Fitness & Wellness

CBD guide to Fitness

CBD guide to Fitness

By Kevin Masson MSc, CSCS, CPT, USAW, FMS

Unless you’ve been living under a rock someplace, the chances are you’ll have heard of CBD. But what exactly is CBD and what is all the fuss about? Everywhere on Instagram, influencers are promoting it? Is this just another new trend or is there real science behind it? In this post, I hope to give you the answers to these questions and more, so here it is, my guide to CBD and Fitness.

Increasingly athletes are seeing the correlation between improved fitness and athletic performance when combining their training by using CBD products. Yes, CBD is a product from the cannabis plant, but gone are the stereotypical images of lazy stoners, with their minds lost in a haze of pungent marijuana smoke. For although CBD does come from the marijuana plant, it does not have the psychotropic effects associated with it.

Medical cannabis has been hitting the headlines as a potential cancer cure for some time, but its effectiveness as a performance enhancer that can be used to improve fitness and recovery times is less well known about and studies coming out are looking very promising.

The fitness community is showing a lot of interest in CBD products, due to its apparent ability to sustain energy levels and aid recovery. The compound is anti-inflammatory and can help relieve pain. It also helps to reduce cortisol build up and can help you to work harder and longer during your fitness regimen.

What is CBD

CBD is a plant extract that has very similar medical benefits to THC found in cannabis, but without the brain-altering high. There are over 80 cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant. The most abundant of these compounds are THC Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol and CBD Cannabidiol.

How does it Work?

The THC is the cannabinoid that produces the well-known high associated with the use of marijuana, but CBD does not incite this effect, providing any high at all. This is because while THC is a psychoactive compound, CBD has no psychoactive properties and can actually reduce the psychotropic effects of THC, notably the negative ones.

Within the human body, there is a system designed to interact with cannabinoid compounds. This system is called the “Endocannabinoid System” (ECS). There are cannabinoid receptors throughout the body not only help it function optimally but also to balance emotional and mental wellbeing. When we consume most cannabinoids, they attach themselves to the cannabinoid receptors. This happens with THC, but ongoing research is showing that this is not the case with CBD. The body actually produces its own cannabinoids, and this is why it has receptors for it. Instead of attaching itself to the receptors like THC does, CBD seems to stimulate and increase the amount of cannabinoid compounds the body produces for itself.

The two types of receptor are called CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptors exist throughout our entire body, but the highest numbers are found in the brain. The CB1 receptors in the brain are responsible for:

  • Movement
  • Coordination
  • Emotions
  • Mood
  • Thought
  • Memory
  • Appetite
  • Pain

CB2 receptors appear in the immune system and seem to mostly affect pain and inflammation.

Medical Benefits

CBD has several therapeutic effects on your body and mind. It can activate your serotonin receptor 5-HT1A, which in turn reduces anxiety, it can help cure addiction, improve sleep, balance appetite, regulate body temperature, reduce nausea and vomiting, and it can also reduce pain and inflammation by binding itself to the TRPV1 receptors.

CBD has also been seen to reduce bone re-absorption. This is where the body robs the bones of calcium and other minerals when they are needed in the bloodstream. This mineral leaching can lead to osteoarthritis. CBD prevents this leaching by blocking the G protein receptor, GPR55, which is also signaled in the spread of cancer cells in the body.

Receptors called Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors (PPARs) are also activated by CBD. These receptors have been seen to have an anti-cancer effect in studies and show promise in helping with Alzheimer’s.

Other ailments that are believed to be helped by CBD include:

  • Crones Disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Acne

More research is ongoing, and further studies are still needed to discover the full benefits provided by CBD.

Where is CBD Derived From?

There are two sources of CBD; Hemp, which is the agriculturally cultivated plant used to make biofuels, biodegradable plastics, textiles, paper, building materials, and animal feed. Hemp has been cultivated as a crop for many centuries. It grows to between 15 and 20 feet in height. It has a course woody stalk and contains almost zero THC (generally less than 0.3%), for this reason, Hemp does not produce the high of its sibling Marijuana.

Marijuana is the other source of CBD; it differs from Hemp in several ways. Despite both plants coming from the same source Cannabis Sativa L. Marijuana has been cultivated to increase its THC content. The flowers and leaves of marijuana are used to make medicines, for recreational use to achieve a high and for spiritual purposes in some cultures. The plant typically grows to around 5 feet in height and spreads out low to the ground. The marijuana plant can contain between 10 to 30% THC the psychotropic compound that is not present in CBD.

Legality

The legality of CBD, despite it having no psychotropic effects, is still in debate. There are contradictory rulings that make it difficult for the law to enforce the control of CBD l usage. In December 2016 the DEA changed the federal register to say that cannabinoids derived from any plant of the genus cannabis were a schedule 1 controlled substance. However, the Farm Bill of 2014 states that products derived from legal hemp farming do not carry any such controls and this would include CBD oil derived from Hemp. As you can see the law is contradictory and this makes enforcement difficult.

The psychotropic form of marijuana is itself legal for recreational and medicinal use in some US states, while CBD is legal in many states with certain criteria attached to it. It remains that for the most part, CBD derived from Hemp is generally recognized as being legal, while that derived from marijuana is only legal in the states where marijuana use is legal either medicinally or recreationally.

You can currently freely use CBD that is from either Hemp or Marijuana in the following states, for both recreational and medicinal purposes, without a prescription:

Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

CBD that is from either hemp or marijuana can be used for medicinal purposes (with a prescription from a certified medical practitioner) in the states mentioned above plus the following:

Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia.

CBD that is made from hemp only can be used for medicinal purposes (with a prescription from a qualified medical practitioner) in the above states and the following:

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The states where CBD remains illegal include:

Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota.

As the political landscape continues to change and the benefits of CBD are more clearly recognized and backed by scientific evidence, it is hoped that its complete legalization will occur across the entire United States within the next 5 to 10 years.

Please consider that rules and regulations regarding the legalities of CBD are changing all the time, so please check carefully to ensure you are within the law before taking CBD in the state where you reside.

Types of CBD Oil

There exist two different types of CBD oil. Full spectrum CBD oil is oil that contains all the other cannabinoids, including any trace amounts of THC from the plant from which it was derived. The other type is called Isolate CBD, where the CBD has been isolated from the other cannabinoids present in the plant from which it was taken. Due to the loss of other valuable cannabinoids in the isolate form, it is not considered to be as potent or effective as the full spectrum CBD oil.

How is CBD Oil Made?

CBD oil is made by extracting it from the cannabis plant in which it is contained. There are principally two methods of extraction, either alcohol extraction which is a process where the plant is soaked in a solvent (usually grain alcohol), filtered to remove the plant remnants and then the alcohol is evaporated off to leave the pure CBD oil behind.

The other method is C02 (Carbon Dioxide) extraction, where the C02 gas is forced through the plant using a series of chambers to collect the different cannabinoids. The pressure and temperature are carefully adjusted to separate out each.

How to Use CBD

There are a large variety of CBD products available, almost all are mixed with other ingredients. The quantity of CBD contained in each product also varies very significantly and it is important to research the amount you require when choosing the best type for your needs.

Some CBD products provide better bioavailability than others. This is also important as the more bio-available the CBD is, the more your body can absorb and use it. Here are a few of the different products that contain CBD and their general bioavailability.

Tinctures

CBD contained in a tincture is usually taken by using a dropper to put a specified number of drops under your tongue. This is then absorbed into the body sublingually. This process has good bioavailability for the body.

Concentrates

These concentrates often come in an edible wax form. The wax is rubbed into the cheeks inside the mouth. Concentrates have good bioavailability.

Vape Oils

If you enjoy vaping or inhalation methods, then the vape oils can provide you with a convenient way of taking the CBD. They have good bioavailability but beware of what else is contained in the mix.

Topical Products

Creams, salves, lotions, anything that you rub into your body or lips. These products usually have a medium level of bioavailability and take a bit longer to get absorbed into the bloodstream. Again, it is as well to be aware of what else is in the mix and try to avoid any harsh chemicals or petroleum products.

Capsules

Some people choose to take capsules as a daily supplement, unfortunately, although this is usually a cheap way of buying CBD, it is also one of the least effective, as it is then subjected to the digestive tract and is not well absorbed, meaning it has low bio-availability in this form.

Oral Spray

Although some of the CBD in an oral spray will be absorbed in the tissues of the mouth, most are swallowed, which similarly to capsules, means it will be digested and therefore has low bioavailability.

 

Choosing Which CBD Product to Buy

As you may know already about me, I refuse to be sponsored, not because of ego or anything like that but because as a scientist It would be unethical and I will be biased towards certain products. Every product I recommend are most likely researched based, tried personally by me or I own them and they have a BioFit Performance label on them.

The quality and purity of CBD is completely unregulated. It is therefore difficult to know exactly what you are buying. Be aware that there are unscrupulous people around who will happily sell you fake CBD that has zero health benefits and may, in fact, be harmful. Only use companies that are willing to share all their technical data about their product with you freely, so you can see they care about what they are selling. Look for the products potency, residual solvents or pesticides and any mycotoxins. Consult the experts about who they recommend and read the customer reviews. If an offer seems too good to be true, then it more than likely is. Good quality CBD is not cheap! You can read about the top manufacturers here at bestcbdoils.org

Fitness and CBD

Increasingly people are using CBD to help them with their fitness routine. The World Anti-Doping Agency lifted the ban on CBD not containing THC in 2017 and it is now acceptable for use by all athletes, including professionals.

Pre-Workout CBD

As a pre-workout supplement, CBD can help to:

  • Reduce pain sensitivity
  • Boost energy levels
  • Act as an anti-catabolic

It reduces pain sensitivity due to its analgesic effects; this allows you to train harder during your workout as the muscles produce fewer pain signals. It also works to relieve anxiety and depression, which improves motivation and positivity. Its anti-catabolic properties prevent the catabolic hormones from breaking down muscle tissue; catabolic hormones include cortisol which is attributed to post-workout muscle and joint pain. The net result of a reduced post-workout cortisol load is that lean muscle mass is gained faster and more easily. For best results, it is important to avoid caffeine in all forms, as this will increase cortisol levels.

Post-Workout CBD

The advantages of using CBD post-workout include:

  • Reduction in muscle soreness
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Appetite stimulation
  • General body and mind relaxant

Because CBD helps ease muscle pain and relaxes you, it aids better sleep. Your muscles recover during sleep, which means getting enough good quality sleep is important to aid recovery and build muscle.

Consuming enough protein is necessary to build muscle. Sometimes this can be difficult, but CBD can stimulate appetite and help you eat more post-workout.

Although CBD has been around for a while now and has, in the field, shown itself to be safe and effective, there is still a lack of quality research. Unsurprisingly, most of the research that has been done is on CBD’s medical benefits against serious disease such as cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and so on.

