Monday, July 12, 2010

Team PBR elite p/b The Performance Lab update

Here's the weekend update from hammerhead Keith Gerber:

Quick weekend update. Six of the guys from the team lined up to race the Iron Hill Crit Sat. Night. This is race is part of the US Crit series, which means all the top pros come to race in it, that and there is 10 grand up for grabs. It was a good night and a not so good night. The good was that this race is so stupid hard and fast on a 1 Kilometer circut with 60 laps and that Wyatt and I finished. Wyatt was 37 just out of the money and I was somewhere behind him. Of my 20 plus years of racing this is one of the hardest races I have done and finished, thanks to the great training from the Performance Lab and Dr. Ross.

The bad news was Tim had a guy put his foot through his front wheel 5 laps into the race and destroyed his Rev. Wheel. I dont think it has any spokes in it anymore. He then went to the pit and got a spare 404 carbon wheel (very expensive). A few laps later at the hardest part of the race where you are going 40 mph to 10 mph into a cattle chute into an uphill 90 bend, Tim got pushed into the hay bales and crashed hard, which actually stopped me for a few seconds but destroyed his borrowed 404 wheel and broke his shifter lever. Needless to say the animal decided to race the next 30 laps in his small chain ring, before he had to pull out. I ran into a curb and ripped my pedal right off my pedal shaft, but got back in.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Muscle Cramps

Exercise-associated muscle cramps have a variety of causes, with sodium loss and muscle fatigue topping the list. Since I've already covered muscle cramps from sodium loss in a previous post, I want to cover the muscle fatigue theory.

The muscle fatigue theory states that when a muscle is pushed beyond it's capacity during exercise, it will become over-stimulated, resulting in excessive muscle contraction. A cramp is sustained muscle contraction. I like this theory for a variety of reasons, with the first being that it is easy to train muscles that are fatiguing easily. Second, there are other problems that lead to muscle fatigue that are easily fixed.

Frquently, muscles fatigue when they are working harder than their neightboring muscle groups. Some of the culprits include the Anterior Tibialis in the front outside part of the calf, the calf muscles, gluteus medius and minimus (smaller butt muscles), and the muscles of the hands and feet. If you are getting any cramps and/or pain in these areas, you might be suffering from muscle fatigue.

These are hard working muscle groups. The anterior tibialis has been considered the culprit for shin splints for years. This muscle does double duty during running for both lifting the toes off the ground and slowing down the lower leg so that you can keep up with your legs. This slowing down, or deceleration, puts a lot of strain on the muscle and may be responsible for other problems as well.

The muscles in the hands and feet are small, yet important and are more likely to cramp during swimming.

The small hip muscles of the butt play a role in stabilizing the pelvis and can cramp during almost any sport.

The calf muscles are also likely to cramp when trying to keep up with the bigger muscle groups of the legs: the quads, the hamstrings and the gluteus maximus.

Smaller muscles fatigue not only from poor posture and core strength, but also from intense exercise. One of the most frequent symptoms for latent exercise asthma is also muscle cramps (the smaller muscle groups are the first to pay for decreased oxygen delivery).

Cramps are not just a fluid/electrolyte disorder and may have an underlying problem that, once diagnosed, is easily fixed.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lactate Threshold Testing

One of the most frequently requested tests at the Performance Lab is for "Lactate Threshold Testing". Here's a quick primer on what it is and how to do it better:

Human nature is to use the tools available for the results we are trying to achieve. What I leanred early on in the couse of bicycle repair is that there are a few specialized tools for the job.

One of the tools that I am calling into question is the hand held lactate meter.

But first, a bit of exercise physiology:
When you are exercising at a mild to moderate pace, you are using oxygen to help you burn carbohydrate and fat. As your intensity picks up, you recruit more muscles and eventually exceed the ability to exercise in the presence of oxygen. When this happens, you start to develop lactic acid in the muscles.

Although lactic acid has been portrayed as the bad guy because of its affects on the exercising muscles (cramps, fatigue, burning), this is only half true. Lactic Acid contains two components, lactate and acid. While it is true that the acid component probably causes the symptoms just mentioned, the lactate is recycled into glucose, a fuel that the muscles can use for energy.

So, lactate gets recycled, and what causes our symptoms and accumulates is the acid.

Then why do many people use LACTATE meters to determine the ACID threshold?

It's a cheap tool.

But it only goes so far. In fact, depending upon how robust your ability to recycle the lactate is (known as the Cori Cycle), testing for lactate accumulation may be way off base.

Each molecule of acid is buffered by a molecule of bicarbonate, which is then broken down to carbon dioxide and water--a direct one-to-one correspondence.

That's why I prefer to measure carbon dioxide released, it gives a much more accurate picture, albeit much harder to measure.

Anaerobic threshold testing is one of the many reasons to choose The Performance Lab powered by Rothman Institute.