The secret to hydration

Water and hydration is crucial for athletic success and human movement.  For the ability to allow our body to age gracefully and perform at optimal levels we must stay hydrated.  But how much do you understand the ability of the body to hydrate itself and what can we do to further improve our ability for increased hydration.

We need to MOVE!  And we need to move in a variety of ways.  This truly is the key to improving hydration through our system.  Drinking enough water throughout the day is only one step in a healthy level of hydration.  Our fascial system is a connection of tissue throughout our entire body.  Think of it as a net or a spider web of Soft tissue that surrounds and wraps around all structures of the body.  It’s a connection system and is also an enormous store of water in the body.

Thomas Myers The originator of the Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians explains through the Anatomy Trains website that “Fascia is the biological fabric that holds us together. You are about 70 trillion cells all humming in relative harmony; fascia is the 3-D spider web of fibrous, gluey, and wet proteins that hold them all together in their proper placement.”

We need to get water into the tissue by moving the body and the movement needs to vary to allow the fascia system that weaves its way through the body to be hydrated.  As we move and exercise water is squeezed in and out of tissue.  Without moving in a variety of ways the water we drink throughout the day has less of a chance to hydrate us efficiently.  The less we move, the more “stiffer” we feel.  This restriction or tightness may also happen due to inflammation and injury and usually the Fascia is ignored as a main cause of pain.  Thomas Myers (Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapist) explains that fascia has 10 times as many nerve endings as there is in muscle.  This is an important fact for individuals looking to reduce pain, inflammation and improve recovery.

For the athlete who ignores recovery and trains heavy on a regular basis you must be reminded that this training drives water out of the tissue which may lead to an increase in that feeling of stiffness.  Recovery should be doubled in the form of sleep, nutrition, massage or whatever options help you recover to an optimal level.  This is important for athletes looking to reduce their risk of non contact sport related injuries.  Keeping the soft tissue healthy is a great way to reduce the risk.

What are easy steps to improve hydration?

Drink water!

Move your body in a variety of different movement patterns!

RECOVER with enough sleep & clean nutrition.

Incorporate additional recovery choices like Massage, relaxation & stress reduction options.

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It’s called PLAY!

The amount of parents searching for ways to develop their childs talent in their sport has risen dramatically over the years. The discussion of yearlong play in one sport is continually debated and the use of private training sessions to improve fitness or sport skill is a popular trend. What is often ignored is the good old fashion PLAY! The ability for a child to learn and develop skill and movement patterns through Play is the best thing you can do for your Child!
Unfortunately we all know the decline of play due to technology. Or the consistent decline of free play on school playgrounds due to the fear of injury. We need to bring back the ability for kids to jump, run, throw, catch, climb in order to build our future athletes and reduce disease and obesity.

Take the example of year-long Hockey. Parents are looking for ways to improve their childs performance in the sport now and for the future but are ignoring the fact that it limits their ability to experience other sports & movement patterns and decreases unstructured play.
So how does Play actually help in the development of a child? If you take into consideration the windows of development for youth there are many skills that can be increased for further success down the road.
There needs to be a base of Fundamental movement skills through play. Skills such as speed, co-ordination, balance & agility (running, jumping, throwing, catching, climbing) are learned through fun games and play.

Lets take a look at the ages of 7-9 (boys) 6-8 (girls). Increasing Speed at this age sets them up for further Speed growth at a later age. Speed at this age doesn’t mean running sprints. It’s play based such as tag, kicking a soccer ball, playing pickup soccer. Multi-directional movements that have the child moving quickly.
The game of tag is a phenomenal way to increase speed. If you don’t run fast, you are going to be “it” a lot in the game! Kicking a soccer ball is a fast, powerful movement and looks at rotational hip power/speed and is another building block. Free play is the ability to let these kids run loose and just PLAY! There is an enormous amount of skill development, speed, co-ordination and movement patterns engrained in our nervous system when we allow our children to play.
Neuroplasticity is brain development! It responds to the stimulation of learning, movement and what we experience through our surroundings. The brain will adjust to activity and new pathways are generated! Can you imagine how much learning goes on in the brain when we allow our kids to play! The variety of movement and joint positions our body goes through. The changes in speed and the learning process of experimentation with play is mind boggling. We do have the ability to enhance our skill development and further our athletic potential through something as simple as PLAY!

