Add Some Adventure & Fun to Your Fitness

Add Some Adventure & Fun to Your Fitness

Photo by Andy Blackledge; (c) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

“Ok let’s do it”…We both looked at each other with nervous excitement as we finalized the plan for what started as the inkling of an idea I had about 2 years ago when I was reading an article about a group of women who challenged themselves to go rim-to-rim across the Grand Canyon in one day. They wanted to run it, see how well they could do and celebrate one of the participants birthdays with a fantastic group finish.

 

As I read the details their run/hike and mulled it over in my mind I knew I wanted to try it myself. The only trouble being…I really don’t enjoy endurance training…at all!!! (But I will do it to prove to my clients (and myself) that I can!!!).  I thought it over for a while and then the idea was lost in vast open space I call my mind (yes that was an intentional blonde joke :-))the shuffle of life. I hadn’t thought about it for quite sometime until after a group of us had finished the Detroit half marathon. One of the group, my client and friend Stacia, approached me about doing a marathon in Patagonia. I jumped at the idea…the breathtaking scenery and the experience would make the grueling endurance training worth it!  But alas, when I found out the travel time required to get there I decided it wouldn’t make sense for me, at least not this year. That’s when genius struck! I remembered my little goal of going rim-to-rim in one day and I brought it up to Stacia. She was all about it and we started planning!

 

Today we finalized our itinerary for our trip rim-to-rim across the Grand Canyon. This challenge is the first of what I hope to be an annual or semi-annual adventure/fitness/wellness trip for myself and others during which our physical abilities will be challenged but in a fun and adventurous way.

 

While I am looking forward to it, I personally feel uncertain of how this will go. From my reading completing the rim-to-rim in one day is pretty challenging due to the combination of the trail terrain, the heat, the fact that you must carry snacks and water at least part of the way and the one looooong downhill followed by a short, flat distance and then a loooong continuous uphill.  Not to mention that attempting to complete the trail in one day is highly discouraged by park officials.

 

The trip takes place at the end of the summer so I’ll be posting periodic updates on training and once the trip happens you will see many many photos posted to the Fanpage, Instagram and the blog! With the date of the trip is coming up so quickly, we didn’t really plan for too many others to join us. But the option is still open to anyone interested! It’s my hope to host this to become an annual event for people to attend. If you want to join us in going rim-to-rim at the end of this summer (2015) contact me asap via email, the web contact page or FB!

JOIN US!!!!

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Youth Athletics: Flexibility & Mobility to Prevent Injury

Youth Athletics: Flexibility & Mobility to Prevent Injury

Sporty womanOver the years I have had the opportunity and privilege to train a number of high school and youth athletes in the context of both coaching and conditioning.  Training young athletes is a lot of fun because the kids are pumped about their sport and they are really motivated to improve.  They are excited to work together as a team but they also are hungry to beat out their fellow teammates for the top spot.  As a coach, I love kids with this type of mentality and I give just as much back in planning and learning about the needs they have for their specific sport.

Even though I love coaching young athletes, the truth is most of the time they are not with me when they train.   They usually have numerous coaches, AAU programs and school sports teams they participate in throughout the year all of whom have various levels of knowledge and understanding about strength and conditioning techniques.  With all the various perspectives being offered to the kids, I think it’s important for both them and their parents to be educated and knowledgeable in the areas of movement and injury prevention.  I decided to post the PDF of a presentation I gave at Henry Ford Hospitals Health Fair not too long ago.

This is a transcription from a talking presentation so the content is a little “dry” but I hope my young athletes and parents can still gain some helpful info from this post…and remember you can always send me your questions if something I’ve written doesn’t make sense!  Enjoy!

 

Flexibility & Mobility to Prevent Injury to the Adolescent Athlete

Cause of Injury to the Adolescent Athlete
Although the rate of injury in adolescents is similar to that of adult professionals, injuries that affect high school athletes are slightly different. This is largely because high school athletes are often still growing.  Young athletes are required to make adjustments in their movement not only to accommodate their bodies changing environment but also to that of bones, muscles and tendons exhibiting an uneven growth pattern (each tissues growing at a different rate) which makes them more susceptible to various injuries.

