Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy Holidays!

SIRC would like to wish you all the best for the holiday season.  May your New Year be filled with health, happiness and energy to chase your dreams!

SIRC Holiday Hours
The SIRC office will be closed for the holiday season from Monday, December 24, 2012 to Tuesday, January 1, 2013. Regular business hours will resume on Wednesday January 2, 2013.

For the French version of our Christmas card, click here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Staying Active over the Holidays

SIRC Newsletter now available online: Staying Active over the Holidays

This time of year means visiting with family and friends, attending holiday parties and giving gifts, so it can be difficult for most of us to stay active during the holidays. The good news is that staying active doesn’t have to be that hard; recruiting your friends and family can increase the fun, add motivation and create new traditions that can carry on from year to year. A good idea is to come up with alternatives to your regular workout and have fun with it!

Read more:

Coaching and the passion for life-long learning

The coaching profession is constantly changing and coaches at every level need to know more than just the basics to ensure success in the field.  This is why education and further professional development such as conferences, workshops, and mentoring are vital to a coaches career path. Coaching should be a profession where the opportunity for continuous learning should never be passed up.

Career-long learning is essential for coaches to stay relevant and up-to-date on their sport and its practices. Gaining years of experience as a coach is essential to progress in terms of professional development but if career-long learning is not on the radar, it can mean passing up chances for you and your athletes to grow. Here are some ideas on how to expand your knowledge:
  1. Try mentoring - Mentoring can be highly effective in coach development since it can expand your knowledge base by exposing you to a variety of styles, skills and techniques learned by others.
  2. Reflective practice - There is always room for improvement!  During practice or even competition, coaches can reflect on their own performance, rethink their actions, and learn from the experience.  If taking a notebook along to write down your ideas for change helps you out, take one along.
  3. Look for educational opportunities - Sign yourself up to meet new people and hear different perspectives, whether it's a webinar, conference, workshop or joining an association; surround yourself with others in your field.
A lot of research has been done on how people learn and it shows that experience and working with or observing others is the most influential method of developing your knowledge base. A coach who seeks opportunities for development, works with others, and develops a reflective practice could easily be on their way to being a high-level practitioner capable of producing high-level performers.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Callary B, Werthner P. Exploring the Learning Environment of Women Coaches. Canadian Journal For Women In Coaching. July 2011;11(3):1-7.
2. Cushion C, Armour K, Jones R. Coach education and continuing professional development: experience and learning to coach. Quest (00336297). August 2003;55(3):215-230.
3. Nash C, Sproule J, Callan M, McDonald K, Cassidy T. Career Development of Expert Coaches. International Journal Of Sports Science & Coaching. March 2009;4(1):121-138.
4. Norman L. Developing female coaches: strategies from women themselves. Asia-Pacific Journal Of Health, Sport & Physical Education. December 2012;3(3):227-238.
5. Thibert H. Developing Your Coaching Philosophy. Olympic Coach. Fall2008 2008;20(4):24-26.
6. Werthner P, Trudel P. Investigating the Idiosyncratic Learning Paths of Elite Canadian Coaches. International Journal Of Sports Science & Coaching. September 2009;4(3):433-449.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Exercise and bone health

It is well known that regular exercise is excellent for your heart, health and well-being. There is also plenty of evidence that proves that regular exercise is essential in warding off various health-related issues; what's not as well known is that people who perform non-weight bearing exercises such as cycling or swimming as their sole method of exercise could be putting themselves at risk for osteoporosis.
Bone is living tissue that responds to loads placed on it. If you perform  non-weight bearing exercises your bones won't retain their density like they would with a weight bearing exercise. If cycling or swimming is currently your only form of exercise, you can be proactive in preventing the disease by adding a little variation in your training.
A common misconception is that osteoporosis is a disease that is limited to aging women since low estrogen causes bone deterioration, in fact it can affect men as well. Care should be taken for young people in particular, since bones keep growing and do not reach peak density until the age of 30.

For those of you that have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it doesn't mean you have to stop moving. Instead, perform exercises that strengthen the back, core and hip, and ensure that you supplement your routine with alternate workouts. Before you run out and buy calcium supplements or change your training schedule, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor for their recommendations first.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Campion F, NeviII A, MedeIIi J, et al. Bone Status in Professional Cyclists. International Journal Of Sports Medicine. July 2010;31(7):511-515.
2. Cedaro R. Osteroprorosis And Cycling. Triathlon & Multi Sport Magazine. July 2, 2012;15(7):76-78.
3. CYCLISTS AT RISK FOR OSTEOPOROSIS. IDEA Fitness Journal. July 2009;6(7):12.
4. Giles M. Bone strength matters. Bicycling Australia. May 2006;(139):52-54.
5. Hamilton A. Cycling health: a bone of contention. Cycling Weekly. September 30, 2010;:50-51.
6. Hawkins K. Cycling: Bad for the Bones?. Bicycle Paper. August 2012;41(6):1-5.
7. Nichols J, Rauh M. LONGITUDINAL CHANGES IN BONE MINERAL DENSITY IN MALE MASTER CYCLISTS AND NONATHLETES. Journal Of Strength & Conditioning Research (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins). March 2011;25(3):727-734.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sports and your Smile

SIRC Newsletter now available online: Sports and your Smile

Mouthguards are a top priority as sport equipment; they protect not just the teeth, but the lips, cheeks and tongue. The statistics say that up to 40% of sport-related injuries involve the face in some way so it’s worth it to invest in the proper equipment. Custom-fit face masks and/or mouthguards are essential in preventing the facial injuries that are so common in sport. Helmets and face masks can also help protect athletes from head and neck injuries such as jaw fractures and concussions.

