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Sleep on It, Part I

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by Geoff Rand

 

Sleep.  It’s just as essential to life as food and water.  We might be able to go for longer periods of time without adequate sleep, but eventually it will catch up with us, and there will be a price to pay for it.  We all live busy lives, but it’s important to make time for sufficient hours and quality of sleep.  In this series of articles on sleep, we will look at why the body needs sleep, the dangers of failing to get enough sleep, and ways to diagnose and mitigate sleep disorders.

The body uses sleep to restore energy supplies and perform critical maintenance to keep its systems functioning properly.  During these rest periods, muscle damage and connecting tissue is repaired, and certain hormones are released that assist in recovery and building and repair of muscles.

If you are crushing it in the gym and just don’t seem to see the results you think you should be seeing, take a look at your sleep.  Exercise without adequate recovery time in the form of quality sleep will not produce results.

So what is adequate sleep?  The general guideline for all adults is 7-9 hours of sleep.  Research has shown that those who are engaged in physically demanding work need more sleep than those performing intellectual work.  It is important to stick to a sleep routine as much as possible, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day (even on days off).  This helps the body establish natural recovery and activity patterns.

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The environment you create to sleep in is just as important as the number of hours you devote to sleeping.  Your sleeping area should be quiet and dark.  Studies have shown that even small amounts of light, like those from an alarm clock, can be enough to disrupt sleep.  Put your phone or other electronics in a different room where they won’t disturb you or tempt you to answer or use them.  You want your sleep area to be clear of children and pets if at all possible.  Use thick curtains to block out light if you are forced to sleep during non-standard hours due to things like shift work.

What happens if I don’t get adequate sleep?  This is somewhat tough to answer completely because we don’t yet know all the effects sleep deprivation has on the body.  We do know that lack of sleep causes high blood pressure, obesity, and an increased risk of development of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and some cancers.  Lack of sleep can also cause you to be more susceptible to illness and take longer for you to recover from being sick.  You are also more likely to injure yourself and you will take longer to recover from the injury without adequate rest.

 

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Studies have shown that after being awake for just 17 hours your actions and reactions are akin to those of someone with a 0.05 blood alcohol content.  States like New Jersey have enacted laws making it illegal to knowingly drive while tired.  Numerous studies with military personnel showed rapidly decreasing ability to make sound decisions and to be effective on the battlefield as sleep deprivation increases and lack of adequate recovery and sleep time decreases.

Lack of sleep impacts your ability to remember things, can make you feel more negative, and can make you less productive and act less ethically at work.

With all this evidence, you may be convinced that you need to sleep more, but what about those who try to sleep but have physical impairments like sleep apnea that prevent them from getting quality sleep?  In part two of this topic, I will detail my own experiences with sleep apnea and why it is so important to get checked out and treat it if you think you may have it.

But for now, rest up and we’ll tackle that topic next week.

 

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ7L5itxLhY

https://www.nfpt.com/blog/why-sleep-and-recovery-is-important

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK209071/

http://www.ausenco.com/news-items/did-you-know-that-17-hours-awake-is-equivalent-to-a-blood-alcohol-content-of-0-05_2

 

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Holidays Without Regret

Reminder:  CFF Schedule This Week

Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve,
November 22nd - ONLY morning classes

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day,
November 23rd - BOX CLOSED

Friday, Black Friday,
November 24th - ONLY evening classes

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by Geoff Rand (orig. posted Nov. 2016-but it's a timely reminder)

Most Americans view Thanksgiving as the start of the holiday season.  But when it comes to overindulging, the season has already begun.  A Cornell University study actually places Halloween as the start of the string of food-centric holidays, and their research shows that the weight gained between Halloween and Christmas can take over five months to lose.  I’d say the season extends beyond Christmas and into New Year’s and even Super Bowl Sunday.

However you define it, no one wants undo all the hard work they’ve done throughout the year because of some poor choices during a handful of holiday meals and parties.  Now is the time to develop your holiday strategy to make sure you can still enjoy the company and meals with friends and family without regretting your choices in the days and weeks that follow.  Here’s some help.

