Q: After reading Jeremy’s article 4 Steps to Increasing Your Grip Strength I was inspired to turn my forearms into something “Popeye” would envy. Thank you for writing an article on a subject that few people discuss. However, after several days of training I started getting painful knots in my forearms. Is there something I can do to prevent that from happening?
A: This is actually common symptom. In fact, we see it often. Your “knots” are more than likely myofascial trigger points which are small palpable nodules within a muscle. Many times these nodules are simply a small accumulation of fluid that occurs as the result of over repetition and/or intense muscular activity.
One of the best ways to treat trigger points is with a popular massage technique called ischemic compression. This is when you apply direct pressure to the trigger point and temporarily reduce the blood supply to it - usually not for more than 60 seconds.
The easiest way to apply direct pressure to a trigger point is with a foam roller or a lacrosse ball. You can pick up a lacrosse ball for a couple dollars at most sports stores.
Simply roll your weight upon the trigger point (it's not going to feel pleasant) and keep the pressure on the trigger point for about 1 minute. After the minute is up, lightly massage over and around the area. This technique will increase blood flow. After about 2 minutes of rest and increased circulation, apply the pressure again on the same trigger point for approximately 1 minute and repeat the steps outlined above.
Repeat this cycle 4 or 5 times in a row for a few days and see if your trigger points go away. If you have areas with old trigger points you might need to repeat this technique a couple times daily to see a benefit. If your pain continues or increases, make an appointment for a consultation with your healthcare professional ASAP.
To prevent trigger points from developing, use a foam roller after you workout. This will help smooth out tight areas as well as increase circulation which can help prevent trigger points from forming and reduce the chance of injury.
Q: I work in an office and we have deadlines for everything. Although having deadlines seem to increase stress for some people, it also motivates us to get our work done. What's your take on using a deadline in the gym? Should I use deadlines for my fitness goals?
A: Let’s answer this question with one word - ABSOLUTELY!
As you already know from your work, deadlines create a sense of urgency. Another thing that comes with urgency is focus. That is precisely how you want to attack your fitness goals, with urgency and focus. For example, let's say you want to lose 10 pounds, run a half marathon or bench 400 lbs. Whatever your goal is, set a reasonable timeframe to accomplish it and mark the date on your calendar. Better yet, tell your friends, family, co-workers and workout partner about your goal and your deadline.
Now you have a deadline and a little social motivation to stick to it! What’s the worst thing that can happen? You give it your all and fall short of your goal? Big deal, at least you went all out for it!
Next time you set a goal, be sure to also set a deadline. Once you write down a deadline in black and white, a sense of urgency and excitement will come over you. Try it out and hit us up with an update - we'd love to hear about your goals and how you crushed them.
Q: I recently started running again after taking a long break. I use to run a couple half-marathons a year but with work and kids I haven't been as dedicated. I recently started running again and I am frequently getting side stitches, it's really annoying. Is there anything I can do to prevent them from happening?
A: Ok, for readers who are unaware of what a "side stitch" is, it's a term that hardcore runners use to describe what is commonly known as a "side ache." I have worked with high level runners and athletes who complain about getting side aches. Many of them have been to therapists, trainers and doctors - all of which link side aches to a spasm in the diaphragm. Often times they are given abdominal and breathing exercises, however many times I have heard that doesn't cure the problem of side aches.
With all of my athletes, the first thing I asses is the flexibility of their psoas muscle, which is a large muscle which extends from the lower spine through the pelvis to the femer. There are many reasons why I asses the psoas on athletes however, the connection between side aches and the psoas is undeniable. In my opinion many times the psoas, which has fiber extending to the diaphram, will spasm in athletes because they are either dehydrated, lacking a mineral or not stretching properly.
If someone is experiencing side aches I will discuss their hydration and make sure they are keeping up with their bodily needs. Then, I will investigate mineral imbalances.
Athletes are notoriously deficient in magnesium which can lead to muscle cramps and spasms. If the psoas cramps, it may cause the diaphragm to not function properly and result is a side ache.
I prefer Douglas Laboratories Magnesium Aspartate because it has a high absorption rate and it rarely causes gastric upset, which is always a good thing.
Lastly, I put them on a psoas stretching program. If you do a quick google search it will provide you with a lot of options to stretch your psoas. From my experience, restoring hydration, mineral balance and increasing pliability to the psoas usually keeps side aches from returning.
Q: What is your take on creatine? I am interested in taking it but a guy at the gym told me it's not worth taking because all it does is add water weight, is that true?
A: Creatine has lost some momentum since it first hit the market 1993. However, over the past 24 years research has continued to validate what athletes have said from the beginning which is that creatine is a safe supplement with no serious side effects and most of all it works!
Most people report gaining 3-5 pounds in the first week as well as a noticeable increase in strength. As far as I know, the only negative side-effects are cramping (if someone doesn't consume enough water) or gastric upset (if they consume too much creatine at one time). It is true that creatine will increase water weight, that's where the 3-5 pounds comes from and why you should increase your water intake accordingly. Yet, once you stop taking the supplement the water weight will also dissipate.
As for our take on creatine? It's a great supplement for sports where strength and explosive power is required - like weight training. When we lift weights or exercise in general, we use up the bodies ATP (adenosine triphosphate) stores. ATP is what all living things use to transfer energy.
The reason this information is important is because when we exercise we use a "phosphate" molecule which causes ATP (which has 3 phosphate molecules) to be converted to ADP adenosine diphosphate (which has only 2 phosphate molecules).
This leads to less energy transfer, which leads to less explosiveness and decreased strength. Exactly where creatine steps in. Creatine gives up a phosphate molecule to ADP which converts it back to ATP, the rocket fuel which allows you to throw around dumbbells and barbells with ease.
If you ask 20 people how to use creatine you will get 20 different answers. However, we still suggest people go through the "old school" method of a "loading" phase for the initial 5 days of use. This "loading" phase is where you consume 5 grams, which is a teaspoon of creatine, 4 times a day for the initial 5 days. This will be a total of 20 grams each day.
After the initial "loading" we like to go into a "maintenance phase" where you cut back your intake to 5 grams 2 times a day, preferably 5 grams an hour before training and 5 grams immediately after training. Lots of people like to take creatine within a drink which has a few simple carbs that can help with muscular uptake. Personally, we chug it with whatever is convenient, water, juice or protein drinks.
Finally, a little trick if you experience an upset stomach after taking creatine. Try drinking a large glass of warm water immediately after your creatine. We have found this seems to prevent a sour stomach from occurring.
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