Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Bike Fit at dhp

Bike fitting for me is a love hate relationship. I am not a fan of getting my hands greasy or dirty but I love it when a client reports how satisfied they were with the outcome.

In the video I have attached, I need to apologize for some of the confusing dialogue between myself and my client. When I was speaking of “two to ten or  more” I was referring to the wedges I wanted to place beneath his right cleat relative to the degree of varus angle measured. I like the video in that it demonstrates how we go to committee on each fit. Because no fitter is able to experience the sensation of change of a riders posture, I feel its important to share in the decision-making process. Being able to step away from the bike and see yourself as you ride, in slow motion or to see the cause and effect from each adjustment is priceless. It take a bit longer to fit someone this way but it does insure a perfect fit almost every time.

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Dealing with training injuries, simple as Rock Tape, Scissors

“As sure as the sun coming up tomorrow, if you are pushing the envelope with your training, you are likely to be, have been or are injured.”

It is unfortunate, but a fact.  When you push yourself, you run a high risk of becoming injured. All that you can hope for is that you take all the appropriate precautions and stay as healthy as possible while you prepare for an event. Mind you; I am no physician, but I have seen my share of injuries both my own and those of our many clients.  As a matter of fact, the majority of our clientele come to us because they are injured and this is the principal reason for this article. We know that there is nothing worse than investing months of hard training in preparation for an event only to become sidelined with a training specific injury.

Why do they come to us you might ask, if we are not medical professionals? The answer is simple. They come to us because we major in the act of avoiding injury.  And in the event that injury develops, we teach people how to correct the problem that has caused the injury to manifest. On the other hand, a medical professional is trained to treat the problem, not the cause.

If you are chronically injured (meaning you face some low-grade pain while training and racing) it is time to investigate the cause.  If your injury is acute (meaning that your pain is well beyond discomfort), to continue without medical intervention, you are placing yourself at great risk and potentially surgical intervention to repair what you have damaged.

We have honed our focus on running for a few very good reasons.  Almost all recreational sports require some running.  From athletes trying to improve on their 40 yard dash to ultra-marathoners, the culprits to injury share many similarities.

That being said; there are some standard rules regarding over-training that should be respected.

  1. Do not take on too much too soon. If you are a novice runner, for example, it is wise to focus on good form and meager consistent mileage as your body learns to adapt to the new stress that you are exposing it to.  I like to employ heart rate as a governor to keep intensity in check.
  2. Much over looked, yet deserving of attention, is hydration strategies.  Are you being careful to ensure that you are properly hydrated?  Exercise science has shown us that water alone is not enough. Taking in a quality sports drink while we sweat replaces the minerals lost that are critical to fluid muscular contractions.  Any imbalance in muscular recruitment is liable to place overload on working muscles and result in strain or tearing.

Baring these issues, there is also the way in which we move.  Poor running form and poor posture on the bike are at the root of most complaints we hear. This is why we invest so much time in running clinics and bike fit. Yet, even after we impose corrections, being able to continue training when some of the damage is already done, is tricky business.

Our favorite solution is to employ taping strategies. Our tape of choice is Rock Tape. The generic brands of this tape kinesio tape, has been used by physical therapist for years. This tape came to prominence during the past summer Olympics, seen applied to the girls’ beach volley ball players.

With the proper application, Rock Tape has proven to control and prevent injury and improve postural strain. This is accomplished by:

  • Stimulating blood flow, lymph and inflammation drainage
  • Stimulate sensory receptors on skin to reinforce neuro-fascial feedback (afferent information)
  • Enhancing muscle “snap back” (providing dynamic support)

I am going to provide a simple step by step approach in dealing with common areas of distress and highly recommend that while you are training and experiencing any of these problems, you give these techniques a try. I want to be clear; these techniques are not to be applied instead of determining the root of the problem. Once you are making the appropriate adjustments to running technique or cycling fit these techniques will go a long way in assisting in the mending process.

Prep: You should always begin by cleaning the area of skin where you intend to apply the tape. The idea is to remove the natural oils from the skin, lotion, etc., so that the tape can adhere more effectively. When cutting the tape, always round the edges to minimize fraying. This will help to keep the application in place for as many as 3-5 days. You can shower with the tape on, just dab dry rather than rub over the tape.

