Michael
Michael

You know the basics of muscle care already: warm-up, stretch, drink water, strength train, etc. But what you might not know is that the basics may not be enough if you want to do more than walk to the grocery store or walk up a flight of stairs.

As a human species we are living much longer than our ancestors dreamed. It used to be that humans were happy and healthy if they lived to the age of 30 because it meant they survived starvation, disease and getting eaten by a lion.

The fact that humans are living longer means our muscles and joints will be high mileage vehicles in our old age, and movement (physical activity and exercise) is one of the pillars of healthy joints and muscles, so here are some tips for taking care of your muscles and improve your health and longevity.

Eat food like fuel

You are what you eat, but does a Ferrari take the same fuel as a Tesla? Correct: a Tesla does not use fuel; it uses electricity. What we fuel our bodies with should match our engine type and our activity type. If you’re an endurance athlete, you likely prefer to burn fats rather than carbs because low-intensity aerobic exercise doesn’t require very many carbohydrates. However, if you decide to do a high-intensity sprint workout, or do high-intensity interval training, your body will absolutely require carbohydrates due to the intensity level and your subsequent oxygen deficit.

Fuel up with mostly fats for low-intensity exercise, a mix of carbs and fats for moderate, and take in mostly carbs for high-intensity workouts. Keep in mind that, after 20 minutes at high intensity, you will start using proteins for fuel.

Note: Remember that muscles are made of about 70 percent water, so maintain your hydration levels, especially in the days leading up to a high-volume effort (i.e. more than a walk in the park)

Diversify your training

Your training, like any good portfolio, needs diversification. Since your brain is in charge of muscle activation, doing the same thing over and over allows your brain to become lazy and find easier ways to do the same job. So here are some key areas for three common sports in Seattle.

Tennis players: Work on your footwork and agility. When you’re late to the ball, or you can’t move properly to get there, injury is on the way. The result is malposition of the shoulder and neck, over-gripping the racket, and overreaching with the spine, causing sprain and strain to occur.

Exercise: Perform standing single-leg lateral hops, and see if you can hop from one foot to the other without assistance or falling. A regression would be to stand on one foot and then quickly switch and stand on the opposite foot.

Runners: Runners, especially distance runners (more than a 5K), need to perform sprint work to engage their core to work at a high level with their hips and shoulders. This reignites efficient movement patterns in the brain and can help prevent injuries.

Exercise: 10 x 20m efforts at 110 percent (a long warm-up is needed)

Golfers: Rehab your back and core. New research has shown the golf swing impact to the spine is similar to an NFL lineman hitting a football sled, so make sure when you do tee off that you’re ready for that long drive.

Exercise: Make sure your body is physically warm before you tee off by doing a set of planks (front and side), squats and lunges, until you feel yourself start to sweat (minimum three rounds).

Don’t stretch (the wrong muscles)

Check back in July for a full article on when you should, and shouldn’t, stretch.

Sneak peek: You may injure muscles that “feel tight” if you stretch them. Learn three common tests to determine if your muscles are actually tight or just “feel tight”.

Dr. Dan Michael is a chiropractic physician at NW Sports Rehab in Madison Park.