Posture & Performance Part 1 by Kyle Bois

[Kyle Bois is part of the Sport Performance Mentorship at Athletic Lab. He currently taking hiatus from pursuing his doctorate in Sport Biomechanics at Auburn University to better explore the world of coaching. His avid interest is in applying this combined knowledge toward athletic performance.] “Stop slouching! Sit up straight! Shoulders back! Good posture is important.” We’ve all heard it at some point growing up, from our parents at the dinner table or teachers at school: Good posture is important.  But what does “good posture” even mean? Not slouching? Your Head up, back straight, doing your best Marine impression? And WHY is good posture so important? The only answer I received: “…Because bad posture makes you look lazy.” I’m betting most of you heard something similar. While well meaning, and probably true, this doesn’t give posture the justice it deserves. The only question it answered was: “How can I give the appearance of a hard-working, upstanding citizen?” (see what I did there?) If you didn’t care about your appearance or were really after that 90’s Cobain look, you’d be left thinking posture is for the birds. Oh, the misinformation! Turns out that posture is the backbone of human movement and movement the backbone health. So if physical prowess, a mind like a sponge, and freedom from pain sound good to you, then posture matters. If you’re a competitive athlete, it really matters. Posture can be defined as: The strategy of what muscles are doing the correct things at the correct time, to effectively cope with the forces of gravity. Or, more loosely as: The organization of the arms, legs, and torso to accomplish a task with the least effort. Posture isn’t just standing up straight [...]

By | November 21st, 2016|Training Info|0 Comments

Rowing: does proper technique matter in terms of power production and does it help to prevent injury by Erin Ritterbusch

[This is a guest blog by Erin Ritterbusch who is currently an intern at Athletic Lab. Erin is a recent graduate of Auburn University where she received her Master’s degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in biomechanics.] The first thing I learned when I joined the club rowing team at my undergrad was that technique is the most important aspect of becoming a powerful and efficient rower. Not only does it allow you to produce more power, but also helps prevent injuries that can occur with improper technique on the rowing machine. The sequence of a stroke is the basis of good technique, which helps rowers translate to the water. The biggest misconception with rowing is that power comes from your arms, but in actuality, the majority of power comes from your legs. The beginning of the stroke is called “the catch”. The catch is then is followed by “the drive” phase, “the finish” or “release”. The last phase of the stroke is “the recovery” phase. These four phases are sequential in nature rather than simultaneous because they should be treated as one fluid motion. *It should also be noted that the drive and recovery phases are normally seen as a 1:2 ratio; meaning that the time spent to “recover” on the way up the slide takes twice as long as driving the legs back during the power producing phase of the stroke. Creating this rhythm allows for the continuous flow of the stroke and gives you true recovery time. Additionally, on the water, it will reduce any forward jolting of the boat, which can set back the number of meters gained during the drive. 1: The Catch 2: The Drive [...]

By | November 1st, 2016|Training Info|1 Comment

Does Isolated Core Training Improve Sport Performance? by Jonte Brown

[This is a guest blog by Jonte Brown. Jonte is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC with a degree in Sport Management and is currently serving as an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab.] Athletes are constantly working to find new ways to train in order to better their performances at a given sport. This is achieved through different strength and conditioning programs that involve some strengthening of the core. Does core strength and stability help improve performance in athletic competition settings? Core stability relates to the bodily region bounded by the abdominal wall, the pelvis, lower back and diaphragm, spinal extensor muscle, and its ability to stabilize the body during movements. Core stability is rarely the main component of an athletic development program. Rather, a part of a larger overall fitness routine. There are mixed results when it comes to this question on core strength and athletic performance. The lower extremity studies it focused on the lower limb effects of core strengthening, because the core is closely associated with the hip joints, and the crucial role it plays in the stabilization and energy transfer from the lower limb through the the body during movements in squatting and sprinting. Some athletes showed improvements in sport specific skills such as rotational swings, ball velocity and club head velocity in golf, rotational swings tennis players, 40-yard dash sprinters and some baseball pitchers and batters, while some in other sports showed no improvements. The same has been shown for the upper extremities as well. The population of these studies included males and females competing at various levels in the sports of baseball, handball and golf. In 2007, a coach implemented a 12-week medicine ball training program [...]

