When will it be safe for us to reopen? This is a question we have been asking ourselves frequently over the last couple of months. We fully expect the Michigan government will do their best to keep public safety a large priority. But being an industry that literally touches people in a confined space for extended periods of time, we wanted to ensure we set forth a plan that would keep everyone involved as safe as possible, and made sense for us specifically as an industry.
As a staff we came together and decided we needed to create our own criteria for a safe reopening. Our intention is to create an environment that is as safe as possible for both clients and ourselves. Outlined below are the steps we set in place that need to be true for us to reopen and what to expect when you are finally able to schedule.
Because of the more fluid nature of our reopening criteria, we cannot set a date for reopening at this time. We have cancelled all sessions in June and will be closing off any openings in July. Once we have a date for reopening we will be calling all clients, starting with members, who were scheduled in any of the previous months that we have been closed for COVID to get them scheduled within our specified schedule. Please keep in mind, we fully understand the desire to get back to your bodywork as regularly scheduled. We MUST proceed with caution and make it as safe as possible for all involved. Public health is, after all, our number one priority. Thank you so, so much for your continued patience and support!
By Guest Blogger: Jessica Slager
There have been lots of negatives surrounding the COVID-19 experience, and for good reason; let’s take a moment to look back on the positive things that have come out of it. Bring on the lemonade!
Images released by the European Space Agency show changes in density of harmful gases in our atmosphere. This is measured by how much fossil fuel is burned or released. Nitrogen dioxide and other partial matter have shown a significant reduction. Paris, Madrid, and Milan, for example, have a viable reduction in these gases as compared to the same time last year. This is based on satellite images from the ESA, which is responsible for monitoring Earth observation satellites in conjunction with other agencies. Citizens of India are seeing the Himalayan mountain range on the horizon for the first time in some of their life times. The view has been hidden by pollution possibly for over 30 years. Locals in Venice are saying they are seeing colorful plant life, fish, small crabs, and other wildlife that they have not seen in a long time due to the reduction of boat traffic. With the reduction of boats there is less water pollution but also there is not the churning of the thick mud that is in the bottom of the canals. In Vancouver they have spotted Whales in the fjord which have not been seen in decades according to the CBC (Canadian broadcasting corporation). These are just a few of the examples of how our earth is taking this time to heal.
There have also been some positives within family units, as well. According to Psychologist Dr. Amanda Gummer, it "has provided a unique opportunity to reconnect, create memories, and evaluate priorities." She also goes on to explain that other benefits may include: children feeling more secure, parents being able to support each other, and families being strengthened as a whole. Parents are also being freed up to have more time to spend with their kids, as well as have more time to help kids learn life skills. Families are getting to do things as a unit that were often overlooked. These activities include: cooking together, having picnics, playing games, cards, walking the dog together, exploring nature, kitchen science experiments, and having time to read out loud with their kids.
People have stepped up to help others in extraordinary ways! Those with sewing skills have spent countless hours making masks and giving them away for free to help bridge the gap for our essential workers. Others have also made mask holders and headbands to hold the masks in place. Ford Motor Company announced it would partner with GE health and 3M to retool machines so they can make medical supplies like masks, respirators, and ventilators, according to Jim Hackett CEO. Steelcase Global in Grand Rapids MI helped design, prototype and build new products. According to Mllive, a company known for making office furniture, they are now making isolation masks, face shields, and other items needed by Michigan hospitals. Other businesses have also stepped forward to help with the needs of communities. Several distilleries have switched over to making hand sanitizer. Green Door Distilling Company in Kalamazoo is one that has been making hand sanitizer which you will find in use in our very own KAW office upon reopening.
There have also been some unique opportunities to keep busy while we are home. Some colleges are offering free courses. Google Arts and Culture has digital tours of more than 2000 museums and art galleries from around the world. There are 12 Frank Lloyd Wright buildings now offering virtual tours. Chef Massimo Bottura is offering cooking classes named “Kitchen Quarantine” that will be live streamed on Instagram! His social media handle is @massimobotta. Chef Alton Brown is also offering classes, along with several others. Museum Of Modern Art (MOMA) is offering free online art and design classes. New York Times bestselling Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton is offering free online drawing lessons on Instagram. You can also live stream from zoos and aquariums from around the world, such as the live Jellyfish cam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The National Parks are also offering free virtual tours, webcams, pictures and sound recordings for you to look through. Celebrities have been offering live concerts from their homes and reading favorite children's books. A quick internet search will bring up lots of free and fun activities for almost every interest and age level.
