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BJJ: What I’ve learned

Mark Chen
Physiotherapist, Personal trainer, Sports Nutritionist.

 

 

I’ve only been into BJJ for a short time and consider myself an absolute newbie. However, even in the short amount of hours I’ve spent on the mat, there are some interested things I’ve learned from it.

 

 

1. Let go of your ego

I’ve always been pretty good at sports. There’s upsides to this (obviously) which is that I tend to pick up quite fast whenever I undertake some kind of new activity. There’s a downside to it as well ; I expect myself to be good at it.
Now here’s a tricky part because I consider myself above average strong, healthy, flexible and reasonably smart, And that’s the mindset I had when I went into my first training sessions.
Ready to go and more importantly, show these other people how strong I am.
How wrong I was.

-It wasn’t just the fact that I ended up losing my consciousness wanting to be to tough to tap-

No, the most surprising factor to me was how little my strength and fitness could do for me on the mat. No matter what I tried, I ended up getting tied up, strangled and gassed quicker, the harder I went in.
A couple of sessions later I let go of my desire to be better than others and decided instead, to take any session as an opportunity to learn. And you know what?
This change in mindset allows me to relax more (I don’t care about “winning” or “losing” during training) and creates space in my head to actually pick up and learn rather than losing energy on trying to prove myself.

2. People that do BJJ are cool

I’ve experienced before that people practicing martial arts in general are very cool and easy going people. This was the case in Teakwondo, Thaiboxing and Krav Maga. I believe it has something to do with them being centered, at ease with their self, and being able to channel their emotions and energy in a very efficient way. At least, that’s how it works for me. But the athletes I’ve been rolling with since I started are all a level beyond this. They’re not just nice to train with, but friendly people that seem sincerely interested in helping you become better as well. It’s nice to feel welcome and at home at a place where you train.

3. Importance of breathing

More and more I look into breathing, the more I’m seeing the overlooked importance of it. But BJJ kind of “forced” me to address it. Simply put, my first training sessions were borderline panic when it came to sparring.
I felt as if I could do nothing. 

No sense of control, no use of my power, no way out.

And you know what is the absolute worst thing to do in a situation like this?

To stop breathing

Thing is, you need to be made aware of this. So something as simple as my training partner telling me to start breathing and relax instead of struggling around like I was about to be killed, makes a gigantic difference when applied,

  • The stress levels go down significantly
  • Energy management is suddenly an option
  • There is space to think and learn

It’s such an easy thing to forget about but it made a world of difference to me.

This video gives an amazing explanation of why good breathing is such a helpful tool.

4. There is so much more to learn

As I mentioned in the start of this article, I’m a complete newbie to the sport. I feel like I’m presented with an enormous encyclopedia of which I get to read just one page at the time, and need to re-read it time and time again to actually understand it.

But I like that.   I have a feeling this sport will become more and more interesting as I put more time into it and that it what I’ll try to do.

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5 Questions about Cupping

  1. What is Cupping?

    Cupping involves the usages of glass/wood/silicone cups that are used to create a vacuum on the body. Depending on the chosen method, these will either stay in place for 5-15 minutes (traditional cupping)
    or moved around the area (Gliding). There is also a less well-known version called “Wet Cupping”, with which small cuts are made before the cups are applied. During this version, the cups will be filled with blood from the client. Needless to say proper hygiene and qualification of the therapist are of extra concern with this method.

  2. What are the benefits of Cupping?

    There are multiple benefits from cupping. The most well known reasons to use cupping is to speed up muscle recovery after workouts. This was very commonly seen in the last year’s Olympics, where multiple athletes were seen walking around with the typical marks from a cupping treatment. Because cupping is very non-invasive and doesn’t cause much side effects, it’s a very common choice for athletes after competition or training.Aside from the physical effects, Cupping is very well known for it’s soothing effects on the central nervous system. For this reason, the treatment is often chosen as a pain reliever or to fight stress in general.