There are essentially three steps to the application, engaging the area to be treated, stabilizing and adding a decompression to the crucial area. You should not feel a tightness

STEP #1: Engagement/Pre-Load

A pre-stretch of the area that the tape is to be applied helps to engage the receptors and pre-load the elastic quality of the associated musculature, ligaments and tendons.

STEP #2: apply a Stabilization strip

Apply a base layer which stimulates the skins mechanoreceptors which helps to decreases pain signals and supports the local joint via what is referred to as the “snap back phenomenon” (Recoil Effect). Improving the recoil (proprioception) has shown to enhance recovery.

 

STEP #3: Decompression

Then apply a “lifting/decompression” strip over the region that is inflamed to increase blood flow, decreases congestion/edema, and add extra stimulation to local mechanoreceptors.

I have provided you with two snap shots of the most common problem areas for runners and cyclists. For more detailed instruction, I suggest visiting www.rocktape.com they have a variety of video tutorials on taping techniques.

As I stated earlier, I am not a medical  professional. To be honest, most medical professionals that treat these injuries, would recommend that you either stop running until the pain subsides or send you to be treated by a physical therapist who will help you out of the pain phase very nicely.  But in the absence of corrections to the problems that create these injuries, you are likely to be revisiting these people sometime soon with a reoccurring injury.

  So, the take away information is this; if adding mileage appropriately to your training still presents you with pain, something is wrong. To ignore the pain that is signaling you to this fact is a bad idea.  The first step to solving this problem is to identify the faults in your mechanics.

Now more than ever, there are coaches available that can point these faults out for you and put you on the correct path, then while you are on the mend, these taping strategies will surprise you with how effective they can be.

 

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Product review – IceBreaker Merino Wool Garments

Let me begin by saying that, yes, I have a store and in our store we feature products that we feel are high quality and best suited to our clients who are involved in endurance sports and fitness activities. I will also confess that we suck as retailers. A good retail operation keeps lots of options, loads of inventory so that the consumer can find what they are looking for and the odds of a sale occurring are maximized. We on the other hand won’t carry anything we don’t feel strongly about. Each product we carry needs to meet our stringent demands to be showcased in our store front. Which brings me to a product that we are extremely fond of which is the IceBreaker line of garments. Now, I have to tell you how we came to carry this product line. One day a is often the case; a distributor for the line cold called on us. I personally shy away from these visits and let my wife handle the dismissal. Apparently, this fellow was able to engage my wife into reviewing some of the items he had brought along. I had escaped to my office to attend to other things to avoid being caugt up in a demonstration that generally eats my clock.

At the conclusion of the demo, the fella asked my wife what size shirt I wore and upon leaving he tossed me a T-shirt made of this mysterious fabric. It, like many other samples came home and tossed aside until one day out of shear curiosity, I put the shirt on. I was immediately taken back by how comfortable the shirt was. it was soft to the touch, the fit was perfect and cozy. I was impressed enough to pull up the company website to do a bit of research. I came to find that this unique fabric was shorn exclusively from a particular breed of mountain sheep that live in the Alps of New Zealand. As it turns out, these sheep thrive in some pretty harsh climates, very hot in the summer, very cold in the winter. The wool they produce protects them from these harsh in climate conditions year round. The wool is extremely fine which makes it very soft unlike typical sheep that live in the low lands. IceBreaker contracts sheep herders in these high country regions and from experience, have instructed these wool producers on the correct time and length of growth to sheer these sheep. I learned that if the wool grows too long or is cut to short, the tensile strength of the fabric is to weak and frays. They set very stringent guidelines as to the care, feeding and harvest of the wool and maintain exclusivity with these sheep herders.

Bottom line: I will no longer run or exercise in any synthetic garments. Not even cotton/synthetic blends. I am completely spoiled by the fit, the odor reduction, the sweat wicking properties and even the durability and ease of care. I wear their socks, shorts, shirts and even the casual wear garments. I love all of it. Who old of thought wool would be back in fashion? The stuff of old that shrank when you washed it, the general hassle to care for it and the itch factor. None of these concerns exist with IceBreaker.

