Training The Female Athlete

Professional Female Sport is getting more and more airtime as participation grows, sponsor revenue grows and the professionalism increases at a rapid rate.

Leagues in Australia such as - Suncorp Super Netball, AFLW, NRLW, W-League & Super W are expecting not only more professionalism from their players, but also from the support staff - especially those in Physical Preparation/Strength & Conditioning departments.

With an increase in university and field-based studies, professionals in the S&C Field are able to better prepare their female athlete's not only for the demands of their sport, but also prepare them based on their relevant physiology

Stating the obvious Males and Females and their physiology have some key differences. One being that females have a menstrual cycle and males don't.

This subject will be the basis of the blog today and how it can be a key consideration, but also a distraction in the physical preparationof f the female athlete,

Throughout the menstrual cycle females have variable levels of Oestrogen and Progesterone which affect they way that these athletes breakdown and use macronutrients as fuel sources, altered sleep (quality and quantity), change in mood, increase

inflammation, increase appetite, cognitive function, temperature increase and the list goes on. However, all these need to be taken into consideration when developing a physical preparation plan for our athletes.

One trend that has started to occur due to popularity is the developing of training programs based on where the female athlete is currently at in their menstrual cycle. For example During Phase 2 (+7-10 menstruation) a female athlete can express strength at a higher level, will be more positive and may be more prone to Change of Direction Injuries.

Programming for these factors will "optimise" the training session for the athlete. If we are programming heavy load through this week (compared to other weeks) we may create a spike in arbitrary load statistics. Also, if we neglect both high speed & aggressive change of direction due to increase in joint laxity during this phase, we aren't preparing the athlete for match day while playing while in Phase 2.

While the evidence is growing around the difference between training a female athlete and a male athlete the effectiveness of the findings and incorporation into female sport is going to be judged by the effectiveness of the implementation from the coaches themselves.

Chopping and changing from different programs and program focus week to week, while it may suit the current physiology of the female athlete for THE training session, won't prepare them for the demands and rigours of the sport.

Instead look at prioritising structured warm ups & activations relevant to the female athletes phase, focus on pre & post nutritional strategies and develop a structured, relevant and progressive physical preparation program.

If you are female athlete and want some more advice on how to training more effectively as a female please reach out to Rod Blackbourn Managing Director & Exercise Physiologist at rod@axisperformance.com.au


Junior Strength Training - should junior athletes be training in a gym setting?

Why Junior strength training is important for athletic development through sport.

The idea of strength training for junior athletes has, for a long time, been thought of as unnecessary and counter-productive. Theories thrown around in regards to stunted growth plates, soft ligament injuries, the young body isn’t ready for weight loading…HOWEVER - This could not be further from the truth!

These thoughts have been produced via a lack of knowledge on the topic, societies perceptions and myths.
Strength training, like sports, is a skill. The best time to learn a new skill is at a young age, where the athletes can explore new ways to move and understand their body. If we can engrain correct movement patterns in pre-adolescent athletes, imagine where they could be in 5-10 years in comparison to an athlete who only started at 18 years old?

There are many reasons why strength training for junior athletes is important.

Firstly, let’s be real – kids aren’t as active as they used to be. They spend much less time outdoors, climbing trees, riding bikes and all those other natural strength building activities. This means they are missing out on a big part of their physical growth and maturation. Parents need to seek out alternative ways to incorporate strength training to aid in their child’s long-term development.

Junior strength training is all about laying the foundations of correct movements patterns, basic strength, coordination and timing. Things such as jumping, landing, change of direction, sprinting and basic strength movements in a safe and enjoyable setting. Just like a toddler learns to walk before they run, junior athletes must also learn the basic, body weight movements before they even THINK about adding a weight. Learning and mastering these movements at a young age will actually DECREASE your child’s risk of getting injured. It is true, junior athletes are at higher risk of injury, as they are going through a rapid change of growth and development. However, increasing in the strength of the muscle and connective tissues through resistance training can enhance the ability of the athlete to withstand higher external forces, decreasing their chance of being injured. This is where entrusting the knowledge of an exercise scientist or strength and conditioning expert is vital,  to prescribe the correct exercises and progressions.
A stronger junior athlete will be better prepared to learn more complex movements, master their sporting tactics and withstand the rigours of a long sporting life, while also giving them the tools needed to take their athletic performance to the next level as they physically mature.