Read more:

Cross Training for the Winter Season

Cross training, whether it's done as whole other sport or alternate activity can be a fantastic mental and physical break from your regular training. Splitting up your daily routine with weight-lifting, spinning or swimming for example, gives you a whole new set of skills to focus on and inserts you into a fresh atmosphere with a different group of people.

A big benefit of cross training is that it tends to work muscle groups that get underutilized if you only stick to one sport. Strengthening these muscles can improve your training in other areas like balance and form.  As a new approach to an athlete’s workout routine, cross-training can also increase power, add flexibility, build stability, and increase motivation.

Look at cross training as a way to explore other areas of exercise and fitness. You'll get the opportunity to meet new people, learn a new discipline and train your body at the same time. Some winter friendly ideas are:
  • Indoor rock climbing
  • Spinning
  • Swimming (or deep water runs)
  • Dance classes
  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Resistance training
  • Dodgeball
  • Martial arts class
  • Any winter sport - cross country skiing, hockey, curling or skating clubs are numerous and easy to join
Once you step away from your chosen sport for a while you'll be able to return to it with a different perspective. You may find that you are more enthusiastic and have a greater appreciation for your training. Keep in mind that cross training doesn't need to be just a winter event, incorporating some alternate exercises will help to prevent burn out and overuse injuries as well. 

References from the SIRC Collection:  

1. Arseneau L. Using cycling for cross training. Coaches Plan/Plan Du Coach. 2010 2009;16(4):14.
2. Deep Water Running for Injured Runners. Athletic Therapy Today. March 2007;12(2):8-10.
3. Rosania J. CROSS TRAINING. Swimming World. July 2007;48(7):30-31.
4. JOUBERT D, ODEN G, ESTES B. The Effects of Elliptical Cross Training on VO2max in Recently Trained Runners. International Journal Of Exercise Science. January 2011;4(1):243-251.
5. Krause P. The Benefits of Cross-Training. AMAA Journal. Spring2009 2009;22(2):9-16.
6. Poynton E. Stress Fractures. Modern Athlete & Coach. January 2011;49(1):16-17.
8. Vleck V, Alves F. Cross-training and injury risk in British Olympic distance triathletes. British Journal Of Sports Medicine. April 2011;45(4):382.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Does protein aid recovery?

In recent years, post-exercise nutrition has evolved into an important part of an athlete's training regimen. Athletes of all ages, abilities and skill levels are commonly adopting some sort of post-exercise nutrition to improve performance and enhance the recovery process.  Endurance athletes know that carbohydrates are essential for recovery, but what they may not know is that combining it with protein may have some additional benefits.

While protein and carbohydrates have their own distinct functions, together they work to create an anabolic state within the body that can help athletes recover faster.

Recent studies have shown that:
  • Ingestion of small amounts of dietary protein 5 or 6 times daily might support muscle protein synthesis throughout the day.
  • Consuming post-exercise carbohydrate and protein within 30 minutes of exercise has been shown to increase the insulin response in the body resulting in more stored glycogen.
  • Recovery significantly improved four hours after intense exercise when an athlete consumed a protein and carbohydrate drink.
  • A 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate and protein is optimal (three-four grams of carbohydrate for every one gram of protein).
  • Protein and carbohydrate consumption may be of particular benefit to athletes who are involved in multiple training or competition sessions.
Athletes should be able to get the required amount of protein for their needs by talking to a registered dietitian and altering their diets to match their training. Some good examples of protein to add to your diet are: milk, cheese, eggs, meat, fish, assorted beans, peas lentils and grains. 

Achieving a balance between training, competition stresses and recovery is very important for the success of any athlete. Post-exercise nutrition is an essential part of any training program and consuming the proper nutrients after extensive training kick starts the restoration of muscle glycogen and initiates the recovery process.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Beelen M, Burke L, Gibaia M, Van Loon L. Nutritional Strategies to Promote Postexercise Recovery. International Journal Of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism. December 2010;20(6):515-532.
3. Coyle C, Donne B, Mahony N. Effects of Carbohydrate-Protein Ingestion Post-Resistance Training in Male Rugby Players. International Journal Of Exercise Science. January 2012;5(1):39-49. 
4. PROTEIN MISCONCEPTIONS: Details on misconceptions regarding protein supplementation-and where they come from. Journal Of Pure Power. January 2009;4(1):48-52.
5. Res P, Groen B, Van Loon L, et al. Protein Ingestion before Sleep Improves Postexercise Overnight Recovery. Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise. August 2012;44(8):1560-1569.
6. Williams M. Protein Supplementation and Endurance Exercise. Marathon & Beyond. November 2012;16(6):172-173.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fuel your body for winter

This time of year life gets tends to get a little busier and with all the events during the holiday season it's easy to let good nutrition habits fall to the wayside. The transition to colder, darker days has an impact on our bodies, especially when trying to keep up with work and family, as well as trying to stay healthy and fit. As the weather gets colder it's good to remember that you don't need to eat more, just differently.

