Benefits of Sports Massage for Bootcamp Athletes

At BootCampSF we train you the way coaches train athletes. Each day is a different workout, and includes a combination of cardio training, cross-training, and strength training. BootCampSF workouts are designed to constantly challenge your body in unexpected ways, and this can often result in sore muscles — especially if you’re new to training. So before you reach for the medicine cabinet to ease your aches, consider soothing those muscles with a sports massage.

What is a Sports Massage?
Sports massage is a systematic manipulation of your body’s soft tissues and geared toward individuals who are physically active. A variety of movements and techniques are used in a sports massage. These techniques include: the Swedish style massage, stroking, kneading, rhythmic striking, stretching, and trigger points, among others.(1) This kind of massage can relieve pain, as well as help athletes recover from workouts and injuries more quickly. Even non-athletes can reap the physiological and psychological benefits of sports massage therapy.

Why are Sports Massages Beneficial to Bootcamp Athletes?
Reported benefits include:

Increased:
○ Sense of wellbeing
○ Blood flow
○ Flexibility
○ Joint range of motion (ROM)
○ Elimination of exercise waste products (lactic acid)

Decreased:
○ Muscle tension
○ Neurological excitability (nerves more relaxed)
○ Chance of injury
○ Recovery time between workouts
○ Muscle spasms

Heavy exercise can often result in muscle microtraumas. Meaning, minor swelling may occur due to small tears in the muscle. Sometimes the swelling and tears create delayed onset muscle soreness. According to the American College of Sports Medicine(2), delayed soreness can develop 12 to 24 hours after strenuous exercising, and may produce the greatest pain within 24 and 72 hours. Sports massages help lessen the swelling associated with the microtraumas thereby easing the muscle soreness. In addition to that, sports massages can relieve soreness because they promote blood flow to the muscle which removes lactic acid and waste buildup.
Also, increasing blood flow keeps the muscle tissues loose, so that different layers of muscle slide easily over each other. You can also reduce the amount of scar tissue while increasing flexibility and range of motion.

Stress and Pain Reduction
Possibly the best benefit that comes from a sports massage is its ability to reduce and manage stress. When you receive a sports massage, your body releases the neurotransmitters called endorphins.(3) According to Touch Research Institute endorphins are released by two centers of the brain known as the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. This release becomes a natural pain reliever. Endorphins that are released due to having a sports massage help to lessen anxiety, improve mood, provide pain relief, and enhance your overall state of wellbeing.(4)

In Conclusion
Sports massages help speed your recovery time and alleviate pulls, strains, and soreness. They have also been linked to reducing stress putting you in a better mood.

Consult a primary care physician before attempting any form of massage therapy. If your doctor advises that a massage is right for you, find a licensed massage therapist who is nationally certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork or the American Massage Therapy Association.

Sources
1) Massage Today: https://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=10712
2) American College of Sports Medicine: http://smiweb.org/
3) Touch Research Institute: http://www6.miami.edu/touch-research/AdultMassage.html
4) Prevention.com https://www.prevention.com/life/a20461789/how-massage-helps-with-depression-and-anxiety/

Sports Drinks vs Water — Which is better for you?

Fitness experts remain undecided about the effectiveness of sports drinks after exercise. Some experts believe they’re too full of sugar to do any good, while others claim they’re an effective way to replace bodily fluids lost while working out. What do we think? Well, it depends. Let’s dive deeper into what sports drinks are and let you decide what’s right for you.

Sports Drink Defined
What is defined as a sports drink? A sports drink, or “energy drink,” is any beverage meant to rehydrate, boost energy, and replenish electrolytes lost in sweating. All sports drinks contain water, sugar, salt, carbohydrates (sugar), and potassium. Some drinks contain extra ingredients (like amino acids) to help build muscle mass. (1)

Side note: Beware of the hundreds of “energy” drinks on the market. Many of those drinks claim to be sports drinks, but actually contain more sugar and caffeine than is necessary for anyone trying to lose weight through a workout.

What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are essential to ensuring that your body’s cells are working properly. In the world of nutrition, we use the word “electrolyte” to refer to minerals dissolved in the body’s fluids, creating electrically charged ions. The electrolytes that are the most important in nutrition are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. (2)

Unless you’re exercising vigorously, you lose only a few electrolytes when you sweat. Normal electrolyte loss can be replaced by drinking plenty of water and eating a balanced diet. Yet when you have a really hard workout and sweat a lot, you may lose too many electrolytes. If you are doing moderate exercise in a very hot environment, you may also lose electrolytes that can’t be replaced by drinking water alone. This is where sports drinks come in.

