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Archive for the ‘Exercises’ Category

Speaking of Shin Splints

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

shinsplintsWhat are Shin Splints?
Shin splints symptoms can include pain over the inside lower half of the leg. There can be pain at the start of running which often eases as it continues. This pain often returns after activity and may be at its worse the next morning. (TRUE!!) Sometimes you may get some swelling or lumps and may be felt when feeling the inside of the shin bone. Pain when the toes or foot are bent downwards can also be a symptom and although not common, a redness over the inside of the shin may occur.
Common Causes:
Understanding what causes shin splints can help you treat and prevent them from happening in the future. One of the most common causes is inflammation of the periosteum of the tibia– a dense connective tissue covering the shin bone or tibia. Traction forces on the periosteum from the muscles of the lower leg cause shin pain and inflammation.
Too much impact to the lower legs: If you are a the “heal strike ” type of runner ( a midfoot-strike style gait and then running on your forefoot)
the repetitive shock of your heels hitting the ground will irritate the fascia(tissue) in the muscles of your lower legs, especially your shins. When the fascia becomes irritated or inflamed you’ll feel discomfort in your shins that could worsen over time if no correction is made.
Here are some of the most common causes of shin splints:

  • Overpronation of the feet
  • Improper worn out footwear
  • Increasing training too fast
  • Running on hard surfaces
  • Decreased flexibility at the ankle
  • Heavy heal striking
  • Extended downhill running
Treatment?

R.I.C.E! (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
Resting is an important part in all aspects of training because you are allowing your muscles time to recover. Keeping your shins compressed enhances blood flow through your legs and to your muscles to help restore the damage.
Shin stretches is an excellent way to strengthen and treat shin splints. Here are a few good one:
1. Toe walks are a great help. Try to get on the tips of your toes and walk around for 30 seconds at a time, walk normal for 30 seconds and get back on your tips of your toes.
2. Walking on your heels. This one is a little tougher to do but the more your legs get used to it, then it will ease the shin pain.
3. Spelling out the alphabet with your toes is an excellent exercise to do.

3 metabolic pathways

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

energy-systemsI was chatting w/ an athlete on the crossfit floor yesterday and casually mentioned which metabolic pathway today’s WOD was targeting.  Rightfully, she looked at me as if I had 3 heads and then I realized I was time for a little science lesson.

There are 3 metabolic pathways that provide energy for all human action. There is the phosphagen pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway.

The phosphagen pathway provides fuel for the highest powered activities, those that last less than 10 seconds.  An example would be performing a power clean.  The glycolytic pathway takes over for moderate-powered activities, those that last up to around 2 minutes.  Think 400 meter sprint.  Finally, the oxidative (aerobic) pathway is used for activities that last longer than a few minutes.   Running a mile would greatly utilize this pathway.

CrossFit training combines and develops all 3 metabolic pathways.   A common fault in training is to focus your efforts on just 1 or 2 of these metabolic pathways.   This is usually due to personal preference or comfort level, but by doing so your fitness is greatly diminished.

So there you have it, CrossFit’s 3 Standards of Fitness, as outlined in the Article “What is Fitness?” by Greg Glassman.  If you are currently doing CrossFit , congratulations, you are getting more fit by the day.  If you are NOT think about how your fitness level would benefit greatly from adjusting your training and/or activities to be in line with these standards.

Let’s talk Tabata

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

tabata-2-300x174“So what exactly is Tabata and why is it called that?”

Well, the story starts with the Japanese Olympic Speed Skating Team. In 1996 team trainer and scientist Izumi Tabata conducted a study analyzing the effectiveness of a specific High Intensity Training program that the head coach had developed specifically for his athletes. The team was divided into different groups. The first group trained on ergonomic cycles at moderate intensity for one hour, five days per week, for a total of six weeks. The second group completed four-minute, high-intensity workouts on ergonomic cycles four days per week for a total of six weeks. The program that group two followed is what has come to be known as Tabata training:

Eight rounds

One round: 20 seconds of ‘all-out’ work, followed by 10 seconds of rest

Tabata describes the desired intensity of work at around 170% of an athlete’s VO2 max—their maximum rate of oxygen consumption. At the conclusion of the six weeks of training, Tabata found that group two had experienced a 28% increase in their anaerobic capacity, as well as a 14% increase in their VO2 max. When summarizing the effect of the study and the HIIT program, Tabata writes that

“moderate-intensity aerobic training that improves the maximal aerobic power does not change anaerobic capacity and that adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems significantly, probably through imposing intensive stimuli on both systems”.

