What to DO after sustaining a Concussion

The DO’s and DON’T’s for early stage recovery after a concussion

Having a concussion is a serious injury. The brain must have the necessary means to heal. Placing stress on the body or brain will prolong healing and ultimately not allow the body to recover. During the initial stage of healing it is important to avoid activity to stimulates the brain or body and through the entire course of healing it is imperative to not evoke any symptoms by doing activity that will aggravate symptoms. The following is a list of DO’S and DON’T’s to help athletes as they recover. Read More

It’s as simple as ‘irradiation’

Irradiation sounds like a word found on the SATs. However, it is a term from Pavel Tsatsouline. It refers to the positive effect of one tensed muscle on another for absolute force production. Simply stated, the more tense one muscle or a group of muscles become the more force an person can produce.

Sounds great, right? For lifting and participating in a set motion or where there’s little need to react to any changes I would agree. For athletes who need to cut, react to their opponents or be more fluid I say it’s not.

One summer, I did nothing but lift heavy weights in an attempt to bulk up. My weights that I was able to  lift why not. However, when I try to run or play a sport, I felt really slow.  This was an example of your irradiation for me. My legs were so used to lifting and squatting heavy weights that they cannot quickly adapt and allow me to cut or move.  While it was easier to move out of my apartment, I was discouraged with how much agility I lose.

Take a look at this picture.

squatting with knees in valgus position

The athlete is working hard to successfully complete the lift, but unfortunately, using bad form. While poor mechanics are not  an example of irradiation. Tensing up as many muscles as possible to complete the heavy lift is an example of irradiation. Often athletes become so competitive that they will do anything to complete a lift, including altering technique or form. As the weight gets heavier and approaches an athlete’s 1 RM (rep max), the chance for poor form increases. This is why novice weight lifters and young athletes need to be careful with heavy training/ lifting. If athletes continue to use bad form, poor movement patterns may reinforced.

 

In my opinion, this is a pitfall too many injuries. Athletes who are not fluid and cannot perform multi directional movements are susceptible to injuries.  Research is showing the importance of multi directional squats and training and how there’s a direct correlation to less ACL tears  with athletes who work multi directional squats.

I challenge the novice and weightlifters and young athletes to not be as concerned with how much weight he or she is lifting. Instead proper mechanics and fluid motions are more important.

 

3 Worst bench press mistakes

The bench press is a great exercise to help strengthen the pecs and triceps. However, when not performed properly, the bench press can become a dangerous exercise that leads to injury. There are many reasons as to why we see athletes as patients from bench pressing. The one thing that athletes have the most control over is their form. Proper technique will minimize the risk of an injury occurring. Here are the 3 most common bench press mistakes that I see athletes make, that ultimately leads to an injury.

 

  1. Poor elbow positioning – Poor elbow is probably the most common bench press mistake as well as the most likely to lead to an injury. When performing the bench press the elbows should stay close to the body. As the bar descends its important to never let it flare out to be even with the shoulder. When this occurs it places tremendous strain on the shoulder capsule as well as other soft tissue structures in the shoulder. The elbows should not go deeper than the body as well. If you as you bring the bar down to the chest and the elbows are lower than the shoulder there is an increased likelihood for injury.

    The elbows should not flare out (pic on left ), they should stay close to the body (pic on right) Pic from breakingmuscle.com

    The elbows should not flare out (pic on left ), they should stay close to the body (pic on right) Pic from breakingmuscle.com

  2. Not creating a secure base/ foundation – To get the most out of your body while bench pressing, it is important to create a good foundation. A good base/ foundation will help to maximize the body’s pushing potential. Just like it is impossible to jump far from a boat that is not anchored, it is very hard to do the bench press when the body does not have a stable base. To create a stable base/ foundation, keep the head on the bench, pinch the shoulder blades, keep the feet on the ground and squeeze/ engage the quads and glute muscles as well.

    Pic from www.powerdojo.com

    Pic from www.powerdojo.com

  3. Lifting hips off the bench – Lifting the hips off of the bench almost always leads to arching the lower back. This places to excessive strain through the lumbar spine. Keeping the hips on on the bench will also assist in creating a more secure foundation for the body.