 

Types of Injuries
Overuse and acute injuries are the most common types of injuries seen in adolescent athletes.

Acute Injuries:  injuries caused by a sudden trauma. Examples of trauma include collisions with obstacles on the field or between players resulting in contusions (bruises), sprains (a partial or complete tear of a ligament), strains (a partial or complete tear of a muscle or tendon), and fractures.

Overuse Injuries:  occur gradually over time, when an athletic activity is repeated so often, parts of the body do not have enough time to heal between playing.  This type of injury can affect muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, and growth plates.

 

Flexibility and Mobility Defined
Both flexibility and mobility are important components in any youth fitness training program, whether for specific to the athlete or those who want to be physically fit.

Mobility:  range of motion for a specific movement and includes muscles, tendons, ligaments & joint range of motion.
For example: spinal stabilization and hip mobility are directly related to quality and depth of a squat or lunge or moving from one position into another during a run or drill.

From IYCA.org:  “I think of mobility like this: Tissue length + neural control/stability + joint architecture = Mobility”

Flexibility:  Flexibility is often considered a component of mobility, flexibility focuses mostly on the muscle tissue and is the ability of a muscle to lengthen during passive movement and the resulting range of motion around the related joint.
For example: lengthening of the hamstrings during the sit and reach test.

 

Mobility
Use of these exercises solely with body weight are effective for developing coordination, strength, mobility, and stability in youth.

  • Lunges:  forward, backward, lateral, and other multi directional lunges
  • Push-Ups:  technically correct push ups are very challenging for the young athlete (adults too!).  For a technically correct push up, the pelvis stays neutral, the spine remains straight, and the nose nearly touches the ground.
  • Squats:  squats require specific motor patterns and mobility of the ankles, hips, and spine.  An athlete should be able squat until their thighs are parallel to the ground and then stand up without falling backward.
  • Pull-ups and horizontal Pull-Ups:  young athletes can often struggle with standard pull ups.  Using a bar fixed about 3 feet off the ground, the athlete hangs from the bar with legs straight and pulls until their chest makes contact.

The listed exercises are a brief summary of movements used to improve overall mobility in the young athlete.  Success of each movement can be achieved by coaches and parents watching closely to ensure the athlete is performing movements in a technically correct manner.

 

Flexibility
Stretching before athletic activity helps prepare the muscles for exercise. Stretching after exercise has proven to be even more important for preventing injury. For maximum benefit, young athletes should stretch each of the major lower body muscle groups before and after sporting activity.

 

Types of stretches:  this is an excerpt taken directly from “Full-Body Flexibility, Second Edition” by Jay Blahnik

  • Dynamic stretching – Dynamic stretching means a stretch is performed by moving through a challenging but comfortable range of motion repeatedly, usually 10 to 12 times. Although dynamic stretching requires more thoughtful coordination than static stretching (because of the movement involved), it is gaining favor among athletes, coaches, trainers, and physical therapists because of its apparent benefits in improving functional range of motion and mobility in sports and activities for daily living.  Beneficial for all ages and recommended for females under 12-13 and males under 14 years of age.
  • Active stretching – Active stretching means you’re stretching a muscle by actively contracting the muscle in opposition to the one you’re stretching. You do not use your body weight, a strap, leverage, gravity, another person, or a stretching device. With active stretching, you relax the muscle you’re trying to stretch and rely on the opposing muscle to initiate the stretch.
  • Passive (or relaxed) stretching – Passive stretching means you’re using some sort of outside assistance to help you achieve a stretch. This assistance could be your body weight, a strap, leverage, gravity, another person, or a stretching device. With passive stretching, you relax the muscle you’re trying to stretch and rely on the external force to hold you in place
  • Static stretching: Static stretching means a stretch is held in a challenging but comfortable position for a period of time, usually somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds. Static stretching is the most common form of stretching found in general fitness and is considered safe and effective for improving overall flexibility.  Recommended for females over 12-13 and males over 13-14.

