Friday, December 11, 2009

Ice Ice Baby

Anyone who knows anything about acute injuries has heard of the RICE acronym, that is, rest, ice, compress and elevate. Ladies and gentleman I am here to tell you there is a reason you’ve had RICE crammed down your throat (pun intended). RICE works. This is why.

Rest- Rest is arguably the most important factor in the RICE acronym. Rest allows the body time for inflammation cycles to carry out healing. There is however a misconception that rest means immobilization. This is incorrect. Rest means avoiding serious trauma while trying to maintain/improve soft tissue quality and not losing range of motion in any affected joints. Take an ankle sprain for example, if the ankle is completely immobilized for long periods of time not only will the body’s natural compensatory responses be choked out, atrophy will being to take place in the uninjured connective tissue. This of course leads to an even weaker joint, and a longer recovery time.

Ice- Many athletes have terrible memories of being forced to sit in 30 degree ice tubs after football practice, but I can assure you, ice used properly is your friend. It’s not exactly immerging science that ice helps swelling go down. Ice acts as a local vasoconstrictor which limits blood flow (inflammation) to the site of application.

Compress- Compression is another method used to reduce swelling, and it’s not very complicated. Any 4th grader who watched Bill Nye The Science Guy understands that fluid takes the path of least resistance. Compression on the injured site resists your body’s acute injury response to send gratuitous amounts of blood to the injury site.

Elevation- Whether it’s on the basketball court or in the Physics lecture hall, I have always hated gravity. What’s to like about an invisible force that limits you from doing just about every cool thing there is to do on this planet. In the case of acute injuries however, gravity it your friend. When you raise your injured limb above your heart gravity will cause less blood flow to enter the injured area. Pretty cool right? Gravity, I guess you’re not that bad…

While this isn’t anything ground breaking information I hope this post will serve as a clear and concise explanation of how to treat acute injuries. The best way to avoid inflammation is to not get injured but if you simply must sprain your ankle RICE is the way to go.

-Will Hawkins

Sunday, December 6, 2009

UFC Periodization

This is something I typed up for my Clinical Exercise Prescriptions class. It goes into the basics of periodization, in a humorous way, and points out that periodization should be applied to more than just an athletes workout, but there lifestyle in general. The premise of the essay is I am writing a training program for my self to fight BJ Penn for the UFC Welterweight title.
When developing a periodized program for me to fight in the UFC for the Welterweight title, I first looked at my specific needs (other than an act of God), and what energy systems my greatest needs fit into. In order to uncover my specific needs I subjected myself to a barrage of tests. First test was V02 Max. I have had six V02 Max tests run on me in the last six months (one would be sufficient) and I recorded the average result. Additionally I performed a Functional Movement Screen (FMS) on myself and recorded my score. I also performed a five repetition max test on bench press, squat, and dead lift. From these tests I have come to the conclusion that my biggest need for improvement is in my VO2 max but this must be accomplished without losing any anaerobic power (2).
Test Results

V02 Max 56 ml*kg*min

FMS 16/21

Bench 5-rep max 225 lbs.

Squat 5-rep max 300 lbs.

Dead lift 5-rep max 275 lbs.

