Sunday, November 24, 2013

Prenatal Fitness: Benefits of Staying Physically Active During Pregnancy

Exercising during pregnancy allows for women to feel more energetic, manage the physical demands of labor, and bounce back mentally and physically in the postpartum period. Benefits also include less weight gain, more restful sleep, decreases chance of morning sickness, and if participating in group exercise, it can be great for social health. The real goal of exercising while pregnant is to maintain good health and fitness into the postpartum period; women will bounce back from labor even faster if they stick to an exercise program through their pregnancy. The body goes through many musculoskeletal changes during pregnancy, including the body adjusting to the shift of a woman’s center of gravity. Exercising while pregnant can aid the body in altering to these changes with ease. Hormonal changes consist of increasing levels of estrogen and relaxin that cause joints to become more flexible. Staying physically fit during pregnancy improves muscle function and muscle soreness decreases as a result of exercising. Light resistance training program is definitely effective for both mom and baby, however there is not a great deal of research on heavy resistance training while pregnant. I assume it would be extremely difficult to find a group of pregnant women willing to “test” if it is beneficial for them and their baby.
Resistance training while pregnant provides women with many physiological maternal benefits. A finding by the National Strength and Conditioning Association states that women who exercise regularly had decreased incidence of pregnancy-induced hypertension as well. When designing a training program, importance should be placed on core work in order to counteract the lumbar stress and help relieve back pain. Laying on their stomach and machines that press up against their bellies should be avoided.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Companions & Fitness

Any daily workout can be great, but what happens when it becomes monotonous and boring? How does an exerciser go about changing their routine to make it fresh again and push through their plateau?

Add in a companion! A workout partner is great; however, try working out with the one companion that would never let you down and would do anything to stay by your side: your dog.

The human-canine relationship is a beautiful bond that can never be broken. According to CBS News, the bond between an owner and dog is comparable to parents and their baby. Dogs care about their owners as much as, if not more, the owner cares for their pet. This bond makes for a perfect workout partner because both sides are looking out for one another equally. In a study conducted by James Serpell, PhD, it was concluded that owning a pet can help reduce minor health issues by just simply being around. However, due to the fact that dogs need to be walked, health and fitness increase along with the relationship between the two.

In a similar study by Shane Brown B.Ed., and Ryan Rhodes PhD, pet owners, on average, have a higher activity level and bluntly state, “Acquiring a dog should be explored as an intervention to get people more physically active.” Also in this study, these men state the obvious by saying that walking in an effective form of physical activity that is low cost, accessible for almost everyone, and convenient. Even though they make this obvious conclusion, it is also mentioned that it is a highly underused form of activity.

So what are different forms of exercise that can be done that are beneficial for both?
  •       Walking at a steady state
  •       Walking/jogging intervals
  •       Hill climbs
  •       Hiking
  •       Fetch for both (aka sprints)

Hanging out with your dog can be more valuable for each of you than expected, but it will also help build a better relationship for the two of you! Get active and go play!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Soccer: Outreach to the Youth

This past weekend, I watched the Major League Soccer (MLS) playoffs with some friends who have not watched very much soccer.  When the game was about to begin and the players walked onto the field holding the hands of little kids, one of my friends asked me why they did that.  I started thinking and finally asked myself, “Why do they do that?” 

I have always seen kids walking out of the tunnels with players, and I have always thought how cool it would have been to be one of those kids growing up. But I never asked myself why.  Are these children the sons and daughters of the players or employees of the organization?  Perhaps these children are youth league players from the local community?  Or, does the MLS have these kids out there to defuse tension between players prior to the start of the battle on the pitch?  Either way, I like to watch the kids walk out with the players.  The smiles on their faces, and the excitement that you can see, provide a lifetime of memories that most people only dream about. 

When I researched this question, I found answers that went along with all of the questions I stated above.  The most widely found answer that I came across was that the players were from local youth teams and some were even players from the organizations youth academy team.  This seems to be the most likely answer considering soccer greats like Wayne Rooney once walked onto the field as a youngster. 

