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Get Fit Newsletter June 2, 2020
The Myth of Recovery Posture - Your Coach Taught You Wrong

If you ever played a sport growing up, chances are you heard a coach yell, “Get your hands off your knees!" while you and your teammates were gasping for air.

Said coach would then insist you put your hands on your hips or on top of your head, instead. Their reasoning was that one, standing tall allowed their team to open their lungs and take in more oxygen, and two, bending over is a sign of weakness to be avoided at all costs.

The funny thing about this is that a recent study found bending over to be the superior recovery posture compared to the classic "hands on the head" pose.

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The study (Michaelson et. al, 2019) compared two postures ("hands on knees" vs. "hands on head") to see how they impacted athletes' recovery from high-intensity interval training. 

The study found that the "hand on knees" posture resulted in superior heart rate recovery and greater tidal volume (the amount of air inhaled into the lungs with each breath) compared to the "hands on head" posture.

How could this possibly be? After all, doesn't having your hands on your head "open up your lungs" while bending over close them off?

Not quite. The problem with the hands on the head posture is that it flares your ribcage upwards, extends your back, and closes off your posterior ribcage so it cannot effectively expand during inhalation. The posterior ribcage actually contains a large volume of your lung tissue, so closing it off is far from ideal. This inhibits the diaphragm, the primary muscle of inhalation, from working effectively. To overcome this, many of your back and neck muscles will try to make up for the lack of diaphragm function during inhalation.

This is a textbook example of inefficient breathing.

A more optimal position would be to place your hands on your knees and look slightly upwards. Unfortunately, the athlete in the above photo from the study is looking down instead of up, but is she were looking up, she'd be in a more efficient position for her airway, as the cervical extension would allow proper airflow into her lungs.

There's a reason your body naturally gravitates to the "hands on your knees" position when you're absolutely gassed during a workout. When you're really tired, your body will want to bend over and put your hands on your knees. The body knows best when it comes to these things, so why fight it? With your hand on your knees, your lungs are allowed to fill with a greater volume of air. This in turn supplies more oxygen to the working tissue so you can more quickly clear the oxygen debt you've accumulated through exercise. Your oxygen debt is essentially the specific amount of oxygen you need to recover when fatigued post-activity.

When coaches yell for athletes to get their hands off their knees, they're really taking them out of their optimal recovery position. Now, the question is whether they care more about efficient recovery or "looking tired".

If you're of the mind that what the opponent thinks is irrelevant, then athletes should be allowed to put their hands on their knees as they catch their breath, as this is the most optimal way for them to recover. Suboptimal recovery means a more fatigued athlete.

In my mind, the answer is clear. I'll leave it to the competition to recover in an inefficient manner, while my team will be ready for the next play before they are.


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Sandhills Sports Performance & Physical Therapy

275 Pinehurst ave Southern Pines, North Carolina

(910) 603-2788


The Ideal You

Take a moment and imagine your ‘ideal you’.

What does the ‘ideal you’ look like? How does the ‘ideal you’ spend their time? Who would the ‘ideal you’ spend time with? What would the ‘ideal you’ accomplish?

The distance between you and your ‘ideal you’ can be closed.

When faced with decisions, big or small, do what your ‘ideal you’ would do, rather than taking the easy way out.

(I’m pretty sure that your ‘ideal you’ is a client of mine!)


Chorizo Egg Skillet

Here’s a flavorful and exciting way to start your day! Chorizo, eggs, tomatoes and arugula are the star ingredients in this protein filled breakfast skillet. Feel free to enjoy it for dinner or lunch as well!

Courtesy of RealHealthyRecipes.com

What you need
Servings: 4

2 links chorizo, casing removed
½ yellow onion, chopped
15-oz can diced tomatoes
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 large eggs
1 cup arugula
sea salt
black pepper

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Place the chorizo links in a medium, oven-proof, skillet over low heat. Cook until all sides of the chorizo are browned. Periodically deglaze the pan with water. Allow the chorizo to cool, remove it from the skillet, and then slice each link into 10 pieces.

3. Sauté the onion in the leftover chorizo fat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes to the skillet. Arrange the halved cherry tomatoes and slices of chorizo around the edge of the skillet. Use a spoon to create four 2-inch wells in the tomato and egg mixture. Crack each egg into a ramekin and gently pour one egg into each well.

4. Place the skillet in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the eggs are set. Top with fresh arugula and season with sea salt and black pepper. Enjoy!

Nutrition
One serving equals: 289 calories, 20g fat, 8g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, and 17g protein.

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