By | October 21st, 2016|Training Info|0 Comments

Psychological Effects on Injured Athletes by Jonte Brown

[This is a guest blog by Jonte Brown. Jonte is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC with a degree in Sport Management and is currently serving as an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab.] Being an athlete requires commitment, determination, and most importantly, passion. Sports can dictate an athlete's life and is a part of their personal identity. When you're an athlete, no matter the level of sport, no player wants to be out of competition for any reason, especially if it's injury related. When injured, an athlete is out for a period of time and can't play. An injury is any harm or damage, an act or event that causes someone or something to no longer be fully healthy or in good condition. Injuries can be caused by a number of different factors: overtraining, impact and contact, overuse, poor preparation, poor technique, or improper equipment. As for competition, injuries are most commonly caused by poor training methods, structural abnormalities, weakness in muscles, tendons, ligaments, and unsafe environments. In the words of a coach Herm Edwards, a former professional NFL player and coach, says "There's a difference between being hurt and being injured." For contact sports such as football or basketball, toward the end of the season, into playoffs, all players are hurting due to the grind of a season and the physical nature, but they are still able to play. Although injuries from sports are physiological, many would overlook the relationship between the injury and the psychological issues related to injuries. Athletes may experience a variety of emotional responses and stress upon being injured depending on the severity, it's important that trainers, coaches, and teammates provide a solid social support system. All [...]

By | October 20th, 2016|Training Info|0 Comments

When to Stop! The Cost of Playing Through Injuries by Jonte Brown

[This is a guest blog by Jonte Brown. Jonte is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC with a degree in Sport Management and is currently serving as an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab.] At some point in an athlete's career, no matter their level, they're going to get hurt. Most injuries require a medical release to return to competition. For an athlete who plays through an injury, he or she is at the risk of effecting their long-term health. Athletes are looked at as role models and heroes for sacrificing their bodies for the glory to win. Why do athletes take the risk and play injured? Maybe to show toughness? Coaches command it. Maybe for fans or the organization, or they just are not willing to miss out. Playing through pain is something that's been experienced by athletes since sports began. Playing with aches and pains are the norm in athletics, especially in contact sports in which players or prospects are sometimes graded on "toughness." Athletes train to control and master their bodies. A injury may seem like a form of betrayal to them because their body isn't cooperating with the physical demands. In reality, the body is telling the mind it needs a break. An individual's mentality has to be very strong to know when to shut it down and get fully recovered when injured to avoid potentially more severe injuries. The sayings, "there is no "I" in team," "get back out there," "suck it up," or "tough it out" are phrases players might hear when they don't feel 100%. The body isn't built to sustain high stress and impact movements for such prolonged periods. That's why the term "father time" [...]

By | October 18th, 2016|Training Info|0 Comments

The Benefits of Blood Testing for Performance

Many believe blood testing is something reserved for when you have a medial problem. The reality is that this is simply not the case and new services and technological advances have made blood testing easily accessible to practical anyone.  Now, athletes, coaches and fitness enthusiasts can use blood testing to ensure they have what they need for optimal performance. Blood testing can even be used to address small imbalances or even predict potentially larger problems before it's too late. Among the benefits, the information from a blood test can help to make changes that will improve metabolism and cognition, optimize mood, build muscle, and reduce inflammation. Blood tests are practically non-invasive and very easy. They require just a small amount of blood but can provide a significant amount of detailed information including what lifestyle changes you need to make with sleep, training and nutrition to optimize your performance. Everyone's blood is different. And within your unique blood are what is known as biomarkers. Biomarkers are indications of your body's status and provide insight on functions and biological changes. Examining biomarkers through blood analysis gives you a 'look under the hood' at your health and fitness and can be an important advantage for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Blood samples in test-tubes A good test will provide you with not just numbers on the biomarkers but meaningful insight in to where you stand against normative population data. This should be based on things like age, gender, activity level. The biomarkers or blood panel you choose to examine should also be selected carefully. The most useful blood tests for healthy individuals involve looking at biomarkers for nutrition status hormones and inflammation. Nutritional tests typically look at vitamin and mineral levels and [...]

By | August 26th, 2016|Nutrition Info, Training Info|0 Comments

Barbells and Booze: A Cocktail of Impossibility? by Beau Hains

[This is a guest blog from Beau Hains. Beau is pursuing his Masters of Science in Sports Performance at Louisiana Tech University.  He recently completed his time as a Sport Performance Coach Intern at Athletic Lab with CSCS, USAW-L1, and ACSM CPT certifications] As a personal trainer, I have often experienced individuals who want to reach a certain goal, whether it be performance or physique oriented.  When assessing their basic nutritional habits, I always include asking about their drinking habits.  I do this not for moral purposes, but because excessive consumption can be a hindrance to their training and goals.  Besides the obvious increase in calories, I intend to shed light on how the consumption of alcohol can effect physical activity. Physical Activity and Alcohol Use: Is there a relationship? First, let’s look at the relationship between physical activity (PA) and alcohol use.  After looking at the research, there does seems to be a relationship between how physically active an individual is and how much alcohol they consume, the results may surprise you.  Young adults who participate in moderate-vigorous PA were positively associated with alcohol use (Lisha, Martens, & Leventhal, 2011).  The relationship between PA and alcohol use were the strongest in in adults age 20-25 (college aged), but there was still a moderate relationship in adults from the ages of 26-50.  These results are likely due to social-environmental context which can vary by age.  For example, participating in a recreational sports league may encourage increases in alcohol consumption while exercising. Another factor, that may influence the relationship between PA and alcohol use, is impulsivity.  Impulsivity can be defined as “multifactorial construct that involves a tendency to act on a whim, displaying behavior characterized by little [...]

