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Get Fit Newsletter February 11, 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


Don’t Mistake Thin for Fit

Too often thin is mistaken for fit, and that's not what you should strive for. When someone is thin, but has very little muscle tissue, they aren't truly fit.

Here’s why thin doesn’t equal fit:

  • Their body fat percentage will be higher than ideal—even though you won't see a lot of fat on them, if their muscle percentage is low then their fat percentage will be higher.
  • Their resting metabolism will be low, since little muscle is present to burn calories at rest.
  • Their body won't be functionally strong, which will lead to injuries and frustrations.

So how does one get truly fit? It’s this simple: Strength Training.


Wholesome Mac and Cheese

Check out this recipe for Mac and Cheese that kids and adults alike will love! Spaghetti squash is a fantastic replacement for traditional noodles that automatically makes the dish healthier and geared towards your fitness results. Don’t stop at just this recipe - make it a habit to use squash noodles in all of your favorite pasta recipes in order to automatically get leaner. Enjoy!

Courtesy of RealHealthyRecipes.com

What you need
Servings: 6

1 large spaghetti squash
1 teaspoon olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
2 cups broccoli florets, steamed
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 Tablespoon coconut flour
1 cup milk (coconut, almond or regular)
1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup grated parmesan, plus 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan as optional garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional garnish

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut the spaghetti squash in half. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Spray the center of both halves of the squash with cooking spray and place the cut side up on a cookie sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 50 minutes.

2. Remove the squash from the oven and let cool. Once it’s safe to handle, scrape the flesh into a large bowl. Add the steamed broccoli florets to the bowl and set aside.

3. In a large saucepan, melt the coconut oil on medium heat, and whisk in the coconut flour. Add the milk and whisk quickly. Turn heat down to low, add the cheddar and ½ cup grated Parmesan to the saucepan, and stir until melted. Remove from heat.

4. Pour the cheese sauce over the spaghetti squash and broccoli mixture and toss until all the squash is covered.

5. Dish into 4 portion and top off with the salt and pepper to taste plus red pepper flakes and extra Parmesan if you wish!

Nutrition
One serving equals: 290 calories, 23g fat, 360mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, and 14g protein

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