My first love: Track & Field

1993 Ontario Championships (Canada)

I went to the track tonight. The only one in Perth, Western Australia. I’ve been in and out of the sport for the last 28 years. It has made an incredible impact on my life in every sense. I went tonight, just to observe. It was like going back in time almost 30 years ago.

perth track

WA Athletics Stadium (2016 World Masters T & F Championships)


Seriously, it’s like nothing has changed… from a physical, technical and biomechanics point of view. If only I knew then what I know now I would have been able to take better care of myself in my beloved sport. Sigh.

Today, as you know, I help athletes with their bodies, and adore it to bits, because I don’t want them going through what I had to endure. Unnecessary injury is no fun!

Unfortunately, everything I did when I started running years ago is still being repeated today. It’s crazy!!! It has nothing to do with the athletes, the parents, the coaches (mind you, if you are a coach, it’s your job to look at the latest research!). It has to do with dissemination of information… and the power of marketing. There’s incredible amounts of research that have not reached the majority of the public and the athletic community. It’s sad because a lot of athletes with injuries today could have been 100% avoided.

Here are just a few things I saw when I got there:
*Just remember I understand many people might not know this*

1. Cushioned shoes. And I mean CUSHIONED shoes. All athletes at the track young and older were wearing cushioned shoes.  Now, I understand: cushion, support, comfort, etc. ‘We need these to be able to run without injury’. Hhhmmmmm….. no. Our feet are cushioned A LOT with our very own FAT PADS, our feet provide us with incredible support, and are supposed to be comfortable because we use them everyday and don’t abuse them [well, I’m pushing it here, because we all abuse our feet, malheureusement]! 

Shoe companies do such an incredible job marketing/selling shoes for kids and adults that we don’t see the truth behind the lies. Running shoes only developed a cushioned heel starting in 1963, made by Asics. Before that, all running shoes were flat! It was the slow demise of runner’s health. Today, 60-70% of running shoes are practically high heels.

If running shoes are not flat, meaning the toes are the same height as the heel, many injuries can ensue, over time. Especially, when kids are developing their feet in the first place. A fully formed foot takes about 18 years!

That’s right, it takes their entire childhood to develop their bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons in the feet. The only way to develop a foot properly is to have that foot be able to SENSE things around its environment. Shoe companies do a fine job at telling us all the opposite!

Did you know there have been HUNDREDS of studies on kids feet with several studies including thousands of subjects (yeah! like that’s a lot of kids!)? In ALL cases children whose feet developed mostly unshod (no shoes) had healthier feet. Every time a child wears shoes {especially with bells and whistles} they are compromising the growth and development of their feet. Now, I am not telling kids/athletes not to wear shoes, I’m just saying athletes need to strengthen their feet too.

What about winter, rain, rocks, dangerous glass!!! Yes, shoes are great for protection! We absolutely need them. And And AND AND AND make sure that all of their shoes are super flexible, flat, and roomy so they can wiggle their toes in them. Any other bells and whistles actually compromise the feet. 

“But what about flat feet?” All human beings were born with flat feet! Children develop arches from their muscles NOT bones. Wearing shoes compromises the development of their arches. Allow them to move, move, move, move as much as possible with their feet, up until adulthood and throughout their lives.

“My athlete pronates! The shoes provide the support.” No, the shoes don’t. They further the foot pronation of the athlete. Sure, sometimes a band-aid is needed (using support temporarily); but, rarely. It just requires the athlete to work their feet out more, MORE, and not let their feet be weaken in a thick shoe.

“My athlete suppinates!” Same thing applies. If the athlete wasn’t in such a cushioned and/or ‘supported’ shoe s/he would run differently. Try running suppinated barefoot. It’s hard to do! It hurts! It’s important not to cast/brace athlete’s body parts for the sake of their sport, nor for the sake of their health. *And, we are not talking about performance shoes. When athletes race, they need to race. Appropriate shoes for appropriate conditions. Yet, racing spikes are specific to racing. I urge athletes not to wear them all the time.*

“My athlete runs heel to toe, it would hurt if s/he went in flat shoes.” Well, s/he would have to run differently if s/he ran in flat shoes. It’s always relative.

It’s simple. Changing the environment can change the biomechanics of the runner.

No shoe can fix a foot problem. It will only initially alleviate the symptom… then debilitate the foot further.

2. Sitting around before the practice starts. Some athletes just sit for 30 minutes to an hour before practice waiting… in a very poor position too! It doesn’t take much to sit properly. We need to teach our athletes to do this for the health of their spines, shoulders, neck and more! Let’s all sit on our ischial tuberosities (sit bones) please. Pretty please! 

3. Drills before and/or after practice. Lazy laissez faire attitude. Why Why Why WHY do drills if athletes are going to do them without precision. Do it well…. or don’t bother doing them at all. It’s like washing the dishes with dirty water. It’s not going to do anything. 

4. Overstriding: Shin splints, plantar fasciitis, knees, hips, low back…. need I say more. Coaches- just look to see if your athletes are over striding. It doesn’t take much and it will make a MASSIVE difference in injury prevention.