Whatever the answer is, I hope that soccer never gets rid of this tradition. I think it would be great to see other sports embrace this awesome opportunity for young fans of other sports.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Contrast Training: Recruiting Post-Activation Potentiation to Improve Explosiveness

Contrast training consists of sets of a heavy resisted exercise, paired with an unweighted explosive exercise. The two exercises share a common movement pattern, like squats and vertical jumps, or bench presses and plyo push ups. Performing a maximal or near-maximal muscular contraction before an explosive movement causes post-activation potentiation (PAP), which allows for a more powerful explosive movement.
Unfortunately, no one has discovered what causes PAP, but the potential mechanisms that cause it include phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains, increased recruitment of higher order motor units, and changes in pennation angle or angle of the muscle fibers. Studies have also suggested that PAP is caused by increased synaptic excitation in the spinal cord1. What we do know is that PAP increases the force exerted by a muscle due to its previous contraction, which means the effect of PAP is like "lifting a half-can of water when you think it's full."2

By utilizing contrast training and recruiting PAP trainees can greatly improve their power output as well as increase their workload of each training session.  

1. Bret Contreras,T Nation

2. Yuri Verkhoshanksy, Supertraining 

NCAA Coaching: Another Coach, Another Recording, Another Firing

In the world of athletic compliance, one will hear the phrase “lack of institutional control” thrown about. This phrase is usually directed at a coach, administrator, or program who has failed to promote an atmosphere of honesty and compliance. NCAA Bylaw 6.01.1 states “Administrative control or faculty control, or a combination of the two, shall constitute institutional control.” 

This past week, Ron English, head football coach at Eastern Michigan University was fired. He was not let go because he failed to promote an environment of compliance, or for his record, (1-8).  He was fired because a tape recording of him degrading and verbally abusing his players found its way to the Eastern Michigan Athletic Director’s desk.  The athletic director promptly stepped in and issued a statement informing the media and Eastern Michigan supporters of Coach English’s soon departure. For a university stance, he also stated: “Primary interest is in the well-being and success of our student-athletes and this will continue to be our priority in every decision.”

As a compliance officer, I would like to thank the administration at EMU for playing the role that they did and for proving that they have not lost institutional control. A sole individual’s unethical transgressions can portray an image of misconduct within an institution. “Absolutely unacceptable” is a term that should be used to describe every situation of this nature. 

See image and a link to the audio below:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Stress Does a Body Good

Stress, the one thing most people tend to avoid at all costs is a great thing…in moderation of course. Before I go any further, let’s get a couple things straight; stress is anything and everything you encounter throughout the day from working out (whether it is lifting or running), a stack of papers to write from your teacher, or the wind blowing in your face. Depending how large the stimulus is and whether we have been stressed by that stimulus before determines how we react to it. This way of looking at stress was created by Dr. Hans Selye, who dubbed the way we react to stress the General Adaptation Syndrome.  

The body is an amazing, resilient thing that can endure much more than we really think it can, or even bother to put it through.  As we encounter different stimuli, the body is broken down; the more stress put on by a single stimulus the deeper we are taken into a hole. The amazing thing is that as soon as we go to sleep that night, our bodies go to work to build ourselves back up. But it doesn't only take us back to where we were before we encountered that stimulus, it makes us stronger! The body will do whatever it needs to do to ensure that if that stimulus is encountered again, it will be much easier to endure. So the next time you think that you are stressed out for any reason, just remember you will be that much better tomorrow!

Hydration is a Key to Life

Everybody knows that water consumption is important for the body, but how important is it really?

Active bodies rely on water because it has many roles throughout the body. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), water makes up 75% of muscles and 10% of fatty tissues in the body, it helps regulate the body’s temperature, helps protect vital organs, helps the digestive system properly, and acts in each cell to transport nutrients and dispels waste. Water wears many hats when it comes to important jobs in the body.

So, how much should a person drink?

A helpful rule of thumb is half of your body weight in ounces. Using a rule like “women should drink between x-ounces and x-ounces” is a poor way to judge hydration because everyone is a different size and has different physiological needs. The rule of half of your body weight is great because it works for everybody and it is personalized. In addition to drinking half of your body weight in ounces, an extra 12 ounces of water is required to rehydrate your body for every thirty minutes of exercise.  According to the American Heart Association, when a person sweats, they lose water weight, so for every pound shed during exercise, one pint of water is required to replenish the body.