You might hear or read about other techniques and terms used in stretching (especially by coaches and athletes), such as proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching or active isolated stretching. These techniques are all simply variations of these four types of stretches.


FOR YOUNGER ATHLETES
:  The IYCA recommends use of dynamic stretching and as the main method of developing flexibility with most of young athletes from as young as 6 years old and integrating other forms of stretching after the age of 12-13 in females and 13-14 in males.

In the last part of the demonstration I included a basic flexibility program for young athletes to use at home.  The following pdf includes basic sketches of these stretches along with the explanations listed below.  If the written descriptions are not enough you can access the sketch descriptions by clicking on the link and scrolling to the end of the presentation you will find 8-10 stretches with a descriptive sketch.

Click here for sketches: Basic Flexibility Program

Basic Flexibility Program

Helpful Tips:

  • Warm up before doing any of these stretches
  • Perform the stretches carefully without rushing.  Allow your natural range of motion to determine how far you stretch.  
  • Do not bounce a stretch as it can lead to muscle strains and other injuries.

Forward Lunges

  • Kneel on the left leg, placing the right leg forward at a right angle. Lunge forward, keeping the back straight. Stretch should be felt on the left groin.
  • Hold for 10-60 seconds
  • Repeat on opposite leg.

Side Lunges

  • Stand with legs apart, bending the left knee while leaning toward the left. Keep the back straight and the right leg straight.
  • Hold for 10-60 seconds
  • Repeat on opposite leg.

Cross-Over

  • Stand with legs crossed, keeping the feet close together and the legs straight. Try to touch the toes.
  • Hold for 10-60 seconds
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.

Standing Quad Stretch

  • Stand supported by holding onto a wall or chair. Pull the foot behind to the buttocks. Try to keep knees close together.
  • Hold for 10-60 seconds
  • Repeat with the opposite leg

 Seat Straddle Lotus

  • Sit down, placing the soles of the feet together and drop the knees toward floor. Place the forearms on the inside of the knees and push the knees toward the ground. Lean forward from the hips.
  • Hold for 10-60 seconds

Seat Side Straddle

  • Sit with legs spread, placing both hands on the same shin or ankle. Bring the chin toward the knee, keeping the leg straight.
  • Hold for 10-60 seconds
  • Repeat exercise on the opposite leg.

Seat Stretch

  • Sit with the legs together, feet flexed, and hands on the shins or ankles. Bring the chin toward the knees.
  • Hold for 10-60 seconds

Knees to Chest

  • Lie on the back with knees bent. Grasp the tops of knees and bring them out toward the armpits, rocking gently.
  • Hold for 10-60 seconds
  • Repeat three to five times.

 

Prevention
Many high school sports injuries can be prevented through proper conditioning, training, and equipment.  Implementing a regular and effective flexibility program while also analyzing and working to improve each athletes mobility together with an appropriate conditioning program that begins prior to the formal sports season is the best approach to reducing the rate of injury in young athletes.

Observation and correction of the following aresome key points coaches and parents can focus on when developing injury prevention strategies:

  • Overall mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Posture
  • Running gait
  • Knee tracking

 

Sources
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org
http://pvpost.com/2013/06/18/active-injury-free-youth-sports-injuries-are-on-the-rise-heres-why-19171
http://iyca.org/flexibility-training-for-young-athletes/
http://iyca.org/flexibility-versus-mobility/
https://www.todddurkin.com/the-best-exercises-for-youth-athletes/
http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/types-of-stretches

Presenter
Jes Reynolds is a personal trainer in the Ann Arbor area who has been working with individuals age 13-89 for over 15 years.  Over the course of that time, Jes has worked with numerous middle and high school athletes both as a coach and strength coach.  Jes holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Michigan State University.  In addition, she is a Certified Personal Trainer through the NSCA (NSCA-cpt) and a CrossFit level 1 trainer (CF-L1). Previous to attaining her degree, Jes worked with youth swimmers ranging in age from 6 months – 10 years old as a swim teacher and lifeguard.

