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Readers Question: When to stretch?

In the gym, we always stretch after the lesson. I have also heard that you just have to stretch before exercising, or after warming up. What is the best?

-Merel

Mark Chen, Physiotherapist:

There is a lot of discussion about stretching. For years scientific research has been done to establish the value of stretching before, during and after training. Yet there is still little clarity about what the best way of stretching is and when it can best be done.

In addition, there are also a lot different of ways to stretch, for example static, active or dynamic. All there own strengths for different goals. So the most important question is: what do you want to achieve with the stretching?

The main reason for stretching is relaxation or restoring the resting tension of the muscle. This is often done after training because it has a soothing effect on the muscles. Especially static stretching is suitable for this. Often a light stretch is maintained for a longer period (more than 30 seconds).

To get ready for training, you can actively or dynamically stretch as warming up. This way, you prepare the muscles for a work to come.

Stretching is an important part of a complete training, but is an art in itself. Choosing the right version, maintaining good technique and breathing are all important conditions for your results. So consult your instructor or coach once and see where you can improve.

Hope that helps!

 

Mark

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Episode 4: Self testing the Front-line

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The Power of Personal Standards (RSD Video)

A lot of people simply do not have standards
Don’t let yourself off the hook
Say I’m going to examine myself
And have standards and say
“I’m F*cking pathetic for what I’m doing right now”
NOT having your health handled
NOT having the type of dating life you want
NOT having the type of sex life you want
NOT living in a situation you’re comfortable in
Use the negative emotions from saying “that’s pathetic” to focus your mind
If you’re a person who has his shit together you’re a role model to others
you’re able to bring value, a calming energy, people will actually listen to you
Make yourself strong first.
When you’re taking action,
That’s your criteria for success

 

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Episode 3: Recovering From Injury

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Myth Busted: Muscle vs. Fat

Pictures like the one featured perform very well in social media. They’re also a standard argument for when clients encounter a bit of a plateau when it comes to weight loss. “muscle weighs more than fat”.
Which would indicate that you’re still making progress even though it doesn’t show up on the scale.

Although it’s true that you can make progress without it being visible on the scale , the difference in size/weight is often heavily exaggerated.

In pictures like this one, it seems like fat takes up about 5 times more space than muscle in terms of size. This would mean that muscle is about 5x heavier than fat if the size is the same. But is that really true?

The mass of tissue can be expressed in a volume unit such as the cubic centimeter (cm3).  Water is 1 gram per cm3, while a muscle weighs 1.06 grams per cm3 (UrbanChecka M 2001). Fat mass has a weight of 0.9 grams per cm3 and would, therefore, stay afloat. In ascending order we would rank fat, water and finally muscle mass. Muscles are at most a fifth (20%)  heavier than fat, not 500 percent, as the picture suggests. The picture below would be a more accurate representation of the actual relationship. But that’s not as spectacular as the fake version of course  😉

 

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Readers Question: Noisy knees

When I squat, my left knee makes all kinds of noise. And not once, but really a series in a row. It does not really hurt, but I’m worried. And it’s just not a nice sound. Do you have any idea what this can be?

– Menno

Mark Chen, Physiotherapist

Sounds in joints are very common and exist in various forms, for example, there’s “snaps”,”pops” and “cracks”. Sometimes they are a one-time thing but they can also be constant, as you describe in your question. I can immediately reassure you; 90% of all knees crack, and as long as there is no pain, there is no clinical value. This rule of thumb applies to all sounds joints make.

The knee is a bit special when it comes to sound-making and that is mainly due to the kneecap. Visualise the kneecap as a kind of boat, which lies in the bony groove of the upper leg. There’s cartilage between the kneecap and the femur for smooth movement.

If both surfaces are smooth, there would probably never be any sounds. But that’s not how it works for most people. There are countless factors that determine how our knee is loaded and how the cartilage is stressed as a result. Think of sports, work (for example road workers) and footwear. These factors allow the structure to adjust. A “rippled” structure of your cartilage is very normal, but it does provide a bit more friction when there is a lot of pressure on the kneecap. For example, in squatting.

If you still worry after this explanation, there are ways to change the direction of your kneecap. As long as you do not experience pain, however, you do not need to take any action as far as I am concerned. Ask around in your own environment who else has noisy knees and you will be surprised. And in Dutch, we have a saying that would translate to something like this:

“creaky cars go the longest” , let’s hope that applies to your knees as well!

 

 

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The one thing only 1% of people do

The Marines have a saying:

“Everybody wants to go to heaven
But nobody wants to die
And that’s just real
At the center of bringing any dream to fruition
Is self-discipline
Something as simple as food and eating

is not about your body as much as it is about your mind
It’s getting command of your mind to be able to choose actions
That are in your own best interest”

 

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Readers Question: Groin Pain

I play soccer and fitness, but during training I often suffer from pain in the groin. Two years ago, my left groin was strained and I started exercising a little bit too soon. Now I have a lot of problems with my right groin during and after training. I find it very annoying during exercise, but also in daily life. Do you have tips?

-Stephan

 

Mark Chen, physiotherapist

You’re partly answering your question yourself. You started training too early. We are all bound to certain laws of nature when it comes to repairing damage in the movement system. This recovery takes place in a number of phases and is time-bound. There are a number of things you can do to speed up the recovery, but speeding it up is not possible. But slowing down is!

It seems that this happened to you. If you have suffered damage to your muscle fibers, they must fully recover before they are able to be stressed at the same level again. Especially in sports like football, where the entire lower body is heavily loaded. Starting your training too early can ensure that your injuries are maintained or worsened. Time to reduce the load and practice patience.

Visit a physiotherapist and have your groin checked. This way you can exclude that damage is still present and make an estimate for how much you can stress the area at this time. Often there are also ways to take pressure off parts of your body during activity. Think of athletic tape for example. These are the brightly colored pieces of tape that you see often nowadays, with football players, runners and even swimmers to support peak effort. Sometimes this can help you to train without your groin being constantly overloaded.

Good luck!