Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Erg. Friend or Foe?

Ask any rower what they think of the ergometer. Friend or foe? The “erg” is a rowing machine that allows an athlete to simulate the very demanding rowing motion on the water. Like the treadmill, imagine putting in that much physically demanding exertion on an indoor rower and going absolutely nowhere! But what a full body work out! So efficient is this machine, erg testing is often used as part of fitness selection criteria for many national teams, including Team Canada, which is currently competing at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

Today’s ergs have flywheels and digital readouts, allowing the rowers to measure strokes per minute, power output and distance covered, which are all significant components to analyzing performance and staying motivated. It’s no secret, elite rowers are amongst the most physically fit athletes in the world, as the sport demands all that the human body can physically and mentally deliver at once. And when a rower can’t be on the water, they use the erg as a training alternative. And since rowing is an incredibly effective whole body exercise, recreational fitness buffs can also benefit from the erg in various ways, and depending on their program, can have the following gains to their physical conditioning:
  • Aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • Intense calorie burning
  • Muscle strength
  • Muscle endurance
  • Resistance training
  • Flexibility
  • Low impact
  • Coordination / Skill
The erg doesn’t lie, which is probably why it is one of the most feared pieces of equipment in the fitness world. No matter what your relationship is with the erg, nemesis or not, it in fact allows the body to train efficiently, stay focused, and develop great power and fitness all at the same time.

Contact SIRC for more information on ergometer training!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Track World Continues to Run with State-of-the-art Technology

The 2011 IAAF World Championships in Athletics start this weekend in Daegu, South Korea, and Team Canada is sending 32 athletes, 13 of which are making their first appearance at a World Championships. The venue, Daegu Stadium, previously hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup and the 2003 Universiade.

Sport and technology continue to join forces, as this major sporting event on the global calendar will benefit from state-of-the-art technology with high-definition electronic signboards and high-tech unmanned equipment, including the sand arranger at jumping pits and the radio controlled throwing event implement retriever.

Of particular anticipation for these World Championships is the implementation of the new Video Distance Measurement (VDM) system. Previously, officials measured the horizontal jumps with the Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) system which computes the jumpers distance via a light signal exchange from a module placed in the sand pit. Used for the first time ever at the track championships, the VDM utilizes two high-definition video cameras placed in the stands, overlooking the landing pits. When the jumper leaves a mark in the pit, the cameras capture a series of images of that mark, placing a cursor to the right point, and then the computer calculates the distance. This information is immediately validated and distributed to the results service, scoreboards and TV. The benefits of the VDM are that it produces a result much faster (saving 15 seconds per jump), the risk of human error is reduced, the system offers complete accountability (video archives), and the VDM enhances the visibility and excitement of the sport by making the jumping pits less cluttered with people and equipment.

The IAAF World Championships in Athletics has never been staged in mainland Asia, although it has taken place twice in Japan. Over 2500 athletes from 207 countries will compete over nine days starting on Saturday, August 27.

Contact SIRC for more information on sport and technology!

Photos courtesy of the International Association of Athletics Federations

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Getting in Touch with Massage

Massage is considered to be an essential part of an elite athlete’s training and recovery program. The physical manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, serves to aid in the healing and recovery process, as well as to promote relaxation and well-being of the human body. This is why many cultures around the world have been using massage as a form of treatment for centuries, for both the layman and the sportsman. So, whether it is for stress relief, pain management, work-out recovery or just a special luxury, there can be definite value in incorporating massage into any health-care or training program, for both physical and mental reasons.

Physically, massage therapies can benefit the body by:
  • Reducing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, increasing blood circulation and lymph flow
  • Relaxing muscles, improving range of motion, and increasing the release of endorphins
  • Providing pain relief
  • Increasing energy levels
  • Enhancing the quality of sleep
  • Reducing fatigue
  • Improving the range of motion on joints and limbs
Mentally, some of the benefits of massage include:
  • Decreasing anxiety
  • Improving concentration
  • Fostering a peace of mind
  • Creating body awareness
  • Promoting a relaxed state of mental alertness
  • Improving the ability to monitor stress signals and respond appropriately

There are quite a variety of professionals that provide massage services, including athletic trainers, certified massage therapists and physical therapists and their techniques and methods can vary as much as they do. Regardless if it’s reflexology, deep tissue or trigger point, when deciding to include massage into a training protocol (or for general healthcare), it is important to find the style that fits. While not all techniques will work for everyone, it doesn’t matter if it’s sore muscles from a hard run, an overuse injury from repetitive motion or built up stress, there is a body work massage technique to benefit from.

