wash away the rain…

Dedicated to an amazing artist

Today is the Monday following an amazing 4 days with people I train with on a regular basis and people I have trained with over the years in Okinawa Japan, the United States and so on. The reason for this was our 2nd annual Shorin-Ryu Shorinkan camp up here in Canada. An amazing camp and amazing people. Before I get into the heart of this post I want to say the following: I have never met and I don’t think I will ever meet people more special and incredible than people in the Shorinkan. I have had 3 trips to Okinawa with these people where you are spending about 18 hours a day with each other, in the extreme heat, tired most times, hungry sometimes and it’s never been a bad experience. I’ve had people I don’t even know stay in my house, have left my car with someone I met for the first time, have been in various states of inebriation and have always made it home safe and sound. Words cannot express it well enough but I had to say it.

Ok, now onto the post. As with all of our karate camps, there is lots of soreness, bruises, muscle strains from the intense training. You cannot go through the lessons lightly otherwise you will never understand the techniques and how effective they are. It’s not applying techniques at 100% but at a rate that you know the technique has been done to you. And if you are lucky you get to have a technique applied from a Kyoshi who knows the technique very well. I was fortunate this weekend and my right quad is still a little tender. The technique dropped me like a rock but from having that applied I will never forget it.

So what can we do to help heal these pains or just ease the stiffness and soreness? Keep reading to find out.

  • H2O – The preventive measure is to drink plenty of water. Your body is made up of water and not having enough water in your body will prevent the process of removing waste and providing nutrients from and to your muscles running from running efficiently. What colour is your pee? If it’s darker than straw you are not getting enough water.
  • Heat – As long as there isn’t any swelling, apply heat. Heat will help the blood flow to the damaged area and speed up recovery and healing. Apply heat for 15 minutes, than remove heat for 30 minutes. Follow this process for about a few hours. Caution: Keep the level of heat bearable. Too hot of heat can damage your skin and possibly burn you.
  • Epsom salts – Put about 2 cups of Epsom salts into a hot bath and soak for at least 15 minutes or longer if you like. The warm bath will feel soothing and relaxing and will also speed up healing by increasing blood flow to the damaged areas. The adding of Epsom salts to the water breaks down the Epsom salts into Magnesium and Sulfate which is believed to then be absorbed by the body and aid in healing. It hasn’t been proven but who cares, the warm bath in itself is quite relaxing on it’s own and it feels great. Add some essential oils to the bath to add a calming sent. I guarantee you will feel better as the calming sent also calms the mind.
  • Rest – The body needs to recover and rebuild following the abuse you just gave it. Rest helps with this process of rebuilding injured areas. It’s not always easy to get the time to rest but don’t let yourself feel guilty by sleeping in. It’s about balance. If you are someone who trains hard, abuses your body through that hard work and other things such as kumite you have to sleep to recover. If you don’t sleep, you risk over training and all that comes with that. You even risk injury.
  • Avoid Alcohol – Not always easy to do. Who doesn’t want a few beers after a long day of training? That’s when they taste the best and usually after a long day of training is a long night of socializing (there goes the sleep you need). There isn’t anything good alcohol has for our body. Basically it’s a poison. Hops are barely are great for us, right? Ok, I’m trying to justify it as best as I can but even though beer has some great things in it (especially Guinness – lots of heartiness in that stout) it just doesn’t out way the negatives. If you do drink, do it in moderation. Your body will thank you.

Closing

That’s about it. I’m sure there are other options out there but I tried to keep the list short and also keep it to natural remedies. The more reading/research I do the more I’m stepping away from chemicals, things that can hurt us more than heal us. Call me a hippie. I’m ok with that.

One final note. This post takes me to just over 190 posts! I’ve had periods where the posts where almost writing themselves, sometimes posting 4 times a week. And I have periods where I haven’t posted in a month’s period.

When I see that I’ve written this many articles it’s hard for me to believe. I’ve never considered myself a writer, never thought I would have a blog and never thought I’d be able to write this many articles. I guess sometimes we don’t know what we are capable of.

