270317 Recovery methods employed after heavy exercise. (1/2)

270317 Recovery methods employed after heavy exercise.

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A.CSCS*D

Let us briefly discuss a few of these and the way in which they are applied during the recovery process. Use these various modalities between sets or between days of training. Experiment until you have found the ones that work best for you.

Use of the various means of recovery should be included as a part of the over all design package of your work out plan. You will find some that fit you very well, just as some exercise seem to be tailor made especially for you. However, keep varying the different modalities, as your body will soon accustom itself to those, which are applied most frequently. The benefits will diminish if they are over used. The bottom line on the issue is this: just as you change your exercise selections around each training day so must you change your recovery modes around.

The most intensive recovery methods are utilized after the heaviest workouts. Apply the recovery modes not just directly after the workout, but later in the day after your body has adjusted to the stress of the training session. Wait at least three hours before starting the recovery process. If you wait 6-9 hours, the recovery is made much more effective and will raise the work capacity higher the next day.

  1. Sleep is essential and having 7-9 hours increases the recovery rate by lowering the cortisol secretions. Growth hormones are secreted during the sleep periods but only nighttime sleep decreases cortisol and increases growth hormone secretions.
  2. Music with agreeable harmonies and with few changes in tempo has a tendency to calm, relax muscles and relieve anxiety, reduces the resistance in the respiratory tract and deepens the breath. After the heaviest work out, listening to this music for about thirty minutes before going to sleep is quite effective. During exercise, listening to music at about 40 decibels improves the mood and can be invigorating.
  3. Vibro massage and the regular massages afford the muscles, connective tissues and the nutrient feeding mechanisms the ability to be freed up of any constrictions. Massage is generally in the realm of a physical therapist or sports masseuse. Both of these specialties are highly knowledgeable in the use of massage to help the body restore itself after heavy exertion efforts.
  4. Ice massage is a very effective method and is accomplished by rubbing ice over the affected areas for 10-15 minutes after the exercise period is finished. The sensation sequence is cold, localized cold pain followed by numbness. At the numbness point, the massage is continued for several more minutes, being careful not to freeze the skin in the process.
  5. Contrast baths are a specific sequence of cold and hot water treatments. One that is commonly used is cold, hot, cold, hot, cold each lasting for about 5-6 minutes each. The theory is the cold slows down further degeneration of the tissue damage in the area. The hot then brings a great profusion of blood to the region, which then flushes out the waste products. More cold/hot repeats the process and so on.
  6. General Physical Preparation means the individuals level of physical preparedness. Is it up to performing the imposed volume and load? This portion usually implies a higher volume of training at a lower intensity.

030417 Spare tire risks associated with carrying fat around your stomach. (1/2)

030417 Spare tire risks associated with carrying fat around your stomach.

By Danny M. O’Dell, MA. CSCS*D

According to recent research, those who have a large potbelly appear to have a higher risk of arteriosclerosis. This is the medical term for the fatty buildup on the lining of arteries that researchers now believe increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. SOURCE: Diabetes 2003;52:172-179

People who carried this “spare tire” of fat around their waists are more likely to have increased fat and cholesterol in their blood.

The study by doctors in Seattle also noted that insulin resistant people with excess abdominal fat also appeared to show higher concentrations of a substance known as apolipoprotein B (apoB) and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, a “good” form of cholesterol. Previous studies have suggested that high levels of apoB may encourage the development of arteriosclerosis.

Study author Dr. Steven E. Kahn of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, Washington, states that he and his colleagues suspect that a potbelly likely precedes insulin resistance. Once both conditions have set in, he noted, people’s bodies are more likely to be primed to develop arteriosclerosis.”We think that the deposition of fat in the inside of the abdomen is the critical determinant of insulin resistance in the general population,” Kahn said. “We think that the fat begets the insulin resistance, which helps produce” risk factors for arteriosclerosis, he added.

