Anger in Competition: How to Better Manage It

Athletes and coaches display of anger is becoming a repeated scene in sports. From youth leagues to professional athletes, the pressure to win at all cost or the fear of losing, leads individuals to become emotionally reactive, often characterized by an unacceptable display of anger, yelling, and even aggressive behavior. What is more concerning is the explicit permission and justification for displaying such a reaction. If anger leads to under-performance, what can be done to better manage those emotions?

An athlete who carries a lot of stress, continually focuses on must-win games, feels edgy, and repeatedly verbalizes angry thoughts to self or others demonstrates signs that must be paid attention as this pent-up mind-set can easily lead to over-reacting for apparently no good reason. Many athletes become so impatient or overly sensitive to casual comments that it becomes very difficult to interact with them. Also, the use of drugs, alcohol, or pain medication may exacerbate their ability to cope with stress, hence becoming more likely to overreact, especially if the athlete perceives the other person as having mal-intended behaviors. In this case, immediate rage culminates in aggressive behavior.

Teaching behaviors

The best way to address anger is by taking a pro-active stance where athletes, coaches, and even parents are made aware that they are having difficulty managing highly stressful situations. Hence, the first step is to name what the precipitants are thinking that lead to feeling anger. Rather that brush over all emotions as one, different situations lead to different emotions. “Feeling impatient,” “frustrated that my teammates are not understanding me,” “I want to have more playing minutes,” “my parents put a lot of pressure on me,” etc. are some of the thoughts that trigger upsetting emotions. The higher their level of awareness of the triggers that lead to becoming impatient or angry, the more likely they will be willing to use a strategy that promotes calming their frustration.

Also, athletes are more willing to live by the rules when:

  • They have a hand in formulating them
  • When determining consequences for rules violations
  • Focus on the team policy that was broken without degrading athletes to feel “in the dog house”
  • Use positive reinforcement to strengthen  team participation 

    The use of breathing relaxation has shown to ease tension. Bringing awareness to a slow, deep, and full in and out breathing takes the mind away from the racing thoughts. It helps to calm the arousal in the nervous system and reduces the respiratory rates.

    When addressing anger in a team setting, bouncing ideas about triggers and strategies that help bring arousal down helps teammates to incorporate new ideas. Often time, players who lose their temper tend to think that they are the only ones with an anger issue when there may be other players who feel equally angry but channel their emotions in a more productive manner.

    Self-awareness is the most important tool to own. It provides information which can be used to better manage your emotional responses.

    Alex Diaz, PhD

    Sports Mental Edge

13 Minutes to Strong

For those who repeatedly use the excuse that there just isn’t enough time in the day to do any meaningful exercise, a recent research study begs to differ. This study showed that the same strength gains can be made by doing one set, to failure, of 7 basic exercises as opposed to 3-5 sets for each. But the key is to remember that you have to reach muscular exhaustion by the end of the set.

For the study, 34 healthy young men, who previously did some resistance training, were randomized into three groups.  One of the groups performed 5 sets of each exercise, another performed 3 sets of each exercise, and the last performed just one set of each exercise.  All three groups exercised three days/week, rested for 90 seconds between sets, and were required to lift to failure between 8-12 repetitions. Seven basic and straight-forward exercises were performed, including bench press and leg press, to cover all muscle groups. The group that completed 5 sets spent about 70 minutes in the gym. The group that completed 3 sets spent about 40 minutes on their workouts. The third group that performed only 1 set per exercise spent an average of 13 minutes in the gym. After eight weeks, their muscles were measured and compared to their baseline measurements from the beginning of the intervention.

All of the men increased their strength after the eight weeks, and regardless of which group they were in, all of the strength gains were essentially the same.  Additionally, muscular endurance was about the same in all three groups.  The only thing that differed was muscle size, which increased more in the group of men that performed 5 sets of each exercise than the groups that only did three sets or one set. Based on these findings, one can surmise that spending less than twenty minutes in the gym, three days per week, can yield increases in muscular strength and endurance.  But remember, you must push your muscles to failure, meaning that you cannot perform another repetition of the exercise.  No more excuses.  We can all find an extra 13 minutes.

by Rima Sidhu, Exercise Physiologist

Maze Sexual and Reproductive Health

How Modern Agriculture Affects Human Gut Health

 

If you’ve done much research on gut health, you already know that antibiotics, even when prescribed and used correctly, can really do a number on your digestive health. While they’re killing off the pathogens (bad guys) they were meant to eliminate, antibiotics also rid your body of the helpful bacteria and other friendly microbes leading rto imbalances.

