Gettin' all Sciency, Edition 2

Gettin' all Sciency, Edition 2

Not many people know it, but Einstein used to be a crusher. Photoshop Credit: Jordan Haag. IG: @passionhorse

…so  you don’t have to.

The scientific process requires thorough (often tedious) recording of pretty much everything involved in the research process. This allows the next group of researchers to replicate the study, if need be, or continue to progress the line of thinking that spurred the original study. This results in the publishing of informative, but tedious, articles in scholarly journals. They’re tough to read, but if you put the time in, you can come away with helpful information that you can use to get stronger, stay injury free, and crush your goals.

Let’s get to it.

The Study

Shoulder Joint and Muscle Characteristics Among Weight Training Participants With and Without Impingement Syndrome

Kolber et al.  2017

The Background

The study we’re going to look at today took place recently, and examined some characteristics of Shoulder Impingement Syndrome (SIS). SIS is an umbrella-ish term that is used to describe certain instances of shoulder pain. Sometimes, if certain movement or structural characteristics are out of whack, the Rotator cuff tendons or the sac of fluid that separates these tendons from bony structures in the shoulder might get stuck or pinched by these bony structures when reaching overhead. Over time, this can lead to degradation of the Rotator cuff soft tissues and that fluid sac (Subacromial bursa, if you want the scientific term). Persistent shoulder pain is usually the inevitable destination of that road.

The researchers involved in this study wanted to see if there was a trend with certain muscle strength and range of motion characteristics among people with Impingement Syndrome, and were curious if any differences existed for people without Impingement Syndrome.

How They Did It

The researchers selected 55 male adults with ages from 21 to 56. The average age was 27 years old. All subjects had been strength training 2-5 times a week for an average of 9 years, so all subjects were relatively seasoned lifters. They were separated into two groups, those with Shoulder Impingement, and those without.

To determine whether a subject had Impingement or not, two tests were administered. –

-Hawkins-Kennedy Test.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LU1xsUrKV4

***DON’T just have your friend do this. This is a hands-on test meant for use by a clinician that provokes pain to get a diagnosis. If you don’t have the word “Doctor” in front of your name, you shouldn’t be doing this to someone. End Rant.***

The second test looked for a pain during a shoulder arcArc

If these tests were positive for pain, the subject was placed in the Impingement group. If the tests were negative, and the subject had experienced no pain for the previous 72 hours during training or daily living, they were placed in the Non-impingement group.

There were three areas of testing: Muscle Strength, Muscle Strength Ratios, and Active Range of Motion

Muscle Strength

The first attribute tested was muscle strength. The researchers looked at five muscle group’s strength levels, using a hand digital dynamometer. These muscle groups were the shoulder abductor group, external rotators, internal rotators, and the upper and lower trapezius muscles.

Muscle Strength Ratios

After these values were obtained the ratios of these groups’ strength levels were compared with one another. The relationships examined were:

-Internal Rotator Strength to External Rotator Strength

-Shoulder Abductor strength to External Rotator Strength

-Upper Trapezius Strength to Lower Trapezius Strength

Active Range of Motion

The researches examined each subjects active flexion, abduction, external rotation and internal rotation using a goniometer, a device used to measure joint angles.

flexion

Flexion

abduction

Abduction

erir

External and Internal Rotation

Results

After all the data had been collected, certain trends existed.

-Shoulder External Rotators and the Lower Trapezius muscles were significantly weaker in individuals with Impingement Syndrome compared to individuals without.

-The strength ratio of Internal Rotators vs. External Rotators was significantly skewed towards Internal Rotators (Internal Rotators were way stronger than the external rotators) in individuals with Impingement.

-The strength ratio of Abductors vs. External Rotators was significantly skewed towards the Abductors in individuals with Impingement.

-The strength ratio of Lower Trapezius vs. Upper Trapezius was significantly skewed towards the Upper Traps in individuals with impingement.

-Individuals with Impingement had significantly less Internal AND External Rotation than individuals without impingement.

