Kahncept Of the Week (KOW)

 

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March 30, 2015

Stretching (and warm-ups) Part II

Last week we introduced this topic with a brief discussion of the advantages of Dynamic stretching over Static stretching. (For a more detailed explanation of the current research on the benefits of Dynamic stretching and myths of Static stretching, watch this video.

This week, we're providing a series of links to YouTube videos that offer 5:00 or 15:00 routines for proper, yet generalized, stretching and warm-ups. Watch the videos, and in an a la carte fashion, consider utilizing the exercises that appeal to your strengths and weaknesses, keeping mindful of both your physical and time limitations.

The first link is to a website of a swimmer/friend of ours in Santa Clara. G. John Mullen is the founder of SwimmingScience.com and is a physical therapist, strength coach and researcher. He is at the forefront of bridging the gap between the scientific, theoretical, and practical world of swimming. John offers 4 Things for the Perfect Dynamic Swimming Warm-up. There is a combination of text and separate videos on this link.

Next is the second part of the first video that demonstrates a full body, dynamic stretching routine (Part 2, 5:00). The audio is inconsistent, but the video is good.

Dynamic Stretching Warm Up Exercises is another short video (5:00) from HASfit, a very popular online exercise website. This dynamic routine will help prepare your muscles and joints to avoid muscle strain and increase range of motion.

This last video offers less dynamic and different exercises focusing on increased mobility and stability. Some of these motions may be better suited to our older population of DAM athletes. Dynamic Stretching (15:00) is from a physical therapist and orthopedist, and is both a warm-up and injury prevention routine.

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March 23, 2105

Stretching

Nietzsche was right; notably in exercise and specifically at the molecular level. Muscle, bones and connective tissue do grow stronger by sustaining damage. Those uncomfortable sensations from hard work and unfamiliar exercise occur mainly in the muscles where blood vessels dilate, tissue swell and warm, and your body yells at you in a totally foreign language.

Known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), the sensations have always and will always afflict anyone who works out. And as everyone's been told, that stiffness and soreness can best be alleviated through stretching.

Recently the value and impact of muscle stretching before and after exercise has undergone a complete reversal. For years, it was a common comparison to say that muscles prior to exercise were like rubber bands in a freezer. Cold and stiff, they needed to be slowly stretched (static) to avoid snapping or breakage.

A growing number of studies have shown that static stretching not only does not prepare muscles for activity, it almost certainly does the reverse. Whereas flexibility, to a large degree, is genetic, the need for elongated muscles, particularly in our sport, is not as desirable as tighter, less flexible muscles that provide greater elastic energy storage and use. Think of the rubber band again. If it's overstretched and limp, it doesn't snap back when pulled and released. So, too, with muscles; if they're loose, they don't efficiently lengthen, shorten and snap back into place with each repetition.

Just to be clear, though, static stretching and warming up are not the same thing. Across the board, forty years worth of studies validate warm-ups for all activities, exercise and sports. The question now is, what constitutes a proper warm-up?

Most experts agree that a warm-up should do two things; increase the range of motion in the joints that will be used in the upcoming exercise, and literally warm up the body.

Dynamic stretching has replaced static stretching and involves moving, waking and warming the tissues that will be called upon during exercise, and it's relatively sport specific. (In the next KOW, we'll provide information on swimming specific, dynamic movements.)

Raising the body's temperature should come before stretching and is much easier to achieve. Begin with a few minutes of slow motions - running in place is perfectly fine - progressively boosting your pace to about 50 percent of maximum. Then move on to your other stretches. All this should be done before getting into the water.

Another new notion is the idea of dynamic stretching at night. Stretching for 10 minutes every evening helps lengthen out any muscles that may have shortened during your day’s activities. Your quadriceps, hamstrings, shoulders and lower back muscles tend to tighten up easily, so focus on these primary areas for your evening stretches.

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March 9 2015

Principles of Exercise and Training (cont.)

Regardless of your level of fitness, there are seven principles that should be followed during any type of physical training or exercise program. Last week we offered the three most important; Specificity, Overload and Progression. Here are the other four basic principles of exercise or sport training you will want to keep in mind: 

Individuality
Everyone is different and responds differently to training. Some athletes are able to handle higher volumes of training while others may respond better to higher intensities. This is based on a combination of factors like genetic ability, predominance of muscle fiber types, other factors in your life, chronological or athletic age, and mental state. It's of very little value to compare your training levels and fitness progress to anyone other than yourself.

Adaptation
Over time the body becomes accustomed to exercising at a given level. This adaptation results in improved efficiency, less effort and less muscle breakdown at that level. That is why the first time you swam 600 yards you were sore after, but now it’s just a warm up for your main workout. This is why you need to change the stimulus via higher intensity or longer duration in order to continue improvements. The same holds true for adapting to lesser amounts of exercise.

Recovery
The body cannot repair itself without rest and time to recover. Motivated athletes often neglect this. At the basic level, the more you train the more sleep your body needs, despite the adaptations you have made to said training.

Reversibility
If you discontinue application of a particular exercise like swimming 3,000 yards or bench pressing 150 pounds 10 times, you will lose the ability to successfully complete that exercise. Your muscles will atrophy and the cellular adaptations like increased capillaries (blood flow to the muscles) and mitochondria density will reverse. You can slow this rate of loss substantially by conducting a maintenance/reduced program of training during periods where life gets in the way, and is why just about all sports coaches ask their athletes to stay active in the offseason.

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March 2 2015

Principles of Training

At any age, participating in DAM swimming encourages co-operation in team sports, develops the element of competitiveness, provides a physical challenge and the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.

Within that framework, great attention is spent on providing a diverse training program that increases athletic fitness and delays decrepitude. One of the pillars of our program adheres to the three basic Principles of Training.

Specificity - states that sports training should be relevant and appropriate to the sport for which the individual is training in order to produce a training effect. The Specificity Principle simply states that training must go from highly general training to highly specific training. The principle of Specificity also implies that to become better at a particular exercise or skill, you must perform that exercise or skill. Cross-training takes a back seat here. The point to take away is that a runner should train by running and a swimmer should train by swimming.

Overload - taps the body's mechanisms that bring about the desired changes that go hand-in-hand with specificity. Improving cardiovascular fitness involves sustaining sub-maximal activities for extended periods of time. Increasing strength requires lifting progressively heavier weight loads. Sustained high levels of intensity improves the circulatory system by increasing chemical production and buffering capacities. The principle applies to duration and volume of training, as well.

Progression - implies that for athletes to improve their fitness levels, they must continually increase the physical demands to reach an optimum level of overload. It is a gradual increase either in frequency, intensity, volume or time or a combination of all four components. When considering those four variables on athletic populations such as ours (older), recent studies point towards intensity as the component of choice.

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