The ages 9-12 (usually a year younger in girls) are important skill development years. We are reaching the years of incredible growth for your child. They are ready to dig deeper into learning movement patterns and increased skill development. Think of these years as future athletic development. Further fundamental sport skills can be practiced. Play & drills that involve movement co-ordination and teaches children to decelerate properly, land efficiently and accelerate. Hand-eye co-ordination, kicking, multidirectional drills, balance games can all benefit this stage of learning.

Success in sport has everything to do with learning how to move, respond and react to movement and outside forces. You need to get active and you need to allow your child to experience as many different movements as possible in order to train the brain!
Let Play be your childs foundation for learning because future potential depends on it!

Help save the athletes!

I am calling out to all the athletes in this beautiful world! Isn’t it wonderful to see the transformations and the strength gains through training. The ability to push the Human body to extremes…. Oh, but wait… Extreme really isn’t a word that sounds enticing. It actually sounds a little crazy and in the end will it build an athlete that can move and play better?

I actually wonder why it has become such a badge of honor to pound your body into the ground and think it’s an acceptable level of training? The one thing an athlete must cherish is the thing they are destroying! Their BODY! Their machine! Their bread and butter!

I have been fortunate to work with very high level athletes. These athletes have had many years of play behind them. These years of playing their sport have also been tough on their bodies. Lack of mobility in a joint, little stability in another. The fact that their “so called core strength” really isn’t strength at all, its compensation! For me, it becomes rebuilding the athlete into healthier, higher quality movement so they can keep playing their sport. Undiagnosed impingement, Labral tears, Patellofemoral pain syndrome. This becomes the avenue of rebuilding the athlete!
The concern is many athletes have undiagnosed issues and train through them. Squatting ass to grass may work for one person but how do you know if your hips can even get into that position without compensation or further hip damage! THIS IS THE PROBLEM! Each individual athlete must strive to build a BETTER athlete, a better body to save their career.

It has become so normal for an athlete to push themselves to extremes without knowing why! Is the drill challenging an energy system? Is the drill building on your strengths? Do you ignore your weaknesses? Is lifting heavy weight really helping if you have no understanding of Core tension or breath? Do you understand foot position, head position, grip, lat tension, big toe function. Are you ½ kneeling, tall kneeling? Should you be doing pushups or working on scapula motion first? Does your core react to the movement or are you compensating around it?

WHY ARE YOU DOING THE THINGS YOU ARE DOING? Are you building a GREAT athlete? Or just doing a hard workout?

STOP thinking that harder is better! Everything you put your body through now will either move you toward greater success down the road or push you closer to injury. That injury may not show its face now but trust me, it will and wouldn’t you hate it if suddenly it showed up a year into a new contract from previous years of crappy training.

Yes you must train hard, yes you must push the limits and challenge yourself but you must be smart and understand WHY!

Power and the Butt!

The ability to increase power to help sport performance is always on the list of goals for many athletes. Absorbing and reacting to force in your sport allows an athlete to perform at a much higher level. I have touched base on the importance of Hip mobility in previous articles as that plays a role in how well the athlete can increase power and speed. If you do not move well, you cannot perform or train well!

How do the Glutes (butt) play a role in sport performance and function? It decelerates, stabilizes and accelerates the hip in different planes of motion. Skating includes all these movements during heel return and stride pushoff. Not only do you need a hip that moves efficiently in regards to mobility you also need to have strength in all planes of motion to allow an increase in power development.
Most people focus on power development in one plane of motion. (straight ahead/up and down plyometric jumps) What if the limiting factor on-ice is lateral power? How well are you increasing power in side to side and rotational patterns?
A quality training program should look at all of these limiting factors and allow the athlete to understand ground reaction force. This is the force exerted into the body by proper deceleration mechanics into the ground.
When we plant a leg into the ground to stop quickly and change direction, that force from the ground into the body allows us to decelerate and accelerate quickly and efficiently and increase speed, power and quickness. This efficient movement requires a lot of proper mechanics coming from the hip.
Off-ice training such as sled pushes, deadlifts, plyometrics, single leg RDL are just some examples of ways to increase this goal but what if movement mechanics are faulty? What if we cannot decelerate efficiently? What if we lack hip extension? How do we know if the glutes are weak? What if our powerhouse called our “Ass” doesn’t do the job? This is where dysfunction masks results and you will feel “stuck”.

