Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stretching it out

Many people make the assumption that stretching and warming up are pretty much the same thing, when in fact they are quite different. Warming up is the preparation of your body for the demands of the physical activity you have planned, whereas stretching is focused on specific areas that are tight and require loosening.

While studies have shown mixed results on the effectiveness of stretching, possible benefits include:
  • increased range of motion in the joints
  • improved muscular coordination
  • reduced level of muscle tension
  • improves flexibility
  • and enhanced circulation 
Stretching exercises should be performed for 5 - 10 mins and should concentrate on the muscles that feel tight. Be aware of your body - mild discomfort (tension and pull) is to be expected while holding a stretch but sharp pain is usually a signal that a person has pushed too far.

Static vs. Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretching consists of functional based exercises which use sport specific movements to prepare the body for activity. Generally performed before a work out, they consist of controlled exercises that improve range of motion, loosen up your muscles and increase your heart rate. 

Static stretching is the slow and constant movement of a muscle to a fixed end point, and can be held for up to 30 seconds. Holding a muscle in an elongated, fixed position can hurt performance if done before a workout, so it's recommended that this type of stretching is most appropriate to perform as part of your cool down.

When is a good time to stretch?

Stretching your body should be done after your muscles are already sufficiently warmed up. Give yourself 15-20 minutes to work up a bit of sweat, then add in 5 - 10 minutes of stretching.

Evidence suggests that athletes can benefit from a regular stretching program if it executed properly and timed within a workout to reduce the risk of injury. Aside from the physical benefits, stretching can also provide a proper mindset and mental focus for the training ahead.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Graetzer D. Feel the heat: Get warm before taking the court. Handball. February 2012;62(1):36-37.
2. Legg J. THE ROLE OF STRETCHING IN WARMUP FOR PERFORMANCE, AND INJURY PREVENTION. Strength & Conditioning Coach. October 2007;15(3):7-10.
3. McHugh M, Cosgrave C. To stretch or not to stretch: the role of stretching in injury prevention and performance. Scandinavian Journal Of Medicine & Science In Sports. April 2010;20(2):169-181.
4. Small K, McNaughton L, Matthews M. A Systematic Review into the Efficacy of Static Stretching as Part of a Warm-Up for the Prevention of Exercise-Related Injury. Research In Sports Medicine. July 2008;16(3):213-231.
5. Stone M, Ramsey M, Kinser A, O'Bryant H, Ayers C, Sands W. Stretching: Acute and Chronic? The Potential Consequences. Strength & Conditioning Journal (Allen Press). December 2006;28(6):66-74.
6. The Impact of Stretching on Sports-Injury Risk and Performance. Athletic Therapy Today. November 2006;11(6):66-69.
7. Woods K, Bishop P, Jones E. Warm-Up and Stretching in the Prevention of Muscular Injury. Sports Medicine. September 2007;37(12):1089-1099.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Diversity in Sport

SIRC Newsletter now available online: Diversity in Sport

The Canadian sport community has the opportunity to embrace our uniquely diverse population and actively strive for a multicultural and socially inclusive environment. Proactive sport organizations adopt a broad view of diversity and value it to its fullest extent. Ideally, this means going beyond merely removing barriers to participation but working towards ensuring that all participants are valued and respected.

Read more:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What exactly are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are electrically charged particles that help the body function normally. The importance of electrolytes in the human body is so great that we quickly react to an electrolyte deficiency. Athletes in particular are susceptible because electrolytes are depleted during perspiration.

Some of the more familiar electrolytes include potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium. These minerals are responsible for regulating nerve and muscle function, blood pressure, and hydration and fluid distribution in order to keep your body functioning properly and performing at its best.
How do you ensure your body has sufficient electrolytes before, during and after a training session or competition?
  • Consume foods that have higher concentrations of the vitamins and minerals your body needs, such as:
    • Potassium - bananas, spinach, white beans, dried apricots and squash
    • Calcium - dairy products such as yogurt and milk
    • Magnesium - green leafy vegetables, lentils, beans, brown rice and oatmeal 
    • Sodium - ramen noodles, olives, pickles or crackers 
  • Drink adequate amounts of water, 8 - 9 glasses per day (more if exercising in humid conditions)
  • Supplement with sports drinks or electrolyte powders - only consume after long bouts of heavy endurance training of 90 minutes or more
Do I need to worry about sodium replacement?

