#cardioproject2017

Just for fun, this year, I decided to start a #cardioproject2017 because there are a lot of misconceptions about “cardio” within the fitness world, everyday life and cardiovascular health in general.

We are told to eat well, exercise, stop smoking, reduce our stress and maintain a healthy weight. That’s all you have to do! GREAT, then why are so many “healthy” people affected by cardiovascular disease?

In order to DO cardio, we are told to exercise X/wk for X amount of time. Is “exercise” the answer? If not, then what?

How does the cardiovascular system work in the first place?

If I feel good, then that must mean I’m fine with regards to my CV health, right?!

If I run (or do any sport/activity) then my cardio is fine!

What is the difference between performance (recreational to elite athletes) and health (overall cardio health)?

Without seeing a doctor what are things I can do to tell if my cardio is up to par? What can I do to help my cardio, period?

If I am at risk (genetics), what can I do? If I have a heart defect or abnormality at birth what can I do?

These are just a few questions I will touch upon throughout this year.

Let’s start off with RUNNING! I am sure almost everyone will agree that running has come up in their life, defined as an activity to increase cardio. Absolutely, sure it does. But, to what extent? Are there better ways to increase your cardio aside from pounding the kms/miles? And, if you LOVE running how can you make it a safer, healthier option of cardio work.

Last week I did a V02 and Lactate run test to have a starting point for my “fitness cardio”. Here’s snippets of the test.

Brian, Senior Sport Scientist/ Head Sport Performance Coach, testing my V02 and lactates at Peak Centre for Human Performance. Evan, Sport Scientist Intern, helping out and Kevin, rolling the camera! I used the Splice app through GoPro for this video.

I started slow and did not go to V02max. My body was not ready for the pounding (only ran ~10 times in the last 2 years) on my body or the speed. However, I did get enough information to continue on with my #cardioproject2017. Please click on the link below to see my results.

Kristin Marvin – Running VO2 – Jan 10th, 2017

My results: What the heck do they mean? I will go through that over the next little while in upcoming posts. I will say a few personal thoughts on my test.

As a former runner it is extremely tough and humbling to view my results. It was my life in high school (over 20 years ago) and I dabbled in it on and off over the years. Last time was in the summer of 2011, where I ran 2-3 times a week and did some triathlons.

I’m doing this for various reasons. To show running is not enough. And to make sure everyone understands that if they are a runner or an athlete in another sport does not equate to overall cardiovascular health.

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Five Tips for X-Country Runners

TIP #1: Do some fancy footwork EVERYDAY

Having strong and healthy feet relate to your ENTIRE body health. I am sure you don’t want to get injured this year?! Get those shoes off and work your feet for 5 minutes a day, it’ll save you a lot of heart ache later on!

 

TIP #2: Do whole body mobility/movement

Running only requires ~20% of your musculature. What’s happening to the rest of your body? There’s some SERIOUS underuse.

The cardiovascular system relies on ALL your muscles to pump the blood (nutrient rich => oxygen) to all the cells in your body. If you JUST run you’re in for a lot of hurt later on in life.

AND just because you’re an Olympic calibre runner does not prevent you from CVD. It’s all about making movement matter in your ENTIRE body not just the parts you need to run.

Ask yourself everyday: have I MOVED today? If you haven’t I would move first (yes, as a priority!) before you decide to run.

Move runner move!

 

TIP #3: Walk for recovery

With all new gadgets and experts talking about everything you can do… it really can be as simple as walking more for better recovery and better health. We were meant to move a LOT throughout the day. Not just once a day (aka during your workout). It’s all about making movement matter

 

 

TIP #4: Wear less

Our goose bump muscles (arrector pili) are just as important as any other muscle in the body. USE them!

Your body is set up for self thermoregulation. If you are constantly trying to be “comfortable” with your body temperature you are achieving the exact opposite with extra clothes and/or heat.

And that’s also why, especially during colder months, it’s important to constantly move throughout the day! We are suppose to anyway.

Whether you are training or not be a little bit uncomfortable to regain optimal health.

 

 

Tip #5: Plumb line your way up those hills while keeping your ribs down to engage your glutes and hamstrings instead of exasperating your hip flexor/ quad dominant lifestyle.

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.

Throw that posture out the window

Welcome back to Making Movement Matter. As a Performance Recovery Specialist, certified in Restorative Exercise, I look at skeletal alignment and how people, over time acquire certain positions and postures that they think are healthy; but, really they are not at all.

Take your arms (look at them and mine) nice and relaxed. Do you see red dots on me? Those are the elbow pits. As athletes, if we were perfectly aligned in the humeri, we would have our elbow pits facing forward, while having the arms completely relaxed. Guess what? I’m not perfectly aligned. My right arm is actually in pretty good alignment. My left… not so good… you can barely see my elbow pit. I need to continuously work on my alignment through whole body movements as well as positions that I chose to hold on a daily basis.

One cue that I do not like people saying, in regards to posture… and let’s make sure everyone understands that posture has nothing has to do with health, it has to do with cultural beliefs in your own culture. One belief that is held highly about posture is “aesthetics”. A person needs to look like “this”, and that is the golden standard (dependent on where you live in the world and/or your culture).