250317 Fluid replacement-Water and the body-why we need it (3/3)

250317 Fluid replacement-Water and the body-why we need it

Water “serves as the body’s transport and reactive medium: Diffusion of gasses always takes place across surfaces moistened with water. (Page 53 reference # 1)

Oral re-hydration solutions that offer the quickest method of replacing lost fluids and electrolytes seem to be in a carbohydrate concentration range of 5-8%. Solutions in this range generally permit carbohydrate replacement without hindering water uptake. (Fructose is not desirable because it takes too long to exit the digestive system and thus promotes less fluid uptake than glucose based drinks). (Page 76 reference #1)

To figure the percentage of carbohydrates in the drink, divide carbohydrate content (in grams) by fluid volume (in milliliters) and multiply by 100. (Page 76 reference #2)

The fact remains that our body needs water to function. If it does not get it, it cannot do its job efficiently, which in turn reflects on your ability to do the task you have set out to do. The point of all this is to watch over the fluid/water status.

By the way, coffee acts as a diuretic, which means it expels fluids from the body. Pop has a high content of sugar, so does not exit the stomach quickly. And some of the sports drinks have a poor carbohydrate ratio. In most cases, water seems to be the best replacement fluid for our body.

Suggestions for avoiding potential dehydration/hyponatremia problems

  • Water at 5 Degrees Celsius is most useful in recovery from a dehydrated state. In large quantities, fluid at 15-21 degrees Celsius is normally preferred. (page 810 reference #2)
  • Encourage the ingestion of 13-20 ounces of cold fluids 20 minutes before suiting up and some of these dangers can be avoided.(page 510 reference #2)
  • Drink fluids at the same rate they are being depleted or at least close to 80% of the sweating rate.(Page 77 reference #2)
  • A good rule of thumb to follow is that one pound of weight loss represents a loss of one pint of body fluid. This fluid needs to be replaced quickly to move it from the digestive track into the body where it is needed. Gulp instead of sip.

NOTE: This information is not meant to replace a doctor’s recommendation.


  1. Exercise Physiology by William D McArdle, Frank I. Katch, and Victor L Katch. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. © 1996


  1. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning by Thomas R. Baechle and Roger W. Earle. Human Kinetics. © 2000

200317 Fluid replacement-Water and the body-why we need it (2/3)

200317 Fluid replacement-Water and the body-why we need it 

In the book Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (page 247), it states that a fluid loss of around 1% of body weight will increase core temperature with a disproportionate rise in heart rate. These increases in temperature causes further fluid loss and the cycle repeats itself.

Plasma volume becomes reduced when sweating causes a fluid loss of 2-3% body mass. The blood thickens, which makes the heart work harder at pumping it through out the body. As dehydration progresses and plasma volume decreases, peripheral blood flow and sweating rate are reduced and thermo regulation becomes progressively more difficult. (Page 509 reference #1)

A 5% dehydration of the body mass significantly increases rectal temperature and decreases sweating rate. There is 25-30% decrease in stroke volume from the heart that is not off set by a higher heart rate so the system output and arterial blood pressure decline. For each liter of sweat loss, the heart rate increases by about eight beats per minute, with a corresponding decrease in cardiac output. “The primary aim of fluid replacement is to maintain plasma volume so that circulation and sweating progress at optimal levels”.

In Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, it (page 247) states that at 7% body weight loss a collapse is likely. Obviously, this is a serious condition if left unchecked.

Ultimately, the strain on the circulatory system impairs the thermo regulation of the body. (Page 507 reference #1)

Thirst is not a good indicator of hydration level as it normally lags behind the body’s needs. Each adult requires from 2-3 quarts of water/fluid daily, less than that, will gradually result in a dehydrated state over a period.

Indicators of the need for more fluid in the body that are relatively simple to monitor are (Page 247 reference #2)

  • Dark yellow urine (unless excessive vitamin intake has occurred)
  • Strong smelling urine
  • Decrease times of having to urinate
  • A rapid resting heart rate
  • Muscle soreness that lingers longer than normal

Normal urine loss for an adult is about 4 times per day for a total of about 1.2 quarts. This means the elimination of 8-10 fluid ounces about 4 times per day. If a person is drinking over and above the normal requirements bathroom breaks could occur more often. If this is not the case, and you are not drinking excessively, perhaps a check for diabetes is in order.

180317 Fluid replacement-Water and the body-why we need it (1/3)

180317 Fluid replacement-Water and the body-why we need it

Background information

Water “serves as the body’s transport and reactive medium: Diffusion of gasses always takes place across surfaces moistened with water. (Page 53 reference # 1)

  • Nutrients and gases are transported in aqueous solution.
  • Waste products leave the body in urine and feces
  • Water has tremendous heat-stabilizing qualities because it can absorb considerable heat with only a small change in temperature.
  • Water lubricates joints
  • And finally because it is essentially incompressible it helps give structure and form to the body through the turgor (the normal fullness of the blood vessels and capillaries) it provides for body tissues.”
  • Dehydration and its effects on the body.

