Monday, November 24, 2008

Relaxation Techniques

This page contains a program to help you relax. Each session should begin with "Getting Loose" and then followed with "Breathing Easy". It is best to use the relaxation program prior to commencing the warm up and then to use the warm up to achieve optimal level of arousal.

Getting Loose
Begin each session as follows

  1. Loosen your clothing and remove your shoes

  2. Lie down with a pillow under your head (on a bed or on the floor)

  3. Lie flat on your back, feet about 12 to 18 inches apart and your arms at your sides

  4. Go as limp as you can from head to foot

  5. Let your shoulder blades go slightly flat

  6. Waggle your feet

  7. Settle in with your legs

  8. Shake your arms gently, rolling the backs of your hands against the floor

  9. Roll your head back and forth



Now begin the "Getting Loose" exercise for each part of your body, as follows
Legs
  • Flex the muscles of your left leg by raising it 6 to 10 inches above the floor Point your toes slightly back toward your head. Hold this position of tension for as long as you can, about 10 seconds or so, until you begin to feel the muscles start to tremble. Then, say to yourself 'Leg, let go'. At this point, stop flexing it and let the leg drop. Let the leg rest for another 10 seconds or so, saying to yourself 'I feel the tension flowing out of my leg...my leg feels relaxed, warm, heavy... completely relaxed'

  • Repeat the flex-let go-rest procedure for that leg.

  • Run through the entire procedure again for your right leg.


  • Buttocks and thighs
  • Tighten your buttock and thigh muscles, as tightly as you can. Hold them as long as you can - longer than 10 seconds - until you have to let go. Then release them, saying 'Let go', to yourself. Pause for 10 seconds or so and focus your attention on the relaxed feeling in those muscles, on the tension flowing out.

  • Repeat the exercise.


  • Stomach
  • Do the same procedure twice for your abdominal muscles


  • Back and Neck
  • Arch your spine, tightening all along it from your tailbone to your neck, and finish by telling it 'Let go'.

  • Repeat the exercise


  • Arms and Shoulders
  • Imagine there is a bar suspended above you that you want to use to pull yourself up. Raise your hands, palms upward, above your chest. Grab the imaginary bar and clench your fists around it as hard as you can. Flex the muscles in your arms and shoulders. Hunch your shoulders up as tightly as you can. Hold as long as possible and then say 'Let go. ' Rest for 10 seconds or so, soaking up the warm, relaxed feelings, letting the tension flow out.

  • Repeat the exercise


  • Jaw
  • I tighten your jaw muscles, clamping down on you back teeth. Say 'Let go' and relax.

  • Repeat the exercise.


  • Face
  • Tighten your facial muscles into a strong grimace. Say 'Let go'. Rest and focus on the relaxing feeling.

  • Repeat the exercise.


  • Eyes
  • Focus on a point on the ceiling. Without moving your head slowly roll your eyes to the right as far as they will go, then to the centre, then to the left, then back to the centre.

  • Rub the palms of your hands together until you feel heat. Close your eyes and cover them with your hands. Let the heat warm them. Rest, and tell your eyes 'Let go' and feel the tension flow out as you feel the warmth.


  • Entire body
  • Clench your feet and fists. Pull your shoulders up. Tighten your jaw and face. Now simultaneously flex your entire body, arching yourself as much as you can from your heels to the back of your head. Hold it for as long as you can until you feel your body tremble. Then say 'Let go' - and just let yourself go... all the way, as much as you can.

  • Lie there and feel the tension drain away.


  • Get totally relaxed
  • Close your eyes. Let your attention wander slowly over each part of your body, from legs to face, as you did in the exercise. If any area seems to have some residual tension, tense it. Let you. Feel the tension draining out of you, but do not worry if there is still a little left. Keeping your eyes closed, stay in this relaxed state for the rest of the 10 minute session. Think of a very pleasant, peaceful place. Think of floating in a small boat on a peaceful lake with a soft breeze gently rocking you back and forth, back and forth. Alternatively think of floating in space, lighter than air, weightless. Observe the pleasant, calm feelings. Tell yourself 'I am relaxed now... My legs feel relaxed... My buttocks, thighs, and abdomen feel relaxed... My back arms, shoulders, jaws, face and eyes feel relaxed... The tension has been let go. '



  • Focus your relaxed feelings
    Now begin to focus this relaxation on your event. Tell yourself 'When I am running and I begin to feel tension gripping some muscles, I will be able to tell those muscles "Let go", saying "Let go" will recall the relaxed feelings I feel now and will release the tension from those muscles.'
    Breathing Easy
    Having completed the "Getting Loose" exercises remain lying on your back. Carry out the "Breathing Easy" exercise for 10 minutes, as follows
    Inhale
  • Inhale slowly and deeply, filling your chest with air, counting four seconds to yourself 'One and two and three and four'. The count is to give you a nice and easy, even pace. Try to breathe as fully as you can without discomfort. Imagine your chest slowly filling with air, from your diaphragm to your collar.