    Pic from leanmuscleproject.com

    Pic from leanmuscleproject.com

Jumping Posture Part 1-Starting Position

Jumping is a skill that is learned as a toddler. In fact, most of the time, jumping is a reflexive movement, not often thought about. When we need to jump, our bodies are similar to the Nike slogan-“Just Do it”. We jump, we land, and then go on to our next plan of action. However, there may be some factors that limit jumping ability. For example, as we age we may not to be able to jump as efficiently. Things such as decreased strength and declining balance are the obvious impairments that will not allow us to jump as well. However, there are some other not as obvious factors that will limit jumping ability. For athletes looking to improve their jumping ability this series of articles will address different aspects of jumping to ultimately allow athletes to maximize their jumping potential.

 

Part 1- Starting Position 

There are a lot of cliches that talk about the importance of a good start. “Start strong”, “a good beginning makes a good ending”, and even “look before you leap” are all cliches that are applicable to jumping. It is imperative to place the body in the best starting position before jumping. A proper starting position will lay the foundation to prepare the body to harness its power and potential energy.

 

  1. Chest Up and Shoulder Blades Retracted- Often when someone is reminded to have good posture the first thing he or she does is retract or bring back the shoulder blades and either stand or sit up tall. This same rationale is required for good jumping posture. Before jumping the chest should be up and shoulder blades back. Often athletes that slump do not maximize their bodies jumping potential. Slouching posture moves the body’s center of mass forward, forcing the body to have to work harder. Imagine holding a weight on the back of the shoulders while standing upright. Then imagine how much heavier it is to hold a weight on the shoulders while slouching and leaning forward. This extra strain is also placed on the body when attempting to jump when an athlete is slouching.
  2. Knees even with the Toes- The knees need to start and finish in line with the body. When the knees go towards each other (in a knocked knee position) not only is some of the force that should propel the body in the desired direction lost, there is an increased risk of injury. See article Quickest Way to Knee Pain during Powerlifting This Article will further highlight improper knee position.
  3. Arms back and Ready- The position of the arms will help propel the body. When jumping the arms often guide and direct the body in the direction that it will go. To jump forward, the arms will, often, swing forward. To jump vertically the arms, often, swing up to propel the body up. When starting to jump, the arms should be back and ready to move the body in the desired direction. If the arms are forward or in another position, time will be lost because the arms will generally swing back before the jump begins to increase the body’s moment and force. So before the jump quickly throw the arms back to be ready to go.

 

Start jumping position

Start jumping position

Pic taken from www.t-nation.com

 

Always Gripping- Start Stretching

We, as a society, seem to always be using or fingers to hold or grasp something. If we are not holding or cell phone for a selfie or text message, we are typing on the computer, or gripping a steering wheel to commute to work. That constant strain on the hands can lead to wrist and elbow problems. Furthermore, for those adding additional stress such as always gripping and holding weights while weightlifting, construction work, or just always using your fingers while typing on the computer it is important to stretch the muscles that control the fingers as well.

Stretching fingers

Stretching fingers

When we type, hold items, or grasp, our fingers curl towards the palm. To stretch, and avoid his additional pressure/ strain, we should go in the opposite direction. Pull the fingers up to allow the fingers and muscles in the forearm to stretch and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat for 3 to 5 times.

Are you getting neck & pain from how you sleep

Sleep is a necessity. It is while we sleep that our bodies recover from the day. It is recommended that adults get at least 6 hours of sleep. While some may or may not meet these sleep recommendations, our sleeping position is just as important. If our neck and/ or back is not supported we can put more stress on our bodies.

Improper side sleeping position

Improper side sleeping position

The purpose of this article is not to endorse a specific brand or type of pillow. In fact,  individuals will have different preferences. For example, a contour pillow may feel great and provide the proper support for some individuals. However,  the same contour pillow may not feel comfortable for another person. The best way to find the pillow that works may be by trial and error.

Improper supine sleeping posture

Pillow for knees 

Probably one of the most overlooked places to place a pillow while sleeping is the knees. When an individual sleeps on his/ her side a pillow between the knees will help to keep hips and pelvis supported and aligned. For individuals who prefer to lay on their backs a folded pillow or a roll should be placed under the knees. The pillow should be thick enough to flex (place a bend) in both the hips and knees. A thirty degree bend in the knee is the position that places the least amount of pressure on the knee joint. A bend in the hips decreases the amount of pressure on the lumbar spine / lower back.