It is now the principal garment we sell in our store. I must admit; it’s a pain in the ass having to explain this to every customer given the horror stories most people have with general wool products but once I get it on them, they are hooked. I give IceBreaker 4 thumbs up out of a perfect 5!

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Orchestrating a Fitness Makeover for Women

Before Biggest Loser, I was part of a made for television fitness makeover for women hosted by VH1 called “Rock Hard Bodies from Flab to Fab” the concept was built around selecting a hand full of women who wanted to get the body that their favorite rock star had. Once the contestants were chosen, our group of fitness pro’s went to work on sculpting these girls over a 12 week period, all of which was filmed.

My responsibility was as to conduct the clinical evaluations and set the stage for the work each girl would do, at what intensity and in what order. I also taught a spinning class for them every Wednesday and evaluated the progress.

It was an interesting experiment for me and like any trainer worth his salt, being a contractor and happy to work I took the job.

The project was chock full of self-professed gurus, from nutritionist, behavior modification specialists, kick boxing experts, Yoga, massage, Hollywood trainers’ and even a Navy Seal and of course me.

The producers were hot on us to create astounding results for the viewers and this pressure had ill effect on the project manager. He elected to cut food intake to bare survival rates and add on the work despite my protests. This incidentally is the time of thinking that goes into these types of shows. Little consideration is offered in respect to the well being or post program rebound, it’s all about ratings and the more drama the better.

If you watch these programs and wish they would pick you, save yourself and pay attention to the advice I am about to offer you for free.

Start at the beginning of your journey not the middle or near the end.

What do I mean by this? Because we are so heavily influenced by what we read and what we see on TV we may approach our project with too much ambition and not enough equipment to carry out the tasks. Don’t let your mind write checks your body can’t cash!

Let me laundry list the things that will get you where you want to go, safely and effectively.

  1. 1.      Consistency will win the day. A little every day in the beginning is better than a lot every now and then. If you get so beat down that you can’t exercise the following day, you are making a big mistake. Your body will adapt to the workloads with time, but your body needs a fighting chance. Don’t worry, with time your workouts will develop into epic fat burning sessions.
  2. 2.      Make big Moves. We are so caught up in the exercises we see in magazines that are guaranteed to sculpt our buns, thighs and abs that we lose sight of the big picture. In order to get to the definition we hope for, we need to move some lard that surrounds the muscle. This is best done by energy hungry exercises that involve the entire body, not by segregating individual parts.
  3. Manage your energy debt carefully. Don’t get caught up in a carb restricting diet or any other trendy diet, they are all designed to give quick results and none of them work over the long road. Any disruption to your metabolic pathways will come back to haunt you. We never write a meal plan until we have conducted a resting metabolic assessment. Every person’s body is unique and energy demands many times will surprise you. If you are wrong about the amount of food you should be eating daily you are sure to fail. Proper feeding is critical to your success.
  4. You can’t just work it off. If you do the math, you will come to realize very quickly how ridiculous it is to assume that by exercising alone you are going to lose 10 pounds per week. That much energy burned through exercise represents 35,000 calories expended in a weeks’ time, good luck with that! An average workout for an average female will expend in the area of 500 calories per hour.
  5. Quick weight loss is a ruse. The body of an average female is made up of 70% water. A high protein diet will cause you to dehydrate and suck this water weight off your frame and lead you to believe your program is a hit. Don’t be fooled the water weight will return and bathe the fat that never left and you will be right back where you started.
  6. Keep a journal. Set up a file with all your pertinent stats; weight, measurements, scantily clad photos and food diary. If it goes in your mouth, record it. How many calories, time of day etc. You should also weigh every meal, and know what the substrate breakdown is in each meal. How many carbs, fat and protein you consumed and what the ratio was of each.
  7. Plan a careful debt. Don’t starve yourself, if you are starving you won’t have the energy to exercise. You won’t sleep well and your cortisol levels will be through the roof! When that happens, your body hangs on to fat. Try to maintain around 500 calorie deficits daily. If you then burn upwards of 500-750 calories exercising you will shed weight at a reasonably aggressive pace without sacrificing muscle.
  8. 8.      Get in a butt load of cardio. Fat burning requires a lot of time spent in an aerobic session. Walk, jog, ride a bike, swim, cross train between these efforts to break it up but do a lot of it.
  9. Don’t try to spot reduce! Hammering on your butt or belly will only give you a sore butt and belly. You have to carve off the fat if you want to see what’s underneath and this means deficit! Isolated exercise does not yield enough debt to create the result you hope for. Stick to big exercises, when your body fat drops to within the range you hoped for, then you can start modeling the muscle with isolated movements.
  10. Give yourself the time it takes to create the body you seek. It did not take you a few weeks to create the body you have now; if you are overweight you didn’t wake up one morning startled that you were fat! It took time, so will the results. It sucks but it’s just the way it works. I have transformed many, many women’s bodies in my day and not one overnight. I can make a significant difference in about 8 weeks but fine tuning and that perfect body takes much longer. The good news is, once you understand what it will take and you commit yourself to task, it will happen.