  • Hold breath
  • When you have inhaled fully, hold your breath for another four seconds, again counting to yourself 'One and two and three and four'. This should be just a comfortable pause. Do not do it until you are blue in the face.

  • Exhale
  • Exhale - but do not blow. Just let the air out through your mouth slowly saying to yourself 'Easy...easy... easy... easy.' Let out as much air as you can, down to the lower part of the lungs. Feel yourself relaxing as you do. Feel your shoulders, chest and diaphragm letting go. As you exhale, think of the tension flowing out of you.

  • Do not worry if the sequence is not exact or the cadence perfect. It may seem a bit difficult to stay with at first, but just keep going. The important thing is to establish the slow relaxed breathing rate. After the ten cycles, your breathing rate will be automatically slower and you can dispense with the "one and two and three and four" cadence.



  • Now do as follows
  • Inhale - Breathe in fully.

  • Exhale - Let the air out slowly (do not blow), saying mentally 'Easy... easy... easy... easy ' with each exhalation.

  • Repeat this cycle ten times.


  • You will soon begin to feel a calm, thoroughly pleasurable feeling - some say a warmth radiating from your chest throughout your body

    Now let yourself breathe normally and tell yourself relaxing phrases 'I feel very relaxed... All the tension is going out of me as I exhale and good feelings are coming into me as I inhale... When I am playing my sport, I will be able to take a few deep breaths and by saying, "Easy " will be able to tell myself to relax whenever I feel overly tense... When I am playing, I will recall the good feelings I am experiencing now and they will automatically return to me. Imagine all this happening as you say it to yourself.

    Now do as follows
  • Inhale - Breathe in slowly

  • Hold breath - Hold it very briefly

  • Exhale - Let the air out slowly while mentally saying to yourself 'Easy... easy... easy... easy.'

  • Repeat this cycle ten times.


  • Now let your breathing go naturally, and pay attention to the pleasant feelings in your body. Repeat the same encouraging phrases to yourself that you did earlier. Listen to the sound of your own breath coming in and out. You will notice that the breathing is slow and deep without you having to make it that way. The exhaling will last longer - as long as an eight-count, perhaps.
    Continue to do the breathing exercises for the rest of the session, each time alternating the ten cycles of inhale-hold-exhale with the mental encouragement. After the last cycle of ten, just let yourself enjoy the feeling for a minute.

    Easy
    Tell yourself for the rest of the day I will recall these sensations every time I tell myself 'Easy'

  • "Sports Coach - provides advice for coaches, athletes, sports science tutors and students studying sports related qualifications on topics relating to exercise physiology, successful coaching and athletic development."
  • Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Pain in the buttocks region

    Have you ever feeling pain in the buttocks or uncomfortable. Especially after rowing 2 laps (8km) and you have another 8km to complete the morning session of total 16km that day! Well, the article below will explain further what has cause it & how to prevent. A simple step as strecthing helps to prevent injuries & increase the strength of the affected muscles.

    After you complete 8km laps, row back to pontoon & aplly below strechings on a flat surfaces. Once completed, jump back to the boat & continue your training program. You will suprise to find out that 3 minutes will benefits a lot. Not only you relief the pain but it will expand the fascia tissue & gives more room for the muscles to grow. Try it to experience the benefits of streching.


    Piriformis Syndrome and Effective Piriformis Stretches


    Detailed Treatment Strategies for the Prevention and Treatment of Piriformis Syndrome
    Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle becomes tight or spasms, and irritates the sciatic nerve. This causes pain in the buttocks region and may even result in referred pain in the lower back and thigh. Patients often complain of pain deep within the hip and buttocks, and for this reason, piriformis syndrome has also been referred to as "Deep Buttock" syndrome.

    What is the Piriformis?
    The piriformis is a small muscle located deep within the hip and buttocks region. It connects the sacrum (lower region of the spine) to the top of the femur (thigh bone) and aids in external rotation (turning out) of the hip joint.

