Monthly Archives: July 2012

8-1 WOD

Buy in…

12-9-6-3

Russian Swing

Side Plank

Air Squat

Skill/Strength…

Spend 20 Minutes working on the skill and progression of the snatch or if you know it:

3 @ 50%

3 @ 60%

3 Sets of 3 @ 70%

Conditioning…

8 Minute AMRAP

4 Toe 2 Bars or Toe 2 Ring

8 Wall Balls (20/14)

12 Double Unders

Cash Out…

2x

25 Sit Ups

15 Supermans

ROLL OUT and STRETCH

*Extra Credit… Google Mobility WOD and do a Mobility WOD at HOME…. THIS WILL HELP A LOT!

Article is courtesy of Mark’s Daily Apple

Dear Mark: Your blog is a treasure trove of valuable information. Thank you  for keeping this resource available to us!

This is a question that I think many of your readers would appreciate seeing  addressed in a post. [Background: I’ve been studying (and trying, periodically)  various low carb regimens for many years, with varying degrees of success. I’m  looking to metabolize off about 30-40 pounds of excess fat, build lean muscle  and optimize my health and fitness.]

My question is, what do you think of the increasingly common recommendation  (from various diet and fitness gurus) to “spike” calories and carbs one day per  week, in order to keep the body from down-regulating certain mechanisms too much  due to continued low carbohydrate intake? The theory is that a once-per-week  carb/calorie spike gives the metabolism a boost, and keeps weight loss going at  a better rate than simply sticking to the low carb regimen seven days per  week.

I’m wondering if this recommendation for one “free day” per week is helpful  or harmful to the objective of significantly reducing excess body fat over a  period of a few months, and staying lean for life. I don’t mean a “be a fool and  eat garbage” day, but an honest “spike the carbs and calories with healthy  foods” day. What do you think: Would this be a weight loss booster overall, or  just a setback on the road to burning excess fat and getting to an optimally  lean body composition?

Thanks, Mark! I (and I’m sure your other readers) will value your opinion on  this.

Dee

I’m happy to help. Thanks for the kind words.

Short answer: Yes, I think there is something to the  lowish-carber’s occasional carb and calorie fest. Its relevance to a given  individual depends on that person’s metabolic situation, of course, but I  wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand. Check out my previous posts on leptin  and carb  refeeds and weight loss to get an idea.

Longer answer: If you’re eating low-carb and low-calorie  (which low-carb tends to promote on account of its inherent satiety) and the  weight has stopped dropping, you may be low in leptin. Why does leptin matter,  and what do calories and carbs have to do with it?

Leptin is a hormone that fulfills two primary roles, as far as metabolism and  weight loss go – it increases (or lowers) energy expenditure, depending on  perceived energy availability, and it inhibits appetite. Both actions actually  happen in the brain, but it’s leptin that gives the brain the message. If  perceived energy availability is “low,” energy expenditure drops and appetite  increases. If perceived energy availability is “high,” energy expenditure  increases and appetite drops. That’s a quick and dirty (and incomplete)  overview, but it serves our purposes for today’s discussion.

How does the body “perceive” energy availability?

Body fat is, quite literally, stored energy. It’s also an endocrine  organ that secretes leptin, the amount of which in circulation is directly  proportional to the amount of adipose tissue on your body. So, the  leaner you get, the less body fat (and less stored energy) you have available to  drive leptin secretion. Even if you’re not as lean as you’d prefer to be, your  lower body fat levels are low enough that the brain isn’t getting the “high  energy availability” message from leptin.

Insulin is another indicator of energy availability. Sure  enough, insulin  increases leptin secretion in fat cells. As far as the body’s concerned, if  insulin is present in significant amounts, food has just been eaten, which means  food is probably available in the environment. If food is readily available, the  body doesn’t need to cram as much food in, nor does it have to conserve energy.  It can do things that aren’t essential to immediate survival, like play a game,  have sex, go explore, or work out, because there’s plenty of energy available.  Leptin goes up, reducing appetite and increasing expenditure. Problems arise  with leptin resistance, of course, when your insulin is constantly  elevated, but I’ll get to that later.