This microbial community that lives inside us, our Microbiome, is essential to our health as humans. Friendly microbes help our immune system and help us digest food. Interestingly we are made of more bacteria/microbes than we are human cells!

Ideally, we start life with a healthy, balanced microbiome. (Unfortunately nowadays this is often not the case due to c-sections, early antibiotic use and lack of breastfeeding, but that’s another topic:) It evolves with us over time and helps to keep our nutrition cycles and immune system working smoothly.

So if your doctor prescribed antibiotics for you, you may consider asking her if they are really necessary. Sometimes they may be. But in many cases, antibiotics don’t speed up healing. You can get well just as quickly without them.

If you do need to take antibiotics, you’re aware and can make an attempt at getting your body back into balance. Many pharmacists and doctors will now recommend adding a probiotic supplement after you finish your antibiotic prescription. And this can be helpful depending on the situation.

But there’s a bigger problem that’s not easily seen. Sadly it’s our food supply.

If you’re eating commercially raised meat, eggs, or dairy products, you are consuming low doses of antibiotics every day.

Factory farming is not a healthy environment for these animals that become our food. The horrendous overcrowding they must endure creates perfect circumstances for the spread of disease.

So to prevent illness, antibiotics are added to the animals’ food. This consistent low dose of antibiotics is creating Superbugs that are very difficult to control.

Factory farmers also discovered that low dose antibiotics help livestock to gain weight more quickly than normal. Meat is usually sold by the pound and cheap pharmaceuticals can add a lot to the profit margin.

More than 80% of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used in the agriculture industry. Millions of pounds of drugs are added to our food supply every year and they never appear on ingredients labels!

But it’s not just livestock production practices that mess with human gut health. The development of hybridized wheat has also contributed to the problem.

It is often said that bread is the staff of life. We have been eating it for thousands of years.

Bread is usually made from wheat which contains gluten proteins. The gluten is what allows the bubbles produced while baking the bread to become part of the loaf’s structure, rather than collapsing it into a dense brick.

And science has helped to create wheat strains with even more gluten than ancient grains had. This makes bread softer, lighter, and presumably more desirable.

It turns out that gluten is very hard for people to digest completely. Incompletely digested proteins, including gluten, are very hard on your gut lining.

In addition to loosening the tight junctions between the cells making up your intestinal wall, gluten proteins have a tendency to stir up your immune system. An inflammatory cascade is then created, which can lead to health issues anywhere in your body.

Grain fields offer yet another gut health obstacle.

Weeds are a farmer’s nightmare, adding to their fuel and equipment costs and to their workload. Herbicides were invented to take care of this weed problem.

But to be effective, the seed companies needed to get the crop plants to survive the weed killer. Enter genetically modified seeds resistant to glyphosate, commercially known as Roundup®.

Having Roundup-Ready crops in the field means that more and more glyphosate is being used on our food. Glyphosate doesn’t just kill weeds. When we eat food that has been treated with this herbicide, it acts very similarly to antibiotics in our digestive tract.

And we already know that is a problem.

Even though on the surface it may seem expensive to buy organically raised and produced groceries, the long term savings in our health and medical budget are well worth it.

by Dr Robert Inesta

How Modern Agriculture Affects Human Gut Health

How Much Do I Need to Lift?