Sound training programs will allow the athlete to create success in each plane of motion but starting with the sagittal plane (front/back) is usually the norm. The attached video shows a single leg glute bridge (The Cook hip lift) that has many benefits. This is a sagittal plane movement.
– It allows the athlete to test & train left and right sides and recognize if there is a weakness between sides.
– It requires good anterior core function to help maintain a stable, neutral pelvis.
– It requires hip flexion on one side with hip extension on the other which brings both sides into the equation.

Exercise setup:
– On your back pull one leg into the chest and place a ball between the bottom of the rib cage and thigh.
– Pull the down leg closer toward the butt and into midline.
– Engage the down glute and lift the hip up while maintaining pressure through the heel/midfoot.
– Avoid letting the rib cage flare/low back arch while lifting. This means you are creating movement through the back and not through the hip.
– Use your breath to maintain a neutral position. Exhaling while lifting and at the top of the position may allow you to keep the rib cage down.
– With the arms along the floor you can press into the ground to create some core tension. This tension helps to “turn on” the anterior core and help stabilize the pelvis.
– The goal is to have a straight line from your shoulders, up through your hip and knee as you extend the hip and lift up.

The athlete may need to start with a double leg bridge and progress to a single leg bridge depending on results from an assessment/movement screen.

The Window

It’s interesting to see the dynamics of children involved in sport. The fights, the jokes, the display of honor, the dedication and the smiles involved.
Sport! I can’t imagine a life without it. I see the benefits it brings for all kids involved. The friendships and the fun as well as the learning through movement as each child plays and performs at their own level. The amount of growth and ability they gain each year is fascinating.

The innocence and beliefs at such a young age seem to go unnoticed and ignored by so many adults. Yes, it’s frustrating at times and annoying but it’s those times of reflection that make you realize that being an adult…. can suck, because as an adult we all create the baggage of politics involved in Youth Sport. Well, maybe not all the time but we sure do lose a lot of the innocence we had as children. I look at the dynamics of boys and sport. Why boys? Because I have 2 and see those dynamics differently then what I believe things were like as a girl growing up.

I watch how boys react to disagreements. They usually lead right back to friendship. The emotional attachment is tight in a sense that friendship overpowers any dislike. One minute a friend, the next fighting over a goal scored during mini hockey but right back at friendship the very next minute! I see this in boys and it fascinates me! As an adult, why can’t we step away and look through that Window and appreciate the same qualities.
Here is the fine line with adults involved in youth sport! The window becomes cloudy and our competitive nature takes over. I believe sport is a learning tool but I also believe there is a competitive nature tied to any game. We can make ourselves feel better by saying “it’s all about the kids and winning doesn’t matter” but how do you explain that to an 8 year old when he is cheering on Team Canada to win the Gold medal or Sidney Crosby who is holding the Stanley cup high over his head! This is winning and how can you not be competitive when at such a young age they understand the outcome.
But….
What if our children learned from each other instead of their coach? What if they practiced together with no adults or did not overhear an adult conversation expressing frustration. Would they complain about the ref? Would they be upset if they lost a game? That would be an interesting window to look through!
As an adult the emotions can win over and frustration sets in but this is where I look through that window and realize that adults need to appreciate disagreements and agree to disagree. The very next minute smile and talk about the weather! Why can’t parents accept that frustration, deal with it and move on without a grudge? Politics in sport would dissolve and Sport for kids would be just that…for kids! I say we all need to be like boys!

Adults will argue. Adults will wear rose colored classes while looking at their children. Adults will be competitive and adults will always want the best for their child BUT the world of sport would be a much better place if each adult & parent would appreciate that not everyone is right. We all come with our own values and beliefs but as long as we agree to disagree our kids will enjoy their sport so much more!
Look through the window and see how your child reacts. Sometimes it isn’t so bad and we are the ones making a big deal of something so small. Let go of the baggage and have some fun!
hockey youth

Everyone burps…everyone farts…everyone takes a sh*t!