This was a significant finding, as most authorities had regarded the two pathways—and training for them—as compartmentalized. Aerobic training was largely long slow distance (LSD) work, and anaerobic training was typically regarded as some hard-to-measure dark component left to the explosion sports.

Dr. Tabata examined several different protocols but settled on eight sets of twenty-second work intervals alternating with ten-second rest intervals as the most effective interval times for improving VO2 max. In the original study the intervals were performed at a quantifiable 170 percent of VO2 max. (Just think max effort.) In the field, where measurements are more subjective, the effort should be such that on the eighth set the trainee is nearing exhaustion. In the original study, the test subjects doing 4-minute “Tabata” intervals saw greater VO2 max improvement than the control group that did 60-minute sessions of moderate-intensity exercise.

Dr. Tabata’s research tested subjects on stationary bikes, but in the CrossFit world his protocol is applied to all variety of functional movements. The Tabata protocol is applied to exercises including squats, pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, rowing, and, in my practice, dumbbell moves. We generally score Tabata intervals based on the lowest number of reps completed in any one of the eight twenty -second work intervals.

Benefits

Tabata training increases the metabolism and heart rate immediately, the ability to produce work will lower as you go through the sessions.  The body will burn fat for up to 24 hours, because the metabolism will stay at the high levels after the workout.  Tabata training will increase cardiovascular fitness as well as core and strength gains depending on the workout.  It is a fast paced exercise routine that is very time efficient, all you need is 4 minutes.

Also, these high-intensity efforts produce this dramatic aerobic benefit without the muscle wasting brought about by endurance training.

Risks

  • The Tabata routine is not for beginners, it is easy for the intensity to become overwhelming for beginners.
  • There is a greater risk of injuries since it is high impact exercise.
  • Muscles fatigue quickly, that could lead to mental fatigue and depleted motivation.

Typical Tabata workouts (try a new one):

  • Push up (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Body Weight Squats (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Medicine Ball throw downs (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Jumping rope (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Mountain Climbers (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Sit ups (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Sprints (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Stairs (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Bench press (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Calf raisers (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)