Lastly, when you are involved in something at a young age that you saw benefits from that was also enjoyable, you are more likely to continue participating in it later in life. If we can build an understanding of the important of strength and resistance training in young athletes, they are much more likely to continue long past their sporting days are over. This can drastically improve quality of life, decrease risk of lifestyle related disease and degenerative injuries.

If your child is a junior athlete, and you want them to be involved in a structured, progressive and safe physical development program, keep an eye out for our Axis Performance Junior Athletic Development program, starting in February 2019!


Concussion Management in Sports

Concussion Management in Sports!

You would have to be living under a rock to have not seen the increased attention being paid to concussion and its management! And for good reason. With more data emerging regarding the potential long term damage sports related head knocks are having all over the word, including but not limited to the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE being a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head, with symptoms including cognitive impairment, depression, and other mental health problems (McKee et al. 2010, 2013, Guskiewicz et al. 2007). Probably something we would like to avoid if possible!

So, what is a concussion? Concussion is described as “A complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by biomechanical forces. It is characterised by a graded set of neurological symptoms and signs (these can include headache, confusion, decrease coordination, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness and excessive fatigue) that typically arise quickly and resolve spontaneously over a varied timeframe.” The process of recovery can vary from person to person.

We don’t 100% understand what processes lead to a concussion, though it is thought to involve a physiological disturbance (eg. neurochemical, metabolic or gene expression changes) (Giza et al. 2001) rather than a structural injury to the brain (McCrory et al. 2012).

The benefits associated with participation in recreation and sports far out way the risks, but in the incident you may have received a knock to the head or successive concussion diagnoses management becomes important. Best practice management at Axis Performance is supported by clinical practice guidelines and recommendations, this includes:

  • Any player with a suspected or confirmed concussion is not to be returned to play (or training) on the day of their injury.
  • Best practice guidelines suggest that a player should not be allowed to return to competition until they have recovered completely from their concussive injury.
  • There exists no direct measure of recovery from brain disturbance, clinicians must rely on indirect measure, but all concussion rehab should include the following:
  • A period of cognitive and physical rest to facilitate recovery.
  • Cognitive rest will often involve minimising and re-exposing the athlete to cognitive loads such as schoolwork, video games, computer, or work. The use of alcohol, sedatives or recreational drugs can exacerbate symptoms following head trauma, delay recovery or mask deterioration and should also be avoided.
  • Monitoring post-concussion symptoms and signs to assess recovery (Axis clinicians use the SCAT5 concussion assessment tool)
  • The use of neuropsychological tests to estimate recovery of cognitive function (Once again done with the SCAT5 tool)
  • Graduated return to activity with monitoring for recurrence of symptoms.

The graded return to physical activity at Axis Performance will follow the below guideline as per McCrory, Meeuwisse & Aubrey et al. (2013).

Key take-aways:

  1. Concussion is an injury to be taken every seriously.
  2. Best practice management guidelines exist.
  3. Assessment completed by a trained health professional makes for clearer decision making around return to sport.
  4. A graded return to sport whilst closely monitoring symptoms is advised.
  5. If you or someone you know would like assistance with anything concussion related Axis Performance is the place for you.