Here’s the thing. I don’t care what I look like. Hmmm, I’m sure that could be taken many ways! But, it’s a good thing. Everyone has things about themselves that they hate. Don’t lie… it’s human nature! We pick ourselves apart probably on a daily basis. Yes, I certainly have things I don’t like about myself but I also appreciate the ability of what I can do. The older I get the more I appreciate Me and the more I don’t care, but in a good way.

It makes me glad I have two boys. I won’t have to live with the teenage years or hormonal episodes of girls. The constant social hype of looking good & being skinny. The world will never change! I really don’t see a world of acceptance for all shapes and sizes. Sorry, not gonna happen! So why stress? Wouldn’t you want to go through each day being happy about yourself for who you are? Sounds totally cliche, I know but bare with me. I don’t care about myself…. in a good way!
What the hell does that even mean? It means I don’t give a crap if my hair is constantly tied back in a pony. It’s amazing to have your hair out of your face when you are training! What a free feeling. I don’t worry that I look like a sweaty mess after a workout and my hair looks like crap because I had an amazing workout! I moved my body… I defuzzed! I made steps to be healthier and happier!

I don’t give a crap if I hunt daily for the same gray hoody I got at a Strength & Conditioning conference. It almost never leaves my body because it’s comfortable & cozy as hell and keeps me warm! It makes me happy as a pig in shit!

I don’t give a crap if my jeans are now tighter around my ass then they were a few years ago. I have worked hard on creating a powerful, strong butt! I lift heavy shit, I push sleds, I squat, I deadlift… I look forward to a great strength workout because my ass will get bigger!.. yup, that’s right ladies… my ASS will get BIGGER! Bring it on!

I don’t give a crap about what people think of me. What has that done? It has allowed me to be myself. I can laugh and act like a complete idiot in front of true friends and clients because we have fun! We laugh, we aren’t afraid to be ourselves, to express opinions or beliefs because we CAN! I have created an amazing circle of friends through my work. My days consist of nothing but laughs, happiness and encouragement because we can be ourselves!

I don’t give a crap if what comes out of my mouth shocks you? Because every single time it has allowed another individual to express a thought or emotion they were scared to mention. It means what you say can’t be that bad??? So in a sense, I am making you look better because I’m fairly certain I would probably say something a bit more stupid anyways but, remember, I don’t care…. but in a good way!

I don’t give a crap if I wear no makeup and have no super model secrets hidden in my back pocket. How refreshing is it to not worry about make-up smudges. I save a shitload on cosmetics….because I don’t buy them! I have no worries about my sweat towel getting make-up caked on it. And wearing make-up is just way too much work!

I don’t give a crap! But in a good way! Why is it good? I am happy! I am happy that I don’t need to walk around daily struggling with “how does my hair look”. Or “Does my butt look fat in these jeans?”
Everyone burps, everyone farts, everyone takes a shit! That is my mentality. It’s freeing! It allows me to focus on important things in life. How can I be a better mother and wife? How can I make my clients fitness journey better? How can I learn and educate myself to a higher level? How can I keep myself healthy & happy? Once you start to not give a shit…. you appreciate everything!

Hockey Conditioning – is there an off season?

Michael Statchuk - BCHL Vernon Vipers

ImageThe Sport of Hockey is my favorite, yup, best ever!  I’ll say it again FAVORITE sport to play, watch and learn.  As far as I’m concerned it would be pretty tough to convince me otherwise!  I won’t go into details of the skill, strength, speed, power…  I’ll keep going, but as I said, I won’t go into details! 

I’ve been fortunate to work with amazing athletes as they prepare for the upcoming Hockey season and concentrate on the previous seasons physical hiccups.  As our youth become more absorbed in the sport and parents look for avenues to excel their child it’s a fine line between work and play for these kids.  Remember, the athletes I work with in the summer train because it’s their career!  They need to stay on top of their game but how do we help young kids who dream of Hockey for life and keep the parents pulled back from extreme situations that may lead to early burnout? 

It’s easy….. work with someone who KNOWS.  It should be fairly easy to say to parents “let your child have fun, let them play different sports and let them experience what it’s like to be a kid”.  This is the best way to develop your child!  But lets get serious here, you have all heard that before, I’m sure, so I might as well share what you are looking for! 

