ISSUE #53        



- "1-2-3! Stability & Rehabilitation Training"
- "Anti-oxidants: A Key to Growth and Health?"





It is very frustrating to watch clients or friends that are having a hard time returning to form from injury. This is probably the number one reason many people do not pursue physiotherapy or athletic therapy. Unfortunately the reliance of people on others to get them well leads to further exasperation, especially when often only patience, diligent work, and effort will restore muscle function or joint stability after injury.


Many athletes have been able to make remarkable comebacks, such as female basketball players returning from ACL tears and soccer players returning after having their leg broken multiple times. The common themes in these successful rehabilitation cases were persistence and a visualization of a return to play.


For those of us that merely want to rid a nagging injury or regain the ability to perform daily tasks, the same amount of hard work is necessary and must be consistent. There will be lots of hurdles to overcome, but have patience because there is no shortcut in rehab. Set some goals, especially some for 2001 and make it a big year.


As you come back from injury (under the guidance of the correct professional - physio OR athletic therapist), begin to build up your training volume and intensity of your workouts. Continue to work on your abdominal and lower back strength if the injury is outside of the core area so you set up a foundation for future training. You should train on this plan for 2-3 weeks then re-evaluate your injury. Properly address the injury now so that it does not become a chronic injury. Correct it now and then move to harder training if that is your goal. Finally, if anything feels uncomfortable, immediately stop!


Finally, consider investing in some alternative therapeutic assistance such as massage and ART. ART is "active release therapy" and it may get covered in an upcoming newsletter. In my opinion, all therapies are only as effective as the effort the injured person puts into getting well. No therapy will be successful if the injured individual does not adhere to proper exercise form and rehab training parameters.


During rehabilitation training, movement emphasis is on slow, controlled repetitions. While there are certain times for explosive movements in training programs, slow movements are paramount during rehab and stability training. Continue with this philosophy when you are healthy and include slow movements in the general warm-up phase for all your workouts so that future injuries can be prevented. Rehabilitation and stability training is as simple as 1-2-3. So if you have 3 fingers, you can count your way to injury prevention.


ONE - The number of seconds in the concentric movement phase. For example, if you are warming-up or rehabbing the posterior deltoids with a bent-over dumbbell (DB) raise, you will spend one second raising the weight to shoulder level. Similarly, if you are performing bodyweight reverse lunges for leg stability, you will spend one second returning to the starting position.


TWO - The number of seconds spent in the isometric phase of the exercise. Isometric means no movement, so you will hold the muscle in the contracted position for a two-count. For example, in the rear deltoid DB raise, the arms will remain parallel for a two count. This is the most important phase of the "1-2-3 program" if your goal is joint stability. Holding the isometric contraction may not provide the greatest stress on the muscle fibers but it does provide the most beneficial neuromuscular and kinesthetic stress to the joint to enhance its stability.


Holding the contraction can simply be thought of "skill training" for the joint. The skill taught is merely how to maintain joint stability. In more advanced stability and rehab programs, these isometric contractions can be held while the body is in an unstable position (i.e. rear deltoid raise performed seated on a Swiss ball).


THREE - The number of seconds spent in the eccentric movement, such as lowering the dumbbells in the rear deltoid DB raise exercise. This is extremely important in lower body stability training for athletes because it simulates (although at a much slower speed) the braking action of the legs during deceleration and turning. Go slow and you will get stable.


That's the guideline to a 6-second stability repetition. Don't worry about getting your regular 10-15 repetitions per set with this program, just concentrate on using a weight that allows proper form. You may experience premature fatigue even with light weights on this protocol due to the duration of the isometric contraction, so expect to get only 6-8 reps. That is acceptable.


If you are getting only 4 reps, decrease the weight. Do not compromise the tempo of any movement phase in order to use heavier weights! Remember this is a program designed for rehabilitation or warm-up and not for serious muscle growth or maximal strength, however by remaining injury-free you can meet your goals.





      Vitamin C, vitamin E, ALA, and a variety of other anti-oxidants scavenge free radicals in the body. Though you have heard these many times, just what exactly do they mean? An antioxidant is any chemical that neutralizes free radicals thus protecting our cells from damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules oxygen-containing compounds that have been created through the process of oxidation. Two common oxidative states are rust and the browning of an apple when left half-eaten. Fortunately it is believed that antioxidants can stimulate the body's own "healing" powers to keep us free from acute and chronic illnesses.