Funny how all this started from a Coracobrachialis muscle…

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

the stars are alive, and they are in my reach

the flame flickers, reaching, grasping, waiting with it’s hand outreached.

I consider this the third post in my series regarding adding strength and muscle.  The first post was the challenge that I’m sure you accepted. The second post deals with the progression made so far. This post I will talk about things that you may be doing that in affect could be sabotaging your progress. Will there be more posts in this series? Yeah, I think so. Stay tuned.

It’s what we do

Restless. You want to add the poundage of muscle onto your frame, but you are that type that when in a gym, or anywhere working out you cannot just ‘sit there’ counting the seconds or minutes. You try to take a 2 minute break between sets but no matter what you try you can’t. You find yourself waiting no more than 30 seconds, or maybe a minute. The fact is you won’t be adding the muscle you would like to unless you take that rest. Try it yourself. Look at how much weight you use when resting for 2 to 3 minutes compared to how much weight you currently use between sets. I bet you that with the longer rest you are using more weight each set. Why? Because the body needs that length of time to replenish its energy stores used to lift weight. Rest, slow down, and relax. Enjoy it. You’ll be glad you did.

Minimalist. Are you eating enough or are you eating the same you always have. We know where that has gotten you, nowhere when it comes to adding muscle. If we don’t have the protein intake needed for our muscles to grow, they won’t! Personally, I’d rather be on the side of too many calories than not enough. Once you hit that point of knowing you are consuming too much, you can always scale back.

Enjoy it. I always think this sounds funny when I say it, I love food and I love eating. If you do too, enjoy it more and get in those quality calories. If you can, keep track of the amount of protein you are consuming daily. Try to spread it around too. Don’t try to consume larger amounts of protein in fewer meals. Have that protein always available for your body to use it.

Stress ball. Relax. Yeah, I know. It’s easy for me to say, isn’t it. But it’s true. Stress can be good, it helps us react to threatening situations but if stress isn’t dealt with properly it can be detrimental to our weight gains but worse, it can be detrimental to our overall health. As westerners I think we missed the boat on how to deal with stress, and how to relax. I don’t think meditation gets the respect it should. Hopefully it will now that the technology exists to show the benefits of meditation.

We all need more. Sleep. That’s it. As simple as the word, it really is that simple. You will want to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night so the body can rebuild, become stronger, become bigger. That is the goal, right? If you aren’t sleeping, why is that? Do you know? Can you do something about it, maybe the previous point can help? Getting the proper amount of sleep can be tough, I know this because I am there myself. What can you do? Some say if you are going to eat before bed time, eat foods high in protein (a plus) and fat because this will regulate your blood sugar and prevent a rise in blood sugar possibly impacting your ability to fall asleep. When lying there in bed, breathe in through the nose and exhale out of your mouth, nice and slowly. This rhythmic breathing can help to relax the mind and body.

By no means do I pretend to have the solution. I wish I did.

Playback. Are you keep a log of what it is you are doing? No, why not! How is it you know what you did last week, or what you did the last workout? Are you resting the proper amount of time between sets, are you lifting more that the last workout, do you know what you did yesterday? Besides being a great motivator, a log helps you get the most out of your workouts be knowing what you did previously, and letting you know what it is you need to do today. Recording what it is you are doing, number of sets, number of reps, rest, amount  of weight helps you stick to the program and will help you get there quicker. It also allows you to review what you did against what you were supposed to do and make changes if necessary.

Also, a few weeks in you can look back at week one of your log and marvel at the progress you have made.

I wish

I don’t have the pill, I don’t have the magical answers. I wish I did. I can only provide recommendations to you to help you achieve your goal. There is one thing I will say that I think is probably the most important. If you take only one thing away from reading this, take this: Believe in yourself. Know that you can do it. Why? Because you can! I know you and I know what you can do, and you can do this. Don’t ever doubt it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

虎穴に入らずんば虎子を得ず。

Koketsu ni irazunba koji wo ezu

No pain no gain. Words to live by, right? It depends. It depends when the pain happens. We need to experience pain from working out but that pain needs to be later, not during the workout. If we aren’t experiencing pain after the workout, we have not challenged our muscles significantly for them to grow and become stronger. What about during the workout?