 

References:

  1. McKee AC, Gavett BE, Stern RA, et al. TDP-43 proteinopathy and motor neuron disease in chronic traumatic encephalopathy. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 2010;69:918–29.
  2. McKee AC, Stein TD, Nowinski CJ, et al. The spectrum of disease in chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Brain 2013;136:43–64.
  3. Guskiewicz KM, Marshall SW, Bailes J, et al. Recurrent concussion and risk of depression in retired professional football players. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007;39:903–09.
  4. Omalu BI, Bailes J, Hammers JL, Fitzsimmons RP. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, suicides and parasuicides in professional American athletes: the role of the forensic pathologist. Am J Forensic Med Pathol 2010;31:130–32.
  5. McCrory P, Meeuwisse WH, Aubry M, et al. Consensus statement on concussion in sport: the 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2012. Br J Sports Med 2013;47:250–58.
  6. Giza CC, Hovda DA. The Neurometabolic Cascade of Concussion. J Athl Train 2001;36:228–35.

Do you suffer from TENNIS ELBOW?

- Does your elbow hurt to hold things in your hand?

- Cant quite grip without pain radiating through your arm?

- Do you skip arm day at the gym due to pain?

These are typical signs of Tennis Elbow, an overuse injury that effects the elbow tendons, that can create a painful havoc in a persons day to day life. Tennis Elbow is very common, and it can be treated!

 

Tennis Elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis is a painful condition that affects the lateral or outside portion of the elbow/forearm. 

Tennis Elbow is typically caused due to overuse or excessive irritation of the lateral forearm muscles. Tendons typically like to be "loaded" and used and often rest can aid in pain relief however does not effective resolve the underlying factors that cause Tennis Elbow.

Identifying the cause, the pathology is extremely important to effectively treating this painful condition.

  • Poor shoulder movement or mobility? (Pain or weakness to push weight above the head)
  • Overuse in the pronated elbow position? (Do you pick up and put things down often at work, or home ie carpenter, parent picking up kids, factory worker, removalist) 
  • Poor elbow mechanics in occupational or recreational tasks? (Lifting with incorrect technique, lifting heavy without sufficient rest, lots of computer or desk work)

Treatment must involve identifying and rectifying any underlying biomechanics or strength deficits, as well as aiding pain relief to allow the individual to resume their desired tasks as soon as possible.

 

At Axis Performance we use a combination of isometric exercises and blood flow restriction to immediately improve function and pain during the assessment. The combination of an isometric contraction and increased blood flow allows for the strength gains without increasing pain. We then go on to individually prescribe exercises and movements that will strengthen the areas of weakness to prevent the tennis elbow condition from re-occurring.

If you have tennis elbow we would love to help you return to a pain free you!


MEMBER OF THE MONTH - DAVID CRUICKSHANK

Meet our Member of the Month - David Cruickshank

:)

David has been a member of Axis performance since June and has really used his recovery membership to its full potential. David is a basketball Victoria referee and was recently nominated to referee the U14 boy’s national championship in October! He is also a CrossFit legend, competing in anything that enables him to reach different goals and going above and beyond for his own fitness.

David comes in to Axis for his recovery nearly every day and uses all of our facilities to enhance his busy training regime. 

We asked David a few questions and these are his responses:

Axis: What benefits do you get from Axis performance?

David: Since being a member at axis I've noticed that I've seen massive results in how quickly I can recover from general soreness after training as well as any major niggles I might have. Axis has also helped heaps with injury prevention and even preventing any soreness at all after things like my marathon row.

Axis: What is your favourite recovery zone and why?

David: I can't say I have 1 favourite zone at Axis, I find that I love every zone and every piece of equipment, however I do have a favourite combination which is starting with the wet zone and going into the sauna after, this is due to the fact that these 2 zones combined give a great mix of repairing your muscles as well has the added benefit of helping to build more muscle and there's nothing better than going from freezing cold to relaxed and warm in the sauna 👌🏼

 

Axis: What makes axis different to other recovery and high-performance centres?

David: I can't say that I've used any other recovery centres except for a sensory deprivation centre, the difference between the 2 for me would be that axis has a greater range of state-of-the-art equipment and amazing staff who are always there to help you with your recovery process.