People have become heroes and have shown up in amazing ways during this time. Doctors, nurses and all health care staff have shown up to make sure healthcare continues. Truckers have shown up to make sure our food and supplies get delivered. Grocery store staff and food bank volunteers have shown up to make sure we have access to food. Donors and volunteers have shown up at blood drives to make sure we have continual access to a much needed blood supply. Farmers have shown up knowing how important their role is. The mail still gets delivered, along with supplies, because those workers have shown up. Teachers have continued to teach, checking in with students; even with the difficulties of not physically being in the classroom. They’ve switched to online classes and they continue to show up. Our own members have continued their membership dues and we have had over two-thousand dollars donated to our therapists in the form of tips from our clients and others who have shown up! There are so many to name, and this list is far from complete. When times are uncertain people show up to look after our welfare, even when it is, at times, considered risky. They are there to show that people can and will still come together to show each other support, even in a pandemic.
Co-Authored by: Nicholas Garman and Adam Brown.
1. Understanding Self Care
As the Corona virus continues to ramp up in the United States the perpetual news reports and social media posts of quarantine, death, and sickness have a particular way of stressing one out. The way your body and mind respond to stress is actually a nervous system response that you can learn to regulate by implementing certain habits, patterns, and practices in your life. This will train your nervous system to better interpret when it is safe and can relax, and when it is in danger and time to act.
That being said, you may be feeling right now like you are not safe and cannot rest. This is perfectly normal in times of crisis. It is important to understand that stress is not meant to be completely obliterated. There are times where a stress response is actually serving you and sending a message that now is the time for you to take action of some sort.
Unfortunately, for many, in stressful times like these, the branch of the nervous system that governs your fight or flight response will often remain active and continue to keep you “ready for action” until utter burn out. This is why it’s more important than ever to learn to take care of yourself, or practice self care.
Self care does not only mean bubble baths and spa days (although these can be great options for many people). Self care is a broad, umbrella term encompassing anything and everything that allows your parasympathetic nervous system to flex its calming muscles and better learn to regulate between when it should be active and when it should allow its bigger, older cousin, the sympathetic nervous system to take charge and prepare you for action -- fight or flight. In this blog we’ll be focusing on four vital elements of taking care of yourself: movement, stress reduction, sleep and food.
If you’re anything like me, you finally get yourself into a good, solid workout routine that you were able to maintain on a regular basis, then all the gyms (not to mention almost EVERYTHING ELSE) closed and you were left picking up the pieces of your daily routine trying to figure out how to fit it all back together in this new world of social distance and shelter in place. But physical activity remains a vital component of self care. Not only will exercise help your body feel good, it will also improve your sleep quality, encourage a better state of mind, and even allow your nervous system to work out some of that anxious energy.
Many of us have been spending a bit of extra time on the internet lately, and on said internet maybe you have been seeing a lot of home exercise videos, remote workout classes, virtual yoga, and other ways that people are taking care of themselves physically right now. This is a great way to fill in the gaps left by your lack of gym access or start a home workout routine since, let’s face it, we all have extra time on our hands. The best part is, you do not need a bunch of fancy equipment to workout at home.
To break up the monotony, try adding some variety to become more well rounded. If in the past if you typically focused on weight training, try adding some yoga for more mobility. If you used to only do cardio when you went to the gym, try adding some tabata body-weight circuits to your routine. You can still run, bike and walk outside, thankfully. Soon it will even be warm enough to put a yoga mat on your porch or in your yard! Try something new, and if you’re not feeling it, try something different tomorrow until you find what really works for you.
If you’re not sure where to start, a quick Google search will present you with plenty of options! A good standby is always squats, push-ups, planks, pull-ups (if you have a bar), and nice long walks. These simple exercises can be the start of a great workout! Then go take your bubble bath.