It depends on how much you sweat, how hot it is, humidity, and how long and how hard you are
working out. When you exercise, you lose some sodium from sweat, but you are unlikely to deplete your body's stores. Keep in mind that many health organizations recommend reducing sodium intake because the typical North American diet contains more sodium than the average person requires.

Assume that the more you exercise, the more fluids and nutrients you are going to have to replace. Every person is different, with varying levels of fitness and physical activity. Most regular exercisers and athletes use nutrition guidelines to start out and from there, experiment to find out what works best for them.  

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Clark N. Electrolytes: What Are They?. American Fitness. September 2010;28(5):66-67.
Golden A, Tierney N. HYDRATION and EXERCISE go Hand in Hand. Volleyball. October 2011;22(8):22-23.
2. Heaner M. To Salt or Not to Salt?: An update on sodium and how it affects health and exercise. IDEA Fitness Journal. March 2011;8(3):59-61.
3. Hess J. Dehydration: Balancing Water and Electrolytes. Hughston Health Alert. Summer2007 2007;19(3):4.
4. Houtkooper L. New guidelines on fluids. Swimming World & Junior Swimmer. October 1996;37(10):10.
5. Nugent L. Sports Drinks. Modern Athlete & Coach. October 2012;50(4):17-18.
6. Schnuer J. Electrolytes 101. Shape. September 2005;25(1):196.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Does team sport build character?

The idea that an individuals' involvement in team sport builds character is firmly engrained in our minds. Advocates of sport participation believe that sport provides opportunities for learning moral development and social skills like cooperation, conflict resolution, self-control, teamwork, fairness and a good work ethic. As a result, many parents often sign their children up for a sports team in the
hopes that they will learn some, if not all of these skills.

There is considerable evidence that the development of character in young athletes can be formed positively, if helped along by sport coaches who implement specific strategies to do so.
  • Set the example - Young athletes will look to their coaches to teach them how to respond to a difficult situation - a coach who can effectively control his/her emotions under pressure or in anger is a great example for good sporting behavior. If a coach expects good sporting behaviour, but does not follow the set rules, young athletes receive mixed messages.
  • Goal setting - Set team and individual goals, ask them to express how they wish to see themselves grow as players and as a team and help them to accomplish those goals.
  • Peer influence - Peers are extremely important in the socialization of young athletes. Establish a peer leader that engages in positive, character-building behaviors and not just those with the greatest skill set.
  • Establish guidelines - Make it clear that disrespectful behaviour towards opponents and officials is not tolerated. Let your players know what the expectations are as a team, for example, shaking hands with the opposing team before and after a game, respecting calls from officials, and following the rules of the game.
Character development is a process that requires careful planning that can definitely be developed through sport, but this type of development will not just happen on its own. To be effective, coaches need to set a personal example for youth as well as come up with an organizational plan to help athletes overcome challenges and work towards their individual and team goals.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Boardley I, Kavussanu M. The influence of social variables and moral disengagement on prosocial and antisocial behaviours in field hockey and netball. Journal Of Sports Sciences. June 2009;27(8):843-854.
2. DiCocco F. The Importance of Character. Texas Coach. August 2012;57(1):34-35. 
3. Doty J, Lumpkin A. Do Sports Build or Reveal Character - An Exploratory Study at One Service Academy. (Abstract). Research Quarterly For Exercise & Sport. February 2007;78(1):A-91.
4. Falcão W, Bloom G, Gilbert W. Coaches’ Perceptions of a Coach Training Program Designed to Promote Youth Developmental Outcomes. Journal Of Applied Sport Psychology. October 2012;24(4):429-444. 
5. Gaines S. Developing Individual and Team Character in Sport. Strategies. November 2012;25(8):30-32.
6. Murray K. Team Sports and Character Development. ACSM Fit Society Page. Summer2007 2007;:1-2.
7. Welch B. Character team building. Australian Fourfourtwo. October 2011;(72):96.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Recovery Nutrition - Carbs and protein