 

Axis: If you could give one piece of advice about recovery what would it be?

David:For me, I would say listen to your body! If you're sore then get on top of it straight away, don't wait until it becomes a serious problem and you're out of action for weeks. Whenever I start to feel sore or worried I might start to get injured I'll get straight into axis and let them know so we can work on getting it to 100% before it puts me on the couch for a week.

 

Axis: What results have you seen since being an Axis member?

David:I have definitely noticed that I've gotten stronger, I've been recovering a lot faster after big training sessions, this has allowed me to go harder in every session and not have to worry about holding back because I'm sore or tight.

 

Axis: Would you recommend Axis’ recovery and high-performance training/coaching to others? Why?

David: 110% recommend Axis as a point of recovery, the staff are full of knowledge, not only to do with your physical recovery but they also know a lot about diets and nutrition. They have a great range of staff specializing in different areas which allows you to get the best advice for your personal goals. All this combined with the state-of-the-art equipment will definitely help to give you the edge that you may need to take that next step as an athlete or just with your general physical health.


MASTERING THE STRENGTH BASICS

As a young kid I grew up watching my idol Michael Jordan train his heart out and play like a basketball god. His work ethic, strength on the court and determination were second to none. His skill and game play was beyond the expectations that anyone had ever believed possible.

How did he do it?

He mastered his craft, from the bottom to the infinite top.

Over my years of living and breathing sport, time and time again it is agreed and proven by the world’s top class sporting players that mastering the basics in the weight room is CRITICAL to any athlete.

We are lucky enough to live in a time where social media and the internet allows us to see athletes do some unbelievable things. On the field/court, what separates the great athletes from the good athletes is that they have become an expert at performing the fundamental tasks that make up a skill.

“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise” - Michael Jordan -

And it is no different in the gym.

In the context of performance training, when we say the basics we are generally talking about a combination of the following movements;

  • Squat
  • Hinge
  • Push
  • Pull
  • Jump
  • Sprint
  • Brace

These movements are the bread and butter of strength and conditioning training. So before you go out and try exercises that look cool on Instagram, do yourself a favour and master these movements and watch your athleticism take-off.

Just like your favourite crossover move, jump-shot or no look pass, strength training is a skill that needs to be learned. Like any skill, before you begin to practice the most advanced moves, you must first start from the beginning and master the fundamental movement patterns involved in performing that skill. For example, before you learn how to perform a fadeaway jump-shot, you must first master a free-throw. Before practicing a thumping torpedo, you first need to master a basic drop punt. Before attempting the power snatch, you must first master the squat, deadlift and overhead press. If you are a novice (beginner) lifter, you can drastically improve your athleticism by simply learning the fundamental strength movements. Becoming proficient in movements such as the squat will translate directly to improving your vertical jump and sprinting performance. And for novice lifters, these improvements can be made quite quickly, and here is why;

Strength training creates and develops neural pathways from the brain to the working muscles. These neural pathways allow the nervous system to become more proficient at recruiting motor units, which send signals to muscle tissue to contract and produce a desired movement.

Improvement in strength exercises results in the transfer of a signal from the central nervous system, to the motor neuron in the neuromuscular junction and to the muscle fibers to happen much more efficiently, leading to greater contraction from the muscle and ultimately leading to improved movement. Put simply; learning the squat, practicing the squat and mastering the squat, will result in a greater vertical jump before ever having to add heavy loads.

Another reason to master the basic strength movements is the number of motor neurons recruited and the amount of muscle tissue activated during these movements. The basic strength movements listed at the top of this article are all compound, multi-joint exercises involving the entire kinetic chain. To perform a deadlift (hinge), movement must occur over multiple joints (ankle, knee, hip) and movement must be resisted over multiple joints (lumber, thoracic, cervical and shoulder). To do this, the central nervous system is required to recruit many motor neurons, and contract the greatest area of muscle tissue to perform or resist movement.

