Thursday, September 27, 2012

Does exercise help osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis or "common arthritis" is the gradual wearing down of the joint's hyaline cartilage. Our joint's have a shiny, smooth surface at the end of each bone which allows friction and free motion. When this area becomes damaged, thinned or worn away it is known as osteoarthritis. The rubbing of the damaged area is painful and the repetition leads to inflammation, swelling and more pain.

Three kinds of exercises you can do if you have osteoarthritis:
Exercise is considered the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement for people with osteoarthritis.  Keep in mind that exercise should be balanced with rest and joint care. If your joints hurt or you have redness or swelling, rest your joints and then try again.  Other treatments include physiotherapy, podiatry, anti-inflammatories and supplements such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin.  These supplements are not heavily researched, however they are still widely prescribed to help people with osteoarthritis.

You may not be able to perform like you did when your were in your twenties, but the smart person who continues to exercise is one who adapts their training and works with their body, not against it.  As always, before starting any training regimen, speak to your doctor first and then decide which exercises may be best for you.  Many people have made changes to their lifestyle after being diagnosed with osteoarthritis and continue to enjoy daily exercise.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Better adherence to exercise means better relief from osteoarthritis pain. Research Review (International Council On Active Aging). July 28, 2010;10(27):2-3.
2. Christensen K. Ease the Pain of Arthritis With Exercise. American Fitness. July 2009;27(4):12-13. 
Exercises in Warm Water Can Help Relieve Osteoarthritis Pain. PT: Magazine Of Physical Therapy. January 2008;16(1):66-68.
3. Focht B. How Knee Osteoarthritis Patients Can Use Exercise to Enhance Quality of Life. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal. September 2012;16(5):24-28.
4. Page P. Knee osteoarthritis: strength training for pain relief and functional improvement. Functional U. September 2003;1(6):1-6.
5. People with osteoarthritis feel better with exercise and the right shoes. Research Review (International Council On Active Aging). March 24, 2010;10(12):2-3.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sports Day in Canada!

Sports Day in Canada is a national celebration of sport at all levels. On the ground, in the week leading up to September 29, over a thousand organizations, schools, teams and towns will hold a blitz of Sports Day in Canada events, with community-wide festivals, try-it days, open houses, games, competitions, meet-and-greets, tournaments, fun runs, spectator events and pep rallies that celebrate sport at all levels.  Find an event near you and help us celebrate the power of sport at work in communities across the country.

Plus, wear your heart on your sleeve on national Jersey Day, September 28. And watch the national Sports Day in Canada broadcast on September 29. Come out and show your support!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Don't let age slow you down!

Many of you may not know that the International Council on Active Aging celebrates Active Aging Week, from September 23-29.  A lot people participate in this annual event, with this year's theme being many journeys, many destinations.  To celebrate this week, we are giving some tips for
healthy, active living, so you don't have to let age slow you down!

1. Determine your participation style - Do you prefer being with a running group/fitness class or do you like to fly solo?  Do you like indoor or outdoor fitness?  How much time can you dedicate to your fitness routine?

2. Warm-up - Before any exercise, your body needs time to adjust to the upcoming workout.  Be sure to take your time, rushing through your warm-up routine can increase your chance of an injury.

3.  Strength training - Don't be alarmed, you don't need to be a body builder to lift weights.  Starting with small weights and gradually working your way up will do wonders for an aging body.  Many studies have shown that strength training aids in maintaining muscular mass, benefits your joints and increases your metabolism. 

4. Take a Yoga, Pilates, or stretching class - These low impact classes are gaining in popularity with our aging population.  They are also a form of strength training and as an added benefit, help your balance which can reduce falls.  One class a week is good, but if you can add a daily stretching routine on top of it, you'll be doing your body a favour.

5. Eat a balanced diet - We hear this all the time, but it gets even more important as we age.  Try to get as many leafy greens, vegetables, nuts and fish as you can.  All are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals and will give you the energy you need to stay active.

6. Take your vitamins - If you can get enough vitamins through food, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D and omega 3's can all be taken as a supplement and are great additions to a balanced diet.

