Did you know one in five people over the age of 65 are at risk of falling? Avoid this drama with stronger bones, good posture, and stronger muscles!
For this month’s article I want to highlight the importance of strength training. Many athletes, recreational or otherwise, incorporate some variance into their training protocols. A balanced program is essential to stay injury-free and healthy for ongoing success in your endeavors, however, a good strength base is a key foundation to improve performance from a wide range of activities.
Yoga and swimming, for example, need a strong core to allow support to hold a streamline position. Tennis, squash, and racquetball require you to move thoroughly and get lower to the ground if you are to be consistent. This technical requirement means we must focus on some level of leg strength along with core strength to play better.
If you’ve ever taken a tennis lesson with me, you might have heard the idea of playing, “with a bucket of water on your head.” This idea of not letting the water tip out helps you maintain balance, keeping your core ‘straight’ or upright while you move to load up your legs by getting low. This theory applies to everyone if you want to play better tennis.
To achieve this strength, you should incorporate some strength training into your regimen.
Using either bodyweight, machines, or free weights depending on your experience and fitness level, aim to be able to hold a seated position for 30 seconds. Work with weights to develop this base strength through squats, lunges and step-ups onto a raised platform. With those three exercises you are on your way to not only being stronger but having healthier bones. You will be able to get down to lower balls and be fighting the bone degenerative disease, osteoporosis, at the same time. After just one month of training, most players don’t notice the effort it once took to support themselves and movement occurs more naturally.
Talk to us in the weight room and we’ll show you how to build your strength safely!
M.S., C.S.C.S, C-EP WRAC Head Tennis Pro
...those annoying things that keep you from doing what you want!
I thought it fitting this month that I write on the topic of staying healthy. I recently suffered a broken bone from a snowboarding accident... before I go any further, I want to say a big thank you to all the WRAC members who showed their support and love over this recent time…you guys are truly amazing and I’m glad that in just the few months I’ve arrived in Wenatchee that it could feel like a second (or third?) home!
Some solace I take away from being injured on the snow is the fact that it did not occur on the tennis court (my other home!). While I might need to work on my snowboarding accuracy through the trees, I have been relatively injury free for someone having played tennis for 24 years and having attained a professional level. Now, the more we train for whatever sport or event, the more our bodies become tired and develop asymmetry. Your body is forced to compensate in other areas when you complete repetitive movements. This compensation is the “wow” moment if you have ever visited an osteopath – or taken a massage at our club – and find that the source of our pain or injury stemmed from something anatomically distant from that pain!
So what can we do to prevent muscle imbalances, keep good posture, and keep building on our goals?
Well, the secret lies in a good training program. For a tennis player, they are right or left side dominant depending on their play. Even a more evenly balanced movement like a squat in weightlifting shows that our bodies can favor one side. This favoring is particularly true with respect to prior injuries as many athletes look to avoid the weaker side and thus can create more problems in the long run of their training stemming from these imbalances.
1. Warm up. Often the most overlooked element of any training program by most novice athletes. During a warm up, your muscles are not ready to rapidly move and extend to their maximum so easing your body into your training is a huge advantage for those who can be patient for 5-20 minutes – yes they can go for that long! Note: A warm down is a great idea also post-training. Tip: Before training, do dynamic stretching – this means movement. Move your body with light jogging, twisting, extending movements that are not a static stretch and hold. These stretch and hold movements should be utilized at the END of your workout.
2. Ice is your friend. If your shoulder hurts from repetitive movement like serving in tennis, ice will help reduce the inflammation in your muscles and decrease pain. If you can’t bare the pain, get a lesson from me and I’ll fix your technique! …if you can’t take off a few weeks/months to fully recover from overuse, ice will really help that dull aching pain and keep you in the game.
3. Get mobile! Training for a wide range of motion and testing for muscle constraints helps your body stay in good form. You can simply add some slow strength and flexibility exercises to your program and see yourself be able to continue your hard work despite maybe not “feeling” better, you’ll see how you can stay injury free. A basic example would be don’t only train your chest… train your back evenly as well.