Studies

I have attached various studies on both THC and CBD for my geeky friends to read, some of these include:

CBD and Chronic Inflammation

Cancer

Addictive Behaviors – Smoking,Opioid Addiction

Epilepsy

Schizophrenia

Anxiety Disorders

Type 1 Diabetes

Acne

Alzheimer’s Disease

As I stated previously in this article, a great deal more research is required if the full abilities of both CBD and THC are to be discovered. Unfortunately, because both are a natural product, they hold no real interest for big pharma, where all the money for significant scientific research is funneled. Sadly, it is therefore down to independents who can see the potential in cannabinoids to fund this research, meaning it will be done on a far smaller scale and at a much slower pace.

Conclusion

As we have seen, the effectiveness of using CBD as an aid to improve workout levels, produce quicker muscle development, and shorten recovery times, shows a lot of promise. But, due to the lack of research, it is still not backed up with much scientific evidence.

Because CBD has no psychotropic effects, it is hoped that it will be legalized for general use in many more states across the US. Because the World Anti-Doping Agency now allows the use of non-psychotropic cannabinoids, it would seem reasonable to assume that common sense would also prevail to allow their use by anyone.

Due to there being no regulation on quality or method of manufacture, it is important to buy CBD products from a credible source. Check the products credentials carefully before you buy and try to get recommendations from other people.

I hope you have found this article interesting and informative.

As always, BioFit, Live, Life, Fit.

References

https://www.cureyourowncancer.org/how-cannabis-oil-works.html

https://healthable.org/science-cbd-oil-infographic/

https://medium.com/cbd-origin/is-cbd-legal-legal-status-of-cbd-2018-d1b4a0ed42df


The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Side Of Stretching

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Side Of Stretching

By Kevin Masson MSc, CSCS, CPT, USAW, FMS

 

Stretching should be a part of every person’s fitness routine. Even though most people who are into fitness know that stretching can be very beneficial, some simply don’t do it. In order to get the most benefits from stretching, it’s important to do it properly. Improper stretching at the wrong time can cause more harm than good. With that in mind, some questions about stretching arise. When should you be stretching and why? What is the difference between dynamic and static stretching?

Benefits of stretching

In order to improve the range of motion around your joints, you need to stretch your muscles. If you are constantly working out but are not working on improving the range of motion around your joints, your performance will suffer. In addition to optimizing your performance during your workouts, stretching will also improve your daily life. The better you are able to move your body, the easier your life will be. There is a quote used by the famous Gray Cook founder of the Functional Movement Screen, “Move well, then move often.” What he means by that is, we first need to have the mobility necessary to function in our daily activities, then we need to move, do it habitually in order to not be sedentary. First comes the quality of the movement then, the quantity.

Additionally, regular stretching also improves circulation. In order for your muscles to work efficiently, they need a healthy blood supply. As we all know, blood delivers nutrients to many parts of your body. Many of those nutrients are essential for keeping your body functioning properly as well as recovering from workouts. If your muscles are too tight and your circulation is hindered, your recovery time will increase. Therefore, in order to reduce the time it takes for you to recover from your challenging workouts, you need to stretch.

Improved posture is another benefit of stretching. If you sit a lot, you will most likely hold tension in your chest, hip flexors, neck, and shoulders. Furthermore, even if you work out often, you will experience muscle tightness if you don’t stretch enough. For example, if you are a typical gym bro, continually doing bench press, your chest will become very tight if you don’t stretch. Over time, your shoulders will become rounded because your chest will be too tight. Unnatural postural deviations, such as rounded shoulders, can cause aches and pains as well as general discomfort. Bad posture also increases your risk for injuries, especially if it is not corrected in time. Add that to a sedentary lifestyle such as working in a seated position all day, and you got yourself a recipe for disaster and future problems.

Stretching will play a part in helping you correct your posture. For example, if you stretch your hip flexors, your pelvis is less likely to be tilted forward. Similarly, if you stretch your chest muscles along with a good strength training program, you will be less likely to have rounded shoulders and it can alleviate a lot of pain occurring from bad posture.

Stretching also helps to reduce stress. Many people often hold tension in their neck and shoulders when they are stressed. Regular stretching will help relax those tense muscles. An example of that is based on yoga, by holding some poses, mixed with breathing techniques can be very relaxing, it can even become a sort of meditation, and most people swear by it.

Now that we know the benefits of stretching, we can discuss the two well-known forms of stretching that you can do. Stretching can either be static or dynamic.

Static Stretching

In general, static stretching is the most known type of stretching. Static stretching is most likely what you learned in PE at school, when a stretch is held for 10 to 40 seconds, depending on the flexibility and goals of the person who is doing the stretch. When it comes to static stretching, the goal is to hold the stretch in a challenging position without hurting yourself. Therefore, you should feel like your muscles are being stretched, but you should not feel pain. If you feel pain, then that means you are going too far at this time. Many fitness professionals consider static stretching to be an excellent way to improve flexibility. Furthermore, static stretching is considered safe. One example of a static stretch is the doorway chest stretch prescribed a lot by physical therapists to patients suffering from tight pectoral muscles.

Be very careful when you use static stretching. Static stretching SHOULD NOT be performed before an activity. If you do static stretching before engaging in physical activities, you are more likely to negatively impact your performance or put yourself at risk for injury. Research also shows that static stretching may inhibit the CNS (central nervous system), potentially making us weaker or less able to perform with power. Therefore, the best time for static stretching is after your workout, or even better in a session by itself. Your muscles have to be warmed up prior to static stretching. Stretching cold muscles is counterproductive and will do more harm than good.

Static stretching can also be done passively where a coach or partner will stretch the individual to their maximum range of motion and hold the stretch there for 30 seconds. This can be done a few times to stretch the muscle, but an even better way to increase range of motion is to use a method called PNF stretching.  It stands for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. PNF stretching usually employs the use of a partner to provide resistance against the isometric contraction and then later to passively take the joint through its increased range of motion. Research shows that PNF is the golden standard if an increased range of motion is the goal.

Dynamic Stretching

Contrary to static stretching, dynamic stretching is when you repeatedly move through the joint’s full range of motion. Dynamic stretching should be challenging, controlled and smooth. Many fitness professionals and coaches believe that dynamic stretching is more beneficial than static stretching. This is also backed up by research that shows dynamic stretching done during warm-up is advantageous to the athlete.

Another benefit to dynamic stretches is that they are very similar to the movements that are actually performed during an activity. Therefore, dynamic stretches make sense to be part of a warm-up routine.  Many professional athletes use dynamic stretches in their warm-ups. For example, performing some bodyweight lunges will target the glutes and leg muscles, creating blood flow and muscle activation for the activity that will come next. Coaches love to mix in some mobility in their dynamic stretching warm-up routine, and one way to do it is by incorporating some animal flow.

If you have never heard or done animal flow before I highly recommend you try it. I personally like it as a warm-up, but this could easily be done as an all-body mobility workout.

Please note that there is a big difference between dynamic stretching and ballistic stretching. Although they both involve movements, ballistic stretching involves rapid, often uncontrolled movements, forcing your muscles and joints to move beyond their range of motion. Ballistic stretching should not be mistaken for dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is definitely far safer. Furthermore, it allows for a more gradual approach to improving your range of motion, as opposed to ballistic stretching, which can shock your muscles.

To summarize, stretching should be part of everyone’s fitness regimen. There are many benefits to stretching, including: stress reduction, improvement in performance, increase in flexibility, improvement in circulation as well as injury prevention. Every routine should include a combination of static and dynamic stretches. Static stretches require you to hold a position for a set amount of time. Dynamic stretches, on the other hand, require you to move through the full range of motion. It is imperative to only do static stretches after your muscles have already been warmed up. Therefore, static stretches should not be done before engaging in physical activity. Dynamic stretches, on the other hand, are safe to do before your activity as part of your warm-up routine. Regular stretching, when done correctly and at the appropriate times, can make a vastly positive impact on your performance and health.

Take away points

  • Stretching is great to decrease potential injury by increasing muscle range of motion.
  • Stretching promotes warm-up and recovery by increasing blood flow to the muscles
  • It decreases pain and improves posture especially for desk jockey and sedentary people suffering from bad posture.
  • Static stretching should be done only when the muscle is already warmed-up, after training or on a session of itself.
  • PNF Stretching is the best stretch you can do to increase range of motion.
  • Dynamic stretching is a stretch done by actively taking the joint through its full range of motion.
  • Dynamic stretching should be part of your warm-up routine.
  • Ballistic stretching is NOT dynamic stretching and should not be confused.

 

 

References

Behm, D.G. 2011. A review of the acute effects of static and dynamic stretching on performance. Sports. Eur J appl Physiol/ 111 (11): 2633-51

Andersson B. 2000. Stretching: 20thanniversary. Bolinas, CA: Shelter

https://www.nsca.com/education/articles/nsca-coach/influence-of-static-stretching/

 


Is Plastic Compromising Your Health?

Is Plastic Compromising Your Health?

By Kevin Masson MSc, CSCS, CPT, USAW, FMS

When you walk into any supermarket or convenience store these days, you are confronted by shelf upon shelf of food and drinks in plastic containers. What you may not be aware of is the potential damage that can be caused to your body.

So what is plastic doing to your body? Why the fuss about drinking from plastic bottles and if they were that harmful, wouldn’t the FDA have something to say about it? The fact is that BPA-Free and FDA approved logo are used by manufactures for marketing purposes to act like their products are safe to use, but the confusion remains, is it really? Here is what we will cover in this article:

  • BPA and BPS (BPA-free) have a lot more similarity then what the FDA makes you think.
  • 81% of Americans have detectable levels of BPS in their urine.
  • Did you know that the chemicals released from BPA might stop you from getting pregnant? Or that it may be responsible for premature birth?
  • You may be inadvertently increasing your risk of cancer by refilling plastic bottles.
  • Bottled water may contribute toward heart disease and other chronic diseases.
  • We all know about the effect of plastic on the environment. Isn’t it time we took part in cleaning up the mess by refusing plastic?
  • So what to do about it? What are the other options?

That’s what I am here to report because unless you know the facts, it’s unlikely that an article on plastic bottles and containers is actually going to persuade you that you should change your ways.

I wrote this article not to scare you, but it is time to face up to the fact that the average person is totally unaware of what he or she is doing to their body by participating in something they consider healthy.

We are all encouraged to drink water and lots of it, so if you don’t get it in a plastic bottle, where’s the best place to get water you can trust? Meal prepping is a ritual of mine and a lot of other health-conscious consumers but eating in plastic containers may be counter-productive to what we are trying to achieve by prepping our meals.

One of the most common materials used in our everyday lives is plastic, and that sort of commonality should be examined for potential benefits or potential dangers. There is a chemical found in almost all plastics called Bisphenol A or BPA which has been linked to numerous health problems, and yes it can leach into your water and food.

