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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ORTHOTICS GONE WILD

The orthotic industry came to prominence after WWI, WWII and the onset of the 1950’s polio epidemic. It was to help wounded soldiers and those stricken with polio. Later, orthotics were developed for diabetics, patients recovering from burns or broken bones, people with severe arthritis or neuromuscular disorders, MS, CP, spina bifida, brain injury, kids with scoliosis, athletes recovering from surgery or injury, and many other disorders.

Fast forward to 2014: People wear orthotics today for their high arches, collapsed arches, foot cramps, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, hip issues, knee problems, back pain, tendonitis, heel pain, leg length discrepancy, arch pain, calf tension, and the list is endless. This is vastly different from its original usage. There is NO comparison.

Do you have orthotics?

Why did you get them in the first place?

Today’s definition of orthotics:  a device designed to restore your natural foot function. Orthotics re-align the foot and ankle bones to their neutral position, thereby restoring your natural foot function.

What? Read that again. Seriously! Read the above definition again slowly.

Okay. Did you actually read it again or are you just trying to get through this #@^* blog post?

Well, I have something special for you today. For today and today only:

I’m going to give you gloves that restore your natural hand function. The wrist-o-hand glove will re-align your hand and wrist bones to their neutral position, thereby restoring your natural hand function. You will be able to do anything with your hands. Did I say aNyThInG?

Do you believe me?

Just wait! I have a bonus offer:

I’m going to give you underwear that restore your natural pelvic floor function. Pelflundies re-align your femur, your pelvis and your sacrum to their neutral positions, thereby restoring your natural pelvic floor function. Going to the toilet will now be a breeze without worrying about pissing on the floor while walking to work or working out. You will experience a wonderful and loving menstrual flow (woman only, obviously). You will say no to pelvic organ prolapse and yes to strong and healthy tissues. No more SI joint problems or sciatica! To top it off, the sex will be “O” so magnificent!

Do you believe me now?

I think you get my point. Here’s the thing: FEET need to be healthy for the entire body to be healthy. Humans have not studied the body enough to know the true intricacies of the foot itself. In regards to your biomechanics, of your actual gait? Here is a great quote from William A. Rossi D.P.M:

“Gait is the single most complex motor function of the human body. So complex, in fact, that it is the only motor function for which a definition or standard of “normal” does not exist. It involves half of the body’s 650 muscles and 200 bones, along with a large share of the joints and ligaments. And despite all the serious gait studies that have been done since Hippocrates to the present, all the mysteries of human gait have yet to be revealed.” (p. 50)

Notice how he uses the term normal, not natural. The only natural that can be found when discussing feet is when they are bare. It is that simple. If it hurts you to go barefoot. I get it! I wore orthotics from 1990-2008. I went through about 10 pairs. To add to that, I had my positive heel shoes at my bedside every single day. Upon waking (to go pee in the middle of the night or getting up to go to work) I would immediately put my feet into those shoes. Going barefoot was painful! I just couldn’t do it. At the same time, I became fed up with everything. I couldn’t understand why I truly needed orthotics in the first place (shin splints, plantar fasciitis, high arches). For me this was just not a good enough excuse to wear something foreign to my body. I slowly weaned off the orthotics working hard every single day, starting with 30 seconds! After 2 looooong years with more mobility and stability daily I threw my orthotics out.

No! I am not telling you to get rid of your orthotics. No! I’m not saying orthotics are bad. Some people need them! Regardless if we wear orthotics or not we need to take responsibility of our feet. Bracing them in shoes or orthotics will not fix them. It is imperative to increase circulation through self-massage with a pair of hands, a ball or a small roller. It is also crucial to create more stability through movement barefoot [BE CAREFUL! You don’t have to do any weight bearing exercises at first]. Every single muscle and bone in your body is meant to move on its own, naturally!

Have you recently suffered from any aches or pains in your body? It just might be because your feet need some TLC! Love your footsies and your entire body will love you back.

Where did I get that awesome quote? Here: Rossi, William A., D.P.M. Why shoes make “normal” gait impossible. Podiatry Management, p.50-61, March 1999.