Carbohydrate content of the diet, perhaps independently  of the increase in insulin, also affects leptin levels. Protein also  increases leptin, and fat seems not to, but carbohydrates have the largest  effect.

Overall calorie content of the diet is an indicator of energy  availability. Studies show that calorie  restriction causes the body to lower serum leptin levels in order to protect  against further weight loss, and that supplementary leptin kickstarts weight  loss all over again.

Ultimately, then, leptin is how the body senses both incoming and stored  energy. It goes up in response to food eaten, as well as food stored. And since  day-to-day survival of an organism is largely about energy availability, the  presence or absence of leptin can make life pretty awesome or pretty awful. This  doesn’t just impact weight loss or gain; it impacts your enjoyment of life. Low  leptin? You might not feel like taking that walk with your friend. You probably  won’t want to work out. Your libido might suffer. You might not feel like doing  much of anything except sit around.

Can you see why lagging leptin might be an issue in stalled weight loss  during a diet? You’re dropping calories (an indicator of reduced energy  availability), dropping body fat (an indicator of reduced energy availability),  and, especially if you’re low-carb, you’re dropping insulin and carbs (an  indicator of reduced energy availability). All these things tell the body to  make less leptin, and less leptin means higher appetite (so you eat more) and  lower energy expenditure (so you burn less fat and don’t feel like doing much of  anything).

How Should You Do It?

As I mentioned in the refeed post, keep the fat content of your meals  down when doing a carb feed – about 50 grams for the day. Why? For one,  fat doesn’t have as much an effect on leptin as carbs or protein do, and two,  since triglycerides  have been shown to prevent leptin from crossing the blood-brain barrier  (into the brain where leptin does its work), the increased postprandial  triglycerides (which are a normal, temporary, physiological consequence of  eating fat and different from elevated fasting triglycerides) may  reduce the effectiveness of leptin.

The greater you normally restrict carbs, the more you eat on your  refeed. If you’re hanging out in the 100-150 gram range, you probably  won’t need much – if any – of a boost in carbs. If you’re below 100 grams, I’d  do 250 grams or so. If very low carb (below 50 grams), shoot for 300-350.

Do your refeed on a training day. Lift/sprint/run/hike/play  big and, then, eat big. Your insulin  sensitivity and leptin  sensitivity will be high, your glycogen will be depleted, and you will  basically be set up to store/burn the carbs and muscle energy rather than store  it as fat. Leptin will increase regardless if you train or not, but doing it on  a training day will mitigate any metabolic fallout.

Don’t use this as an excuse for stuffing your face with  garbage. I mean, I suppose you could truly turn it into a cheat day and  eat a couple pizzas, a gallon of ice cream, and a platter of crispy oxidized  soybean oil-infused whatevers, but you’ll have better results with potatoes and yams (or  even rice)  and animals.

Who Shouldn’t Do It?

A big carb feeding isn’t right for everyone. I would say that for the  severely overweight-to-obese, you should not be messing around with carb  feeds. It’s not that they’ll wreak irreparable amounts of damage on  your metabolism or anything; they just won’t be very helpful. See, the obese  tend to be insulin-resistant (PDF). They have tons of leptin in circulation, far more than  lean individuals, but it cannot do  its intended job. Instead of telling the muscles to burn more fat for energy  and telling the brain to quell the appetite, leptin’s message in the obese is  muffled, stifled, hamstrung. It can’t get through. Lack of leptin is not the  problem, as the considerable amounts of adipose tissue are doing a fine enough  job manufacturing the stuff. Sensitivity to leptin in the brain and periphery is  the problem. Thus, adding more leptin to the bunch via dietary manipulation  won’t help, and it may even compound the problem. Improving leptin sensitivity  is the real issue here, and a lowish-carb  Primal eating and general  lifestyle plan (with adequate sleep,  smart training,  and plenty of stress  mitigation) is the best way to do that.