Don’t starve yourself.  A lot of people skip a meal before a large holiday meal thinking the calorie deficit will offset the large food intake to come.  But in reality, this backfires.  Going into the meal starved tends to make you fill up on chips, cookies, candy, and alcohol while you wait to eat.  A better option would be to eat a normal meal before the party and just enjoy the holiday foods in moderation.

Step Away.  Those platters of fresh cookies, pies, and other sweets are so inviting and draw you in like the Death Star’s tractor beam.  Don’t hover around those trays.  It’s easy to lose track of your intake as you talk and drink with friends.  A cookie or two becomes 4 or 5 or a lot more.  Get a small plate, pick a reasonable number or treats and walk away from the table to socialize.

Keep busy.  Offer to help set up or clean up to keep yourself from over-snacking before or after a meal.  Go for a walk or play with the kids or animals.  Just avoid having that idle time if the allure of going back for seconds or thirds or loading up on desserts is too much for your willpower.

Downsize.  Have that pumpkin pie, but cut down on the portion or share with someone.

Penalize.  If it works for you, assign an indulgence penalty.  100 burpees for every treat should keep your cravings in check.  If you really want a dose of reality, check out this holiday food caloric content chart and corresponding time to walk, jog, swim, or cycle that food off.

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Make substitutions.  Find healthier versions of your holiday favorites.  My family swapped the traditional mashed potatoes for Celery Root Puree (see recipe below) over a decade ago.  It’s a great tasting low carb vegetable alternative to starchy mashed potatoes.

Bring your own.  Enjoy the family favorites of others that might not be the best for your diet, but bring a healthy side dish of your own to share and to supplement the not-so-healthy components of your meal so you have a healthy alternative and the meal is not a total loss.

Eat Restaurant Style.  Instead of sitting down at a table of food, leave the food in the kitchen and take your plate to the food and sit down to eat at an empty dining table.  If food dishes are not within reach and you have to get up for seconds, you’ll be less likely to overindulge.

Pass the Bread.  And keep passing it right by your plate.  Simple carbohydrates like bread might seem innocent enough, but they break down quickly in the body and create a spike in blood sugar, which can leave you feeling hungrier, faster.  Take an extra vegetable serving instead.

Seal it up.  If you’re hosting a party, buy a bunch of disposable Tupperware.  If you’re going to the party, bring your own.  If you’re the host, getting guests to take home food keeps you from turning Thanksgiving or Christmas Day into a week of overeating.  If you are the guest, bringing your own containers allows you to politely refuse second servings, but still take a small portion home.  This avoids upsetting the host and keeps your intake at a reasonable level.

Hydrate.  Drinking water is never a bad idea.  With the extra alcohol you’re probably consuming and all the sugars and carbs you’re gobbling up, water is going to help in several ways.  It offsets the alcohol and helps to keep you feeling full, which cuts down on you munching on sweets.  It also aids in digestion.

Stay active.  The holidays can become very busy, but don’t neglect yourself.  Plan an active family activity for after the holiday meal.  Every little bit helps to offset the increased calorie intake.  Keep working out.  Don’t let a day or two off turn into a week and then a month.  Hit the gym hard right after the holiday and get back to your normal routine as soon as possible.

With a little bit of pre-planning, you can enjoy the holidays without sabotaging all the hard work you’ve done the rest of the year.

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Celery Root Puree (from Suzanne Somers’ Eat Great, Lose Weight)

(I usually double the recipe)

3 celery root (you can get it at Whole Foods)

1/4 cup heavy cream

4 Tbs. butter

Salt and Pepper

Peel the celery root, being careful to remove all the brown.  Cut each root into about 12 pieces, then place them in a steamer over a large pot of boiling water.  Cook for about 20 minutes until tender.  Transfer to a food processor, add cream and butter and puree all until smooth.  (use a mixer if you don't have a food processor)  Add additional cream and/or butter if needed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Sources:

http://greatist.com/health/ways-to-avoid-holiday-weight-gain

http://www.shape.com/blogs/fit-foodies/effortless-tips-avoid-overeating-holiday-parties

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Stand Up For Your Health

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by Geoff Rand

What would you say if I told you that standing for just three hours each day could increase your overall health?  I’m sure some would expect sore feet or backs from such a change, and you might even think there’s no way you’d have time for that.