We take clients for these projects by appointment in our lab, our process is grueling, scientific and effective but it does require dedication, consistency and patience. Ask yourself; is it worth it to you? If so, give us a buzz.

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The benefits of a professional bike fit

Don’t confuse bike “sizing” with bike fitting. When you purchase a new bike, the sales person will do their best to see that the bike is the proper size for you and then set you up on the bike by adjusting your saddle height and forward aft position, and off you go. Interestingly enough, most people who roll out of the store on their new wheels are so high and the perfectly functioning new bike feels so good they are typically beyond content.  However once the honeymoon is over and it’s back to putting in the miles, it is not unusual to notice a few minor inconsistencies that you did not notice while you were still “under the gas” so to speak.video bike fit

It may be that you begin to notice some discomfort that begins to nag at you.  It may come from the knees, the neck or low back. It may be numbness in the hands or crotch, regardless these are signs that you are not communicating well with your new machine. There are five contact points between yourself and your bike, two hands, two feet, your butt and all of these points interrelate to comfort and let’s face it, if you are not comfortable, you will begin to become reluctant to ride.  The very thing that used to give you pleasure is now giving you pain.

The process of “fitting” a rider to their bike begins with careful identification of what is working and what is not.  Before we begin this process of matching the bike to the rider we first take careful examination of the riders’ movement patterns.  Observing the way they walk, measuring leg length, range of motion and flexibility. We interview the rider to gain insight into their riding history, past injuries and current discomfort. We consider the needs and wants of the rider; what their ambition is, if they race, how often etc.

Based upon what we learn from this careful inquiry we set about developing a fitting strategy, then, for the first time during the interview we ask the client to mount the bike.  While they are on the bike, we begin the video, recording the initial postures and cross-examination of angles and the general relationship of the bike with the rider. Many of the initial findings are obvious.

As a rule before we make any modifications, we ask the rider to dismount and review the video with us and discuss what we see and what we feel should be the first adjustments.  Then the adjustments are made, typically only one or maximum two and then the rider remounts, the video begins again and we analyze the changes made.  This process continues until most of the obvious faults are corrected from a side view.  Then we begin analysis from the frontal view incorporating video and laser beams for precise measure and freeze frame review.

This frontal view reveals the most crucial contact points between the rider and the bike, the foot / pedal relationship. Because the pedal fixes the leg into a specific path this connection requires grave detail to minimize misalignment. Most pedal systems allow for a bit of float which is important to minimize forcing the knee and ankle into potential bio-mechanical conflict, however, this float allowance only addresses a fraction of the alignment issues.

One of the advantages of dynamic video analysis is the clarity in which we are able to identify compromise at the knee, ankle and hip. With a frame by frame analysis of cause and effect and painstaking attention to detail, we are able to resolve over five points of concern.

The most overlooked consideration with most fits is the rider’s unique forefoot angles.

Studies have revealed that over 85% of the population’s natural forefoot angle is “Varus” with around 7% being “Valgus” and very few have a neutral forefoot position. This presents a unique problem to the fitter in that all pedal systems are flat or neutral. As depicted in the next image, the outcome of an excessive varus forefoot results in poor contact with the pedal.  This outward pressure on the pedal is followed by a concomitant inversion of the knee on the down stroke and eversion on the upward stroke. This faulty movement pattern appears like a wobble at the knee, repeated for thousands of pedal revolutions. This abuse is the culprit behind the majority of cycling injuries. Once we have corrected these collective alignment problems the rider is able to garner the benefits promised through ownership of riding an amazingly well crafted bicycle that is now tuned to match the geometry of the rider.

