Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My Biggest Misconceptions Growing Up: Wellness

By: Joel Luedke

This is the final installment of the 'My Biggest Misconceptions Growing Up' series.  In the first one we talked about performance mistakes I made growing up and in the second round of the series we talked nutrition and a lot of the misconceptions I had in that area.  Both were areas would have presented huge opportunities to advance in athletic performance and health and this last category isn't any different.

In this article we are looking at Wellness and some of the areas that I thought I knew back then and what I was doing and then as I've gotten further into my career have realized I really had no idea what I was doing to myself and how naive I was in thinking I did.  Here we go.

Icing Injuries
I want to first start off by saying when I refer to icing that I am not including ice baths or whole body cryotherapy.  I am only referring to ice bags.  As I've gotten further into my career I've very much questioned if ice is really doing anything when we slap it on an injury.  Did we really help anything with a hamstring strain by putting a bag of ice on for 20 minutes.  Beyond that it got me thinking about if we could potentially be slowing down the healing process as a whole and that obviously is counter intuitive.

What could I have done better other than icing my knees after a game?  We will tie this inept the mobility work below but actually doing a cool down and creating muscle activation would have been a much better option for recovery.  It would have helped clear the congestion of the body and get it moving rather than sitting still and letting ice sit on my knees.  Looking back this didn't accomplish anything other than make my knees cold and red (and a little stiff to be honest).  Now how mobility work would have helped.

Mobility Work (Or Lack There Of)
There was always some focus on stretching.  We would sit around in the circle and go through our stretches.  Now, how much attention any of us were paying to that is questionable at best.  Again, getting more into my career and expanding my horizons on mobility work I figured out that just stretching was not the key and actually could be hard on your body and specifically your joints.

Using a foam roller didn't exist in my world in high school and now I won't do any type of stretching without getting on a foam roller or some sort of mobility tool first.  You have to be able get a muscle to loosen up, start moving and become supple before you can go and stretch it out to gain the range of motion.  Bottom line, don't stretch cold muscles.  Make sure you are doing it at the end of a workout or practice or get a great warm up in before starting your mobility work.

What's in a "Warm Up"
The mobility work ties right in the importance of a warm up.  At UWL we have gone away from 'warm up' as no one ever seems to take that seriously and have moved into Pillar Prep, Movement Prep and movement skill.   Your pre workout or practice ritual needs to be something that actually prepares you for the event your are about to partake in, it can't be half effort.  While personally I made it through an athletic career without many injuries it makes me wonder what I could have done performance wise if I had paid more attention to this area.

I personally haven't gotten a whole lot better with age when it comes to this area but am in my own personal journey to take it seriously as things are starting to ache more than they used to.  "Warm-up" doesn't just need to be light jogging followed by static stretching.  Find your weaknesses and areas you need to improve on and build those right into your prep.  This is a great time to work on hip mobility, core stability and rotator cuff strengthening and prevention.  It will be worth it in the long run to take this one seriously.

Sleep is for the Weak
This is an area I finally gave into and it only took me until I was 30.  I've always dreamed of the day I could run on 4-5 hours of sleep and not have it affect me.  Up all night working on something and building a business or a project.  Turns out missing sleep isn't all that beneficial to your production in that realm of your life and it is definitely not help to miss sleep when it comes to your health and performance.  Not only do you need the rest for you to feel good and not constantly be reaching for your coffee or source of caffeine but your body needs it to recovery.

This was never that easy after a game or competition because you are still on the alert from the competition.  You can aid in brining yourself back down with the use of a cold tub (Study Spotlight), a good cool down that helps down regulate your nervous system and making sure you aren't taking a stimulant to late in the night/competition that can set you up for poorer recovery after. (TAT Article on Caffeine Timing).  Give in to your body with sleep and get 7-8 (could be more) and it will result in greater benefits during your day and often more productivity in the quality of it all and not the quantity of hours staying awake.  Don't skimp on sleep.

As with the other parts of the article there are so many things you can do to improve your performance and health if you look a little deeper into it and also ask for advice and look for the leaders out there providing good information.  I hope this series of articles helped and gave some ideas of how to improve your life when it comes to performance, nutrition and wellness.

-Clinically Pressed: Gary Reinl-Anti Ice Guy
-TAT: "Can I have a bag of ice?"
-TAT: Which comes first, Mobility or Stretching?

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