Injury

Experiencing pain during a workout is your body telling you to stop, right away. The pain you are experiencing is because you have injured yourself and if you continue to work out, you will only aggravate the injury, possibly making it worse. Stop and treat the injury.

Understanding what is it

Some people make the mistake of taking being uncomfortable as being in pain, and tend to stop because of being uncomfortable. I’ve written a few posts on the power of the mind, and this is a case of the person become defeated by the mind. Being uncomfortable is not fun, most people prefer not to be. But we need to be uncomfortable to realize any gains from working out. You need to learn the difference between being in pain, a pain that is muscular or skeletal and being uncomfortable. If you never do, you will never experience the gains you are looking for.

What kinds

Muscular pain can be a pulled muscle, or worse a torn muscle. You can also experience injury of the connective tissues, the tendons. With these types of injuries you should follow the rule of RICE. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Rest. Stop what you are doing and get yourself somewhere comfortable. Relax and enjoy some downtime. Ice. Put ice on for 15 minutes and then remove for 15 minutes. Do this until swelling has gown down. You can make your own flexible ice pack by putting water and rubbing alcohol into a zip lock bag and throw it in the freezer. Or you can use a bag of frozen veggies. Compression. Use a tensor bandage to add compression. Elevation. Keep the injured area higher than the heart. If after a while you still have swelling, or are concerned about the injury, see a doctor.

Injuries to our skeletal system such as a fracture, break, or sprang should also follow the RICE rule. Again, if swelling remains or you are concerned about the injury, see a doctor.

If you have experienced any of these injuries you need to let that area recover. Give it the rest it needs. Coming back and training that area too soon can lead to extending the time to recover to 100%, or could lead to a more serious injury of the area. If you are someone who needs to workout, see what options you have that remove that injured area from the workout. See a personal trainer for ideas if you need to. An injured foot is a great time to train the core. An injured arm could be a great time to train the legs. Be flexible in ideas as to what you can do. But give the injured area rest.

Smart

Training smart. I always say it. Training smart will result in getting more out of your workout, and lessening any chronic aches and pains you may experience down the road. Train hard, hard enough that you do feel the muscles aching the following day, or two. That’s the pain you are striving to capture.

Listen to your body. Respect your body. Love your body and it will love you back.

Yours in health,

Darryl

but I’ll get around it

A river in a time of dryness, a harbour in the tempest.

The bag of salted peanuts, chips, chocolate. The thought comes into your mind that you really want some. You dismiss the thought only to have it come back about 5 or 10 minutes later. This time it’s much stronger. You can taste the food, you want it so bad. But you resist the craving and hold off. Ok , it’s no  use, I’m grabbing the food as fast as I can. It’s not so much that I like the food and that’s why I need to have it, it’s I have to have it, I WANT it.

Cravings can be so powerful and can virtually leave us at their mercy. You can’t think of anything else but the food you are craving. Salt, sugar are the most common cravings.

Powerful

Cravings don’t seem to happen all the time either. It can come on all of a sudden and nothing else matters other than satisfying that craving. Weeks may go by without a craving but all of a sudden it’s there, knocking at the door of your mind. Why? Why is it that cravings happen randomly like that and isn’t the same as craving water when you are thirsty.

Why

Wanting food, or craving food is different than liking food. It can seem like a life or death decision, if I don’t satisfy this craving, I’m going do die. It can be that strong.

A leading theory is that based on the craving, your body could be lacking minerals, hormones, or have an underlying health issue. I want to look at the common cravings and what they might mean.

Salt. You are a craver of all things salty. Salty popcorn, salty nuts, pretzels. Yeah, love the salt. You crave salt so much you are thinking about going to a farm surplus store to pick up some salt licks. One study concluded that craving salt may be due to a diet low in calcium. The theory is calcium temporarily increases calcium levels in the blood tricking the body into thinking the low calcium issue has been resolved. But, in other studies, the results showed that craving salt may be due to low iron, calcium, and potassium.