7. Get some sleep - Yes, exercise is important, but it's also essential to let your body recover.  Take a 15 - 20  minute nap each day; put your feet up, turn off the phone and let your body relax for a bit.

8. Regular medical care - Seeing your doctor for regularly scheduled visits is important for everyone.  Even if you are an athlete, we are all prone to the everyday problems of aging.

Exercise is beneficial to everyone, including those with chronic pain or special mobility needs. Even moderate activity can improve your quality of life so get out there, get moving and above all, have some fun!

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Dudney G. Run for your life! Aging is not the enemy of the runner as long as the running can be kept fresh. Marathon & Beyond. November 2004;8(6):64-68;70-72.
2. Holviala J, Kraemer W, Häkkinen K, et al. Effects of strength, endurance and combined training on muscle strength, walking speed and dynamic balance in aging men. European Journal Of Applied Physiology. April 2012;112(4):1335-1347.
3. Kruger J. Guidelines for physical activity: pointers for active-aging professionals. Journal On Active Aging. January 2010;9(1):34-39.
4. Phillips W, Alvar B. Developing strength in older adults: how much training is 'enough'?. Journal On Active Aging. March 2004;3(2):34-37.
5. Scott D. Beat the aging curve: 25 tips for healthy aging. Triathlete. April 2007;(276):188;190-191.
6. Strength training can relieve knee osteoarthritis. Research Review (International Council On Active Aging). January 28, 2009;9(4):4.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Do Compression Garments Improve Performance?

The use of compression garments has become increasingly popular in recent years, mostly in a post-exercise role where compression tights, arm sleeves, socks and boots are used as a means to speed up recovery.  What is less common is their use during exercise to increase performance and minimize fatigue. Do compression garments really improve performance?

The possible effects of compression include:
  • improved circulation
  • reduced muscle fatigue
  • rapid recovery
  • increased performance
  • endurance
  • injury management
Recent studies from have tested the theory that compression garments help to re-oxygenate the blood, which in turn helps muscles to perform better.  These studies found that on average, oxygen consumption was unaltered whether or not the athletes wore the compression gear, meaning that their overall efficiency was unchanged.  So, despite their recent popularity, these studies found no evidence for improved performance or efficiency of oxygen consumption.

However, don't be too quick to write them off since there is quite a bit of evidence that compression garments do help in the recovery process.  Studies have shown that they help by enhacing overall circulation, reduce swelling in the joints and speed up muscle recovery.

Many elite athletes swear by their benefits and the assumption is that their popularity will increase as more athletes are seen wearing them.  As no studies have reported negative effects on exercise performance, the use of compression garments may provide a useful training tool for athletes across a wide variety of sports.  If you do decide to try out compression garments, caution should be taken so you choose the right garment for your sport.  

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Bottaro M, Martorelli S, Vilaça J. Neuromuscular Compression Garments: Effects on Neuromuscular Strength and Recovery. Journal Of Human Kinetics. December 2, 2011;:27-31. 
2. Lovell D, Mason D, Delphinus E, McLellan C. DO COMPRESSION GARMENTS ENHANCE THE ACTIVE RECOVERY PROCESS AFTER HIGH-INTENSITY RUNNING?. Journal Of Strength & Conditioning Research (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins). December 2011;25(12):3264-3268. 
3. MacRae B, Cotter J, Laing R. Compression Garments and Exercise Garment Considerations, Physiology and Performance. Sports Medicine. October 2011;41(10):815-843. 
4. Scanlan A, Dascombe B, Reaburn P, Osborne M. The Effects of Wearing Lower-Body Compression Garments During Endurance Cycling. International Journal Of Sports Physiology & Performance. December 2008;3(4):424-438. 

Sport Safety and Accessories

SIRC Newsletter now available online: Sport Accessories and Safety

With all the kids back in the classroom, try outs for school sports and classes for phys-ed will be starting up again. Many of you may have already received a note from a coach or phys-ed teacher requesting that students remove all jewelry and accessories before participating in any kind of sport. As a parent or coach, it's essential to know why this is important, what equipment children should be using and any safety measures to be aware of in case an injury occurs.

Read more:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Should we be eating like cavemen?