Another rule for hydration is to drink water --- even when you are not thirsty.  ACE also states that once a person feels thirsty, they are already dehydrated to some extent.

Water is important for all individuals, not just athletes or those who are exercising. Dr. Susan Sheiffs conducted a study about hydration and its relationship to work and performance and found “The balance between the loss and gain of fluids maintains the body water within relatively narrow limits. The routes of water loss from the body are the urinary system, the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, and the respiratory surfaces.” Simply sitting in a chair for a prolonged period of time, without consuming liquids, can cause a person to become dehydrated. Water is an important factor in living a healthy life.

High School Football in Texas

High school football is huge in the state of Texas. It is the thing to do if you are a young man and want to play sports. Football is king and garners all of the media attention; in fact, many high school football games are televised in real-time on local and cable TV outlets.  Some high schools have more of their games broadcast on TV than many lower division collegiate programs (i.e. NCAA Division II and III football programs). Texas is ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to high school football.

In Texas, the saying is “Everything is bigger in Texas”. In this case I will agree because the city of Allen, a suburb outside of Dallas, has just built a football stadium that cost $60 million dollars. This is the most expensive high school football stadium in the nation. According to the U.S. Census, the population of Allen has increased from 43,000 in 2001 to 84,000 in 2011. The city is continuing to grow due in large part to the phenomenal high school academic and sport programs.  Many people, who have no interest in football, attend the Allen football games just to check out the amazing sports venue. Sports are popular, but football is KING.


Life as a New Personal Trainer: Understanding Health Conditions – Asthma

To obtain and maintain a certification as a personal trainer, current credentials in CPR and First Aid are required. Along with basic lifesaving knowledge, a personal trainer should also have an understanding of each client’s health conditions or risks. Asthma is a very common health condition that personal trainers should not take lightly.

According to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., asthma is a chronic disease that inflames or narrows the airways of the lungs. Individuals with asthma may experience repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing. This could be a huge problem – we need our lungs during a tough workout!

The airways in a person with asthmas are extremely sensitive and react to many triggers. Exercise may trigger an asthma attack, as well as pollens, molds, house dust, infection, weather changes, and stress. Personal trainers must be aware of the workout environment when developing fitness routines for clients with asthma.

Asthma attacks can be managed by monitoring symptoms, taking medicine, and avoiding triggers. Many medicines for asthma are taken through an inhaler, which is a small aerosol canister. If a client has asthma, make it clear to them that their inhaler should be on their person, not in the car, at every session. The medicine in these inhalers relaxes the muscles in the lungs that tighten the airways. By opening the airways, more air can go into and out of the lungs, dramatically improving breathing.

Every case of asthma can be different; however, as mentioned above, the main signs of asthma include wheezing, chronic coughing, shortness of breath, and tightness in chest. If a client experiences these signs during strenuous exercise, it would be in their best interest to seek professional medical advice in order to properly diagnose the problem. It would also be considered a ‘best practice’ for the personal trainer to create an Asthma Action Plan so that he/she is acting as a reasonably prudent fitness professional.  Personal trainers should be proactive health professionals!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Social Media Marketing & Fitness Professionals

The world has no shortage of people that are unhealthy, obese, lazy, or have an unfortunate medical condition. For these reasons, the world needs more personal trainers to help people reclaim a quality life through proper diet and exercise.  But where can these people find the right fitness professional? How can a fitness professional (personal trainer) make their name as recognizable as the golden arches of McDonalds?

The key to business success is through great advertising of their products. The definition of advertising, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is the activity of attracting public attention to a product or business, as by paid announcements in the print, broadcast, or electronic media.  Knowing where and when to advertise is one of the toughest things for a fitness professional to accomplish. Sure, there are the conventional methods such as placing ads in a newspaper, mass mail-outs, and radio spots; however, these advertising methods are costly and often ineffective.  Social media is the fastest, and can often be the cheapest, way to advertise for those in the fitness business.

