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by Michelle McCabe, GFP Trainer

Having a trainer tweak your form can lead to big results.

Are you seeing results from your workout regimen? Do you get hurt every once in a while from your workouts? Do you know if you’re doing the right thing when you’re exercising?

If you said yes to any one of the questions above, it may be time to take a look at your plan and see if a professional can help. 

Here at GFP we often see that one small tweak to an exercise can change EVERYTHING. As a coach I witness this happen ALL the time. There have been so many times when we’ve made a small tweak in someone’s form we hear “ OMG! that doesn’t hurt now” or “ Oh, NOW I feel it in that spot!”, and “I totally didn’t know I was supposed to feel it there!”. 

There are a few things  you should know: 

Exercise is not supposed to hurt you.

“No pain, no gain” is an old fashioned saying. Exercise should not hurt you-- if it is, you may be doing it wrong or have an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Our excellent trainers at GFP make sure that the exercises you’re doing are appropriate for YOU and we correct your form so that you don’t get hurt.  BIG TAKE AWAY – you stay healthy so that you can keep coming back to the gym and get results.  

You should know “where you’re supposed to feel it” 

Ever do an exercise and not know if you’re doing it right or feeling it in the right spot? You should know! At the very least you should be able to trust that the exercises you’re doing are working right. GFP trainers are trained to make sure you’re “feeling it” in the right spots and that you are doing the exercises that WILL give you the results you want. 

Finally, you should be getting BETTER!!  

The exercises you’re doing should start to get easier or you should be able to do more, or add heavier weight to them, or progress to a harder version. You should be getting exposed to different and new exercises and coached up on the form. This is how you grow, you get better and get closer to your goals. If you don’t have anyone coaching and correcting you.. how will you know you’re not just spinning your wheels? 

Small tweaks to your form can make a big difference! 

Make sure you have a coach who is a pro and can help you with corrections!


by Coach Joe Hartigan 

One of the most neglected parts of training and physical preparation, especially at the high school level, is in-season training.

The thought process behind focusing solely on the sport without any strength work is a flawed one.  Many Division 1 and professional sports teams consider in-season training to be the most important part of the training year.

Despite this, many people still believe that strength training in-season is too stressful. They think it will do more harm than good and result in a physically and mentally broken down athlete.

During the season, Athletes should be left drained from their sport, not their training

In-season training is crucial to sporting success - but the secret is to have a well-designed program focused on keeping athletes healthy and at peak performance.

A good in-season program will:

Focus on maintaining strength, power, and lean mass

Our athletes work hard for months to get strong and powerful for the season, and we don't want to lose it when the season starts.

The old adage "If you don't use it, you lose it" applies here.  Power and strength can decrease in as little as 4 days after the last workout.

All sporting seasons are associated with a loss in lean mass as well.  Because of the stress of games and practices, the body tries to rid itself of metabolic tissue (mostly muscle).  While this may make sense in terms of energy efficiency, it is obviously not optimal for sports.

Strength is directly related with lean mass.  When we lose strength, we lose the potential to create power, and we become more vulnerable to injury.

We can focus on maintaining strength, power, and lean mass through safe, effective movements with heavy weight and low volume to prevent more fatigue and soreness.

Focus on stress maintenance

School, social, mental, and physical factors associated with sport can lead to extreme stress accumulation to a student athlete during a competitive season.

Adding training while the student athlete is in season can lead to more stress.  This is where a well thought-out program can have a benefit.

While the body needs to be stressed to maintain strength, power, and other factors needed for sporting success, a good coach will be able to implement recovery techniques in season.  The fact is this is a stressful time and a good coach will be able to recognize this in his athletes.

If an athlete comes in after a very physical game, grueling practice, or has 3 exams tomorrow morning, the coach can actually change the planned workout to one that will shift the body's nervous system from flight or flight mode to rest and recover mode.

While most in-season workouts will need some degree of difficulty to keep the qualities gained in the off-season, a well-designed program will have alternative workouts to help the athlete recover physically, mentally, and physiologically.

Focus on maintaining mobility and tissue length

Each sport is defined by specific, repetitive movements which may cause a loss of mobility in some places and movement compensations.  As we all know, loss of mobility and compensation of movement is a huge predictor of injury.

Self-myofascial release and specific mobility drills should be a staple during in-season training to prevent compensations and mobility loss.

In turn, this will help the athlete perform at their best, stay healthy throughout the season and avoid any nagging injuries, strains, or pulls. Well-designed programs will help even out the stresses of the repetitive demands of the specific sport.

Avoid speed, agility and conditioning work

Since the athlete is in-season, all speed, agility, and conditioning work is done on the field in practice and in games in the most highly specific manner possible.  Performing and practicing these skills during an in-season session wastes valuable training time, exposes the athlete to more risk for injury and just adds to accumulated stress.

