Don’t use ice baths for recovery!

You just had a HARD workout and need to recover for the next one. What do you do? Ice bath? NOOOOO!!!!!!

A lot of athletes still use ICE baths to “help” with their recovery. Ice baths are awfully uncomfortable, expensive, time consuming, use up a lot of space and are completely useless! [Unless, you count the placebo effect].

Dr. Gabe Mirkin coined the term R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) back in 1978 for injuries and sore muscles. Since then, all health care professionals, trainers, coaches and athletes haves use this method for all types of nigglies, pain, strains, sprains, injuries and even recovery. Well, Dr. Gabe Mirkin was wrong and he even said so! He now agrees that complete rest and ice DELAY healing, in addition to NSAIDS… they are a NO go!

Anytime you damage a tissue or develop muscle soreness your body’s immune system responds immediately through natural inflammation. Inflammation is a positive response! Yes, all human have inflammatory cells that target tissue damage to promote healing by releasing IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) into the damaged tissue. When ice is applied to the inflamed areas it actually delays healing and the release of IGF-1 in the first place!

How do you recover from one workout to the next as quickly as possible? Well, we all know nutrition is important! But, do you know about yoga tune up therapy balls for self-massage? If you really want to increase circulation, electrical flow and increase immunity after a stupid hard workout of tearing the crap out of your muscles= Roll baby Roll!!! These balls are specifically designed for your muscles and connective tissue helping to grip and grab at multiple layers of skin/fascia/muscle as to reduce, release those adhesions/ scar tissue that you built up while working out in the first place. Try them!

And just so you know… RICE has been changed to MCE (move as soon as possible as much as possible, compress and elevate).

NOW, if you are in a lot of pain=> you might want to numb the pain a little… I get it! Ice might be warranted (or even NSAIDS)… but don’t do them for the “benefits” of healing.

As a recovery modality MOVEMENT is the best m.e.d.i.c.i.n.e.   🙂

Sitting is worse for athletes

What does performance recovery mean?

Performance recovery (or athlete/sport recovery) is getting more scientific and detailed encompassing way more than just rest in between workouts. In the simplest of terms, training is where you wear + tear your body/muscles and recovery is where you repair/rebuild/restore your body/muscles. Yet, there’s a million ways in which to recover. A lot of times people (coaches and athletes) aren’t aware of certain recovery practices and what that entails.

One of the huge no-no’s as an athlete is to sit in a chair too long (or car, or bus or train). Let’s say throughout the day no more that 2-3 hours (yes, that includes meals, driving, meetings, classes/school/work, watching TV, etc).

Yup, you already know that sitting kills (i.e. sitting is the new smoking) in the kazillion articles written on sitting. But but but but… Sitting is horrific in athletes that are training hard in their sports because it predisposes the athlete to increased risk of injury. Yes!!! If the athlete already has issues/nigglies/pain/injury sitting will ADD to it! When you passively load muscles or position muscles to a shortened and weakened state (i.e. calves, hamstrings, psoas while sitting) it will have serious consequences to your recovery; hence, to your performance. Once again, you are creating further tension/increased adhesions/decreased circulation and electric flow in those areas. It’s all about groceries IN and garbage OUT when dealing with recovery. Please don’t make matters worse and sit too long!

WHAT do athletes do in between practices? Let’s go with the student-athletes. Hhhmmm let’s see.

1. Sitting in chairs at desks in classes all day

2. Sitting in chairs at meetings (strategy sessions) hours on end

3. Sitting on sofas to watch plays/tactics/strategies/etc everyday

4. Driving to and from practice

5. Sitting on sofas relaxing before and after practice for no other reason that to relax (even though it is doing more harm than good).

Yes, I understand that sitting is required in certain circumstances; although, may I suggest a slight alternative?

i. When sitting always sit on your ischial tuberosities (your sit-bones). This will help your spine, pelvic floor, organs and hamstrings.

ii. When sitting have your legs straight out so there is NO knee flexion. This makes a huge difference in the leg circulation.

iii. Have standing meetings. I know it will be hard coaches because you will actually have to stand as well! Get off your asses and stand for a meeting.

iv. Sitting meetings? Get them to sit on a block just above the floor and have them stretch out their legs. Once again, this does wonders for circulation and it helps stretch the athletes out. Many, many, many, many football players have tight hamstrings. Just by stretching out of the legs, within a matter of a couple of weeks, players can notice a huge difference in mobility. Why not try it! Especially if you want the winning advantage.

