Category Archives: Sports Nutrition

Articles, research, tips on naturopathic sports nutrition for athletes at all levels.

Supplement in Focus: L-Glutamine for Sports Nutrition By Dr Nina Lange ND

So, what’s the big deal with l-glutamine supplementation? A little 101 on the benefits to encourage you to take it, especially for anyone who is training regularly or at higher intensities. Besides being an essential recovery aid, L-glutamine benefits the immune system by supporting the health of the intestines.

Glutamine is an essential amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein. Although the body can synthesize glutamine under “normal” conditions, it cannot meet the requirements under higher stress such as intense training, infection or other higher physical demands.

It is the most abundant amino acid found in the muscle and blood and is necessary for many key functions in the body:

Maintain muscle mass as it is fuel for muscle cells
Assists in glycogen storage (needed for your next workout!)
Helps produce the antioxidant glutathione
Maintains health of intestinal tract
Assists in balancing pH of the body
Maintains immune system health by preserving integrity in the intestinal walls, your major first line of defense against bacteria, viruses.

People who have any gastrointestinal problems, are training hard, suffering any muscle wasting, are experiencing poor recovery from workouts, are getting lots of flus, colds and other infections may be lacking adequate glutamine.

Depending on your body size and training levels, supplementing between 3-10g of L-glutamine daily to prevent muscle breakdown and ensure sufficient level for muscle building, is a general dosage. And, to help your body produce its own glutamine beside the supplement, take vitamins B3 and B6 as these are required for the synthesis.

Get the Glutamine advantage!

*Although it is a very safe and useful supplement for most people, please note that if you are on medications for or suffer from bipolar disorder or seizures or if you have a severe allergy to monosodium glutamate(MSG), please ask your naturopathic physician for advice*

 

 

Amino Acid Supplementation for Ultimate Recovery During Training – By Dr. Julie Durnan ND

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, muscles, growth hormone, and insulin.  Patients often come to our clinic and report that after an intensive training session, they experience muscle fatigue, aching, or tightness.  This is not simply a part of the aging process, it’s often due to poor nutrition and amino acid imbalance.

Athletes are at a greater risk of amino acid deficiency, so it’s important to rectify any imbalances in your daily diet and possibly consider supplementing with a high quality amino acid combination before training sessions.

There are 20 amino acids needed for proper muscle growth, repair, blood sugar balance, and immune function.  The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are the building blocks that help to maintain muscle tissue.  During training, muscle stores of BCAAs can be used as an energy source.  Arginine is another amino acid that is helpful for maintaining proper hormonal balance and supports wound healing.  Glutamine, is the amino acid that provides glucose for energy and supports proper immune function.  Supplementing with Glutamine is an excellent way to prevent the common immune suppression that can occur in athletes training at a high level.

In the Journal of Nutrition (2006; 136:538S-43S), it was reported that supplementing with a mixture of amino acids may lead to quicker muscle recovery after exercise and could reduce muscle damage caused by strenuous exercise.

Athletes often take great care to fuel and hydrate properly during training, but recovery can suffer if the proper increased requirement of amino acids is not met.

If you are embarking on an intensive training program, it’s important to carefully consider your daily nutritional needs since your amino acid intake can have a significant impact on your ability to recover, heal, and thrive while training.

 

 

Flexibility

By Dr. Carla Cupido, DC and Owner of Baseline Health Group Inc.

 

 

 

 

www.baselinehealth.ca

Can You Be TOO Flexible?

Stretching has always been a controversial topic in the sports medical community and now more than ever with activities such as yoga being so popular.  There are so many questions about stretching, let’s tackle a few of them.

  1. Why stretch?
  2. Does stretching prevent injuries?
  3. Does stretching increase the risk of injuries?
  4. When is it best to stretch: before or after exercise?
  5.  Does stretching damage muscle tissue?
  6. Does stretching decrease a muscle’s power output?
  7. What type of stretching is best pre-performance for athletes?
  8. How long should stretches be held?
  9. Can you be too flexible?
  10. How do I know if I am too flexible?

Answers

  1. Why stretch?

Stretching should be done with the correct intent for your sport or body.  For example, a sprint hurdler requires a certain amount of flexibility to adequately clear their leg over the hurdle (both lead and trail legs) without straining a muscle or kicking down the obstacle.  However, if the hurdler is too flexible, power is lost from the muscle and they will therefore be slower (we will talk more about this shortly).  Therefore, in this athlete’s case, they need to stretch to the appropriate amount to win the race.

If you are not a competitive athlete and just want to be able to tie your shoes up when you are eighty, stretching makes sense.  Nevertheless, just as too much flexibility for the hurdler can be a problem, the senior can develop a tendinous, ligamentous or joint injuries due to excessive muscle laxity.

