Foam rolling is an extremely popular form of self-massage, with a huge number of athletes from almost all sports using it in one way or another as a part of their preparation for either training or competition.
Here at Central Performance, we get a great number of new clients asking about foam rolling, and whether it will be helpful to them not only as a part of their training, but in their everyday injury maintenance. We encourage our clients to utilise the foam rollers in their gym or homes every day, as they are a great way to not only help prepare for exercise, but also recover from it!
Foam rolling is a fantastic tool to use as a part of rehabilitation because they enable you to release tight areas of the body on a daily basis, leading to improved movement and performance. These tissues can be tight due to injury from regular training, or even sustained postures throughout everyday activities e.g. desk-based workers often experience tight hip flexors from having their hips in a constantly flexed position at their desk all day.
Foam rolling is also extremely useful when recovering from exercise. Evidence shows that Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is significantly reduced when performed immediately following exercise, and then both 24 and 48 hours on muscle groups that were the main focus of the exercise session. Enhanced recovery leads to a greater level of ability and performance, hence why elite athletes everywhere are using it!
1. Quads: rolling is very helpful for reducing tightness is your thigh. Runners find this especially useful, and it can help prevent or manage patellofemoral (kneecap or runners knee pain) and quads strains. To do it, lie on your front with a foam roller under one leg and slowly roll up and down the length of your quad.
2. Calf: excellent for runners with tight calves, place a foam roller under one calf and lift off the floor with your hands, rolling up and down the length of your calf.
3. Lateral (outer) thigh: great for reducing soreness on the outside of the hips or knees, lie on your side with a foam roller under the outside of your leg and roll up and down the length of your thigh.
So if you are feeling a bit tight and sore with running, training at the gym, netball or whatever, give these a try and let us know if you need any help!
For more tips on training, mobility, strength and rehab make sure to follow us on Instagram (@centralperformance, #centralperformance), Facebook (@centralphysioandperformancefitness), or Twitter (@centralphysio). And keep an eye out over the coming weeks for more great recovery tips!
In our post on compression garments and recovery, we brought up the potential role of the placebo effect which sparked some questions and commentary.
Adding a little more to the placebo/recovery discussion, in a new study from Wilson, et al. 2019 compared the effects of cold water immersion (CWI), whole body cryotherapy (WBC) or a placebo (PL) intervention on recovery markers after a resistance training session.
Although a single training session does not reflect the everyday workload demands placed upon competitive athletes, there was substantial enough effect on the recovery markers used following the single training session to directly compare the three interventions.
What did they do?
24 males with a minimum training age of 12 months were matched into CWI (10mins at 10 degrees Celcius), WBC ( 3 and 4 mins at – 85 degrees Celcius) or PL group and performed a high volume lower body resistance training session at 80% of predicted 1RM.
Recovery markers were assessed before and after at 24, 48, and up to 72 hours post-exercise including ”Perceptions of soreness and training stress, markers of muscle function, inflammation and efflux of intracellular proteins.”
The single training session did cause the expected perceptual soreness and muscle function disturbance with WBC managing to attenuate soreness at 24hrs and positively influencing peak force at 48 hrs post, greater than in CWI pr PL group. This has been a consistent finding in the literature to date: Stanley et al. 2012; Leeder et al. 2011; Versey et al. 2013; andRoberts et al. 2014.
It should be noted however that the WBC temperatures used in the study (- 85 degrees Celcius) were higher than those typically suggested (-110 to 140 degrees Celcius) possibly influencing results.
Aside from this small difference, it appears that ”many of the remaining outcomes were trivial, unclear or favoured the PL condition.”
Readers should be aware that we are still not aware of the chronic effects of cold water therapies and that some research has suggested it can negatively interfere with vascular and muscular adaptations from resistance and endurance training while CWI has shown some small benefits for recovery from endurance protocols.
Danny James is the Head of Personal Training and Strength and Conditioning services at Central Physio and Performance Fitness, located in Surry Hills in the Sydney CBD area. email@example.com
Following our introduction to recovery, we’re going to continue the series looking at some of the research around many popular recovery methods and offer some practical
First up on the list is sleep – one of the most important influences on recovery, one of the simplest to address and yet is often the most overlooked of all performance variables.