Most studies relating to dehydration have been conducted for sports or military related reasons, but the results are the same; the body has to have fluids to run efficiently. It needs to replace these lost fluids in order to remain cool enough to properly function. If not, then heat builds up. The body attempts to lessen this raising of the core temperature by various mechanisms such as breathing faster or sweating more. If enough sweat is produced, dehydration cannot be far behind.

Sweat causes the body to lose electrolytes specifically sodium, potassium, chloride and magnesium. Each one of these electrolytes has an impact on, and is crucial to muscle and nerve activity. (Page 246 reference #2)

Therefore, lots of sweating over long periods can, and will, affect your ability and level of mental and physical performance. In fact, if sweating is heavy enough for an extended time (several hours) sweat fatigue may result. Sweat gland fatigue can cause an inability of the sweat glands to regulate core temperature. This is the body’s main mechanism for heat dissipation; should it be disrupted serious consequences result. (Page 408 reference #1)

Our body mass consists of 40-60% water, with muscle containing about 65-75% water, and fat having about 50% water. Excessive water/electrolyte losses impair heat tolerance and physical performance. This can lead to severe dysfunction in the form of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and finally heat stroke, which can be life threatening. (Page, 51-reference #1)

Much of the fluid loss is called extra cellular, meaning fluids that surround and bathe the cells (blood plasma, lymph, saliva, fluid in the eyes, fluid secreted by the glands, fluid that bathes the spinal cord and fluid excreted from the skin and kidneys). Blood plasma accounts for 20% of the extra cellular fluid (between 3 and 4 liters). (Page 53 reference #1)

Continued next week.

130317 Posture-dynamic and static

130317 Posture-dynamic and static

Posture, just the word brings to mind standing at attention with your head up, shoulders back and chest out. In reality it is more than this.

Body posture is both dynamic and at the same time a static action. In fact balance and posture are closely intertwined and in many cases are the same.

Posture affects not only how tall you will grow and how well your internal organs function but your activity and sports performance as well.

Briefly stated, posture can cause positive or negative alterations in the structure of your bones. Problems with your posture cause muscle imbalances, flexibility issues and damage to your joints if continued long term. The results of these changes are back, shoulder and neck pain, all of which, if caused by poor posture, can be alleviated with a conscious awareness of maintaining good posture.

Early on in a person’s life when the body is still developing is the ideal time to establish good posture habits. Doing so allows the body to build a strong useful platform for daily activities and participation in sports.

Good posture means your internal organs have room to grow and be healthy. Improper alignment in the structures of your body puts undue stress on the rest of it causing chronic strain which translates into chronic pain. Some study results have associated chronic pain as being a contributing factor to arthritis later in life.

The spinal column is the supporting base for your entire body and as such needs to be strong and powerful to endure the stresses placed on it throughout the day and for the remainder of your life.

The spine should be solid and flexible (within normal range of motion) while at the same time maintaining the four natural curves at all times. Strengthening the spinal column and the muscles that attach to it will help keep your posture correct and you feeling good about yourself.

110317 Posture and the relationship to strength

110317 Posture and the relationship to strength

The display of strength is influenced by the joint angles of the operating links in the chain. These angles, as would be expected, change with movement. Because of this change, the length of the muscles varies throughout the movement, as does the angle of attachment to the bone.
This means the muscles ability to produce more, or less, force is determined by the angle as the leverages and “moment of muscular force changes the mechanical conditions of work.” This postural condition may benefit strength output if the “force potential of the muscles is used fully” but it can also be “hindrance when only part of their maximal tension can be used.”

Based strictly on observation it is clear that strength is affected either negatively or positively by various postural changes. As an example, most athletes are able to lift more weight in the dead lift than in a straight leg dead lift. This is a classic case of minor changes in the positioning of the links in the chain leading to tremendous strength advantages. In other words if the legs are bent and allowed to participate in the lift much more is hoisted up. It only stands to reason that the more muscles involved the more will be lifted.

