Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy has generated some recent hype in the athletic and medical communities from its use by many professional athletes including Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Floyd Mayweather. You may be wondering what exactly cryotherapy does that has brought it into such popularity. Cryotherapy, or cold therapy, is actually something that most athletes and non-athletes have used at some point in their life. By definition, it is simply the use of cold temperatures to assist in the reduction of pain or inflammation. Newer technologies have allowed this type of treatment to go from an ice pack strapped to an ankle to an entire body surrounded by liquid nitrogen at sub-zero temperatures.

The process involves one stepping into a cryotherapy chamber wearing minimal clothing, like socks and gloves, in an attempt to keep the extremities from getting too cold. Liquid nitrogen at temperatures from -100 F to -274 F surrounds the body lowering the skin temperature to approximately 30 F.  During this time, thermoreceptors in the skin send a signal to the brain telling it to send the blood to the body's core in order to maintain internal body temperature. This process is known as vasoconstriction. Toxins are flushed from peripheral tissues and the blood is enriched with oxygen, enzymes, and nutrients at the core. The body activates its natural healing abilities and releases endorphins for further benefit.

So, now the question stands: Does it work? Most who have used it will swear by it for everything from decreased recovery time, to improved immunity, to increased energy, and more. Overall, the support in favor of cryotherapy is strong and the risks, when performed in a controlled environment, are few and far between.

Fortunately, cryotherapy isn't just for pro athletes. Many therapeutic locations in the area offer this type of treatment to the public, including locations like CryoActive in Rocky River.The old saying of "Don't knock it 'till you try it" seems to fit well when it comes to cryotherapy. 

Retraining Muscle

Why building muscle is easier the second time around

When you first begin training, it may seem like it takes longer than you would like to notice gains in strength. Fortunately, there is a scientifically verified phenomenon that allows our muscles to be retrained at a faster rate than they were trained at initially. This means that once you get over the hurdle of training for the first time, you will be able to increase strength more quickly with subsequent training. This is great news for anyone who's taken a couple weeks off from time to time! While increase in muscle size may not be affected differently, regaining your strength actually is easier the second time around.

 

Here's What Happens

When you train your muscles, new myonuclei are formed within the muscle fiber. Each fiber can develop multiple nuclei. When you stop training for an extended period of time (a few days or weeks), protein degradation exceeds protein synthesis, and muscle atrophy occurs. This atrophy causes your muscles to decrease in size, however no myonuclei are lost. When training begins again, the step of adding new nuclei can be skipped because they are already available in the fiber and are ready to synthesize muscle protein.So, you are able to regain the same level of strength more quickly once those myonuclei exist.

This is advantageous for another important reason aside from just knowing that you can recover from your set-backs more quickly. Scientists have found that the ability to create muscle nuclei is significantly lower in the elderly. Developing more myonuclei through strength training at a younger age can decrease muscle atrophy, helping you maintain strength as you age.

What this means

All is not lost after a minor setback! Once you lay the foundation for strength, your body will more readily regain the strength that you once had. Also, strength training early is imperative to your health throughout your life because developing the nuclei in your muscles that facilitate gains in strength will be more difficult at a later age. 

Increasing Mass Without Decreasing Speed

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Many athletes face the question of whether or not increasing body mass (or bulking up) will decrease their speed. Traditionally, athletes with a greater body mass have been strong but slow, while lighter athletes have been quick and agile. Looking at it from this perspective might lead one to assume that you should bulk up for sports where you are using your body strength as an asset and you should keep body mass lower when speed is your primary goal. However, it is not that cut and dry. Athletes need to improve their force production in order to improve speed significantly. Strengthening muscles and tendons is also essential in reducing the risk of injury.  Modern athletes have made it clear to us that speed and strength are obtainable concurrently, so there is no reason to believe you can’t have both.

So, how do you develop strength without sacrificing quickness?

The primary factor is time. Increasing body mass in the form of strength should be done gradually. Neurological aspects are always at play during training and development. When a body is changing, it must be given time to accommodate for new movement patterns. Additionally, gaining mass must be done in the form of muscle, rather than fat, in order for speed to be increased. Nutrition is an essential part of this process and cannot be overlooked. In general, if an athlete is gaining mass through strength, they are doing so through training. If they’re training throughout this increase in mass, they should have no problem increasing speed simultaneously.  

Maximizing Recovery

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Proper recovery is an essential part of an athlete’s training program, but it is often underutilized in attempts to maximize performance. Athletes should participate in recovery immediately following their workout as well as have a dedicated recovery day about once a week.

Immediate recovery should consist of:

1.       Proper Nutrition: Post-workout meals that consist of protein and carbohydrates will help replenish the body’s depleted glycogen stores and restore muscle protein synthesis. Examples of good post-workout recovery foods include salmon, tuna, rice, pasta, nuts, and oatmeal.

2.       Cooling the Body’s Core Temperature: Cooling the body’s damaged tissues can limit the extent of muscle soreness by decreasing the tissues need for oxygen and limit secondary hypoxic injury to the micro tears in the muscle.

A dedicated recovery day should consist of:

1.       Heat modalities or light cardiovascular exercise: This will increase the blood flow, bring oxygen-rich blood to the recovering tissues, and rid the body of metabolic waste products. Examples of heat modalities include a hot tub, sauna, and steam room. Light cardiovascular exercises should include non-pounding measure such as a stationary bike or elliptical.

2.       Massage or stretching of the muscles: Self-myofascial release (foam rolling) is an excellent way to massage deep muscles that are not easily reached through static stretching. Stretching the muscles helps to bring them back to a normal length and tension.

Taking a little bit of time after each workout for proper recovery may seem minor, but it will make the difference between hitting a wall and improving as an athlete.

Mobility and Injury Prevention

 Mobility and Injury Prevention

How Does Lack of Mobility Cause Injury?

Mobility is the ability to move a joint through its' full range of motion with control. Mobility requires joint strength along with flexibility. When an athlete lacks mobility, they are more likely to suffer from muscle imbalance. And, according to Gray Cook, one of the world's most respected injury prevention specialists:

The primary cause of athletic injuries is neither weakness nor tightness, but rather, muscle imbalance.

Pre & Post Workout Nutrition

Pre & Post Workout Nutrition

A great training program is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to improving as an athlete. Proper nutrition can make or break your program.  Athletes should consume a meal 1-3 hours before a tough workout in order to improve stamina.  Eating in a fasted state will lower your energy levels and negatively effect your performance.  So, if you are playing a game or have a practice at 5:00, you need to eat again after lunch.