3. Sleep and Stress Reduction
Sleep and stress are yin and yang. If you are stressed, it’s hard to sleep. If you can’t sleep, it causes stress. As important as being active is, equally important is being able to sleep well. The time you spend sleeping is when your body does the majority of its required maintenance to keep itself functioning optimally. If you’re not sleeping well, you’re likely not feeling well. Far too often we go and go until we can go no more, and with a new pace to your life now, that may mean just spending more and more time on electronic devices of some sort. One of the most important things you can do for mental well-being is to be mindful and intentional with how you engage in all forms of electronic media.
Yes, it’s important to check in and remain aware of what’s going on in the world as well as stay connected with your friends and family. However, starting and ending your day by becoming anxious about what is going on in the world is not going to do you any favors! Consider setting some limits on when and how you engage in news, social media and even electronic entertainment. These things may seem like helpful escapes during stressful times, but if you’re exposing yourself to the drama of social and news media all the time, your nervous system will continue to build up stress. Staring at the light of a screen as you Netflix binge Tiger King right up until you go to sleep will greatly diminish the quality of your sleep and likely make it harder for you to even fall asleep.
If you haven’t already, maybe start by setting a rough schedule for yourself: when to turn in, when to get up, how soon after you get up you want to pick up your phone, what other activities you want to fill your day with, how long before you sleep you want to be screen free, and when to take that bubble bath. Consider having times where you shut off your phone and TV for a few hours or :gasp: a whole day. Your body operates on rhythms, and even if you’re not militant about the times, the more consistent those rhythms are, the better you will sleep and the better you will feel.
4. Food and Food-like Substances
Another major factor in how good your body is feeling is what you are putting into it. One of the ways humans are wired to handle stress is to store up the calories your body needs for fuel in case food becomes less readily available. Maybe you’ve noticed you’re craving snacks more than usual right now. Maybe you’re consuming more carbs, sugar, or alcohol than you normally would. These are very normal responses to stress and while you shouldn’t worry too much about a bit more flexibility in your diet right now, it is important to be aware of how what you’re eating makes you feel and intentional about what you do and do not consume (and how much).
When you eat is also important. Eating sugar or consuming too much alcohol close to bedtime can decrease the quality of your sleep and even cause you to wake up with an adrenaline rush in the middle of the night, making it hard to get back to sleep. Eating large meals late in the day which take a lot of energy for your body to digest can also make it hard to go to sleep, and that caloric energy will likely not get used up in the latter part of the day, causing your body to store it for later use as fat cells.
Make sure you’re getting enough whole foods and fresh foods as long as you are still able to access and prepare them. If you have more time on your hands than usual, try dedicating some of that time to cooking more meals from scratch, or learning how to do so if that’s not something you’ve done much before. Simply preparing your own meals will often drastically improve the quality of what you’re eating because you will naturally be eating less processed foods and getting more nutrition from the whole foods that you are preparing.
5. In Conclusion
Overall, begin to bring awareness to how you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically. Think about how you want to feel, and hopefully this encourages you to find ways to make changes to achieve those goals. You may also want to look into incorporating more mindfulness practices into your daily routine like deep breathing, meditation, or journaling. Your mental and emotional state will greatly influence your physical state and vice versa.
Finally, please remember to go easy on yourself. It’s perfectly normal to be stressed right now, changes in routine is a top cause for stress, and we have all been thrown into a major change in routine. Know that self care looks different for each person at different times in their life. You will have ups and downs, some days that feel better than others, this is to be expected. Just keep doing the best you can one day at a time, and you will soon be better!
Enjoy your bubble bath.
By Guest Blogger: Ayiana Gaines, BS
After reading the headline, you may be thinking about all the good times you had in college playing sports and how could that experience possibly be negative? Your memories may include hard but satisfying workouts, fun outings with teammates and all the strong connections you made with everyone. Most of our memories may be great, but sometimes we tend to look past the negative effects that often remain after we’ve graduated and/or when our eligibility is up. I want to explore how structured physical activity, competitive sports participation, and our athletic identity may indeed have a negative effect on our mental, physical and emotional state later in life.
