Monday, October 23, 2017

The Great Debate: When to use heat and when to use ice

Different methods of heat and ice therapy prove to be an effective and inexpensive way to provide relief. When is it good to heat and when is it beneficial to use ice? The correct use of heat and ice at the proper time can aide in reducing recovery time.

Let’s first understand what heat and ice do. Ice constricts blood flow to muscles, thus decreasing swelling, bruising and discomfort. As the muscle cools, the amount of blood in the muscle diminishes as the constriction process pushes it out. As the muscle warms and the blood vessels expand, new blood comes rushing in and cleans the debris left behind from the injury and stimulates the healing process. As a general rule of thumb, icing is best for acute injuries.

The application of heat therapy stimulates blood flow to the area, which brings restorative oxygen and nutrients. Additionally, heat can inhibit the transmission of pain signals to your brain and decrease your stiffness. Heat is generally not a good idea for new injuries because it can make the swelling and inflammation worse. Heat can work very well for chronic pain, relaxing muscles before exercise.

A common problem area for many people is the low back. Chronic pain can be debilitating and extremely uncomfortable. So what might be best for chronic low back pain? There is no straight forward answer; it may be trial and error until you find a remedy that works best for you. But when it comes to exercise, many people with chronic back pain find heat therapy helps to warm up their muscles beforehand, while cold therapy helps with pain and inflammation afterwards.

The chart below identifies some common reasons for pain and which treatment is most beneficial. Remember if you have any serious injuries consult with a doctor before self-diagnosing.

Blog post by Farran Jalbert.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Heart Rate and Recovery: Why is it important?

Do you know that feeling once you have made it past the point of just “warming up” and beginning to feel out of breath during your workout? Once you get feel that feeling do you ever notice how your heart rate begins to increase? This occurs when the demand for fresh oxygenated and nutrient rich blood is needed to be transported to the muscles performing the arduous tasks. However if your heart muscle is weakened due to lack of exercise, heart disease, or a neurological disorder, it can affect how well you can perform as well as recover.

A research study by Michael S. Lauer, MD, (director of the Cleveland Clinic Exercise Laboratory in Ohio and the lead researcher of the study) found that individuals who had a heart rate (HR) recovery score of <12 beats per minute (bpm) were at a higher risk of heart disease than individuals whom had a normal HR recovery of 15 to 25+ bpm during an exercise stress test. (1)

How can I test my Heart Rate Recovery Time?

You can perform many different tests to increase your HR like riding a bike for a set amount of time, walking on a treadmill or the track for distance, ERG rowing machine, or just marching in place for 2 minutes. Most importantly you will need to know your desired HR target should be.  The table below can give you an idea of roughly where your target HR should be during test before completing the exercise to measure your pulse for the recovery rate.

To measure your recovery rate, take your pulse immediately upon finishing exercise then measure 1 minute post and 2 minutes post exercise and compare your BPM results. The bigger the difference the BETTER!

Here are a few inferences:

  • If the difference between the two heart rates is less than 22, your real age of heart is slightly more than your biological age (that calls for lifestyle and dietary modification)
  • If the recovery heart rate difference is in between 22–52 beats per minute; your biological age (or calendar age) is approximately the same as that of your heart age/ real age
  • A recovery heart rate difference of 53–58 beats per minute indicates optimal health, healthier heart and a real age of less than calendar age.
  • If the difference of your immediate post exercise heart rate and heart rate after 2 minutes is in the range of 59–65 beats per minute, your heart is healthier and your real age is moderately less than your biological age.
  • With a difference of more than 66, your heart is very healthy and your physical age is a lot less than your calendar age. (2)

Blog post by Craig Moody.