      Ironically, exercise can increase free radical production, but we generally associate exercise with good health, right? Perhaps the body responds to this increase in free radicals by accelerating the body's ability to scavenge the free radicals. However, the environment also lays a free radical beating on the body.


For example, cigarette smoke, fried foods, and x-rays all increase free radical production and may damage DNA and arteries leading to cancer and heart disease, respectively. In a healthy body, most of the free radical damage is repaired, but some accumulates, and over time this may lead to illness. It appears that man's exposure to the stress of civilization has not yet been long enough to trigger complete protective adaptations.


      For some individuals, especially those seeking to get bigger and stronger, maintaining overall health is much more important to their goal than they believe. For example, if, when seeking to gain 10 pounds of muscle, you are exposed to environmental stress and illness, you may get ill and become prevented from training.


All too often hard working, generally healthy individuals completely exhaust themselves in the gym so that they have no recovery "reserve" left. And when a cold germ comes along that would not cause sickness under ordinary circumstances, these individuals develop illness because of their overtrained state and end up losing weeks of progress.


Could illness be prevented by vitamin supplementation? Perhaps it could. Could illness be prevented by a very healthy diet? Likely...unfortunately healthy diets are few and far between in the present society. Burgers and fries are much more convenient and appreciated than preparing vegetables.


So for a few extra dollars a month, many people could save themselves a lot of lost training days. However, you can't use antioxidants as an excuse for poor lifestyle choices, because that is not their purpose. Eat as healthy as possible and use supplements merely as an addition to a good diet. Realize that there will be days when you eat poorly and use the supplements as dietary insurance against minor illnesses.


Antioxidants will not cause you to gain 10 pounds of muscle in 7 days, nor will it put 50 lbs. on your bench press, but with anti-oxidants and vitamins, you can ensure your best chances of reaching your full potential. Even good old Bill Phillips knows that "you can't build muscle if you're sick in bed".


As crazy as it sounds, doctors generally agree that for health, you should eat a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, get regular exercise, get 8 hours sleep, limit exposure to environmental toxins, and be stress-free. Take some advice from Tom Incledon, CSCS, who knows his antioxidant info very well, and "plan out your diet and include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables." After all Tom points out, no one goes into the gym without a plan, so why eat without a plan?  "For healthy athletes in sports with a seasonal schedule, the primary goal in the off-season and the pre-season is to eat five or more pieces of fruits and vegetables every day."


      Antioxidants are also an important aspect of general health. In the book, "Antioxidants against Cancer" by Dr. Ralph Moss, a "nutritional theorist", there is motivating information for taking preventative steps against all disease, not just cancer. As any good article should, it will start with a scare tactic to keep you into reading: By Moss's estimation, "Every other man and every third woman in the US is now slated to get cancer". That's quite a wake-up call.


Furthermore, cancer prevention appears much more difficult than diabetes prevention (the lifestyle disease discussed in ISSUE #52). A recent research paper stated that 90% of cancers are due to non-genetic factors (sorry, forgot the reference!). So even though we can eat nutritiously, quit smoking, and control the water that we drink, there are still so many environmental factors outside of our control that have been suggested to promote cancer.


      Moss reports on foods and supplements that have great antioxidant potential. Most striking is his comment that with less than $1 dollar a day you can greatly improve your body's antioxidant status. In theory, this improved antioxidant status should lead to better health, and science does indeed show a correlation between a diet high in antioxidants and cancer prevention.


Unfortunately a high antioxidant intake is not guaranteed cancer prevention, but by making small nutritional changes (consistent supplementation) you may improve your everyday health and immunity to minor illnesses. BUT, don't use antioxidants as an excuse to justify smoking, poor eating, or a lack of exercise.


      Bagels and yogurt, chicken and rice, and pasta are all considered low fat "healthy" meals, but these foods barely provide any "nutrients". Processed bagels are almost completely devoid of vitamins C, E, etc., most rice is stripped of nutrients during processing, and pasta's only saving grace is tomato sauce. Substitute fruit in place of the bagel, vegetables for rice, and add fresh vegetables to your pasta sauce. This will provide an antioxidant boost to the immune system, especially for those under great stress (whether from work or from training).