Recovery nutrition should be an important goal that is placed at the top of any serious athletes training priorities. Immediately after training, muscles are primed to absorb nutrients such as carbohydrate (restores muscle glycogen) and protein (repairs damaged muscle fibres), both of which are essential for rapid recovery from intense exercise. Proper nutrition is an essential part of the recovery process and is often overlooked or poorly executed. With good planning, it can help the body to adapt to the physiological stresses of training and prepares the body to train again.

Some recommendations for good recovery practices:
  • If the period between exercise sessions is less than eight hours, an athlete should begin carbohydrate intake as soon as practical after the first workout session. Eating carbohydrates can be in the form of small snacks to minimize gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • During longer recovery periods it may be helpful to have a meal plan that organizes the pattern and timing of carbohydrate and protein rich foods according to what is comfortable and practical for the athlete.
  • Quick releasing (glycaemic index) carbs such as sugars are favoured right after training because the sugars can rapidly enter the bloodstream which maximizes carbohydrate uptake.
  • Protein ingestion before sleep improves post-exercise overnight recovery.
  • High protein foods include - bran cereal, lite milk, Swiss cheese, lean steak, baked potato, broccoli. Beans, lentils, cottage cheese, spinach and yogurt are also good sources.
When plotting your recovery plan, it's important recognize that every athlete is going to require individual tweaks to their nutrition that works for them. If you want to ensure that you get the most of your recovery nutrition, consulting a dietician or nutritionist is a great option. Training diaries can be essential for this process, since needs change as training progresses. A well designed recovery nutrition plan can play a critical role in replacing energy stores, repairing muscle tissue and maximizing athletic gains.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Etheridge T, Philp A, Watt P. A single protein meal increases recovery of muscle function following an acute eccentric exercise bout. Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism. June 2008;33(3):483-488.
2. Hofmekler O. Recovery Meals - The Key for Maximizing Muscle Gain. Pro-Trainer Online. April 2005.
3. Kiens B, Ivy J, Burke L. Carbohydrates and fat for training and recovery. Journal Of Sports Sciences. January 2004;22(1):15-30.
4. KURIEL V. NUTRITION BLUNDERS. Australian Triathlete. November 2012;20(1):46-48.
5. Lunn W, Pasiakos S, Rodriguez N, et al. Chocolate Milk and Endurance Exercise Recovery: Protein Balance, Glycogen, and Performance. Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise. April 2012;44(4):682-691.
6. Stevenson E, Williams C, Biscoe H. The Metabolic Responses to High Carbohydrate Meals with Different Glycemic Indices Consumed During Recovery from Prolonged Strenuous Exercise. International Journal Of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism. June 2005;15(3):291-307.
7. Wong S, Chen V, Fung W, Morris J. Effect of Glycemic Index Meals on Recovery and Subsequent Endurance Capacity. International Journal Of Sports Medicine. December 2009;30(12):898-905.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Treating Tendon Injuries

Tendon injuries are common in the sport community and can affect amateur and professional athletes alike. Tendon injuries are most often the result of gradual wear and tear to the tendon from overuse, incorrect movement or aging. As debilitating as they can be, the good news is that when treated properly, minor to moderate tendon injuries can heal on their own.