This is of immense importance when it comes to producing total force, but also in improving muscular size (hypertrophy). To add mass to an athlete, we must grow motor neurons and muscle fibers, and to do this we must recruit substantial amounts of motor neurons and muscle fibers. Once athletes can perform these movements with great proficiency, we can start to add load. After all, the aim of improving in the gym is to translate that into improved strength and power on game day.

So first of all, what is strength?

Strength is the expression of force. And to create more force, we need to learn to overcome greater loads.

And what about power?

Power is force multiplied by velocity. Or simply, the ability to produce force (strength) quickly. But I’ll leave that conversation for another time.

The strength basics are the exercises in which we can produce the most amount of force due to the considerable amount of muscle tissue involved. Meaning we can add more weight to the bar. This is great for multiple reasons, but most importantly because we can challenge our nervous system to overcome the greatest external resistances, meaning we train our neuromuscular system to produce more force. And if we can produce more force, we become more powerful, explosive and robust athletes.

Lastly, we must master the basics and be able to create considerable amounts of force before we begin to train more advanced movements. Learning to do a power clean before mastering a squat is like having a Ferrari and paying your neighbours kid to change the tires for you. You may look good, until a wheel falls off and something terrible happens.

Pay attention to the details, master the basics, get a great coach and explode into athletic prominence. Don’t base your programming around the exercises that will give you the most likes on facebook.

 

Stay tuned for more blogs and articles on all things high performance training and recovery!

If you have any questions regarding training, or would like to train with me and begin taking your training to new levels, feel free to drop me an email at jake@axisperformance.com.au or call us on 0411 50AXIS.


INFRARED SAUNA Health and Performance Benefits

INFRARED SAUNA

 

Do you suffer from sore, achy muscles? Back pain? Restless sleep?

Or are you injured? Sore from training? Looking to put on muscle?

 

For centuries the sauna has been known for its health and relaxation benefits, but did you know it also has amazing benefits to enhance training and performance in athletes?

 

When the body is heated, blood vessels dilate, heart rate increases and blood flow increases. More blood carrying fresh oxygen and nutrients reaches the muscles and tissues making the sauna an ideal recovery method for sore, tight, aching and tired muscles.

For an athlete who is looking to perform better and recover faster, Infrared Sauna sessions also have many benefits. From increasing flexibility through heat, aiding muscle growth and fat loss, regular sauna use has also been linked to a greater physical performance and increased endurance as well as improved tolerance to an increase in anaerobic exercise.

 

Why Infrared?

An Infrared Sauna is different to a Dry Sauna (think hot rocks) in that it uses infrared light waves that directly penetrate the body and raise the core body temperature via the increased heat in the muscles. Infrared waves do not raise the atmospheric temperate, as in a Dry Sauna.

A Dry Sauna works by heating the air, which heats your skin causing you to sweat, and then further time spent in the sauna the heat reaches muscle and tissue and warms your core temperature. Therefore, an Infrared Sauna works to the muscles far more efficiently and effectively compared to a Dry Sauna.

 

Infrared Sauna for Athletes:

Although sauna should never be a replacement for cardiovascular training, it is proven to be effective in maintaining fitness in the short term for those that are injured and have limited athletic mobility.

When the body warms, blood vessels dilate and there is an increase in red blood cells which results in more capacity for oxygen transportation. When there is more blood volume, this improves the blood flow to the heart. Subsequently when the ejection fraction of the left ventricle of the heart chamber increases, the total amount of blood pumped to the organs rises. Therefore, the body is conditioned to bringing oxygen to the muscles faster. For the short term, this can help an athlete train their heart without physical strain on the rest of the athlete’s body, which is very helpful when injury prevents their normal training efforts.

 

Improved blood flow and circulation not only delivers fresh oxygen and nutrients to the muscles faster, but also helps to remove metabolic waste faster. Stretching when your body is warm has been shown to be the safest and most effective time to stretch and lengthen tight muscles to improve range of movement.