First - a little bit about me: I am a former D1 collegiate Track & Field athlete at Western Michigan University. From South Bend, Indiana, with lots of hard work and due diligence, I was recruited from Riley High School to WMU on a full-ride scholarship. Trust me when I say I was damn good at running a 400-meter race! I was doing great in college until near the end of my junior season, when I tore my ACL, MCL, and meniscus at practice. You probably know that this was a major setback. I really took a hit in my heart and mind, knowing I would be out for an entire year. I went to counseling to help me cope with the huge change of having so much free time on my hands and not being able to practice or compete anymore. All I could do was physical therapy and rehabilitation.
When I was finally ready to come back, I discovered there were some problems and issues on the team that made it difficult for me to concentrate. I was faced with a decision ... to subject myself to the drama and negativity or to give up my passion, my first love, the one thing I was really good at. I was always defined by my sport - track & field. But ultimately, I chose my mental health and well-being and dropped out of the team. It’s been a year now since I've competed, and it has not been easy. I still go back and forth wondering whether I made the right decision. Hopefully, in the future, there could be more programs to help support former athletes through this transition process.
It is usually a major shock to the body when a high school athlete transitions to collegiate training/practices and games/meets. The extended hours and increased level of intensity of collegiate training can have negative effects on your mental and physical health. Athletes who are hoping to continue on and compete professionally are sometimes limited by past injuries, the pain tolerance when enduring the high level of intensity, and etc. There is a lot of data that relates to athletes who have made it to the professional level, but what the data does not touch on are those athletes who have dedicated four or more years to their designated sport and then it all ended after college. Do you ever wonder how they are doing in their adult lives? Are they still competing or are they living a
sedentary lifestyle? How are they doing, physically and emotionally?
Zachary Y. Kerr conducted a study at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill to research the current health of former college athletes. Of the 797 former collegiate athletes who participated in the study, a majority reported that they now suffer from some degree of high cholesterol, anxiety and depression issues. They also reported some behavioral conditions, like alcohol dependence and uncontrolled eating, which has led to obesity. Without a coach or trainer telling them when, where and how much to work out, most did not have the self-motivation to work out on their own.
Another study, conducted by Janet E. Simon and Carrie L. Docherty, compared former collegiate athletes to non-athletes. It was found that former collegiate athletes exercise less, have higher body fat percentages, and perform at lower levels when doing push-ups, sit-to-stand repetitions, and running a mile. Highly competitive collegiate athletes work hard to reach a professional level, but without the stimulus of a coach, scheduled training sessions, and competitive events, many of them lose motivation and focus. It can be very painful when something you once
enjoyed or loved is taken away. You often tend to lose yourself. Which brings me to my next point, athletic identity.
High school and college are totally different. From my experience, you tend to have a broader fan base in high school. You are in your hometown and everyone knows and loves you. Your athletic ability often defines you. But, what happens to your identity when you don't make it professionally? What happens to your identity if you get injured?
In an article by Trisha M. Karr, she talks about “exercise identity” and the healthy and unhealthy outcomes. It was shown that having an “exercise identity” was positively associated with healthy outcomes, like engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity, having lower body dissatisfaction, and a lower BMI. Without the exercise identity that comes from being a former athlete, you spend less time engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity, you tend to have a higher body dissatisfaction, and a higher BMI.
Having a high body dissatisfaction may lead to weight gain, and/or eating disorders, because you’re always chasing the body you had when you were competing in your sport. Articles by Erin Reifsteck and other authors talk about
identity theory for athletes. Identity theory can be defined as “the meaning one attributes to oneself in a role” (Burke & Reitzes, 1981). Athletic identity is a specific type of identity defined as the extent to which one identifies with the athletic role (Brewer, Van Realtek, and Linder, 1993). Athletic identity is usually rooted specifically in a competitive sport. As I furthered my research, I also found that athletic identity is linked to problematic issues such as early retirement, emotional difficulties and it has even been found that former athletes have a hard time transitioning into a full time career job. (Reifsteck, Gill & Brooks, 2013).
In conclusion, being a former collegiate athlete has ups and downs, but most people are able to overcome the negative effects they may face. Losing your identity as an athlete can be hard mentally and may be a sensitive subject to discuss. I hope you understand a bit better now how vigorous physical activity, participation in sporting events and athletic identity really do affect the mental and physical state of college athletes. Hopefully there can be more support systems in place to help former athletes successfully transition when their competitive season is at an end.