An effective advertising approach for fitness professionals is often found in the realm of social media. Personal Trainers base their business model on building personal relationships with individuals in order to transform them physically, mentally, and sometimes even spiritually. So it would seem beneficial to use social media to help strengthen the personal relationship.  Facebook can be used to invite clients and guests to your 5:30am boot camp. Once you have invited clients to follow you on Twitter, in a simple tweet can motivate them to attend sessions and re-tweet to their friends who then become potential clients. Boot camps can be promoted by posting daily pictures on Instagram, as well as Facebook, and Twitter.  The active photographs will motivate current clients and all of their social media followers to continue their fitness regimen. Finally, when the boot camp is over, the Personal Trainer can provide a list of all the exercises performed in the class by ‘pinning’ the workout on Pinterest.  It is even possible to become a Virtual Personal Trainer by utilizing an online business such as Fitzeal.

For those not capitalizing on social media as a way to effective and efficiently market your fitness business to the masses, I advise you to seek help and start using it. Facebook even has it very own marketing page called Facebook Marketing. There are plenty of free and pay-for-use companies that can assist in turning your social media sites into a business platform that can possibly increase your income and professional brand.

Reduce Shoulder Pain by Increasing your Thoracic Mobility

Shoulders are the joints with most range of motion in the human body. These joints allow us to move in every plane of motion; without the shoulder joint we would not be able to perform any of our favorite activities such as weight lifting, shooting a basketball, swimming or perhaps just holding on to the steering wheel to go for a drive. However, this ability to freely move in every direction increases the probability of injury to the shoulder. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 9% of adults (Aged>18) had shoulder pain in 2006. One of the most common injuries to the shoulder is impingement of the anterior capsule and soft tissue structures, which can further cause Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, labrum tears, and rotator cuff tears if it is not addressed in a timely manner.

As Sports Medicine professionals, it is our jobs to prevent traumas and correct what already is bothering our clients. A good method to reduce shoulder injuries and pain is to have proper thoracic spine mobility. This means normal range of motion and kinetics of the scapulae and thoracic spine. If the scapulae and thoracic spine are not moving correctly and have poor range of motion, the shoulders have to overcompensate for the slack, putting excessive stress in soft tissue structures such as tendons, ligaments and bursae. Special attention must be given to overhead athletes because they are more likely to get hurt as compared to other clients or populations. Eric Cressey explains how throwers’ shoulder should be treated and stretched in his article Improving Thoracic Mobility in Throwers,

Fitness Pain Free recommends the following thoracic mobility program for athletes seeking healthy, strong shoulders:
  1. Get a foam roller, or tape 2 tennis balls together.
  2. Lay so that the bottom portion of your thoracic spine is right on the roller or tennis balls.
  3. Extend your spine over the roller or balls and then crunch back up.  Repeat 5 times.
  4. Take the roller or balls about an inch further up your spine and repeat.
  5. Repeat until you get up to the base of your neck.

Always remember to take care of your shoulders, keep them strong but flexible as well. The more range of motion you have, the stronger you can be. 

How to Choose the Proper Running or Walking Shoe

Running and walking are great ways to get in shape, but in order to help prevent lower extremity injuries and provide comfort for your feet, it is important to buy shoes for your specific foot type. According to Runner’s World there are three basic foot types: pronators, supinators, and neutral or normal.  Runners and walkers should purchase shoes that are specifically designed for their foot and arch.

Pronators: Motion control shoes, an example would be the Asics GT-2000™ 2

Supinators: Cushioning/flexible shoes an example would be the Asics, GEL-CUMULUS® 15

Neutral: Stability shoe, an example would be the Brooks Ghost 6

If new shoes cannot be purchased, orthotics can be used to help provide a custom fit and relief from discomfort due to improper fit and/or injuries. According to Dr. Michael Gross, " Orthotic shoe inserts are very effective in providing symptomatic relief of lower extremity complaints in running athletes. Inserts adjust the bio-mechanical variables associated with with running injuries and reduce the effect of high stresses produced by running activities." 

It is also important to replace your running and walking shoes every 350-500 miles. The type of surface ( track, road, trail, etc.) will impact the wear and tear on the shoe. Running with old shoes can cause injuries to the lower extremities because old shoes do not effectively absorb the shock created from the impact during a run.

It is important to know the type of feet you have in order to purchase the appropriate type of footwear or orthotic. Proper footwear can make a big difference in performance and health.

The video below demonstrates how you would test for your specific foot type.