Takeaways

-One takeaway from this study is the importance of shoulder external rotator and lower trapezius strength. Keeping these muscles and groups of muscles strong help keep the “ball” of the humerus centered in the shoulder socket. The shoulder relies on a relatively large amount of soft tissue to keep the joint centered, so a weakness in certain groups may allow the ball to creep out of the center position. Poor position means a higher chance of running out of room during a movement, and therefore a higher chance of trapping soft tissue and getting impingement. It seems external rotators and lower traps tend to be weaker in individuals with impingement, so it miiight be a good idea to keep them strong. Here are some simple and effective exercises to address that.

 

-Another takeaway I got from this study was discrepancy in strength that was related to shoulder impingement.

It’s seems as if people can be pulled into internal rotation if they neglect proper form during training, or have certain lifestyle factors, such as sitting at a computer for extended periods of time, drive for extended periods of time, or have poor posture (the standard climber hunchback). All these can lead to an imbalance in which our joint position and muscle strength is skewed towards shoulder internal rotation and lead to a weakness in our external rotators.

Another factor seems to be the imbalance between lower trap and upper trap strength. We’ve gone over a way to work on lower trap weakness, but the upper traps can end up being to “switched on”  by something we do every day:Breathing. When we breathe incorrectly, it’s often by using our accessory muscles which are in our shoulders, upper traps, and neck. Ideally, we want to be using our diaphragm to pull air into our lungs, and crocodile breathing is a great way to reinforce this pattern. Lay on your belly and take relaxed, complete inhales through your nose. Your midsection should rise and expand laterally, and your shoulders should stay relaxed.

 

Wrapping it Up

Give some thought to how you breathe and what positions you spend the majority of your day in. If there’s some things you can work on, start doing them! The examples I talked about in the videos are just a few of the myriad of ways you can begin to address these issues.

I think these exercise form corrections are crucial to the health of the shoulder joint, as strength training with proper form helps reinforce movement characteristics. You’re either building bad habits and making them harder to break, or you are reinforcing healthy and balanced joint mechanics. You make the choice.

Have questions, comments, rants and raves related to this article? Feel free to reach out to me!

Learn More

Here’s the citation and link to the abstract if you want to read the full study.

Kolber et al. Shoulder Joint and Muscle Characteristics Among Weight Training Participants With and Without Shoulder Impingement Syndrome, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001554

Gettin' all Science-y: Edition 1

Gettin' all Science-y: Edition 1

…So you don’t have to.

The scientific method is arguably the most important process in terms of furthering our knowledge that’s been developed in human history. Objective glimpses into conditions to reinforce or refute an idea we may have are critical to discover the way things are, or the best way to do a certain thing. In modern times, the results of these glimpses (experiments and studies) are published in a variety of journals. It’s important to be up to date with the current research to make sure training programs and metrics are on target to ensure better performance. There is one problem, though.

They’re a pain in the ass to read.

And it’s necessary! The scientific process requires thorough (often tedious) recording of pretty much everything involved in the research process. This allows the next group of researchers to replicate the study, if need be, or continue to progress the line of thinking that spurred the original study.

This series is going to be my attempt to read certain studies that apply to outdoor sports, or just ones regarding effective strength training that I find interesting. After I read them, I’ll try and deconstruct them and write a recap in layperson’s terms, summarizing the experimental design and actionable information that stems from the study. (This is for selfish purposes, too. By breaking these down, I’ll be able to retain and apply the concepts as well. Getting better every day, right?)

Let’s dig in!

The Study

Hemodynamic and Cardiorespiratory Predictors of Sport Rock Climbing Performance

Fryer et al. 2017

The Background

Dr. Simon Fryer and others recently published this article examining aerobic system factors, blood flow factors, and how well these factors relate to sport climbing performance.

In the past, early climbing energy system research was performed with treadmills. Obviously, there’s not a lot in terms of specificity, so while early research provided good signposts to continue research, definite answers didn’t really exist. Treadwalls were then utilized, but oftentimes the research methods didn’t map out well to the energy system demands of sport climbing.

treadwall Kore

A standard treadwall

In addition, as modern sport climbing has progressed, routes have gotten steeper and more demanding in terms of finger strength. Due to the smaller (relatively) size of the forearm muscles, some current thinking has been pointing to idea that the aerobic and blood flow characteristics of the forearms are one of the focal points of climbing performance.

flexor_digitorum_sublimis220

Flexor Digitorum-The muscle the researchers monitored for the study

This study took climbers from three different ability levels and tested four factors: forearm recovery capacity, peak VO2 on a treadwall, maximal forearm deoxygenation, and a VO2 max on a traditional treadmill.