Alignment wise, if you were to stand up straight or sit up straight, the last thing you would want to do is {and this is a cue so many people use} bring your shoulders back. Bring your shoulders back. Bring Your Shoulders Back!

Every athlete has internally rotated humerii. You’re asking an athlete to, using an internally rotated humerus, shove the humerus back in the glenohumeral joint, into that cavity. So you have more tension where it doesn’t belong. Everything connected to the humerus and surrounding areas become restricted (tissues, muscles and bone). What is that doing for us? It is creating more hyperkyphosis, believe it or not. Yes, more hunching! It is creating more tension in head, neck, shoulders, and back, AND a higher risk of injury, just by cueing yourself on a daily basis to bring your shoulders back.

Okay, so you are thinking “Wait a second, wait a second, let’s just get those elbow pits in line and shove my shoulders back, like this”. It’s the same thing. If I asked you to clench your teeth all day everyday, would you do it? It doesn’t feel right.

You need to start with your shoulders and arms completely, totally relaxed. And, see over time where your elbow pits are located. That’s when you can see how much internal rotation you have in the humerus, the arm bone.

Well, how can I fix that?

There’s many many many things you can do; but, I’m only going to give you one thing. And this one thing you will fight. Because athletes fight for time, they fight for performance and they fight to get that next Personal Best, all that kind of stuff. Don’t fight this! We are bipedal animals. We are suppose to walk. Quite simply, most athletes don’t walk enough. In order to get your shoulders back in place and your humeri back in place, all you have to do is use our most reflexive movement and that is walking. We were meant to walk. And walk a lot!

And guess what happens when you walk? You use reciprocal arm swing. This is natural! It actually helps relieve tension in the arm/ chest/ shoulder/ upper back regions. All the tissues and muscles around the humeri are getting the appropriate amount of movement in such a way that garners wonderful length and strength of both sides of the arm and even the body close to the arm. Walking will slowly get your body back into place. [Now, there’s an assumption that you aren’t sitting too much or doing things that will hinder your arms/shoulders].

Walking is Key. And please don’t walk with a water bottle in your hand, iPod, partner, or dog leash. And please don’t equate walking with running. Running is a completely different activity/gait/biomechanics. Walk, walk, walk with nothing in your hands and it’s just normal and natural movement. Nothing else.

You can do wonders for your skeletal frame, your alignment. Throw that posture [shoulders back] out of the window. Just relax, and keep an eye on those elbow pits. You will recover a lot quicker.

Walk It!

In my teens and 20’s I hated walking… with a passion. I couldn’t understand why people would walk when they could bike, run, rollerblade, drive or bus. Walking was boring, unproductive and useless. Yes, I was adamant about not walking. I had way too many other things to do with my life. Sounds pretty harsh. It was.

Gosh! Was I WRONG. Walking allows the human body to work as designed, moving through mobility and stability of almost all body parts, and it is the most natural biological whole body movement. We are bipedal for a reason. We weren’t born with a bike or car in hand.

Walking has been a huge part of my life in my thirties (more so the later half), and as I am nearing (2 months) my forties I am nurturing and loving my body more through walking.

Now, if you are thinking YEAH you are ### older that’s why you are walking more! <- this is not the case. I am walking more because I am smarter. If I were to go back to being an elite athlete many years ago I would incorporate walking into my recovery program. Yes, that is how vital it is as a movement. Getting the appropriate ankle range of motion, knee health, hip movement, shoulder love and being outside getting some air. And, let’s be clear this is only 5% of its benefits.

When you do sport/train/compete you are literally tearing the crap out of your connective tissue and muscles. What do people do to recover? They stretch, mobilize, rest and sleep. This is not enough to get back to your body’s most natural optimal state. There needs to be whole body movement involved. What is that? Walking.
Honestly, don’t knock it until you try it. If you are an athlete and have issues with your body here is your homework.

For ONE month (yes, one month because anything less is not really giving it a go) walk everyday for at least 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter when, where, or even if it is in increments of 5-10 minutes each just walk. If you can do more, go for it. Do an hour! 3X20 minutes throughout the day.

Shoulder issues? You decide to buy a program or get help from a health care practitioner that just works your shoulder girdle. Good luck. The whole problem won’t go away because your shoulders are attached and affected by everything else in your body. WALK.

Hip issues? How are you hip flexors? Do you actually have proper hip extension? I’ll answer that for you= No! Give walking a go.

Walking helps you recover from the tip of your toes to the top of your skull. Yes, you need to wear proper shoes, walking with the legs pelvis width apart, feet forward, ribs down, not falling forward, nothing in your hands for true natural shoulder mobility/stability, etc… The thing is we have lost the ability to walk properly, hence having more challenges with our bodies. Our beautiful ‘progressive’ world has shattered our bodies. So let’s all go back to basics.

If we must feel the need to excel in our sport we must have the equal goal to excel in our health.

Remember: Sport performance does not equate to overall body health. We need to blend the two together.

Check out the whole “walking” thing. It was “invented” a looooong time ago :)