4. Massage. If any of you have been fortunate enough to experience sports massage, you already know the benefits the sometimes painful (but good!) experience brings. When you train, your muscles tighten up and tangle into knots. This tightness is the body way of telling you you’re doing too much and it wants a break. Athletes often use massage to help those muscles relax and release tension as to function more evenly or as desired by the body. Overall, if you put in the work to stay healthy you only allow yourself the best chance to stay in the game! We can’t avoid some injuries but we can control our preparedness. Good luck and stay healthy!
The article below is from Balanced Habits nutrition program "Seven ways you can reduce your daily sugar consumption starting today" is a quick summary of ways to cut down sugar that we may not be aware of in our daily consumption of food. It's a good start to lowering your overall intake along with other healthy habits. Enjoy!
Seven ways you can reduce your daily sugar consumption starting today.
Weight gain...Heart Disease...High Blood Pressure...Diabetes...Cavities.
These are just some of the consequences of consuming too much sugar. Here are seven things you can start doing immediately that will help you fall within the recommended daily sugar consumption guidelines...
1. If you eat yogurt, switch to plain yogurt - There are two categories of sugar you need to be mindful of if you're looking to cut down on your sugar intake: 1) Naturally occurring sugar and 2) Added sugar. Naturally occurring sugar, of course, is the best. Naturally occurring sugar is found in fruits, vegetables, milk and plain yogurt. So not only does plain yogurt have less sugar, but because the sugar it contains occurs naturally you don't have to include it in your daily sugar intake count. If you have some doubt whether the sugar in the yogurt you're eating is plain and contains naturally occurring sugar, look at the ingredients. If it contains any of the ingredients listed in #8 below, then the sugar it contains is "added sugar" and should only be eaten if it keeps you within your recommended daily sugar allotment.
2. Avoid artificial sweeteners and products that contain them - One of the conclusions found in a 2010 study published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine was that "because they are sweet, [artificial sweeteners] encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence." For anyone serious about reducing their sugar intake this is not a good thing. Turns out our brains don’t know the difference and keep the sweet craving alive!
3. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables - This is a no-brainer. Fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring sugar which you don't have to count towards your recommended daily sugar intake total. What's more, naturally occurring sugar is basically "self-regulating" because while it's easy to eat a whole bag of candy, you can only eat so many apples and oranges each day until you decide that you've had enough.
4. Only drink water - Ok, only drinking water might be difficult, but instead of reaching for an orange juice, soda, energy drink, or fruit drink (which are all packed with sugar), reach for a water. It's the healthiest liquid on earth. In addition to containing no sugar, it's great for weight loss, will give your skin a healthy glow and, among other things, it will quickly restore your energy level should you become de-hydrated. Regarding flavored water...while some flavored water is high in sugar there are some brands that don't list any sugar on their label. Chances are that means it's chocked full of artificial ingredients, food colorings, corn syrup and so on. So either way, going with regular old water still makes the most sense. Balanced Habits 2017 All Rights Reserved
5. Cut down on processed food - A Time Magazine story from May 2015, talks about a study that for the purpose of their analysis separated processed foods into four categories: Minimally processed Basic processed Moderately processed Highly processed While we love processed foods for their convenience, they are also known to be high in sugar. The takeaway here is that the less food you eat that has a nutrition label attached to it, the better it is for you and your family's health. The rule of clean eating?
6. Cut down on "white food" - The term "white food" generally refers to food that has been refined or processed. Examples of white food are flour, rice, pasta, cereal and simple sugars. In the digestive process, sugar and starches are turned into sugars. (There are three types of carbohydrates: sugar, starch, and fiber.) What happens when you eat too many refined carbs? Obesity, heart disease, diabetes and so on. Hint: Squishy vs. Rough carbs
7. Read the nutrition labels - Check the amount of sugar per serving level on every processed food item you buy. Often the servings sizes listed are smaller than what you might consider a serving size. It's critical that you work out the sugar level a food contains for your typical serving size.
The physical health benefits of getting your daily sugar intake within the recommended level are indisputable. But there are other reasons to get your sugar consumption under control. You'll have a sense of accomplishment and be a good role model for other people in your life. Plus studies have shown over consumption of sugar may lead to an increased risk of depression and anxiety. It all adds up to this...
To live a healthy, long and enjoyable life you need to stay within the daily recommended level of sugar consumption.