You may wonder what the harm is in sitting down so much.  Studies have shown that people who sit the majority of their day live on average two years less than someone who is on their feet most of the day.  Other studies have shown that exercise can’t undo the effects of sitting down the entire day.  And, there are the obvious detriments of increased weight gain and obesity for workers in sedentary jobs.

I’ve talked about how sitting can throw off your posture in a previous blog.  Being sedentary also negatively affects how the body converts food into glucose, which, when out of whack, can contribute to the development of diabetes and heart disease.

A British study looked at the sedentary habits of the average office worker.  With workdays ranging from 8-12 hours, mostly seated at a desk, and adding in commute, TV, and sleeping time, it is completely possible to spend up to 19 hours a day being inactive.  The study took a group of office dwellers and asked them to add 3 hours of standing during their day.  The participants wore accelerometers, heart rate monitors, and measured their blood sugar throughout the day.

The results were quite impressive for such a small change in their daily routine.  The study volunteers saw their blood glucose levels return to normal after a meal much more quickly during times where they were standing versus sitting.  One woman in the study saw an improvement in her arthritis symptoms due to the increase in standing.

They also showed an increased heart rate while standing, which translates to more calories burned.  On average, they burned about 50 calories an hour while standing.  So, for three hours a day standing over a five-day workweek, that translates to 750 calories burned.  Over a year, it’s 30,000 extra calories, or the equivalent of 8 lbs. of fat burned, all for just standing up for a short time during the day instead of sitting.

It turns out the study wasn’t the first of its kind.  A similar study in the 1950s on bus conductors (who stood), compared to bus drivers (who sat), showed the bus conductors had around half the risk of developing heart disease as the sedentary bus drivers.  Standing isn’t a new concept, either.  Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemmingway, and Ben Franklin all worked at standing desks.

Other studies in workplace standing have seen participants who experienced reduced back and neck pain when standing, and increased productivity, decreased stress and better moods from standing.

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You might find that standing while working makes you more likely to walk over to a colleague’s desk rather than sending an email, which helps burn even more calories.  It might even translate to better office operations, as a face-to-face conversation is hard to beat in terms of quality of communication when compared to an email.

If your boss won’t spring for the larger full standing desks, smaller desktop versions exist that convert your standard desk into a standing workspace.

So try it out.  See how standing at work just a few hours over the course of your day can improve your health.

 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24532996

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-benefits-of-a-standing-desk#section1

 

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The Mark

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by Geoff Rand

Few injuries are as CrossFit-specific as The Mark.  Some call it Butt Berry, Monkey Butt, or simply, the Ass Crack Rash.  This painful skin chafing affects both newcomers and seasoned CrossFitters.

If you haven’t gotten The Mark, you either have not yet done a high rep situp WOD on the Abmat, or you have spectacular ability to engage your abdominals throughout the workout.  The Mark is sneaky.  You don’t even know you have it at first.  But once you take that first post-WOD shower, look out.  That tender area just above your butt crack that got rubbed raw during the workout usually reveals itself once contacted with water.  It continues to remind you of its presence as your clothing touches it as you move around or sit or stand.

The Mark is caused by the friction created by the rubbing of your tailbone area against the floor as you do situps.  While most of us will start out with good situp form, as we get into the really high rep situp workouts like Annie or Angie, we start to fatigue and when we get sloppy on form, that’s when we are prone to chafing.

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To prevent The Mark from forming keep your butt on the floor and keep your abs engaged during the entire movement of the situp.  We all have a tendency to let our butt come off the floor, especially as our shoulder blades are down as we reach the lowered position of the situp.  Often as we throw ourselves downward in an effort to crank out the reps, this force causes our butt to come up.  All that movement over hundreds of reps adds up to a lot of friction.

