Saturday 25 March 2017

Olympic Lifting: Risk vs Reward

Recently ,Vern Gambetta, one of the most distinguished Athletic Performance coaches of the modern era, posted a great opinion piece on Facebook this week that argued about the potential uselessness and dangers of using Olympic lifting as a means of developing athletic prowess in the athlete. And from an injury perspective I could not have agreed more.
Read on for more...
The risks of Olympic lifting.
To set the record straight, both Vern Gambetta and I are not against the idea of Olympic lifting as a means of strength and power development in the non-Olympic lifting athlete. I just believe that sometimes Strength and Conditioning Coaches overuse the Clean and Jerk (or Power Clean) and the Snatch as a basis for the strength and conditioning programs without understanding the inherent risks involved in such technical movements.
     All training modalities come with some inherent risk. Speed and agility work can pull hamstrings, high intensity mixed interval training can lead to overuse tendinopathies, bench/dip/shoulder press can all lead to a host of shoulder problems etc... However, often what a good Strength and Conditioning coach can do is ascertain which movements are inherently "self-limiting". What this means is that if the movement/lift goes wrong, they still have a chance of pulling out without hurting themselves. A great example is barbell bench press versus dumbbell bench press. When using a barbell if things go wrong in the lift the athlete does not have a lot of wriggle room to avoid either dropping the weight on themselves or wrenching their shoulder joint. With dumbbell bench press, if things go wrong the athlete can simply drop the dumbbells off to the side.
     This holds true for Olympic lifting also, particularly the Snatch as it is not "self-limiting". If things go wrong in a Snatch, often the shoulder, neck and back will cop a hammering. Just have a look at any site that promotes "gym fails" on Facebook and you will understand what  I am on about. Not a lot of wriggle room if a Snatch goes wrong.
      In my experience in rugby, I have seen a host of "Olympic lift" injuries in my time dealing with rugby players. These include injuries such as ruptured Achilles tendon, torn meniscus (too deep on the catch with the clean), a ton of lumbar spine disc injuries, traction injuries to the brachial  lexus, wrenched cervical spines and a bunch of wrist impingements. Missing 2 weeks to 6 months of rugby due to a lift gone wrong can be a very frustrating and annoying issue for the coaching staff.
Risk vs Reward
     Therefore, this brings us to the crux of this issue - risk vs reward. What is the inherent benefit in including such technically proficient lifts into a training program if the risk of injury is potentially higher than with another "self-limiting" lift? Is a lumbar disc herniation worth the potential benefit of doing a heavy power clean? Could they get the same benefit of doing a jump squat movement instead? The Strength and Conditioning coach would need a solid basis of argument to include such movements into a program of a non-Olympic lifting athlete. I am sure countless physiotherapists and doctors who read this newsletter may philosophically agree with me on this point. As a former Strength and Conditioning coach i have always used the Risk vs Reward formula to determine whether a specific lift should used i a programme. I am always telling my athletes you don't want to get to strong. When you use the Risk vs reward formula you quickly realise that in some case's it just not worth it.  

Thursday 23 March 2017

Are painkillers also killing your hearing?

         When you think of risk factors for hearing loss, over-the-counter pain relievers probably aren't among them. But a Harvard study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that frequent use of ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be an important contributor. In the study, women who took the pain relievers at least twice a week were more likely to experience hearing loss, and more frequent usage increased the risk by up to 24%. The findings are similar to a study of men and hearing loss, although aspirin was also found to contribute to risk in that study.

       Researchers speculate that the pain relievers may be damaging the cochlea, the snail-shaped hearing mechanism in your inner ear. "Ibuprofen can reduce blood flow to the cochlea, which could result in cellular damage and cell death. Acetaminophen may deplete the antioxidant glutathione, which protects the cochlea from damage," says study author Dr. Sharon Curhan, instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

       Does this mean you should think twice before popping a pill for headache or back pain? These medicines do provide good pain relief for many people. "However, frequent use of these medications and use over long periods of time may increase the risk of hearing loss and may cause other adverse health effects. Therefore, it is important to take these medications mindfully and to limit their use as much as possible," says Dr. Curhan. As always, talk to your doctor before making any changes in your medication use.

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Burpees or Squat Thrust's. Why?

If you have read any of my blogs, you know I have certain exercises I can’t stand. I am always trying to educate people why you should not be doing them and that they are totally useless. Well I just found another one. The burbee or squat thrust.
The burpee, or squat thrust, is a full body exercise used in strength training and as anaerobic exercise. The basic movement is performed in four steps and known as a "four-count burpee"   

Every time I see a burpee, I just ask myself “why?”. When we think about the idea of "Start With Why".    

Don't you just look at a burpee and think “why?”.   

Don't you just watch people do burpees and ask why?  

I know I do. Wrist impact, shoulder impact, lumbar flexion. A million opportunities for bad mechanics with what upside? It's hard? Is that upside?  

When you do them or program them, ask yourself a simple question. Why? Why is this exercise in my program?  

Then try to find me a really good reason. I'm going to bet you can't.  

Then ask, what are we getting from the burpee? Back to tired again?  

It's my job to choose exercises that are effective. It's also my job to keep my clients and you healthy.  

If you look at an exercise and see injury risk and then can't really explain why you do it, that makes it a really bad choice.  

Don’t train hard. Train smart !