Brewer, B. W., Van Raalte, J. L., & Linder, D. E. (1993). Athletic Identity: Hercules’ Muscles or Achilles Heel? International Journal of Sport Psychology, 24, 237-254.
Burke, P. J., & Reitzes, D. C. (1981). The link between identity and role performance. Social Psychology Quarterly, 44(2), 83–92. https://doi.org/10.2307/3033704
Karr, T. M., Bauer, K. W., Graham, D. J., Larson, N. I., & Neumark Sztainer, D. R. (2014). Exercise identity: Healthy and unhealthy outcomes in a population-based study of young adults. Journal of Sport Behavior, 37(2).
Kerr ZY, Chandran A, DeFreese JD. Considerations for Present and Future Research on Former Athlete
Health and Well-being. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(5):e194222. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.4222
Reifsteck, E.J., Gill, D.L. & Brooks, D.L. (2013). The relationship between athletic identity and physical activity among former college athletes. Athletic Insight, 5 (3), 271-284.
Simon, Janet E., and Carrie L. Docherty. “The Impact of Previous Athletic Experience on Current Physical Fitness in Former Collegiate Athletes and Noncollegiate Athletes.” Sports Health, vol. 9, no. 5, Sept. 2017, pp. 462–468, doi:10.1177/1941738117705311.
Note from Nick:
Ayiana was an intern here at KAW last Fall, and this was a research project she completed as part of her internship. I found the information very enlightening and felt it needed to be shared. Ayiana is now hired on here post internship at KAW as one of our reception staff!
By guest blogger Tamara Mitchell, LMT, CMLDT
With all the systems in the human body the Lymphatic System often gets forgotten. Much like the latest computer IOS, the topic just goes...lymph.
The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. The lymph system has two main roles: to drain excess tissue fluid and to fight infections. The system is made up of vessels which contains lymph nodes. A lymph node is a small bean shaped structure which contains large numbers of white blood cells, monitoring any signs of infection. These vessels prevent blockage in the body tissue by draining through the urinary system.
The lymphatic system's role within the body can be compared to the oil needed to run a car – they both need to be periodically filtered to keep the “body” running properly.
This process is done naturally by the body with regular muscle movement, breathing, proper hydration and diet. The process can be sped up with Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD), which uses gentle strokes to clear cellular debris through the vessels. Manual Lymph Drainage is a light pressure massage using rhythmic pulling over the lymph vessels that sit just below the skin. The goal of MLD is to increase lymph flow, as opposed to regular massage therapy, which is focused deeper on the muscles. Manual Lymph Drainage offers relief and benefits for many conditions including post injury edema and is a gentle, conservative approach that can be done fully clothed in 60-minute sessions.
All treatments of Manual Lymph Drainage should be discussed with your physician who will determine any contraindications that may be present or if treatment is right for you. If you are interested in Manual Lymph Drainage give our office a call and staff will direct you to a trained therapist.
By: Gust Blogger Kate Duffy
As I’m sure most of you are aware, there are many different forms of massage therapy, beyond the traditional Swedish relaxation massage. Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is one of the more recent modalities. It was developed by Dr. John E. Upledger, following extensive studies done between 1975 and 1983, and is now very popular.
Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle form of hands-on therapy done with a very lightweight touch. Using only the weight of a nickel, the therapist is able to locate and assist in the moving of blockages within the pattern and flow of the sacral fluid. The sacral fluid flows along the spinal column and around the brain. By focusing on the movement of this fluid, a trained therapist is able to release compression and help the body to regain homeostasis (stable equilibrium), which allows for recovery from a variety of trauma, including migraine headaches, chronic neck and back pain, and brain injuries.
With the increased concern of head injuries in contact sports, football in particular, interest in CST as an additional form of treatment for concussions has grown. By helping the fluid and fascia throughout the head and spinal column, many people have found a significant amount of relief from their symptoms, more so than from other more common forms of treatment.
If you are interested in giving CST a try call our office at 269-373-1000 and our friendly staff can direct you to a therapist who is trained in it!