You see water is commonly known as a universal solvent, which means that it dissolves and attracts other molecules. When water is in a plastic bottle, and you add heat to the equation, some of the plastic molecules will get mixed with the water molecules. We all heard this before “Don’t drink from the water bottle you left in the car.” I know you drank that water before; you remember how bad that taste was? Literally like drinking plastic, yep that’s because you literally did drink plastic.

 

What Is BPA and Why is it bad?

BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. BPA is so popular because it enhances the strength of plastic and helps prevent CDs from becoming easily shattered or the metal of a can corrode into the food. Pretty much it’s used to make products stronger. The chemical is added to many products from hygiene and beauty, to baby products and formula, to Tupperware and to-go cup, even the lining of canned goods. Surely something so common amongst our homes and markets must be safe, right?

Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor which imitates a human body’s hormones and will disrupt the productions and functions of natural hormones, including eliminating them altogether.  According to research from the University of Oxford, it behaves in the body in a similar way as estrogen does, messing up with puberty, ovulation, infertility, erectile dysfunction and sexual drive.

Since BPA primarily imitates estrogen, it should come as no surprise that it has been linked to breast and prostate cancer as well as hindering chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.  In the various literature produced around BPA ingestion, it has been linked to a myriad of heart conditions like hypertension, angina, and heart disease. Also, there has been evidence that BPA contributes to insulin resistance and thereby making type 2 diabetes more difficult to treat.

We know that there is an obesity problem at the moment and it is partially due to people not being educated on health and wellness, but BPA has been linked to being overweight as well. Several studies published report that those, including children, who were at risk for obesity or were obese, had BPA levels ranging from 47-85% more than their normal-weight counterparts. It should be noted that while BPA has been linked to harming fetal development, it has only been linked to child weight gain in the womb via animal testing rather than people. So, it may not cause a predisposition for obesity in children.

Among the risk of maintaining a healthy weight, hormone function, and heart disease, BPA has been found to cause a 29% increase in abnormal liver function, 91% increase in premature delivery and asthma in infants. Remember that these links have been researched since the 1980s and that is why so many companies now offer BPA free products. These are links and not causation, but ask yourself, if these links between illness and Bisphenol A have been continuously demonstrated for over nearly forty years, should we still trust plastic?

What is BPA free

BPA-free is the name given to the other chemicals that are replacing BPA, the most popular of them is referred as BPS or Bisphenol-S.  BPS was a favored replacement because it was thought to be more resistant to leaching. If people consumed less of the chemical, the idea went, it would not cause any or only minimal harm.

Yet BPS is getting out. Nearly 81 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPS in their urine. And once it enters the body, it can affect cells in ways that parallel BPA. A 2013 study by Cheryl Watson at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that even picomolar concentrations (less than one part per trillion) of BPS can disrupt a cell’s normal functioning, which could potentially lead to metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity, asthma, birth defects or even cancer. BPS also mimics the form and function of estrogen, therein can bind to receptors and disrupt growth, cell repair, energy levels, reproduction, even the development of a fetus.

Another research by Deborah Kurrasch, from the University of Calgary, turned to zebrafish to study the effects of BPS on embryo development. Zebrafish brain development is similar to human but easier to track as it is in an invisible layer. When the fish were dosed with BPS in similar concentrations to that found in a nearby river, neuronal growth exploded, rising 170 percent for fish exposed to BPA and a whopping 240 percent for those exposed to BPS. As the fish aged, they began zipping around their tank much faster and more erratically than the unexposed fish. The researchers concluded that increased neural growth likely lead to hyperactivity. This is very common in children with ADD or ADHD.

In another study, Hong-Sheng Wang, an associate professor at the University of Cincinnati, found that both BPA and BPS cause heart arrhythmia in rats. He tested almost 50 rats, giving them the chemicals in doses akin to concentrations found in humans. Even at such low concentrations, the rats’ hearts began to race, but curiously only those of the females. They discovered that BPS blocked an estrogen receptor found only in female rats, which lead to the disruption of calcium channels, a common cause of heart arrhythmia in humans.

These in vivo studies agree with in vitro studies claiming that BPS is a hazard. But the problem doesn’t stop with removing bisphenol S from the market as was done for bisphenol A. The problem, according to Kurrasch, lies in the lack of industry regulation. Currently, no federal agency tests the toxicity of new materials before they are allowed on the market. “We’re paying a premium for a ‘safer’ product that isn’t even safer,” Kurrasch says. There are many types of bisphenols out there, so part of the public’s responsibility “is making sure that big corporations don’t just go from BPA to BPS to BPF or whatever the next one is.”

Why is it FDA Approved then?

In 2012, the FDA (U.S Food and Drug Administration) banned BPA from certain products such as baby food and baby food packaging, but BPA-Free products generally referred to as BPS is perfectly associated with the FDA approved logo, why is that?

Well, you see the FDA approval logo means that the FDA has decided the benefits of the approved item outweigh the potential risks for the item’s planned use. In other words, if you are to choose between “bad” and “worst,” you would choose the lesser of two evils. This does not mean that they are safe, it means that option 2 (BPA-Free) is better than option 1 (BPA) although both have shown to be detrimental to our health.

 

Impact on our environment

So what are plastic bottles doing to the environment? If they are that harmful for drinking from, what good are they? The fact is that even recyclable plastic bottles that are provided for the provision of water are not being recycled responsibly. Most people who buy them merely put them into their waste in the US and in a study by Augsburg University, the troubling aspect seemed to be the lack of education when it comes to recycling those products that are made to be recycled.

How much energy does it use to produce and transport bottled water? Well, you may be surprised to know that it takes 2000 times the amount of energy that could be put into ensuring that the water from your tap is safe thus imposing more energy use on the world than is necessary. The report by the Augsburg University concludes that the more we rely upon bottled water, the more the impact on the earth we live in. The amount of petroleum needed to be drilled in order to produce even PET plastic is unacceptable.

While we are still in the environmental aspect of this article, I have to talk about the vast amount of plastic found in our oceans. You can literally make a new continent made out of plastic found in the ocean, there is that much. This article is not about saving the environment but to make you reflect on something that you already know and increase your knowledge to become mindful consumers. I am sure you have all seen images of animals dying from plastic, turtles with plastic straws in their nose or birds full of plastic in their stomach and the list goes on.

You may have heard that big corporations such as Starbucks are now stopping their use of plastic straws, which is a good start but we need to do better than that. We only have one earth, and if we carry on the way we do, we are leaving quite a mess for our children generations.

Alternatives to plastic

With all the dangers linked to BPA products, how can you avoid them? The easiest way is to read the product information and see what it contains. As mentioned earlier, many companies have decided to produce BPA-free products and use BPS (Bisphenol S) or BPF (Bisphenol F). These chemicals are nearly identical to BPA and have been found to behave just like it. These chemicals are still being researched in order to find out if they are as dangerous as Bisphenol A. It isn’t too much of a stretch to worry about these chemicals since we do know, for a fact, that BPF and BPS are almost identical to BPA. If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it probably is a duck.

If so many products contain BPA, how do you avoid them? Well, BPA is present in the environment as well and so entirely avoiding it is impossible, but there are ways to minimize your exposure to it. You can avoid foods packaged in plastic or cans. You’ll want to look out for recycling numbers 1, 3,6,7, or the letters PC as they will clue you that they are polycarbonate and the use of BPA. You’ll also want to start drinking from glass bottles or stainless steel rather than plastic ones, and yes they make glass baby bottles.

 

With children’s toys, you’ll want to be very sure that they are BPA-free as so many toys are chewed or sucked on with kids. Heat also helps BPA leach into foods, so be sure not to throw a plastic container in a microwave. In general, avoid plastic containers to store your food. Many bodybuilders and gym goers food prep in plastic food containers, this is the worst thing you can do, instead, use glass food containers.

Having a filter on your water at home and having it tested regularly is a good idea and I would suggest that you decide upon the filter that you need based on lab results on your own water supply. Installing a reverse osmosis filtration system in your home is one of the best ways to make sure that the water you are drinking is free from toxic substances. Use this table provided to help you to decide which filter will give you the purest form of water within your own home. Continue to drink water, but become less dependent upon water in plastic bottles. Even if you find the glass bottles to be a little more expensive, they are a healthier alternative. If you do invest in an at home filtration system reusing and filling your own glass or stainless steel bottles at home before you leave can be a cost saving alternative in the long run and you have piece of mind that the water you are drinking is of no detriment to your health.

If you are lucky to live next to natural spring water well then use it! It’s free! Use this website https://www.findaspring.com to find out if you have one near you.

These are just a few ways to reduce the levels of BPA in your body and improve your overall health. Many of the studies focused on the levels of BPA in a person as its presence in the body is unavoidable.

 

Conclusion

Like I stated above, this article is not meant to scare you or create a phobia about plastic, but simply to create awareness and educate on what you’re putting in your body, and try to control your health as much as possible. Some things are just unavoidable and so don’t panic if you drink from a BPA bottle every so often, you can only minimize risk but never eliminate it. So, when out and about shopping take some time to read what you’re buying, make sure the water bottles are made of glass. Don’t buy plastic food containers, instead prep in glass containers, IKEA sells them for $2.99. Get yourself a good tap water home filtration system that will get rid of a lot of the crap that is in tap water and if you are on the go, use stainless steel or glass bottles.

Take control of your body and decide, as much as possible, what you want in there.

Take Away Points

  • BPA is a chemical used to strengthen plastic and helps preserve can food.
  • BPA primarily imitates estrogen in the body and is linked to breast and prostate cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetic, premature birth, erectile dysfunction, low sex drive and other hormonal imbalances.
  • BPA-Free is also known commonly as BPS and has many (too many) molecular similarities with BPA.
  • The FDA approves BPA-Free because it is safer than BPA, even though both products have peer review research that shows detrimental health factors.
  • Plastic is not only detrimental to our health but to our environment, and people are unaware of how to recycle it properly.
  • You know it is BPA plastic or recycled BPA when there is a number 1, 3, 6 or 7 or the letters PC under the container or bottle you are using.
  • We cannot get rid of plastic, it’s all around us, but we can lower the amount we ingest.
  • Drink from Glass or stainless steel bottles
  • Prep food in glass containers, plastic containers mixed with heat from microwave I call that an estrogen party

 

 

References

Jenny L. Carwile et al, “Polycarbonate Bottle Use and Urinary Bisphenol A Concentrations,” Environmental Health Perspectives 117:1368-1372, 12 May 2009.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Factsheet Bisphenol A (BPA)”, accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/BisphenolA_FactSheet.html, on 24 July 2012.

American Plastics Council, Questions and Answers about BPA, downloaded from www.bisphenol A.org on 14 April 2004; Wilding et al, The National Workgroup for Safe Markets, No Silver Lining: An Investigation into Bisphenol A in Canned Foods, May 2010. Available at ej4all.contaminatedwithoutconsent/downloads/NoSilverLining-Report.pdf.

