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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Single Leg RDL and Deadlift...The Forgotten SUPER HERO exercise!

So by now I think most of my readers understand a lot about me. They have an idea about who I am, what I've done, and what I am looking to do!

It's all about getting to know who is training you and giving you advice right? I mean, the word "personal" lies right within my deemed title.

I just STRONGLY believe in mental attitude and awareness. It is one thing that I have seen on a day in/day out basis with clients I train.


You had a stressful day at work

You woke up late and didn't get anything done

Your boss is giving you hell

You missed breakfast...and lunch...and have no energy

You are being bombarded with negativity 

You HATE my workouts


....Hmmmm...Well...Maybe fibbing about the last one there, right!?? :)

Back to my topic...I see it all...I remember seeing frustrated athletes daily, who constantly beat themselves up over the thought of potentially failing at a given task. 

You see, in college, I WAS EVEN GUILTY OF THIS. The thought of letting yourself down, or maybe a friend, coach, co-worker, or family member. Nobody likes to disappoint others...at least not normal people.

I remember subconsciously thinking to myself:

"Come on Mike, get this sh** done, or it's all over for you."
"Get the hell up, and get training...or you will be sitting on the bench."
"Really...that's what you call a strong push-up?"



Constant thoughts can render and tear even the strongest minds apart...but what separates the true competitors and successful people in this world are the ones who GET RIGHT BACK UP. The ones who might expect perfection, but also realize reality and do the best they possibly can.



I remember seeing a GREAT runner train in the gym one day. She was doing deadlifts. She really seemed to be having a rough day and could have the barbell hit the floor even on both sides, having the weights slip off every few reps. Next thing I know(after the few minutes of seeing her facial expressions look as if she would rip me apart even), she took the barbell and tossed it towards the cage which then cracks the mirror behind it.

Obsessed with perfection? DEFINITELY!

BUT...is this mindset such a harmful thing? I mean, EVERY successful business person in this country has some sort of perfectionism in a particular part of their life. That could mean some great things are in your future then right?

Possibly. You MUST MUST MUST learn how to channel that perfectionism.

That is where I COME IN. There will be days where you feel like throwing in the towel, giving up, throwing weights, medicine balls(most likely at me)...

THAT IS A KNOWN FACT! You must prepare for it, and channel your thoughts into a positive manner. That is where the "personal" part of my job lies.  I stay in CONSTANT touch to the best of my ability with EVERY client. Yes, I get questions on nutrition, workouts, supplements, sleep habits, hormone questions....

Hell, I even get messages from clients asking what skirt or shirt they should buy! Or if Kohl's still has athletic wear that wont rip or shrink in a few days.

Yesterday I got one reading....

"Miiikkkkkeeee....I don't want to get up!!!"

Maybe thinking it's due to soreness from my workout I said...SORE?  The reply was NO.

"THEN GET THE HECK UP AND BRIGHTEN YOUR DAY...nothing gets done sitting on your butt. I don't care if you open the door for someone, pay for some one's coffee at Starbucks, or clean your car...DO SOMETHING that will make you feel accomplished and even better if it is someone else."

Later that day I was told they helped do some gardening work for a neighbor and COMPLETELY made them  feel better because of the simple look of thankfulness on the neighbor's face.

What a change! See, it doesn't take much to take your day and turn it around! You have to believe and accept FIRST....

1) You will have bad days
2) Prepare and have a "way out" so to speak. Have a plan. 

You are your own worst enemy when it comes down to your success in life. You can't blame a lost job, broken relationship, sudden or lingering weight gain, or failed test on anything but YOURSELF.

You must work THROUGH those tough times.  Do you think I wanted to swim with one leg and arm for 3 months? Hell No! But I did what was best for my progress! Sure, I had days that I DID NOT want to go into that pool...but I had a backup plan.

My friends, clients, family...and series of quotes I posted on my wall in my bedroom the day after my surgery all helped me battle.

So next time your having that "rough day," remember, I will always be there to help push you through mentally because it is perfectly normal....