Who Should Do It?

Leptin is most effective in the lean, moderately lean, and somewhat  chubby (yes, those are absolutely technical terms). Men with six-packs,  four-packs, two-packs, and men and women with a light layer of subcutaneous  blubber covering everything up tend (a la those hunter-gatherers who aren’t  exactly “ripped,” but definitely not unhealthy) to be essentially  leptin-sensitive. In these individuals, leptin acutely boosts skeletal muscle fatty acid  oxidation.

Those with “stubborn” body fat, those on an extended stall, or the  otherwise lean who can’t quite seem to get the last dozen pounds to disappear  are prime candidates for a big refeed. They’re not so overweight that  leptin resistance is likely, so they’ll benefit from a general increase in  leptin. They’re fairly lean, so circulating leptin is lower.

Anyone who’s “feeling off” from low-carb Primal, despite their best  efforts. Say you’ve given the low-carb  flu a chance to pass over, you’ve addressed your sleep  and stress,  you’re not trying to train like a pro athlete, and you’re still feeling run down  and unable to lose weight? Throw in a big carb feed.

What about you guys? Have you experimented with carb refeeding, and if so,  how did it impact your weight loss efforts?

Thanks for reading!

 

 


7-31 WOD

 

Globo Boy doing Handstand Walks!!!

Buy in…

3 Rounds

3 BB Complexes with just the bar

5 Strict Pull Ups

7 Jump and touch 1 foot above your reach

Skill/Strength

Hang Clean and Jerk

3@ 50%

3@ 60%

3 Sets of 3 @ 70%

Conditioning

4x

1 Rope Climb or 8 Pull Ups

5 Front Squats@ your final weight of Clean and Jerks

10 Push Ups

100 Meter Run

* Rest 2 Minutes

Cash Out…

Row 500 Meters at an easy pace.

ROLL OUT and STRETCH your shoulders with the band

 

 

 

 


7-30 WOD

Buy in…

3x

10 KB Snatch

10 KB OHS

10 Push Ups

Strength/Skill…

Hang Snatch

3 reps @ 50%

3 reps @ 60%

3 sets of 3 reps @ 70%

*If you are new we will spend this 15 minutes working on progressions

Conditioning…

3x

15 Russian Swings (53/35 Rx) (70/53 Rx+)

15 Burpees

15 Box Jumps (24/20)

Cash Out…

200 Meter Farmer Carry

Roll Out and Stretch with the bands

Courtesy of Whole 9

The Conscientious Omnivore:  Eggs

Eggs are a staple in many of our refrigerators.  They provide a complete, easily available protein source (you can buy eggs just about anywhere these days – even your local gas  station), at a cost that most health-conscious families consider to be reasonable and affordable.   But “cheap” eggs are not really cheap when you factor in all of the hidden costs to the environment, animal welfare, society and your health.  In addition, reading and interpreting the claims made on an egg carton is a confusing and complex task.  Labels like “vegetarian fed”, “all natural” and “cage-free” may sound healthier, but often these stamps are worth less than the ink with which they’re printed.

THE  HIDDEN COST OF CHEAP EGGS

The unfortunate truth is that buying eggs is confusing on purpose.  The factory farming system (which produces a full 95% of eggs sold in the U.S.) wants you to think its chickens are raised in a humane and healthy fashion.  None of that is true.  The health of the animals you eat has a direct and powerful impact on your health… and factory farmed chickens are not healthy, happy animals.