For more information and video testimonials, go to Upledger.com
By Guest Blogger: Dr. Steve Antoniotti
You could say chiropractic is in our bones…pun intended. Antoniotti Chiropractic first opened its doors in 1964. We are the 3 rd generation to provide health and wellness care to southwest Michigan. Since the beginning, we have utilized both chiropractic adjustments along with therapeutic massage to deliver the highest level of care to our patients. On April 1, 2019, our office was blessed with the addition of Kalamazoo Athletic Wellness and we couldn’t be happier, after seeing only positive results over the last six months. We truly believe that massage therapy is the ideal complement to chiropractic care.
Improving range of motion (flexibility) and overall biomechanical function, increasing immune system adaptability, decreasing pain and inflammation, eliminating toxins, reducing stress and fatigue, along with enhancing circulation are just a few of the many benefits that are attributed to a combination of chiropractic and massage therapy. Anxiety, depression, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, headaches, insomnia, soft and hard tissue injuries are a few of the many symptoms /conditions for which a combination of chiropractic care and massage therapy can provide immense relief and benefit.
You might be asking “How?” The simple answer boils down to the fact that chiropractors work with hard tissue (bones and joints) and massage therapists work with soft tissue (muscle, ligament, tendon, lymph, and circulation). The body is composed of over 200 bones and over 600 muscles. These biomechanical components do not work independently of each other; rather they are an integral network of movement & function, which need to communicate every second of every day. So chiropractic care and massage therapy work together, hand in hand, to provide optimum health for most people.
99.9% of our chiropractic patients are given the clinical recommendation to also utilize therapeutic massage, as the best treatment results are seen when both modalities are used. Having Kalamazoo Athletic Wellness on our team has only improved overall patient care and well-being. Having a team of both chiropractors and massage therapists available allows us to continually provide the best long-term results for people of all ages in our community.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to either of our offices with further questions and BE WELL!
By: Guest blogger Jeff Merrill LMT, BS
“Oh my hamstrings are so tight. I just need to stretch them out more.” Have you ever said this? If so, why do you think you need to stretch them out? The two purposes of the hamstring muscle group are to extend your leg back behind you and to bend your knee. So if you say they are tight, then you must be doing box jumps and/or jump
squats all day.
Wait, you aren't doing those things? Hmmm. Well then, maybe your hamstrings aren't really the issue. Let’s take a step back and look at what actually might be causing those hamstrings to be pulled tight.
1. Belly/Core Weakness
Consider the rotation of the pelvis. If the belly pushes the front of the pelvis down, what happens to the back part? It is going to pull upward. Where are the hamstrings attached? At the back portion of the pelvis. So as the front of the hips go down, the back gets pulled up and a stretch is applied to the hamstrings.
2. Hip Flexor Tightness
This is very similar to the belly weakness. As your hip flexors get too tight, they pull the front of your hips down and the back of your hips up. They also sometimes can rotate the hips into different planes: Right Forward/Left Back or Left Forward/Right Back. What this does is make one hamstring feel tighter than the other.
As the front of the hips get pulled down, the back gets pulled up, making the hamstrings feel stretched. And a stretched muscle (which is weaker) doesn't activate as well as a muscle at normal length. So when a muscle is weak, other muscles that do similar actions start compensating and assisting those movements. Enter the calves. You
have two calf muscles: one that crosses the knee and one that does not. The one that crosses the knee helps to flex or bend the knee, just like the hamstrings. So if the hamstrings are weak, the calf muscle picks up the slack. What can happen is that the calf muscle can inhibit the hamstring movement.
4. Other Reasons
There are a myriad of other reasons, so it is often difficult to pin down exactly what is the cause, but here are a few others:
Come see us and we can help you figure out exactly where your problem areas are and then help you start getting the flexibility back into your legs.
When I started my career in massage, I didn't exactly know where I was going to go with it. After several years of being in limbo, I finally decided that I wanted to work with athletes in the sports field. My dream goal is to someday work with an NFL team or at least with a specific NFL athlete. As I started down this path, I realized that much of the success that I was going to be seeing was going to be on the “amateur athlete” level. Being the head massage therapist for Western Michigan University’s football team has afforded me the opportunity to work with some NFL caliber athletes who have gone on to play in the NFL. I still have yet to have that breakout opportunity. But that's not to say that the athletes and teams I have been able to work with have not been wonderful in their own right.