To learn more about Jes, you can visit her website: www.jesreynolds.com
To contact Jes via email: jes@jesreynolds.com

Recovery and Mobility Tips: Foam Roller Techniques

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If you are anything like me, it’s your goal to stay in the best shape possible and find ways to challenge yourself year after year. When we start out in our twenties, avoiding injury for the sake of acheiving a goal barely crossed our minds…Even jumping off a roof was somehow seemed doable with minimal risk involved…almost nothing hurts us! All we had to do was figure out some type of creative dive roll landing and most likely we would walk away without getting hurt or injured!

If you’ve said goodbye to 20, 30, 40, 50, 60…etc you’ve probably learned through trial and error that the days of physical invincibility bordering on recklessness are over. Now, implementing strategies that help you remain flexible, mobile & injury free so you can continue to compete, challenge yourself & stay active is just as important as the workouts themselves.

The foam roller is a great tool for improving mobility & reducing risk of injury and it’s something you can easily learn to use on your own. In the following article I’ll give you a glimpse of what it is, why it’s helpful, and how to use it. Never heard of a foam roller? No problem, I’ll explain everything in the following paragraphs and give you a series of photo demonstrations on how to use the roller at the end of this article!

What is a foam roller

The foam roller is a foam cylinder (think pool noodle, but shorter and more dense) that allows you to use your own bodyweight to apply pressure to trigger points and sore, knotted muscles. It’s inexpensive, versatile and portable. The roller comes in a variety of forms, long, short, bumpy, soft, hard, and super hard.

This sounds odd I know, but determining which roller is right for you is often based on the amount of pain you feel during use. If the pain is excruciating, you need a softer and possibly smaller roller. If you feel nothing at all, then you should choose a roller that is more dense and firm.

Why use a foam roller

The foam roller allows the individual to perform SMR (self myofascial release). The (myo)facia is a thin sheath of fibrous connective tissue that encloses the muscles (picture tightly wrapped plastic wrap surrounding the muscle) and plays an important role in flexibility and mobility.
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5 Tips to Get You Golf Season “Fit”

Recently I gave a brief golf fitness presentation designed to help people learn various fitness practices that would improve their swing and consistency throughout the round.  The presentation was a lot of fun and I think the participants found it to be pretty helpful.  I’ve summarized the points below into 5 easy tips you can implement into your workout routine that will improve your golf game.

golfpic1

 

POSTUREgolf1
A golf presentation was the perfect setting for me to reinforce my obsession with posture!  I even have proof!  The Titleist Performance Institute agrees with me (yep they called and asked 🙂 ) read this:

From TPI: “When viewing your posture at address on video, trace the curve of your spine. If you’re a right-handed player, and you see an S, it’s time to get to work. A C-posture can be the result of having tight pectoral or chest muscles and having weak scapular muscles (i.e. muscles in your upper back between your shoulder blades). An S-posture has those elements and also includes hypertonic (or tight) low back muscles, tight hip flexors, and weak abdominals.”

NOTE: That’s me practicing at the range in 20 degree weather…with my GREAT posture that I learned from working out correctly! 😉

  • Ideal posture is the best way to generate power, speed, and fluidity during any movement, especially a golf swing.
  • Promotes healthy back during the swing, minimizing risk to the low back
  • Joints are used properly when lined up correctly which reduces risk of injury and allows you to have proper swing mechanics
  • Muscles are used properly when lined up correctly which allows you to generate the most power
  • Practicing posture while exercising will help you incorporate it into your golf swing!