The hypothesis was that the forearm recovery capacity, treadwall peak VO2, and maximal forearm deoxygenation would be the best predictors of climbing performance. Since treadmill VO2 max wasn’t listed in the hypothesis, it is implied that treadmill VO2 max isn’t a huge predictor of climbing performance.

How they did it

Four physiological responses were measured to perform this study. Two of the factors (maximal forearm deoxygenation, and peak VO2) utilized a treadwall, while one factor (VO2 max) was measured on a treadmill. The final factor, forearm recovery capacity was measured using a dynamometer handgrip procedure that fatigued the muscle and measured time of recovery.

One thing I thought was interesting was the accepted way for a climber to report their ability level. The method backed by the research is referred to as the 3:3:3 method, which is basically 3 redpoints on 3 separate routes of the same grade, all within the past 3 months. The researchers used a variation of this method: 3 redpoints of 3 separate routes of the same grade, within the past 6 months. Because the study was conducted in Spain, and since the weather to climb in Spain is pretty much perfect, a larger window of time was used for reporting ability level.

The researchers separated the study into two days. The first day, the climbers came in to perform the treadwall test. This test involved climbing a particular route on the treadwall. The route climbed was selected based on the climber’s reported ability level, with goal of all climbers reaching failure within 6-12 minutes. While the climbing occurred, a breathing mask of sorts was utilized to obtain a VO2 peak measure. During this session, an infrared device measured the maximal decrease in the oxygen content of the blood in the forearm muscles.

kjae-68-13-g001-l

While this is on the wrong muscle, this is a good example of the setup used to monitor the forearm muscle

After 3-7 days rest, the climbers came back in and performed a treadmill VO2 max test, using a breathing mask device to collect the necessary data. After that, the subjects performed the handgrip test to measure forearm recovery capacity.

What they found

After collecting and performing statistical analysis of the data, they found that the data taken on the treadwall plus the forearm recovery capacity test were significant predictors of climbing ability. They did not find any significant relation between the VO2 max obtained via the treadmill.

The Takeaway

While it’s not surprising that the more climbing specific measures were more predictive of climbing performance, some could be surprised that non specific aerobic fitness isn’t a predictor of sport climbing ability.

Digging deeper into the climbing specific side of things, it was discussed that the total body aerobic fitness measured via VO2 peak and the forearm aerobic capacity measured in both the treadwall and handgrip tests separately come into play in sport climbing performance. It was mentioned that perhaps total body aerobic fitness is key up until a point, and then the limiting factor becomes forearm aerobic fitness, which makes sense as walls get steeper and holds get worse.

How Can I Use This?

This study shines some light on how we can structure our “cardio” to be as effective as possible for climbing performance. While running and cycling are fantastic for cardiorespiratory fitness, it might be more beneficial to perform more specific conditioning protocols such as ARC-ing or other similar climbing drills.

In terms of strength training, energy system work that stresses the back (in the good way), shoulders, and grip are likely the way to go to supplement climbing specific work.

One way to go about it?

Snatch Volume Work.

Set a timer for 12-15 minutes and do sets of 15 snatches on each arm. Set the bell down in between sets and rest as long as you need. As always, good form is paramount, so make sure the appropriate sized bell is used. As you progress this protocol, you could do so by either working for a longer period of time, or try and get more sets of 15 done in the same time.

 

Learn More

Here’s the citation and link to the abstract if you want to read the full study.

Abstract

Fryer et al. Hemodynamic and Cardiorespiratory Predictors of Sport Rock Climbing Performance, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

doi 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001860

Bullet Points and a Brew 1/24/17

It’s another week of getting after it! I’m a week or so deep into a finger strength and strength training program, playing with ways to optimize how a session flows. I’m really happy with how things are going.