The last three years I've traveled with Linda to the CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin. Last year was a “Cinderella Year” as she captured bronze for her age group – not an easy feat. This year, Linda came in looking really strong and healthy. There were some rule changes for qualifying. In the past, CrossFit would take the Top 20 athletes in the world for the various age group divisions. This year they narrowed that down to the Top 10. We knew that was going to be a challenge from the start as Linda had qualified 16th last year when she won bronze. So she knew that she was going to have to work really hard just in the qualifying round to make sure she secured a spot in the games. Linda turned it on both in the CrossFit open and the online qualifying round to qualify fourth. Needless to say, we were both feeling cautiously optimistic about her overall chances at the games.
One of the challenges about CrossFit at a competitive level is that the athletes don't know exactly what they will be doing until they’re just about to do it. So, we arrive in Madison two days before competition is to begin, only to find out that Linda won’t be competing for three days. This delay really threw Linda off mentally, but we found ways to distract her. We went kayaking, she did a light workout on the day that she would have started and watched some of the individual competition. From a massage standpoint, I did not want to do any work on her until after she was performing. She'd received a full body session just a week before the competition and I'm not a fan of someone receiving body work within 48 hours of having to compete, unless it's to recover from a previous competitive level performance. So we waited.
Friday was her first day of competition. The first event started slow. Linda is famous for knowing how to pace herself. She finds her rhythm early and then goes with it to the end. Often this makes it look like she starts slow and falls behind, but then as the other athletes fade out during the workout, she consistently catches up and passes. This time the approach didn’t work so well. All the other women looked like they were shot out of a cannon. Linda quickly fell behind. She was only able to catch up to a few and she finished 7th. Afterwards, when I was working on her, she explained that she was just getting her nerves out. She is ever the optimist!
We get to the second event, which was a ruck. A ruck is a hike or a walk with a weighted backpack. For this event, CrossFit had the athletes start without a backpack, run 3 laps of a 1500m course, adding a backpack with 20 pounds after one lap and then adding another 10 pounds for the final lap. In years past, running has been Linda's downfall. However, she has been working very hard to improve her running. When the first lap finished, and the mob of runners came to pick up their backpacks, I lost track of her – I didn’t see her come in and get her backpack. I start to panic. “What if she rolled her ankle, what if she fell, what if she passed out? " All these scenarios were running through my mind as I frantically ran up the bleachers and looked out over the field where she was running. After a couple of agonizing minutes, I turned around and saw Linda re-enter the stadium wearing her backpack. She ended up finishing very well and tied for fourth place at the end of Day One.
Day Two came on Saturday. We knew she had two workouts during the day. The first event would require her to handstand walk 90 feet, use an Assault bike for 25 calories, and then do a 100 lb sandbag carry another 90 ft to the finish line. We knew she would be strong in this one because of her gymnastics background - she was a solid handstand walker. Her biggest concern was the weight of the sandbag. The way CrossFit requires you to hold the sandbag is in front of you, which often can compress your chest and limit your breathing capacity.
The event starts with the handstand walk. Linda cruises right through it to an early lead. As she starts on the Assault bike, we have no idea how many calories she's going through and are waiting for the judge to raise his hand, which signifies Linda only has five calories to go. Laurie Mascheshnick, who was the current first place overall woman and eventual gold winner, started the bike later than Linda but is a stronger overall athlete. I could tell by watching her pace on the bike that she was catching up to Linda. Within seconds of Linda's judge's hand going up, Laurie's judge's hand went up as well. Linda popped off the bike first, went over and picked up her 100 lb sandbag and began to carry it along the 30-ft course. She gets to the end of one side turns around starts walking the other direction and begins to pick up the pace. I could tell the weight of the bag was heavy and that she was struggling just trying to get it done. I had a moment of concern that she would drop the sandbag at the end of 60 ft to rest, but when she turned around at the end of that 60 ft and started walking back for her final 30 ft, I freaked out! I knew she was going to rush to the end and get the win for this event. This was exciting as Linda had not had an individual event win in sometime.