For more information on massage, please visit SIRC!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

PacificSport Okanagan Introduces New Academy

With a new school year right around the corner, PacificSport Okanagan announces their new PacificSport Athlete Academy for secondary school student-athletes. The new Academy based in Kelowna, allows high school student-athletes an opportunity to enhance their overall learning environment by having access to a flexible educational timetable and the supportive structure to work in cooperation with their high performance training and competitive schedule.

This new lifestyle program will integrate the existing British Columbia Graduation Program Curriculum, altering the way students pursue their athletic careers without compromising their academic goals. The programs are designed to assist student-athletes by modifying training and educational workloads allowing them to obtain graduation credits for their training and competition activities.

Some of the additional services the student-athletes will benefit from include transportation to and from training sites, time-table assistance / course administration, and a certified teacher on staff to offer extra assistance with homework when travelling, training and competition takes them away from the classroom. Core courses will be included on site such as Language Arts, Math, Fine Arts and/or Applied Skills, Social Studies and Science, while the remainder their Graduation Required and Elective Courses will be offered through a number of flexible choices, which may include online courses.

Based out of the Capital News Centre in Kelowna’s Mission Recreation Complex, the Athlete Academy Centre training facilities including: an aquatic centre, personal training facility, soccer and baseball fields, indoor track and turf fields, ice rinks, classrooms and more.

Student-athletes are now being accepted for the September 2011 academic year with the deadline this Friday, August 19, 2011.

For more information on sport and education, please visit SIRC.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Good Posture is More Than Sitting Up Straight

Ever tried to balance a book on your head and walk across the room all in the name of feeling what it’s like to have good posture and body alignment. Easier said than done! Proper posture in everyday activities can surprisingly be physically exhausting. Poor body mechanics will take a serious toll over the course of time with the back, neck and joints going against the way they were supposed to be connected. The ideal alignment of the body is mostly against the force of gravity and goes beyond thinking only about the head and spine, as the pelvis, legs and feet must also be included in the equation.

Proper body alignment is necessary for balance, muscle development and prevention of injury. Misalignment of the human body feels much like having a wheel out of alignment on the car particularly at high speed – you can feel the chatter of the tires on the road and this starts to wear down the moving parts. This is similar to the wear and tear the body experiences when having poor posture, no matter if it’s during sitting, standing or a body in motion. Unfortunately, it’s usually not until pain is evident because of joint soreness or nerve impingement, that one seeks treatment and starts exercises for a misalignment.

Modern living tends to discourage good posture as we sit at our computers, watch television, play endless video games, drive long distances, or wear high heel shoes, but this doesn’t mean that’s the way it has to be. Even the fitness conscious and high performance athletes can have reduced muscle development because of poor posture when at rest, thus affecting their athletic performance. Developing proper postural habits will benefit the body so that no matter if it’s the demands of a normal day’s activities or the load of an exercise or training regime, the body will move effortless without unnecessary strain and trauma.

For more information on the postural alignment of the body, please visit SIRC.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

University of Alberta to Provide Aboriginal Sport and Recreation Certificate

The Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation and the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada have joined forces to offer a new certificate for students geared towards Aboriginal sport and recreation, starting the fall of 2011. The first of its kind in Canada, the program is designed to offer core courses from both faculties and will provide graduates with an enhancement to their degrees, expanding their knowledge in the field of Aboriginal Peoples’ health and wellness through sport and recreation.

Research shows that participation in sport and physical activity is an important factor in improving the mental and physical well-being of youth, and with the rapid growth in Aboriginal youth, these qualified students will now go into these communities with relevant skills and qualifications. Acknowledging that there is a great deal of culture that needs to be respected and understood, the university felt that the students needed to learn certain protocols in order to work in Aboriginal communities by knowing how to better handle cultural sensitivities.

The students will graduate with their degree, but now also with a certificate that will provide them with the precise tools to better enhance their leadership in the area of sport and recreation, specifically focused in Aboriginal communities, in so doing, creating more success. This certificate in Aboriginal sport and recreation is a timely addition to the academic programs on the Edmonton campus and is open to all students at the University of Alberta provided they can fit it in with their course of study, and their particular degree permits them to enroll in it.

For more information on Aboriginal education, health and fitness, please visit SIRC.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rest for Optimum Performance. Really?