Through the years of working with athletes especially Hockey there are always the same issues in the gym we tend to focus on.  Maintaining mobility (athlete specific) is usually at the top of the list.  Now, does the athlete feel “tight” because the body is in protective mode or are they truly tight?  (That is a different article) but to keep it simple maintaining functional mobility for the athlete will help reduce injuries and allow the athlete to make some gains in the gym.  This isn’t an off-season goal, it’s in-season as well!  There are many games and practices but not much focus spent on off-ice training. Moving a joint in several ranges of motion can feed the joint and keep it healthy. This means a well balanced program with different movement patterns. Incorporating head to toe training which allows Sling systems (fascia/muscle) to do their job. Move in full range, gain strength and force production in full range. If you have actually stopped to appreciate the ability of movement ranges the human body can perform ON ICE, wearing skates at high speed you will soon appreciate why a balanced training program is so important.
Get strong and stay strong! Strength is a foundation built upon an even BETTER foundation of symmetry. Do you have pain? Are your hips “tight”? Does your shoulder hurt? Then why would you gain any possible strength if you do not address these prior limitations? If there is a problem (even if you don’t feel it) it will become an even greater problem!

If you are a parent looking for an off-ice program for your child there must be some individualized assessment/programming involved. You are setting your child up for success at a later date. Yes, there will be gains BUT as your child grows you are entering into different windows of opportunity and believe it or not, these gains will show their face down the road. This means MAKE GOOD CHOICES NOW!

Current client Jerred Smithson who plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs says it best below (Thank you Jerred)

“Over the past few years I started training with Rhonda. During this time she has really opened up my eyes and mind when it comes to properly training and preparing for my upcoming hockey season. She really helped me realize the importance of proper technique as well as not only working hard but working smart. As I get older in ‘the hockey world’ I’m starting to notice in my training more aches and pains from years of not training smart and using improper technique at an early age. She’s helped me correct a lot of those issues and I already notice a huge difference in my training and on ice performance. I honestly believe if I would have started training with Rhonda when I first started training for hockey, that I would not have had to battle through these aches and pains and my on ice performance would have been a lot more efficient and explosive. I would recommend Rhonda to anyone who is wanting to better themselves and get the most out of there training.”

The years spent playing Hockey (or any sport) take their toll on the body but it may take years to realize. Make good choices and make them now!

(Photos: Left Michael Statchuk BCHL Vernon Vipers, Michael Roberts BCHL Salmon Arm Silverbacks, Jerred Smithson NHL Toronto Maple Leafs)

 

Keeping the Shoulder Healthy!

With the hockey season now getting into full swing the Vernon Vipers are continuing their in-season training with Catt Conditioning. 4 days per week you will find the team training in the facility. For the hockey athlete it’s important to maintain the strength they have gained in the off-season while continuing to improve tissue quality, mobility and stability and help reduce the aches and pains that come with such a high intensity sport. Shoulder injuries are one of the main injuries that arise. Some being contact injuries through hits in a game and others because of the high repetitive demands of the game and life.

Hockey is an amazing sport! Who can argue with the speed, intensity, power and even grace of being able to perform on skates and ice! How can you deny that it’s the best sport in the world! (at least in my books!) It’s important to keep the athlete healthy and injury free.

The shoulder is a very interesting topic. So much dysfunction from the shoulder can come from everywhere surrounding it. The guilty parties are busy creating havoc on the shoulder, never getting any attention while the shoulder gets all the blame. For everyone who suffers with some type of shoulder dysfunction but has never been involved in a contact injury, maybe it’s time to search elsewhere!
Yes, look AWAY from the shoulder!

Our first order of business is looking at the Thoracic Spine and the neck. If there is a Neurological problem in the neck this can refer to the shoulder. Improper breathing patterns can lead to shoulder weakness and dysfunction. Lack of Thoracic spine mobility can lead to shoulder dysfunction. Do you see how so many things play a role in the health of our shoulder!