Want better lifts? Here are 5 muscle groups stretches that can help

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

1. Gastrocs
Power lifts can suffer is your calves are tight.  Often people have difficulty squatting all the way down while keeping their heels on the ground.  Try to catch a max clean or snatch with your weight on your toes, you’ll fall forward.  Tight calves ulitamely limit your ankles natural ability to dorsiflex.  When this happens, your knee often is forced to thrust over the foot to put the ankle in a dorsiflexed-like position.  Whether it’s lifting or running, having your knees over your toes isn’t a good thing for the knee.
The Stretch: It’s as simple as putting your toes and ball of your foot against a wall or curb with your heel on the ground.  Lean forward and feel the stretch in the calf.  You can also get a lacrosse ball for pressure point work on the calf.  While sitting on the ground, put the ball on a block and put your calf on top of the ball.  It’s good to use a block in order to elevate the ball off the ground or else your heel will hit the ground and prevent you from getting good pressure on the ball.
2. Quads
When lowering towards the ground during a squat or lunge, the quadricep muscles are lengthening.  When they are tight you might feel  discomfort in the front of the knee.  This can affect your ability to get low enough for Rx squats, thrusters, wall balls, etc.  It could also cause you to alter your motion in an effort to compensate for the tightness or discomfort that you might be feeling in the knee.  In the long term, the compensatory movements can cause injuries to other body parts due to the improper biomechanics.
One of the quadriceps, rectus femoris, attaches to the front of your pelvic bone.  Tightness in the rectus femoris can cause a forward tilt of the pelvis to occur.  This increases the arch in the low back.  If the pelvis is tilted forward, then everything above it (ie. your entire upper body) will also have a slight forward lean when you squat.  How many people have difficulty keeping their weight back and chest up when doing squats?
The Stretch:  The simple way is to stand up while holding onto something for balance, then pull the heel of one foot to your butt cheek.  We’ve all done this at some point in our lives.  The better way to attack the quads is to roll them on a foam roller or if you really don’t mind pain, a lacrosse ball.  You will be surprised at some of the spots that you find.  Work through them.
3. Iliopsoas (hip flexors)
Tight hip flexors can create a slew of issues in the body.   The iliopsoas is actually two muscles (iliacus and psoas) that come together as one and attach to the top of the femur, the inside of the pelvis, and to the vertebrae in the lower mid-back region.  The muscle is shortened when the hip is in a flexed position, which can be anything from doing toes to bar or just sitting in a chair.  Ever feel low back pain or tightness while standing up after sitting for a period of time?  Then it’s time  to stretch the hip flexors.
Stretching the hip flexors will benefit your power lifts and Olympic lifts.  When you clean, deadlift, or snatch your hips are starting in a totally flexed position.  Then you need to quickly, especially in the case of the clean and snatch, extend the low back and hips in order to generate momentum while lifting the bar off the ground.  You already have enough working against you in the weight on the bar and gravity.  You don’t need tightness in the hip flexors slowing down your ability to extend the hips as fast as possible.  Neurologically speaking, stretching the hip flexors may be even more important than just the shear anatomical effect.  Briefly stretch the hip flexors, right before a max deadlift causes reciprocal inhibition of the hip extensors.  In other words, if I stretch the hip flexors, then I’m better enabling the hip extensors to do their job.  I’m making sure that my glutes are ready to work as efficiently as they can for this one heavy rep.
The Stretch: Place one knee on the ground, place the opposite foot pretty far in front of you with that knee bent.  Have something next to you to hold onto for balance.  If you have to use your muscles to balance, then you won’t be able to get the best stretch possible.  This isn’t meant to be a yoga pose.  Lean your weight forward onto your front leg.  KEEP YOUR CHEST UP!  Don’t bend forward.  You’re trying to stretch the hip flexor so bending forward will not allow full extension of the hip flexor.  You should feel the stretch in the front of the hip of the leg that is on the ground.  When all else fails, grab the trusty lacrosse ball.  Lay on your stomach with the ball under you, just inside the pelvic bone.  Move around a little until you find the spot.
4. Hamstrings
Tight hamstrings can really affect hip mobility.  Lack of hip mobility can prevent athletes successfully completing their lifts. Tight hamstrings can also make it difficult to do other exercises like toes to bar, as well as affect your running.  Hamstrings are also important when it comes to hip extension so you might as well have them working optimally when trying to use them with the deadlift, snatch, and clean.
The Stretch:  There You can do it sitting or standing.  One leg at a time or both.  You can even lay on your back.  When laying on your back, it’s beneficial to  use a band to help get the most out of it.  Wrap a band around the ball of the foot and pull your leg up with the band try to keep your knee straight.  This will make sure that the hamstring is fully lengthened and with time the range will improve.
5. Pecs
Let’s take a look at your overhead squat.  Are you having trouble keeping your chest up?  When the pecs are tight, the shoulders can round forward, the mid back can have difficulty extending, and the upper back muscles can be weakened.  All of this leads to it being almost impossible to do an overhead or even a decent front squat.

The Stretch:  1. Lacrosse ball of course.  Lay on the stomach, arm out to your side, ball under the pec, and well OUCH!

2. Stretch on the wall or with a band.   It’s not the best angle for the shoulder joint to have your arm going straight back, parallel to the ground..  Instead, raise the arm at a 45 degree angle.  Place your hand against the wall or grab the band and then turn away.  The more you turn or the closer you stand to the wall, the better the stretch.  A 45 degree angle also allows the muscle fibers of the pec to travel in one continuous path as they go from the sternum up to the humerus, rather than making a last second turn.  Just try both and you’ll see what I mean.