  • In a typical factory farming system (see “United Egg Producers Certified” below), hens have 67 square inches of cage space per bird.  This is less area than a sheet of paper.  (Imagine living your whole life confined to an area the size of a stand-up shower.)  The hens are confined in restrictive, barren battery cages and cannot perform many of their natural behaviors, including spreading their wings.
  • An abundance of scientific evidence demonstrates that these cages are detrimental to animal welfare, and they are opposed by nearly every major US and EU animal welfare group.
  • There are no restrictions regarding what the birds can be fed.  Which means their diets include not only soy, grains and corn, but tons (literally) of post-slaughter animal waste products like meat and bone meal, rendered chicken carcasses, rendered feathers, hair, and skin (often under catch-all categories like “animal protein  products”), manure and other animal waste, and plastics.  These are facts, not hyperbole.
  • They are also routinely given antibiotics (a must, given their slum-like, unsanitary living conditions), which leads to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, ever-increasing salmonella outbreaks and recalls, and cross-contamination of these bacteria with humans. Hens are also fed other  dietary additives (including arsenic) to prevent disease.
  • As hens living in such cramped conditions exhibit stress-induced aggression, panic and fear responses, beak cutting (without anesthesia) is not only permitted, but the rule rather than the exception.  In addition, forced molting through starvation (so the hens produce more eggs) is also a permitted and common practice.  These same inhumane practices, if applied to the treatment of dogs, would be considered illegal and punishable by law.

Lest you think we’ve pulled one or two egregious farms out of the mix and are holding them up as a worst-case example, please read a bit about the poultry farming industry from Farm Sanctuary, one of the leading animal welfare institutes in the country.  And if you don’t trust some fringe-y group you’ve never heard of,  how about the Humane  Society?   The stark reality is that there are no worst-case examples, as every factory farm is run exactly the same.

The below egg carton label information comes primarily from the Humane Society web site, as updated in October 2010.

EGG CARTON LABELS:  THESE TERMS ARE MORE OR LESS MEANINGLESS

While these labels sound healthy, on their own, they hold zero value in evaluating the health or treatment of the hens, or their eggs.  These are labels straight from the factory farming system, designed simply to confuse health-conscious consumers.

Natural: Meaningless.  According to the USDA, the “natural” label can be placed on a product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. This label in no way refers to the way an animal was raised, nor the feed, antibiotics or additives it was given.  Animals raised in the factory farming system can by all rights still carry the label “natural.” Do any of those practices described above sound at all natural to you?

No Added Hormones: Indicates that the animals were raised without added growth hormones. Sounds good, right?  But by U.S. law,  poultry cannot be given any hormones.   Which means the use of this label on your eggs is totally misleading.   We told you, these labels are sneaky.

Omega-3 Enriched: This label alone has no relevance to the animal’s welfare, living conditions or health.  Hens fed flax (which translates to a tiny bit of added Omega-3 in their eggs) may still be subjected to the same factory farming conditions and diet as the rest of the non-flax fed hens.

Vegetarian-Fed: These birds’ feed does not contain animal waste products… but that’s about it.   They still may come from the factory farming system, which means this label does not have significant relevance to the animals’ living conditions, welfare or health.

United Egg Producers Certified: Perhaps the worst of the bunch, this voluntary program permits routine cruel and inhumane factory farm practices. These are the exact “factory farming” conditions we speak of above, although their “certification program” might lead you to believe otherwise.  In addition, they’ll tell you that compliance is verified through third-party auditing. (Compliance to what?  Cruel and inhumane practices?)

EGG CARTON LABELS:  BETTER, BUT NOT AS GOOD AS YOU MIGHT THINK

These labels mean something in terms of animal health, living conditions and/or welfare… but certainly not all three at the same time.  Which means your “organic” eggs are still living in cramped, disease-ridden conditions, and your “cage-free” hens are still fed animal waste products.  Buyer beware.

Cage-Free: Note, there is no legal definition for this term. Hens laying eggs labeled as “cage-free” are un-caged and generally have a bit more space than battery-caged hens.  But they’re still crammed inside barns or warehouses, are unable to exhibit their normal, natural behaviors, and generally are without any access to the outdoors.   Beak cutting is permitted, and the term “cage-free” says nothing of the hens’ diets, or whether they are given antibiotics or other additives.  In addition, there is no third-party auditing of this system.