With a restriction in your breathing pattern such as reduced diaphragm breathing and dominate shoulder/chest breathing the muscles that should help you move, lift and load during sport or exercise are fatigued. You tire quickly without achieving your goals in your fitness program such as pressing or pulling patterns. Another fact is with proper breathing this increases expansion/mobility through the Tspine. In order for our Thoracic spine to move freely it needs us to breath correctly or in the end we become restricted and shoulder range is lost.
Trigger points in the upper traps, lats and other areas continue this restriction and stretching may only increase this restriction because the muscle is trying to protect itself. Massage therapy and Self Myofascial release is the best way to reduce trigger points and increase range.
Once mobility is gained and thoracic stability is then included then we can move forward to more of a loading phase but if you skip any of the important steps above you will fight through the remainder of a conditioning program without making the gains you strive for!

What steps should you take first in achieving a healthy shoulder? Start with these 3 simple steps first.
1. Look for a qualified professional who can perform an FMS (Functional movement screen) and explain your results.
2. Reduce trigger points in the upper trap, lats, and additional areas in shoulder, upper back. Trigger point work with a tool you can tolerate such as a Trigger point ball, tennis ball or a partner can use a massage stick or dowel rod.
3. Perform mobility such as rib grab, push/pull rotation patterns.

There are several additional steps but getting going on the right path is never a bad thing.

viper rolling

Sidelying push/pull for Thoracic mobility
Lay on your Right side with your legs pulled up to hip height and stacked together. You can place a rolled up towel or Yoga block between your knees. Rotate away from your legs (to your left) and reach both arms up to the ceiling. Exhale your air out as you pull your left arm down and push your right arm up. Elbows should be straight. Squeeze the knees together to incorporate added stability. This will help improve the mobility needed at the Tspine (upper back). Maintain straight arms and have the movement come from the upper back only. Repeat 3 times then change to the opposite side. If one side is worse, spend quality time on the restricted side until you find a balance between both.

viper tspine pushpull

http://www.functionalmovement.com

Remember…they are just kids!

Remember…they are just kids!
Before I had kids, it was always a goal of mine to keep them busy in several sports! I wanted them to lead a healthy, active lifestyle and have them appreciate Sport as much as I do. The benefits are endless even though many in this world would disagree, keeping a child healthy and active is one of the main reasons for physical and mental rewards on all levels and can transfer to adult years.

Prior to organized sport I never realized the dark side of what can come. The politics involved in each sport and the views and beliefs that get tested along the way. I find myself at many times saying “they are just kids” but I need to pull myself back and make myself BELIEVE this mantra more then I ever thought I would! It’s a true test of Character for many.

As adults we seem to forget the learning curve we had as kids when we learned a new sport. Or, taking up a new sport as an adult and experiencing the laughter and enjoyment of the many times you screwed up! Why is this lost on our children when a 10 year old decides to join a team years after his friends have already been playing? Remember, they are just kids! Their enjoyment is lost through the adult negativity and resentment of a child who isn’t up to par of the others. They are learning….Remember…They are just kids!

As a parent, I want my child to succeed! What parent doesn’t? I want him to be successful at school, in sports, making friends and being respectful to others. I want my child to have the confidence to score goals, kick a soccer ball and challenge their opponent without feeling like they will fail! We can be harsh on ourselves as adults but to be harsh on a child for failing while trying to learn!…Remember… they are just kids!

The Adult dream of success is driven deeper into children but to what expense? Remember…they are just kids!
A change of address in order for your child to pursue your dream! Remember… they are just kids!
A coach’s player choice in order to win! Remember…they are just kids!
A yearlong single sport instead of developing a well-rounded multi sport athlete! Is the dream of Sport really their dream? Is the fuel behind the desire coming from you or your child? I, for one, will admit my competitiveness drives me in each sport I play. I hate to let my team down if I make a mistake. Is this the same feeling a child experiences if they missed that shot? Is this the same disappointment they feel from their parents or coach if they fail? Aren’t we supposed to support and encourage our children to be healthy and happy? Is this not our #1 goal as parents?

Remember…. They are just kids!

I give you a challenge. I challenge you to look for your Childs smile while they play. I Challenge you to remember YOUR laughs while watching. I challenge you to ask if they had fun. I challenge you…to challenge yourself and find the child IN YOU!
And, to Remember… they are just kids!