Vitamin D - Statistics Canada found that more than 1.1 million Canadians are Vitamin D deficient which is low enough to cause nutritional rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults. While you can get Vitamin D through foods like milk, egg yolks and fish with bones, it's important to spend some time in the sun as well. If you are unable to get the required amount of Vitamin D through the above methods, supplements are an option, although it's a good idea to talk to your doctor first.

Omega 3's - For those Canadians that suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), nutrition experts recommend introducing  Omega-3 fats in your diet since these have been shown to relieve symptoms of mild depression. Salmon, walnuts and flax seeds are all good sources of Omega-3 fats.

Include seasonal vegetables - Seasonal vegetables can be great sources of anti-oxidants, Vitamin C, folic acid, among others.  Some of the super stars include winter squash, red bell peppers, oranges, collard greens and other dark leafy vegetables.

Zinc and Vitamin E - Whole nuts and seeds are rich in Vitamin E which is a strong anti-oxidant and foods like oysters, beef, turkey, ricotta cheese and beans all contain zinc which helps your boost your immune system.

Eating out regularly is very accessible nowadays, especially during the holiday season and when done occasionally, it can be a nice change from eating at home. However, starting from scratch with as many natural and seasonal ingredients as possible is your best option. With a little planning, your winter nutrition should keep you fit, happy and healthy all the way to spring.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Burke L. Nutrition for Winter Sports: An Interview with Sports Dietitian Susie Parker-Simmons. International Journal Of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism. October 2005;15(5):567.
2. Burrell S. Getting Through the Tough Winter Months. Bicycling Australia. May 2008;(151):88-89.
3. Clark N. Winter Nutrition—Fueling for Cold Weather Exercise. ACSM Fit Society Page. Winter2012 2012;:8-9.
4. Cort M. Nutrition: AVOID TIPPING THE SCALES DURING WINTER. Modern Athlete & Coach. July 2009;47(3):17-18.
5. Meyer N, Manore M, Helle C. Nutrition for winter sports. Journal Of Sports Sciences. December 2, 2011;29:S127-S136.
6. The role of vitamins and dietary-based metabolites of vitamin D in prevention of vitamin D deficiency. Food & Nutrition Research. January 2012;56:1-8.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Walking on pins and needles?

Nerves that get stuck and irritated by swollen muscles or ligaments can be a torment to athletes.  The ultimate goal for any athlete experiencing the pain of a pinched nerve is to alleviate any pain or discomfort you are feeling, all while working within your boundaries and keeping up a comfortable range of motion.  As an athlete it's important to know what to look for so you'll have a better chance of getting the proper treatment.

The symptoms of a pinched nerve are more intense than a mild soreness and athletes experiencing the pain of a pinched nerve will often complain that the area has:
  • numbness
  • tenderness to the touch
  • pins and needles
  • burning
  • tingling
  • an aching pain that won't go away
Common nerve injuries for athletes are Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, Morton's Neuroma, and Piriformis Syndrome.  Depending on the severity, a pinched nerve can be treated a number of ways, such as supportive braces, anti-inflammatory drugs, injection therapy, massage, chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy and sometimes surgery.

Once diagnosed, a good practice along with the various treatments above, is to keep moving but at a minimal or modified level.  As soon as pain will allow, it is recommended that rehabilitation starts as soon as possible.  Take the time to review your exercise regimen, revise your fitness goals to accommodate your recovery and make sure you give yourself extra time for warm ups.  Focus on building up and stretching out core muscles like the chest, back, legs and abdominals. 

Most people that have nerve injuries will improve in time with rest, heat, limited activity and anti-inflammatory drugs.  The problem can reoccur but can be avoided if you apply the treatment methods mentioned above.  It's important to keep in mind that with all pain that lasts between 7-10 days and doesn't respond to self care measures, it's a good idea to consult a doctor or physiotherapist about possible treatments.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Alshami A, Babri A, Souvlis T, Coppieters M. Strain in the Tibial and Plantar Nerves With Foot and Ankle Movements and the Influence of Adjacent Joint Positions. Journal Of Applied Biomechanics. November 2008;24(4):368-376.
2. Beare S. Pain in the Butt! Piriformis Syndrome. Sportsaider. 2004;20(4):9
3. Filley A. Piriformis syndrome: don't let it become a pain in the backside!. Peak Performance. June 15, 2009;(277):1-4.
4. Hariri S, McAdams T. Nerve Injuries About the Elbow. Clinics In Sports Medicine. October 2010;29(4):655-675.
5. Kinoshita M, Okuda r, Yasuda T, Abe M. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome in Athletes. American Journal Of Sports Medicine. August 2006;34(8):1307-1312.
6. LeRoux M. FEELING THE PINCH. American Fitness. November 2006;24(6):32-33.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Are you working hard enough?

Any periodization training plan requires at least some measurement of work - daily, weekly or monthly.  The challenge occurs when we try to balance work and recovery in the short, medium, and long term.  One way to determine how hard your body is working is to measure your rate of perceived exertion or RPE.  Simply put, RPE is our perception of how hard we're working based on how we feel. 

Athletes use a 1 to 10 (or 20) rating system on how hard they felt they worked with 1 being effortless and the higher numbers meaning they pushed as hard as they could go.  This rating system measures feelings of effort, strain, discomfort, and/or fatigue experienced during aerobic or resistance training.