BUT, its ultimately your choice to making the best of the current situation. Whether your training, working, shopping...etc...change that mental mindset into one of positive outlook.

You are there

You are TRYING

You have been working your tail off


You are allowed to stumble and will stumble in life....but it's your mental state of mind that separates the weak from the dominant.

Which route will you take?




Now onto my OTHER topic. The Single Leg Romanian Deadlift and Regular Deadlift.

Single leg RDLs are, almost 95% of the time, overlooked by other trainers and coaches.  They use the bilateral exercise of basic RDLs and Convential Deadlifts because they don't want to spend the time to research the many benefits of the single leg variations!

To point out a few:

The single leg deadlift is an effective exercise for the development of the glutes and posterior chain, grip, and lateral core, while also teaching proprioception, stability and force generation off one leg.

Yes, two legs means MORE WEIGHT..but single leg variations play a HUGE role to athletes who need unilateral training in their sport...which is EVERYONE.

First thing your sport's coach always told you...NEVER STAND FLAT FOOTED! Well, there is your proof.

DAM...pretty simple right?

So how is the exercise performed?



Two major movement cues are necessary for this exercise: “straight back and forward facing hips.” Axial twisting or bending in the spine takes away from the efficacy of the exercise, violates basic movement laws for injury prevention and makes your movement inefficient – all terrible things if you want to perform at a high level.

Another important movement cue is hip posture – shoulders and hips always facing the same direction. As the shoulders and hips deviate two things happen:




  
1)  We induce axial twisting of the spine. This is a mechanism the spine does not like (Drake et. al., 2005). Pair this with added load, and we are sapping tolerance the spine can take before injury.




 
2)  Movement inefficiency. How many fast and powerful movements can you think of that require the spine and hips to rotate away from each other?  Most rotational movements (swinging a baseball bat, throwing a punch) require rotation of the hips and shoulders to work in concert to make rotational power more efficient.

There will be a natural tendency for the hip to want to open up to the free end, but fight to keep this hip down and pointed forward at all times.

Also, here are a few other postural cues that are VERY important to remember when doing this exercise:

Head/Neck:

  • Chin back/head neutral. Keeping the neck neutral helps reduce excessive extensor or flexor torque on the neck. It won’t make or break the exercise but does make it a bit friendlier on the cervical spine.
Shoulders:

  • Keep the shoulders in neutral posture while pulling the shoulder blades back, locking them in place and contracting the upper back musculature. As the lats have attachment points along the spine, activation of this muscle group improves torso stability. 

 Hands:

  • Keep a tight, death grip on your weights. This follows the irradiation or co-contraction theory espoused by Pavel Tsatsouline which improves activation of musculature throughout the entire body. This is also a great way to improve your crushing grip strength and build a strong pair of forearms.
 Core:

  •  Keep the core braced as if a friend or enemy is going to hit you in the stomach. If you’re loose it’s going to hurt, but if you’re braced correctly you’ll be fine. This is the same brace you should use when performing a SLDL or any load bearing exercise.

Planted Leg:
  • Grip the floor with your foot like a monkey and root yourself into the ground to maintain stability between yourself and the ground.
  • Contract the quadriceps and hamstrings to develop stability of the planted leg.

Free Leg:

  • Press the heel of the free leg outward, pulling the toes down and forcing the heel out. Keep this cue while you allow the leg to swing with the torso.

 Free Leg Too High!

 Perfect!
Note the major cues: neutral head posture, back leg parallel with torso, back toes pointed down with heel driven outward, tight grip, core braced, hips squared with shoulders.

So, in summary, THIS powerful exercise is GREAT for overall glute recruitment and isolation! It does wonders for proprioceptive skills and will help enhance strength gains as well as development of single leg stability and anti-rotation and lateral bending core stability.

What MORE can this exercise do? SAVE YOUR KNEES! Yes, keeping those glutes strong will keep the knees healthy! So why not try this out! You have nothing to lose but all to gain my friends! 