Free-Range  or Free-Roaming: The USDA has defined nofree-range”  standards, and allows egg producers to freely label any egg as such. Typically, free-range hens are un-caged inside barns or  warehouses and have some degree of outdoor access.  (However, we’ve  already mentioned what that “outdoor access” could mean.)    As Jonathan Safran Foer says in Eating Animals, “I could keep a flock of  hens under my sink and call them free-range.”

In  addition, this label alone means there are no restrictions regarding  what the birds can be fed (antibiotics, animal waste products,  additives, etc.), and beak cutting and forced molting through starvation  are permitted. There is no third-party auditing of this system.

Certified Organic: The birds are un-caged inside barns or warehouses, and are required to have outdoor access.  However, that “outdoor access” could mean a tiny door on one side of the barn, which opens to a “yard” big enough to hold only 3% of the hens living in the enclosed structure at any given time, which may or may not ever be open.  (It certainly doesn’t mean that your organic hens ever spend any time actually outside.)  In addition, the amount, duration, and quality of outdoor access is undefined. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are also permitted.

The good news?  They are fed an organic, all-vegetarian diet free of animal by-products, antibiotics and pesticides, as required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  These animals’ organic foods also cannot be grown using synthetic fertilizers, chemicals, or sewage sludge, cannot be genetically modified, and cannot be irradiated.  Compliance is verified through third-party auditing.

EGG CARTON LABELS:  YOUR BEST CHOICES

These certifications actually mean something, either on their own or in conjunction with another (meaningful) label like “certified organic”.  Look for these labels at your local health food store, Whole Foods or other independent food co-ops, as you’re not likely to find these at a normal grocery store.

Certified Humane: Certified Humane is a program of Humane Farm Animal Care. The birds are un-caged inside barns or warehouses, but may or may not spend time outside in their natural habitat. (Refer to the specific farm and product to determine whether their birds are outdoors – “pastured” – or not.)  They must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching, and dust bathing. There are requirements for stocking density and number of perches and nesting boxes.  Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, however minor beak cutting is still allowed. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing.

Food Alliance Certified: Food Alliance Certified is a program of the Food Alliance.  The birds are cage-free and access to outdoors or natural daylight is required. They must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching and dust bathing. There are specific requirements for stocking density, perching, space and nesting boxes. Starvation-based molting is prohibited, but minor beak cutting is still allowed. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing.

The following labels hold no legal definition, but are used by farmers to indicate their eggs were produced in a manner healthy for the environment, their chickens and you.  Don’t immediately dismiss them just because they aren’t regulated, but don’t take their claims at face value either.  Do some research to find out whether the eggs in your cart meet your standards of healthy, humanely raised animal products.

Pastured: While there is no legal definition for the term “pastured”, it refers to chickens allowed to roam in open pastures. They don’t just have “access to the outdoors” – they actually are outdoors for a good portion of their lives.  Advocates of pastured eggs believe that the chickens are happier and healthier, and nutritional analysis has shown that pastured eggs are also richer in useful nutritious elements like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C.  Usually used in conjunction with “organic”, indicating that the hens are fed an organic diet, and aren’t given antibiotics or exposed to synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.  These two elements combined (“pastured” + “organic”) are a “best choice”.

Happy Hens: We’ve seen this claim on more than one egg carton, and when it’s used in conjunction with other terms like “certified organic” and “pastured”, we’re more likely to believe the claims.  We’ll also do our research, however, calling the farm or checking out their web site to learn more about the manner in which their hens are raised and fed.  (Check out this description of the “dream life” of hens living at Soul Food Farms in Vacaville, CA.  We’d buy their eggs, despite the fact that “dream life” isn’t a legally defined term.)

Ethically Raised: Again, not a legally defined term, but indicates that the producers are thinking about the health and happiness of their animals.  Do your research, as above.

NO LABELS?  SOMETIMES, THAT’S A GOOD THING.