Along with keeping your butt on the floor, you need to engage and use your abdominal muscles to raise and lower yourself during the movement.  While using momentum created by throwing your arms forward is allowed and will assist in the upward movement, you really should be initiating the upward movement with your lower abs.  Doing this will also force your butt to stay in contact with the floor and Abmat.

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Some athletes find that placing a section of yoga mat partially under the Abmat as a cushion for your tailbone assists with preventing The Mark from forming.  CrossFit Games competitor Christy Adkins also advocates the use of tape on the skin to prevent rash.  “You take a small amount of athletic tape and form an X, then place that on the tender, boney process right at the top of the sacrum, I found that if I layered enough pieces to form the X, it alleviated the butt raspberry syndrome,” she stated.  Others have formed a V with tape and had similar results.

One last thing to consider is avoiding the wearing of any of those pants or shorts with the little zippered pocket on the back near the tailbone during situp-heavy WODs.  Rubbing against this zipper is sure to cause a wicked rash.

While tape and cushioning may help, the real prevention of The Mark forming will come from maintaining proper form during the entire movement.

If all fails and you do get The Mark, treatment is really no different than a skin rash.  Keep it clean and dry, and apply a topical ointment.  Diaper rash treatments like Desitin work well as does Aquaphor.  Even with treatment, The Mark will take a few days to go away.  It literally is a pain in the ass.

The worst part about The Mark is you don’t have a cool injury story you can tell your non-CrossFit friends, and you definitely won’t have a wound you’ll want to show them.  You can drop a bar on your head or rip your hands up and have a good war story, but I doubt many of you will drop trou at the water cooler to brag about your butt rash.

 

Sources:

http://www.crossfittt.com/how-to-avoid-situp-induced-rug-burn/

http://www.fitbomb.com/2010/11/infamous-abmat-ass-crack-rash.html

https://www.crossfitinvictus.com/blog/two-simple-steps-to-avoid-butt-berry/

https://journal.crossfit.com/article/chafing-saline-2

http://www.tabatatimes.com/monkey-butt-crossfit-crack-pain-ass/2/

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What is the Best Time of Day to Work Out?

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By Geoff Rand

Does the time of day you choose to work out have any effect on the results you are likely to see, or is one time of day better than another?  Several studies have already examined this.

To understand the research, it helps to relate the factors impacting our workouts into biological, psychological, and environmental categories.

Morning Workouts

One biological factor in morning workouts is potential for increased stress placed upon the vertebrae of your spine due to fluid retention during sleep.  When we sleep, the discs of our spine are not under the effects of gravity and they take on fluid.  When we stand or sit throughout the day, this fluid is drained out of the spine as gravity compresses it.  If you were to do a heavy lift such as a deadlift right out of bed, the fluid saturated discs would create greater pressure in your spine and you would be at increased risk of injury.  For the morning workout people, a thorough warm-up is essential to good spine health and safety.

Another biological factor in morning workouts is the functioning of your central nervous system.  Even though you may have just had a great night’s sleep, studies have shown that reaction time and alertness are not at their peak in the morning, as these systems are just coming online.  This goes doubly for you coffee drinkers that haven’t yet had your caffeine jumpstart for the day.

Psychologically, getting to the gym early can be quite beneficial.  It starts your day and some studies have shown that people who workout in the morning see increased physical activity, productivity and even higher metabolism throughout the day.

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Afternoon/Evening Workouts

Biologically, our bodies are functioning better in the afternoon/early evening than in the morning.  Our body temperature is at its highest between 2 and 6 PM.  This means that the systems of the body are warmed up and firing on all cylinders and the nervous system, muscle functioning, and enzyme production are at their highest, and blood pressure and heart rate are at their lowest, making this time period the most effective time to work out.

Interestingly, the belief that working out too close to bedtime having a negative effect on your sleep appears to be a myth.  Studies have shown no correlation between working out late and quality of sleep. 