By | August 15th, 2016|Nutrition Info, Training Info|0 Comments

Ring Training by Brandon Hooks

[This is a guest blog from Brandon Hooks. Brandon is a senior at Ferrum College pursuing his degree in Health and Human Performance. Brandon is participating in the coaching mentorship program at Athletic Lab.] The 2016 Summer Olympics will bring about a renewed interest in Gymnastics. The US Women's gymnastics team is expected to excel and is comprised of some of the fittest athletes in the world. Elite gymnasts are superior athletes and thus sparked my interest in the benefits of gymnastic ring exercises. However, rings exercise is not just for gymnasts. These rings are increasing in popularity in gyms as people search for the best total body workouts. Are gymnastic rings the new innovative way to building strength? Gymnastics rings are a functional training tool that builds upper body. In the article, “Effects of suspension training and growth hormone axis”. (1) Researchers conclude from data collected that indicated a suspension training workout using the recommended 30 sec: 60 sec work:rest ratio is sufficient to stimulate the GH axis in recreationally active young adult males. Practical Applications:  evidence supports the use of suspension training as a stimulus for anabolic hormone release, suggesting this is a viable alternative to traditional resistance training for stimulating the anabolic hormones that support recovery and muscle growth. In the article, “Anabolic Hormonal Responses to an Acute Bout of Suspension Training” written by T.P Scheett (2) indicates workouts using 30 sec work and rest intervals, 45 or 60 sec work and 30 or 45 sec rest intervals may likely result in more robust hormonal responses. The data from this study supports the use of suspension training exercise as a viable alternative mode of exercise to traditional resistance training. Suspension training exercise stimulated [...]

By | August 12th, 2016|Training Info|1 Comment

A Balanced Look at CrossFit by Brandon Hooks

[This is a guest blog from Brandon Hooks. Brandon is a senior at Ferrum College pursuing his degree in Health and Human Performance. Brandon is participating in the coaching mentorship program at Athletic Lab.] CrossFit is based on functional movements at high intensity such as running, jumping, squatting, pushing and pulling.  Changing movements during the workout at a high level is a key component to CrossFit. The Workout of the Day (WOD) is the set of routines that are going to be performed for the day and is designed to incorporate a broad range of exercises with a specific number of repetitions per exercise. For example: 100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 100 squats could comprise the WOD. CrossFit is high intensity training.  High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) implements alternating short anaerobic bursts of exercise followed by recovery periods. This interval is critical for increased fitness. Research has shown that HIIT provides improved athletic capacity and condition and improvement in fat burning. The question that many ask or wonder is that, is CrossFit really good for you? There have been concerns and arguments that CrossFit isn’t good for you because of the risk of injuries that are involved with doing certain CrossFit movements such as the kettlebell swing. In CrossFit competitions, the kettlebell swings are done to an overhead extension instead of to shoulder or eye level. Doing a kettlebell swing this way increases the risk of injury. I believe the Russian kettlebell swing is better for someone who is not used to doing those movements or in non-competitive CrossFit. I have seen the benefits and the good results from knowing a person that used CrossFit. This guy was a former Division I basketball player, [...]

By | August 9th, 2016|Training Info|0 Comments

Is Sitting the New Smoking? by Laurel Zimmermann

[This is a guest blog by Laurel Zimmermann. Laurel is an Exercise Science major with minors in both Business and Biology at The College at Brockport. She is currently an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab. ] I have always considered smoking to be one of the most damaging things you can do to your body. Why you would partake in an activity that will most likely result in illness and possibly death is beyond me. Every time I turn on the TV, I see a new commercial advertising an anti-smoking gum or the CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers portraying individuals with throat cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and many more. The youth are being taught that smoking isn’t cool anymore; it’s dangerous and flat out stupid. What about living a sedentary lifestyle? Do you see commercials advertising the health risks that come from sitting at a desk all day? The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines a sedentary lifestyle as “Not participating in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on at least three days/week for at least three months” (American College of Sports Medicine, 2013). Some examples of sedentary behaviors are sitting, watching TV, driving or lying down. How much time in the past week have you spent participating in these activities? Research suggests, “sedentary behavior has a direct influence on metabolism, bone mineral content, and vascular health” (Tremblay, et al., 2010). One study decided to test participants using an activity monitor. They found that “children and adults in the United States spent 54.9 percent of their waking time, or 7.7 hours/day, in sedentary behaviors” (Matthews, et al., 2008). With increased technology, this problem is only getting worse. Think about it. Kids [...]

By | August 2nd, 2016|Training Info|0 Comments