    As you can see from the diagram to the right, there are many muscles and tendons that make up the hip and buttocks region. The diagram shows the posterior (rear) view of the buttock. The piriformis is the horizontal muscle in the center of the picture running over the top of the sciatic nerve.

    What Causes Piriformis Syndrome?
    Piriformis syndrome is predominantly caused by a shortening or tightening of the piriformis muscle, and while many things can be attributed to this, they can all be categorized into two main groups: Overload (or training errors); and Biomechanical Inefficiencies.

    Overload (or training errors): Piriformis syndrome is commonly associated with sports that require a lot of running, change of direction or weight bearing activity. However, piriformis syndrome is not only found in athletes. In fact, a large proportion of reported cases occur in people who lead a sedentary lifestyle. Other overload causes include:



    1. Exercising on hard surfaces, like concrete;

    2. Exercising on uneven ground;

    3. Beginning an exercise program after a long lay-off period;

    4. Increasing exercise intensity or duration too quickly;

    5. Exercising in worn out or ill fitting shoes; and

    6. Sitting for long periods of time.




    Biomechanical Inefficiencies: The major biomechanical inefficiencies contributing to piriformis syndrome are faulty foot and body mechanics, gait disturbances and poor posture or sitting habits. Other causes can include spinal problems like herniated discs and spinal stenosis. Other biomechanical causes include:

    Poor running or walking mechanics;
    Tight, stiff muscles in the lower back, hips and buttocks;
    Running or walking with your toes pointed out.
    Symptoms!
    Pain (or a dull ache) is the most common and obvious symptom associated with piriformis syndrome. This is most often experienced deep within the hip and buttocks region, but can also be experienced anywhere from the lower back to the lower leg.

    Weakness, stiffness and a general restriction of movement are also quite common in sufferers of piriformis syndrome. Even tingling and numbness in the legs can be experienced.

    Treatment!
    Piriformis syndrome is a soft tissue injury of the piriformis muscle and therefore should be treated like any other soft tissue injury. Immediately following an injury, or at the onset of pain, the R.I.C.E.R. regime should be employed. This involves Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, and Referral to an appropriate professional for an accurate diagnosis.

    It is critical that the R.I.C.E.R. regime be implemented for at least the first 48 to 72 hours. Doing this will give you the best possible chance of a complete and full recovery.

    The next phase of treatment (after the first 48 to 72 hours) involves a number of physiotherapy techniques. The application of heat and massage is one of the most effective treatments for removing scar tissue and speeding up the healing process of the muscles and tendons.

    Once most of the pain has been reduced, it is time to move onto the rehabilitation phase of your treatment. The main aim of this phase is to regain the strength, power, endurance and flexibility of the muscles and tendons that have been injured. Click on the following link for a complete and comprehensive article on the treatment of soft tissue injuries.

    Prevention!
    Prevention is the key when it comes to piriformis syndrome. The more you can do to prevent it, the better off you'll be. There are a number of preventative techniques that will help to prevent piriformis syndrome, including modifying equipment or sitting positions, taking extended rests and even learning new routines for repetitive activities. However, there are four preventative measures that I feel are far more important and effective.

    Firstly, a thorough and correct warm up will help to prepare the muscles and tendons for any activity to come. Without a proper warm up the muscles and tendons will be tight and stiff. There will be limited blood flow to the hip area, which will result in a lack of oxygen and nutrients for the muscles. This is a sure-fire recipe for a muscle or tendon injury.

    Before any activity be sure to thoroughly warm up all the muscles and tendons that will be used during your sport or activity. Click here for a detailed explanation of how, why and when to perform your warm up.

    Secondly, rest and recovery are extremely important; especially for athletes or individuals whose lifestyle involves strenuous physical activity. Be sure to let your muscles rest and recover after heavy physical activity.

    Thirdly, strengthening and conditioning the muscles of the hips, buttocks and lower back will also help to prevent piriformis syndrome.

    And fourthly, (and most importantly) flexible muscles and tendons are extremely important in the prevention of most strain or sprain injuries. When muscles and tendons are flexible and supple, they are able to move and perform without being over stretched. If however, your muscles and tendons are tight and stiff, it is quite easy for those muscles and tendons to be pushed beyond their natural range of movement. When this happens, strains, sprains, and pulled muscles occur.

    To keep your muscles and tendons flexible and supple, it is important to undertake a structured stretching routine. I've included two effective piriformis stretches below.


    1. Sit with one leg straight out in front. Hold onto the ankle of your other leg and pull it directly towards your chest. click here to see picture


    2. Lie face down and bend one leg under your stomach, then lean towards the ground.Click here to see picture




    Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don't make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won't be effective.