Example of a Rating system (Talk test):

RPE 1-2: Very easy; you can converse with no effort
RPE 3: Easy; you can converse with almost no effort
RPE 4: Moderately easy; you can converse comfortably with little effort
RPE 5: Moderate; conversation requires some effort
RPE 6: Moderately hard; conversation requires quite a bit of effort
RPE 7: Difficult; conversation requires a lot of effort
RPE 8: Very difficult; conversation requires maximum effort
RPE 9-10: Peak effort; no-talking zone

There really is only one way to get RPE wrong and that is to have someone other than the athlete measure it.  Similarly trained athletes should have similar RPE ratings after a training session, so when you let someone else rate the effort involved, a coach for example, the ratings can be skewed.  A recent study illustrated this idea when they had both athletes and coaches rate the difficulty of a workout and ended up with very different results.  Surprisingly, the ratings were opposite, when the athletes felt that they were working hard, the coach thought it was easy and vise versa.  

The researchers came to the conclusion that using a RPE rating system is a practical, non-invasive way of measuring an athlete's workload.  It's also important that athletes and coaches ensure that they communicate with each other on how hard an athlete is working when they are going at different intensities.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

2. Faulkner J, Parfitt G, Eston R. The rating of perceived exertion during competitive running scales with time. Psychophysiology. November 2008;45(6):977-985.
3. Groslambert A, Mahon A. Perceived Exertion: Influence of Age and Cognitive Development. Sports Medicine. August 2006;36(11):911-928.
4. Lima-Silva A, Pires F, Bertuzzi R, Lira F, Casarini D, Kiss M. Low carbohydrate diet affects the oxygen uptake on-kinetics and rating of perceived exertion in high intensity exercise. Psychophysiology. February 2011;48(2):277-284.
5. Shigematsu R, Ueno L, Nakagaichi M, Nho H, Tanaka K. Rate of perceived exertion as a tool to monitor cycling exercise intensity in older adults. Journal Of Aging & Physical Activity. January 2004;12(1):3-9.
6. What rate of perceived exertion (RPE) means. Shape. July 2012;31(11):140.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Puzzled by Periodization Training?

Periodization training is the division of a training year(s) into a cycle of of several phases, each phase devoted to different training methods and objectives.  In it's most general form, a periodized training program will span 6 months to one year with the exception of Olympic athletes who plan for four years.  Each phase is divided up over the designated time period with each phase devoted to one aspect of training.

Conditioning Phase or Base Period

Training should begin easy and be followed by gradual increases in the time and intensity of an athlete's training session.  It's important to note that at the beginning, athletes will probably be sore for a minimum of three weeks as their bodies get used to the training program.  A good guideline to follow during the beginning stages of training is the "10% rule" - meaning that after the initial three weeks are over, the volume of training should not increase much greater than 10% from one week to the next.  During this phase, all aspects of the training program are introduced with the primary focus being on getting the athlete into better shape.

Pre-competition or Pre-season Phase

While this phase may include participation in a few competitions, this phase is used to help the athlete prepare physically and mentally for competitions.  Aerobic capacity should be continuously improved upon as well as time, distance, quality and quantity of training. This is the time where the athlete and coach need to have input in determining how the training is progressing and where it needs to go.

Competition Phase

During this part of training, the athlete starts focusing on their individual strengths with their coach helping them to train to use those strengths during competition.  Tactics become more important as athletes learns from their competition experiences. 

Transition Phase

Following the end of the competition season, it's a good idea for athletes to take a complete break from their training.  Many athletes need 2-3 weeks for the mind and body to heal.  While some athletes may decide to do other forms of exercise during that time period, others just rest.  Aerobic capacity will decline a bit while the athlete is resting, but beginning the training again at an easy pace with the conditioning phase beginning for the next season.

The most important thing to consider before starting a periodization training schedule is the design of the program. When creating your program it is important to take into account the ability of the athlete, type of sport and goals the training schedule is designed to meet.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Fleck S. Non-Linear Periodization for General Fitness & Athletes. Journal Of Human Kinetics. December 2, 2011;:41-45.
2. Gamble P. Periodization of Training for Team Sports Athletes. Strength & Conditioning Journal (Allen Press). October 2006;28(5):56-66.
3. Kelly V, Coutts A. Planning and Monitoring Training Loads During the Competition Phase in Team Sports. Strength & Conditioning Journal (Allen Press). August 2007;29(4):32-37.
4. Kravitz L, Herrera L. Is There a Best Periodization Model?. IDEA Fitness Journal. April 2008;5(4):19-22.
5. Macaluso T. Periodization and Complex Training in a High School Summer Program. Strength & Conditioning Journal (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins). December 2010;32(6):95-98.
6. Painter K, Haff G, Stone M, et al. Strength Gains: Block Versus Daily Undulating Periodization Weight Training Among Track and Field Athletes. International Journal Of Sports Physiology & Performance. June 2012;7(2):161-169.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Share the path

If you are lucky enough to have access to multi-use recreational pathways and trails, consider it a wonderful privilege.  Many pathways go through parks and along rivers providing excellent scenery and a great place to be active and enjoy the outdoors.  These places provide not only a place to exercise, they provide a space away from city traffic so that people can enjoy the little snippets of natural scenery.  What may mar the enjoyment of these pathways is a lack of "trail etiquette" that can lead to frustration and sometimes conflict.