I tell my athletes all the time; “of all the services we provide nothing is more instantly gratifying than a great bike fit. It pays you back immediately”.

We provide dynamic video supported bike fits in our Camarillo facility by appointment. Contact us for details 805-484-1347 or diazhp@verizon.net

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We’ve come a long way Baby!

A few days ago I dusted off an old book from my library shelf that I was not even aware I still had, “The Complete Book of Running” by Jim Fixx.  This book was a best seller in the mid 70’s which really represented the beginning of the running craze in this country. The author some time after its release was found on the side of the road dead as a result of clogged arteries and a hard attack. This left the entire running community a bit skeptical for some time with the question; if I run, will it eventually kill me?

I find that some times it’s best to take a look back to better appreciate how far we’ve come.

With the advent of the computer and the associated advancements across the board in technology, we have put some serious distance on the old school approach to training.  As I was pawing through the pages, my professional curiosity drew me to chapter 5 “Getting Started” somewhere in the middle of the compulsory needs he writes about determining how hard you should run by subtracting your age from 220 to find your maximum heart rate and multiplying by .75. This was not earth shattering to me but an asterisk that leads you to the bottom of the page further recommended that if you smoke, multiply by a factor of .65!  That blew my mind, the idea of someone butting there smoke to take there pulse before running seemed so out of character. This really put things in perspective for me.

Flash forward to 2001 and we have Nike’s Oregon Project.  If you’ve never heard of this, and I confess I didn’t either up until I began research for this article, Nike employed Alberto Salazar to head up an experiment where they took a handful of elite runners and housed them in a hermetically sealed house where they controlled the oxygen content to replicate various altitudes ranging from 8,000 to 17,000 ft.  The athletes were paid to live in this special environment in Portland Oregon, they slept ate and basically hung out until it was time to train and only then were they allowed out, the idea being “Sleep High, Train Low”. Science has born out evidence that spending quiet time at attitude where the air is thin produces greater amounts of oxygen rich red blood cells which greatly enhances aerobic performance.

The logistical complication of sleeping at 14,000 ft and training the same day at sea level is obvious, but with this specially designed living environment made it possible. I also learned that these test subjects were also empowered with very sophisticated brain wave monitoring software that originated from Russia that provided biofeedback in respect to the athlete’s capacity for work. We’re talking detailed information gained in a matter of minutes regarding how hard to train any given day. Add an electrode to the forehead and in 15 more minutes the system will assess overall health by checking the condition of his liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.

The pains and expense such a project generates makes an interesting point; that success as an endurance athlete is highly relative to the struggle against gravity and the ability to take in and absorb maximal oxygen. Think of it; in the 70’s the best selling book on running spoke of stop watches and the fact that smoking may dampen your running performance, 30 years later we have the technology to house marathon hopefuls in hermetically sealed homes and monitor brain waves to determine training intensities!

It is no secret that many endurance athletes spend quality time at altitude to work on improving endurance. The problem is that as we return to sea level the benefits of altitude begin to diminish pretty quickly. As is the case with most problems this poses opportunity. A few years ago I had some interesting conversations with a Dr. Andrew Backhaus from Altolab a company that manufactures a hand held altitude stimulator.

The way this device works is that as you breathe in and out through this canister it gradually reduces the amount of oxygen that you re-breathe. The air we typically breathe contains about 21% oxygen, as the subject breathes through this device oxygen is reduced to 16% initially and another 25% less with each concurrent breath.

Clearly, you cannot keep this up for long. To ensure that you don’t over do it, the subject wears a pulse oximeter on their index finger which relays the oxygen content of your blood. Ideally you do not want your blood O2 to drop below 75%. Once this occurs, you simply take a break and wait until your blood O2 raises to about 94% and begin another interval. The entire session lasts for an hour with 6 minutes on and 4 minutes off. The prescription is to do this daily for about 15 minutes leading up to an event to enhance oxygen uptake and markedly improve performance.