Barrett, J. R. (2009, February). Trumped treatment? BPA blocks effects of breast cancer chemotherapy drugs. Environmental Health Perspectives 1172, A75. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2649250/

Bisphenol A (BPA). (2010, August). Retrieved from https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/assets/docs_a_e/bisphenol_a_bpa_508.pdf

Carwile, J. L., Luu, H. T., Bassett, L. S., Driscoll, D. A., Yuan, C., Chang, J. Y., …Michels, K. B. (2009, May). Polycarbonate bottle use and urinary bisphenol A concentrations. Environmental Health Perspectives 1179, 1368-1372. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2737011/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2016, December 23). Bisphenol A (BPA) [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/bisphenola_factsheet.html

Diabetes and the environment. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.diabetesandenvironment.org/home/contam/bpa

Gao, H., Yang, B.-J., Li, N., Feng, L.-M., Shi, X.-Y., Zhao, W.-H., & Liu, S.-J. (2015, January 9). Bisphenol A and hormone-associated cancers: Current progress and perspectives. Medicine (Baltimore) 941, e211. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4602822/

Gao, X., & Wang, H.-S. (2014, August 15). Impact of bisphenol A on the cardiovascular system — epidemiological and experimental evidence and molecular mechanisms. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 118, 8399-8413. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4143868/

Huo, X., Chen, D., He, Y., Zhu, W., Zhou, W., & Zhang, J. (2015, September). Bisphenol-A and female infertility: A possible role of gene-environment interactions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 129, 11101-11116. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586663/

Li, D., Zhou, Z., Qing, D., He, Y., Wu, T., Miao, M., …Yuan, W. (2009). Occupational exposure to bisphenol-A (BPA) and the risk of self-reported male sexual dysfunction. Human Reproduction 00, 1-9. Retrieved from https://www.oxfordjournals.org/news/dep381.pdf

Machtinger, R., Combelles, C. M. H., Missmer, S. A., Correia, K. F., Williams, P., Hauser, R., & Rocowsy, C. (2013, October 5). Bisphenol-A and human oocyte maturation in vitro. Human Reproduction 2810, 2735-2745. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23904465

Toxicological and health aspects of bisphenol A. (2010, November). Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/44624/1/97892141564274_eng.pdf?ua=1

Wolstenholme, J. T., Rissman, E. F., Connelly, J. J. (2011, March). The role of bisphenol A in shaping the brain, epigenome, and behaviour. Hormones and Behavior 593, 296-305. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3725332/

Xie, M. Y.,. Ni, H., Zhao, D. S., Wen, L. Y.1, Li, K.S.1, Yang, H. H., … Su, H. (2016 October). Exposure to bisphenol A and the development of asthma: A systematic review of cohort studies. Reproductive Toxicology 65, 224-229. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27542534

 


Can Caffeine Improve Athletic Performance?

Can Caffeine Improve Athletic Performance?

Can Caffeine Improve Athletic Performance?

By Kevin Masson MSc, CSCS, CPT, USAW, FMS

The number one stimulant in the world isn’t a steroid or cocaine—it’s caffeine. Looking collectively at the western world, research suggests that an incredible four out of five people consume caffeine in some form every day. Many turn to it to boost their daily production, so it is not surprising that it is believed caffeine can enhance sports performance. In fact, caffeine has even been banned in the Olympics and the NCAA in the past because of the edge it is believed to give sports players. Therefore, we should dive intothe science behind how caffeine works to enhance sports performance, the advantages that it gives competitors,and what athletes should know before they decide if caffeine is a good way to boost their performance.

Scientists do agree on one thing—caffeine is an ergogenic aid or a substance that can provide heightened speed and stamina after consumption. Most athletes are using this substance to their advantage, it is estimated that as many as 75% of elite athletes around the world turn to caffeine to give them a competitive edge. There are even reports of athletes truly committed to giving their performance that extra energy to stay at the top of the pack—Chris Hoy, a six-time gold medalist, and Scottish cyclist, is said to have brought along his own coffee grinder and machine to every sporting event he competed in—even the 2012 London Games (Kuzma, 2014).

How to Take it

Caffeine is mainly taken as a drink served hot or cold in today’smainstream coffee shops such as Starbucks and other brands. Caffeine can be supplemented through popular beverages, like Coffee, Tea and Energy Drinks, but it can also be taken in the form of a pill. Many of caffeine’s effects includesfat burning, strength benefits, and euphoria, are subject to tolerance, and may not occur in people used to consumingcaffeine, no matter how large the dose is. The average amount ofcaffeine in a cup of coffee is around 100mg which is considered to be mild. Caffeine dosages should be tailored to individuals. If you are new to caffeine supplements, start with a 100mg dose. Typically, 200mg of caffeine is used for fat-burning supplementation, while acute strength increases occur at higher doses, 500mg and above. Overall researchers tend to use a dosage range of 4-6mg/kg bodyweight

Restrictions on Caffeine in Sports

Though attitudes have changed on caffeine and its use by athletes, not everyone has always approved of its use. One of the first times caffeine was brought into the spotlight in sports was in 1984, when caffeine was banned from the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games. The ban would last for two decades. It did not bar athletes from consuming caffeine completely, but they could be disqualified from competitions if their urine had more than 12 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter. The problem was that the testing for caffeine was not precise, especially considering people may have anywhere from 1-3% of the caffeine that they consume pass through the body and into the urine. Even a person who did pass 3% of the caffeine into their urine could still consume a fair amount of caffeine. For example, a 140-pound athlete could consume 576mg of caffeine and not pass the legal limit—that’s as much as four lattes from Starbucks (Kuzma, 2014).

According to the most recent research, however, the edge that athletes experience after consuming caffeine isn’t nearly as intense as it was once thought—the margin is just 3-6% improvement. While this small amount can make a huge difference, especially among elite athletes, it is the same advantage that a runner gains after eating carbohydrates during a long race. Athletes also do not need to consume nearly as much caffeine as experts thought. Rather than slamming back several lattes or popping a handful of caffeine pills, a single cup of coffee can be beneficial to athletic performance. This means that even though some athletes turn to a little caffeine to give them a competitive edge, it is usually only a small part of a much larger regimen to ensure they are performing their best (Kuzma, 2014).

How Caffeine Effects Sports Performance

Caffeine has numerous applications in sports use. One of the ways that it works in sports is the same as it works for the average Joe enjoying their coffee as they go about their daily tasks. It delays feelings of fatigue in the body. The mind and body get tired when the body sends out the neurotransmitter adenosine, which is a sleep-related neurotransmitter. There are receptors assigned to detecting adenosine and, when they do, it creates the feeling of fatigue. Caffeine works by blocking thesereceptors that detect adenosine, and therefore stopingyou from feeling tired (Kuzma, 2014).

Pre-workout caffeine supplementation can also reduce poor training performance due to sleep deprivation reported researchers in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. Although sleep deprivation led to large decreases in total workout load in this study, sleep-deprived subjects who took caffeine performed as well as those who were rested. Yet non-sleep-deprived individuals who received caffeine performed better than all other groups.

In addition to testing the use of caffeine and how it affects mental focus and fighting off fatigueduring sports, it has been tested in the areas of endurance, strength and short-term performance. Most scientists agree that there is only a minimal impact, if any, on short-term exercise. Though athleteslike sprinters might ingest caffeine prior to their race, it has less effect than consuming carbohydrates. However, it is very beneficial in long-term performance and endurance. One study gave one group of cyclists a moderate dose of caffeine, with two other groups (a placebo and a control group). The cyclists performed for an hour and the result was that those who had ingested the caffeine had 4-5% better performance than those who did not. The same study found that caffeine without water (in the form of powder or a caffeine pill) was more effective than caffeine from a cup of coffee. It has also been found that there is not a significant difference in performance when considering caffeine amounts—a lower dose has the same effect as a moderate dose (Evolution Nutrition, 2016).

One of the reasons that it is believed caffeine improves endurance is because of the way that it mobilizes fat in the body. In the average person, the body burns glycogen to create energy. Glycogen is a fuel source, that isstored in the liver and muscles of thebody and isthe second fastest energy source for us to use. The problem is, once glycogen stores are depleted, the athlete starts to feel fatigued and may not perform as well as they did at the beginning of the athletic event (Kattouf, 2015).

This is the reason that marathon runners may consume carbohydrates while they are training. The additional carbs can be burned as fuel during the race. This means they do not have to worry about feeling exhausted or “hitting the wall” before they finish, because the body is more adequately prepared with fuel for the race.

When athletes consume coffee it mobilizes fat stores in the body, or in other words, your body burns fat for fuel, which delays the depletion of glycogen stores, allowing you to go a little longer and push a little further through that workout or athletic event.In other words, caffeine can helpthe athlete perform more repetition during times of muscle endurance, push themselves harder for longer periods, and improve their overall performance (Kattouf, 2015).

Regarding the performance of strength athletes, the information from studies has been mixed. The general conclusion shows that there may be an increase in performance for muscular endurance but that the effect on power and strength come from the release of noradrenaline, adrenaline, and dopamine, giving the user a feeling of energy, wakefulness, and well-being. (Evolution Nutrition, 2016).

For this reason, pre-workout supplements do a very good job in stimulating these hormones to give you the effect of being “wired” with a sharp focus on the task ahead.

 

Why Caffeine is Banned/Limited in Some Sports

Even though numerous studies have been conducted on how exactly caffeine affects performance, the jury is still out on if it truly gives sucha competitive edge, and if at allshould itbe banned in sports. This is reflected in the numerous times that caffeine has been added to and removed from various ‘banned drug’ lists for sporting events. As new evidence and research shifts opinion on the use of caffeine as a sports stimulant, so do the attitudes about how ‘fair’ it is for use during sporting events. It was once banned for use by Olympic athletes, with limits being placed on the amount of caffeine they were allowed to have in their system during an Olympic sporting event. In 2004, however, these restrictions were lifted (Kuzma, 2014).

Even though the ban in the Olympics was lifted, there are still some sports where it is not allowed. For example, the NCAA (National College Athletes Association) added caffeine to their banned drug list for the 2018 sports year (NCAA, 2017). Many of those who support caffeine being kept on a banned list believe that it can hurt players in the long run. The NCAA, for example, cites their decision because health risksassociated with high doses of caffeine, especially for long-term use. This includes things like anxiety, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues and even irregular heartbeat whichhas the potential of causing death (Kuzma, 2014). One could argue, however, that asingle cup of coffee discovered to enhance performance cannot cause these severe side effects of long-term use.