Sleep is a needed resource for psychological and physiological wellbeing, during which time many of the bodies more potent repair and recovery processes are kicked into overdrive. It is generally accepted that the primary purpose of sleep is restoration – To recover from previous wake-period operations and/or prepare for functioning in the subsequent wakefulness period.
An individual’s recent sleep history (consisting of both duration and quality) can have a dramatic influence on daytime functioning. Research has firmly established that sleeping less than 6 hours per night for four or more consecutive nights can:
1. Impair cognitive performance and mood
2. Heighten risk of illness and injury
3. Disturb metabolic health, appetite regulation and immune function
There are many reasons why sleep habits may be negatively affected, some of which include:
Stress, nervousness, thinking, worrying, planning.
Unsuitable diet/nutrient deficiency
Poor sleep habits and environment (eg noise, lighting, temperature, late television watching, late caffeine use, late activity).
In addition to the above, Erlacher et al. 2011 asked 632 german athletes from various sports about their sleep habits leading up to important events or competitions, with the results showing that:
Factors identified as reasons for poor sleep included:
The value of quality sleep is clear and it is easy to see how it can be impacted by many of the above variables which we all face from time to time. What isn’t so easy though, is how best to mitigate these factors to ensure that you get a good night sleep and subsequently prevent the associated performance decline from sleep loss.
Suggestions for improving sleep:
1. Develop a ‘POWER-OFF POLICY’ before bed
Switch off tv, computers, tablets, and smartphones 1-2 hours before sleep time. These will disturb the production of hormones that prepare you for sleep.
2. Develop a ‘Wind down’ routine before bed
Slow down and de-stress as much as possible before bed and try to establish consistent sleep and wake times. A shower before bedtime has been shown to improve sleep onset latency. Research has also shown that almost half of all insomnia cases are linked to stress or emotional upset. Avenues to reduce stress are highly individual and situation dependent, so finding ways to reduce stress are paramount to improving sleep, and long-term health and wellness. Some proven strategies include:
Habits and Environment
3. A quiet sleep space is a key
If noise can’t be avoided try using headphones with instrumental music at a low volume, or keep a fan on for an acutely distracting ‘white noise.’
4. Temperature, darkness, and clothing
Approximately 18 degrees Celsius is a cool room temperature that has been shown to help comfortable sleep occurrence. Thick bedding and clothing must also be avoided if it causes overheating. A dark environment with limited lighting can also help the body recognise that it’s night time and time to begin the process of preparing for sleep.
5. Coffee and heavy meals
Avoid caffeine, big meals and heavy amounts of liquid before bed.
6. Take Naps Where You Can & Need To
Naps can be beneficial to catch up on lost sleep, however, avoid them later into the afternoon if it might impact your regular sleep time. Blanchfield et al. 2018 recently showed that a short afternoon nap improves endurance performance in runners that obtain less than 7 hrs of nighttime sleep. Napping might be an important strategy to optimise endurance exercise in other athletic and occupational scenarios when sleep is compromised (eg long-haul, intensified training etc).
”Every training element has a point of diminishing returns. Our job (the coach’s job) is to find it shift emphasis and cycle back at the optimal point in time.” ~ Derek Hansen
Injuries are a common occurrence in sport, but no one wants to be sidelined for too long. We know that following your physio’s rehab program will help you recover, but nutrition is also an important part of your treatment plan. A good diet is essential for performance and recovery from physical activity, but when we get injured its easy to forget all the normal diet habits while focusing on recovering.
Food plays an important role outside of just fuelling your body. You may not know that food plays a significant role in inflammation, which is a key aspect of healing following an injury, so what you eat will impact your recovery. Food can also assist with rebuilding muscle, bone and repairing damaged tissue. So if you are currently injured or find yourself with constant niggles and aches, read below to learn more about the link between diet and your recovery.
