The fifth of 5 Worst (and dangerous) ways to Boost Sports Performance

The last 4 days, I’ve been writing about the worst ways to boost sports performance. This is because I frequently see my practice members and friends making the same mistakes over and over again. 

Sports is a great way to get fit and get healthy. And we all know that no matter what exercise or sport we do, we should all do a warm up. Though there’s much debate about whether stretching enhances performance or not, one thing is for sure: bad stretching techniques is NOT good for performance. The fifth and final worst way to boost sports performance is this particular back stretch. 

Since this is the last of 5 worst ways to boost sports performance, you may missed the first four. The first worst way is here. # 2 is hereHere’s #3. And #4 can be read here

5. Back stretch 

So what was that stretch I was talking about?

There's better ways to stretch your back than this one.

There’s better ways to stretch your back than this one.

One of the worst stretches for a person with back pain is bending over to touch your toes while keeping your legs straight. Even worse is bouncing while trying to touch your toes. Worse again is doing that and twisting at the same time! 

This back stretch is actually very beneficial if done correctly. Unfortunately most people do it incorrectly, therefore placing it in the top 5 worst ways to improve sports performance. 

Why?

This forward bending stretch exaggerates the hunching and rounded posture that we get when we sit all day, adding more pressure on our spine and discs. People with stiff backs usually enjoy this stretch, though they don’t realise that the spine and discs are not moving freely. They lock up and actually compress the spinal joints, disc and nerves. This will cause more stress, compression and injury. 

Stiff backs don't bend properly, causing more disc compression and joint pain.

Stiff backs don’t bend properly, causing more disc compression and joint pain.

Another reason why…

Hanging forward also give you a great hamstring stretch. However, this stretch creates the greatest pull on the start of the hamstrings – at the pelvic bone. This excessive strain on that crucial part of the hamstring is dangerous. Bouncing increases the chances of the muscle tearing. 

Bottom line:

There are many other ways to stretch your back and hamstrings that don’t injure you. If you want to know how, you can read it in my upcoming book.  You can also look out for my best and worst back exercises article coming soon. 

Ps… Arching backwards (see the photo below) is not a back stretch! it’s a back compression – and compression is not good. That’s why I didn’t mention it in this post as part of the worst back stretches. Do it correctly and get the benefit. Do it poorly and suffer the consequences (back pain, slipped disc).

This isn't a back stretch either!

This is not a back stretch!

This is not a back stretch!

This isn’t a back stretch either!

 

The fourth of 5 Worst (and dangerous) ways to Boost Sports Performance

Sports is a great way to get fit and look good now that summer is almost here  (in Australia). I’m looking forward to spending christmas on the beach and like everyone else, we’re hoping for that beach body. Certain exercises are part of creating that perfect body and the toned sleek lines of the female abdomen is as highly desired as the chiseled six-pack of the males. As you may know, having strong core muscles boosts sports performance, increase stability and helps with back pain and overall spinal health.

I’ve been writing about the  5 worst ways to boost sports performance. This is because you may fall into the same mistakes everyone makes. This is part 4 and we are targeting the worst exercise to boost sports performance. This is the fourth of 5 worst ways to boost sports performance. If you missed the first worst way, you can read it hereIf you missed the second worst way, you can read it here. And Here’s the third.

Now for the fourth:

We need more than just a six pack and flat tummy.

We need more than just a six pack and flat tummy.

4. Sit ups

Sit ups are a great way to activate and contract the abdominal muscles. Along with crunches, they are also one of best ways to build a six pack – especially targeting the upper abdominals. 

However when it comes to performing well in sports, sit ups and crunches makes it to the top of list of worst exercises. You can read more in my upcoming book “The Pain Free Executive – How high performing people eliminate aches and pains.” There’s a specific outlining the worst ab exercises and another another chapter on which ab exercise is best. (The book is available for pre-order now!)

Why’s it bad?

Firstly, sit ups forces your body to be flexed (hunched) forward, which you know is poor posture. If you sit all day, the worst thing you can do is over exercise the muscle that makes you sit badly. 

If  you sit like this, sit ups will make your poor posture even worse.

If you sit like this, sit ups will make your poor posture even worse.

Secondly, sit ups only train the top layer of muscles, your rectus abdominis. This is your six pack muscle. Sit ups also only make it strong in one direction – flexion (forward bending). Sit ups and crunches do not help your deep stabilising muscles that are required to keep you balanced and stable in all seven directions of spinal movement.

How many sit ups do you do?

How many sit ups do you do?