Whether you are new to outdoor exercise or a seasoned trail user, there are some tips you can keep in mind to ensure that everyone can have a pleasurable time outdoors:
  • Stay to the right, pass on the left - Think of it as if you are a car on the road, yield to the oncoming traffic and wait until the path is clear before you pass.
  • Call out "passing" or "on your left" as you approach - This lets the person you are about to pass know that you are behind them so they aren't startled or move into your path.  That being said, watch to make sure that they have heard you (maybe they're wearing headphones), so slow down to ensure that you pass them safely.
  • Be aware of those passing you - If you hear someone call out or ring their bell, stay to the right and maybe even acknowledge you heard them with a wave.
  • If you need to stop - Maybe you're winded or you just saw someone you know, be courteous and step off the path to make sure you avoid collisions.  For people who exercise in groups, two abreast is ideal, any more than that crowds the trail and makes collisions more likely to happen.  
  • Watch for little kids and people walking their pets - Both can be unpredictable so be aware of your surroundings.
  • Pay attention to what's around you - Not everyone is going to follow the same rules of etiquette as you do, so be observant and prepared to avoid potential collisions.
While most of us think of trails as being exclusively used for runners and cyclists, other sports like horseback riding, snowshoeing and cross country skiing for example, could also benefit from some trail etiquette so that all of us can exercise safely and have fun too.
References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Bonner L, Habak A. Trail etiquette: 23 tips for winning friends, influencing people and avoiding conflict on the trails. Equus. July 2003;(309):54-58;60.
2. Devaughn M. Trail etiquette. Backpacker. April 1997;25(3):40.
3. Edwards S, McKenzie M. Snowshoeing [e-book]. Champaign, Ill.; United States: Human Kinetics Publishers; 1995.
4. Henderson J. Trail mix. Runner's World. December 1990;25(12):14.
5. Hendricks W, Ramthun R, Chavez D. The effects of persuasive message source and content on mountain bicyclists' adherence to trail etiquette guidelines. Journal Of Park & Recreation Administration. Fall 2001;19(3):38-61.
6. KENNEDY J. Rules of the Trail. Bicycle Paper. June 2009;38(4):1-3.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coaching: How to deal with life’s littlest challenges!

Children are encouraged to participate in sport because physical activity and play can be a great outlet to help the body get out excess energy and release endorphins.  Children will test, explore their environment, and act impulsively sometimes but as a coach it's important to be able to recognize when there is a problem more significant than normal development.

If you have a challenging child on your team, there are few methods a coach can implement.

1. If you see the child do something well, reinforce the behaviour with praise.  Remember that children will want attention regardless if it is positive or negative.  It may not be easy to ignore troublesome behaviour, especially if it affects others on the team, so use that time as an opportunity to address the child calmly and help them to work through the problem.  It's important to recognize what caused the behaviour so you can be aware of what the child is experiencing.  On the other hand, if the child is too upset it's sometimes best to have them sit and watch the practice for a while until you and they feel like they can join in again.

2. Watch for potential warning signs.  Certain behaviours or actions can be indicators for depression, anxiety, bullying, or problems at home.  Children want to be heard, so take the time to listen and understand where they are coming from.  If a child's behaviour concerns you, don't hesitate to talk to the child or the parents about what you've observed. 

3. Provide structure, consistent limits and set firm guidelines of what you expect.  Children need repetition and consistency, so ensure your practices are planned ahead of time to avoid surprises.  Unstructured practices have a likelihood of increased disruptions and negative behaviour since children like push the limits of what they can get away with.  Keep clear and calm communication between you and your team, keeping in mind that shouting is not always an effective method.  For example, shouting at a child who may suffer from anxiety could have harmful effects on their self-esteem and their ability to play well.

4.  Focus on a child's strengths.  This is a great way to build up self-confidence and promote positive interactions within your team.

5. Encourage your team to have fun.  Many children put pressure on themselves or get pressure from parents to succeed in sports and this stress can push a child to act out.  Incorporate some games into the practice to get your kids engaged and happy to be out on the field.

A well-rounded coach will be the one who is in tune with the needs of the individuals within the team and can create a structured, positive environment for children to play and learn.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Beyer R, Flores M, Vargas-Tonsing T. Coaches' Attitudes Towards Youth Sport Participants with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. International Journal Of Sports Science & Coaching. December 2008;3(4):555-563.
2. Curley J. Coaching a Swimmer with Attention Deficit Disorder and/or Auditory Processing Disorder. World Clinic Series. January 2008;40:465-477.
3. Flores M, Beyer R, Vargas T. Attitudes Toward Preparing Youth Sport Coaches to Work With Athletes with Hidden Disabilities. Palaestra. January 2012;26(1):5-6.
4. Grzegorek W. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in athletes?. Coaching Volleyball. December 1997;:18-19.
5. Hardy C. More than just burning energy. Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology. December 1993;15(4):470.
6. Heil J, Hartman D, Robinson G, Teegarden L. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in athletes. Olympic Coach. Spring 2002;12(2):5-7.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What gets your heart racing?

With an abundance of fun tech available, more of us are using a variety of tools to enhance our workouts.  Measuring your heart rate can be useful and is something that a lot of people are incorporating into their training. That being said, many of us rely on our gadgets to provide us with this information but do we really know how to utilize it?

Did you know?

1. Heart rates are specific to the activity you are doing.  While there is a relationship between heart rate and exercise intensity, it varies for different exercises. 