Alberto Salazar’s crew of the Nike project also trained on unweighted treadmills called AlterG’s. Unweighting technology provides the opportunity to rehabilitate lower extremities, it also provides highly effective neuromuscular and proprioceptive retraining, (correcting running form problems) and functional rehabilitation following injury or surgery of the lower extremity (hip, knee, ankle or foot).

This is something that we’ve been doing for quite some time now with great result. By reducing the weight of a runner on a treadmill, you can make adjustments to the way in which they make contact with the ground. For example runners that externally or internally rotate (toe in or out) can be harnessed and taught to correct these muscular imbalances.

All of this for the lay person seems a bit extreme, but try and appreciate if you will; if you have tried virtually everything, worked as hard as you possibly could and still turn up in many instances 6th or 7th place as is the case for many of our elite marathon runners when facing competition from the seemingly invincible Africans, you’ll try just about anything.

At the conclusion of the 2001 Boston Marathon Tom Clarke, Vice President of Nike  and head of Nikes new ventures decided he had enough. This is what stimulated the financial commitment to the Nike Oregon Project. His thinking was, if through scientific intervention they could nurture another Tiger Wood or Lance Armstrong of running for their iconic label it would pay back in spades. In his words; “If we could come in with another wave of champions, it’d be exciting for anything even related to running as a business.”

It is this type of forward thinking that funds these sci-fi adventures. This is how the world of scientific sports performance turns as I see it. Call it venture capitalism, a profit motive that stumbles upon amazing advancements.

On the flip side, if we study the habits and lifestyles of the truly great runners of the world, much of their success is not of their own doing. Where they live (at altitude), minimal distractions, (they can’t afford the type of distractions we take for granted). Learning to run barefoot which has proven to be superior to running shod, again simply because shoes are hard to come by for them. Being able to adapt to extreme temperatures while training, is no gift, or is it?

I was unable to find whether the Nike Oregon Project was still in existence today. I know that they made impressive improvements over their stable of athletes through their efforts, but I also know that the end game never materialized.

I want to be around in 30 more years so that I can reflect back on this paradox and giggle over what we see as amazing advancements in sports performance and our desire to see the sub 2 hour marathon record become a reality. I wonder what will be the goal to set 30 years from now. Another interesting question might be, if and when these new standards are set will technology be the cause or will it be some poor soul who just trained harder, was given less and wanted it more, as the case seems to be today.

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Whats New and Exciting? Helping runners achieve their goals.

Our business is really pretty diverse. We see athletes from various sports and various ages from very young to adult professionals and on occasion, world class elite athletes. In all the years I have been at this profession one thing I know to be true; regardless of talent, we all face similar challenges, just at different levels. Most of the athletes we work with at our facility are running athletes. If you think about this; regardless of distance or intensity, it all boils down to the fundamentals of motion, economy and efficiency.

Our tennis players need a high degree of agility and explosive speed even though the furthest distance they may run is less than 10 yards. Marathon runners do not require agility but they do need to refine their motor skills to minimize the cost associated with running for hours at a time. Energetic manipulation is critical for long distance runners and so for them this is an area of strong focus.

The short story today is that I am happy to report that through our running clinics we have been offering on the road we are meeting runners of varios abilities and within a few hours are able to enlighten and provide them with useful tools to improve their running, minimize or completely eliminate nagging injuries.

If anyone has a question related to these topics, I would enjoy communication with you.

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Hello world!

We have so much to talk about, I hope you’re listening, I know that I am. What I would enjoy is to have some a chance to interact with people who have questions, opinions and ideas that are related to anything to do with human performance. My expertise is in endurance sports but I also have quite a bit of experience working with various types of athletes.

To be clear… I am not an expert in sport technique, don’t ask me how to dribble a soccer ball or how to improve your tennis serve. What I do is work behind the scenes, the fundamentals of movement, energetics and neural muscular education.

I have extensive experience with triathlon and running and am the founder of The Natural Running Network and The Natural Running Coach Certification Program. If it has to do with running, I am your guy. If you add a ball or racquet to it, those are bending my rule. Enough said? Great, now let’s get to know each other. To learn more about my services and my programs here are a few sites that may help you.

I am excited to hear from you!

Sincerely,

Richard M. Diaz

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