Add on top of that, that many people do way more sit ups and crunches than other body exercises. My neighbour finishes every gym workout with 400 sit ups. I asked if he does 400 push ups or 400 bicep curls a session – his answer was no. So why do we all do insane repetitions of sit-ups, that strengthen our poor posture habits when we don’t do that same number of repetitions for all other muscles?  

Thirdly, sit ups are bad for your back. Besides the action, which compresses the spine, discs, joints and nerves, they also over-activate the hip flexors. This can cause back pain and aggravate injuries like slipped discs (lumbar disc protrusion). Sit ups are also bad for your neck. You may see people leading the sit up motion with their neck. The neck stretches forward, reinforcing a poor posture habit and causes unnecessary stress and strain on the neck muscles and joints. This can cause neck pain.

Bottom line:

Along with poor technique and fatigue, (as you tend to do way more sit-ups than any other exercise) sit-ups can cause spinal and pelvic imbalances, shifts, tilts and misalignments. They train only one muscle in one direction and over work other muscles. This excessive stress and spinal injury can occur in the neck, back or hips and definitely do not boost performance. 

Have a question? Want to get fix an injury? Get treatment for your back pain? Book online here.

You can also pre-order his upcoming book “The Pain Free Executive – How high performing people eliminate aches and pains.” 

+Dr Gary Tho

The second of 5 Worst (and dangerous) ways to Boost Sports Performance

Sports is a great way to build health and determination. You may find that each time you run or each time you play basketball, you want to see improvement. You want to score more points, or run faster. Many people take risky short cuts to boost performance. So here’s 5 worst ways to boost sports performance. We’ll be posting 1 each day. This is part 2 – the second of 5 worst ways to boost sports performance. If you missed the first article, you can read it here.

Improving performance is not as simple as training more and training harder.

Improving performance is not as simple as training more and training harder.

2. More training

Don’t get me wrong, to improve in any sport, you need to train. However, many people over train and under rest. They do the same workout 5 or 6 days a week. I spoke with a practice member of mine who is training for their half marathon (21km). He wants to complete it is under 2 hours. When I asked about his training, he runs (at the same pace) 10km 3 days a week, and 15 km on Sunday. The other days, he goes to the gym to strengthen his back and legs.

How to train:

Different training produces different (improved) performances.

Different training produces different (improved) performances.

I told him if you want to run faster, you can’t just keep running and running and running (at the same pace). You need to vary it up and get different types of exercise and training. One example is to change your speed. Interval training and hill runs are a great start. And the gym sessions shouldn’t be the same leg exercises on the machines over and over again. Variation in action and intensity is crucial. I write a whole chapter about this in my upcoming book, The Pain Free Executive – How high performing people eliminate aches and pains. (Book available on pre-order now!)

And not train:

Rest days are important. So is getting enough sleep. When you are focused on improving your performance, you have tunnel vision – only towards more training. It’s easy to forget about the basics. Not enough rest equals for poor concentration, limited energy and higher risk of injury. If you exercise in the morning, get to bed earlier. Not only will quality rest help your body rejuvenate, an adequate nights sleep will bring you more focus and energy that allows you to train at your best and get the most our of your training.

Also, rest is important so you don’t over do it an get injured. Sports injury is either due to repetitive stress and strain or from an accident. The first is more common. If you have an injury, get it checked. Treat the injury, not just the pain. It doesn’t matter whether it is back pain, tennis elbow, a rotator cuff tear (shoulder pain), an ankle sprain or ligament tear, getting it to recover fully will allow you to train and perform at your best. Neglecting it or using quick fix solutions to get rid of the pain can cause more harm and ruin the rest of your sports and active life. Read here for more information. 

Back pain, ITB syndrome, knee pain and ankle sprains are common running injuries we treat effectively.

Back pain, ITB syndrome, knee pain and ankle sprains are common running injuries we treat effectively.

Bottom Line: 

Improving performance is not all about training more and training harder. 

Your body is an effective and efficient machine. If you keep training the same thing over and over again, you will get efficient at that. However, in the case of my practice member, he’ll get efficient at running at that pace, which is why he can never improve his timing. Get the right strategy. Train smart. 

Secondly, your body is a machine. Over use it, and it will burn out. Your body will need servicing. Your body can break down. Training harder, and strengthening the body won’t fix the injury. Only treating the injury will have the best result. And having enough rest. 

Have a question? Want to get fix an injury? Get treatment for your back pain? Book online here.

You can also pre-order his upcoming book “The Pain Free Executive – How high performing people eliminate aches and pains.” 