Working out with weights is important to gain strength, improve mental state and prevent osteoporosis. As a sports medicine physician I am often asked by my patients, “how much working out do I need to do.?” The answer is you need to work out 6 days a week but using weights is best done on alternate days. Muscles need 48 hours to recover and appropriate rest will help prevent injuries and allow recovery. You can work out different muscles on different days but must allow the specific muscles worked time to recover.
A recent study done at Lehman College in the beautiful Bronx answered a very important question: How many sets do you need to do to increase strength? The study looked at 34 young men and divided them into 3 groups. Group 1 did 5 sets, Group 2 did 3 sets, and Group 3 did only 1 set. All three groups lifted weights doing 8-12 reps, but it had to be to exhaustion where they could not do another rep without a break. The multiple sets groups had 90 second break between sets.
The exercises that all 3 groups performed were bench press, military press, lateral pull downs, seated cable row, squats, leg press, and unilateral leg extension. Because of doing more reps, Group 1 with five sets took 70 minutes to work out. Group 2 with three sets took 40 minutes and Group 3 with only one set took 13 minutes. Each group worked out three times a week for 8 weeks.
At the end of 8 weeks, all 3 groups had significant increases in strength but surprisingly all 3 groups had equal gains in strength! So, a 13-minute work out can give you the same strength gains as a 70-minute workout. You can save an hour off your work out. Nobody has enough time to work out so saving an hour is huge. The group doing 5 reps did have larger muscle mass gains (size), but not more strength.
The lessons from this study is that you need to work out until you cannot do another rep to make strength gains. Work out 3 times a week. This study was in young males and has not been done in older men or females. I believe the results will be the same.
It is important to not push your muscles above what your body can handle. Make sure you do not lift too much until you can handle the heavier weights. Be smart to prevent injuries. If you are having pain stop and don’t push through it. If you are having continued painor questions make an appointment with your local orthopedic sports doc.
By Rick Weinstein MD, MBA
Director of Orthopedic Surgery, Westchester Sport and Spine of White Plains Hospital

How Nutrition Can Help Cancer

Cancer…a very scary word and very scary prospect for everyone. Research has shown that what we eat and the choices we make can affect the incidence of cancer and can also help to alleviate the side effects associated with cancer treatments. Choosing wisely can have an enormous impact on our health.

As far as cancer prevention, research shows that obesity increases the risk of many different types of cancer. Obesity is defined as having a BMI (body mass index) over 30. Additionally, there is a worse prognosis for obese patients after cancer diagnosis, so it important to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight status. Focus on eating in moderation and exercising regularly for optimal health.

Studies have shown that a wide range of colorful fruits and vegetables contain beneficial phytonutrients and antioxidants, which help fight cancer. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, contain a compound called sulforphane, which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Further, it is important to avoid foods that cause inflammation in the body, such as refined sugar and carbohydrates, and pesticides. Buying organic produce is important not only because it is grown without pesticides, but because those plants are more resilient and have been shown to contain phytonutrients. This is because they become stronger as they learn to protect themselves from the elements without the use of pesticides. Lastly, alcohol should be avoided since it has been shown to be a cancer risk. Food with ginger, garlic, turmeric and green tea all have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and are beneficial for cancer prevention.

Dealing with cancer can be a debilitating ordeal. There are many short term and long term side effects from cancer treatment. For example, short term there may be nausea, vomiting, and hair loss, whereas long term symptoms include fatigue, sexual dysfunction, and memory issues. Others may develop other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, due to treatments. Insomnia is also a common side effect, which may caused by medications, stress or anxiety. Lack of sleep may affect mood and can lead to depression, which can then cause anxiety and create a cycle. Supplements that help alleviate insomnia and increase relaxation and decrease stress are melatonin, L-theanine, magnesium, magnolia, lipoic acid, and Panax ginseng.

Mind body approaches have also been shown to alleviate many of the side effects of cancer treatment and decrease stress. These include acupuncture, yoga, T’ai Chi, guided imagery, hypnosis, and mindfulness. Exercise is a great tool for stress release and weight loss, and studies have shown that physical activity is associated with a decreased incidence of certain cancers. Lastly, supplements like glutathione, creatine, CoQ10 and creatine have been shown to optimize our mitochondria, which create energy and which may have been damaged during treatment.

Diet and lifestyle factors are very important for both disease prevention and recurrence. There is a lot of truth to the saying, “you are what you eat,” and it is important to be mindful of what we put into our bodies and how we respond to our daily lives.  Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and find ways to decrease stress.This will help keep you as healthy as possible.