Tarleton State Athletic Training Staff Take Top LSC Honor

One for the record!
Known for its family atmosphere, hard-working staff, and eager attitude, the Sports Medicine program at Tarleton State University has made history as its dedicated staff has been presented with the 2013 Lone Star Conference Athletic Training Staff of the Year Award. This prestigious award is granted to the top athletic training staff within the Lone Star Conference and 2013 marks a milestone as it is the first time TSU has been honored. The award is based on the staff’s hospitality toward visiting athletic trainers and teams, preparedness with supplies, equipment and services for athletic trainers and teams, preparedness for emergency situations, and care for injured athletes from visiting teams.  The honored faculty consists of Program Director, Dr. Steve Simpson along with three full-time athletic trainers, four graduate assistants, and over 50 Sports Medicine undergraduates.
“It’s a great honor to be recognized by the Lone Star Conference and our peers throughout the conference,” said Dr. Simpson. “There is a high standard of health care provided for the student-athletes in the LSC and we strive to continue this care.”   
The unity among the trainers and the athletes sets Tarleton’s program apart. When asked why sports medicine is important, Athletic Trainer Pedro Rodriguez explains that athletic training is more than simply treating and rehabilitating athletic injuries.

“Spectators do not see a lot of the behind-the-scenes time that is spent with our athletes. We develop friendships with our student athletes and we spend a great deal of time getting to know each other,” says Rodriguez. 

In addition to establishing relationships, the sports medicine staff/team works alongside other medical professionals such as general medical doctors, orthopedic surgeons, dentists, team physicians, and student health services to provide the best health care possible for the athletes. The staff’s dedication and passion for their work contribute to the thriving and successful program. Jacob Fain, another trainer on the faculty, describes the unrelenting work schedule.

“We are here when the players walk in each day and stay until they are gone for the evening. We work early mornings, late nights, weekends, and holidays. We are on the sidelines at each practice and game, but we do not get the attention that the players and coaches receive,” says Fain. “But we do it because we are in a service profession and it is our job and passion to take care of the athletes of all ages and skill levels.” 

In spite of the program’s success, Dr. Steve Simpson continues to look for ways to improve the program. Rachel Howell, an athletic trainer, speaks about Dr. Simpson’s impact on the program. “The Tarleton Sports Medicine program would not be where it is today without our program director Dr. Steve Simpson. He has spent the last 26 years building this program and continues to put in countless hours to make it better.” Rodriguez describes Simpson as “genuine, passionate, and a role model to the staff.”    

Q & A With an NBA Referee

Jason Phillips: Tarleton Alumni and Referee for the National Basketball Association

Q: How did you become an NBA referee?
I first began refereeing right out of high school. I called games at the pee wee level before I moved on to the junior high level, junior varsity level, and varsity basketball in high schools. I started working summer camps before I was personally scouted and identified as a possible prospect. I then spent six years calling games with the Continental Basketball Association and two years refereeing in the Women's NBA (WNBA) before I was seen by a Supervisor of Officials for the NBA and was essentially scouted like a player.

Q: How many games per season do you referee? What do you do in basketball off-season?
Being a NBA referee is most certainly a full-time position. In a regular season I will work seventy to seventy-five games per season. Twenty-two to twenty-eight of those days are on the road. Working during basketball season means spending a great deal of time away from my wife and three sons, which is undoubtedly the most challenging part about my job. I do have more free time in off-season, but we are still expected to keep in shape and prepare for the next season.

Q: How much running do you do in a game? How do you keep in shape?

I have used my watch to estimate that I am running or moving an average of four or five miles per game. Most people don’t know that in addition to making calls, referees are athletes. In order for us to judge the game correctly and see the shots with the best angles, we must be on top of the action. I keep in shape by running, lifting weights, and I recently began cross fit training.

Q: Do you have any memorable moments with specific coaches or players?

I enjoyed refereeing the incredible 1999 game where Teresa Weatherspoon hit an unbelievable half-court shot to win Game Two in the WNBA Finals.
Requirements for Becoming an NBA Basketball Referee
1.      Gain experience by officiating as many games as possible.
2.      Attend many basketball refereeing camps.
3.      Join a Referee Association.
4.      Develop a workout plan to stay in shape.
5.      Understand the personality and emotions necessary to be an NBA referee.
6.      Contact the Minor Leagues and express an interest in refereeing.