The single leg stance also develops frontal plane (side to side) stability. When we stand in a uniform bilateral stance we are in symmetry; each leg bears half the bodyweight load spaced equally from the body’s centre of mass. However, as soon as we are required to balance on one leg, we put ourselves in uneven load distribution and must generate muscular force to maintain stability to keep ourselves from tipping over. In this unilateral stance, two groups of muscles contribute to stability – the glute of the planted leg and the opposite lateral core. When these two muscle groups activate together they prevent the torso and knee from buckling laterally; the challenge to these muscle groups is increased under external load.

Doing bilateral squats and deadlifts work so many muscle groups and using the single leg variation will put constraints on certain muscle groups to isolate and strengthen properly.

This exercise can be performed at the beginning of a workout(which I prefer) as a stability and unilateral strength exercise OR it can be used as a main lift if the athlete primarily needs unilateral work! 

Well that's all I got for you on this last day of July! 

Remember, expecting the best from yourself is great...but make sure you control the mental aspects of your thoughts on your bad days, because we all know they will come....

And Now You Will Be Ready! 

And I'll be there to help! As always!

Stay Strong,

Mike Over
CPT
Strength & Conditioning Specialist
www.mjofitness.com
mjover09@gmail.com


"You MUST plan ahead. You MUST stay strong, lean on your social support (that's me, right here!), and keep on looking for healthier alternatives to bad habits. Our bad habits MUST be attacked head-on. We MUST overcome fear and destroy weakness. It will not get better by avoiding it. Instead, become what I call, "a Nike Robot"...and...Just do it. I believe in you. Take action today."


References
  • Drake, J.D., Aultman, C.D., McGil, S.M.,& Callaghan, J.P. (2005). The influence of static axial torque in combined loading on intervertebral joint failure mechanics using a porcine model. Clinical Biomechanics, 20(10), 1038-1045.
  • Callaghan, J. P., & McGill, S. M. (2001). Intervertebral disc herniation: studies on a porcine model  exposed to highly repetitive flexion/extension motion with compressive force. Clinical Biomechanics, 16(1), 28-37.
  •  Souza, R. B., & Powers, C. M. (2009). Differences in hip kinematics, muscle strength, and muscle activation between subjects with and without patellofemoral pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 39(1), 12-19

Sunday, July 21, 2013

New Superfoods & What The Food Companies ARN'T telling you!

As summer is heating up, lets take a look at a few "SUPER-FOODS" that we can use to spice up our diet and bring out the best in our training, physique, and muscularity. Just remember, nutrition is a key part to your success as an athlete. Without proper nutritional timing, you can be stuck in ruts for years and have your metabolism at a stand still and cortisol levels through the roof!




#1: Coconut oil
Coconut oil is abundant in a medium chain fatty acid that appears to protect your brain, manage blood sugar, and improve energy use in the body so you lose fat. Truly! Coconut oil doesn’t enter the cholesterol cycle, so the fat it contains won’t be deposited in fat cells.
 
There’s proof: A recent study of folks from Malaysia where the coconut is native found that having them eat 30 ml of coconut oil three times a day for a month led them to lose about a pound of body fat and trim their waistlines a measurable amount.
 
#2: Avocado

Called an “anti-obesity” food by scientists, the avocado is jam-packed with nutrients and antioxidants, and although it is rich in monounsaturated fats, studies suggest eating avocado regularly will keep you from getting fat. This is all for naught if your diet is poor, but in a typical high-protein, low-carb diet, avocados will improve your body and health.
 
The research is strong: Analysis of the diets of 17,567 Americans showed that those who ate more avocados had significantly lower body weight and waist circumference and a 50 percent lower risk of metabolic syndrome. And these weren’t Paleo-eaters either—impressive, no?
 
#3: Eggs
A perfect protein source, eggs provide a nice dose of choline, which helps with liver detoxification. This is one reason eggs have been a staple in the diets of bodybuilders for years—a clean liver means the body eliminates toxins better, supporting optimal body composition. Don’t shy away from eating them daily. Recent research shows three eggs a day will IMPROVE cholesterol, decrease inflammation, and manage blood sugar.
 