Additionally, it must be brought to attention that athletes may not even be consuming caffeine intentionally. Caffeine comes in more forms than energy drinks, coffee, and caffeine pills. It can also be found in chocolate, tea, and soft drinks, just to name a few. Food labelsdonot have to listcaffeineeven though those food items may very well contain caffeine some sources include guarana berries, yaupon holly, guayusa, and yerba mate (Coffee & Health, 2014). This explains why there have been limits placed on caffeine consumption for sports, rather than banning it altogether. It was to distinguish between those that consume caffeine to gain an advantage over their competitors and those who consumed caffeine as part of a daily habit (Human Kinetics, 2017).

If you didn’t know already,I was an NCAA DivisionI strength coach and I cannot countthe amount oftimes we had meetings about pre-workout supplements with our athletes, trulycrazy. We actually had one of our athletes suspended after testing positive for stimulants found in one of theirpre-workouts. I cannot stress this enough to student-athletes, even if it is sold in a local GNC, do not take it if it has a banned substance on it!

Common Opinions on Caffeine Use by Elite Athletes

One study, after the ban was lifted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), was conducted byadministering a questionnaire to 140 triathletes. These athletes were dispersed among 15 different countries and included many elite competitors, including competitors from the 2005 Ironman Triathlon. By investigating the results of the questionnaire, it becomes clear that athletes have a ‘pro-caffeine’ attitude. An astonishing 84% reported that they ingested caffeine to boost their focus during the competition, while 73% reported believing caffeine could enhance their stamina. Surprisingly, coffee was not the most popular way of ingesting caffeine—24% experienced positive results using caffeinated gels, while 65% reported positive feelings after drinking cola before a sports competition (Human Kinetics, 2017).

While it was clear that the athletes from the sample had positive feelings and experiences after ingesting caffeine, there was a lot of confusion regarding the legality of the substance. What they did know about caffeine and performance either came from experimenting on their own results, journal articles or magazines,or fellow athletes. Additionally, although 89% of these athletes planned on using caffeine for future performances, 25% were unsure of how ‘legal’ it was to do so. Interestingly enough, the athletes who admitted to consuming the most caffeine were aware of its status—they ingested an average of 415 mg of caffeine, compared to those who dosed around 222mg of caffeine (Human & Kinetics, 2017).

Even though it is no longer illegal, just restricted in some sports arenas, caffeine still remains a supplement of interest. Athletes submit to testing before each competition to monitor for aids that might be improving performance. Caffeine remains among those tested, more as a way to detect trends in usage than to discourage use however (Evolution Nutrition, 2016).

Legality is not the only ‘gray’ area regarding caffeine consumption. It turns out, there are many misconceptions regarding its use for athletic performance. One regards caffeine’s status as a diuretic or a dehydrating factor. The truth is that when caffeine is consumed as coffee or any other caffeinated beverage, especially by people who drink it regularly, it does count as fluids in the body. Even the United States military has conducted studies on this—wondering just how much caffeine troops need to stay awake and primed for battle while keeping good levels of hydration in dry desert areas. While extremely high doses can be detrimental to overall levels of hydration through the day, the amount that athletes can legally (and effectively) use for training does not even come close to this amount (Clark, 2005).

Practical Advice for Athletes Using Caffeine for Performance

Instead of focusing on restricting caffeine, when there are much more dangerous substances that have worse long-term risks, it may be better to advise athletes on the best way to consume caffeine for sports endurance. Some guidelines that athletes should follow include (Kuzma, 2014):

  • Never try it for the first time during competition – If athletes do choose to consume caffeine during a competition, they should use it during practice to see how it affects them. This is especially true in high-stake performance when athletes should be sure they are competing at their best.
  • Timing is everything – The effects of caffeine are usually felt 45 minutes to an hour after ingestion. This is how long it takes to pass through the digestive tract and be absorbed into the bloodstream. This means athletes should drink caffeine about an hour before they perform. Instead of doubling up on coffee for later events (drinking a cup in the morning and then a cup before the performance), some experts recommend that athletes skip the morning dose and consume their caffeine closer to the time of their athletic performance.
  • Remember that caffeine is not a miracle supplement – Caffeine might give you a competitive edge, but it is only a small fraction of the things athletes must do to give their performance a boost. It is not a substitute for proper hydration and nutrition, as well as, being familiar with the equipment and regular training.

Something else to consider regarding caffeine’s effectiveness is the amount that athletes already consume daily. The stimulant effect of caffeine does not work as well for people who are used to its effects. Athletes may want to abstain from caffeine for this reason, aside from part of their training regimen or when they are preparing just before their athletic event (Clark, 2005). Finally, even though many experts recommend consuming caffeine just an hour before a performance, athletes should remember that the effects come in anywhere from three to six hours later. Some professionals even recommend consuming caffeine 2-3 hours before a performance, so that it has a chance to mobilize the fats and make it ready to be burned for energy. This is because the first 15 minutes of the activity is when the body needs to preserve its glycogen stores the most (Karrouf, 2015).

 

Conclusion

Even though caffeine has been analyzed and studied for effectiveness in sports performance for decades, there is still much research to be done. One of the best things an athletes who isinterested in caffeine for performance can do is train with the use of caffeine to see how it affects them. Try it out an hour before exercising, as well as three hours before an intense workout regimen. Additionally, athletes should keep in mind that there is a maximum amount of caffeine that can boost performance, and more is not always the better choice. In fact, to prevent jitteriness, edginess, and potential irregular heartbeat, athletes should stick to the amount that works best for them individually to increase their performance. Additionally, it is important to stay current on the information regarding caffeine in performance and if it has been banned in certain competitions. Always adhere to the guidelines provided by sports organizations to prevent disqualification.

 

References

Burke, L.M. Caffeine and sports performance. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2008, 33(6): 1319-1334, https://doi.org/10.1139/H08-130.

Clark, N. (2005, August 12). The facts about caffeine and athletic performance. Retrieved May 26, 2018, from https://www.active.com/articles/the-facts-about-caffeine-and-athletic-performance.

Coffee & Health. (2014, December 23). Sources of caffeine. Retrieved May 26, 2018, from https://www.coffeeandhealth.org/topic-overview/sources-of-caffeine/.

Evolution Nutrition. (2016, May 06). How Caffeine Affects Athletic Performance. Retrieved May 26, 2018, from https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/5407/how-caffeine-affects-athletic-performance.

Human Kinetics. (2017, September 10). Caffeine for Sports Performance. Retrieved May 26, 2018, from https://www.humankinetics.com/articles/articles/how-caffeine-impacts-sports-performance.

Kuzma, C. (2014, January 29). Are Olympic Athletes Legally Doping? Retrieved May 26, 2018, from https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19537652/caffeine-and-olympics/.

Kattouf, R. (2017, March 01). The Benefits of Caffeine for Endurance Athletes. Retrieved May 26, 2018, from https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/the-benefits-of-caffeine-for-endurance-athletes/.

NCAA. (2017, July 11). 2017-18 NCAA Banned Drugs List. Retrieved May 26, 2018 from https://www.ncaa.org/2017-18-ncaa-banned-drugs-list.

 

 


The Benefits Of Red Light Therapy

The Benefits Of Red Light Therapy

By Kevin Masson MSc, CSCS, CPT, USAW, FMS

Red light therapy is an every-day term for the science of photobiomodulation. In other words, it is a therapy that uses red light wavelength to treat pain, inflammation, wounds, arthritis and improve mental and physical performance.

What if I told you, one of the best recovery tool you can use is actually light itself.

Imagine then the power of a red light penetrating your skin and the effects it might produce.  NASA first discovered how effective Red Light Therapy could be when they commissioned QDI to assess its use in stimulating plant growth in space.  It started as a way to limit bone and muscle loss in astronauts.  There followed a clinical trial on bone marrow, and stem cell transplant at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and patients reported a 45% reduction in pain and the research began to be focused on energy transfer to human cells.

After extensive research, it was found that it can amplify the production of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) by up to 200%; ATP is a chemical that is needed for many processes within the body.   It is approved by the FDA and has been studied worldwide.  It is now used to treat a number of skin complaints, minor pains, and injuries and it affects skin structure.

How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

Research has found that red light reflected onto the skin at a particular wavelength frequency (600 to 90nm) can penetrate human tissue much more efficiently than light on other wavelengths.  This produces ATP which then rejuvenates the cells in our bodies and triggers many beneficial effects.

The light energy converts to cellular energy in the body and sets off a series of metabolic reactions including producing new capillaries and increased levels of collagen as well as releasing ATP.  The process is called ‘photobiomodulation,’ and its use is becoming increasingly popular as it is now believed to improve mitochondrial health, that is, supplying cellular energy.

 

Difference Between Red and Blue Light Therapy

Blue and Red Light Therapy depends on the light emitted through a variety of light sources.  They also differ in the diseases they treat.  Blue Light is used to treat Sad Affective Disorder (SAD), depression and other mental disorders; in population that does not have as much access to direct sunlight or work night shifts.

Blue light also has a bad rep when it comes to sleeping disorders. As modern society becomes more and more advanced, our circadian rhythm is getting affected by it. Blue light also comes from artificial light. The light produced by your phone, computer, TV and other light sources around your house. You see we human start producing melatonin (a hormone that helps us fall asleep) when it starts to get dark, (after sunset).

It is also worth noting that blue ligth is considerably closer to Ultraviolet (UV) light, which as we all know is considered to be at the origin of some health diseases including cancer.

The treatments that red light covers are covered in more details below.

Benefits of Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy works by naturally stimulating body repair mechanisms aids in optimizing cellular function. Red wavelengths from artificial lamps as well as the red component of natural sunlight have been shown to affect the human body on a number of levels including:

Many benefits are ranging from the cosmetic to health-boosting.

  • Skin Repair and wound healing

Through vasodilation, red light therapy essentially increases blood flow and delivery of vital tissue building blocks to slowly healing wounds in order to speed up the process. Furthermore, the cells directly involved in the healing process, i.e., Fibroblasts are activated by the penetrating radiation by the formation of Adenosine Tri-phosphate or ATP, and they begin synthesizing crucial collagen. The effect on superficial wound healing times has been seen as early as 24 hours after a single light therapy session.

The same compounds have been shown to repair sun damage and reduce the advent of wrinkles, fine lines, and laughter lines as it alters the skin structure and a difference could be seen in wrinkles within a matter of months.   This could be because of new collagen formation or the reorganization and repair of elastin within the skin. This will give you that healthy smooth look that many anti-aging creams dream of achieving.

It can also be used to alleviate acne and other skin blemishes, including the lessening of scars, eczema and stretch marks.

 

  • Enhanced musculoskeletal repair

Decreased movement and painful joints are a result of decreased cartilage between the opposing ends of the bones involved, and with red light therapy, the improved collagen synthesis can repair the articular cartilage in joints and improve the symptoms of arthritis.

Similarly, the anti-inflammatory and lymphatic enhancing properties of red light therapy increase the repair and reinforcement of muscle fibers leading to decreased muscular pain and spasms.