Toughness, discipline and dedication - all things to be admired in any facet of life. In an exercise or workout regime, whether it be for a recreational or elite athlete, the element of “rest” is just as important as the quality, type and duration of the workouts. Not getting enough or the right type of rest can result in hitting a plateau, mental and physical burnout, chronic fatigue or injury - all signs of physical and psychological overtraining.

The muscles, energy systems and mind need time to rebuild, regenerate and refuel, and these systems do their work while the body is at rest (and sleep), not while at training. There is no magic number to assign to how much rest is required as it’s as varied as the person and type of workouts. What works for one person will not necessarily work for the next, no matter if the activity is aerobic or anaerobic. There is no shame in the aspect and importance of rest and it is not a sign of defeat. The very qualities of dedication towards a training program are the same ones that produce the biggest feeling of guilt that one experiences when they take a day off and rest.

Finding what the body needs for optimum performance and results is key to preventing negative aspects that affect motivation and the ability to continue to work out. No matter what the goals are - Olympic champion, weight loss or overall health and fitness - rest and recovery is an essential part of improving sport performance (immediate recovery from intense training or long term recovery for year round training schedules.) High-level athletes especially need to realize that the greater the training intensity and effort, the greater the need for planned recovery. For all however, monitoring workouts, paying attention to how the body feels and the mind is motivated, are all helpful components in determining recovery needs and program modification. So rest guilt-free. It will do the mind, body and soul good!

SIRC’s newsletter this month is all about overtraining, burn out, chronic fatigue and overuse injuries, where excellent resources for all fitness and interest levels can be found.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Applause is the Parent's New Cheer!

Players play, coaches coach, referees officiate and parents cheer! They all have their role at a sporting event. It is pretty common place that parents cheer some form of encouragement from the sidelines in an effort to guide the child to experience a positive outcome. However, all too often, well intended parents become overly enthusiastic with advice and instruction. Turns out, this could be having a negative effect on the child, leading to embarrassment and affecting their self-esteem, at a time when their energy should be spent focused on the game, decision making and technique. On occasion, overzealous commentary from the stands has even escalated to the point that there is abuse of referees, and parents even getting into fights.

In an effort to curb overly enthusiastic parents during sporting events, organizations are starting to implement policies with respect to the amount and type of encouragement parents can deliver from the sidelines of youth sport. Last week, the Aurora Youth Soccer Club in Ontario, implemented a week of silence for house league matches to remind parents and spectators the game is about having fun, and to present the players with an opportunity to play soccer without constant instruction and noise from the sidelines, while parents were asked to cheer by way of applause and signs.

Hockey, no stranger to experiencing excessive parental coaching from the stands, goes so far to report that the number one reason cited for coaches, managers and officials of all ages leaving the sport is unacceptable parent behaviour. So last year, Hockey Alberta launched the “Respect in Sport Parent Program.” This one-hour online program for parents involves watching short videos on bad parental behaviour with follow up questions, in an effort to demonstrate acceptable, rewarding and respectful forms of behaviour and communication for all parties involved.

In cooperation with True Sport’s “What You Can Do: Parents,” which outlines promoting fair play and respectful behaviour, Sport Manitoba offers "The Guide to Sport Parents", providing scenarios, instructions, and reminders for parents who want to make their kids’ sports experiences as positive, constructive and inspiring as they can.

For more information on this topic, please visit SIRC.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A New Name for Senior Games

The Ontario Senior Games Program has a new name effective immediately. Going forward, they will be referred to as the Ontario 55+ Summer Games and the Ontario 55+ Winter Games, keeping it consistent with the Canada 55+ Games (national Senior Games) and six other provinces and territories. The Ontario 55+ Games and other provincial events, are the qualifiers for the Canada 55+ Games held every two years in cities across the country. With the provincial programs staged annually in different provinces and territories, the Canada 55+ Games is a nation-wide program which serves to promote wellbeing – physical, mental and spiritual -- among Canadians age 55 and older.

In Ontario, these organized celebrations of active living, began in 1986. So far, the Ontario 55+ Games Program has been hosted by 14+ communities throughout the province. The summer edition, held in August of even-numbered years, hosts over 1,200 participants in approximately 18 events, while the Ontario 55+Winter Games held in February of odd-numbered years, has close to 900 entrants.

The Ontario 55+ Games is a program of the Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport and is delivered by the Sport Alliance of Ontario in cooperation with the Ontario Senior Games Association. Brampton, Ontario will host the 2012 Ontario 55+ Summer Games, while the town of Huntsville has been chosen to organize the 2013 Ontario 55+ Winter Games.

For more information on Senior Games, please visit SIRC.