#4: Cocoa
You’ve heard about the benefits of dark chocolate for the heart due to it being antioxidant-rich and the happy news is that it really is that good for you. Not only will cocoa, from which chocolate is derived, support cardiovascular health, it improves insulin signaling and association studies show a higher dark chocolate intake is linked with a leaner physique. Opt for a chocolate that has over 72 percent cocoa solids—the darker the better—without added sugar. Do not eat chocolate that contains dairy, as it blocks the activity of its powerful anti-oxidants.
 
#5: Kimchi
Perhaps not as delicious as chocolate, kimchi is a fermented Korean cabbage dish that improves gut health and insulin sensitivity. A recent study showed that overweight subjects who ate 100 grams of kimchi at every meal for 4 weeks produced significant fat loss and decreased body fat by 1.5 percent. Blood pressure was lower and blood sugar control improved by the end of the study.
 
#6. Kale
 
 
Loaded with fiber, vitamin K, beta-carotene, vitamin C and manganese--which helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates--kale is a flavorful option for your salad. Carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin in kale protect eyes against UV damage. Plus, it has some of the highest amounts of potassium--necessary for proper brain, nerve and muscle function--in the veggie world.
 
And as a side note:
 
 BEWARE of these food label scams!! They are getting increasingly popular due to the FDA's "minimal" guidelines. 

Zero calories per serving:  As long as the food item has less than 5 calories per serving, it can be rounded down and labeled 0 calories.
 
While .5g of fat or 5 calories may not seem like a big deal, remember that these values are "per serving", and while an entire package, box, can, or bottle of a product may contain hundreds of calories and loads of fat, as long as they can divide that package into small enough servings to meet the calorie and gram requirements to claim zero, it's legal.
 
Cooking Sprays and Butter Sprays - Cooking sprays are labeled as fat-free but their first ingredient is oil, which is 100% fat.  How in the world can this be?  Well, the serving size is 1/5th of a second.  What?  Last time we used a cooking spray (some of the organic ones are useful) it took about 3 seconds to lightly coat the surface of the pan.  Well, according to the manufacturer, we just used 15 servings.

Bottom line, no one uses the ridiculous and absurd microscopic 1/5th of second spray suggested serving, which isn't nearly enough product to be of practical use.

Cooking sprays aren't fat-free...they are nearly 100% fat.  In my example above, a realistic serving actually contains around 5 grams of fat and 45 CALORIES.  A far cry from the 0 number reported on their nutrition facts.

Surprised?
 
You should be! The companies are tricky and getting away with this! So now. lets be smart and take this knowledge and use it wisely!  

Source:
Josh Bezoni & Joel Marion
Founders, BioTrust Nutrition
 
 
Other Sources:
Liau, K., et al. An Open-Label Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Virgin Coconut Oil in Reducing Visceral Adiposity. ISRN Pharmacology. 2011. 949686.
 
Ratliff, J., et al. Eggs Modulate the Inflammatory Response To Carbohydrate Restricted Diets in Overweight Men. Nutrition and Metabolism. 2008. 5(6).
 
Devalaraja, S., Jain, S., Yaday, H. Exotic Fruits as Therapeutic Complements for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolic Syndrome. Food Research International. August 2011. 44(7), 1856-1865.
 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

ONE YEAR Tribute. My Progress. My Reaction. What I've Learned Since My Accident.

Let's start off this post with a video.





One year ago, my life changed. Let's take a look at what I was digging myself into BEFORE that split second took me and steered me onto a new path.

You see, I KNEW sports were in my future. I loved everything about them. Especially soccer. I had the time of my life playing in high school.


I knew I loved the sport so much I had to continue playing in college. Which led me down south!


BUT

After this was all said and done...I felt empty. I felt as if I had no goals to push towards anymore. So I started to run...

then swim...

AND one summer, I came home and used a road bike my dad had from college to start biking.

From there, I found my new addiction. And I got my new bike.


Loved everything about training. I loved the feeling of hopping on my bike and escaping the world from any stresses or headaches I was having. I loved working hard not only with the endurance aspect, but also the strength training. It all was a new love of mine!