Let’s talk about Rest days.

Friday, November 7th, 2014

rest-daysWhether your training involves running, swimming, biking or weight lifting, chances are the program you’re following specifies one or more ‘rest’ days each week.
Rest days are important to your fitness and training goals. They reduce your risk of injury. They help prevent over-training syndrome. They keep you from getting bored with your program. They can get you through plateaus. But the most important reason to include a day or two of rest in your weekly training schedule is because it is those days between grueling workouts when muscle repair and growth occur.
Rest days make you faster, stronger and better the next time you hit the trail, pool, road or gym.  I’m going to let that sink for a moment, and then say it again. :)
Rest days make you faster, stronger and better the next time you hit the trail, pool, road or gym.
But what does rest mean? Getting more sleep? Maybe, if you’re workouts are fatiguing you. Less activity than on a training day? Possibly. Sitting on the couch watching daytime television? Certainly not (as if any of you have time for that)!
I like to think of the days I purposely don’t go to the gym as ‘active rest‘ days. While I’m ‘resting‘ from my formal exercise routine, I still find some way to be ‘active‘. A walk with my kids,  maybe hike mt tam, or  spend a few minutes on my skateboard. Family skate night is a fun event in my house (in line skating of coarse!) Apple picking and even housework (not my personal favorite, but it does need to be done occasionally…).
You’re still burning calories on the days between your workouts (especially if your program includes metabolic intervals), but you’re not taxing your body in the same way you do when you train.
The trick to successfully incorporating rest days into your training schedule is to plan them. You might choose a ‘three day on-one day off’ schedule or a’ five day on-two day off’ schedule. The key here is that the rest day was planned (as opposed to those days when you get up and skip a workout because you just don’t feel like working out).

My children’s and work schedule often dictates which day of the week I’ll stay away from the gym, However,  I do prefer to take a rest day after a heavy squat day; for some reason, heavy squats exhausts me and makes me less energetic in the gym the following morning.

Amd now I want to fit yoga into my active rest day that will most likely include visits with Stephanie Ring.

Work hard, rest harder!

Minor knee pain? Give your knee a minor break.

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Our knee’s take a pounding!  Between box jumps, running and even burpees sometimes our knees just need a break. If your knee acts up occasionally but the pain is temporary or slight try a few of these alternatives. If your knee is swollen, and there’s significant pain with pressure then it might be time to see a professional.

Movement: Jumping Exercises
Modification: Kettlebell Swings
Here’s why: If one jumping exercise causes you knee pain, then most will until you heal. If you still want an exercise that involves explosive movement and works many of the same muscles, go with kettlebell swings.

Movement: Step-Ups
Modification: Bulgarian Split Squats
Here’s why: Along with your quadriceps split squats work the posterior chain.  Focusing too much on quad exercises without posterior chain workouts can lead to knee issues, so split squats are a great way to balance the upper leg and prevent knee pain. Make sure the weight in your front foot is on your heel, not your toes.
Movement: Squats
Modification: Barbell Box Squats
Here’s why: Box squats could be a good temporary option because it trains your shins to stays vertical and your weight is naturally shifted farther back onto your heels instead of too far forward putting your knees at risk.
Movement: Running
Modification: Sled Push or Sled Pull
Here’s why: Working with a sled slows down all the movements you’d normally employ running, while reducing the shock of pounding pavement.  You’ll activate the same muscles, and sled exercises will give you a great cardio workout. (thanks again Martin!)


Adult Gymnastics - Why We All Should Do It

Friday, September 5th, 2014

joe_w

The benefits of gymnastics has been shown time and time again. I have been coaching the sport for over 10 years, in addition to being a collegiate competitive gymnast. I strongly believe in the benefits of doing this sport for all ages, but this article will focus on adult gymnastics.
Most people over 25 believe that they are too old to start gymnastics. Many people believe that 15 is too old to start gymnastics. This is a ridiculous notion. 15, or 25 might be too late to start gymnastics if the intent is to become an Olympic competitor, but it is never too late to gain the benefits from practicing this sport. Gymnastics will improve performance in any other sport, as well as improving overall fitness and functional strength to a level that most people never attain.