While a of 56 is decent it’s not good enough to maintain peak performance for three, five minute long rounds .The best way to increase my VO2 is to integrate aerobic conditioning into every facet of my training. I would structure my grappling, and striking sessions to have an aerobic capacity building emphasis. While this is pretty effective for most, why stop there. If I’m going to have a chance at beating B.J Penn in a fight, I would need to employ some “experimental tactics” as well as an act of God. For this I turn to Hypoxia training.
Hypoxia training is essentially training in an oxygen depleted environment to attempt to cause cardio respiratory adaptation. This can be legally accomplished one of three ways. One can either train at high altitude, train in a hypobaric chamber/room, or wear some type of devise that inhibits oxygen intake. Some fighters train with their noses plugged while wearing a modified scuba snorkel in their mouth to accomplish this. According to the February, 2007 Journal of Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, this type of training can lead to, “significant increase in the ventilatory anaerobic threshold (p<0.05). Significant increases (p<0.05) in pulmonary ventilation, tidal volume, respiratory frequency, O2 uptake, CO2 output and ventilatory equivalents to oxygen (VE/Vo2) and carbon dioxide (VE/C02) were observed at the ventilatory threshold and within the transitional zone of the curves.” All these results can be coupled with gains in anaerobic strength if properly integrated into a free weight circuit. In training to fight in the UFC this would be the only type of weight lifting I would do (1).
Because my specialty is grappling there are a host of needs that come with that. The greatest needs of a grappler are a good strong core, excellent hip and T-Spine mobility and full body strength. The full body strength requirement would be met by the free weight circuit training, but some other specific workouts would be necessary to attain core strength and hip/T-spine mobility. For increasing T-spine mobility I would do a plethora of rotational exercises with a fixed pelvis causing the mobility to come from my T-Spine rather than L-Spine. For increasing hip mobility I would focus primarily on the abductors and the glute complex. These are huge muscles that are underdeveloped in most athletes. The awesome part about that is you can accomplish increasing hip mobility while you are teaching your CNS to fire these huge muscles more effectively.
In addition to knowing what fighters need to train, one must also know when they need to train. The most important thing is that you are in your peak conditioning during the fight. When it comes to periodization there are two basic models; linear and daily undulating. Linear models (like the one required for this project) are great if the fighter didn’t have a strength coach he could consult daily, but the linear model isn’t as good as the daily undulating model. The daily undulating model takes into account lots of different factors and is better suited for change in the case of injuries or any other type of unexpected stressor. Both models do agree on one thing however; the need to taper off the week leading up to the fight. The week leading up to the fight is supposed to be skill’s work only.
In addition to periodizing a workout regamine; nutrition, hydration levels and amount of sleep are extremely important. These topics are worthy of papers of their own but I will try to sum up there importance in one paragraph each.
When it comes to Nutrition I believe the Paleo Diet is best for fighters. The paleo diet is derived from the word “Paleolithic” which refers to the Stone Age. The diet was made popular by Dr. Lauren Cordain's book entitled "The Paleo Diet." The paleo diet is essentially the diet of a Stone Age caveman. "The Paleo Diet" book sites that because the genetic makeup of the human body has changed only .02% over the last 40,000 years why should our diet change? The diet preaches that all the food you consume should be in its most natural form (fish from the ocean not from a farm) and non processed fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. The Paleo diet is very high in protein, due to proteins believed ability to increase insulin sensitivity which helps keep you feeling full. All of the science behind the paleo diet is pretty heavy into evolutionary biology. Dr. Cordain even says in his book that. "I didn't design the diet, nature did." This diet has recently received a lot of attention through the rise of crossfit, which many UFC fighters use as their training regimen (5).
Another thing that must be accomplished to achieve greater fitness as well as general health is maintaining proper hydration levels. The need for proper hydration in UFC fighters is magnified by the fact that most fighters train in extremely hot rooms. The Journal of Biochemistry and Physiology published an article entitled, “Nutritional Needs for Exercise in Heat”, that explains how this problem is fixed. This article sites that athletes should hydrate well prior to the workout, drink as much as they comfortably can during the workout, then drink as much as they can after the workout and make sure they intake sufficient quantities of all four electrolytes. If athletes don’t rehydrate after workouts there body will stay in a catabolic state, and can experience cell damage due to increased free radical production (3).
Sleep is by far the most important part of recovery, and possibly also the most abused. Athletes tend to turn that all around once they find out that human growth hormone (HGH) the same hormone many athletes illegally inject themselves with is naturally let off in your body while you sleep (5). This HGH is essential for proper musculoskeletal recovery. Sleep is also necessary to maintain a healthy immune system, and this will go a long way to help a fighter (4).
While periodization is very important it obviously can’t make up for the talent discrepancy between BJ Penn and I. Most athletes are however surprised when they receive their first periodized program and see what they’ve been missing out on. Science doesn’t lie. Sometimes your body needs to work in overdrive and sometimes your body needs rest. Often only the knowledge of a trained professional can differentiate between these times to that’s why proper periodization is so important. It truly can set apart a winner from a loser.
-Will Hawkins

1. Miguel, Casas. "Intermittent hypobaric hypoxia induces altitude acclimation and improves the lactate threshold.." Journal of Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine 71.2 (2000): 125-30. Print.
2. Sanders, Michael, and Jose Antonio. "Strength and Conditioning for Submission Fighting." Strength and Conditioning Journal 21.5 (1999): 42. Print.
3. Burk, Louise. "Nutritional needs for exercise in the heat." Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 128.4 (2001): 735-48. Print.
4. Yutaka, Honda. "Growth Hormone Secretion During Nocturnal Sleep in Normal Subjects." Journal of Indocrinology and Metabolism 29.2 (1969): 20-29. Print.
5. Cordain, Loren. The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat. New York, NY: Wiley, 2002. Print.