrong Grip

This is, by and far, the stronger grip. It can keep your shoulder more stable, reduce the risk of tearing, and, hopefully, keep you from slipping off the bar. It also helps build grip strength and works to activate your lats.

Have a weak grip? Active bar hangs and farmers’ carries can strengthen your grip.

Avoiding Injury with the Deadlift

thumb_WEB24_1024.jpg

By: Emma Minx, DC, CCSP and Kate Blankshain, PT, DPT 

We co-manage many crossfitters. Our goals are to restore mobility and function (Emma), then address weakness, imbalances, and movement deficiencies (Kate). We often consult together to identify the cause of injury and determine the best treatment plan.
 
Common injuries we treat involve the low back, shoulders, and knees. Whenever there is a heavier deadlift workout, we know we’ll be seeing an influx of patients. The culprit is typically one of two things – the hips are too tight, which puts a greater strain on the low back, or the movement itself is performed incorrectly.
 
Let’s start with mobility. Your body alternates mobile and stable joints. For instance, your ankles, hips, and mid-back should be mobile, while your knees and low back should be stable. When the body loses mobility in one area, it has to compensate for it somewhere else. Typically, this affects the low back, which should be a stable area. That’s why making sure your hips are properly warmed up prior to deadlifting is critical.
 
During the deadlift, it is important to maintain a tight core and extend the hips as you bring the bar up from the floor. Instead, most people initiate the movement with their arms and back. In other words, they begin raising their torso to a vertical position too soon rather than pushing into the ground, driving their hips forward, and squeezing their glutes. 
 
Bottom line: the deadlift should be considered a pushing movement rather than a pulling movement. Push into the ground and push/drive the hips forward. 
 
Emma Minx is a chiropractor at Bannockburn Chiropractic and Sports Injury Center and Kate owns Rally PTE.

Happy & Healthy Shoulders - Part 4

Here's our last video in our four part shoulder series: Integration. 

Many of us spend so much time sitting, driving, texting that we're constantly in a hunched-forward position. This places our shoulders in a rounded position causing dysfunction when we try to lift overhead or perform pull ups. 

We've already established how fragile the shoulder is, and that most injuries happening in CrossFit are shoulder related. Most of these can be avoided by simply following the rule of mechanics, consistency, and then intensity but, if my shoulders are rounded all-day it's a losing battle.

What you do for the other 23 hours in the day can and will affect the hour you spend working out. Spend less time sitting hunched forward looking at your computer and more time standing tall with shoulders pulled back.

Happy & Healthy Shoulder - Part 3

The shoulder is composed of many different muscles, the rotator cuff muscles acts as a stabilizer for the shoulder. The muscle that make up the rotator cuff are: teres minor, subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus.

Typically when people have pain in their shoulder it comes from either an impingement, tendonitis or a tear. If we can strengthen the shoulder girdle and get the shoulder in a better position, the chance for injury decreases.

Strength:

Pre-workout: (Two Sets)

:30 Side Plank (L)

:15 Scapular Push Ups

:30 Side Plank ®

Rest :15

8-10 Tempo Push Ups @ 21X1 (2 Count Down, 1 Count Pause)

Rest :15

:30 Supinated Grip Bar Hang

Rest :15

Kettlebell Windmill x 5 Reps

Post-workout:  

Half-Kneeling Bottom’s Up KB Press x 8-12 @2121

Rest

Single Arm DB Row x 8-12 @2121
 

Happy & Healthy Shoulder - Part 1

Alex and I will be beginning four-part series on the shoulder. Injuries to the shoulder are the most common reason I see CrossFitters in my office. Alex would agree that most complaints he hears are about shoulder pain or tightness. A healthy shoulder joint is dependent on good shoulder mobility, scapular stability, rotator cuff strength, thoracic mobility and good mechanics/form. Our goal will be to address all of these so that if you follow along during the 4 weeks, your shoulders will be more prepared to tackle our daily WODs. 

This series will be broken down into 4 topics - stretching, activation, strengthening and integration. We ask that you focus on the stretches, drills and exercises we demonstrate each week.

The most common injury to the shoulder is called impingement. Many of you who are complaining about pain in the front or top of the shoulder, also pinching sensations, are likely dealing with impingement. What happens is the tendons of the rotator cuff, likely the supraspinatus, get pinched in the shoulder during any overhead movements. You can feel pain during pull-ups, wall balls, KB swings, and snatches, for example.

The role of the rotator cuff is to keep the head of the humerus (shoulder bone) centered in the joint during any movement. When the rotator cuff gets tight, weak or imbalanced, it can't do it anymore. As the tendon gets pinched, the more pain you are going to feel.

This week we will start on stretching and mobilization. Follow along with the video and perform daily. 

Stay tuned for next week when we cover how to activate the weak muscles around the shoulder.