 

I head down to Atlanta on Thursday. I have the opportunity to be an assistant instructor at a StrongFirst kettlebell certification. I’m excited to see some old friends, make some new ones, and welcome newly-minted SFG instructors. Selfishly, I will get to witness some amazing coaches instruct and I can’t wait to learn from them. It’s gonna be a great weekend.

Let’s get into the bullet points

The Bullet Points

Foam rolling can be a waste of time. It can also be a huge help with improving mobility and movement quality. Which effect will it have on you? That depends on whether you do shit correctly. Dr. Rusin breaks down some of his favorite foam rolling drills. I stumbled across some new variations that I have implemented and immediately felt a benefit. There’s a lot of useful information in this article, so you should read it.

I was lucky to meet Chris at a PlanStrong event this past summer. He just posted the first article of a TEN part series exploring the Turkish Get Up. It’s something you should definitely follow. The Turkish Get Up can be a complex, intimidating movement. When someone owns a Get Up of 100+ pounds, you should probably hear what they have to say. Check it out, and follow along for what I’m sure will be a fantastic package of information.

I thought this was an interesting discussion. People have done some weird things to get better at a sport they love. Enjoy a thread filled with humorous answers, shenanigans, and an interesting idea here or there.

The Brew

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So Happens It’s Tuesday, The Bruery

The Bruery has a famous “Day of the week” lineup of big, boozy stouts that include Black Tuesday, Mocha Wednesday, Peanut Butter and Thursday, etc. So Happens It’s Tuesday is a rarely seen part of that line-up. Why? Rumor has it that this variant was victim of a large scale infection during the brewing process, probably with lactobacillus, a bacteria used to sour beers. Hence the name. SHappens I‘ts Tuesday. S.H.I.T. Get it? Anyways, I stumbled across a bottle a while ago and decided to crack it this past week. Yep. Mine was infected. However, it was still pretty damn good! The beer had plenty of the roasted malt character you’d expect from a stout, with a nice sour bite from the lactobacillus. The tartness didn’t overwhelm the stout characteristics, but blended with them quite nicely. Also, there was no hint of booziness from a beer with a reported 13+% alcohol content, another nice cover-up due to the tartness. I wouldn’t drink it everyday, but it goes to show that “infected” beers might still be tasty.


What’s Happening

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

It’s the new year, and a lot of people are building out their strategy for training in 2017. I can help. If you’re interested in nutrition coaching, strength training, Functional Movement Screen consulting, performance training, or some combination of these programs, you can find more information here.

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training is held Tuesdays at 6:15 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you are in the Chattanooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I also teach a class for folks who are more familiar with kettlebells on Thursdays at the same time. We will dive into some more advanced kettlebell movements and concepts, and push the intensity up a bit more than Tuesday. There will be no class this Thursday, the 26th, because I will be out of town.

You can check out the calendar and register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.

Bullet Points and a Brew 1/17/2017

Winter in the southeast. Schools close due to the cold, yet a week later it’s 70 degrees. Typical. All in all, I had a good weekend. I got some climbing in Sunday and Monday, doing a bunch of moderates I hadn’t tried before. It’s always a good day when new boulders are done.

Bottling day! It's been a while since I've sprayed myself in the eye with beer.

A post shared by Paul Corsaro (@paulcorsaro) on

Saturday, I bottled an Imperial Coffee Stout, so soon my own beer will make a debut on this series. It should be interesting. Let’s get into the bullet points.

The Bullet Points

Landmine exercises aren’t seen super often these days, but they can be super beneficial for overhead loading patterns, training the trunk musculature, and just providing some new stimulus in training. Check out some of these variations.

Motivation is awesome. It’s easy to crush your training session because the psyche is high. What happens when the psyche is low? A great article.

If you want to squat a whole bunch of weight, then the back squat should be your number 1 choice. If you aren’t a powerlifter, you should explore some other varations as well. Different positions and squatting patterns can be beneficial for performance in interesting ways. Here’s Mike Robertson demonstrating some really powerful, and perhaps unconventional ways to squat.

