BY POPSUGAR.COM/ DOMINIQUE ASTORINO
Few athletes have more challenging and rigorous workout schedules than an Olympic athlete. From two-a-day weight-training sessions to multiple swim sessions each day to 32 hours a week of performance practices — it's anything but easy when you're going for gold.
But if you don't take a rest, you're doing your body more harm than good. To keep their bodies in peak physical form, Olympians have to put as much into their recovery as they do into their workouts — and we should take heed! We chatted with gold medalist swimmer Natalie Coughlin about her training-recovery secrets, and we were thrilled to know that we can incorporate them into our everyday (read: NOT Olympic) workout schedule, too!
Article & Image Source: http://bit.ly/1Ubzi4x
BY MENSHEALTH.COM/ ERIC BENSON
Hint: Get more Vitamin C. And fats like pasture-raised bacon. But, if you're Tom Brady, that means no more tomatoes or mushrooms.
“Everybody has always looked at food as fuel,” says Tim DiFrancesco, the L.A. Lakers’ strength and conditioning coach. “But now we’re realizing that food is also potentially medicine—or the opposite.”
DiFrancesco, widely known as “Grass-fed Tim” (a moniker bestowed on him by 36-year-old Metta World Peace), is evangelical about the benefits of certain foods not only for overall health but also for the recovery process of aging athletes.
One of his biggest battles is against inflammation. But he doesn’t fight it with heaps of anti-inflammatory pills—he fights it with diet.
For example: sugars and hydrogenated oils are very much out—“They can not only create inflammation, they can also make your supporting structures more fragile and brittle on a cellular level,” he says—and healthy fats, particularly avocado and coconut oil, are in. “They’re not going to add to inflammation, and they’re going to give you a lot of good energy.” And for a full-out assault on inflammation, DiFrancesco has his players scarf up the leafy greens of their choice.
This whole-foods approach (which, for the Lakers, is actually catered by Whole Foods) will sound familiar to anyone who’s heard of Paleo; but the best aging pro athletes take it to another level.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reportedly eats a diet carefully calibrated to be 80% alkaline and 20% acidic; he also steers clear of night-shades—tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants—because they don’t have anti-inflammatory properties. In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki bullet-proofs his joints with a different approach: 1g of vitamin C mixed with 5g gelatin per day. (Studies have shown that high-dosing vitamin C can reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.) And in L.A., the recently retired Kobe Bryant, 37, has become a devotee of bone broth soup.
“When Kobe had the Achilles tear [in 2013], he said, ‘I’m not going to hang it up,’ so we needed to do everything we could to get him back,” DiFrancesco says. “There’s evidence that a cup of bone broth contains basically the building blocks of the body’s support structures. Did it alone help him get back? Probably not. But I’d say it could very well have been part of the overall map to recovery.”
BY THESTAR.COM/ Katrina Clarke
As a time-strapped University of Toronto student athlete, volleyballer Kristina Valjas’ go-to fuel was a bowl of Kraft Dinner or a bag of chips.
Cheap, easy and tasty, but the junk diet eventually caught up with her.
“The turning point was the shin splints. It was extreme pain,” said Valjas, now 28 and a beach volleyball player with Canada’s national team. She’d developed bone density issues, partly due to a calcium deficiency.
What athletes eat can mean the difference between high level success and body breakdowns, but it takes time, effort and education to get it right, say dietitians and athletes. This can be tricky in a world where some seem able to eat whatever they want — Usain Bolt subsisting on chicken nuggets during the Olympics, Michael Phelps eating a reported 12,000 calories per day while training and Lolo Jones downing double bacon cheeseburgers to gain weight — but athletes say as they age, they know what works for them and what doesn’t.
“It’s, like, immediate now for me,” said Melissa Tancredi, a member of the Canadian women’s national soccer team who lives in Vancouver. “I’ll know right after I eat something (unhealthy) like, oh that wasn’t good. Your body’s like, no, I feel awful ... You feel sluggish, you feel tired.”
Tancredi, now 33, admits she paid little attention to what she ate as a young athlete, but now credits healthy eating with helping her to perform at her best in her 30s. She mainly sticks to organic meats, fruits and vegetables — though she’s not averse to a rich curry.
The main thing sports dietitian Melissa Kazan notices with her athletes at the Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario is that they don’t snack or plan ahead enough.