When you are injured, your body produces inflammation. Pain, swelling, redness and heat draws healing chemicals to the injured area. The damaged tissue is removed, and a new blood supply and temporary tissue is built. Next remodelling occurs, where stronger, more permanent tissue replaces the temporary tissue. Inflammation is important in triggering the repair process during injury, but too much inflammation can delay healing and cause additional damage.
Strategies to help produce the right amount of inflammation can be extremely useful and this is where nutrition plays a big role. Choose anti-inflammatory fats such as;
At the same time, avoid a high intake of pro-inflammatory food such as;
Once the body begins the proliferation and remodelling stages of healing (building of new tissue), a balanced diet is necessary. Ensure you eat adequate;
It is common to reduce intake following an acute injury due to reduced activity levels and appetite, but energy expenditure may actually increase by 15-50% depending on the type and severity of injury. Reducing your intake could impact tissue healing and muscle wastage in the early stages of your injury, so guidance from a qualified sports dietitian can help you maximise your rehabilitation program by ensuring you are eating adequate protein, fat, carbohydrates and micronutrients.
It might sound like a cliché but a 2017 Scandinavian study found that a healthy diet with a variety of fruit, vegetables and fish reduced the odds of new injuries in adolescent athletes. Fruits and vegetables come in a range of colours which all have their own unique make-up of micronutrients essential for health and enhancing recovery between training sessions. Even if injuries sometimes seem out of your control, getting into the habit of eating a variety of fruit and vegetables in adequate amounts is not only beneficial for your general health, but could also play a role in reducing your risk of injury.
Tendons and ligaments in the body are made of collagen cross linkages. Several studies have looked at the link between gelatin ingestion and injury prevention. Supplementation with gelatin has been shown to improve connective tissue structure and function, potentially improve joint health, and reduce pain associated with strenuous activity. Ingesting gelatin with vitamin C increases the effectiveness as they work together to increase collagen synthesis and improve collagen crosslinking, e.g. in tendon tissue.
The most current recommendations are: ingest a gelatin supplement (such as 15g of Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate) with at least 50mg of vitamin C one-hour before training to assist injury prevention. If injured, collagen can be consumed daily to aid recovery by increasing collagen and tissue strength.
These are general guidelines only, so more specific individualised advice, speak to Kelsey our Sports Dietitian.
Bone health is critical for everyone; we’re taught from a young age to include dairy products in the diet for their calcium content, but vitamin D is the other main nutrient that we need to build strong, healthy bones.
Runners particularly are at a high risk of bone stress injuries, as well as those in indoor sports (because they are away from sunlight/vitamin D opportunity), non-weight bearing sports such as swimming, or physique-sensitive sports such as diving, gymnastics and body building. Studies have found runners with higher vitamin D intake recover quicker from injury, and those with higher bone density have decreased frequency of bone stress injuries.
Vitamin D can be obtained mostly from safe exposure to the sun, and in smaller amounts from some margarines or milks fortified with vitamin D. You can also ingest it from mushrooms that have had sun exposure. Using a vitamin D supplement depends on your body’s levels of vitamin D, so this should be discussed with your doctor or sports dietitian before commencing.
Research in soccer matches found that injury risk increases towards the end of each half of the game. This is when players are fatigued, decision making and fine motor skills are impaired and running biomechanics are modified. The findings are transferrable to other sports – if you are fatigued towards the end of your game or race, you are more likely to injure yourself. Fuelling and hydrating adequately are the best measures to prevent injury by delaying onset of fatigue. Appropriate fuel and hydration plans that help you to maintain exercise intensity for longer and reduce fatigue need to be very personalised because they depend heavily on you, your body and the activity or sport that you are participating in.
Injuries are all too common in sport, exercise and even normal activities. Whether its rugby, running, swimming, gymnastics or even just DIY and gardening, injuries are a regular occurrence. Given the powerful effect of nutrition on our general health, its no surprise it also plays an important role in your recovery from injury. So if you have an injury, past or ongoing history of injuries, or even someone you know is constantly injured, make sure you book an appointment with our sports dietitian. Kelsey can provide you with a personalised injury management nutrition plan to assist your rehabilitation program and get you back into your sport, exercise and regular activity faster. Contact reception on 9280 2322 or head to our online bookings page to book in your first session with Kelsey. For more info you can also see our Dietitian’s page.