2. If you are training in hot weather, use your feelings of fatigue and comfort as a guide rather than heart rate.  If you are training in a hot environment your heart rate can increase up to 13 beats per minute.

3. Don't be tempted to compare heart rates with others.  Everyone has an individual maximum heart rate and those with the same fitness level can have a 20-30 beat difference in heart rates.  Training programs should not be based on generalized heart rate guidelines but should be based on the individual.

4. During steady state training your pace should remain the same despite an increase in heart rate.  Many factors contribute to heart rates: emotional stress, heat, hydration, fatigue, overtraining, sleep debt, altitude and even your clothing.  If you are exercising for 60 minutes or more your heart rate is going to increase as your body tires, so if you were to slow down to keep your heart rate at the "optimal" level you would be changing the training effect for your muscles.

There are lot of different formulas out there to calculate what your "optimum" heart rate is, but they are all based on an average value.  As stated above, your heart rate is individual to you and your fitness level, so using a formula may not give you the accuracy you're looking for.  To get a accurate reading of where your heart should be, there is the option of a graded exercise test (GXT), although they are generally used for elite athletes or heart patients and can be costly.

Heart rate training can be essential for the elite athlete, since they will have an accurate reading when starting out and they have coaches and specialists available to help them adjust their training program.  Since most of don't have access to a team of specialists, it's recommended that you exercise caution when deciding to implement heart rate training into your exercise regimen.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. BREHM B. Understanding Heart Rate. Fitness Management. April 2008;24(4):212.
2. Hayes S. Thresholds?: What Thresholds?. Bicycling Australia. May 2011;(169):114-116.
3. High-Tech aids for weight-loss. Active Living. January 2012;21(1):18.
4. Moen E. Training: Heart Rate vs Power. Bicycle Paper. May 2009;38(3):10.
5. Purposeful Training Means Heart Rate Training. Running & Fitnews. May 2010;28(3):3-5.
6. Sachs L. Heart Rate Training: Exercise results can be improved with proper use of a heart rate monitor. IDEA Fitness Journal. June 2011;8(6):28-31.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Myths and Truths on Juicing

Many people tout the health benefits of adding freshly squeezed juice to our diets, but with all the conflicting information out there it can be hard to know what is true and what is not.  When talking about adding fresh squeezed juice (fruit or vegetable), we are referring to the fresh juice that you can easily make at home if you have the right equipment. 

Juicing gets rid of the toxins in your body

Myth - Drinking juice can't flush pesticides or other toxins out of your body.  As a matter of fact, your body does a fantastic job of "detoxing" on its own through your liver, kidneys, lymph glands, colon, lungs and skin.

Drinking fresh juice helps to keep you hydrated

Truth - Drinking a cup of juice before or after your workout will hydrate your body and also give you the carbohydrates you need to keep your energy up.  Be aware that fruit juice can provide a lot of calories, so try not to over do it.

It speeds up the recovery process

Truth - Studies have shown that certain juices can be beneficial to the recovery process, such as pomegranate and tart cherry.  These two types of juices tend to be more easily obtained in a store, however, if you decide to buy any of these juices, avoid buying juice with added sugar.

It gives your digestive tract a break

Myth - In fact, your stomach, intestines, and colon are muscles that need to be used in order for them to work properly.  If left for too long on a juice only diet, your digestive tract may actually slow down.

It increases athletic performance

Truth - Once again, studies have shown that certain juices improve performance.  Currently, there is information that states that beet juice can have a positive affect on performance. It's not clear how it works, but researchers suspect that it's due to the large amounts of nitrates in beets.  The nitrates  turn into nitric oxide in the body, which reduces the amount of oxygen required to perform exercise.

It's full of nutrients

Truth - When you squeeze fresh produce, fruit or vegetables a large amount of nutrients are transferred to the juice.  Dark leafy greens, berries, oranges and carrots are the high performers.

It's good for weight loss

Myth and Truth - If you drink only juice for days, assuming you stick to the low sugar juices you will lose weight.  Juice fast diets are not a healthy way or sustainable way to lose weight since it affects many aspects of your body, including your ability to recover from intense training and can negatively affect your immune system.

Overall, juicing is probably not any healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables since there is no solid scientific evidence that proves otherwise.  However, if you have trouble getting the required amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet, it can be a good way to incorporate it into your lifestyle.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Bhardwaj R, Pandey S. Juice Blends-A Way of Utilization of Under-Utilized Fruits, Vegetables, and Spices: A Review. Critical Reviews In Food Science & Nutrition. July 2011;51(6):563-570.
2. Hamitton A. Beat a PB with beetroot juice. Cycling Weekly. February 9, 2012;:37.
3. Kordich J. The Joys of Juicing: Fresh juice is a quick, delicious way to consume nutritious fruits and vegetables raw and in quantity. Yoga Journal. August 1993;(111):18.
4. Marsh T, Cullen K, Baranowski T. Validation of a Fruit, Juice, and Vegetable Availability Questionnaire. Journal Of Nutrition Education & Behavior. March 2003;35(2):93.
5. On the Beetroot Juice. Joe Weider's Muscle & Fitness. October 2010;71(10):32.
6. Perry M. can juice really make you healthier?. Shape. June 2008;27(10):166-172.
7. Spalding L. the big squeeze. Yoga Journal. August 2010;(230):35-38.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Get the Warm up Low-down for Kids

When playing sports, warming up is a must and with kids there's an entirely different approach to coaching them through warm up drills. The value of a warm up created for children is that it raises the body temperature and heart rate, prepares the muscles and joints for activity, and helps to prevent injury.  However, most people aren't aware that proper warm up also sets the mood and pace for the activity that is to follow.  Part of a coach's job is to capture the children's attention and to get them excited to move around.