“That’s where we come in as dietitians,” she said.
Kazan teaches her athletes to pack healthy snacks, such as granola bars, soy milk packs or chocolate milk, and she advocates for an “everything in moderation” approach to eating.
“We always think, athletes, all they eat are carbohydrates or high carbohydrate diets — it really has to be varied,” she said.
Kazan said when an athlete’s training load is high at the beginning of the season, they’re likely eating more carbohydrates but as training sessions are tapered throughout the season, carbohydrate intake typically drops. Protein and fat intake typically remains the same, she said.
As for how many calories athletes consume, it depends on the athlete and the sport, said Kazan. Male swimmers competing at the national level might consume 6,000 calories per day.
The day’s schedule might also affect what an athlete eats, she said. Someone who can get away with eating greasy foods on a training day won’t be able to do so on competition day, said Kazan, since fat is a heavy nutrient to digest.
“At the end of the day, you have to realize that saturated fats, sugars and the rest of those not-as-great nutrients … still have the same effect on the body, whether you’re a runner, whether you’re an endurance athlete or not,” said Andrea Falcone, a registered dietitian and fitness professional whose clients include hockey players, marathon runners and volleyball players. “As far as performance, the best fuel is going to give you the best output.”
For some athletes, the problem isn’t eating bad food, but not eating enough or not frequently enough. High performance athletes should be eating every three to four hours — a challenge that can be overcome with proper meal planning, she said.
Falcone adds the research on sports nutrition has changed over the years, with modern research eschewing a one-size-fits all approach for a more nuanced look at what each athlete needs to perform at their best.
So could that mean chicken nuggets are the key to success? Not quite.
“Can (an athlete) eat anything they want? No, in a nutshell,” she said. “But they might be able to burn off that fuel better than your typical layperson.”
As for Valjas, she revamped her diet after meeting with a nutritionist, adding in more calcium, protein and fruits. It’s a healthful lifestyle she’s held to ever since — with the exception of the odd Coke or chocolate bar — and one that helped improve bone density issues.
“I’m mindful of what I put in my body because this is what I do for a living. It’s fuel,” she said. “I don’t even want chips anymore.”
ARTICLE & IMAGE: http://on.thestar.com/1RDjNQp
BY ACTIVE.COM/ Patrick Cohn, Ph.D. and Lisa Cohn
Too often, athletes try to be "perfect" when they perform. These young athletes set high expectations, then become upset when they fail to match their own standards.
We hear from parents and coaches who worry about young players who become easily frustrated and take disappointment home with them. You're likely familiar with athletes who display perfectionist behaviors.
Pros and Cons of the Perfectionist Athlete
Perfectionist athletes criticize themselves for making mistakes, often hold high and unrealistic expectations for themselves and tend to get frustrated easily after making mistakes. These kids are often perfectionists in other aspects of their lives--in school, for example.
On the positive side, you will find some advantages to perfectionism in young athletes. Perfectionist kids have a strong work ethic, are highly committed to their goals and are willing to learn and improve.
These positive traits often disguise the problems that are associated with perfectionism in sports. These kids are so motivated that you often don't think of them as having mental game struggles.
What Perfectionist Athletes Focus On
Sports kids who try to be perfect can undermine their performance in many ways. They focus too much on results, This gets them stuck in a vicious cycle of working hard, setting higher expectations and then thinking they are failing to reach their expectations.
It's important for you to understand that perfectionist athletes often unknowingly embrace very high expectations. They do this unconsciously. When they don't achieve their expectations, they feel frustrated. They feel like they have failed.
Here's a classic example from a baseball dad: "My son is a good athlete who has always had good success. However, he seems to focus on the negative, not the positive. If he is practicing hitting, and doesn't make good contact, after about three swings I hear 'I stink.' Unfortunately, things tend to go down hill from there."
Perfectionists think that maintaining very high and often unrealistic expectations is a good thing. They believe that the only other option is to live in a world of mediocrity. (It's ironic because their need to succeed in sports causes fear of failure, which can undermine their performance.)
Fear of failure kicks in when kids can't meet their expectations or the expectations of others. They become frustrated, lose composure and assume they are under performing. Then they won't achieve their full potential in sports. They begin to think they are failing at some level.
What Parents Can Do
Begin by identifying the very high or perfectionist expectations that pressure your young athletes. These are the expectations that motivate them to have a "perfect" game or practice and not make any mistakes.