 

  • Improved Thyroid health

It has been shown to have a positive effect on the thyroid gland.  There are roughly 20m Americans who suffer from a dysfunctional thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland at the front of the neck.  This small gland releases hormones into the endocrine system and secretes them into nearly every cell in the body.  When the body does not receive enough hormones (Hypothyroidism), it can produce multiple symptoms including extreme fatigue, depression, forgetfulness and weight gain.  Conversely, when the body receives too many hormones into the endocrine system (Hyperthyroidism), sufferers can experience irritability, nervousness, muscle weakness, vision problems and sleep loss.

 

Clinical studies have shown red light therapy as an effective adjunct to drug treatments in patients with Hypothyroidism and Autoimmune thyroid disorders. One study in 2013 showed such improvement in 47% of subjects that they were able to safely discontinue their thyroid medications and rely on light therapy alone.

  • Weight Loss and Fat Reduction

It can also help with weight loss, fat reduction, and body shaping.  Whereas usually, to achieve these benefits, a healthy diet and exercise would be implemented, it is not always effective if there is a metabolic dysfunction present for instance.  Stress has a detrimental effect on the metabolic rate, and because stress is commonplace in our everyday lives, it follows that metabolic rate will also be adversely affected.  It has not been proven entirely, but there is a theory that light therapy helps the cells that store fat to flush it away.

 

  • Anti-depression

Red light therapy also has a stimulatory effect on the mood centers of our brain, such that patients of chronic fatigue and clinical depression showed a substantial improvement in their self-confidence, energy levels, conversational skills and overall satisfaction. Part of this effect is achieved by the tendency of light therapy to increase energy output at the cellular level and increase the production and release of ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters in the brain.

 

  • Hair Loss and Growth Stimulation

It has also been shown to diminish hair loss and stimulate growth.  It works in the same way as for wound healing.

 

  • Joint Pain

Illness such as osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis have been relieved by this treatment. It can be used first thing in the morning to alleviate stiffness caused by arthritis and even when the illness is more advanced is still known to give some relief, although research shows more benefits in the short term.

 

  • Cancer Treatment

Perhaps most impressively, research made by NASA shows successful results in treating skin cancer and ease the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

 

  • Testosterone production

A 2013 study in Biomedical Research examined the effect of light therapy on testosterone production in rats. This study found that light therapy at 670 nanometers (nm) increased the serum testosterone levels, with no noted side effects. Due to their findings, the researchers stated that red light therapy could potentially work as an alternative treatment method to traditional testosterone treatments.

Dr. Olli Sovijarvi has stated that red and near-infrared light wavelengths encourage the production of ATP in the Leydig cells that produce testosterone, enhancing their energy production and helping increase amounts of the hormone.

Why Use Red Light Therapy

What makes this therapy appealing is the fact that it is entirely natural.  It is a drug and chemical-free treatment and is entirely non-invasive, so no surgery or needles are required.  It does not damage the skin, the opposite in fact, and is painless to administer.  There is no soreness due to burning or itchiness or stinging.  It can be used for all ages from young to old and is suitable for all skin types.

There have been no adverse side-effects reported, and the treatment can even be done at home, being FDA approved.  The treatment harnesses all the benefits of natural healing, and the therapy delivers energy at a rate higher than that of the sun.  It is very energizing and relaxing to use.

Red Light Therapy is different from the more traditionally used laser treatment which sends a pulsing light onto the skin which deliberately destroys the epidermis or dermis in order to trigger new growth by causing inflammation and burning. Red Light encourages repair by directly encouraging cell regeneration and skin rejuvenation.

The treatment can be used once or more a day and is also dependent on its use. For example, if being used for the relief of pain then this should be noticeable at the end of one session.  If the intention is to reduce wrinkles this may take between eight and twelve weeks, or even more; everyone is different.

Low dosage does give a proper response whereas a high does give a negative or neutral response.  There is an optimum level for treatment.  Ideally, it is thought to be three to four times a week for four to six weeks but if it is being used for general maintenance only, then once or twice a week should be enough.  To start with, the treatment should be used daily for the first week.

How to Use Red Light Therapy

There are many ways to get the full benefits of Red light therapy, let us start with the cheapest one, or in this case the free method.

If you are a morning person and like to wake up before the sun rises you are in luck! You see the most effective way to get red light is also the most natural way and that is light coming from our sun. Now the tricky part is to make sure it is at the correct wavelength and that only occurs twice a day, at sunrise and sunset. At those specific time, the sun is low enough to produce that beautiful red color, and that is what we are looking for.

So that is great and all but if you are not a morning person and don’t have time to wait for sunset, do not worry. Technology is marvelous, and there are products out there varying from cheap to expensive prices that replicate the infra-red and near infra-red effect through LED lights.

Finally, Here at BioFit Performance, we do offer to our member’s infra-red sauna, it is included in our recovery tools, and the reason why we use infra-red sauna is that infrared heaters warm the body in the same manner as natural sunlight. Infrared heat therapy uses the wavelength of the visible and non-visible light spectrum of sunlight. Traditional saunas raise the temperature of the air to a very high level within the chamber to warm the body and this cause some people to have difficulty breathing in this extremely warm air. Infrared saunas work differently; instead of heating the air within the enclosure, infrared saunas heat the body directly. The result is deeper tissue penetration. In an infrared sauna, the body perspires and receives all of the healthy benefits but avoids the harmful and extremely hot air of a traditional steam sauna.

The experience you get from the infra-red sauna is healthier, but the key reason why we offer it is because of it’s healing benefits which will make you recover faster and feeling better than ever before.

To Conclude Red Light Therapy is quickly becoming a popular mode of naturally treating a host of different illnesses and a fast track to recovery for athletes With no side effects, you simply cannot miss out on the benefits of it and should try it out yourself.

 

 

 

 

References

  1. Gam, A. N., Thorsen, H., & Lønnberg, F. (1993). The effect of low-level laser therapy on musculoskeletal pain: a meta-analysis. Pain, 52(1), 63-66.
  2. Medrado, A. R., Pugliese, L. S., Reis, S. R. A., & Andrade, Z. A. (2003). Influence of low-level laser therapy on wound healing and its biological action upon myofibroblasts. Lasers in surgery and medicine, 32(3), 239-244.
  3. Bjordal, J. M., Couppé, C., Chow, R. T., Tunér, J., & Ljunggren, E. A. (2003). A systematic review of low-level laser therapy with location-specific doses for pain from chronic joint disorders. Journal of Physiotherapy, 49(2), 107-116.
  4. Hofling DB, Chavantes MC, et al. Low-level laser in the treatment of patients with hypothyroidism induced by chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. May 2013; 28(3): 743-53.
  5. https://www.nasa.gov/topics/nasalife/features/heals.htmlNASA Light technology Successfully Reduces Cancer Patients painful Side Effects From Radiation and Chemotherapy
  6. https://draxe.com/red-light-therapy/
  7. https://www.oglf.org/what-is-red-light-therapy/
  8. https://wellnessmama.com/269510/red-light-therapy/
  9. Ahn JC, Kim YH, and Rhee CK. The effects of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) on the testis in elevating serum testosterone level in rats. Biomedical Research.  2013; 24(1):28-32.
  10. Sovijarvi O. Dr. Olli Sovijarvi on Increasing Testosterone by Shining Light on Your Testicles. Biohacker Summit Blog. Oct 2016.

 

 

 


Bicep and Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy Rehab

Bicep and Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy Rehab

By Kevin Masson MSc, CSCS, CPT, USAW, FMS

Rehabilitation for bicep and rotator cuff tendinopathy often involves several steps. These problems are most common in people who push themselves to the limits with lifting, either through powerlifting at the gym or lifting on the job.

Tendinopathy is most likely to occur when overloading them, either by using them too much injures the tendons or lifting too much weight with them. The tendon describes the connective fibers gathered together between your muscle and your bone. If you look at a picture of the musculoskeletal system, you will notice the muscles are made of red and white tissue. The red area is the meat of the muscle, and the white area is the tendon.

When an injury occurs, the body will work to heal the tendon. Sometimes, injuries will heal on their own. When a week or more passes, without definite signs of improvement, tendinopathy may be setting in.

Tendinopathy typically describes symptoms of tendon injury that are chronic, meaning they last long-term. The symptoms can be constant or occur intermittently. Once this happens, rest is not enough, and rehabilitative therapy becomes necessary to prevent surgical intervention. Traditional methods do not usually work with bicep and rotator cuff tendinopathy.

To encourage healing, one of the most effective methods of treatment is a combination of dry needling and corrective eccentric exercise. Dry needling describes the insertion of thin needles into the muscle and tendon to encourage relaxation that is necessary for healing. It is often used in conjunction with a stretching therapy. For tendinopathy, corrective eccentric exercise is one of the most effective techniques. It involves stretching and contracting the muscle and tendon to encourage blood flow to the area and allow healing.

 

What is Rehab Therapy for Bicep and Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy?

Rehab therapy is an intervention for an injury when the body does not seem to be fulfilling its natural healing process. This is a common problem with tendons when there is not enough blood flow to the area. Blood carries the nutrients, hormones, and growth factors to the injury so it can heal. Unfortunately, the traditional methods like rest, ice and heat therapy, inflammation treatment, and others do not work well for tendinopathy. This is when alternative options, like dry needling and eccentric exercise, may be used.

Symptoms of Tendinopathy

Repetitive motions with the shoulder can cause tendinopathy over time. It also commonly happens to powerlifters, which place heavy loads on their muscles. The symptoms associated with tendinopathy include:

    Thickening or mild swelling of the tendon, especially near the joint

    Tenderness or pain in the joint and surrounding shoulder area

    Restricted motion of the joint, difficulty performing certain motions with your arm

    Stiffness of the shoulder and upper arm

If you are experiencing these symptoms for more than 7-10 days, it is likely that chronic tendinopathy may become a problem in the future. Also, be wary of extreme pain or swelling and an inability to move the shoulder—this could be a ruptured tendon.

Problems with Traditional Methods of Treatment

Many of the traditional treatments for bicep and rotator cuff tendinopathy target stopping inflammation. The problem is that inflammation is common with tendinitis, not tendinopathy. Inflammation does not usually happen when the tendon is overloaded or overstretched like happens with tendinopathy.

However, though inflammation is common with tendinitis, it is not common with tendinopathy. In fact, slight swelling of the tendon is a good thing, since it indicates the body trying to heal itself. The reason that traditional methods do not work is because many of them target inflammation, not the tightening and thickening that happens with tendinopathy.

Rest is also frequently recommended in overuse cases, especially for muscles. The problem is that resting will not heal tendinopathy—it just temporarily settles the pain. Once you return to normal activities, it is likely your condition will flare up.

