3 Quick and Simple Ways for Athletes to Speed Healing and Improve Performance
By Steven Hefferon, CMT, PTA, CPRS, www.LoseTheBackPain.com
One of the main reasons why most bodybuilders hit a wall and develop injuries is that they don't allow their muscles to recover 100 percent before they work those same muscles again. Ideally, as the body goes through the recovery process, it should lay down nice elastin and collagen tissue. Instead, with insufficient recovery time, it starts to use fibrin, which is bad.
Here's how it works: If your body is overstressed, it instinctively tries to protect itself by using fibrin, which is very strong, to achieve that added element of stability you need. In the beginning, that extra fibrin helps your muscles recover. But over time that same fibrin will stop you in your tracks.
Here are some tips that will allow you to continue to make steady gains, stay healthy and recover from tendonitis and injuries.
Strength gains and recovery have one enemy
When your body adds fibrin, it's like adding rebar to concrete; it makes something that is already strong much stronger. The downside is that you lose mobility and start to develop postural imbalances. You also lose "contractibility," or strength. And that's where many of your problems start. Fibrin is scar tissue similar to what you will see on a scab, and you do not want a scab on any of your connective tissue. Here's why:
- Excess fibrin in your muscle tissue can limit your contractibility and, ultimately, your strength through that range of motion.
- Excess fibrin can limit your overall range of motion.
- Excess fibrin in any of your connective tissue can create postural dysfunctions, such as rounding of the shoulders and tipping of the pelvis.
- Excess fibrin can be responsible for many of the acute and chronic injuries you will suffer.
- Excess fibrin can create fibrous restrictions in all of your muscles that will keep you from getting a better pump or prevent the blood from entering that muscle.
- Excess fibrin in your blood vessels and muscle tissue can severely hinder your recovery time-how fast you get back to 100 percent during your days off.
Of the six reasons why you do not want excess fibrin in your body, number six is the most critical as it relates to your ability to get bigger and stronger. Blood flow is key. It affects every aspect of your recovery-not just from injury but from each workout.
Proof in the form of an incredible image
Here's an example of how fibrin in our blood vessels can slow, hinder or even prevent the blood from getting where it needs to go.
The image here shows red blood cells caught in a web of excess fibrin. The fibrin is causing a physical restriction. If you look closely, you can see that they're stuck. Ultimately, those red blood cells cannot get into the capillaries to oxygenate and nourish your muscles so they will do the work you want them to do. Without that little bit of extra blood, the last rep is barely possible.
The problem is, however, the excess fibrin is systemic, meaning it extends throughout your body and in and around all connective tissue. To get more blood flow, your heart has to work harder to get more blood where it's needed. It's called high blood pressure.
Immediate steps to take
If you are suffering from tendonitis anywhere, it's not going to get better by working it. You need to improve the blood flow so the pain and inflammation can be flushed out and minimal fibrin will be laid down. That way, the fibrin that is used during recovery is gradually reabsorbed.
Whether you're looking to get a better workout or increase your size, you need to have better blood flow. Likewise, if you suffer from chronic recurring injuries.
Here are three easy steps to improve blood flow:
1) Heat things up to get it moving
Get into a hot tub or sauna at least two or more times per week. Heat does two things: one, it relaxes the muscle, which allows the blood to flow easier; and, two, it causes the blood to come to the surface of the skin to try to cool the body. When this happens, more blood travels through the smallest vessels you have, thereby improving your body's overall circulation.
2) Unbind your muscles
This technique became popular back in the 1980s. John Parrillo came up with something called "fascia stretching," which allowed some bodybuilders to add more than an inch in diameter per muscle group just minutes before the competition. Nowadays, the big boys do it on a weekly basis for consistent gains and rapid recovery.
Fascia gives our muscles form, and when our fascia is too restricted, it limits the ability of the muscle to expand and fill with blood, limiting the amount of blood for the pump and recovery.
Find a qualified massage therapist who can perform cross-friction massage and myofascial release techniques. One thing to remember is that if you are fascialy bound down, these techniques will hurt and you'll be sore for up to four days after.
3) Let nature clean your pipes
The third technique is to use systemic-proteolytic enzyme, an enzyme that breaks down excess fibrin throughout your body, including your blood vessels and your muscles. Nothing else in the world can naturally break down the excess fibrin in your blood vessels and remove the scar tissue in your connective tissue.
The fact is your body is constantly regulating fibrin. But as you get older (late 20s), your body will have fewer and fewer enzymes available to do the job. And when we train hard, there are simply not enough enzymes to keep up with the demand to regulate fibrin. That's how the build-up of fibrin start and how the limitations begin.
Like most injuries or diseases, the accumulation of excess fibrin in our bodies is a process, and the removal of that fibrin is also a process. One thing that makes enzymes unique among all other supplements is that we know they work.
These enzymes are not measured in milligrams but in what are called "fibrinolytic units," which is the amount of fibrin they break down in a set amount of time. So, if you know the fibrinolytic units of a product, you know how much clearing or removal you will get. This will help you compare products.
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Steve Hefferon, CMT, PTA, CPRS, (www.LoseTheBackPain.com) holds a bachelor's degree in Health/Fitness, an A.S. in Physical Therapy, and is a Certified Massage Therapist. He has combined his skills as a massage therapist and fitness expert to become one of the country's leading post-rehabilitation specialists. He is also the co-founder of The Healthy Back Institute.