Environmental factors may make afternoon workouts impossible, however.  Evening commutes, school schedules, family, pets, food preparation, and countless other factors fight to occupy that time slot and conspire to derail your afternoon/evening plans.  You are probably more likely to miss your afternoon workout than a morning one due to life events popping up unexpectedly.

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The Bottom Line

The studies and evidence seem to contradict one another and at the very least, there are several pluses and minuses to each time slot.  But researchers have determined these time ranges as the “target times” that will maximize your performance and give you a higher likelihood of experiencing better results from your time investment into working out.  They have identified 4-5 hours after waking and 11-12 hours after waking as the “best” times to work out.

I like that it is expressed like this as it is relatable to all types of people, including those of us who work shift work where our “morning” may not be the same time as the rest of the world’s.

Even with all this research and these studies telling us when the best time is, in reality, many of us choose our given work out time simply because that is the best time that works for us and that fits our lives.  In the end, it is much better to have a consistent routine at a time that is imperfect in relation to peak body functioning, than to miss working out because life got in the way.

Sources:

https://greatist.com/fitness/whats-best-time-work-out

https://www.t-nation.com/training/the-best-worst-times-of-day-to-work-out?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=article6002

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/can-exercising-at-night-hurt-your-sleep#1

 

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WOD for Warriors

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The bond between the CrossFit community and our nation’s warriors is strong.  Our soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen utilize CrossFit training methods to stay fit to fight.  CrossFit honors their sacrifices and memories of the fallen through hero WODs and charity events.

On Friday, November 10th, CrossFit Frederick will pay tribute to America’s veterans by hosting the WOD for Warriors workout.  The WOD for Warriors raises money for Team Red, White, and Blue, a charitable organization whose mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their communities through physical and social activity.  You can learn more about Team RWB here.  https://www.teamrwb.org

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About Armistice – Veterans Day WOD

Veterans Day has been observed since 1954 by the U.S. and its origins date back to Armistice Day 1918, which marked the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front in WWI. Veterans Day preserves the historical significance of 11/11/1918 but also focuses attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. WOD for Warriors is held yearly on the 11th month, 11th day and 11th hour to celebrate the service of all U.S. military Veterans in a meaningful way within their own communities.

The significance of the repetitions in this workout can be seen in the layout where the 11 min AMRAP, 11 power cleans and 11 burpees over the bar represent the 11th month, 11th day and 11th hour while the 19 deadlifts and 18 pull ups represent the year 1918, Armistice Day.

There are two options for athletes to complete this WOD:

The WOD - Armistice

11 minute AMRAP (As Many Repetitions As Possible)

11- Power Cleans

11- Burpees Over the Bar

19- Deadlifts

18- Pull-Ups

RX-135/95

Scale as needed

Modified Workout (Without Barbell)

11 min AMRAP

11- Push Ups

11- Burpees

19- Sit-ups

18- Air Squats

This WOD will be run all day at CFF during regular class times on 11/10.  There will be a happy hour after each evening class, BYOB.

To help raise money for Team RWB, sign up here.  https://donate.teamrwb.org/team/139078.  You have two options, you can register for $20 and get a T-shirt, or workout for free, without a T-shirt purchase.  There are Box prizes for top reps in this WOD and all members that sign up for the CFF team help contribute to our team's totals, so please register even if you aren't purchasing a shirt.

Registration opens 10/12.  We hope to see everyone there on November 10th!

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Show Your IT Band Some Love

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by Geoff Rand

If you’ve ever felt a stiffness or pain in your hip, outer thigh, or outside of the knee, you’ve likely had a tight IT band.  This often-neglected length of tissue is responsible for stabilizing the knee, and without proper maintenance, the band can stiffen and limit proper range of motion in all manner of movements including squats, deadlifts, box jumps, and even your ability to run.  Let’s take a look at what the IT band is and how you can keep it functioning properly.

The iliotibial (IT) band is a fibrous tissue or fascia that helps to stabilize the knee.  It runs from the outside of the pelvis to the lower knee, and inserts at the top of the shinbone.  While it is referred to as a “band”, don’t think of it as elastic.  It actually isn’t very malleable; it is more like a leather belt.