The Importance of Activity for Children with Special Needs

The Importance of Activity for Children with Special Needs

Over the last 10 years, the population of children with special needs has increased over 165%.  According to Autism Speaks, the diagnosis of autism affects 1 in 45 children. As this segment of our population continues to grow,our society needs to have a better understanding of autism and other disabilities. It is important that we offer programs and treatment for both children and adults with disabilities. While many early intervention and cognitive programs have become available, there is still a lapse in the accessibility of fitness programs. In fact, there are very few exercise programs or physical fitness centers available to accommodate these children.

Parents and schools are earnestly focused on academics and social interaction in the classroom. Physical fitness is the last thing anyone worries about, and in most cases kids with special needs are allowed to skip gym class. The classroom is an integral part of development, while physical fitness is often overlooked, meanwhile it is actually one of the most crucial components for these kids’ development. This is because academics and social interaction can be integrated into physical activities, and the combination has the potential to cause greater results than any of these methods alone.

Science shows that physical activity stimulates the nervous system and forces the body to work as a unit rather than in parts. Improving nerve function is beneficial for anyone with a disability. Exercise creates and improves motor pathways and proprioception, stimulates serotonin production, helps regulate the energy systems, builds a mind body connection, strengthens the immune system, helps control weight, and builds muscle. Additionally, the nervous system and the immune system are more closely connected than people realize. For example, stress causes the body to go into a state of fight or flight. This can disrupt hormone levels, especially cortisol, which can lead to a weakened immune system. Therefore, exercise is good for neuromuscular health and for immune function, so it makes sense to increase physical activity.

Special needs children are 58%more likely to be obese and to have below average muscle mass since physical activity is usually pushed aside. Physical, emotional, and behavioral issues can be addressed in a workout session demonstrating that education can be achieved through physical activity in a social setting. In fact, it is quite simple to make fitness both fun and educational.

Fitness programs will vary depending on both the child’s ability to participate and his/her physical and cognitive limitations.  For example, if a child does not have physical issues and is high functioning, he/she can participate in a circuit that includes a mini obstacle course with ring jumps, an inertia wave, and balance walks, this can be followed with a simple math or English question before moving on to the next obstacle.  For a child with more physical challenges, you can make an easier obstacle course that includes tossing a light medicine ball back and forth while counting out loud how many times he/she throws it, thereby incorporating social, mathematical and physical activities into the workout. For children with even more limited physical constraints, the activity can be adjusted to fit their abilities. For instance, a child in a wheelchair with limited limb movement would need assistance moving his/her limbs in order toimprove upon the movements he/she already has.Further, if the child is non-verbal, he/she can engage with number puzzles and use a peg board to count the amount of exercises performed.

While it may be intimidating, personal trainers should not be fearful since training special needs children is just like training anyone else. As with any client, a trainer should evaluate the child’s current state of fitness and address weaknesses. Therefore, if balance is poor and core muscles are weak, exercises should be assigned to make improvements. Just because some kids cannot  perform higher intensity exercises does not mean they cannot benefit from simpler tasks, such as standing on one foot while holding a rail.

Physical activity is crucial for children to function in everyday life. Walking, bending, sitting, standing, balancing, and carrying are all activities needed for daily living. Exercising and training builds strength and confidence in children. Additionally, physical activity can be a social outlet through playing on the playground or during group activities and gym classes. The socialization from playground interaction and a gym class far exceeds the benefits compared to classroom socialization.By nature, children like physical activity, and they will request it when they are exposed to it as part of their routine. Special needs children have the same nature, and they are physically capable of activity. However, many of them have a great deal of anxiety and therefore may not participate for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, noise, lighting, touching and fear of groups. Non verbal children are more likely to experience excess stress.  Exercise is a great way to burn off excess nervous energy which can improve calm attention in non verbal children.

Activity should be introduced slowly and carefully and take into account both the child’s physical and emotional requirements. A small task such as rolling a ball back and forth will get a child moving while interacting with another person. Furthermore, playing catch and rolling a ball are both equivalent to a conversation, andit is a great way to introduce your child to social play, especially for non-verbal children. All these small interactions add up to create change and to improve the quality of life for any child. By combining purpose-based exercise and education into group and one on one sessions, you will see vast improvements in other areas.