Try to make foods the foundation of your antioxidant supply. According to Dr. Ronald Prior, some of the foods with high antioxidant capacities include; blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, garlic, spinach, garlic, broccoli, oranges, grapes, and peppers. Fruit juices are also packed with antioxidants (grape juice was highest), but avoid those with added sugar. Green Tea is packed with a lot of antioxidant power. It is cheap and more powerful than most juices and vegetables. Oh, and one more drink may help! Red wines may contain high levels of an antioxidant compound called resveratrol.


      According to Dr. Moss, antioxidants act together, hence the term antioxidant "network". Therefore taking smaller doses of many antioxidants is more beneficial that taking megadoses of a single vitamin, especially because vitamins A and E can be toxic in excess. Dr. Moss recommends:


Vitamin A - 10000 IU


Carotenoids - There are 20 types in common foods, including beta-carotene (broccoli), lycopene (tomato sauces), and alpha carotene (carrots). 40mg of lycopene per day was recommended (2 glasses of tomato juice, 10 ounces of spaghetti sauce, or 13 tablespoons of ketchup)! Moss recommends 10000 IU of mixed carotenoids.


Vitamin C - Humans are one of the only animal species that can't make vitamin C in their bodies, but almost all other animals produce this compound themselves. In times of stress an animal will increase vitamin C production by 2-3 fold suggesting that an increased C intake is associated with disease prevention.


      There is a strong correlation between a decrease in stomach cancer and the popularity of vitamin C. Dr. Moss notes that in Japan, where orange juice is not a common drink, there remains a high incidence of stomach cancer. Vitamin C is cheap, safe, and easy to use so get at least 250mg and preferably 500mg per day. As far as food goes, a quality orange provides 60mg and a cup of fruit juice provides 60-100mg, thus it appears possible to get 250mg by food alone.


Vitamin E - Along with C, this is one of the most important antioxidants and is a generally accepted nutrient for disease prevention. Dr. Moss suggests 200IU to a maximum of 800IU per day. According to Dr. Moss, the average US diet supplies only 8 IU per day because it is generally removed from food during the processing of grains and the RDA is a miniscule 16 IU per day. Dr. Moss's recommendations are based on recommendations from the highly conservative and prestigious "Berkeley Wellness Letter". Extra vitamin E should only be taken if extra vitamin C and vitamin A are taken as well (to complete the antioxidant network).


Unfortunately for those that workout, 1200 IU of vitamin E had no effect on strength and it did not prevent muscle damage or soreness after a severe eccentric workout. In fact, no antioxidants have a direct effect on performance, but they keep you well so that you can train optimally.


Caution - Don't mix vitamin C and vitamin E supplements with iron supplements. In fact, according to Dr. Moss, you should not take iron supplements unless you are deficient in iron. Vitamin C increases iron absorption and excess iron in the blood can be troublesome.


ALA - Dr. Lester Packer, from the University of California at Berkeley, calls ALA, "the most powerful of all the antioxidants". ALA acts as an antioxidant itself but also helps regenerate vitamin C, vitamin E, and glutathione to continue their antioxidant function ("network"). Dr. Moss recommends a very small dose of 50mg per day.


      And as a final recommendation: Take your daily amounts divided into 2 or 3 doses, because some of these are water-soluble (i.e. vitamin C) and excessively large doses at once are simply lost in the urine. Divided doses permit moderate blood levels.


This book provided a lot of information on antioxidants and disease prevention. Dietary and lifestyle changes are the most important facets of improving health. A conscious effort to eat foods high in antioxidants is the place to begin, and then you may want to experiment with additional antioxidant supplements. Supplements are the only way in which to reach the amounts recommended by Dr. Moss.


If you start a supplementation regimen now, you can observe your health over time with respect to cold and flu avoidance. Its not perfect science, but this trial and error method may lead to a sickness-free winter, improved training, and increased overall health. So listen to the experts, Dr. Moss and the "Hulkster", and take your vitamins.


FINAL NOTE: This is not medical advice, just a "book report" for this ISSUE.

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