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The IT band is filled with nerves.  This explains why it is so sensitive to treatments like foam or lacrosse ball rolling.  Several muscles tie into the IT band, and it may actually be issues with these muscles that are causing the pain sensation to manifest in the IT band.  As with most of our bodies’ mechanical systems, the root of the issue is not always where the pain is felt.  Often when the IT band becomes stiff, it rubs on the outside of the knee, causing pain.

While there are movements that will help stretch the IT band that may cause relief of the pain and help to maintain its proper function, you should first look at possible causes of the pain.  Otherwise, you are just treating the symptoms, not addressing the root cause.  You should also resist the urge to ignore the pain in the IT band and continue training without addressing its problems.  This route will likely result in you compensating in some way to reduce the pain, which can cause issues in other areas.

IT band problems can be caused by hip, hamstring, or glute weakness or over pronation while running.  Often the stress put on the IT band is the result of poor form.  A coach or physical therapist can look at your movement mechanics and help diagnose the cause of the pain.

Once you have determined the cause of the IT band stiffness and addressed those issues, you should begin a program of regular maintenance on it.  Always warm up the hips and knees first, and then you can incorporate these stretches into your mobility routine along with more traditional foam rolling.

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Ankles Crossed Forward Fold

1.     Start with feet together while standing

2.     Cross your right ankle over your left ankle

3.     Fold forward at the waist while creating a soft bend in your right knee

4.     Touch the ground or your shins with your fingertips

5.     Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side

 

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Figure Four

1.     Stand with feet hip width apart

2.     Bring your right foot over and above your left knee

3.     Flex your right foot and press your right knee towards the ground

4.     Stick your butt out and then down as you bend your standing leg

5.     Fold forward at the hips and reach your fingers towards the ground

6.     Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the opposite side

 

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Standing Quad Stretch

1.     Stand with your feet hip distance apart

2.     Bend your right knee and grab the top of your foot with your right hand

3.     As you draw your heel in, extend your tailbone down and keep your knees together

4.     Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the opposite side

 

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Twisted Triangle

1.     Step your right foot forward about three feet

2.     Turn your back toes in so that you can square your hips

3.     Fold forward at the hips and place your left hand on the ground about a foot and a half away from your right foot

4.     Extend your chest forward and lean into your left hand

5.     Reach your right arm up as you twist and press down through your right big toe

6.     Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the opposite side

 

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Seated Glute Stretch

1.     Start seated on the mat with feet flat on floor

2.     With your hands behind you, place your right foot over and above your left knee

3.     Flex your right foot as you extend your right knee away from your chest

4.     Keep your chest up and scoot your butt towards your left heel with the leverage of your hands

5.     Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the opposite side

 

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Hero’s Pose

1.     Sit on your heel with your knees together

2.     Begin to lean back placing your hands behind you as you reach the knees toward the mat

3.     Sit down between the feet

4.     From here if there is no pain in the knees you can lean back either onto the hands or the forearms

5.     Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the opposite side

These are just a few of the stretches you can do to treat IT band pain and conduct regular maintenance on it.  Proper IT band function is essential to so many other movements and you would be wise to do regular mobility with it.  Dave and Amanda are always available to help determine the source of your problem areas and to suggest ways to fix them.

Sources:

https://www.outsideonline.com/2142646/definitive-guide-banishing-it-band-pain-good

https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/8-yoga-poses-and-stretches-for-a-tight-it-band/slide-9

http://www.opedix.com/community-detail/combating-it-band-issues-in-crossfit

https://ashleyblackguru.com/it-band/

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Anatomy of a Barbell

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by Geoff Rand

Barbells.  We use them almost everyday in the Box, but have you ever stopped to think about the piece of metal in your hands, what its parts are, and the reasons behind how it functions?  Well I did.

Weightlifting is one of the original sports of the modern Olympics, and barbells have been a part of those games from the beginning.  However, the barbell we use today has evolved quite a bit from its ancestors of long ago.