Fitness and nutrition are intertwined to improve both function and health. Nutrition is a key factor in maintaining a healthy nervous and immune system, since 80% of the immune system is housed in the gut. With Autism, it is important to rule out intestinal dysbiosis, check for environmental toxicities, investigate impaired detoxification, and look for heavy metal toxicity. Additionally, check for high levels of inflammation, evaluate mitochondrial dysfunction, assess food sensitivities including gluten, monitor oxidative stress, and look for nutrient deficiencies in zinc, magnesium, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D and omega-3 fats. These issues can cause inflammation and cause leaky gut syndrome, which may disrupt digestion, nutrient absorption, pH of the blood, the lymphatic system, and the nervous system. When toxins and large food particles enter the blood stream, they can cross the blood brain barrier and cause both behavioral and cognitive issues. Changes in diet and supplements are good tools to help combat these nutritional concerns and enhance the benefits of exercise. Poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies can contribute to behavior issues and diminish the body’s ability to regulate energy.

Author: Charles DeFrancesco CPT

Collaborator: Denise Groothuis MS RD CFMP Pn1 CPT

 

 

References:

 

How Stress Affects Your Immune System

Stress is a normal part of life. It’s a natural condition our bodies are designed to deal with quite effectively.  But people are often not aware of the negative consequences of modern day chronic stress on their health until it’s too late. Some people are able to cope with stress better than others. Some take practical steps to reduce their stress each day to diminish the wear and tear on their bodies and minds.

Most of us, though, are not aware of just how much stress is harming our health. It is not until we are diagnosed with a serious illness such as heart disease that we’re told we need to make drastic changes to our lifestyle and reduce stress if we wish to live longer.

So what exactly is stress? Stress is the body and mind’s response to any unusual event or situation which challenges us or that we perceieve is a threat or some kind. Stress provides the body with a burst of energy, outting us into the “fight or flight” response so we can react to the perceived threat.

People either run away from the thing that stresses them (flight), or they turn and try to deal with it (fight). Some strategies are more effective than others depending on the situation. The system is designed to be temprary, though. Once we rid ourself of the threat or danger, we should then return to a normal relaxed state of physiolgy. In the modern world, this stressed state is unfortunately not temporary for most people which leads to problems.

Our life is stressful from the moment we are born. There is the stress of birth, of feeling hunger, or needing our diaper changed. At school, there is the stress of performing well on exams, in presentations in front of the class, the school play, or on the school sports team. In our university years, there are the stresses of needing to maintain a good enough GPA to stay in school, or perhaps even get a scholarship or acceptance to grad school. Then there are social stresses, dating, relationships, friendships, peer pressure, and more.

As adults outside of school, there is the stress of whether or not we will find a job. If we don’t, there is the stress of trying to make ends meet. Even if we do get a job, we must keep it, let alone try to get a raise, promotion, and so on. Even happy occasions such as a new job, business, wedding, baby or home can trigger major stress responses in the body.

Most of us work very hard ‘burning the candle at both ends’ in order to try to keep up with all the demands on our time every day. This can lead to a lack of sleep and “downtime” for relaxation to help recharge the body and mind. The lack of rest and downtime can in turn lead to a weakened immune system. Sleep is when the body heals and repairs itself.

A lack of sleep has been shown to have the same effects on the immune system as stress. Stress in turn can interfere with one’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. This in turn can create a vicious cycle of even more stress through sleep deprivation, which can leave your immune system vulnerable and open to attack.

If you’re a workaholic, not getting enough sleep, and not taking time out for relaxation, it’s time to get your stress under control. Above all, you must avoid burning out. This is a serious situation that damages your immune system and leads to excessive inflammation which has been linked to many conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

There are many ways to reduce stress effectively –  yoga, meditation, tai chi, a relaxing bath, a good night’s sleep, doing something fun that you enjoy, spending quality time with friends and family. If you have been overworking, it’s time to make some new appointments on your calendar for you. Add exercise and a good sleep habit to your daily routine to better support your immune system.

by  Dr Robert Inesta DC L.Ac CFMP CCSP

Choosing Your Workout

Working out is not always fun. You are not always motivated to go outside or go to the gym. So what can you do to motivate yourself??