5. Contact time (foot time on ground). Some of the athletes could’ve had tea and cookies at every foot contact it was so long. Athletes are stopping themselves at each and every step. How time consuming. How exhausting. How inefficient. And to think, they could have run many seconds faster per lap! 

6. Arm swing: please please please relax your arms. No need to have the hands at the ears or criss crossing a meter over 🙂 

7. It’s one thing to run ‘tall’ and quite another to thrust your ribs forward like you are crossing the finish line every stride of the practice. Keep your chest down, relax! You don’t need low back injuries, breathing problems and shoulder issues! 

This is only an excerpt of some notes I took, a tip of the iceberg… my first 5 minutes at the track!!!

terry fox

Terry Fox Athletic Facility. My adolescence was spent at this track!

Perfect your Recovery with Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls for self-massage


        lime        ALPHA_TwinSet            therapy +

I am a Performance Recovery Specialist helping athletes achieve their best through proper recovery. As a former Canadian national team athlete, exercise physiology and sport psychology consultant to a variety of athletes and teams I know and have experienced the importance of systematic training plans, peaking for performance, correct biomechanics, injury prevention and recovery. One of the many ways I assist athletes in their health and longevity within their respective sport is by using Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls for self-massage.

Prior to being introduced to Yoga Tune Up® in November 2011 by Todd Lavictoire, I used tennis balls and/or golf balls for a decade. They were fantastic tools that helped me perform at my best… or so I thought. As soon as the YTU® balls sunk into my thoracic spine I fell in love! There’s absolutely nothing like them! NOTHING.

There have been many blogs written prior to this one in regards to YTU® balls, and I encourage you to read my awesome colleague Brooke Thomas’ brilliant article. She does a fantastic comparison of the YTU® balls compared to foam rollers and lacrosse balls. My blog gives a bit more insight for the athlete and coach.

In simplistic and straight to the point terms, what does your sport training actually do?

Training induces: 

Microtears in the muscle fibers and connective tissue

Scar tissue

↑ Inflammation

Immune function

Circulation

Yes, it can make you SIIC, sick!

The time required to repair your microtears is dependent upon frequency, intensity, duration, fitness level, stress, nutrition, sleep and overall self-care, etc.

How does an athlete recover from being SIIC? 

Rolling on YTU® balls e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y.!

End of blog.

LOL! Just kidding.

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Why?

1. Health care practitioners, such as manual therapists, are the BOMB; but, as athletes we don’t have time to go see one everyday. YTU®balls provide you with an everyday massage!

2. Massage has been researched for y.e.a.r.s. It has shown over and over again that it breaks down adhesions (scar tissue), decreases inflammation and increases circulation. PERIOD.

3. The shore (the hardness) of YTU® balls are the closest shore to human muscle [balls that most cross fitters use are 3X as hard]. Yes, when you apply pressure to the YTU® balls on any part of your body, it’s like you are applying muscle to muscle. No other stress transfer medium (read Brooke’s article) on the market is like this. Human muscle likes the same hardness placed on it, not more.

4. Fighting your way through recovery is misconstruing the entire practice of recovery itself. Most cross fitters have a tendency to fight their way through the workout; so, it must apply to recovery!? Wrong. It’s the exact opposite.

Training= tearing the crap out of your body.

Recovery= recharging, repairing, and rebuilding.

As an athlete you want resilience~ getting right back at it as quickly as possible.

↑Fighting= ↓ Resilience= Taking longer to recover

5. But, I don’t “feel” as much with the YTU® balls? Your sense of feel might have NOTHING to do with the health of your muscle… and it might have EVERYTHING to do with the health of your muscle. Especially if you’ve been rolling on harder balls, your senses might be slightly warped. Until you roll in a productive way, you can’t really tell. I go through a detailed protocol with my athletes; but, here are a couple of questions to ask yourself in which to start your recovery:

Are you fully present when you roll and do you breathe in a completely relaxed manner when you roll on the YTU® balls? This approach is vastly different than dissociation and paining {pain face} your way through a so-called “release of tension” in the muscles.

6. The classic, therapy+ and alpha YTU® balls are different sizes but the same shore; so, that means they should feel the same. No. They don’t. I use each of the balls for different areas of my body and depending on many other factors. Each athlete is different with their ball size use, it’s personal! You are the only one living in your body, so with guidance and practice you decide what size works best for you on each particular area of your body.

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Recommendations for athletes

Recovery starts before the workout (I’m sure you’ve heard that before)

Pre-workout Activation: Roll on targeted areas of the body ~ 15 to 30 sec each part

During workout Proprioception: Between sets/reps/wods ~ 15 to 30 sec dependent on you

After workout Recovery: Take a minimum of 15 minutes to roll out ~ 1-2 minutes on each part

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**WEEKLY FULL-BODY ROLL**

One thing I ask ALL athletes to do is a weekly ONE-HOUR full body roll. You do not need to do it all at once. For example: Your Sunday recovery session could be 20 minutes morning, 20 minutes afternoon, and 20 minutes of rolling before going to bed.

Yes, it’s HARD.

