Posts tagged performance
Does Foam Rolling Need to Be Painful To Be Effective?
foam-rolling-treatment-pain

Foam rolling has become a popular exercise intervention used to improve sports performance, accelerate recovery from workouts and training, and decrease muscle pain and tightness. Previous research has utilized 2-3 bouts of 60 seconds along major muscle groups in the lower body including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. One component of the exercise prescription which has not been studied included intensity of the foam rolling. Is more better? Does it have to hurt to work? A new study asked these questions.

Grabow and colleagues in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research studied the effects of foam rolling intensity on range of motion, strength, and performance (2018). 16 healthy participants completed 3 different foam rolling prescriptions (low intensity (3/10 pain scale), moderate intensity (6/10 pain scale), and high intensity (8/10 pain scale)) with each exercise condition was performed 3 times for 60 seconds. Authors found significant increased of active and passive range of motion after each exercise condition, but these changes were independent of the intensity utilized. Thus, foam rolling does not need to be painful to be effective.

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Dynamic Warm Up Improves Club Head Speed and Shot Quality in Golfers
golf-improving-club-head-speed-distance

Golf remains one a popular American pastime with around 25 million participants each year. Many of these golfers strive for greater shot accuracy and driving distance in order to reduce their scores each round. Previous Physical Therapy research has shown greater driving distance in golfers after completing a Physical Therapy program consisting of hip and spine mobility, as well as, strength training for the lower quarter. Optimizing a golfer’s movement and golf swing also reduces their risk of pain during their round. A recent article analyzed the impact of a golf club warm up versus a dynamic warm up on driving distance and shot quality.

Photo Credit: International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2018.

Photo Credit: International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2018.

Coughlan and colleagues studied male and female golfers before and after completing 3 different warm up conditions: no warm up, dynamic physical and club warm up, or a club warm up (IJSPT. 2018). The dynamic warm up consisted of 7 sport specific, short duration, whole body exercises designed to optimize mobility and muscle activation. In comparison, the golf club warm up consisted of warm up swings with different clubs through various ranges of the swing motion. The authors reported improved club head speed and shot quality after performing the dynamic and club warm up compared to the club warm up alone. Golfers are advised to work with their Physical Therapist on designing a golf specific dynamic warm up to optimize their golf play.

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No long term benefits found with a 4 week foam rolling program
foam-rolling-treatment-flexibility-mobility

Foam rolling is an effective home exercise to improve muscular pain, flexibility, and performance. Our previous blog posts detailed the performance benefits of performing foam rolling either before or after your exercise workouts. Our current understanding of the mechanisms behind these benefits are based on two categories: local circulation and improved stretch tolerance. As our nervous system adapts to the stimulus of foam rolling we are able to roll deeper and tolerate a greater stretch than we could before the stimulus of foam rolling. Up until this point, only the short term benefits of foam rolling have been studied. A new research study examines the impact of a long term foam rolling program on flexibility, strength, and performance.

Hodgson and colleagues randomized recreationally active college students to one of three groups: control, rolling three times per week, or rolling six times a week. Each of the intervention groups performed foam rolling of their dominant hamstring and quadricep muscles at their given frequency for 4 weeks. Participants range of motion, strength, and jumping ability were measured before and after the study period. The authors reported no long term benefits of foam rolling or significant interactions for any measurement except a slightly better jump height in the three times a week group. In contrast to the acute benefits of foam rolling, no long term or training benefits were noted after 4 weeks of foam rolling. This study supports our current understanding on the short term nervous system adaptations which follow acute bouts of foam rolling.

Like bathing, the effects of foam rolling do not last, which is why we recommend performing it daily.

Two Week Block of Sprint Training Improves Distance Running Performance
boulder-sprinting-running-training

The least injured and best performing runners training programs include both strength and sprint training.  These complementary training programs reduce injury risk and improve running performance among trained distance runners.  These programs target a different energy system in the body and have been shown to improve time to exhaustion, running time, and running efficiency compared to runners who do not  utilize strength and sprint training.  A recent study shows even a 2 week block of sprint training can improve distance running times.

Koral and colleagues studied the impact of a 2 week sprint training program on running performance among trained trail runners (J Strength Cond Res. 2018).  Runners were placed through 4-7 bouts of 30 second maximum sprints three times a week for 2 weeks.  Authors tested each runner's performance both before and after the sprint training.  The authors noted improved distance running times, time to exhaustion, peak and mean power after the sprint training block.  This study highlights the value of a short, 2 week, sprint training program on distance running performance. 

Core Strengthening Improves Running Times
core-strength-running-injury

Strength training in endurance athletes is an essential part of any injury prevention and conditioning program.  Our previous blogs have highlighted the importance of these exercises for improving an athlete's efficiency during training and competition.  Endurance athletes who strength train are more economical and therefore faster than their weaker peers.  Strength training exercises should involve the core and key muscles associated with each sport.  Runners should spend time focusing on their core and hip muscles, as well as, the muscles surrounding the knee, foot, and ankle.  A new study highlights the importance of this training for improving running performance. 

physical-therapy-boulder-running-treatment

Clark and colleagues in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research followed 35 cross country athletes' running performances over the course of a season (2017).  The runners were randomized to either a control (normal run training) or a strength group who performed core and hip strengthening 3 times a week for 6 weeks in addition to their run training.  Both groups showed faster times over the 6 week period, but as expected the strength group demonstrated faster running times compared to their peers who did not implement strength exercises. 

Caffeine's Impact on Recovery After Cycling
caffeine-performance-recovery-cycling

Our prior posts have documented some of the research supporting the use of caffeine in both strength training and endurance events.  Caffeine has many effects including increased alertness and decreased perception of pain and fatigue.   These effects on the central nervous system allow an athlete to train harder and longer at a given intensity when caffeinated.  New research is investigating caffeine's impact on recovery from exercise.  

Caldwell and colleagues in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined the effects of caffeine consumption after a 164 km cycling event.  Each cyclist was randomized to receive either 3mg/kg of body weight of caffeine or a placebo immediately after the ride as well as for the next 4 mornings and afternoons.  Not surprisingly, athletes provided with caffeine reported improved leg function and decreased muscle soreness compared to the placebo group.  The authors concluded cyclists may benefit from ingesting caffeine after endurance events to accelerate recovery.  Athletes are advised to speak with their physician before taking any ergogenic aid.