Do you brush your teeth every day? Do you enjoy it or look forward to it? Perhaps after eating garlic knots or drinking some nasty green drink, you may want to brush your teeth but few people look forward to cleaning their teeth. You brush your teeth every day (hopefully) because it is part of your routine. You don’t think about it, you just do it every morning after you shower and before you go to bed because that is what you do. This strategy needs to be the same with working out. It is as simple as making part of your daily routine.

I go to the gym every morning, except my surgery day, before work. Many days I don’t really feel like going, but I just end up going because it is what I do. I almost always feel better afterwards. I have more energy after and feel better about myself. Some workouts are better than others, but even my worst workouts make me feel better than if I did not work out at all.

In choosing your workout, do what you enjoy. If you hate running you will never want to do it. If you love the elliptical or swimming, that is what you need to do. It is important to vary your workout so you don’t get bored and so you shock your body to challenge different muscles and make more gains, but don’t do things you don’t like.

It is important to do cardio workouts as well as resistance training with weights. I find the gains I make from weight training motivate me more since you can see the results in the mirror and feel it in your strength. The cardio is extremely important to give you energy and help you live longer and healthier. Weight lifting prevents weakness in the bones especially in people predisposed to osteoporosis. Your bone strength peaks at around 30 years old and after that you lose bone. Resistance training will help prevent bone loss and prevent fractures as we get older. I have seen too many old people with spine and hip fractures because they let their bones get weak. You don’t want this to happen to you.

We all need workout at least 5 days a week. Find what you like to do and make it part of your daily routine like brushing your teeth. I promise you will feel better afterwards and the gains you make will be noticed not just by you but by others as well.

 

by

Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA

Director Orthopedic Surgery Westchester Sport & Spine at White Plains Hospital

Enhancing Peak Performance from the Inside Out

Trust, confidence, and being in the present moment express the sensation that we experience when we are 100% focused on a task without entertaining mechanical or distracting thoughts in our minds. When we are totally focused, we achieve our goals, become productive, and feel proud for having moved forward. If being totally focused is so positive, what prevents us from being in that positive mindset for longer time?

It appears that, for some people, staying focused seems to come more naturally while for others it requires a greater amount of conscientious effort. Even for those fortunate individuals, their genetic “focused” gene pool barely counts enough to completely do away from acquiring new experiences and conscientiously putting effort to promote being in the present moment.  By far, experiences and effort much more so than genes are the primary learned source of knowledge that lead to achieve a greater level of emotional regulation in stressful experiences, which in turn, promote focus and enhances results.

The neuroscience behind focusing

Two individuals having a pleasant social interaction not only leads to fun and laughter, but also, unbeknown to them, promotes self-regulation of emotions at a non-verbal language. While having a good time, their respective nervous systems are simultaneously “talking” with one another synchronizing emotions. The nervous system from person A is reading the smiley face from person B, which causes a calmer demeanor and, in turn, responds with another smile. The nervous system from person B reads A’s positive verbal and non-verbal cues, which promotes being in the present moment. The human ability to expand on the capacity to be in the present moment is experience dependent, not genetic dependent. Hence, the quality in the human interaction between athlete and coach has a powerful effect on the ability to enhance peak performance.

The learning pyramid

Picking up a game requires a skill development process. How to properly hold a racquet, hit drive shots, lobs, and serves need technical instructions. Eventually, those skills become a second thought and the athlete moves to the second phase of needing to learn the strategies of the game. Reading the breaks of a golf green increases the chances of making putts. Learning how to talk with a soccer teammate helps to create passing opportunities to score. The third phase is physical development. Athletes require physical stamina, flexibility, and strength to sustain the demands of each sport. However, when the pressure is on, it is the mind that will take over and become pivotal in helping athletes to remain focused and achieve the best possible results. At that moment, the pyramid flips upside down and, unless athletes either learned or were taught to regulate emotions, it means they are less likely to use mental skills to promote a focused state of mind which was not practiced. Based on research, the main factor leading to peak performance in Olympic athletes is the coach-athlete relationship over optimal training environment. When looking at coaches’ behavioral traits that promote peak performance, a 2005 survey found looking at the athlete as a whole person rather than primarily focusing on strategies and skills made the significant difference.

