Your pain won’t go away unless you do something about it

Written By: Mario Ashley, MBA

“A decline in performance should lead to a search for its cause and to a focus on the quality of your recovery. Remember, often doing less is more powerful than training more.”
― Rountree Sage, The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery

There are two types of injuries that come from training. These can be identified as acute or chronic injuries. For the sake of simplicity, acute injuries are those that occur from traumatic injury (ie sprain from rolling ankle, hamstring tear from sprinting) and chronic injuries due to overuse, bad movement patterns, and inflammation.

While it’s easy to understand how important exercise is to get in better shape many neglect how important recovery is for longevity (lifelong fitness).

For instance, I believe most recreational athletes train approximately 5 hours a week. From my observation, most of these athletes are only spending less than 1 hour a week on recovery. That’s a 5:1 ratio of work-to-recovery. My hypothesis is that chronic injuries are occurring due to the disproportional ratios of work-to-recovery.

It’s my recommendation that athletes move towards a 2:1 or 1:1 method of work-to-recovery. So if your training for 5 hours a week you should be doing 2.5-5 hours of recovery treatments a week also. This ratio creates a greater buffer from chronic injuries due to over-training and under-recovering.

“But I don’t have time to stretch for 5 hours a week”

“Stretching is so boring”

I’m not an idiot or insane enough to propose that you need to stretch for that long in order to train. Thank goodness there are others ways to recover.

Recovery methods can be categorized as “active” or “passive.”

I define passive recovery methods as those which you can do to yourself without a specialist. These include but are not limited to stretching, mobility, yoga, self-massage, foam rolling, ice & heat, electrical stimulation, swimming, light therapy, etc. The benefit of passive methods is they are more accessible and cheaper than active modalities.

I define recovery methods that are active as those that require expert help or assistance. These include but are not limited to massage, chiropractic, partner stretching, acupuncture, scraping, etc. Active recovery methods require no work from you but cost much more money and time.

Case Study
For example, I will use a real-life scenario of someone who applied this protocol. We have a very active male in his early 30’s who trained CrossFit 3x last week and ran a 5k (30minutes). That equates to 3.5 hours of training (work). In that time he stretched a total of 30minutes, got a 1-hour massage, a 20-minute ice bath, and used the Tens Unit for 20 minutes. That equated to 2 hours and 10 minutes of recovery. His work-to-recovery ratio was very close to 1:1. Not only was his training very consistent he was able to train pain and soreness free because of it. I know that for a fact because the case study was me!

Do The Math
I think we need to get more honest with ourselves about how we are recovering, or the lack thereof, the same way we are about how we are training. If you have a chronic injury that hasn’t gone away yet I can bet that it isn’t going to go away unless you do something about it. Like your job, log your hours to help create more self-awareness. What you will find is the more time you spend in recovery the better you feel and the less pain you will have.

Practical Tips For Not Getting Fat On Thanksgiving

Written By: Mario Ashley, MBA

If you’re currently on a diet, you’re probably worried that Thanksgiving is going to ruin everything you’ve worked so hard to accomplish. And honestly, if you don’t get ahead of it you’re probably right.

I say that because this isn’t my first diet during the holidays. I’ve been dieting during the holidays since I was in high school. Its called being a wrestler 🤼. For some reason, some genius decided to make wrestling season during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. Kidding aside, there’s no reason you can’t stay within your dietary goals while enjoying some amazing food and lots of family.

Here are my recommendations…
Study the menu
For the most part, you know where you’re going to be for Thanksgiving and what’s going to be served.  I’ve already inputted my calories into MyFitnessPal to help me game plan dinner while giving myself a few extra calories to spare to choose whatever I like when I get there.

Fast in the morning
Because I already know that my Thanksgiving meal is going to be larger than normal, by skipping breakfast I’m able to consume more calories for dinner than I normally would. Temporarily restricting food also has great benefits to the way our brains work, the way our hormones balance, and our ability to use fat stores on the body.

Workout before the big feast 💪💪
I got suckered into running a 5k on Thanksgiving day. I’m not mad though. Not only does it get allow me to keep my routine going, by going for a run I know I’m going to burn at least 400 calories and another 500 calories from EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). That’s 900 calories I can adjust for during dinner.

Expert Tip:  Eat according to your maintence calories. Your maintenance calories is approximately your body weight X 14.

Avoid BLT’s
BLT’s stand for Bites, Licks, and Tastes…aka snacking. The number of calories consumed from snacking will catch up to you if you’re not paying attention. Instead, keep your mouth occupied with low-calorie options, fill your belly with water, and chew gum before the big meal.