Proper Sidelying Sleeping Position

Proper Sidelying Sleeping Position

Pillow for head/ neck

The pillow under the head needs to fully support the head and neck. It should be tucked so that the entire neck is support all the way to the top of the shoulders. The head should also remain in a neutral position. If the pillow(s) are too high the head will be tilted placing a strain on the neck. However if the pillow(s) are too low there will not not be enough support which could lead to the muscles of the neck and shoulder tightening. These muscles will involuntarily try to still hold/ support the weight of the head because the head is not fully supported.

 

Proper Supine Sleeping PosItion

Proper Supine Sleeping PosItion

Protecting our body while we sleep is important. Correct sleeping position will eliminate unnecessary stress to the body. Furthermore, adequate support to our joints will allow for better rest and recovery.

Pics from: http://trucontour.com/back-pain-sleep-positions

Shoulder Spica

How many times have you tried to ice or heat your shoulder but the ice/ heat or ice/ heating pad just would not stay on your shoulder? Well, no need to worry anymore. The shoulder spica is a quick and efficient way to keep the ice/ heat where it belongs… on the shoulder. Ever see a major league pitcher after a game with their shoulder wrapped? The following steps will have you wrapped and ready to go like a major leaguer. Read More

Homemade Heating Pad

Ever have a tight muscle, stiff joint, or area that just doesn’t feel right? Applying some heat to the affected area could be beneficial. The heat , if applied for a brief period, can loosen up that area by bringing more blood to that region. Here is how you can make a homemade heating pad using household items. Before using the heating pad it is important to remember that heat should not be applied to an area that was just injured (I.e. the first 24 hours after an injury) and the heat should stay on your body for approximately 10-15 minutes.

Here are the steps to creating a homemade heating pad:

  1. Grab a pair of socks. When choosing a sock try to pick a sock that does not have any synthetic material. Pick the size of the sock based on the region that you want to apply the heat. Normally, tube socks that go up to the calf or knee work best because they can cover a larger area.
  2. Fill one sock up with rice.
  3. Microwave the rice filled sock in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Please be careful removing it because it may be hot.
  4. Apply the heated sock to the affected area. If necessary, use the other sock as a layer between your skin and the heated sock. This will keep the area from getting burned if it feels too hot.
  5. Enjoy your homemade heating pad!

Foam Roll for Hamstring

The foam roll is a piece of exercise equipment designed to improve soft tissue extensibility. It can be viewed as a personal masseuse because she used properly it will alleviate tight muscles, trigger points, and spasms like having a massage. Being that the foam roll assist the muscles it can be used before a workout helping to prepare the muscle to work optimally or after a workout to allow for muscle recovery.

Whether dealing with hamstring tightness, soreness, or a strain, using the foam roll for the hamstring will be beneficial. However, even being proactive with the foam roll can help to minimize the likelihood of an injury occurring.

Click here to view how you can use the foam roll on the hamstrings. Foam Roll Hamstring

Use the roll over each group of hamstrings for approximately 1-2 minutes. When starting out there may be areas of the muscle that is sore/ painful. This is indicative of tight points. Try to focus on these points. As the muscle loosens up and you continue to use the foam roll it will become less and less painful.

Foam Roll for Calves

The foam roll is a piece of exercise equipment designed to improve soft tissue extensibility. It can be viewed as a personal masseuse because she used properly it will alleviate tight muscles, trigger points, and spasms like having a massage. Being that the foam roll assist the muscles it can be used before a workout helping to prepare the muscle to work optimally or after a workout to allow for muscle recovery.

Click on the link to view how you can roll out the calves:

Foam Roll Calf

Rolling out the calves can be beneficial with calf strains, Achilles injuries, and even injuries of the foot such as plantar fascitis. Use the roll over each calf for approximately 1-2 minutes. When starting out there may be areas of the muscle that is sore/ painful. This is indicative of tight points. Try to focus on these points. As the muscle loosens up and you continue to use the foam roll it will become less and less painful.