Doctors are finally coming to realize and publicly acknowledge the long term benefits to resistance training. Studies have shown that resistance training improves joint health, maintains muscular development and improves cardiovascular fitness. This is true for all ages. Gymnastics is all about resistance training. The conditioning involved in a progressive gymnastics program focuses on functional strength. Elite gymnasts strength to weight ratios are second to none. This is what enables elite gymnasts to perform skills that appear to be humanly impossible. While some of these moves might be out of reach for most people, with a focused gymnastics conditioning program most adults will be stronger than they have ever been. Not only will this conditioning enable anyone to perform moves that will make most 17 year olds gape in amazement, but it will also help prevent injuries.

Stretching and flexibility is an area that is sadly lacking from most fitness programs. The 2 to 3 minutes spent stretching before a class is simply not enough. Being flexible allows for greater joint mobility, improves circulation and helps to prevent joint injury. There is a strong focus on flexibility in gymnastics. Most gymnastics skills are greatly benefited by flexibility and others are simply impossible without the proper flexibility. Gymnastics stretching is also taught by people who really understand how to improve flexibility quickly and safely. Gymnasts are among the most flexible athletes in the world. As people age their flexibility tends to decrease. This is generally due to a lack of stretching and physical activity rather than simply a result of aging. If flexibility is trained throughout ones life a high degree of flexibility can be maintained.

A few points that must be considered when starting gymnastics as an adult. First is that it is difficult. Adults have few if any advantages over a five year old child starting this sport, and many disadvantages. Adults will start out with basic skills, and must be patient in learning new skills. One of the biggest hindrances I’ve seen in coaching adult gymnastics is that many adults are embarrassed watching 9 year old kids that are significantly better than them at the sport. The kids fully understand, because they went through it as well. There is nothing to be hesitant about. Everyone in that gym has been through the basics. Second is an awareness of safe progressions. Adults do have a higher risk of injury then children in the sport. This is due to larger body size. A 180 lb adult will hit the floor with a lot more force than a 60 lb child. Even though the adult has more muscle mass to buffer the impact the possibility for injury is increased. Secondly adults recover slower than children. Proper progressions and a focus on safety is critical. One of my prodigies in my adult class is a fellow who started gymnastics at the young age of 46. He has now been doing gymnastics for 3 years, and has transformed. He is in the best shape of his life, and can perform skills that were not even conceivable 2 years ago. A point to the benefits of his doing gymnastics. About 5 months ago he received a 2 point separation in his shoulder skiing. The doctors tell him that had his shoulder not been as strong as it is the injury would have been far worse. Not only was the injury itself minimized, but his recovery has been tremendous. With gymnastics training focused around the injury he is back to full capacity, and improving again.

I’ve saved the best, and most important factor in starting adult gymnastics for last. It is fun. Learning how to tumble, flip, swing, and come as close to self powered flight as is possible is a blast. Gymnastics is anything but boring. There is always another step to learn. It is possible to learn something new every single class or workout that is attended.

If you are an adult and think you are “too old” to start. Think again. Check our schedule,  find some friends and come have some fun!

This Week In The Cave

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

img_78601Welcome!
Fall always brings back familiar faces, but we get to meet new ones too!  The CAVE would like to extend a very warm welcome to all our new families.  We’re excited to have you all as part of our family and we look forward to building deeper community together while having lots of fun!
New Classes
Do you have a middle schooler?  We’ve added 2 new Youth Strength and Conditioning classes, Tuesdays or Thursdays at 3:30pm.  It’s the perfect time of day, right after school, get a workout in before settling into the business of homework!  To sign up, e-mail Dana@inthecave.com or call The CAVE at (415) 927.1630.