  3. How does Cupping feel?

    A lot of my clients describe it as a “reverse massage”. This makes sense since instead of being compressed, the skin and connective tissue is being pulled up and decompressed. Traditional cupping, depending on the amount of vacuum and duration of the treatment can be a bit uncomfortable, whereas gliding is typically experienced as very relaxing. Your therapist is supposed to monitor how you feel during the session and adjust when necessary.

  4. What do the colors mean?

    The skin can show different reactions to Cupping, and each has a meaning as you can see below in the picture. Sometimes Cupping is used as an “assessment”, to get an idea of what’s going on in the area underneath the skin. If area’s display moderate or sever stagnation, these points are often focused on more during follow up treatments. Usually we see these markings become less and less noticeable as the client starts to react to treatment.

  5. Where can I experience Cupping?

    In Asia, Cupping is a very common treatment method and is used to support the body while fighting disease and therefore is very easy to find. When choosing this option, make sure the hygiene standard is good enough since dirty cups can cause infection.
    Also, in most of these establishments there is no underlying physiological knowledge. If you want to get cupping done for specific problems or body parts, it is best to find a Physiotherapist that is also educated in Cupping.

 

Of course, feel free to contact me if you’d like to experience a session!

 

 

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Occurs as ergocalciferol (D2) in vegetable nutrition and as cholecalciferol in animal based foods. The latter form is more absorb-able. Upon exposure to sunlight, the body creates previtamine D, and then converts that into it’s active form.
Vitamin D helps in the recovery of the muscles and aids the immune system. It also strengthens and maintains the bones and interacts with a lot of hormones and other nutrients like calcium, vitamin K and magnesium.

Works together with: Calcium (without D, only 10-15% of the amount of calcium we ingest will be absorbed)

RDI for vitamin D is 10mcg

Found in:

– Fatty fish
– (Grass-fed)butter
– Meat
– Full dairy and cheese

Deficiency can lead to:

– reduction of bone strength
– Reduction of power
– decrease function of immune system
– Fatigue

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HITT workouts for at home

Most if you reading this are on the 12- week strength building program and are now ready to focus more on all-round conditioning, body composition and flexibility.

The workout below is from the well known “Fitness Blender”, which is a Youtube channel with hundreds of awesome workouts. (check them out and subscribe to their channel!)

Follow this workout into your program instead of a day of heavy lifting. The following week, see if you can do two of these. It’s your choice if you want to keep lifting on the side, or just focus on High intensity training primarily!

 

enjoy 😉

Mark

 

Chest day: The best exercises

Most if you reading this are on the 12- week strength building program and are now ready to zoom in and optimize each individual body part.

Here are the 3 exercises that in my opinion, offer the most bang-for-your buck when trying to train the chest:

Sets:  3
Reps: 8-12

Train these 3 exercises on a day where your main lift is NOT the bench press or the shoulder press!

#12weekprogram

 

 

 

 

 

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Shocking facts about Sleep (deprivation)