If you still don’t understand why sitting impedes recovery; then do an experiment! Have 1/2 the team do as little sitting as possible for 2-3 weeks weeks and the other 1/2 sitting (or status quo). I understand, this can be hard because you won’t see them all day everyday. Who knows what they do at home… on the sofa… watching TV… eating honey nut cheerios. I don’t know… just sit less please 🙂

Feet first for success

The highest percentage of injuries (aside from direct hits) come from the feet up, yet football players (and their coaches) pay little attention to a structure that holds 25% of the muscles and bones in the body [your feet!]. That is stagering! From the football cleats they wear, to the exercises and drills they do not do, to the amount of sitting during meetings or strategy sessions kills their foundation. A foundation that can make or break a career and a Title!!!!

Check out these football feet. They are not as bad as others I have seen but they are underperforming feet and I will tell you why! Toes are squished together, halux valgus forming (bunion), toenail fungus, toe gripping and collapsed arch. All of these characteristics wreck havoc in a player. Throughout his career~ foot, ankle, knee, hip, back issues can account for his injuries just from what I am seeing in his feet!

football feet

Are you a football player? Try this! Interlace your fingers between your toes.

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Can you actually do this? This is a tell-tale sign of your foot health. You can’t perform your best with weak feet. Remember: a tight muscle is a weak muscle!

Why are your feet so tight? Because of shoes!!! (that includes the freakin’ flip flops you wear everyday messing up your toes!) Check out your cleats! So many performance shoes are not big enough in the toe box. A LOT of football players would not fit in these cleats shown below. Look at that toe box!

football cleats

Your TOES are the widest part of your feet. They need room to perform!!!! If you are on a professional team or a college team that has money= get the “right” cleats for your feet. It will make all the difference.

It’s simple. Take a paper and pen, trace your foot, cut it out. If your paper does not fit in the shoe (all must be on the bottom~ so NOT touching any of the sides) the shoe is too *@#%! small. And this does not even include the width of the heel, the upper, or the lacing. If you train X hours a day, and especially at training camps where they train ALLLLL day, make sure you have the appropriate shoe for goodness sakes!

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Stop the Spatting

A HIGH percentage of football players get ankle spatting [taping] treatment before going onto the field for a game and even for practice. Spatting is where an athletic trainer or physical therapist/physiotherapist wrap the shoe to the players ankle and possibly higher up the leg depending on the players request [please see picture below]. Spatting is a “normal” practice in football and is deemed in a positive light.

ankle spatting

Some quotes from players on why they get the treatment: “It’s for the look”, “Team unity”, “I get my shoes pulled off when I get tackled, it’s less time on the sidelines trying to get my shoes back on”, “It’s for my weak ankles”, “Comfort”, “Protection”, “Injury prevention”, etc.

Unfortunately, there is nothing healthy or protective about this practice. Aesthetics (colour coordination with the tape and team uniform) is a moot point when injuries are constantly occurring.

The ankle is a hinge joint. It can plantarflex (muscles used: gastrocnemius, soleus, plantaris and posterior tibialis) and dorsiflex (muscles used: tibialis anterior, extensor hallucis longus and extensor digitorum longus). When an athlete restricts his ability to plantarflex and dorsiflex within the ankle he is reducing his own range of motion causing a habitual shortened muscular movement pattern over time [each year it just gets worse! It has NOTHING to do with age]. A shortened muscle is a tight muscle and a tight muscle is a weak muscle. A weak muscle can only take so much before it gets injured or areas around it get the brunt of the weakness.

Spatting is like wearing a corset! The more the player gets the treatment the weaker his muscles around the ankle get, the less circulation he has, with decreased electrical flow and slowly reducing his ability for the lymphatic system to flush out the garbage his body produces from the feet up. It’s shocking! And players wonder why they can’t hang out in a squat! …. or they don’t even bother because let’s be honest…. I have never seen a football practice where players are hanging out in a squat.

Anytime you brace a particular part of the body compensation ensues, AUTOMATICALLY. In regards to the ankle joint, a limited range of motion will impact foot, ankle, and leg movement, as well as knee torque and hip function. This means a higher risk of injury to all those areas. Period. Time will only tell when he will get an injury or another one. It has nothing to do with previous injuries.

Have you looked at the stats for the NFL injury list this year 2015? Over 85% of injuries (NOT including blunt hits to the body) occur at the feet, ankle, knees, legs (upper and lower muscle strains/pulls), and hips/groin. If you don’t see the correlation between ankle/foot mobility and the injury list there in lies the problem.

Every single muscle in the body is important. Stop the spatting. Increase ankle stability and mobility. Always working from the feet up, the foundation upon which we are built, will help prevent injuries and maintain an athlete’s health.