Carbs. I’m excluding really sweet foods such as chocolate, ice cream, etc. Carbs such as snack crackers, chips, potatoes are a common craving. If you look at typical snack foods, they are primarily carbs. And if you look at what people mostly snack on, it’s mostly carbs. The theory is that carbs stimulate the release of serotonin. Serotonin is the feel good hormone. If you are feeling low, have some carbs. Carbs are basically anti depressants packaged up as food. I believe that is why most people snack on carbs. If protein had the same affect, most snack foods would be rich in protein.

Sugar. Sweet sugar. Yes, sugar is a carbohydrate but when I mean sugar, I mean really sweet food such as chocolate bars, donuts, pop. We are now getting into the area of drugs in that studies have shown that consuming sugar has the same affect on the brain as doing cocaine or heroine. Going even further, Dr. Lustig, a leading expert on the affects of sugar suggests it be regulated the same as cigarettes. But, sugar cravings can also be due to other issues going on such as thyroid issues, a yeast infection, high stress in so much that your adrenal glands are working overtime.

Foundation

You have a wall in your house and it keeps cracking. You patch the crack and a day, or week later the crack is there again. You patch it again and once more it comes back. You could do this for the next year and the result will be the same. Why? Until you fix the faulty foundation your house has, the crack will always be there because the foundation is the issue, not the wall.

Address the underlying issue and your cravings may go away. But keep in mind too that cravings are not the end of the world as long as it’s a moderate craving.

If you feel your craving may be due to lacking minerals or a hormonal imbalance, get these things checked out by our doctor. I’m a proponent of getting blood work done and looking at all vitamin and mineral levels to ensure they are at adequate levels. I usually have this done every six months.

Relax

Address the underlying issue of the craving. You may still get the odd craving but don’t get worked up about it. Unless, you are the one with salt licks located throughout the house.

Yours in health,

Darryl

paying the price and pain is my currency

I have dug down deep and have fought every inch of the way

It’s another intense workout, although this time it’s even more intense due to some previous workouts being missed. You’re working really hard, your lungs are working really hard, so hard in fact that they hurt. You don’t recall eating metal, yet you definitely have a copper like taste in your mouth. What the hell is going on? Why do your lungs hurt and why is there a metal like taste in your mouth?

Not uncommon

Don’t worry, it’s probably OK. It’s the body reacting to the hard work and reacting to your breathing. With the intense exercise comes the fact that your lungs have to work harder to get the oxygen required to fuel the work. Generally this should only last a few minutes. If it lasts longer, or if it happens after every workout, you are probably breathing incorrectly, or could have exercise induced asthma or another underlying medical condition that requires immediate medical attention.

When you exercise intensely and are breathing through your mouth, your brain thinks carbon dioxide is being lost at in excess. Your body reacts by creating additional mucus which has the effect of slowing your breathing and constricts your blood vessels. This can make catching your breath more difficult resulting in the pain and burning sensation. This usually is temporary and goes away as you gain more experience working out at this intensity.

Having a metallic taste in your mouth following intense exercise is not uncommon. Dry air, asthma, or sinus issues can result in this. It can also be caused when blood is forced through membranous tissue in the lungs, or up into the bronchial tree. This is because you are pushing yourself to the threshold of the anaerobic state. Although not harmful, if you have concerns you should limit the frequency of your intense workouts. You may also want to see your doctor to ensure everything is fine.

It’s intense

Working out at that intense level can be hard on our body, and our body reacts. Be sure to give yourself adequate rest between workouts to prevent over training. If you are a mouth breather, I’m not being offensive, try to start breathing in through your nose to slow down your breathing so the lungs have time to process the oxygen. It’s tough, but practicing will get you there eventually. Lastly, if any of these things concern you, please see your doctor.

Yours in health,

Darryl