Finally, don’t immediately dismiss your local farmer’s market offerings just because they don’t have fancy (and often expensive) certifications on their homemade egg cartons!  If you can find a local farm with healthy, happy, naturally fed chickens being raised in a humane and ethically defensible way, those eggs would earn our top marks.  Call the farm, or even better, stop by and visit!  A farmer truly concerned for his animals and his consumers will be more than happy to give you the tour and allow you to see where you food comes from.  (Try that with a factory farm.)

In closing, happy, healthy chickens = a healthier egg, which leads to a healthier YOU!  Don’t let the confusing factory farming system trick you into supporting something you’re not in favor of.  Vote with your dollar, and support those egg producers who truly care about the environment, animal welfare and your health.

 

 

 

 


7-27 BENCHMARK WOD

Buy in…

9-6-3

KB Snatch

Push Up

Golblet Squat

WOD…

“Hope”

Three rounds of:

Burpees

75/55 pound Power snatch

Box jump, 24/20″ box

75/55 pound Thruster

Chest to bar Pull-ups

“Hope” has the same format as Fight Gone Bad. In this workout you move from each of five stations after a minute. This is a five-minute round from which a one-minute break is allowed before repeating. The clock does not reset or stop between exercises. On call of “rotate,” the athlete/s must move to next station immediately for good score. One point is given for each rep.

*We are going to have 2 heats each class so we can have help counting on this. We will still have both heats done at the normal time.

Cash Out…

Walk a 400

Roll Out and Stretch

*Courtesy of CrossFit Clear Lake

Pain vs. Injury

Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 12:54PM

We  all know that hard work hurts sometimes.  Aside from muscle soreness,  we get little tweaks and twinges from time to time.  The real trick is  knowing the difference between hurting and being injured.  Really, it’s  knowing when pushing past that hurt will lead you to injury.  Most of us  who are drawn to CrossFit have a stubbornness and high tolerance for  pain that help us push through a tough WOD.  Those qualities can also  lead us to injury.  Take care of your tweaks and twinges, and listen to  your body.  Don’t be afraid to stop or scale a movement or weight if  your body is telling you something’s not right.
Some  of the best preventive work you can do is before and after your WOD –  mobility and recovery are at least as important as your workout.
Get  on a Roll – Get to the gym a few minutes early and spend some time  rolling out before your class starts.  Hit the quads, hamstrings, and  back for starters.  Grab a lacrosse ball and work on your shoulders.
Ice,  Ice, Baby – You know those WODs like Karen or 100 Back Squats or 400m  of lunges that leave you walking funny for a few days?  Next time one of  those comes up, try an ice bath to help with your recovery.  If you  have a particular problem area, spot ice for 20 minutes after a workout.
Oooohhhhmmmm  – Try some Yoga… or at least some stretching and easy movement.  Increasing your flexibility can help to prevent injury.  If you’re  really achy, sometimes an easy walk can be very beneficial.  Sitting  still is often one of the worst things you can do.
Fish Oil – A natural anti-inflammatory.  Take some every day.
Sleep  and proper nutrition are vital as well, so don’t ignore those things.   Shoot for eight or more hours most nights, and eat real food.  You can  un-do a lot of your gym work in those 23 hours of the day that we don’t  see you.
Take  care of your tweaks before they become serious injuries, and make sure  you’re recovering properly.  Pain is part of hard work.  Push through  discomfort, but don’t be stupid about sharp or nagging pains.  Take it  from someone who’s been stupid more than once, it’s not worth it.

 


7-26 WOD

 

Buy in…

3x

10 Wall Balls

5 Toe 2 Bars

Conditioning…

5x

21 Russian Swings

12 Push Ups

50 Double Unders or 150 Singles… Either is Rx,  you choose

*Rest 1 Minute between rounds

Cash Out…

750 Meter Row

Roll Out and Stretch with bands

 

 


7-25 WOD

Buy in…

10-8-6-4-2
Barbell Complex
Hollow Rock/Sit Up

Skill/Strength

3 Thrusters EMOM for 6 Min

Conditioning

12 Minute AMRAP
8 Front Squats (95/65)
8 Burpees
100 Meter Run

Cash Out

Run 100 Meters Backwards
Roll Out and Stretch


7-24 WOD

Buy in…

15-10-5

Ring Row

Split Squats

Side Plank

Conditioning…

“The Running Rookie”