Before we dive too deeply into what makes up a barbell, you should know that there are essentially two types of barbells, power lifting barbells and Olympic lifting barbells (the type we primarily use).  Throughout this article I’ll touch on the differences of the two bars.

Whip.  This is the ability of the bar to flex and store elastic energy.  Olympic bars have a great deal of whip; powerlifting bars are more rigid.   The reason for this is the Olympic lifts of the snatch and clean and jerk involve dynamic movement.  Trained athletes use the flexion of the bar to their advantage to assist in making these lifts.

Power lifters don’t want flex in their bars.  Their movements of the squat, bench press, and deadlift don’t require dynamic energy to be stored, and in fact, too much flex on their bars could make the lift more difficult.  The rigid powerlifting bars are sometimes a bit thicker, allowing more weight to be put on them.

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Knurling.  For me, knurling is the cheese grater that scrapes the skin off my shins on deadlifts.  Its real purpose is to give you a better grip.   There’s actually smooth sections of the bar without knurling designed to not tear you up, so maybe my stance is a bit off.   One key difference in Olympic bars and powerlifting bars is the lack of center knurling on Olympic bars.  We don’t need center knurling for our lifts.  Can you imagine the damage it would cause to our necks and chests during cleans?  Yikes!

Powerlifting bars often DO have center knurling.  Some say it is a throwback to the old days when the one hand snatch was an event.  Center knurling can be favored by athletes doing back squats as the knurling is supposed to keep the bar from sliding down your back under heavy load.  Whatever the reason, if you are in the market for a bar for CrossFit-type exercises, stay away from ones with center knurling.

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You’ll see in most bars, including our Olympic bars, notches in the knurling (see photo above), or a sort of two thin stripes in the middle of the knurled sections.  These are to allow you to reliably and quickly find your proper hand position for the lift.

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Sleeves.  The sleeves are the ends of the barbells we slide the weights on.  A key feature of Olympic bars is a rotating sleeve.  The sleeves rotate on a washer or ball bearing system.  The reason for the sleeves rotating is to allow the lifter to get under the bar quickly on the snatch and clean and jerk, without having to change their hand position.  In the early days, bars did not have this feature, and lifters had to essentially reverse curl their bars into position, resulting in wrist and arm injuries.

Powerlifting bars still spin, however the need for them to spin as freely as Olympic bars is not as great, so they use cheaper bushings, rather than ball bearings.

Whether you are using an Olympic bar or a Powerlifting bar, it is important to remember to never drop a bar that is not loaded with bumper weights.  Dropping an unloaded bar or one with metal plates on it can easily bend the bar or damage the sleeves and their rotating system.  Bars are expensive.  Please don’t contribute to their need for early replacement.

If you’d like to know more about bars, specifically finishes and varying dimensions, Rogue has a great video about them. 

While they may seem like just simple pieces of steel, there is a lot of technology and purpose built into bars.  Hopefully you understand your barbell a little bit better now.

Sources:

http://liftbigeatbig.com/the-anatomy-of-an-olympic-bar/

https://www.garage-gyms.com/powerlifting-barbell-vs-olympic/

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Diet Soda: Is it Really That Bad For You?

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by Geoff Rand

We hear time and time again the recommendation of just eating real food when it comes to maintaining health and fitness.  If you’ve ever read the label on a can of diet soda, you know that these beverages could not be further from real food.

I’ve been told over and over that diet sodas are bad, but why are they bad, and what is the effect they have on the body?  Here’s what I found.

History While the official beginning of the diet soda era can be traced back to 1952’s No-Cal drink, distributed by a small Brooklyn bottling company, mainstream diet soda production and consumption really didn’t start until 1963 with Coca-Cola’s introduction of Tab.  Since then, companies have been battling to find newer sweeteners and marketing their beverages to consumers in search of no calorie drinks.

Artificial Sweeteners    The main actor in diet soda is the artificial sweetener.  Chemicals like Aspartame mimic the effects of sugar, but our bodies interpret this as a much larger dose, up to 1000x that of sugar.  This sends the body into fat storage mode, which explains the link between diet soda and obesity.  Some studies have shown that these artificial sweeteners actually stimulate our appetite, which in no way defines the word diet.