Since sports drinks contain sugar, they can help replenish electrolytes lost during a workout, and can also give you a boost of energy. But that doesn’t mean you should guzzle them down before and after each exercise, because like we said above, one concern with sports drinks is that they deliver unneeded calories. Some contain 150 calories, the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar.(4)

Conclusion
Experts recommend drinking up to three cups of water for every pound of weight lost while working out. But that may be difficult for some people because they don’t like drinking large quantities of water at once. So if you’re one of these people, opting for an energy or sports drink is going to lead to better hydration.

But you don’t need a sports drink to recover from a workout. Drinking water along with edible sources, like energy bars or fruit, contain just as many carbohydrates as sports drinks. If you choose this option, you can drink plain water to hydrate.

Sources:
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sports_drink
2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-are-electrolytes/
3. https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/sports-drinks-and-exercise.aspx
4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/trade-sports-drinks-for-water-201207305079

Importance of sleep after BootCampSF wakes those muscles up!

BootCampSF utilizes a wide variety of exercises resulting in a satisfying total body workout. This means you will need to take special care in training-recovery which includes getting a good night’s rest. Sleeping well after you exercise makes your muscles and tissues stronger and helps prevent fatigue and injury. Your muscles learn to adapt to training, but rest is actually when those adaptations are taking place. Plus, with adequate sleep, you’ll perform better as an athlete. And on the flip side, there is solid evidence that exercise helps you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality.

To get more out of your sleep, try these tips:

Power Down the Electronics
The glow from electronics pass through your eyes and delay the release of melatonin which is the sleep inducing hormone.

Turn In a Little Earlier
Get as many hours of sleep before midnight as you can (there’s an empirical belief that an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours of sleep after midnight).

Stretch Those Muscles
In addition to relaxing you, stretching releases built-up tension which is great before trying to get some shuteye. Stretching can help you fall asleep fast, as well as help prevent sore muscles in the morning.

Enjoy a Hot Shower
Taking a hot shower 90 minutes before bed can help you sleep better reports Men’s Fitness. After you’ve been in the hot water, your body temperature then cools down which is a signal to sleep.

Create a Sleep Routine
Get in a regular sleep-wake cycle. In other words, go to bed and wake up the same time every day. Then keep to it! When you change this pattern, even if you actually get more sleep, it can negatively affect the impact on recovery.

In Conclusion
World renowned sleep expert, Dr. Mark Rosekind, says, “There are lab studies that show that if you’re an eight-hour sleeper and you get six hours of sleep, that two-hour difference can impact your [athletic] performance so that it equates to how you would perform if you had a 0.05 blood-alcohol level.”

To get the most out of your BootCampSF workouts, the proper amount of recovery and sleep is imperative. Along with a balanced diet and our intense exercise program, getting the right amount of sleep may be the last ingredient to help you decrease body fat or increase muscle mass and strength. We suggest you strive for seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

3 Core Moves to Relieve Lower Back Pain

Did you know that lower back pain is quite common? According to a study conducted by the UNC School of Medicine, more than 80% of Americans will suffer an episode of low back pain in some time in their lives. However, there’s no need for alarm – lower back pain can be relieved and prevented by strengthening the core muscles.

Core muscles are the support system for your spine and lower back, and if the muscles are weak, your posture may be misaligned causing too much pressure to be placed on the lower back. If there is weakness in the core, hops, gluten and/or hamstrings, the body is thrown off balance and the lower back may be forced to pick up the slack.

Generally speaking, three types of lower back pain may be experienced, and may be temporary or ongoing. The first is a muscle spasm, which appears as pain that comes on suddenly. The muscles will feel ‘locked up’ so to speak, and it may be hard to move. Second is a shooting pain in the lower back and down one or both legs, indicating sciatica. There are no spasms associated with this type of pain, as a pinched nerve is normally to blame. Finally, a general aching across the entire lower back may be caused by arthritis, which is a form of inflammation, or weak muscles from a lack of activity.