3x

10 Pull Ups

15 Push Ups

20 Sit Ups

25 Squats

Run 400

Cash Out…

100 Meter Farmer Carry (Heavy)

Roll Out and Stretch

*Repost from the Whole 9

9 things to do when you’re All Banged Up

by Dallas Hartwig, PT, MS

As a physical therapist and strength and conditioning coach, I’ve spent a good portion of my professional career talking to people about recovery, either in the clinic following an injury or in the gym following a high-intensity workout. Since I believe that brief, high-intensity exercise is the most productive in terms of maximizing fitness and minimizing risk of overuse injury and excessive oxidative stress on the body, I prescribe exercise programs that look a lot like CrossFit, with a heavy emphasis on strength movements and gymnastics.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of information out there about how to exercise, but far less information about the application of proper rest and recovery techniques.  I see more sub-acute and chronic injuries resulting from inadequate recovery from exercise (especially with high-intensity programs), than resulting from an acute or traumatic incident. The primary fault lies with inadequate or improper recovery from exercise, not the type or intensity of exercise. (To put it another way, it’s not that you’re hurting yourself doing pull-ups – more often than not, it’s because you’re not properly recovering from those pull-ups.)

I believe that a high intensity exercise program is both effective and sustainable life-long, when combined with good nutrition and recovery practices. So I find myself educating my PT patients about nutrition, sleep, active recovery techniques, and stress management practices as often as I do about the physiology of connective tissue healing, lumbar stabilization, or biomechanics.  It was this experience that, in part, led Melissa and me to develop a comprehensive and integrative practice (Whole9) to help our clients continue to aggressively chase health and performance without being hindered by nagging pain and injuries.

At some point in our lives, we’re likely to find ourselves over-trained, under-recovered, under-fed, under-slept, over-caffeinated, and (eventually) actually injured.  Ideally, the early stages are the time to pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you, and take immediate action to ensure those nagging aches and pains don’t become a seriously limiting chronic injury.  So here are the Whole9′s recommendations for what to do when you’re All Banged Up.

1. Take extra rest days. I’m not talking about swapping your rest day from Wednesday to Tuesday – I’m telling you to skip a bunch of workouts.  I’m a proponent of taking an entire week off once or twice a year from hard training – and can think of no better time to do so than when you’re banged up. And once you go back to intense training, you also need to give that injured body part another week or three of rest. Yes, really – rest it longer than you think you should. Trust me, you’d rather take three weeks off from all pulling exercises than be plagued with chronic injuries (and sucky performance) for the next six months.  Finally, don’t even think about doing two workouts a day or a long met-con to “make up for” your extra rest days. The whole point is extra rest.

2. Get felt up (or feel yourself up). Seek out a good massage therapist. Cyclic compression of muscles after intense exercise reduce swelling and muscle damage.  Massage can improve muscle function, resulting in less swelling and fewer signs of inflammation after exercise.  Too busy to book an hour long massage?  If you’re beat up, no you’re not… skip today’s workout and hit the massage table.  Too broke to see your massage therapist every week?  Luckily, there are cheaper and still-effective alternatives.   Spend enough intimate time with your foam roller to make your significant other jealous. Buy a Stick and use it. Work with a tennis ball or lacrosse ball for some self-myofascial release.

3.  Keep moving. Low intensity exercise can protect and enhance the immune system, even when you’re banged up or sick.  It also helps with injury prevention and recovery.  Moving your body increases blood flow and the number of cells that eat up “debris” in the injury.  It also increases oxygen levels to speed up healing, and increases circulation to remove the debris out of injured areas.  Finally, exercise prevents stiffness and decreases the formation of scar adhesions.  Stay active with movements different from those you normally perform during workouts, but remember to keep things light and easy.  Think dynamic warm-up drills, kripalu yoga, an easy swim or a brisk walk.  And people… stretch.