Coaches should plan and implement a warm up that:
This can be achieved in a variety of ways, but games and fun activities should dominate your warm up.  Suggested activities include exercises that involve simple skills and challenges:
  1. Running on the spot - include clapping above head, boxing in various directions, etc.
  2. Bouncing on the spot - forwards/backwards, side-to-side
  3. Running or skipping forwards, backwards, sideways, etc. 
  4. Zig-zag or slalom running
  5. Agility activities
  6. Galloping in various directions
  7. "Fast feet" on the spot
  8. Partnered activities
Getting your practice session off to a good start is extremely important when coaching youngsters.  Knowing your group will help you to select activities and games that they will enjoy.  For young ones, incorporating lots of fun and movement will result in lots of smiles and help you get the most of your practice session.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Byl J. 101 Fun Warm-Up And Cool-Down Games [e-book]. Champaign, Ill.; United States: Human Kinetics; 2004.
2. Halvorson R. Dynamic Warm-Ups Reduce Sports Injuries. IDEA Fitness Journal. April 2009;6(4):14.
3. Mitchell M, McKethan R. Making Physical Activity Fun. ACSM Fit Society Page. Spring 2003;:3-4.
4. SATO G. WARMING-UP with MINI-GAMES. Volleyball. January 2010;21(1):57-59.
5. Walters K. WARM-UPS: Thinking Outside the Penalty Box. Soccer Journal. November 2008;53(7):12-13.
6. Welch B. The importance of a proper warm-up. Coaching Youth Sports. September 2003.

Monday, November 5, 2012


SIRC Newsletter now available online: Sleep

Elite athletes push their bodies to extremes every day. This brings with it a considerable degree of physical fatigue while training, traveling and competing. Where fractions of a second often mean the difference between a win and a loss, studies have shown that there is competitive advantage to those athletes who recognize the value of recovery. To stay on top, keeping the body healthy is not just about nutrition and training but also knowing the importance of a good night’s sleep.

Read More:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fighting Fatigue

Fatigue seems simple: your body has reached its limit, you're tired.  The current understanding is that we feel exhausted because of physical factors. Not enough oxygen and fuel to the muscles and decreased blood flow to the brain means that your muscles are no longer able to generate power no matter how hard you try.  While this is true, it may not be the only factor in feeling fatigued.

A recent study shows that our perception of the effort involved of performing a task has a large influence on how we feel.  Everyone has experienced that feeling of having a "second wind" when the end of the race or top of the hill becomes visible and somehow we scrounge up enough energy to reach our goal.  This study examined the idea of how effort through exercise feels towards your brain instead of how tired our muscles feel. Turns out we become exhausted, not from something that is lacking in our bodies, but because it gets to feel too tough; the pain of continuing outweighs the reward for going on.

So, what can we do to train and adjust these perceptions?
  • Get fitter - Being stronger and fitter will make everything feel easier; simple strength training can go a long way.
  • Tea or Coffee? - Caffeine does enhance performance, mostly by stimulating the brain although there is a limit to what you can achieve from either beverage.
  • Train with friends - Train with people who are around your fitness level, since struggling to keep up with your companions will make the workout feel harder and less enjoyable.
  • Wear the right gear - The best clothes and gear will not make you any fitter, faster or stronger but if you are exercising outdoors, being warm and dry will reduce the perception of effort and may decrease your feelings of fatigue.
  • Rest your brain - If you are reaching for high performance it's important to give your brain a rest.  If you are feeling tired and distracted you will probably find you give up easier and everything will feel tougher.
  • Pace yourself - Pushing too hard too fast results in a quick burnout.  Keep yourself at a pace where your breathing is increased but you aren't gasping for breath.
If all else fails smile!  Maybe there really is some truth to the phrase "grin and bear it!"

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Ansley L, Petersen D, Thomas A, St. Clair Gibson A, Robson-Ansley P, Noakes T. The effect of breathing an ambient low-density, hyperoxic gas on the perceived effort of breathing and maximal performance of exercise in well-trained athletes. British Journal Of Sports Medicine. January 2007;41(1):2-7.
2. Fery Y, Ferry A, Vom Hope A, Rieu M. Effect of physical exhaustion on cognitive functioning. Perceptual & Motor Skills. February 1997;84(1):291-298.
3. Hutchinson J, Sherman T, Tenenbaum G, Martinovic N, Rosenfeld R. Perceived and sustained effort and task related affect: The mediating role of self-efficacy. Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology. July 2, 2007;29:S171-S172.
4. Morree H, Klein C, Marcora S. Perception of effort reflects central motor command during movement execution. Psychophysiology. September 2012;49(9):1242-1253.
5. Morree H, Marcora S. Frowning muscle activity and perception of effort during constant-workload cycling. European Journal Of Applied Physiology. May 2012;112(5):1967-1972.
6. Wallman K, Sacco P. Sense of Effort During a Fatiguing Exercise Protocol in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Research In Sports Medicine. January 2007;15(1):47-59.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Icing on the Ache!