In Part 2 of this blog post series, we covered the hormone changes that occur in the first phase of the menstrual cycle, the follicular phase. This week we will go into the second phase of the cycle, the luteal phase.
The luteal phase occurs from day 14-28, assuming a 28-day cycle. We know this phase all too well as this is when PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) symptoms occur! Be aware of food cravings, especially if your symptoms sideline you from your usual workouts.
This phase is the high hormone phase with progesterone at its peak. Progesterone increases the body’s core temperature, lessening tolerance to heat during workouts and increasing sweat which causes the body to lose more sodium. Because of this you need to really make sure you stay on top of your hydration when working out in the hotter months of the year in the second phase of your cycle!
During the luteal phase, the body uses carbohydrate less effectively for energy, instead utilising fat. If you are trying to reach high exercise intensities or need to perform at your best during this time, extra carbohydrates around training sessions may be necessary for you to be able to exercise at your best. Protein breakdown also increases, so its really important to make sure you are recovering adequately with protein sources after a workout.
Examples of high protein snacks to enjoy post-workout includes plain yoghurt with nuts, a fruit smoothie made with milk, yoghurt and fruit, or some boiled eggs.
Try having red meat or salmon for dinner post-workout to aid your recovery and help you get in your essential nutrients during this time of the month.
If you are looking for an effective periodised nutrition plan to suit your cycle and training demands, our sports dietitian Kelsey Hutton can give you everything you need. Your initial assessment with highlight your goals, current nutrition levels & areas to focus on. Your personalised plan gives you a practical & effective way to fuel your body with everything it needs for peak performance.
In part 1 of this blog post series, I talked about the concept of the female athlete triad. Menstrual dysfunction, low energy availability and low bone mass can affect active women without the right nutrition and exercise plan individualised to their needs. Now in part 2 & 3 of this blog post series, I will discuss hormonal changes across the menstrual cycle that can have an effect on exercise and nutrition.
Every females cycle will differ, but assuming a 28-day cycle, there are 2 phases – the follicular phase (day 1 -14) and the luteal phase (day 15 – 28). Day 1 of the cycle is when menstrual bleeding begins.
During the follicular phase (day 1-14), the hormones progesterone and estrogen are at their lowest, with estrogen slowly rising until ovulation occurs on day 14. Testosterone levels are also raised slightly, so muscle building is optimised. Energy levels are at their highest in this phase, and your body is able to effectively use carbohydrates as an energy source in this phase, so you can reach higher exercise intensities during training. As estrogen peaks towards the end of the follicular phase, changes in collagen structure means tendon and ligament tears are more likely to occur, so its important to ensure you are particularly careful with your exercise warm ups and technique.
Increases in strength and energy during the follicular phase means you can take advantage of your body being able to use carbohydrates more effectively as a fuel source and to aid muscle growth and recovery. Think about including carbohydrate foods as a pre-workout meal and including high fibre carbohydrate sources with your meals. Some examples include a banana smoothie before your workout, and brown rice with stir fried chicken and vegetables for dinner. Sleep is also a key consideration during this phase, make sure you are getting enough sleep after your big training sessions to aid recovery!
Stay tuned for Part 3 of this blog series which will go into the hormone changes across the second phase of the cycle and the impacts this can have on exercise performance.
If you are interested in a periodised nutrition plan to suit your cycle and training demands, our sports dietitian can provide individualised guidance. Contact reception on 9280 2322 or head to our online bookings page to book in a chat with Kelsey.
In our Good Reads compilation for September:
10 Olympic Athletes’ Habits You Should Steal (That Don’t Involve the Gym)
Some helpful habit tips from some of the world’s top performers in sport.
Nutrition for Injury Recovery (Infographic)
By John Berardi, Ph.D.
Training Pregnant Clients – Avoid These Exercises
Sophie Drysdale returns to continue the discussion on safe training while pregnant.
As always, if there are any topics you would like to know more about please feel free to contact us.