Since we want our In season sessions to be 45 minutes or less to prevent excessive release of the stress hormone cortisol, it is best to leave the speed, agility, and conditioning work out of the program and get to the more important strength and power work.  It also makes sense to focus more on strength and power because these are the base qualities that allow athletes to be fast and agile and are not trained in practice.

Focus on injury prevention

Because the competitive season is so long and stressful, the #1 goal should be to stay healthy and avoid injury.  A well-designed in-season program will help to do that.

As we have seen above, keeping strength and power levels high, keeping stress levels in check, putting an emphasis on tissue quality, mobility, and movement, and avoiding risky unnecessary skill work during the season can all help to keep the athlete healthy and performing optimally for the duration of the season.

Even though it is the most ignored, in-season training may be one of the most important blocks of the training year.

What are you doing this season?

The Importance of Stretching and Soft Tissue Work

 by Michelle  

Many of us cringe at the thought of foam rolling, stretching, and warming up before a workout. It's typically not much fun and not very comfortable. But think about it.. Why are such simple exercises so hard for us? ... Answer: we don't do enough of stretching, foam rolling and mobility work!

Why are we so tight?

General "tightness" and a lack of flexibility is the cause of most people's habitual aches and pains, and can significantly affect your health, quality of life and ability to continue to be active. Restrictions such as scar tissue in our soft tissue can give us that feeling of being "tight" and inflexible. Soft tissue refers to muscles, ligaments, tendons and especially the fascia.

Most people have never heard of fascia - I went to school for 8 years and never really learned much about it until I started working as a strength coach. Fascia wraps around all of our muscles and tissues

Fascia {fash-ee-uh} is the most prevalent tissue in the body yet it is often the least understood. The fascial system is one continuous, laminated, connective-tissue sheath that spreads from head to toe throughout the entire body.

The structure of fascia is often compared to a knit sweater or a web, and its job is to maintain a delicate balance between tension and elasticity. It is known that the health and function of joints and muscles are a direct result of the condition of your fascia.

The problem is that fascia will shorten, thicken and tighten (like shrink-wrap) when any of your tissues are under stress from aging, poor posture, dehydration, improper body mechanics, lack of exercise, repetitive motion, injury, emotional stress, or over-training.

Over time, the accumulation of tight "shrink - wrapped" tissue will place pressure on joints and nerves, and can create pain in areas of your body that seem unrelated to the actual problem area.

How can we loosen up?

At GFP, we have some great solutions to help you increase the health of your fascia and overall flexibility. Two of these you already may know, as they are expected of all our clients before they enter a weight training session. The third method you may not know much about and may be a very beneficial thing for you to try!

1. Foam Rolling

If you haven't already noticed we LOVE foam rolling here. Foam rolling is one of the most important things you can do for yourself before and after you work out! The benefits of foam rolling are many. Compared to traditional static stretching (stretching and holding a position), foam rolling gives us muscle stretch with added pressure that helps to breakdown scar tissue and tightness in the fascia. We call this Self-Myofascial Release or SMR.

Nobody likes it - but it works!

You can think of foam rolling as very similar to deep tissue massage, except that it is being much more affordable and convenient. Foam Rolling only takes about 10 minutes to be effective. Just note that like stretching, foam rolling doesn't produce marked improvements overnight; you'll need to be diligent and stick with it every day (although you'll definitely notice benefits right away).

2. Warming up

Taking your warm-up seriously is key to a great workout. Think about it; in our warm up what do the specific stretches, exercises and mobility drills do for you exactly?

Warming-up increases central nervous system function, makes muscles more elastic, and enables joint lubrication. A proper warm-up helps you to see how you are feeling and make corrections so that you don't hurt yourself in the session. For example, if you feel any side to side imbalances or differences, a few corrective exercises in your warm up will make a huge difference in correcting problems.

My personal favorite benefit of the warm up: Mental preparation. These movements and drills give me a chance to zone in on what I'm about to do in my session and give myself a positive "pump" talk.

3. Fascial Stretch Therapy

This is a method of stretching that you may not have heard of before. Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST) is a technique that can drastically improve your flexibility and mobility by decompressing your joints and unwinding the tightened fascia.

What is a FST Session like? 

FST is performed as assisted stretching on a massage table equipped with comfortable straps that stabilize the parts of the body not being worked on.

The stretching sessions include fluid movements and the therapist can either address specific areas of the body that you feel are tight or perform a full body stretch.  While you relax on the table and breathe the therapist gradually eases you into a series of gentle, but deep stretching movements.

The experience is relaxing and pain-free. Unlike traditional stretching, FST integrates several angles and planes of movement that follow the patterns of your fascia.

This type of stretching is not something reserved only for athletes! Remember, being "tight" or having specific aches or tightness can greatly affect your quality of life and you may not even realize it! Whether you're an athlete or not, people of all ages can reach pain-free function and flexibility with Fascial Stretching.