Icing an injury is one of the oldest and best known injury treatment strategies, yet there is often confusion among athletes and coaches as to what injuries they should ice, how often and for how long.  Based on current research there are no definite answers to these questions however here are some basic guidelines you can follow:

1. Always ice an acute injury involving muscle tears and joint sprains.  Acute injuries are those that occur suddenly, such as an ankle sprain, which usually result in swelling and inflammation.  Although inflammation is a natural response to an injury, excessive inflammation can cause further damage.  Once an injury has happened, the faster you can get ice on it, the better.

2. How long do I ice it for?  That will depend on the whether the injury is superficial or deep.  The important thing to remember is that the tissues of the injured area must reduce in temperature in order for the icing to be effective.  It is recommended that if the injury is deep you may need to ice it for up to 20 minutes.

3. The first 48 hours is when you need to be the most diligent; icing every two hours is ideal.  The cold will help to dampen the pain so icing 15-20 minutes four or five times daily would help immensely.  Once the initial inflammation has gone down, icing is less effective and can be performed less frequently.  Many people switch to heat too quickly so give yourself 3-5 days before applying heat.

4. Chronic and long-term injuries to tendons, joints and bone do not usually involve an inflammatory response and therefore icing these injuries is not very effective.  Instead, those 20 minutes can be better used by performing rehabilitative exercises that try to address the injury.

5. When icing, always make sure that there is a barrier to the skin to avoid frostbite; keeping the ice in a thin towel is generally sufficient.  There are also many other commercially available alternatives such as gel packs, Cryocups or Mojiknees that can also be very handy.

If you get hurt stop playing, since continuing to play could cause more harm.  Keep in mind that limiting your mobility, elevating the affected area and pain relievers all help the healing process, so make sure you treat your body well and let it rest.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Bleakley C, Costello J, Glasgow P. Should Athletes Return to Sport After Applying Ice?. Sports Medicine. January 2012;42(1):69-87.
2. Clover J. I.C.E. Can't Do It Alone. Coach & Athletic Director. September 2001;71(2):58.
3. How to return FROM INJURY. Athletics Weekly (Descartes Publishing Ltd.). January 15, 2009;:30.
4. Johar P, Grover V, Topp R, Behm D. A COMPARISON OF TOPICAL MENTHOL TO ICE ON PAIN, EVOKED TETANIC AND VOLUNTARY FORCE DURING DELAYED ONSET MUSCLE SORENESS. International Journal Of Sports Physical Therapy. June 2012;7(3):314-322.
5. Plaster L. A BETTER WAY TO ICE AN INJURY. Runner's World. August 2004;39(8):44.
6. Speed up recovery from injury. Athletics Weekly (Descartes Publishing Ltd.). May 22, 2008;:31.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Take a deep breath

Breathing is intuitive so most people probably feel it doesn't require special training to get it right.  However, it's easy to form bad habits as a result of poor posture, movement patterns and even stress.  For athletes, these bad habits can affect the nervous system, contribute to muscle fatigue, and decrease performance, so it's worth taking the time to learn some breathing techniques.

There are two main ways to breath:

Belly breathing - is one dimensional, with your belly expanding outward as you inhale.  This type of breathing often feels more natural, is easy to learn and is recommended for stress and anxiety relief.

Diaphragmatic breathing - relies on the large muscle just below the lungs.  If engaged properly, you should notice your ribcage expanding to the front as well as the back and sides of your torso.  This creates a stronger vacuum which allows you to suck more air into your lungs. 

Most people fall into a pattern of breathing where you overuse the muscles in the neck and upper body (known as the accessory muscles of inspiration) and under use the diaphragm.  During heavy exercise or training, the body needs these accessory muscles to kick in and supplement the diaphragm's action by moving the rib cage up and down quickly.  This action brings more air into the lungs, but the accessory muscles tire easily and if they are overused it can leave you feeling fatigued and anxious.

To learn optimal breathing techniques, getting the position of your ribcage right is key.  A neutral posture, the happy middle between slouching and having your chest pushed forward, gives your diaphragm the most room to contract.  Good breathing posture develops pressure from the within the abdomen that stabilizes your core, and transfers power between your upper and lower body giving you the ability to move more efficiently.

Proper breathing enables the body to get the needed oxygen to the brain and muscles, regulates your heart rate and helps athletes maintain their focus under the pressure of competition  Overall, adopting an effective breathing technique can have a dramatic effect on an athlete's physiology, their ability to relax, and ultimately on performance.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Bacchus H. BREATHWORK AND SPORTS PERFORMANCE. Sportex Dynamics. January 2010;(23):21-26.
2. Blecher M. Play hard, breathe deeply. Women's Sports & Fitness. March 1997;19(2):52.
3. Guenette J, Sheel A. Physiological consequences of a high work of breathing during heavy exercise in humans. Journal Of Science & Medicine In Sport. December 2007;10(6):341-350.
4. Hall G, Baker O. A BETTER WAY TO BREATHE. Triathlete. June 2012;(339):54.
5. Nelson N. Diaphragmatic Breathing's Influence on Core Stability and Neck Pain. IDEA Fitness Journal. March 2012;9(3):28-30.
6. Whipp B, Ward S. Determinants and control of breathing during muscular exercise. / Le controle de la respiration au cours de l ' exercice musculaire et ses determinants. British Journal Of Sports Medicine. September 1998;32(3):199-211.