CrossFit Day at The Oakland A’s

Come join the fun with The CAVE family at an Oakland A’s game on Sunday, September 7th, 2014!  There’s still time to sign up! Experience the A’s first ever CrossFit Day in our special Field Level seating area. All participants will receive an exclusive A’s CrossFit Day t-shirt and admission to the pre-game WOD where a group of northern California’s top CrossFit® athletes will compete. We also may see one of our own athletes compete in the pre-game WOD!We know now that the pre-game WOD will include Neal Maddox, Wes Piatt, Gabe Subry, Margaux Alvarez, Chyna Cho, Ben Alderman, Miranda Oldroyd and Camille Leblanc. If our gym has one of the top 20 most people attending, we get to pick a person to compete in the WOD with them!

Fitness Goals

Now that the kids are back in school, it’s time to think about YOUR fitness goals and how the staff at The CAVE can help you achieve them. Are you curious about CrossFit? E-mail our CrossFit Director BO@inthecave.com with your questions. Do you want to know more about our Yoga classes? Please e-mail Stephanie at Steph@inthecave.com.  While your kids are in their classes, you can take one too!

The CAVE is Hiring
Do you love working with kids?  The CAVE is hiring new gymnastics and parkour coaches and we’re looking for exceptional people that are great with children! If interested, please see the full job description posted here: http://www.inthecave.com/about/jobs.
Let’s keep in touch!
Have you liked us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram? These two tools are great ways to stay in touch with the latest in what’s happening in the CAVE and some great pictures of what we’re up too!  Check us out!

WOD Recovery Yoga Why You Should Do it

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

As athletes, we are constantly looking for new ways to both improve performance and prevent injuries. We have found unique techniques to keep the muscles loose — utilizing a lacrosse ball to massage out deep knots, or stretch with bands to distract the joint and increase mobility. While all of these tools are necessary parts of a CrossFitter’s daily training plan, simple stretching is often overlooked and certainly underutilized.

WOD Recovery Yoga was developed by our on-staff yoga teacher and avid CrossFitter, Stephanie Ring. Teaching athletes yoga is her passion. This love of teaching yoga combined with her first hand knowledge of CrossFit inspired her to create a specific type of class geared directly toward the post workout needs of these athletes. Her anatomical knowledge of CrossFit movements combined with her in depth knowledge of yoga postures and sequencing, provides the athlete with specific and targeted stretches and sequencing to help unwind, stretch and mobilize those places in the body that need it most.

Still need more convincing? Here are 5 simple reasons to try WOD Recovery Yoga:

1. Involves less thinking, more stretching

2. Targets muscles specifically worked during WOD

3. Stretches muscles multiple times during class to release tension and improve flexibility

4. Increases body awareness

5. Slows down the body and mind to aid in recovery

WOD Recovery Yoga

Monday and Thursday   10:00-11:00am

Can’t make that time? Private instruction and semi-private classes are available.


Yoga is coming to the Cave!

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

steph_ring-591.jpgThe Cave is excited to announce 2 new Yoga classes expertly instructed by Stephanie Ring.

Wednesday 12-1pm Athletic Vinyasa Flow:

Athletic Vinyasa Flow is a fast paced yoga class designed to challenge athletes and yogis physically and mentally. Each class will focus on strength, core stability, flexibility and postures to help improve overall athletic performance.

Monday and Thursday 10am-11amWOD Recovery Yoga (Post CrossFit Yoga):

WOD Recovery Yoga (Post CrossFit Yoga)introduces athletes to another form of movement designed to improve their WOD performance and overall fitness. Each class will include poses and transitions to improve performance in 5 of the 10 general physical skills crucial to overall fitness: Flexibility, Coordination, Agility, Balance and Accuracy. Classes will be sequenced to improve mobility in foundational movements like squats and designed to help unwind the body from previous workouts.

Private and Semi Privates

Available for private instruction Monday through Saturday. Email steph@inthecave.com to set up appointment for private or semi private yoga classes.

Stephanie Ring, creator of Endure Yoga, is an athlete who absolutely loves yoga.

She created Endure Yoga to help athletes improve their athletic performance. This is a specialized yoga system in which yoga classes are specifically designed around the athlete and their specific goals and the type of physical activity that they are pursuing. Classes help to maintain flexibility and fitness and mirror the builds, recovery and taper periods in a training season.