For two years I trained diligently, learning new ways to strength train, run, and bike. I managed to run races with putting in 10 miles a week. I took pride in how I could translate my resistance workouts into my endurance events!

I guess you could say I was obsessed.....but I learned that's just what they call the dedicated. No one trained harder than me. No one worked harder than me. I knew I wanted to be the best and would have given anything to be there.

Until one day.


A pick-up truck and I collided head on in the berm on a Sunday afternoon. All I remembered was bracing myself after I saw him coming and try to pull my whole body as high as I could so he could hit me low and not above the waist.  So I pull up on the bike and went flying into the air and onto his windshield then finally to the ground.

I woke up to a lady holding my hand saying to not let go and to not look down. To this day, I don't know who this lady was or her name because she disappeared as soon as the ambulance arrived. For the following two months, she was in EVERY nightmare I had. I strongly believe she may have been an angel. She just kept telling me I will be okay. I couldn't feel a single thing from my waist down. As soon as my mom and dad came, I saw their expressions from looking at my legs and she started crying. I then had to look. I saw my left knee-cap hanging open outside my knee and I just remembered thinking to myself....

"Well Mike, that's it. You overdid it and God wanted to slow you down." I was almost certain I was paralyzed and began letting my parents expressions get to me as well.

The whole way to the hospital I remember thinking to myself....

if only I had listened

if only I made time for other things in my life

if only I took the time to listen to him and stop taking fitness for granted

Then I got the feeling back into my legs a while later. And I had no major internal injuries. That was a blessing in itself!

It was a torn ACL, MCL, fractured femur, dislocated kneecap, concussion, strained ligaments in my elbows, and a later to be found torn labrum in my shoulder.

BUT I LIVED!

And then the hard part began.

Rehab 3 times a week and FIGHTING. I knew God kept me alive for a reason! And it didn't take me long to realize what it was!

With the help of a friend, I began to realize how much I loved helping others in their journey with fitness.  I felt as if I had a connection to each and every person I trained. Sure, I did it before my accident, but never took it as serious as I did after my accident. I LOVED helping others! I enjoyed seeing friends and clients work hard and get results from my very own programming. I helped a friend lose 50+ pounds and counting! I helped another finish her first half marathon in a FANTASTIC time, and others with their very own personal goals!

I FOUND IT!

In a year if pain, sorrow, battling.....I found happiness!

In helping OTHERS!

So much that I spent the whole year reading(something I hate), researching, training, traveling to conferences, and practicing my new ideas on my parents...  :)

JUST to be the BEST trainer and coach I can possibly be!

Could you say I am naive?

Possibly, but I knew I wanted to prove others wrong! I wasn't going to let this injury bring me down. Instead, I used it to surround myself with some of the best athletes in the town of Chambersburg, train and coach them....and see them improve!

What could be better than that!!!

NOTHING.

Yes, I am still in pain. I can barely get out of bed some days. I limp around for days after I try to run. Sometimes I can barely stand to drive because of how bad my knee hurts.

But I will keep fighting.

Because it's EXACTLY what everyone here is doing for me! I had a friend tell me today....

"I like to run for those who can't. I think of that often, and I definitely do that for you more than you know" 

"You keep building people's confidence and helping us achieve, letting us know that our dreams are your goals, and your business is going to be very big" 

Boy did that make my heart miss a beat. To think that I am more than a trainer....a coach....but their inspiration!! They fight for me! Just as I would fight for them! I have developed a relationship with EACH and EVERY client I train.

And for me, that's more than I could ever ask for!


So, when your thinking about giving in....throwing in the towel...or just hanging up the shoes for a "little bit"

REMEMBER.....

Nothing easy is never worth fighting for....but the difficult times are what build character and develops the true inner athlete in yourself.

You can't call yourself strong until you face adversity. If it is easy, then EVERYONE would be doing it, right?

So stop taking the easy way out.


When you finally accept the fact that you refuse to fail.....you're seriously gonna fly my friends!

I couldn't be happier with the career I have started! And everyone knows I will continue to fight!