Addiction  The combination of caffeine and aspartame cause a short duration addictive high to be experienced, much like the effects of cocaine.  Frequent use can cause overstimulation of the brain’s neuroreceptors, which causes more cravings of the drinks, and horrible headaches should you miss a dose.

Trickery  With “diet” on the logo, some may be led to think they are drinking a healthier drink. But studies have shown those who drink diet sodas consume on average 200 calories more than someone not drinking diet soda.  The misleading name may cause people to think that their beverage is calorie free and thus healthy to them, so that helps justify the 800-calorie cheeseburger they are gobbling up.

So what happens when you drink a diet soda?   This graphic sums it up nicely.

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What are the health risks?   Studies have shown links between diet sodas and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, and dementia, and loss of bone density and cardiovascular and thyroid problems.  Long-term exposure to diet soda has shown damage to the skin, muscles, heart, and kidneys, with increased risk of developing kidney stones.  More immediate effects can be brain fog, dehydration, and energy spikes and crashes.

So if diet soda is this bad for you, how is it still allowed to be sold?    The answer is simple, money.  The soda industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, with some estimates putting diet soda drinkers at 1 out of every 5 Americans.  The soda companies have a lot of weight they can throw around, influencing studies to their benefit, advertising to millions of potential customers, and greasing the palms of legislators to keep their dangerous cocktails on the market shelves.

Alternatives    If you are a diet soda drinker, it will likely take some time to wean you off these drinks.  You’ll need to replace them with something healthier for you.  Examples are water (perhaps sweetened with honey, lemon or lime), green tea (provides caffeine without the jitters), Kombucha or Kefir tea (both are fizzy and provide other health benefits), vegetable or fruit smoothies, and, if you must drink soda, look for beverages sweetened with Stevia instead of aspartame.

You may have noticed I didn’t recommend that you just drink regular sodas.  They can be just as bad as diet sodas, causing many of the same maladies, and some new ones. 

Parting ways with diet soda won’t be easy.  The soda companies don’t want it to be.  You may need to treat it like an addiction.  Enlist the help of family and co-workers to support you.  Phase it out over time.  But know eventually, your body will start regaining its normal functions that have been suppressed or modified by the toxins you’ve been ingesting.  This will lead to a healthier, better, and happier you.

 

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20170505/diet-soda-health-risks

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diet_drink

https://therenegadepharmacist.com/diet-coke-exposed-happens-one-hour-drinking-diet-coke-coke-zero-similar-diet-soda/

https://www.prevention.com/health/effects-of-diet-soda/slide/4

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Athlete Spotlight: Billi Prugh

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In an effort to get to know our members better, we asked Billi to answer a few questions.

 

Where are you from?  Rockville, MD

When did you start at CFF?   August 2015

What is your favorite time to workout at CFF?  8:00 AM

Did you work out before starting at CFF?  Not really.

What form of exercise were you into?  I would walk/run or do an aerobic video.  I’m old school.

What’s your favorite color? Pink and Black

Do you like the mountains or the beach?  the beach

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What is your favorite dessert?  Lemon bars 

What is your favorite holiday?    Christmas

What is your favorite food to eat at a picnic?  hot dogs

Do you drink coffee or tea?  coffee

Do you have any pets? 3 dogs – WaWa is a Chihuahua, Yewbee is a Labradoodle, and Tink is a Yorkie.  Also 2 ferrets – Tater and Rufus.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?   I would like to be able to fly. That way I wouldn’t have to wait in traffic and could always get to where I wanted to go quickly.

Do you have any interesting /unique/special skills?   I play the drums.

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Is there anything else you would LOVE to share?  I’ve been married almost 25 years and have 3 kids. 22 year old twins, Samm and Andi, and Rion who is 14.

For what are you thankful?   Family. My family is so important to me and I wouldn’t be able to make it through this crazy world without them. Oh…and wine.

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