It sounds a bit silly, I know, but there is method to the madness. Breathing is one of the most important elements for any sports person or fitness fanatic but is often overlooked in training.
I know most of you here at the WRAC, working with me out on court, have not heard me speak at length about breathing; however, that does not make it any less important. So how does good breathing technique actually help improve performance? Well, simply put, it helps you stay in the game. Our lungs are amazing tools which help us absorb much-needed oxygen into our bloodstream. A trained athlete will have a higher oxygen-extraction capacity compared to an untrained one. This mechanism improves over time with aerobic training like tennis or a HIIT class (hint!). Once we are able to extract more oxygen into the blood, we will then be able to use that increased supply to reduce lactate accumulation which is linked to fatigue.
Enough about the mechanisms though, what do I actually do to help myself perform better? Well, being the Tennis Pro here, I’ll start with tennis… When watching pro tennis, you might notice players like Simona Halep or Novak Djokovic taking in a big “relaxation” or “preparation” breath before they serve. This is a technique to help lower your blood pressure and heart rate somewhat so our mind can be a fraction clearer which allows our bodies to perform better. They are preparing and resetting themselves for a new point and clear head space to meet their goals for that point. In through the nose, breathing from the diaphragm – allowing your abdominals to rise and fall rather than your chest! – and out through the mouth.
Hint: If you breathe out harder than you breathe in a few deep breaths, you will find you are able to expel the stale air to allow for more oxygen flow into the blood. Thus, improving your mental awareness and performance because when we get tired or out of breath, our technique breaks down!
Finally, what about during a point? Well, this one is a bit more complicated to practice, but is extremely beneficial if done correctly. Some tennis players are famous for making noise or grunting when hitting the ball. This is them breathing. When you hit the ball, release the extreme tension from your body as you make contact and exhale. I personally find a rhythm in inhaling before my opponent hits their shot, then I actually exhale right as they hit (in singles) so I know I have just enough time to inhale before my next shot when I exhale again. Try it. It will work for you once you get the hang of it, I promise. Many players play “tight” and hold their breath, therefore tiring quickly and suffering during longer points.
In general exercise off the tennis court, breathing is just as important. Whether you’re a rower, a runner, a shot-putter, whatever, breathing is key for success. As a runner, I was taught by my dad – who ran cross country – to breathe “In on the left (two steps), out on the left (another two steps) and so on” when running at a decent pace. There are different patterns, but experiment with what works best for you. You will find yourself able to push that little bit more and reap a benefit in improved results!
Breathing through the nose primarily helps temperature regulation when inhaling air and can sometimes help to eliminate a stitch or pain in your side when exercising. Breathe through it if you can, and it will slowly diminish; if not, a little rest will do the trick too. Swimming is an exception to this rule - when possible, try to breathe through the nose and out the mouth. Finally, I see a lot of people in the gym here at the WRAC, but I don’t notice too many people breathing through their repetitions. One of my personal goals is to get super-fit again this summer (once snowboard seasons is over!) and lifting heavy is a priority for me. Once you feel comfortable going heavier or more intensely (both with or without oxygen system usage) your breathing helps regulate blood pressure, taking pressure off our precious arteries.
The two things I want you to take away from breathing during lifting are simply breathe out on the concentric (hard part) muscle movement, and breathe in during the eccentric phase (easy part) of a movement. For a bodyweight squat, for example, you would breathe in as you go down and breathe out as you come up at a comfortable pace. The same idea goes for bench press: In on ‘down’ (eccentric movement – muscle that is being worked lengthening), out on ‘up’ (concentric – muscle resisting the weight is shortening). The second thing is called the “Valsalva” maneuver,which simply means “holding one’s breath.” This is where a power lifter holds their breath when going very heavy on a weighted repetition during a motion to improve chest and core stability, and this is okay. For most lifters who are not powerlifters – almost all of us reading this article - Keep breathing.
☺ See you on the court, in the gym, around the club, or up the mountain.
WRAC MISSION STATEMENT:
To promote active, healthy lifestyles by providing racquet sports, aquatics and fitness opportunities for our owner-members.
1913 SKYLINE DR., WENATCHEE, WA 98801