 

Hyper-thermic conditions (raising the bodies core temperature) has also shown to trigger the secretion of growth hormone (HGH). Growth hormone stimulates the production of muscle tissue and also aids in breaking down fat cells. Visiting a sauna regularly can therefore aid in not only fat loss but also muscle gain.

 

Infrared Sauna for Pain Management and Health:

Using the sauna has also been shown to reduce cortisol and produce endorphins reducing the feeling of anxiety, frustration and tension. The heat from the sauna has also been shown to produce beta-endorphins which are natural pain-relieving compounds. Studies on people with conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis have reported less pain with regular sauna use. With less stress and pain, comes better sleep quality and quantity.

 

 

BENEFITS OF USING AN INFRARED SAUNA

✓ Relax tired, sore and achy muscles.

✓ Increased circulation to deliver fresh oxygen and nutrients to the body.

✓ Aids in removing metabolic waste (reducing DOMS).

✓ Maintain short term fitness when injured.

✓ Aids in increasing growth hormone secretion for muscle gain and fat loss (post- training).

✓ Improved flexibility and range of movement.

✓ Psychological benefits of relaxation, eg decrease stress, improved sleep.

✓ Half the perceived atmospheric heat as a Dry Sauna

 

To book in an Infrared Sauna Session at Axis Performance, book online at 

https://axisperformance.com.au/bookings/ 

Or call us on 0411 05AXIS


HYDRATION FOR PERFORMANCE

Water is essential to maintain blood volume, regulate body temperature and allow muscle contractions to take place. In sports people, this is very importance and an element that can dramatically affect their performance

 

When we exercise and heat up, the way that our body maintains body temperature and cools us down is by sweating. The sweat (in the form of water and salts) comes to the top of the skin and evaporates to cool us down. Therefore, sweat results in fluid loss.

For the cells in our body to work well, it is important that their water content is maintained at the correct level. This means our body must maintain a balance between the water we take in and the water we lose. This is done by the kidneys. The kidneys keep the balance of water in our body in check, and they also control the levels of salts in the blood, and the excretion of metabolic waste.

 

Drinking fluid d

uring exercise is necessary to replace fluids lost in sweat. Remaining hydrated throughout exercise will reduce the risk of heat stress, maintain normal muscle function, and prevent performance decreases due to dehydration. It is also important to be hydrated to be able to allow the kidneys to let enough water go to be able to flush the build-up of metabolic waste (that quite often cause DOMS, lethargy etc) from exercise.

 

DEHYDRATION

Dehydration occurs when the loss of body fluid, exceeds the amount that is put in, resulting in the body not having enough fluid to be able to carry out its normal functions efficiently.

As dehydration increases there is a gradual decrease in physical and mental performance. Your heart rate increases, your body temp increases and your rate of perceived of how hard the exercise increases. In extreme cases, loss of co-ordination, impaired decision making and an increased risk of heat stroke can occur.

Thirst is not a sign of hydration status. Once your thirsty, there has generally been a significant fluid loss.

HOW TO AVOID LOSS OF PERFORMANCE DUE TO INADEQUATE HYDRATION

  • You should aim to match your sweat rate with fluid intake. To measure your sweat rate, take your weight before exercise, then after the exercise session dry off as much water as possible, and weigh yourself again. The difference should indicate relatively how much fluid was lost in that training session.
  • Always start exercise well hydrated.
  • Sip water during exercise. Too much water can cause gastric disruption and may make you feel sick or bloated and uncomfortable.
  • Continue to drink water after you finish exercise.

 

 

THE BEST FLUID TO DRINK

Is water.

However, if you are competing in an endurance sport or high intensity sport, a carbohydrate and electrolyte drink can help with hydration levels during the event for added energy and so the sodium lost after
excessive sweat, the salts can help the body then uptake the fluid.