While almost any tendon can sustain an injury, the most commonly occurring tendon injuries in sport are:
  • "Swimmer's shoulder"- occurs when the tendons in the shoulder muscles become weakened and inflamed, sometimes resulting in a rupture.
  • "Tennis elbow" - is a condition when the tendons in your elbow are overworked, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm.
  • "Jumper's knee" - also known as patellar tendonitis or patellar tendinopathy is an overuse injury that involves the patellar tendon, the cord-like tissue that joins the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shin bone).
  • "Achilles heel" - probably the most well-known injury, involves inflammation of the large tendon at the back of the heel.
There are three stages of injury progression:
  1. The reactive phase, where no overt signs of injury are apparent but if an athlete is training heavily, good prevention measures mean allowing adequate rest and recovery
  2. The second stage is tender-to-the touch, tendons are progressing into a state of disrepair, usually coupled with inflammation and pain. Pro-active methods for recovery are recommended, icing and a longer recovery period is required. 
  3. The third stage occurs when the tissues start to degenerate and are more likely to rupture with continued demand for force. If left to this state, it is not likely that an athlete will be able to progress in their training. Proper treatment requires a clinical diagnosis and a strict recovery plan.
When recovering from a tendon injury, full immobilization is not recommended - some movement is necessary for repair (depending on the severity), therefore allow relative rest, meaning minimal load bearing and reduced activity. Any activity that causes pain to the injury should be avoided while allowing the body to heal. If pain persists or becomes chronic, please contact your physician for treatment.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Bjöörnsson H, Norlin R, Johansson K, Adolfsson L. The influence of age, delay of repair, and tendon involvement in acute rotator cuff tears. Acta Orthopaedica. April 2011;82(2):187-192.
2. Lin W, Weiwei G, Kaiyu X, Ning L, Bo W. The effects of an early return to training on the bone-tendon junction post-acute micro-injury healing. Journal Of Sports Science & Medicine. June 2012;11(2):238-244.
3. Nessel E. Athletes Needing to Treat Sore Muscles and Tendons. ASCA Newsletter. April 2010;2010(4):24-27.
4. Tonoli D, Cumps E, Aerts I, Verhagen E, Meeusen R. Incidence, risk factors and prevention of running related injuries in long-distance running: a systematic review. Sport & Geneeskunde. December 2010;43(5):12-18.
5. Teramoto A, Luo Z. Temporary tendon strengthening by preconditioning. Clinical Biomechanics. June 2008;23(5):619-622.
6. Witvrouw E, Mahieu N, Roosen P, McNair P. The role of stretching in tendon injuries. British Journal Of Sports Medicine. April 2007;41(4):224-226. 
7. Wren T, Beaupre G, Carter D. Tendon and ligament adaptation to exercise, immobilization, and remobilization. Journal Of Rehabilitation Research & Development. March 2000;37(2):217-224.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Coaching - "Invisible" Disabilities

Participation in organized sport activities has been shown to increase self-confidence, social skills and peer acceptance. Young people with "invisible" disabilities (e.g. learning, emotional/behavioural, and speech/language) can often be overlooked because they have no outward physical characteristics that suggest they have diverse learning needs. As a coach, there are many ways to foster an effective and inclusive sport environment so that everyone can have a great team sport experience.

Focus on a player's ability - Discover what your player can do rather than focusing on what he/she can't do. If you are unsure, ask them to tell you their capabilities, skills, interests and goals and then work together to plan challenging and engaging sessions that are geared to the person's needs.

Be ready to adapt - Possible adaptations include changing up your teaching style (more demonstrations, less verbal instruction), rules, equipment and environment (quieter may mean less distractions).

Communicate effectively - When providing directions, gain eye contact with your player(s), keep explanations concise and re-state if necessary. When providing demonstrations, break down specific drills one step at a time and build up slowly.

Set the stage for success - Some athletes with "invisible" disabilities may be aware of their difficulties and be anxious about situations that are unfamiliar, unknown, or perceived as difficult. To lessen anxiety, try providing an overview of the practice activities and the order in which they will occur. Routines also provide structure and predictability which can allow a stressed player to relax and become more engaged.

Promote social acceptance - Sometimes it can be challenging for players with "invisible" disabilities to have positive social interactions with others. A coach can address this by calming insisting that everyone follows the rules, takes turns and in general have players be aware of others. Organized sport can be a great platform for youth to develop social skills without negative consequences like teasing or ridicule; therefore, it's important to be sure to provide positive feedback and lots of support.