Diet trends pop up everyday that make crazy claims for your health, weight and even longevity. Most of us know to ignore the latest fad, but there is one diet that seems to be gaining some ground. The Paleolithic diet is referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet or hunter–gatherer diet.This diet consists of foods that are assumed to be available to humans prior to modern agriculture.

What does it consist of? 

A generous amount of protein is recommended, including meat, particularly lean game meats as well as poultry, fish and eggs.  A good amount of vegetables from leafy greens to root vegetables should also be included.  Fruit and nuts are consumed in smaller amounts with a preference for lower sugar fruits such as berries. 

It's surprising that fat is recommended in comparatively large amounts compared to other diets.  Coconut oil, ghee, lard and duck fat are all included on the list with only vegetable oils being eliminated.  It's worth noting that the paleo diet allows fresh or dried herbs and spices so that tasty dishes can be created.

Foods that are off limits: 
  • Cereal grains and legumes (no wheat, rye, barley, oats, brown rice, corn, soy) 
  • All sugars 
  • Dairy (with the exception of butter) 
Overall, this diet is high in protein, polyunsaturated fats, fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and is low in saturated fats and sugars which is generally considered to be good for you.  However, as this is a relatively new idea, studies done on this topic are minimal, so the benefits of this diet are largely unknown.

Remember that nothing substitutes a healthy active lifestyle and adopting the paleo diet is a big change that includes significant planning and preparation.  So before you jump on board, it's worth doing your research and talking to your doctor first. 

 References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Brehm B. The paleolithic lifestyle: helping stone age bodies adapt to modern times. Fitness Management. July 2001;17(8):30-31.
2. Eating like cave men. Cycling Weekly. September 11, 2008;:27.
3. Eaton S, Eaton III S. Paleolithic vs. modern diets--selected pathophysiological implications. European Journal Of Nutrition. April 2000;39(2):67.
4. FITZGERALD M. Should You Eat Like a Caveman?. Triathlete. December 2010;(320):42-44.
5. Let's go paleo!. Cycling Weekly. January 28, 2010;:38-41.
6. Mickleborough T. Understanding Fatigue And the Paleo Diet. Triathlete. August 2009;(304):128-129.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Motivational coaching, is it a matter of carrot or stick?

Whether you are coaching athletes in elementary, high school or any age, one of the biggest challenges a coach can face is how to motivate their players.

To start, you need to establish your expectations, this will determine your role within the team and let your players know what kind of coach you are going to be. 

What's a coach to do?
  • Know your athletes as more than just "players" who are put through drills.  Showing them you care will improve the chances that they will give more of themselves because you are.
  • Discover their teaching preferences, get their feedback and their motives for participating.  Research shows that if these needs do not get met, the chances of players dropping out increase.
  • Involve them in the teaching process.  Communicate to them the purpose behind those exercises and drills and how it relates to the game.  If they know why they are performing certain activities it's more likely that they will be less resistant when asked to run through them.
  • Keep practices interesting.  Repeating the same drills every week is boring for you and the team, and does not help growth.
  • One of the biggest motivators for players is positive reinforcement.  Praise can go a long way, so give verbal rewards for improvement and working hard.
Don't knock routines.

Coaches can be a great help in in motivating athletes by setting up a pre-practice routine.  Warm-up exercises are common, but coaches can do more by recommending proper eating habits, rest, and hydration which can go a long way to ensure quality practices and games.  Encourage all team members (including yourself) to let go of outside stressors and distractions to increase the ability to work together as a team.

Motivating players needs to be worked on by coaches in a consistent manner to keep getting the most out of their team.  This doesn't need to be an arduous task, so remember to go out and have some fun!

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Adams M. Problem-focused coaching in a mainstream primary school: Reflections on PRACTICE. Coaching Psychologist. June 2012;8(1):27-37.
2. Grant A. An integrated model of goal-focused coaching: An evidence-based framework for teaching and practice. International Coaching Psychology Review. September 2012;7(2):146-165.
3. Maitland A, Gervis M. Goal-setting in youth football. Are coaches missing an opportunity?. Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy. October 2010;15(4):323-343.
4. Palmer S. Revisiting the 'P' in the PRACTICE coaching model. Coaching Psychologist. December 2011;7(2):156-158.
5. Schupak M. Practice Makes PERFECT. Parks & Recreation. February 2008;43(2):64-67.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Are you Tough Enough?

athletes,men,nets,persons,Photographs,racquets,sports,sports equipment,tennis,tennis nets,tennis players,tennis racketsWhen preparing for a race, a competition or just everyday exercise, mental preparation plays a vital role in the training process. Mental toughness is the psychological edge that an athlete uses to cope with the demands of training and performances at an event.  It allows the athlete to remain consistent, determined, focused, confident and in control under the pressures that they face.