Once you identify these expectations--"I need to throw a no-hitter in today's game"-- your job is to replace them with simple, process-oriented goals.
Smaller, more manageable goals such as "See the ball well during an at-bat" help athletes concentrate on the process. This helps sports kids achieve better results.
Manageable goals focus your athletes on the execution of one pitch or one play at a time. For example, a pitcher might visualize good pitches before each pitch.
The Right GoalAs a parent or coach, you want to be careful about placing super high expectations on your sports kids. You may do this without even realizing you're doing it.
Some parents and coaches ask kids to perform well--and place expectations on them--in an attempt to boost their confidence. They might say, "Make six three-pointers today!" Unfortunately, such well-meaning input can cause athletes--especially perfectionists--to try to meet these expectations, They then feel let down when they don't.
By lowering expectations and helping young athletes focus on manageable goals you put them in the best position to succeed.
ARTICLE & IMAGE: http://bit.ly/1RwJAHu
It has frequently been emphasized that children are not simply "small adults". They are different anatomically and physiologically in many ways. Knee injuries in children and adolescents frequently demonstrate these differences.
The primary difference between the adult knee and the child's knee is the growth center or epiphysis. These are regions in the end of the femur and tibia on both sides of the knee that provide most of the growth of the leg. They are usually the weakest part of the knee. The same injury pattern that would tear a ligament or cartilage in the mature knee is much more likely to fracture the bones through the growth center in the child.
"Adult" type of the knee injuries can, however, occur in the child. Anterior cruciate ligament tears, once thought to be extremely rare in children, are receiving more attention in recent years. It is unknown whether or not the rise in the number of reported tears recently are related to increased awareness by physicians, better diagnostic techniques, such as MRI and arthroscopy, or that possibly more kids are involved in competitive sports. ACL tears have been reported in children as young as two years of age. The true incidence of ACL tears in the pediatric population is unknown, but some studies report a tear in as many as 50% of children with blood in their knees after an injury.
The treatment of ACL tears in the young, athletic, skeletally mature (adult) knee is usually reconstruction. A tendon is usually taken from another part of the body and used to rebuild the torn ligament. Simple repair of the torn ends usually fails. Non-operative treatment with braces and exercise usually fails. These patients frequently have "giving way" episodes with tearing of other structures, usually meniscal cartilages. This may lead to premature arthritis later in life. This reconstructive procedure usually involves placing the tendon graft through drill holes in the femur and tibia.
Unfortunately, the growth centers in the knee are directly in the path of these drill holes, screws, and staples. It has been shown that standard reconstruction in the growing child or adolescent may cause a growth abnormality leading to leg length inequality, or to angulatory deformity at the knee. The younger the child, the greater the chance of deformity, and the more severe the deformity is likely to be.
As a result, non-operative treatment is usually suggested initially. This usually involves bracing and strengthening exercises. The results are generally poor. A temporary change in activity level or sport may also be indicated. Sports that involve sharp cutting and sudden change of direction, such as basketball and soccer, may have to be put on hold until the injured knee can be properly repaired. There is a high incidence of instability, meniscal tears, and a significant change in activity level.
If conservative management fails, surgical options can be considered. The patient and family must be aware of the complications noted above. If the adolescent is within a year or two of skeletal maturity, most physicians feel the risks are small, and a standard ACL reconstruction is usually performed. In the younger child, alternative techniques have been developed recently to try to lessen the possibilities of growth arrest. These techniques involve placing the graft in a non-anatomic position, or one that does not quite duplicate normal ligament function. This is done by either drilling holes that go around rather than through the growth centers, or by avoiding holes altogether, and wrapping the graft around the bone. Growth abnormalities can still occur, but the incidence is much less than with standard techniques. These procedures are designed to be a temporary measure to control symptoms until maturity, when a traditional reconstruction can be done. The results of these procedures have been surprisingly good, with many children returning to sports and not needing a later procedure.
In summary, the anterior cruciate ligament can be torn in growing children. The incidence is higher than previously believed. Choosing the best treatment is much more difficult than in the adult. While growth abnormalities can be serious after surgical repair, their incidence is fairly low. With newer surgical techniques, good results are possible.
A collection of Competitive Athlete articles and selected content from various online sources to help you achieve your winning goals