Other common approaches use passive techniques, including shockwave therapy, various types of massage, injections, and therapeutic ultrasound. These are rarely effective and repeated muscle injections can make tendinopathy harder to treat.

Stages of Tendinopathy

Tendinopathy is a condition that can get progressively worse the longer that it goes untreated, especially in instances where the muscle continues to be used. The first stage is known as reactive tendinopathy, which describes the time following the injury. If the tissue is working to heal itself as it should, then the disease may not progress past this point, and the patient may make a full recovery.

Following this stage is tendon disrepair, which happens when the muscle continues to be overused and overworked. This causes pain and tearing. The reason that the area does not always heal during this stage is because the rate that the injury is being worsened through use is greater than the rate the tendon is healing at. The tissue is attempting to heal in this stage, but it is not getting sufficient rest with proper exercise to encourage the process. Without proper treatment, it may progress to degenerative tendinopathy.

Degenerative tendinopathy of the bicep and rotator cuff begins with cell death in the area. This is primarily caused by the lack of healthy blood flow and critical healing factors to the area. This is the first of the ‘worse’ types of tendinopathy, because, at this point, the injury may not heal. If you experience cell death in the area, it may be one of the last chances that you have to find an effective treatment that encourages healing. Otherwise, it can cause a tendon rupture or tear.

Tendon rupture describes extreme tissue breakdown that is usually accompanied by an inability to use your shoulder. If tendinopathy progresses to this stage, surgery is usually the only thing that can fix it. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you attempt other forms of therapy, including the often-effective process of dry needling paired with corrective eccentric exercise.

 

Dry Needling

Dry needling is done to inactivate or release tense muscles and tendons, using myofascial trigger points in the body. Its name comes from its use of a needle without medicines, thus a needle that is ‘dry.’ Once the area has been effectively relaxed, rehabilitative therapy can begin to increase the range of motion and strengthen the area.

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling involves the insertion of a thin, filament needle past the skin and into the muscular and connective tissues. This is done to stimulate myofascial trigger points, which are located in and around the muscle, beneath the skin’s surface.

Bicep and rotator cuff tendinopathy requires areas in the shoulder to be targeted for effectiveness. The goal is to insert the needle into the tight band of muscle, which is the tightened or thickened tendon, that is found in the shoulder muscle group. You should expect some pain when these are touched.

How Dry Needling Works

When you suffer an injury, such as overloading the tendon between the bicep and rotator cuff, the tissues of the body will try to heal themselves. Slight swelling and inflammation are often good signs, indicating the beginning of the healing process. Following this, the body starts to heal and reconstruct the injured tissue.

The problem is that because the tendons between the bicep and rotator cuff are so active, it can be hard for them to heal correctly. The contraction of tissue, inflammation, adhesions in the surrounding area, and scar development all play a role in improper healing—which may result in soft tissue dysfunction. When this happens, chronic tendinopathy may develop.

The problem is the soft tissue dysfunction inhibits further healing, which can make traditional massage methods and manual manipulation of the area ineffective. Additionally, the dysfunction decreases blood circulation, a common problem in the rotator cuff area. The decrease of blood flow and other fluids flowing into and out of the area discourages future healing. When the circulation is impeded completely, the injured area may also suffer from weakness and deformation, which can alter movement patterns, increase pain, and make it difficult or impossible to use the muscle.

The location of the bicep and rotator cuff tendon can cause it difficult receiving blood supply even before an injury. This can be corrected by dry needling. Dry needling techniques target the problem area with the filament needles, which penetrate where manual manipulation cannot. The small lesions that are created stimulate the body’s healing response, despite the low blood flow. This causes the body to secrete blood factors and proteins necessary for tissue healing. It is generally believed that there is little to no pain associated with dry needling.

Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture

Though the two practices seem similar, it is important to note that dry needling and acupuncture are very different processes. While each of these techniques involves insertion of a thin needle into a specific area of the body, this is where the similarities end.

Acupuncture has roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Though it is used to treat a variety of conditions, it focuses heavily on the flow of energy (called Qi) through the body. It is believed that stress, toxins, and other factors can affect the flow of Qi and cause pain, sickness, and ailments.

Dry needling is based on scientific studies conducted using principles of Western medicine. The goal is to cause the body to send healing elements like critical nutrients, growth factors, and cells to the area, which is necessary for healing to occur.

Corrective Eccentric Exercise

This type of therapy takes advantage of eccentric muscle action, which is a lengthening of a muscle from a position of contraction or tension. For example, imagine that you are standing on your toes and then coming back to a flat-footed stance. Standing up your toes contracts the calf muscles. When you return to the flat-footed position, the lowering motion causes the calf muscles to lengthen again—this is the eccentric muscle action.

Why Eccentric Exercises Work

Muscles have two parts—the red, meaty part that makes up the main area of the muscle also called “the belly” of the muscle and the white area, which represents the tissue of the tendons. When you perform an action, the red muscle is strengthened through muscle shortening. By contrast, active muscle lengthening stresses and strengthens the tendon. Since bicep and rotator cuff tendinopathy affects the tendon, targeting this area is more effective than other methods of stretching that have been studied for treatment.

The goal of corrective exercise for tendinopathy is to encourage blood flow and healing of the tissue. This is done by:

    Relaxing the Tissue- Relaxation is incredibly essential for corrective exercise. When the tendon is already suffering pain and tightness, working it without relaxation can worsen the injury.

    Stretching the Tissue- When the tendon is stretched, it must be done gently. Anything greater than a gentle stretching can tear the area and cause worse problems.

    Strengthening the Tissue- Once the tissue has been stretched, it must be strengthened. The strengthening process works as it would with any muscle—it is broken down through physical activity. Then, the body sends healing factors and nutrients to rebuild the muscle, stronger than it was before.

A Note About Eccentric Corrective Exercise and Pain

If you are already struggling with bicep and rotator cuff tendinopathy, then pain may be a familiar feeling. When you are doing exercises, you should expect some pain. This should be muscle pain and feel like soreness or burning from exertion. What you should not feel is pinching or pain in the joints. This could indicate irritation of the problem or impingement of a joint or nerve, which can cause irreversible damage.

Dry Needling and Eccentric Corrective Exercise in Practice

When using dry needling and corrective eccentric exercise, there is one primary focus—healing. As the bicep and rotator cuff tendon is encouraged to heal, it will eliminate the symptoms used in the techniques, including pain, stiffness, and limited motion.

What to Expect: Dry Needling

Sessions of dry needling are usually spaced 5-7 days apart. During the session, the specialist inserts very thin needles into designated areas of the muscle. It is left in until the muscle starts to relax. The process is continued, targeting different areas until the muscle relaxes completely.

You should expect the muscles and tendons in your problem area to be sore following dry needling therapy. This will feel similar to the soreness from overworking the area like you would when lifting at the gym or at work. The pain can last as little as a few hours or as much as two days. Moist heat or ice is recommended for this pain.

It is highly advised that you follow your physical therapist’s instructions after the dry needling to improve your tendinopathy. An exercise regimen is prescribed following the treatment—some PTs will recommend you start working it as soon as it is no longer sore, while others will do 2-3 courses of dry needling (to see its effectiveness) before recommending exercise. The next section will go over one of the most effective exercise regimens for bicep and rotator cuff tendinopathy rehab—eccentric corrective exercise.

What to Expect: Eccentric Corrective Exercise

Exercise is something that should be done under the watchful eye of a physical therapist (PT) when you are experiencing a condition like a tendinopathy, which can become worse if the tendon is exercised the wrong way. Usually, a 3-part process of relaxation, stretching, and strengthening will be used for rehabilitation of the tendon.

For the relaxation, a technique called Trap Release may be used. Here, the PT will stand behind you and place their hand on your shoulder. They will instruct you move your shoulders in a slow, rolling motion. As you go around and into the lowest position, the PT will press down with 3-5 pounds of pressure on your shoulder.

A stretching exercise that may be used involves stretching the pectoral muscles. This will gently stretch the rotator cuff and bicep as well. Start by placing your hands on the back of your head, either laying your hands on top of one another or interlacing your fingers. Spread your elbows out to the sides of your head, feeling the stretch in your chest and shoulders. The PT will touch the backside of your elbow and gently pull it backward, deepening the stretch in your pectoral muscles. Then, they may ask you to try and press your elbows forward while they resist your movement. This creates a contraction, which is the goal of eccentric stretching.

Once you have finished stretching, strengthening is done. The strengthening exercises prescribed vary, but generally, they involve slightly increasing the weight that the bicep and rotator cuff tendon can support. Weight resistance exercises are more common that lifting for this during early treatment since they have a lower likelihood of injury.

For many patients, dry needling coupled with eccentric corrective exercise provides adequate pain relief and healing for bicep and rotator cuff tendinopathy rehab. Dry needling helps relieve pain and relax the tendon, while the exercise helps relax, stretch, and strengthen the area. The problem with traditional methods is that they may not target the tendon appropriately. By trying this method, you may encourage healing and avoid surgical intervention.

 

References

What is a Tendinopathy?. (2018). Physioworks.com.au. Retrieved 1 May 2018, from https://physioworks.com.au/FAQRetrieve.aspx?ID=38256

Gabriella Ode, M. (2018). What Is the Difference Between Tendonitis, Tendinosis, and Tendinopathy?Sports-health. Retrieved 1 May 2018, from https://www.sports-health.com/sports-injuries/general-injuries/what-difference-between-tendonitis-tendinosis-and-tendinopathy

Andres, B., & Murrell, G. (2008). Treatment of Tendinopathy: What Works, What Does Not, and What is on the Horizon. Clinical Orthopaedics And Related Research466(7), 1539-1554. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11999-008-0260-1

Krey, D., Borchers, J., & McCamey, K. (2015). Tendon needling for treatment of tendinopathy: A systematic review. The Physician And Sportsmedicine43(1), 80-86. https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00913847.2015.1004296

Dry Needling Is The Next Big Thing In Physical Therapy. (2018). Dr. John Rusin – Exercise Science & Injury Prevention. Retrieved 1 May 2018, from https://drjohnrusin.com/dry-needling-physical-therapy/


Why is Semi-Private Coaching Catching Heat?

Why is Semi-Private Coaching Catching Heat?

By Kevin Masson MSc, CSCS, CPT, USAW, FMS

When it comes to the fitness industry, a lot of people are opting for semi-private training as opposed to personal training programs. So, what exactly is the difference between the two? Semi-private training programs include a qualified trainer along with a couple, or a trainer along with 3 – 5 friends who share the same fitness goals. In such scenarios, they share their training programs, exercise schedules and divide the program cost between them.

These cost-effective sessions not only offer you top-notch training but also give you the necessary kick to get through your workout. Moreover, you start to see the results within a few weeks of following this program diligently. There are numerous reasons why these semi-private coaching sessions are becoming increasingly popular among people. Some of these reasons are listed below.