Athletes who are considered mentally tough exhibit signs of:

Composure under pressure

Research suggests that working on a mental strength training program such as goal setting, visualization, relaxation, concentration and thought-stopping skills can lead to improvements in performance and self rated mental toughness (Crust, Azadi).

Mental toughness allows athletes to avoid distractions and stay calm under pressure.  Although some athletes will naturally be stronger in this area, all athletes can improve this skill.  Other athletes may not be as mentally tough but given the right sets of tools and situations they can vastly improve, just like any skill. It plays such a big role that athletes without the right mind set when performing under pressure can have a negative result compared to their performances during training sessions.

Having the best physical skills on the field is not enough on it's own.  For athletes that want to gain that competitive edge, it's essential to exercise your mind as well.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. CRUST L, AZADI K. Mental toughness and athletes' use of psychological strategies. European Journal Of Sport Science. January 2010;10(1):43-51.
2. Gordon S. Strengths-based approaches to developing mental toughness: Team and individual. International Coaching Psychology Review. September 2012;7(2):210-222.
3. Ritz N. The Effects of Mental Preparation for Distance Runners. Marathon & Beyond. March 2012;16(2):120-130.
4. Sullivan J, Murphy B. Sweat Is Not Enough: Mental Preparation for Better Running on Race Day. Marathon & Beyond. September 2008;12(5):41-44.
5. Weinberg R, Butt J, Culp B. Coaches' views of mental toughness and how it is built. International Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology. June 2011;9(2):156-172.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Managing Calf Strains

Whether you are a high performance or recreational athlete, you have all probably experienced cramps in your calves at one point or another.  The main cause of calf strain comes from muscle fatigue and can happen while participating in a variety of different sports.  It is commonly believed that cramps can be caused by low electrolytes/sodium but so far there has been no evidence to support that claim. 

If your muscles start cramping from fatigue it is usually associated with training errors.  Sudden increases in exercise intensity before you've given your body time to adjust is one of the main reasons people injure themselves.  When the calf muscle is put under too much strain, it goes into protection mode, shortens, and the result is pain and a muscle cramp.  Often this pain will go away given a bit of time, but if pushed again too soon you increase the risk of tearing the muscle.

A common mistake for beginners is to try to do too much too soon. Completing the same workout every day without rest, causes your body to fatigue and makes it more prone to injury.  If you wish to train everyday, go for it, but keep your workouts varied and add some low intensity exercise for a good balance.

What do I do if my muscles start to cramp? 

If your feel your calves seize up, you should ice for the first 24 to 48 hours.  Follow the RICE formula: rest, ice, compression and elevation.  It's good to note that if the pain persists longer than 48 hours you should consult a doctor or physiotherapist. 

How long does it take to recover?

Recovery can be anywhere from two to four weeks which can be a big interruption to a training routine.  If the tear is severe, it can take up to eight weeks for a full recovery.  For treatment, a combination of physical therapy, massage therapy, and cross-training are recommended.  Once you feel like you can move with minimal pain, take it slow and try cycling, swimming, or pool running since they are all low impact exercises which will lower your risk of re-injury.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Calf strain. Cycling Weekly. September 8, 2011;:46.
2. KREDA A. Get a Leg Up. Tennis. April 2011;47(3):60.
3. Millar A. Early stretching routine for calf muscle strains. Medicine & Science In Sports. Spring 1976;8(1):39-42.
5. Stephenson C. In the second part of our non-technical injury guide for athletes, we look at muscle and tendon injuries. Sports Injury Bulletin. July 2002;(21):10-12.
6. Wright P. Common injuries: calf strain. Australian Fitness Network. 2003;16(2):48-49.