One of the best low impact core strengthening exercises that can be practiced is the plank. There are many variations of the exercise, including a forearm plank, a plank done on the hands with the arms extended straight and a side plank variation. If you are new to the exercise, start with a :20 second hold and gradually increase by at least :5 seconds with each practice.

Back extensions are also an excellent way to target the core – specifically the lower back portion. The exercise may be completed on a back extension machine, but, if you’re like us, you prefer to work outside in the sunshine! We recommend lying on the ground on a mat or towel (or the grass, if you prefer) and reaching the arms and legs out as far as you can stretch. Slowly lift the arms and legs up and away from the body simultaneously and then lower back down. You’ll feel the entire back side activate to complete the exercise. These may also be referred to as the “superman” exercise.

Our third choice is the bridge, or hip raises. Lie on your back on the floor with knees bend and feet flat on the floor. Engaging the glutes and hamstrings, raise the hips up toward the sky, pausing for a few seconds before lowering back down. If you have tight hip flexors, this is an excellent stretch to practice.

And as always, keep moving! Getting a workout in at least a few times per week will help you easily increase your core strength and ease any lower back pain you may experience. Sign up for one of our classes and join the fun!

This is your Brain on Exercise: IDEA World Convention

This past week while attending the IDEA World Fitness Convention I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Dr. Terry Eckmann a professor from Minot State University in North Dakota. In many ways her lecture was very self-gratifying for those of us that work in fitness:  exercise is good for you and it’s good for your brain. We feel this intrinsically, right? As in, it’s obvious to us because we feel this in palpable ways:  we feel more refreshed, awake and are able to focus after a fantastic, butt-kicking, morning workout. But delving into the science of this matter is helpful because it provides legitimacy to these things that we think are simply feelings or nice side effects to exercise, when in fact there is some pretty powerful stuff going on in your head!

Quick Facts About the Human Brain

*The average brain weighs 3 to 4 pounds; or on average, 2% of your body weight.

*The average brain consumes 20% of your body’s energy.

*The average brain uses 1/5 of your body’s oxygen.

In terms of these quick facts, some interesting things to note are that 20% of your daily energy supply (essentially your calorie intake) is used by your brain, even though it’s only about 2% of your body weight. Food for thought, indeed!

30-minutes of Consistent Moderate to Vigorous Aerobic Activity has the following effects on the brain:

*Stimulates BDNF, which causes neurons to fire more efficiently. BDNF = Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factors.

*Increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus. I.e. you generate new neurons.

*Gets oxygen and glucose to the brain faster.

*Repetitive gross motor movement strengthens dendritic branching. The more branching there is, the more communication there is between these brain cells. In the end, you have a more “active” brain.

*Reduces obesity (obese persons have twice the risk of dementia).

*Improves mood and elevates stress threshold (i.e., things don’t bother us as much).

*Balances brain chemicals and system functions.

*Prepares the brain for optimal learning.

Exercise also increases levels of key neurotransmitters and neurotrophic factors, specifically:  dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and BDNF.

Dr. Eckmann told us that in many ways, BDNF is “miracle grow” for your brain. And the good news is that all the research shows that exercise increases BDNF and in studies, it continued to increase even after 90 days, which is amazing, as we all assumed that it would plateau at some point. Dr. Eckmann suggested that there hasn’t been distinct research into figuring out when increased BDNF production does plateau.

I walked out of her lecture focusing on a few things, but mainly my thoughts revolved around our motivations to exercise:  sometimes you may not see the precise results in your body that you are looking for. It can be a let down when your abs are not perfect. Maybe you are gunning for a sub 2:00 hour half-marathon and you’re on your 3rd attempt. But, this lecture caused me to focus on the reasons to keep yourself motivated even if you haven’t met those aesthetic or performance goals yet, that is, that your body is responding to the hard work that you are putting in out there, it may just not always be as fast to work in the areas that we want to see it (to be clear, we know you can meet those aesthetic and performance goals, too, with a little time and hard work).

We may not be able to see the changes happening in our noggins, but all this research shows us that it’s happening. And that, my friends, is as a good a reason to get out of bed and show up for your workout as any that I can think of.

P.S. If you’re interested in Dr. Eckmann’s resources, she has an extensive list of the research articles she referenced/utilized in her lecture that is simply longer than is practical to include in this post. If you’re interested in receiving this information, please just give us a shout!