  • Customized fitness programs as per individual’s needs
  • At least eight training sessions per month
  • Creative team training
  • Cost-effective

One of the highlights of this type of training session is that helps in keeping the monotony at bay. Also, if you don’t like working out alone, you will get the much-needed encouragement from your workout buddies. This program is also ideal for people who wish to attain optimal results without having to plan it out on their own. Since the semi-private sessions are completely dedicated to helping people make some serious progress towards their goals while making their fitness journey enjoyable, their increasing popularity comes as a no surprise.

Benefits of semi-private training sessions

Most clients who attend semi-private group sessions have similar goals, like wanting to look and feel fitter, reduce body fat by a certain percentage, enhance their endurance and lead a healthy lifestyle. If you have any of these goals, then it is essential that your training program covers things such as flexibility, strength exercises that involve your core muscles, some aerobic as well as anaerobic exercises along with some hypertrophy work. Now, this sounds perfect for a lot of people, but when it comes to applying this training regime, they often feel overwhelmed or lost. Most people start off with a bang and then start getting discouraged when their training plan isn’t as supportive as they thought. Some people just join a gym and feel completely lost within the first few days or when their plan gets completely thrown off, as the equipment they need is not available owing to a busy gym floor.

This is where semi-private training can help you. There are so many advantages to going down this route that you will wonder why you didn’t think of it before. Under a semi-private training group, typically about 3-6 clients work together towards a similar program along with a couple of trainers. Mentioned below are some of the many advantages people list when they start semi-private training:

Coaching/ Learning 

All certified trainers aim at assisting their clients as much as possible to achieve their desired goals. They also make sure not to overwhelm you with intense training sessions during the initial days. So, if you are a newbie, don’t worry about being thrown into the deep end.  All good trainers will want to put you at ease first and then work toward the basics and posture before moving on to strenuous exercises. A good trainer will carefully assess where you stand with regards to your end goals and set up a training plan accordingly. These trainers will start with teaching you basic body movements like lunges, squats, hinge, etc. followed by a recovery session. Mobility can help in assessing the areas that you need to work on first before moving on to better things. BioFit Performance system periodize programs months in advance based on strength and conditioning for three different levels, (Beginner- white), (Intermediate – Green) and (Advance- Black), so everyone can participate safely and efficiently. While using the data from your Functional movement assessment, we are able to customize those programs to YOUR needs while you are in a group environment.

Constant variation

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

-Albert Einstein

This statement couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to fitness goals. You don’t want your body to get used to a routine. Once that happens, the results start slowing down. Most people fall off track with their gym schedules because they start to get boring. With a semi-private coaching program, the training sessions are so varied that you have no chance to get bored. The general layout, however, includes Release, Warm-up, Mobility/Correctives, Reactive (power), Strength, Conditioning, Recovery. 
The release part, where you will get on a foam roll and start targeting tight areas in your body. We can’t expect your body to move optimally if you are tight in some areas. Followed by a general warm-up to get the core temperature up start getting some blood flow to those muscles and get your nervous system ready for the session. Mobility/Correctives are also part of the warm-up where we target some of your personal problems and try to correct these deficiencies. We then transition onto the first part of the workout, the reactive movements, which are power exercises this will target your central nervous system and get your fired up and ready for the next part. Depending on which class you are in the main workout is either Strength or Conditioning and finally end the session with some recovery tools.
There is science behind the reason why we write each of our sessions this way but one of the main aim of bringing versatility into your training sessions is to keep you motivated and achieve result towards your goal.

They measure progress

No, not literally with the scales! And no one should evaluate their progress using these because the scales are perpetually fluctuating and aren’t important anyway. When you work with a particular trainer consistently, she/he can figure out what you can or can’t do. They can evaluate your progress based on your mobility and fitness to body composition. This is far more vital and something that counts rather than merely looking down at some numbers on a measuring scale. As your performance starts to improve, your image and bodyweight will begin to show signs of improvements too.  Once you combine your workouts with proper nutrition, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t hit your training goals.

Customized workouts

Although it’s a group workout, pretty much everything in the training session is designed to cater to your fitness needs. A good trainer, after assessing your strengths and weaknesses, will quickly develop a training program that will enhance your growth.  It’s almost like having a personal trainer without having to shell out an extra chunk of cash. The perfect trainer will conduct a fitness session, which works out great for every individual. For instance, if you have a weaker upper body and find it challenging to do pull-ups, your trainer will add some variations like ring rows. If you aren’t feeling up to it, then he/she will map out a different workout for you. Regardless of your fitness levels, rest assured that your trainer will always have a workout to make your life easy.

Finding new workout buddies and being responsible for your fitness

If you are a fitness freak like me, you are going to find it annoying to attend those boring social gatherings that circle the same alcohol-induced nonsense talks. Now I am not saying alcohol is bad but, after a while, such mediocre gatherings do get boring.  Instead, why not get together with a few mates and participate in a session that revolves around fitness. You know what they say, “You are only good as the company you keep.” If you are perpetually surrounded by people who have no interest in keeping their bodies fit, you will slowly become like one of them. Unless that’s what you want. Also, the fact that you are going to be accountable for your progress certainly helps you in the long run to achieve your goal. We love some friendly competition.

100% mapped out schedules

One of the most beneficial things about taking up a semi-private training session is that you are almost never going to feel lost. The layout session will be there for you to see much before you start your workouts. Isn’t that relieving? I mean, who has the time to plan out your work out session amidst other essential issues that take up our time like family, commitments, spouse, kids, etc.? So, having all of your 60-minute sessions mapped out by your trainer comes as a great relief. All you have to do is show up at the class. It’s far better than having to sit around in a gym, not knowing what to do next or merely relaxing in the sauna and then just heading back home. And mind you all this comes at a hefty cost too. What a waste of your valuable money and time. Instead of doing this, just take out about 60 minutes a day for your semi-private training sessions and let us take care of everything else.

Pricing

Let’s face it. Not all of us have a lot of money to spare when it comes to fitness training. And personal training can be extremely pricey. Most personal fitness trainers charge about $100 per session. Even if you take up three sessions a week, that comes to about $1200. If you have that kind of cash, by all means, go ahead and hire yourself a personal trainer.  Now some of you may argue that you can join a local gym that may offer the same for as little as $10 a month. But think about it. Even though the fees are cheap, what’s the point if you don’t show up every day or have no clue what kind of workouts you should be doing? Like a lot of people, you are going to go straight to the treadmill for an hour and wonder why you are no achieving the goals?
Semi-private training sessions, on the other hand, cost approximately $30 per session, per person. For some people, that’s still not cheap enough, but you will end up getting the same benefits that you would get from hiring a personal trainer. Now considering that, you may re-evaluate your priorities and find the price to be very reasonable.

Now that you have read all of the above benefits, I am sure there is no speck of doubt in your mind that semi-private training sessions make more sense.


Contrast Bath Therapy

Contrast Bath Therapy

By Kevin Masson MSc, CSCS, CPT, USAW, FMS

What is contrast wet therapy and how will it benefit my recovery?

Contrast wet therapy also known as “hot/cold immersion therapy”, is a form of treatment where a limb or the entire body is immersed in warm water followed by the immediate immersion of the limb or body in ice water. This procedure is repeated several times, alternating hot and cold. The goals for a Contrast Bath include:

  • Decreasing pain
  • Decreasing swelling
  • Decreasing/controlling inflammation
  • Improving mobility
  • Improve muscle recovery after exercising

The cold water causes blood vessels to constrict or tighten, thereby reducing inflammation and flushing out the waste products that were accumulated during exercise. Combine this with hot water immersion which rapidly causes dilation or opening of the blood vessels that were constricted during the cold-water therapy.

This contrast in temperature immersion facilitates rapid constriction and dilation of the blood vessels. Typically, in a contrast wet therapy session you would cycle through several cycles of cold followed by warm to create a muscle pump effect via the effect it has on blood vessels.

Contrast wet therapy assist in recovery by alterations in tissue temperature and blood flow; reduced muscle spasm and inflammation; and improved range of motion. In comparison to passive recovery, contrast wet therapy is by far the superior, with studies proving results of significantly greater improvements in muscle soreness (DOMS) and reduced muscle strength loss (Contrast Water Therapy and Exercise Induced Muscle Damage: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, 2013).

Not only is contrast wet therapy proven to help with muscle soreness from exercise and everyday life it can also help with alleviating pain associated with arthritis and people with poor circulation.

Can I just have a bath of ice and then a warm shower with the same effect?

Yes, you can and it would still be effective in helping reduce muscle fatigue and soreness, however full body water immersion is far greater and will have an impact on the whole body and the added benefits of emotional wellbeing that goes along with it. At BioFit Performance we recommend that you use the contrast bath therapy and infra sauna to ultimately improve recovery.

So, the really important question is, do you finish off with warm or cold?

“There is no evidence to suggest that ending with either heat or cold is more effective” National Athletic Trainers’ Association. The choice is all yours, you can leave feeling warm and fuzzy or cool and invigorated.  I would advise, it all depends on when you are doing the therapy. If you are the type of person that like to workout in the morning and want to have a quick relaxing moment in the bath before work then probably end with a cold bath, that way you will feel sharp and ready to deal with your day. On the other end if you want to relax after a long day at the office or a hard workout, end with a nice relaxing hot bath or even warm sauna will leave you a cozy relaxing mood ready for you to go home and relax.

Conditions to watch for:

If you suffer from rheumatoid Arthritis then consider ending with the hot and make sure to dry thoroughly.
Another condition is if you have an acute injury or suffer from a swollen joint, only use the cold immersion on that joint.

CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR CONTRAST BATHS

DO NOT do Contrast Baths for any of the following problems:

  • Local malignancies
  • Peripheral vascular disease (PVD)
  • Impaired sensation
  • Bleeding and acute inflammation.
  • Diabetes and neuropathy
  • If there is a good pulse in the extremities, diabetics and those with neuropathies can benefit from a contrast bath, but it needs to be under the supervision of a physical therapy.

Again, you should consult your physician or physical therapist if you are unsure if this treatment is right for you.

What is the procedure for contrast bath?

  • Sit in the hot water (98 -110 degrees Fahrenheit) for 3-4 mins. (If swelling is present around the joint use only cold bath.)
  • Once you had a good 3 mins in the hot bath switch to the cold water (45 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1 minute or until you cannot tolerate it anymore.
  • Repeat the above steps three to four more times (about 20 minutes)

References:

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. 2013. Contrast Water Therapy and Exercise Induced Muscle Damage: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3633882/. [Accessed 21 February 2017].

National Athletic Trainers’ Association. 1998. Contrast Therapy Does Not Cause Fluctuations in Human Gastrocnemius Intramuscular Temperature. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1320584/pdf/jathtrain00012-0042.pdf. [Accessed 21 February 2017].