We all know sleep is important for our health. Still, sleep is often the first thing we cut if we need to make more space in our lives. Ironically, cutting back on sleep takes a toll on productivity, creativity, concentration, communication skills and basically whatever  makes us function as  human.
So for whatever reason you’re cutting sleep, you’re doing it worse.
Here’s a couple of notes I took of the video “Why Sleep is critical for the Body and Brain”. It’s a great video and a great channel to subscribe to. Check the quick facts here but be sure to watch the full video when you have time.
– Less sleep decreases the ability to consider alternative solutions to problems.  Our prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning, decision making, reasoning and problem solving and is significantly impaired with less sleep.
– Slow wave sleep and REM sleep is needed to take information from short term memory to long term memory.
– When you dream the brain is seeing how unrelated pieces of information fit together and simulating scenarios you need to be prepared for. Sometimes this can lead to insights you would otherwise never have (Paul Mcartney came up with the melody for “yesterday” in a dream)
– The Amygdala processes emotional information and is more active when you’re sleep deprived. The less sleep, the more likely you overreact to things.
– Only 5% of the population functions well on less than 6 hours of sleep. And even if you think you’re functioning well on your amount of sleep, would you know? Activity in prefrontal cortex goes down when sleep deprived, and that is the only part of the brain that has the power of self assessment. To “think” about how it’s functioning. so would you know if you didn’t get enough sleep?
– Sleep is also essential for tissue repair, balancing of hormones and maintenance of metabolic pathways.
– It’s also important for weight-loss: participants on a calorie restricted diet that could only sleep for 5 hours lost 55% less body fat compared to 8 hour sleepers on the same diet.
They also lost  60% more fat-free mass (muscle)
– Hormone levels are impaired with sleep decrease:
Higher Grehlin levels (causes fat retention and hunger) 15% higher
Leptin (making you feel saturated) was significantly less
Melatonin was less (anti -aging, anti cancerous)
Increased of cortisol (increases the worst fat, visceral fat)
HGH was less (cognitive function, muscle mass, tissue repair)
– 10pm to 2am seems like the most bang-for-your-buck sleep (the most growth hormone)
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Supplement Review: Venum BCAA

Supplement Review: Venum BCAA
 
Taste: 9/10 (Mango) it’s GOOD. Nice tropical mango taste which is addictive enough to make me want to add it to every bottle of water. It’s sweetened with stevia with which I think they went slightly overboard but I just slightly adjust the dose or refill my bottle once it’s halfway and it still tastes nice.
Price: 35$ a bit over $1 per serving (unless you use my tactic)
 
Would buy again: 100%
 
Notes:
– Sweetness makes them perfect to turn into BCAA ice cubes for in your water. Refreshing!
– Added electrolytes which is a plus with the severe heat here
– 0% sugar
 
Overall: BCAA’S are “essential amino acids”, building blocks of proteins that the body cannot produce herself. Therefore we need to get them from food or supplementation.
The strength of BCAA’S lies in their ability to protect the breakdown of muscle mass and kicks-tarting the muscle repair.
 
Effectiveness: I’m definitely less sore and recover quicker than I have on previous workout programs. It’s very hard to say how much of that is attributed to this supplement.
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Myths busted: Is your spine “Out of Alignment?”

So many time clients with spine issues tell me the following:

“I’ve had this in the past and my spine was out, so it had to be put back in place”.
Usually, they refer to a manual therapist or chiropractor that did that for them.

I believe this needs to be addressed since it’s simply not true and it can create problems which I’ll explain.

But first let me point out that the spine is a very strong and robust structure. It cannot simply be pushed into and out of alignment by quick thrust. If that would be the case, Rugby players and MMA fighters would be in serious trouble after nearly every match.
Also, in Australia, recently some students tried to take apart an SI joint. It took them more than an hour, 2 students, a hammer and lots of sweat to do it. There’s a small chance that if that’s the case, a microsecond and a quick thrust will provide any structural change.

As a matter of fact :

“No supportive evidence is found for the chiropractic subluxation being associated with any disease process or of creating suboptimal health conditions requiring intervention. Regardless of popular appeal, this leaves the subluxation construct in the realm of unsupported speculation. This lack of supportive evidence suggests the subluxation construct has no valid clinical applicability.” 

Why is this misconception a problem?

Saying that a client’s spine “is out” creates two problems in my opinion:

  1. dependency on the practitioner or technique used to “correct” the problem.  It’s the practitioners duty to inform the client correctly and in my opinion, and provide information and/tools to empower the client to take manage or restore their own bodies’ function. We as health professionals can and should help this process but dependency on us should be avoided.
  2. False beliefs about a structural “dysfunction” of the spine. Saying something is “out of place” and “needs to be adjusted” creates the idea that there is something wrong with the spine. The next time a client deals with pain, a logical consequence would be to think “my spine is out again”, which will result in thinking that manipulation is needed to fix the problem.