Coaches can encourage participation in sport for a person with a hidden disability by taking a pro-active approach, not worrying about making the occasional mistake and reminding themselves that every player just wants to be respected and valued.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Abraham A, Collins D. Taking the Next Step: Ways Forward for Coaching Science. Quest. November 2011;63(4):366-384.
2. Beyer R, Flores M, Vargas-Tonsing T. Strategies and Methods for Coaching Athletes with Invisible Disabilities in Youth Sport Activities. Journal Of Youth Sports. June 2009;4(2):10-15.
3. Hassan D, Dowling S, McConkey R, Menke S. The inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in team sports: lessons from the Youth Unified Sports programme of Special Olympics. Sport In Society. November 2012;15(9):1275-1290.
4. McMaster S, Culver D, Werthner P. Coaches of athletes with a physical disability: a look at their learning experiences. Qualitative Research In Sport, Exercise & Health. July 2012;4(2):226-243.
5. Pine S. Inclusive coaching course opens minds and doors. Sports Coach. 2005;28(2):18-19.
6. Young J. The State of Play: Coaching Persons with Disabilities. Coaching & Sport Science Review. April 2010;50:9-10.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The power of plyometric training

Plyometrics (jump training) are exercises designed to produce fast, powerful movements that enhance explosive muscular performance. Many of you may have already used these techniques
and not known they are called plyometrics.

Plyometric exercises may include; jumping, bounding, hopping, arm pushing, and "catching and throwing" weighted objects such as medicine balls. These are movements that involve rapid lengthening (eccentric) and shortening (concentric) muscle action. Box jumps, step-ups and squat jumps are all plyometric movements.

Jump training has been shown to provide many benefits:
  • reduces knee injuries, particularly women
  • improves upper and lower-body explosiveness
  • increases flexibility and mobility in selected joints
  • increases power, strength and agility in target muscles 
  • improves performance and decreases muscle soreness
  • burns calories
If jump training is something you wish to try, there are few things to be aware of before you start:
  1. Ask a qualified trainer or coach to help you learn proper landing techniques to minimize the chance of injury. 
  2. If your gym or club has spring floors or shock-absorbing mats, they are ideal landing surfaces for this type of training. If your workouts are outdoors a grassy surface is ideal; try to avoid hard surfaces like concrete or gym floors.
  3. Before beginning, a 5-10 minute warm-up should be performed, followed by some dynamic stretching to increase blood flow and prepare muscles for the upcoming activity.
  4. A coach or trainer should ensure variety in the training program, first, to provide specificity for a given sport and second, to avoid training boredom and stagnation.
  5. Beginners should perform as few as 30-40 foot contacts during initial sessions and can be gradually moved up to 100 or more foot contacts.
  6. This type of program should only be performed twice a week to allow adequate recovery.
Plyometric training is great because it can be performed at any age or skill level and requires little or no equipment.As with any new exercise regimen, it is important to use caution when introducing plyometrics into your training.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Andrew D, Kovaleski J, Heitman R, Robinson T. Effects of Three Modified Plyometric Depth Jumps and Periodized Weight Training on Lower Extremity Power. Sport Journal. January 2010;13(1):4.
2. Compton C. The Benefits of PLYOMETRIC & AGILITY TRAINING for Cross Country Skiers. Cross Country Skier. November 2010;30(2):27-28.
3. Fowler K. EXPLOSIVE POWER. IDEA Fitness Journal. September 2011;8(8):38-45.
5. Meira E, Brumitt J, Nitka M. Plyometric Training Considerations to Reduce Knee Injuries. Strength & Conditioning Journal (Allen Press). April 2005;27(2):78-80.
6. Ploeg A, Miller M, Holcomb W, O'Donoghue J, Berry D, Dibbet T. The Effects of High Volume Aquatic Plyometric Training on Vertical Jump, Muscle Power, and Torque. International Journal Of Aquatic Research & Education. February 2010;4(1):39-48.