    Improve Your Athletic Performance
    & Reduce Your Potential for Injuries!


    How Stretching Can Explode Your Muscle Growth

    Not only is stretching important for flexibility, it is CRITICAL for massive, rapid muscle growth!

    When you think about gaining muscle, stretching is probably not the first thing that pops into your head.

    But did you know that stretching plays a critical role in building muscle?

    Every muscle in your body is enclosed in a bag of tough connective tissue known as fascia. Fascia is important for holding your muscles in their proper place in your body. But your fascia may also be holding back your muscle growth. Think for a moment about your muscles.

    You train them and feed them properly. They want to grow and will grow but something is holding them back. They have no room to grow! Because fascia is so tough, it doesn't allow the muscle room to expand. It is like stuffing a large pillow into a small pillowcase. The size of the muscle won't change regardless of how hard you train or how well you eat because the connective tissue around your muscles is constricting the muscles within. The best example of this is the calf muscle. The lower leg is riddled with fascia because of its tremendous weight-bearing duties in the body. It is because of this fascia that many trainers have great difficulty developing their calves.

    The solution: stretching.

    Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don't make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won't be effective.

    Using the pillowcase example from above, imagine you can expand the size of the pillowcase by stretching it. Suddenly, the pillow within has more room and will expand to fill that new space.
    By stretching your muscles under specific conditions, you can actually stretch your fascia and give your muscles more room to grow.
    The key to effective fascia stretching is the pump. The best time to stretch to expand the bags that are holding in your muscles is when your muscles are pumped up full of blood. When your muscles are fully pumped up, they are pressing against the fascia. By stretching hard at that time, you increase that pressure on the fascia greatly, which can lead to expansion of the fascia.

    One of the major reasons Arnold Schwarzenegger had such incredible chest development was that he finished his chest workouts with dumbbell flyes, an exercise that emphasizes the stretched position of the pectoral muscles. He would pump his chest up full of blood during the workout then do flyes, holding the stretch at the bottom of the flye. This gave his chest room to grow to amazing proportions.
    Fascia stretching is more rigorous than regular stretching but the results can be amazing. When you stretch hard enough to cause the fascia to expand, you will really feel it! When you are stretching the fascia, you should feel a powerful pulling sensation and pressure as the muscle works against the fascia to expand it.

    Be sure you do not stretch so hard that you cause the muscle to tear or cause injury to yourself. You will rapidly learn to distinguish the difference between a good stretch and a bad stretch. You should not feel any sharp pain, just a steady pull. Hold each stretch for at least 20 to 30 seconds as you must give your fascia time to be affected by the stretch. Stretch hard like this only when you have a fully pumped muscle as you must give your fascia a reason to expand. If your muscles aren't pumped, just stretch normally. One set of hard stretching after each set you do for a muscle group, besides the obvious benefits of increased flexibility, can have an incredible effect on the size of your muscles and their further ability to grow.

    This informative article was written by Nick Nilsson, president of Better U, Inc.
    Stretching & Sports Injury Solutions

    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    Personality Traits in an Eight

    Cox:
    It's pretty obvious what traits a cox must adopt and try to learn in order to do a good job in this most unique position in the athletic world. I'll skip the leadership stuff, Napoleon complex garbage, and point out a secondary characteristic or two that coxes unintentionally inherit after a while. They can't drive a car anymore. They take 10 miles to change a lane, oversteer, can't find the brakes, and yell to the car a lot. This has nothing to do with their former driving ability. Stick Richard Petty in a cox seat for a while, they'll take his driver's license away. Coxes also begin to squint a lot, no loss in vision, they just squint.

    Stroke:
    "It's a tough job but only I can do it." The meekest, most frightened non-rower in the world, when plugged reluctantly in the stroke seat, stays meek up until the first few strokes. During the first few paddle strokes, a thought grows in the wimps' snivelling little mind that this job is theirs for life. Back on the bank, the real personality will percolate back to the surface. "I hope you guys could follow me ok." In the boat they're thinking: "stop rushing, you weenies!" Strokes are born and made to be the most competitive person in the boat by far and, if they stroke long enough, become overly competitive in everything they pursue, or don't pursue. Don't expect to finish a game of Monopoly, Risk, or Golf with a stroke. The only one that can beat him to the dinner queue is the three man (more later) because the stroke was delayed trying to put more blades away in the rack than anyone else.