4. Use thermal modalities (heat and ice) appropriately. If you have an acute injury (less than 5 days old), ice is your best friend. I prefer crushed ice (in a plastic bag inside a pillowcase) instead of those commercial gel packs – they warm up too fast. Apply the ice to the injured area for 20-30 minutes, at least 3 times daily.  Or you could apply ice directly to the injured area with ice massage (as pictured above) for 8-10 minutes. Most importantly, don’t put heat on an acute injury. The inflammatory process is biochemical, and heat literally speeds up that process. Heat vasodilates and promotes the accumulation of interstitial fluid (edema), and the last thing you want with a fresh injury is to add to the swelling. If you really love your Tiger Balm or Icy Hot, that’s okay – but these products have no real thermal effect. (You might get the sensation, but it doesn’t actually heat or cool your tissue.)

Chronic injuries (anything that persists for longer than 2-3 weeks) respond best to heat, which improves blood flow to the healing tissue.   So once you’re into the 5-plus day range, you can use contrasting hot and cold, alternating every 2-5 minutes for a total of 20-30 minutes, especially post-workout.

5. Remove inflammatory dietary factors. This should be a no-brainer around here.  If you’ve been slipping back into old (poor) eating habits, now’s the time to clean up that mess. Get rid of grains, legumes, and dairy altogether.  Need I even mention cutting out booze?   And though it’s controversial, I’d also recommend eating less saturated animal fat (especially egg yolks and fat from feedlot-raised, grain-fed animals) as it can increase pro-inflammatory compounds in your body.

6.  Boost your vegetable intake. Alkaline foods, especially richly coloured vegetables, help to offset the negative effects of acidic metabolic waste. Vitamin C and polyphenols, like those in broccoli and dark leafy greens, are essential for the repair of connective tissue and to reduce inflammation.  Vitamins E (found in sprouts, avocado and dark, leafy greens) and A (found in green and yellow vegetables) are also important nutrients for connective tissue and cell repair.  In summary, eat more veggies, especially green leafies… but not more fruit. (I’m wary of fruit’s impact on insulin levels, which, when elevated, increase inflammatory markers in the body). Go easy on carbohydrate-dense root vegetables for the same reason.

7. Calm down (your inflammation). The ratio of omega fats in your diet help dictate the “inflammation status” of your body. If your diet consists of mostly omega-6 fats, your inflammation response will be unbalanced and damaging to your cells. To that end, per Robb Wolf’s recommendations, bump up your fish oil supplementation to 0.8-1.0 gram of DHA + EPA per 10 pounds of body weight.  The additional omega-3 fatty acids can help tip the balance in your body away from an inflammatory state. Also, avoid concentrated sources of omega-6 fatty acids, such as “industrial” vegetable oils like peanut, safflower, soybean, and corn oils. You could also consider a GLA (gamma-lineolic acid) supplement. (GLA, while in the Omega-6 family, is not converted to the pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid (AA), but rather to  dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA).  DGLA competes with AA and prevents the negative inflammatory effects that AA would otherwise cause in the body.)

And it may sound weird, but… don’t forget to brush your teeth and, just as importantly, floss daily.  Periodontal disease can contribute to systemic inflammation in the body just like grains, legumes and dairy.

8. Get more and better sleepThis article explains how sleep contributes to a whole host of health and fitness factors, including injury prevention and recovery. During this time period, avoid caffeine, which can disrupt the quality of your sleep even if it doesn’t actually keep you awake.

9. Ditch the Advil. While I don’t purport to be smarter than your doctor, here is one area where I disagree with his recommendation to scarf the Vitamin I (ibuprofen) and other NSAIDs (non-steriodal anti-inflammatories). Sure, NSAIDs suppress the inflammatory process and help with pain control. But research has shown that they actually slow down the overall healing process, and cause the “healed” tissue to be less strong.  So allow your body’s healing process run its natural course, and don’t band-aid it with Advil.