+Dr Gary Tho

The 5 Worst (and dangerous) ways to Boost Sports Performance

Malaysian Hero Lee Chong Wei. Photo from channelnewsasia.com

Malaysian Hero Lee Chong Wei. Photo from channelnewsasia .com

If anyone is a badminton fan, they may be following the Lee Chong Wei doping saga. Just over 2 weeks ago Lee Chong Wei, a professional Malaysian badminton player was reported to have failed a random doping test at the World Badminton Championships in Copenhagen.

The past 2 days has brought more media attention to the mens singles world number one. Lee Chong Wei is waiting for his his B sample for test results performed on the 6th November 2014. If the B sample is positive, he could be disqualified from the World Championships for violation of anti-doping rule and face suspension for up to two years.

Sports is a great way to socialise, de-stress and build health. Whether it’s getting into shape, fighting for a PB (personal best), winning the $2 wager and bragging rights, we always want to put in 100% effort.

So here’s the top 5 ways to boost sports performance AND injure yourself and ruin your sporting career – I call them the 5 worst ways to boost sports performance. We’ll be posting 1 each day. Here’s the first worst way to boost sports performance:

1. Drugs.

Anti-inflammatory medications are not the only solution to sports injury and back pain.

Anti-inflammatory medications are not the only solution to sports injury and back pain.

Lee Chong Wei’s fate is uncertain, and potentially faces suspension for two years. But it is not just the elite that get caught out here. In my chiropractic practice, I treat athletes from all sports. A 19 year old professional martial arts fighter asked for growth hormones and other growth enhancement drugs. Another athlete, who sought treatment for back pain and shoulder injury was getting back to peak performance in the gym and dragon boating. I asked him to reconsider his idea to use anabolic steroids – even though he was told they were mild and safe.

 NOT YOU?

You’re probably thinking you’d never want those drugs, so lets explore two more drugs. Pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs. In my practice I have so many weekend warriors and sports enthusiasts who are having treatment for joint pain, back pain, and muscle injuries. They tell me they take a neurofen or an ibuprofen before going for a run or playing a game of tennis, “just in case”. This is the silliest thing you can do. Yes it will boost performance. You will “feel fine”  and can get away with playing. However, you are going to aggravate your injury and you won’t even know it!

That’s the same for dexamethasone, the banned substance found in Lee Chong Wei’s urine test. Dexamethasone is a type of steroid medication with anti-inflammatory effects that is usually used to aid an athlete’s rehabilitation. These injections, pain killers and anti-inflammatories will get rid of pain and inflammation. But if you don’t fix the injury, and keep training and playing, you are going to keep aggravating your injury. The worst thing about injections is that they commonly damage your ligaments, arteries and other tissues in the body, and the pain relief is so great and instant that you feel invincible and get back into sports with 100% renewed energy.

Bottom Line:

It doesn’t matter if you have back pain, a shoulder or rotator cuff injury, knee pain or an ankle sprain. Pain is the only alarm signal you have to tell you something is in big trouble (injured). Get rid of that alarm signal without fixing the problem and you are asking for trouble.

Have a question? Want to get fix an injury? Get treatment for your back pain? Book online here.

You can also pre-order his upcoming book “The Pain Free Executive – How high performing people eliminate aches and pains.” 

+Dr Gary Tho

Check out Dr Gary’s New Website

Check out Dr Gary’s new website.

With more Free downloads, articles, and updates on amazing health happenings in Singapore and SEA.

Also pick up a copy of his new book, The Pain-Free Desk Warrior, Free Yourself from aches and pains!

 

About the book:

3 booksDo you spend hours at your desk a day, tolerating aches and pains? Resigned to the fact “it’s just a normal part of life”?

Chiropractor and performance expert Dr Gary Tho confronts the biggest myths surrounding pain and provides a step-by-step approach to living a pain-free life.

Over the 8 years of his career in helping people overcome pain and perform at their best, he found that 70% of professionals live with pain – and it’s perpetuated by pop culture misconceptions and an overall lack of knowledge about the real and practical steps that can be taken to feel good every day.

In the quick transition to desk jobs and a technology-focused life, Dr Gary shows how many are oblivious to the factors that create aches and pains, and ultimately, failing health. Broken down with precision and clarity, Dr Gary gives us a new way to think about pain — as well as the tools with which we can unlock our own health and vibrancy.

Addressing everything from time management to posture, The pain free desk warrior is a comprehensive, easy-to-use manual for getting rid aches and pains and feeling better than you ever thought possible.