    Seven:
    The seat is the Bitch Niche. I don't know if whining, overly bossy, big-mouthed complainers are born, and I can't believe that the cosmic effect of this seat could possibly be so instantaneous, but you could teach Mother Theresa to row in a boat tank, stick her in an eight at seven for the first time, and as the stern four is rowing away from the raft, she'll turn around and yell at the bow four to "sit the fecking boat." The longer one rows at seven, the more sophisticated and complex the bitching becomes, changing from a crude verbal rowing suggestion to the six man in the early stages to long winded level-voiced reasoned treatises after every piece explaining why the crew is slower now than last week. Ever wonder why when a coach brings a crew in to the bank to ask how a piece went he says: "So how did that go, fellas? -not you seven." I was a team captain, looked up to leader of my college crew, kept my mouth shut and did my job. I raced one week at seven and my coach told me to "shut up Sullivan" in a post race meeting. Women who deal with severe PMS mood swings will find those swings totally disappear after some time at seven.

    Six:
    If you bred Arnold Swartzeneggar with a Golden Retriever, you get a six. Six is also Seven's yin. The gentle giant, gorilla in the mist. Six absorbs most of Seven's bitching and keeps it from moving through to the rest of the crew. Six nods and agrees a lot. It is a hard thing for a normal person to row six. It seems like such a great seat, you're in the stern, the boat's more stable here, but you are one with a rowing career at six, you find you've been used. Sixes are characterised by great competence in execution of rowing and life, but poor self-confidence and a propensity to self-flagellation. Take your 3-year stroke out of the stroke seat and stick them at six for a week. This will be the first time you ever hear them say: "My fault, fellas," at the end of a poor piece. Sixes meditate. Sixes marry, go to work for, and lend their power tools to sevens. This support system keeps sevens with thriving businesses, mates they can walk all over, and a garage full of power tools at their disposal that they don't have to fix when they break.

    Five:
    God. Yahweh. Allah. Buddha. It's not that the five seat IS those things, its just that's how they gets treated. Five's crap doesn't stink, the catches don't hang. They're the older brother or sister that gets special treatment, and has no idea. If a photo is taken of the crew, five will look great, everyone else is caught with shirttails out, and snot on the lip. At heart and soul, five forgets to change oil, pay phone bills, and turn in forms to the Inland Revenue. Five is an example of what happens to a bum that is treated like a king, they act like one. Five has the greatest delta between image and reality. The fortunate thing is that the unearned, unabashed worship lasts only as long as the time on the water. Five's on his own back at home. Five wears aviator glasses.

    Four:
    The Amnesia seat. Take a genius with a photographic memory. Row said genius at four. Listen to him ask for the third time in the same warm-up, "How many of these 500s are we doing?" Four seat is not stupid, just has immediate and catastrophic memory loss. At a start and wind for 20, four settles at 21 because in the time the cox yelled "settle in two," he forgot. In a novice boat where the seats have been removed and cleaned, it'll be four's that went back in backwards. Four will forget to tell the boatman about their stripped rigger nut- usually from the time the coach tells him, until he arrives at the boatman's bench wondering what he's doing there. On that first day on the water as the ice is breaking up, who is rummaging around the back of the boathouse looking for a sweatshirt? Four is why racing shirts are handed out on race day.

    Three:
    Late to the river. Late to practice. Late to class. Late to work. Late off the river. Late to his date. Late for everything but the dinner queue. There is no competitiveness involved here; just an uncanny knack to have the first three rowers into the dining hall stopped by friends for a brief discussion while three breezes on by. Three generally gets assigned a sitter.

    Two:
    Lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up, sit down, fight fight fight. Cheerleader. What is amazing, is to sit at four or five after a particular piece - seven is whining about the balance, the spacing, no swing, rushing: two is back there with pom poms saying: ALL RIGHT GUYS! LETS DO THAT AGAIN!... Two calls out names of power 10s. "Aright guys -OAR CLASH TEN!" If he says something funny, he repeated something the Bowman prompted him with.

    Bow:
    Comedian. The bow seat creates a strange fatalism. They know that in a catastrophic collision, they'll be the only one to die or get paralysed. Consequently there is a constant quiet stream of one-liners that two or three could probably hear if two were not cheering loudly. If the bow is joined by a cox in a front-loader, this trait completely disappears, since someone is now likely to hear him joke about three being late, five not pulling hard, or the cox's course looking like a signature. They can be humourless and witless off the water, but on the water when there is breath to spare, you're sure to catch a chuckle if you listen.