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.

 

Weighted Gloves and MMA don’t mix

Conventional thinking may lead to MMA athletes using weighted gloves during training. After all, if hitting a bag, working on forms, or even shadow boxing is a workout, then increasing resistance with a weighted glove should be better, right? Unfortunately, this rationale often leads to injury.

Using weighted gloves in exercises in which your elbow or shoulder must stop an explosive motion of your hand places excessive strain on the arm. If an athlete’s arm is extended the weight of the gloves will pull the arm down. When punching with weighted gloves, there’s a repetitive action of pulling the shoulder down, often resulting in rotator cuff injury.

Weighted gloves have there place. They can safely add additional weight to resistance training or calisthenics. However for punching, there is an alternative to using weighted gloves. If the goal is to improve punching power, a safer way is to use a band. The resistance of the band should be directly in line with the direction the athlete is punching. By securing/ placing a band directly behind the athlete additional resistance can be added that doesn’t increase the likelihood of injury or place strain to the rotator cuff.

Does getting hit or hitting things make you stronger?

Athletes involved in combat sports  put their bodies through a tremendous amount of strain. For years, combat athletes have been punched, kicked, hit,  and even had items such as medicine balls dropped on them. The idea of being hit is to make these athletes stronger.  While for the average person this sounds weird, there is some science to back up this concept.

Our bodies are amazing! Our bodies can adapt and change based on the stress placed upon it. If we train our cardiovascular system we see changes to our heart and lungs such decreased heart rates and improved stroke volume (amount of blood circulated per beat). In essence, our cardiovascular system becomes more efficient. If we participate in strength /resistance training our bodies become stronger and over time are able to tolerate more loads/ demands. In the same manner, the skin can get thicker with repetitive pressure. Just as how the skin can calluses with lifting. Some even argue that getting hit repeatedly makes your nerve endings less sensitized to pain. While there’s not as much research to back up this hypothesis. Simply stated, the body will get used to being hit and not perceive it to be as painful.

Lastly, skeletal changes occur with repetitive hitting/ force. When hit often, bones can have micro fractures. When there’s a micro fracture, athletes can still function and move (unlike a conventional fracture). Instead the area will be sore and perhaps became inflamed. This why there may be some pain initially when hit.  When these micro fractures heal, the bone becomes denser/ stronger and ultimately the same amount of force/ stress will not hurt as much.

What combat athlete wouldn’t want thicker skin, decreased nerve sensitivity, and denser bone when fighting? That’s why training by hitting objects and being hit (within reason) can be advantageous.

 

Neck Bridges

Neck Bridges are an advanced exercise used by MMA fighters to build up neck muscles. Having a strong neck will not only allow fighters to use resist pressure on their heads and body from being pushed around. Having a strong neck can also prevent being knocked out from a punch as the head will have less movement from a punch if the neck is able to absorb some of the force.

To perform Neck bridges the athlete should start in a push-up position, and put their head down on a mat/ pad and rock their heads back and forth. As the athletes get stronger, they can keep their hands off the mat and get into a tripod position with just their head and feet on the ground. This however, can put a lot of compression forces on the spine. For this reason, this should not be the sole neck exercise used for strengthening. As the repetitive neck compression can lead to injury. Likewise, novice should not perform neck bridges in the tripod position as well, as their necks may not be strong enough to prevent injury from the compression forces.

 

For additional neck exercises and info please view these articles:

Deep Cervical Flexor Muscles

Improving Neck Strength can Reduce Concussion Risk

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