The Brew

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Tart Cherry Wake ‘N Bake, Terrapin Beer Company

The base Wake ‘N Bake is one of my favorite seasonal releases. It’s easy to find here in the southeast, the oatmeal adds some silkiness, the coffee character is strong, and these qualities make it quite the beer. Terrapin came out with a tart cherry version as one of their limited releases. A touch of sour added to one of my favorites? Sign. Me. Up.

The beer pours black with a tan head that fades to a bubbly ring around the glass. A Strong coffee aroma with a slight tang wafts up from the glass. The flavor is more of the same..strong coffee and roasted malts, with a subtle tartness that rides underneath everything. A nice tweak to an great base beer. All the thumbs up.

 


What’s Happening

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

It’s the new year, and a lot of people are building out their strategy for training in 2017. I can help. If you’re interested in nutrition coaching, strength training, Functional Movement Screen consulting, performance training, or some combination of these programs, you can find more information here.

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training is held Tuesdays at 6:15 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you are in the Chattanooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I also teach a class for folks who are more familiar with kettlebells on Thursdays at the same time. We will dive into some more advanced kettlebell movements and concepts, and push the intensity up a bit more than Tuesday.

You can check out the calendar and register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.

Bullet Points and a Brew 1/9/17

Back at it! I’m back in Chattanooga, and ready to get back into my normal routine of things. It was a great vacation, and I got to sample even more of the amazing climbing surfacing on Maui, but now its time to get back to work.

I just finished my first training session. It was a good one, full of heavy lifting, some kettlebell snatches, and some loaded carries. I’ve got a fingerboard in the mail, and I’m psyched about its portability. I’ve got a bunch of ideas in my head on how to utilize it, and can’t wait to try it out. Let’s get into the bullet points.

The Bullet Points

I posted an article last friday detailing some tweaks I’m making to the yearly scope of my own training. I’m a big proponent of the view that if my viewpoints don’t change over time, I’m not doing a very good job to educate myself and get a little better every day.

Climbharder, Reddit’s climbing training related subreddit recently had an “Ask Me Anything” conversation with climbing coach Will Anglin out of Colorado. It’s a cool format, since any user can post a question. Check it out and read through it. There’s a lot of good information in there.

“Little and Often Over the Long Haul”

That quote sums it up. No technical training information in this one, but a great glimpse at the mindset required to sustain training for a lifetime. Not a year, not two years, but the philosophy necessary to continue getting a little better throughout your lifetime. I don’t know about you, but I want to keep a physical lifestyle until I’m dead. I don’t feel like being broken in my later years.

We all know stress is bad. Actually, it isn’t. David Dellanave gives us a more subtle overview of how stress relates to us and our training. I thought it was more nuanced than alot of the standard (yet still mostly accurate) analogies of stress I usually see. It was an interesting article to me, so I thought I’d share it.

The Brew

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City of the Dead, Modern Times Beer

A cool aspect about taking a vacation is the access I have to a different distribution for craft beer. Modern Times is a brewery out of California and they have a very interesting take on barrel aging. This beer wasn’t aged in any barrels, but the coffee they brewed the beer with was. I’ve never had a barrel aged coffee bean before, so I was curious as to how it would end up in the glass.It pours black with light tan head that fades to thin bubbles and a ring around the glass. Aromas of coffee and some roasted malts waft up when the glass is filled. The taste is full of sweet, chocolaty flavors and strong coffee with some faint vanilla and bourbon. It’s a really nice take on barrel aging something. It’d be interesting to see this approach taken with an Imperial stout, as the coffee did dominate the flavor of this export stout variation. However, it’s unique, without losing the characteristics of a barrel aged beer. Worth seeking out.


What’s Happening

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

It’s the new year, and a lot of people are building out their strategy for training in 2017. I can help. If you’re interested in nutrition coaching, strength training, Functional Movement Screen consulting, performance training, or some combination of these programs, you can find more information here.

Mailing List

I’m playing around with a newsletter. It will contain article alerts, special content promotions, and offers exclusive to subscribers. You can sign up here if you’d like. It’s completely free.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training is held Tuesdays at 6 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you are in the Chattanooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I also teach a class for folks who are more familiar with kettlebells on Thursdays. We will dive into some more advanced kettlebell movements and concepts, and push the intensity up a bit more than Tuesday.

You can check out the calendar and register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.