Yes, it takes TIME.

Yes, it’s TIRING. 

It’s also a time when you connect with every single millimetre of your body. It’s important that athletes recognize their responsibility, accountability and ownership deciding to be an athlete in the first place. Being in control of your body through knowledge of your body (touch) is a fantastic way to stay on top of nociception, proprioception ~ injury prevention.

I live in Perth and travel around Australia providing workshops (a wide variety) and trainings (i.e. The Roll Model Method®: The Science of Rolling) as the only Teacher Trainer down under. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to train coaches, athletes, chiropractors, physiotherapists, personal trainers, exercise physiologists, massage therapists, occupational therapists and many other professionals since 2012.

YTU® is GLOBAL! If you are curious about it please check out www.yogatuneup.com for details in your area. Be part of your health care with self-care. Get to it! 🙂

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How to lengthen your hamstrings [Written for Rowperfect UK]

There are many ways in which to lengthen your hamstrings; however, this SIMPLE position is one of the best! Whether you are at home, at the beach, at the park, or wherever, why not sit down with your legs straight!

Every time you sit with your knees bent you are actually shortening your hamstrings and your calves over time. How often do you sit with your knees bent throughout the day, everyday?

Take this QUIZ  [NOT retrospectively please! In real time with a watch throughout the day and record it]

Commute time to and from work:     _____minutes
Commute time for family outings:     _____minutes
Sitting at work:     _____minutes
Sitting to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, coffee, afterhours:_____minutes
Watching TV/movies:     _____minutes
Using the Internet or computer (not at work):     _____minutes
Other sitting time (i.e. toilet, shopping, hanging with friends):_____minutes
Appointments (dentist, doctor, haircut, etc):     _____minutes

TOTAL TIME: _____hours _____ minutes


 

30 DAY CHALLENGE [Sitting with legs straight]

Sitting with your legs straight, quads relaxed, neutral pelvis (crotch and front of pelvis in line) and ribs down (ribs in line with pelvis)

Day 1-7: 5 minutes/day

Day 8-14: 10 minutes/day

Day 16-21: 15 minutes/day

Day 22-30: 20 minutes/day

IMPORTANT: You do NOT have to do all the minutes at one time! For example: 5 minutes/day can be split up into 5 x 1 minute throughout the day. Be good to yourself! Do NOT start on the floor. Most of you will because you are competitive BUT your physiology will say otherwise. Don’t go past your own body’s limits= it will achieve absolutely nothing.

After the 30 days, if you are feeling more at home on the floor consider having your meals down there… a few times a week 🙂

Thinking Outside of the Box: Ankle Mobility

*This article was written for WODNUT*

We have fantastic tools in Crossfit boxes for athletes to get ready for WODs. I love them all! We also need to think about the many more hours crossfitters spend outside the Box that is affecting their inability to have appropriate ankle mobility.
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Here are six reasons you, as an athlete, may have limitations regarding ankle mobility.
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1. Shoes
What kind of shoes do you wear outside the box? If there is any type of heel lift whatsoever you are losing sarcomeres in the calves over time. Do you always wear your crossfit shoes and your lifting shoes as often as possible in the box? You are limiting your ankle mobility if you use them too much.
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2. Sitting
We all know sitting wrecks havoc with the body. But, did you know you are actually creating the perfect environment, on a cellular level, that tells your body to rid itself of sarcomeres along the backs of your legs.
Sitting straight legged every once in a while will definitely be beneficial. Even better, sit on the ground with your legs straight out. Just make sure you are sitting on your ischial tuberosities.
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3. Walking
Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk with flat shoes or barefoot. I cannot emphasize how wonderful walking is for your health and directly relates to your performance. Alas, athletes don’t want to walk much these days.
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4. Go Up hills!
It’s true, you may not live in an area that has many hills; but, please understand that any type of change in angle/grade that your ankle can move in would be to your advantage. Sand is great too!
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5. Crawling
Great for ankle mobility and overall body mobility and stability, you really can’t go wrong with crawling. I would ease into it at first. It’s harder than you think. Yes, even people who can squat 300kg have a hard time crawling.
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6. Sleeping
It’s easy to plantarflex our feet while sleeping because it’s our relaxed position (or at least for the majority of us). I would highly recommend loosening up the sheets around the feet in order for the feet to move freely about and not be stuck in a more severe plantar flexed position.
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Our bodies are engineering marvels, having the amazing ability to adapt and change. If you are having difficulty getting into positions while working out, please consider every position you choose and decide to use outside the box.

Incorporate Sport Specific Recovery Training Sessions!

Sport Specific Recovery Training Sessions give you INCREDIBLE benefits. DO THEM!!!!!
1. Less cortisol levels
2. Decreased inflammation
3. Immune system isn’t compromised
4. Mental, physical, psychological relief
5. Able to chat and enjoy conversation with training buddies
6. Reap all the neuromuscular benefits of sport specific training
7. Learn the “feeling” of being relaxed in the body going slow, and try to emulate that into your hard sessions.

Recovery rest days are important, AND Recovery Sport Specific Training Days are vital as well!!!!