One of the best parts about CrossFit is that while it is very competitive at the sport level, all the athletes respect and encourage each other as comrades. At the end of the event Linda and Laurie hugged, smiling at the excitement of the finish. This win boosted Linda up into second place where she would stay for the remainder of the games. Through her final four events Linda would not place less than 3rd, solidifying a Silver medal in the women’s 55-59 age group. This made her the only American woman to medal in her age group for the second year in a row. The Gold was given to Laurie from Canada and Bronze was awarded to Marion Valkenburg of the Netherlands.
The independent wellness professionals (like me) hang out in a separate area within the athlete village, where we work on our athletes. We are not in the same area as the sponsored sports med folks. Most athletes do not bring their own LMT, so since this was my third year, there were some familiar faces in the room. One thing I consistently see with the other therapists there is a wide variety of tools and toys they use for their athletes. This includes chiropractors and massage therapists alike. Some of the people at this event looked like they did both. I can remember the first year being there noticing this and feeling like I was under qualified to be there. I generally don't use a lot of fancy toys and my approach is very simple for a sports massage therapist. But this year I realized, what happens at the games is far more dependent on how ready the athlete is going in and my job is to simply keep Linda moving. So that's what I did, nothing fancy, just a little bit of cupping and Hypervolt. But mostly good old fashioned massage.
by guest blogger
Michael Padden, LMT, PTA
You’ve heard us say this a million times: “Be sure to drink plenty of water.” Summer is a critical time for this simple advice. Too many weekend warriors and seasoned athletes alike fail to maintain proper hydration during the summer months, leading to heat -related complications like heat cramps and even heat stroke in extreme cases. Exercising in the heat is a double whammy for your body’s ability to maintain a safe temperature. Rigorous exercise generates a lot of heat, which must be dissipated somehow. The main method the body uses to remove this excess heat is through sweat, especially in hot weather. If the body is unable to regulate its temperature effectively or when the balance of hydration and electrolytes is disturbed, exercise performance is impaired and if unchecked, can result in serious health risks.
It can be difficult to sufficiently replace the water loss from an activity during the activity or immediately after and as such it is particularly important for athletes who perform prolonged endurance activities or multiple intense activities throughout the day to monitor their hydration. Deficits in hydration from one activity can carry over and be further compromised by subsequent activities if steps are not taken to replace the lost fluids and electrolytes. The more dehydrated you become the higher the strain on the body and the greater the impact on exercise performance.
Recommendations for ensuring proper hydration for exercise include prehydration, drinking during exercise, and rehydration. To safely and effectively prehydrate, it is recommended that you slowly drink 0.075 - 0.1 oz per pound of body weight approximately 4 hours before activity. (that's about a cup of water per 100lbs.) Then, if 2 hours before activity, either you have not urinated or your urine is dark in color, drink another 0.05-0.075 oz per pound of body weight. (That's about another 5-7.5 ounces per 100lbs) This recommendation ensures that prehydration does not lead to over hydration, which can also have negative effect on exercise performance.
Drinking during activity can be the most vital for long duration exercise but exact recommendations are difficult due to the wide variability in water loss rates. It is recommended that you assess your own needs carefully, adjusting for your activity and the conditions. As a reference point though, typical marathon runners would likely need to consume approximately 16 - 32 oz per hour to replace their water losses on a warm day.
Remember to replace not only the water but also the electrolytes lost during activity, either by consuming a salty snack or by drinking a sports drink, which contains sufficient electrolytes, during your activity. If you were able to sufficiently maintain hydration throughout exercise, then normal meals and beverages may be enough to rehydrate following activity, but if you have built up a deficit, then rehydration will need to be proportionately more aggressive. It is important during this phase to ensure that sodium levels return to normal or the body will not be able to absorb the water it needs to replace the fluid losses. The best way to measure how much fluid needs to be replaced after activity is to weigh yourself before and again after the activity and then drink approximately 23 oz per pound lost, but do so gradually so as to maximize absorption.
Michael N. Sawka, FACSM (chair); Louise M. Burke, FACSM, E. Randy Eichner,
FACSM, Ronald J. Maughan, FACSM, Scott J. Montain, FACSM, Nina S. Stachenfeld,
Exercise and Fluid Replacement, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February
2007 - Volume 39 - Issue 2 - p 377-390.
Nicholas Garman, LMT NSCA-CPT
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