Maximal force output at the working joints is truly dependent “upon the position of the system’s links relative to the proximal joints.” For example, the force developed in extension or flexion of the knee joint is determined by the angle at the hip joints. Thus, maximal force in hip extension in the seated position was found to be at an angle of 160° in the knee joint.

“In the leg press (lying on the back)” there was no difference “in knee extension force”…found at hip angles of 100° up to and including 140°’s. “Knee extension strength increases by 10%-12% if the torso is inclined 20° to 25° backward from the vertical with the subject seated in a rowing position. Thus, to produce maximal force in a movement, one must consider anatomical stability and ensure that at crucial moments posture enables the muscles to develop maximal external force.


Try different stances, different hand grips, and different joint angles during your lifts to increase your power output capacity. Just because Ed Coan or Fred Hatfield squats, a certain way does not mean it will be as effective or efficient for you to do likewise.

Postural changes, however slight, may make big differences in how much maximal force you are able to produce. Try it and see for yourself.

Final note: If you are considering a personal trainer or are training in a local health club, ask about the certification status of the staff. The qualified trainers will be happy to show you their credentials. Remember, it’s your money and more importantly your body, so go with the qualified instructors so you get correct guidance.

* The source of the information comes from the American Physical Therapy Association book entitled BODY MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR. The authors are Marilyn Moffat, PT, Ph.D., FAPTA and Steve Vickery. It is an excellent book that discusses the many systems of the human body.

060317 Shoulder posture

060317 Shoulder posture

An ideal alignment will have the line of reference passing midway through the shoulder joint as it travels downward. The arm and shoulder position depends on where the scapulae and upper back positions are. In a normal, i.e. correct alignment, the scapulae will be lying flat against the upper back. This position is roughly located between the second and seventh thoracic vertebrae with about four inches separation. Even this separation depends on the size of the person.

Positions of the scapulae, other than that described, will negatively affect the position of the shoulder. This particular misalignment of the Glenohumeral joint will in many cases set the athlete up for an impending injury.

040317 Checking your posture

040317 Checking your posture

Did you notice irregularities in symmetry from side to side? Perhaps you have one shoulder lower or one hip higher than the other, maybe there is more space between one arm and the body compared to the opposite side. Do your knees turn in or out? If you answered yes to any of these, then here is a short self-check for you to examine your posture a bit closer.

Stand with your back to a wall, your heels about 6 inches from the wall. Place one hand behind your neck, with the back of that hand against the wall. Place the other hand behind your lower back, with the palm against the wall. If there’s enough space between your body and the wall to move your hands forward and back more than an inch the curves in your spine may not be in proper alignment.

If you found your posture lacking a bit here are three posture practices that just may help.

This exercise is a demonstration of correct standing posture. Try practicing it two to three times a day.

  1. Stand with your back against a wall. Place your heels about 6 inches from the wall and about 6 inches apart from each other. Keep your weight evenly distributed. Arms are relaxed at your sides. Keep your ankles straight, your feet pointed straight ahead and your kneecaps facing front.

    2. Bring your head back to touch the wall. Tuck your chin as if a string were attached to the middle of the back of your head; pretend the string is being pulled up. Pull up and in with the muscles of the lower abdomen, trying to flatten the stomach and bringing your lower back closer to the wall. Gently straighten your upper back by lifting your chest and bringing your shoulders down against the wall.

    3. Hold this position for 10 seconds, breathing normally. Relax and repeat three to four more times.

This exercise is a demonstration of correct sitting posture. Try practicing it two to three times a day.

  1. Sit in a straight back chair, with both feet flat on the floor and with your back resting against the chair. Arms are relaxed with hands on your lap or on armrests. Hold your head erect. Tuck your chin in as if a string were attached to the middle of the back of the head; pretend the string is being pulled up.

    2. Pull up and in with the muscles of the lower abdomen, trying to flatten the stomach. Gently straighten the upper back, lifting the chest. Bring the shoulders back and down against the chair.

    3. Hold this position for 10 seconds, breathing normally and keeping the rest of the body relaxed. Relax and repeat three to four more times.

One final practice is also the most old fashioned. Simply balance a small pillow or book on your head as you go about your normal activities such as walking, working or doing the dishes.

Lastly, as you lay in your bed try placing a small pillow under your knees if lying on your back or between your knees if you sleep on your side. Both practices help keep your spine aligned correctly.