Taking care of our fascia is something that everyone needs!

In order for athletes to perform at the highest level possible and for fitness clients to achieve the fat loss results they desire, hard work is required.

We put everyone through an extensive assessment process to help minimize the risk of injuries, but the reality is injuries are going to happen.

How you handle them is the key.

Many ask the question if they should ice or heat after an injury.

The injuries I am referring to are minor soft tissue injuries, such as sore trap/neck, sore shoulder, lower back, knee, foot etc.

[youtube_sc url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUWGZmsQesU&list=UUFQcwMhvzc1LOPMS9IV8_cQ&index=1&feature=plcp"]

How to Ice After Injury (Joe's Swollen Ankle)

If you have an injury such as very sore upper trap muscle where turning your head is difficult, the area is inflamed.  You need to reduce the inflammation as fast as possible to decrease pain and swelling.If you have an injury like a broken leg stop reading this and please escort yourself to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible.

What Does Ice do?

Ice will to reduce pain, swelling, inflammation, and muscle spasms, promote healing, and help prevent further injury. Ice is the absolute best choice immediately after an injury.

How long should I Ice?

For the first 24-72 hours after an injury or sore area, use ONLY ice for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off as much as possible. Avoid extended direct contact of the ice on skin.

What does heat do?

Heat increases the inflammation, and it is not a good idea to use it during the inflammatory phase.

Putting heat on a new injury is like trying to put a fire out with gasoline. It will just increase the inflammatory response and will prevent the healing process.

After the first few days you can you heat before a workout to warm up the area. But even after this point it is still a good idea to ice after a workout or practice.

Should I get a massage right away after an injury?

Massage is probably the best way to relieve pain with a soft tissue injury. The results we are seeing from the increased number of our clients getting regular massage are incredible, but you need to wait a few days.

Christina Hungria, our massage therapist, recommends to wait about 48-72 hours after an injury to get a massage.

When you have a knot or trigger point, it is like a piece of chewed bubble gum. Since it's all knotted up blood cannot flow through it so it does not heal and keeps causing pain.

Massage breaks up the knots and trigger points and allows blood to flow through the area, which helps promote healing.

Christina also recommends to heat the area she works on for about 20 minutes after the massage.

Heat will rush more blood to the area and speed up the healing process at this time. Remember this is roughly 72 hours after an injury.

Taking care of your body is an essential element of living a long pain free healthy life. Ice is something that is very simple but we often underestimate how important it really is.

Ice!

Would the parent of a football player let their son play next Sunday's game without a helmet?  Of course, the answer is always NO.  This happens everyday when female athletes take the soccer field, lacrosse field, basketball court or tennis court UNPREPARED.  Studies have shown that female athletes tear their  ACL  4 to 6  times more often than men.

Here are a list of potential reasons why females are at a higher risk for a knee injury:

  1. Increase Q angle due to a wider pelvis
  2. Ligamentous Injury can occur due to female hormones
  3. Anatomical differences

These 3 potential causes are all part of being a female and not much can  be done to change them.

Fortunately, the following causes are absolutely preventable and can ALL be improved through a great training program.

  1. Lack of Eccentric Strength
  2. Lack of Muscular  Balance between Quads and Hamstring/ Glute Complex
  3. Lack of technique (especially during the stopping portion of a cut)
  4. Lack of Conditioning

Back in November we had a soccer/lacrosse player hobble through our door that had been dealing with excruciating knee pain for years. She had just finished the soccer season and was very disappointed in her inability to compete because of her knee. She was a very talented athlete but had no confidence in her knee and it affected her performance. After 4 months she is now ripping up the lacrosse field and feels better than ever.

What did she do?

#1 She got Strong! Three times a week she strength trained her entire body. She performed many lower body strength exercises on one leg to improve stability and strengthen all the muscles around her knee. This allowed the muscles to absorb force and not her knee. Other exercises included dead lifts, bench press variations, push-ups, chins, rows and tons of core stability training. Before each session she performed Glute and VMO activation exercises to make sure the muscles that stabilize the knee were firing.
 
#2 She learned how to decelerate!  Learning how to land from a jump is an essential part of injury prevention. The first month of the program was teaching her to land softly in a great body position. In terms of getting faster, she learned how to stop. Every sprint ended with a stop in a great body position. All these drills allowed her to make more efficient cuts and take the stress off the knee -  and allow the muscles to absorb the force when making a cut.
 
#3 She got in Shape! Athletes are much more prone to injury when they are tired. The risk of a knee or an ankle injury increases big time when the athlete does not have control over their body. Being tired also causes an athlete to play in a more upright and straight legged position, a major cause of ACL tears. She performed intervals specific to her sport. After 4 months of the Airdyne Bike and pushing the Prowler, a lacrosse game will seem easy!

 

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