So please, if you are struggling, find pride in every step forward you make! Make an effort to step out of your comfort zone today!

For years I focused solely on exercise and not the benefits of it. I now would give anything to be able to do workouts consistently.

So be the inspiration for me! Start tomorrow. Make a change. You can do it! I believe in you just as you believe in me!

I promise you all I will take whatever it takes now.......

TO BE THE BEST TRAINER AND COACH. 

and someday I will put the running shoes back on. the plates back on the barbells, and the clips back on the bike.

But for now,


I am on a NEW mission!


 Never Give Up

If you fall off the wagon, cut your losses. Don't let it weigh on
your mind and hold you back because it's only minor damage that can
be dealt with. The important thing is to get back on track,
immediately. Never, ever, EVER give up. I believe in you.
 

Don't Procrastinate

Do it now. Whether you're thinking of cleaning out the pantry or
finally starting to exercise, STOP procrastinating and DO IT now!
 

Identify Exactly What It Is You Want...

...then don't let anything stand in your way of getting it. By
setting specific goals along with deadlines you are providing
yourself with a measuring stick.
 

Do Your Best With Everything You Have Control Over

Most people fail to control themselves, and end up only with
regrets. We trade minutes of pleasure (i.e. fast food) for days,
weeks, months, and years of regret.

 

Replace Bad Habits

Everyday you will be tempted to fall back on old bad habits. To
make a lasting change in your health and appearance you must do
everything you can to resist that. Try adding a new healthy habit
each day to replace an old unhealthy habit.
 


Be Consistent With Baby Steps

The best approach is to build your life one positive step at a
time and the way to do this is by taking baby steps to improvement
each and every single day. Be a little better than yesterday.
 

Test

There are no failures, only good and bad tests.

 

Accountability, Social Support & Role Modeling
You must hold yourself accountable to others. That's the power of putting out your goals to the public on Facebook or simply sharing them with a positive person that you can trust and that loves you and wants to see you succeed.
 

 That's the power of positive people - and yes, they do exist!
 
As one of my mentors once said to me, "You Can't Soar Like An Eagle When You Hang Out With Turkeys".

By hanging around others who want to lose weight, you can leverage
their knowledge, commitment, support, and success to push yourself
harder than you otherwise would be able to.

 

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

People will do almost anything to stay in their comfort zones.

If you want to accomplish anything, get out of your comfort zone
and strive to increase order and discipline in your life.

Discipline means doing the opposite of what you feel like doing.
Setting goals and deadlines are the easy roads to discipline.
 


Plan

Planning is the ultimate key to success.


 
Realize YOU Are In Charge of Your Success
 
 
Personal responsibility is the KEY to our success. 
 
You must take all of these tips and apply them so that you stay strong and get stronger as time goes on.
 
Always remember this quote...
 
Og Mandino once said, "I shall shape my future. Whether I fail or
succeed shall be no man's doing but my own. I am the force; I can
clear any obstacle before me. Or I can be lost in the maze. My
choice. My responsibility. Win or lose; only I hold the key to my
destiny."

Translation - Everyone can succeed and reach their goals. It's a
just a matter of how badly you want it.


"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.”
 - Napolean Hill   



Mike Over

CPT/ Strength & Conditioning Specialist

www.mjofitness.com

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer Fun...Is Sprinting and Running On Sand Really Better or Worse For You?

With summer being here, and so many of you going on vacation, I decided to add some insight on a big topic that I am sure you think of.

SAND SPRINTS.("short" tempo runs also)



Yes, we all have done it. You go to the beach, and the first thing you want to do is head to the ocean.  While you are there, well, if you're like me, you will want to run also!

You get tired of running on pavement. I hope none of you still run on sidewalks, but when you get to the beach you just want to get that great feeling of the sand between your toes. The nice cushioning you get with every step and the great view right by your side mile after mile.  You feel at peace, and it's so easy to just escape and let everything go while you get some great mileage in!

THEN....the next morning....it hits you...the extreme soreness in the calves, Achilles, and even the hips! You then are thinking to yourself....well maybe this sand running isn't so good for you after all....