FLEXIBILITY
Being inflexible can inhibit your swing mechanics and therefore the power & club head speed you are capable of generating.  That’s why including a regular stretching routine can improve your swing.  You’ll be able to rotate more effectively, transfer your body weight from back to front, and finish well.  During the golf swing there are a lot of different muscles used, a basic home stretching routine would include stretches for the:

  • IT Band
  • Hip Flexor
  • Glute
  • Hamstring
  • Groin
  • Quad
  • Lower & Upper Back
  • Chest

CORE STRENGTH
Core strength is crucial for generating rotational power, maintaining posture, and transferring lower body strength to the upper body and through the club. Developing core strength can be tricky as sometimes people unknowingly use their lower back muscles instead of their abdominal muscles (deep and surface).  Some basic core exercises you can do are:

  • Crunches
  • Crunches with a twist
  • Crunches on a ball
  • Plank
  • Side Plank
  • Plank with a twist

MUSCULAR STRENGTH
It seems obvious that overall strength will improve power and club head speed generated during your golf swing.  Focus should be first on developing strength in the large muscle groups such as the glutes, quads, hamstrings, chest, and lats.  Strengthening the forearms will also help you generate power and maintain proper position with the club throughout the swing.

CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE
Having cardiovascular endurance is the secret key to consistency throughout the round.  Being in good cardiovascular condition will:

  • Reduce general fatigue that can cause your swing mechanics to degrade
  • Improve mental focus and stamina throughout the round by reducing distractions caused by fatigue
  • Allow you to play more consistently for a greater number of days in a row

If you would like help developing any of these areas and would like to focus specifically on golf or if you are interested in joining a newly forming golf fitness group, send me an email to jes@jesreynolds.com and we can set something up!

Outdoor, Treadmill & Incline Running Part 2

PART II: Incline Running on the Treadmill

Outdoor hill runs are a fun way to add variety to your workout routine, BUT if you are running indoors on a treadmill, incline running isn’t as fun.  Why do you ask…because it’s not only physically demanding, it’s also psychologically challenging (in other words no motivation to do it)!  It can take all the effort you have to get on the treadmill as it is, especially during the drabby dreary winter months in Michigan, adding inclines in on a regular basis can seem impossible on some days.

As you can imagine, I wouldn’t be writing about this topic unless there were some valuable benefits to including regular hill running in your routine.  First, you can accomplish the same energy expenditure achieved from high speed running while running on an incline at a lower speed.  This reduces overall impact on the joints while still giving the heart, lungs, and legs the same workout.

 

Speed    % Grade    METs       Speed     % Grade      METs
5.0 mph          0              8.7            5.0 mph        4.0             10.0
6.0 mph          0              10.2         5.0 mph         8.0             11.4
7.0 mph         0               11.7         5.0 mph         12.0           12.8
8.0 mph          0              13.3         6.0 mph          4.0             11.8
9.0  mph         0              14.8         6.0 mph          8.0             13.5
10.0 mph       0              16.3         6.0 mph         12.0            15.2

Remember METs is a measurement of work: 1 MET = the oxygen (energy) used by the body at rest (sitting and doing nothing). The harder your body works during the activity, the more oxygen is consumed and the higher the MET level.

As you can see from the chart, you can do the same amount of work running at 8.0 mph with 0% incline as running at 6.0 mph with 8% incline.  The benefit is of running at the slower speed is reduced impact on the joints and a different type of stress on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones.

Not only does adding inclines to your workout reduced impact on joints, it also causes an overall improvement in sprinting ability on flat ground.  Sprint hill running is often used in traditional speed training programs to help sprinters increase stride length, speed-strength and ground force production.  Uphill sprinting is especially used to improve the acceleration phase of a sprint race (coming out of the start).[1]

Despite the mental and physical challenge of incline treadmill running, it’s worth it to give it a shot.  Here is an example run that I recommend for clients when they are first starting out.  If you haven’t been running on a regular basis you should try this at a walking speed and then slowly increase speed in order to be able to sustain this workout.

During this workout you keep the speed constant and manipulate the incline each minute for 20 total minutes.  Below is an example of a workout you could do.

Constant speed: 5.0 mph
Min 1: 0% grade
Min 2: 3% grade
Min 3: 6% grade
Min 4: 9% grade
Min 5: 3.0 mph walk, 0% grade
Repeat

References:
1.  NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training, 2nd Edition; Coburn & Malek; © 2012