The take home point is that whether you are an athlete or a poker player, stretching should be a part of your life, but within the balance of your life and your body.

Balance must be found between mobility and stability in your body.

2. Does stretching prevent injuries?

Now this depends on what type of injury you are talking about.  In the example of the hurdler, yes, stretching will help prevent straining the lead leg’s hamstring or trail leg’s adductors and external hip rotators.  However, there are not many good scholarly studies proving its effectiveness in injury prevention.  We do know that restricted mobility can cause injuries though, so it all comes down to a balanced body.

3. Does stretching increase the risk of injuries?

Too much stretching prior to sport/activity increases the risk of joint injuries.  When you stretch, the sensory receptors in the muscles and tendons are altered.  You could almost relate stretching before sport to drinking alcohol before sport since the sensory organs will be disoriented due to being in a new lengthened position, just as you would be disoriented from inebriation.  Their ability to send the appropriate information back to the brain or spinal cord to cue healthy muscle firing becomes lessened.  The risk of injuries such as ankle sprains are more likely since the already stretched muscle alerts the nervous system too slowly to provide adequate time for injury prevention.

Therefore, joint injuries are more common after stretching since the body’s injury alarm system has been confused by the stretch.

4. Does stretching damage muscle tissue?

Yes, it has been proven in scientific studies that muscle lengthening causes muscle degeneration.  Muscle regeneration is noted in these studies too, but there is not yet a clear answer as to what the balance needs to be between degeneration and regeneration to maintain healthy muscle tissue.  It was shown that less regeneration occurs in older subjects.  Therefore, as we age, if we are not gentle to our bodies while stretching, the degeneration to regeneration ratio will not be in our favour.

5. When is it best to stretch: before or after exercise?

Based on what you have read so far, I believe you could field this one yourself.  If you are to compete in a sport that requires a certain amount of flexibility to achieve certain movements, yes, you must stretch before.  Do not stretch before warming up first of course.

Stretching after exercise can be helpful to maintain healthy range of motion of the involved joints.

6. Does stretching decrease a muscle’s power output?

Yes.  The force-length relationship of our muscles changes when we stretch.  Think of an elastic band.  If you take one elastic and stretch it for a while and then compare it to an elastic that hasn’t been stretched in a shoot-off, which elastic do you think will fly farther if you pull them back the same distance?  The one that wasn’t stretched will fly farther since it has more remaining elasticity.  The same applies to our muscles.  Often, the best basketball dunkers who jump the highest have tight calves as they store more elasticity, which converts to power which propels them upwards.

7. What type of stretching is best pre-performance for athletes?

Dynamic stretching is the best for athletes pre-performance / competition.  I don’t mean bouncing when I say dynamic stretching, but instead functional with movement.  Let’s go back to the hurdler.  This athlete would benefit from standing perpendicular to a wall, resting the hand next to the wall for balance, while swinging their leg up into the position it must be in to clear the hurdle.  The more sport specific and dynamic the stretch, the better.  This will help avoid altering the power output as significantly while avoiding overstretching.  This is more ideal for some muscles and sports than others.  If you keep the word functional associated closely to stretching, you will normally make the right stretching decisions.

8. How long should stretches be held?

There is a debate over this as well.  Some say thirty seconds and some are now talking about two seconds, but repeated upwards of 15 times.  The latter of the two is due to a physiological principle known as reciprocal inhibition.  Let’s take your biceps and triceps as an example to explain this in the simplest way.  In a biceps curl, your biceps are considered the agonist or muscle mover and your triceps are considered the antagonist or muscle opposing the movement.  When you contract your biceps, your triceps automatically shut off for approximately two seconds to allow the biceps to move you into the bicep curl; this is known as reciprocal inhibition.  You could imagine what would happen if this didn’t occur; we wouldn’t be able to move at all because our opposing muscles would be fighting against one another and we wouldn’t get anywhere!

Therefore, the idea with this two-second stretching is that you could optimally stretch your triceps within those two seconds of the biceps curl before they are allowed to turn on again.  Instead of holding the stretch against this physiological wonder, you would work with it: Pretty neat concept.

9. Can you be too flexible?

If your muscles are too lax, your joints have to compensate, just as they do if your muscles are too tight.  Ligament laxity can be an issue with excessive stretching that isn’t balanced with strength and stability.  Just think about life in general… it should be all about balance, just like your body.

10. How do I know if I am too flexible?

An experienced practitioner can identify these issues with functional testing.  There is a test known as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) that is a standardized set of seven tests that help to identify weak links in the body, whether mobility or stability issues.  This test is offered at Baseline Health with Dr. Cupido; you can learn more about it at http://baselinehealth.ca/techniques/functional-movement-systems