The inside out of peak performance

Achieving peak performance requires teaching athletes how to trust in themselves. When the pressure is on, athletes pay less attention on their skills and more on their emotional regulation. Coaches can promote trust by positively supporting the learning process. When a mistake is made, coaches need to provide a corrective instruction in a positive and encouraging demeanor. Even when the athlete knows the drill and still makes a mistake, motivating rather than using a punishing tone of voice promotes focus rather than fear of making the same mistake again. When making positive progress, applaud the effort more so than the innate talent. Also, coaches should not take progress for granted. They need to keep encouraging and reinforcing mental focus. Help athletes to express the skill they are using that enhances focus as it will be easier to recall their own words rather than the coach’s. Maybe it is a positive cue that crosses their mind or maintaining awareness to a relaxed breathing is what is helping them to remain focused. Whatever works better for them, the easier will it be remembered and used when it really counts.

The more they “own” their sense of being able to regulate their emotions, the more likely they will tap on such an internal source of knowledge. Once the athlete takes ownership of their own ability to promote mental focus, the higher the likelihood that they will achieve their best results. When the game in on the line and the athlete feels most pressure, it matters most the athlete’s inner knowledge and language than the coaches’. Having a sense of confidence and trust come from within. Once it is learned, it is stored in the athletes’ implicit memory for life.

 

Alex Diaz, PhD

Sports Mental Edge

What is Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)?

SIBO, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth, is a condition where there is an excessive number of bacteria in the small intestine, which affects digestion and absorption. Bacteria are a natural part of our digestive tract, but the highest concentrations of bacteria are usually in the large intestine/colon. Usually the small intestine only houses a small amount of bacteria. SIBO is the cause of 85% of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Digestion of nutrients takes place in the small intestine. When a person has SIBO, nutrients are often malabsorbed because the bacteria interferes with the process of digestion and absorption. In fact, the bacteria consume some of the nutrients, which may lead to symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including gas, bloating, and pain. The overgrowth of bacteria may also cause intestinal hyperpermeability, also known as leaky gut.

Besides gas, bloating, and pain, other symptoms of SIBO are heartburn, constipation and/or diarrhea, osteoporosis, nausea, flatulence, belching, malabsorption, and steatorrhea. There may be deficiencies in vitamin D, K, and B12 as well. Additionally, fatigue, joint/muscle pain, some dermatological conditions, and headaches may be present as well.

Many conditions may be responsible for the development of SIBO. These include dysmotility and slow transit time (gastroparesis), inadequate hydrochloric acid, aging, pancreatitis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulosis, and inadequate bile acid or pancreatic enzymes. Additionally, the use of certain drugs such as antibiotics, immunosuppressant medications, and proton pump inhibitors may cause SIBO.

The lactulose hydrogen breath test is the most common test for SIBO. A baseline breath test is taken followed by ingestion of a solution that contains dextrose or lactulose. The breath is tested every 15 minutes for two hours to determine the levels of hydrogen and methane, which determine a diagnosis of SIBO. If a diagnosis is made, patients are often put on conventional antibiotics or herbal antibiotics. Some herbal antibiotics are oil of oregano, berberine, lemon balm oil, and wormwood oil. Even with antibiotics, SIBO is extremely difficult to treat.  The use of probiotics to help symptoms of SIBO is controversial. Various herbs, including glutamine, are used to repair the GI tract after removal of the bacteria in the small intestine.

A low FODMAP diet is also recommended for at least two weeks. FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates which are not properly absorbed in the gut, and they trigger symptoms associated with IBS. They ferment and feed the bacteria, which makes it harder to eliminate the bacteria in the small intestine. FODMAP stands for: fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. To learn more about the FODMAP diet, visit https://www.monashfodmap.com/i-have-ibs/starting-the-low-fodmap-diet/.