Track your spirts, the liquid kind 🍺🍺
In one study people who tracked their alcohol consumption in real-time drank less than those who didn’t. I think a lot of that comes from the guilty conscience we get from drinking all those liquid calories. Likewise, keep the drinks simple which makes it easier to track. Leave the margaritas for Cinco De Mayo.

Small plates, small belly 🏋🏋
Use paper snack plates for dinner. In one study, those who ate using smaller plates consumed 22-29% fewer calories than those who didn’t. Think of it as tricking the mind into fullness. Dr. Gareth Hollands, one of the leaders of the research, said that smaller plates “help people avoid ‘over-serving’ themselves with larger portions by reducing portion size and availability.”

Overeat on the healthy stuff 🥗🥗
Start with a huge salad, eat lots of fruits, and drink a bunch of water. The fruits and vegetables will make you feel much fuller due to the caloric density that comes from fiber. High-fiber foods not only provide volume but also takes longer to digest, making you feel fuller, longer, and with fewer calories. This strategy works really well because fruit and vegetables tend to be lower in calories compared to their counterparts of meats and starches.

Walk it out. Walk it out🎵🎵🎵
The infamous Turkey food coma is a real thing. You know what I’m talking about. The inevitable nap that occurs about 45 minutes after gorging one’s self on Thanksgiving. Its a sugar crash like no other. You can stop that from happening by going for a walk around the neighboorhood. In one study, German researchers looked at what happened when people ate a large meal by having the participants walk at a slow pace on a treadmill. Walking, they found, sped the rate of digestion that moved through the stomach while helping stabilize blood sugar back to normal levels.

This isn’t a foolproof plan. There’s no such thing. But its 10x better than going into Thanksgiving thinking you’re going to overcome the bulge by sheer will. Good luck with that!


Can sitting for long periods of time be that bad for you?

Written By: Mario Ashley, MBA

I know how ridiculous this sounds but from a physiological perspective the research continues to prove how terrible sitting for long periods of time is for you. I’m not proposing that, if you smoke, you can keep doing it as long as you stand more. Let’s not forget the obvious, smoking will kill you (probably faster than sitting ever will). I just want you to consider a simple lifestyle habit that you’ve probably never even thought about before.

In the American Journal of Public Health researchers report that excessive sitting defined as roughly more than eight hours a day, increases the risk of premature death and some chronic diseases by 10-20%! In another report, it was shown that 85% of the workforce gets paid to work seated for 8 hours a day.

This places us in a predicament. Our jobs place us in a position (literally and figuratively) where we are forced to sit, even though we know how bad it can be for us.

Why is it so bad?

Digestion Issues
Sitting for long periods of time can affect your digestion negatively. This is especially true after eating which causes food to compress, rather than expand, while effectively slowing down your digestion due to lack of movement. This bad habit is the root cause of cramping, heartburn, bloating, and constipation. Just think about how many people are rushing to eat fast food for lunch, only to sit down for the next four hours.

Back & Core Duo
Long periods of sitting requires little to no core engagement, nor does it allow the abdominals to function the way they’re supposed to. In the standing position, the abs brace naturally. It’s not something that we even think about but its happening unconsciously. Although in the seated position our spines aren’t going to snap the seated position wreaks havoc on the low back. According to Cornell University Department of Ergonomics, up to 90% more pressure is put on your back when you sit vs. when you stand.

Tight Hips
The most common type of pain caused by sitting is caused by arthritis (inflammation of the joints). Most people associate arthritis with old age but new research is showing younger and younger populations with arthritis. The causes of hip pain in young adults has increased significantly over the last decade. The types of hip pain have increased so dramatically and the causes so complex that conditions may require diagnosis by a specialist.

So what can I do?
The easiest remedy is to stop sitting for such long periods of time. The actual execution is not so easy. Here’s what I suggest…

Set an alarm on your phone every 60-90minutes to take a walk or head down to the water cooler for five minutes to get the legs moving. This is the easiet habit you can create.

Standing Desk
A hybrid standing desk can be effective at reducing sitting time during the workday by 30 minutes to two hours per day. Additionally, by standing more throughout the day you expend approximately 170 additional calories. That’s almost 1000 extra calories burned each week from simply standing at your desk each afternoon.

Lunch Walk
Sitting behind your desk is one of the worst things you can you for digestion. In one study, albeit small, found that when adults walked on a treadmill for 15 minutes after a meal, improved blood sugar spikes for hours after walking. The reason for that is that the muscles we use to walk use glucose (aka sugar in the blod) as energy, drawing it out of circulation and therefore reducing how much is in the blood.

You don’t need to go completely change your work habits but I can guarantee from my own experience at work that my back and joints feel better and my digestion post lunch has improved since I’ve implemented these new habits.