Both of these issues can be avoided simply by not using these terms anymore. Spinal manipulations definitely have clinical value but we should aim to provide information that is accurate and beneficial to the clients beliefs, aside from just treating them.

The Epidemiology of low back pain. (Hoy D1Brooks PBlyth FBuchbinder R.)

 

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Shocking Facts about running #3 – EM Sportscience updated research

EM sportscience released a video that broke down new research on running shoes so it’s time for an update on my -now- blog series on the topic.

After #1 and #2 , here’s a video that does a great job at explaining what current evidence is showing. Below you’ll find the bullet-points of the talk but if you have the time, I’d recommend watching it all (maybe during your next treadmill run?)

Injuries in running have not gone down over the last 10 years, despite shoe technology

No conclusions can be drawn by comparing former research to now since injuries have changed and runners changed.

Impact force peak doesn’t seem to be a causal factor in running injuries 

Most impact doesn’t happen on landing but later in stand phase. Which means cushioning the heel makes less sense than assumed.

There is no good evidence that loading rate (or faster running) leads to higher change of injury. 

There is no significant connection between anti pronation properties in shoes and injuries. Actually, it seems that sometimes pronation can be an advantage 

New suggested ways of looking at running injuries and shoes might be the “comfort filter” theory and the “preferred movement path” theory.

 

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Shocking facts about Running #2

#1 The most expensive shoes are the worst.

 

According to a study done by Bernard Marti, a preventative medicine specialist at Switserlands’ Universtity of Bern, runners wearing A-quality running shoes are 123% more likely to get injured than runners in cheap shoes.
That’s right. Seems crazy right?

He and his team analysed 4.358 runners in the Bern Grand-Prix, which is a 9.6 Mile race. The first thing that struck them was that 45 percent of the studied group had been hurt in the year leading up to the race.
The rest of the information from the study wasn’t any less surprising:

The most common variable between the runners wasn’t training surface, running speed, body weight, age, motivation or previous injury.

It was the price of the shoe.

Runners in shoes over 90$ were twice as much likely to get hurt as runners in shoes of 40$ and below.

For me, it’s not that much of a shocker. I’ve been running on 20$ fake (don’t tell anybody 😉 ) Nike Free running shoes and I’ve never felt better during my runs.

#2 Feet don’t respond well to cushioning

 

We believe that the more cushioning in our shoes, the more comfortable the feet will be. We might be wrong.
First off, all the cushioning in our expensive running shoes do nothing much to reduce impact. When you think about it, that’s not so strange. During every step we take during a run, the body weight that comes down smashing onto the ground can go up to 10 times your body weight.
In my case, that would be 1500 pound of force coming down onto a half an inch of rubber. It’s very unlikely that piece of rubber is going to absorb it all.

“You can cover an egg with an oven mitt before rapping it with a hammer, but that egg ain’t coming out alive”- Christopher Mcdougall (Born to Run)

Secondary, more cushioning make our landing mechanics worse. During some studies on gymnasts they found that the thicker the landing mat, the harder athletes would slam down, trying to find balance. A comparable thing happens when we run. The feet sense a soft underground and instinctively pushing through to find a hard, stable surface to land on.
This is often found when multiple types of shoes are used while running on a force plate. Often, force absorbed by the plate changes significantly while changing between well cushioned shoes, thin soled shoes and barefoot running shoes. Just not the way you’d expect.

Often impact levels are the least in bare foot of thin soled footwear, and highest in cushioned shoes. And that’s because with less cushioning to rely on, we use our bodies’ own shock-absorbers  and they happen to be really good.

And even better, it can be trained to become even better.

If you want to know how your shock absorbers are functioning, click here

 

I’ll upload some stability exercises to my channel soon.

 

Mark