Gluten free may promote Type 2 Diabetes

          It’s hard not to notice that the range of gluten-free foods available in supermarkets has increased massively in recent years. This is partly because the rise in the number of people diagnosed with coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity, and partly because celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Miley Cyrus and Victoria Beckham have praised gluten-free diets. What used to be prescription-only food is now a global health fad. But for how much longer? New research from Harvard University has found a link between gluten-free diets and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
      Gluten is a protein found in cereals such as wheat, rye and barley. It is particularly useful in food production. For example, it gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and keep its shape, and providing a chewy texture. Many types of foods contain gluten, including less obvious ones such as salad dressing, soup and beer.  
    The same protein that is so useful in food production is a nightmare for people with coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly reacts to gluten as if it were a threat to the body. The condition is quite common, affecting one in 100 people, but only a quarter of those who have the disease have been diagnosed. 
    There is evidence that the popularity of gluten-free diets has surged, even though the incidence of coeliac disease has remained stable. This is potentially due to increasing numbers of people with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. In these cases, people exhibit some of the symptoms of coelaic disease but without having an immune response. In either case, avoiding gluten in foods is the only reliable way to control symptoms, which may include diarrhoea, abdominal pain and bloating.
   Without any evidence for beneficial effects, many people without coeliac disease or    gluten sensitivity are now turning to gluten-free diets as a  “healthy” alternative to a normal diet. Supermarkets have reacted to meet this need by stocking ever growing “free from” ranges. The findings of this recent study, however, suggest that there could be a significant drawback to adopting a gluten-free diet that was not previously known.
Inverse association
What the Harvard group behind this study have reported is that there is an inverse association between gluten intake and type 2 diabetes risk. This means that the less gluten found in a diet the higher the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 
     The data for this exciting finding comes from three separate, large studies which collectively included almost 200,000 people. Of those 200,000 people, 15,947 cases of type 2 diabetes were confirmed during the follow-up period. Analysis showed that those who had the highest intake of gluten had an 80% lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who had the lowest levels of gluten intake.
     This study has important implications for those who either have to avoid or choose to avoid gluten in their diet. Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that affects more than 400m people worldwide – a number which is certain to increase for many years to come.

Saturday 4 March 2017

Low Protein Intake and Unwanted Side Affects

        Most people generally know that protein is related to building muscle, even if they don't understand the science behind it. Protein is a critical macronutrient necessary for maintaining  body and helping you keep up with your workouts. A high-protein diet tends to generate some controversy (how much protein is too much?), but undoubtedly, a low-protein diet can have negative, harmful and potentially life-threatening side effects for athletes, which is why it's almost never recommended for those who are especially active.
       Even if a low-protein diet doesn't cause severe health problems, going too low can still bring about many unpleasant and unenjoyable side effects. Here are some of the classic symptoms of a low-protein diet to watch out for. 

Low energy
Protein has 20 types of amino acids, which are essential for moving oxygen around in the blood. Oxygen is critical to all the functions in the body. Without enough of these amino acids, the body starts to experience the subtle signs of low oxygen, which typically manifests itself as low energy levels, fatigue and tiredness. As a result of not consuming enough protein, you can experience muscle atrophy, struggle with weight gain and feel a constant need to sleep. On top of that, low protein has negative effects on everything from your liver to your skin to your hair to your brain. The resulting damage to your body also produces the effect of low energy, as your body attempts to function without enough protein to power your muscles and organs 

Loss of muscle mass
For athletes, undoubtedly the worst symptom of a low-protein diet is the loss of muscle mass. Protein is necessary for the construction of healthy muscles. Conversely, when your dietary intake doesn't give your body the amount of protein it needs to function, it will begin to cannibalize the protein in your muscles in order to sustain itself. Your muscles begin to atrophy, in the absence of SARMs, even if you continue to work out and try to build them up. The loss of muscle leads to slower metabolism and weight gain, creating a cycle of weight gain that no amount of exercise can effectively combat. The loss of muscle mass also aggravates fatigue and makes you feel weaker, and it can produce uncomfortable symptoms like muscle cramps that cause pain and make it harder to exercise. 

Weakened immune system
A low protein diet can have a harmful, weakening effect on your immune system. Without the full range of amino acids, particularly glutamine and arganine, your immune system cannot function effectively. The absence of protein can deplete your white blood cell count, making it difficult for your body to fight off infection. Researchers have linked a deficiency in protein to HIV infections, as the body is less prepared to fight off the virus, leaving you more likely to become infected. 

With a low-protein diet, your body may begin to retain water, which can cause weight gain and uncomfortable bloating; this is called edema. This is because the amino acid albumin found in protein is normally used to help keep fluids from passing through the cells of the blood vessels. When you don't have enough of this amino acid, fluids begin to seep through and escape into your tissue, flooding it and producing swelling and pain. It typically goes down to your lower extremities, causing swollen legs, ankles, feet and hands. An increase in protein would help introduce the albumin your body needs to treat the edema. 

Blood sugar problems
Insufficient protein in your diet can lead to blood sugar problems, particularly if carbohydrates are replacing the protein in your diet. Protein is broken down into glucose, which helps your blood sugar, but it is broken down slowly, which prevents the need for a sudden spike in insulin levels. Protein also keeps you fuller longer, which helps stabilize blood sugar. An erratic and frequent change in blood sugar is linked to increased rates of diabetes, whereas regular blood sugar, controlled by a diet rich in protein and complex carbohydrates, can help keep your blood sugar stable. 

    Protein is necessary for virtually all your organs to function well, and for the health of your muscles. Don't neglect this macronutrient in your diet, or you may find it harming more than just your workouts. It may being harming your health !

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