OR IS IT........

Compared to concrete, sand it like gold! Believe it or not, sand is the best surfaces to choose to do HIIT or sprints.....I even do SAQ! Sand surfaces are harder to walk and run on than other surfaces because the feet slip and sink, which requires the leg muscles to stabilize the feet during the application of force. I promise that you won’t be disappointed with how grueling and tough sprinting on sand surfaces is. Oh, and your joints will thank you in the long run, with the ease of impact that your knees and ankles will take.

“Where’s the proof in all this mumbo-jumbo sprinting in sand talk?” you ask. Before we discuss the study, we’d like to give researcher Chris Beardsley a round of applause for discovering this study. A 2012 study conducted in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport tested the bio-mechanics and predicted energetics of sprinting on sand surfaces. Previous researchers have observed that the energy cost of walking on sand is 1.8–2.7 times that of walking on firm ground, while the energy cost of running on sand is 1.2–1.6 times that of running on firm ground. If you think about it, that’s a pretty significant difference and could really be beneficial in everyone’s favor, especially athletes training in pre-season or possibly for rehabilitation purposes.

So what did the researchers do? They wanted to compare short sprints with or without changes in direction on sand, grass, and artificial turf, so they recruited 29 male professional soccer players (seven defenders, fifteen mid-fielders, and seven forwards). After a standardized twelve-minute warm up, the researchers asked the athletes to perform a 12-meter maximum speed sprint and a 24-meter maximum speed shuttle sprint (with a 180-degree change of direction). The athletes performed both of these sprints on sand, grass, and artificial turf, not concrete surfaces as we mentioned earlier.

So what happened?

Measurement decreases on sand: The researchers observed significant decreases in average speed, maximum speed, average acceleration, maximum acceleration, average stride length, flight time, mechanical power, and stiffness on sand compared with grass or artificial turf.

Measurement increases on sand: The researchers also noted that average energy cost, average metabolic power, and contact time were highest during sprinting on sand.

Changes in efficiency in sand: The researchers found that efficiency values (i.e., the ratio between mechanical power and metabolic power) of the sprints were 0.17 on natural grass and artificial turf while the ratio was only 0.12 for sand.

Similarity in stride frequency across all surfaces: The researchers were surprised by the lack of variation in stride frequency between the various surfaces.

So what did the researchers conclude in all of this?    

They proved that running on sand was excellent for training, injury prevention, and recovery.  I don't know about you, but that sounds GREAT to me! I am all about preventing injuries from happening. The main reasons they came to this conclusion was due to the stiffness values and how maximal speeds become lower on sand surfaces. Not to mention, as we said earlier, this could serve your body well over time from possible joint issues or even the famous “shin splints,” which can be pretty painful. The researchers also noted that “It is possible to carry out maximal intensity sprints on sand without reaching maximum speed with lower stiffness while also maintaining the same stride frequency but by reducing stride length, which represent less injury risk.”



Now, I am not here to say sprinting on a track, grass, turf, etc. is BAD, but I am just boosting the validity of sprinting on sand because it surely has its benefits! Overall, you can’t go wrong with sprinting on sand. It’s great on your body and great for rehabilitation and offers some great scenery. Whether you’re an athlete or not, just get out there and do some sprints! It beats ANY exercise for fat loss and overall conditioning!

Just remember, watch for curved dunes if going for longer runs. Angled runs can severely affect gait and develop postural imbalances. Also, make sure you gradually build up your distance if you are endurance training on the sand! Don't head out for 5 miles if it's your first time running on the sand. Take it as your first time running on pavement. You wouldn't jump right into that kind of mileage if you never ran.

One last thing....DON'T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!  :)

References:
  • Gaudino, Gaudino, Albertia, Minetti (2012) Biomechanics and predicted energetic of sprinting on sand. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

There You have it! Next time you head to the beach, remember, you only get the opportunity a couple times a year....SO GET YOUR RUN ON!!! Vacation isn't an excuse to lay around and eat all day if your serious about your health!

Keep on Fighting, and push closer towards your goals! You can do it!