Friday, November 26, 2010

"Shovel Down Pasta" Carbo loading for athletes

Athletes are always on the lookout for great recipes. This pasta recipe is one of my favorites. It can be served at room temperature, and goes great with chicken or red meat. I prefer to use bowtie, fusilli, penne, or spaghetti cut in half. I grew up in a Greek family and learned to cook without recipes; I learned by taste! Experiment, use your senses, be a little loose, taste as you go. Have fun with this recipe... Most of my athletes shovel it down!


1 lb. Pasta-Prepare al dente -cool, put in bowl
8 to 12 oz. crumbled feta cheese
pkg. basil chopped (or to taste)
chopped green onions, at least 5 (to taste)
crushed garlic (use fresh, to taste)
dried Italian seasoning
chopped Italian parsley (to taste)
prepared julienned sun-dried tomatoes in oil (to taste)
cherry tomatoes (optional)

Toss ingredients, with large spoon or with your hands. The pasta must be cooled so the feta cheese won't melt. Serve at room temp.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Reading the Body of an Athlete"

I began the fine art of formally reading the body of the elite cyclist at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in 1983. Under the watchful eye of veteran soigneur, my first mentor " Famous Amos Ottley", I began a life long quest to observe and treat athletes beginning with the members of the U.S. Cycling Team. These techniques involved not only using my eyes, but all of my senses.

It is a never ending area of fascination and learning for me. I not only find bio mechanics, pre-and post-effort needs, and increasing recovering rate personally enriching information, but knowledge worth sharing.

When I observe an athlete I am intaking everything as a whole, like a head to toe scan as they approach me. How are they walking? Their gait? Posture. Head position. Shoulders; are their shoulders anteriorly rotated? Is one higher than the other? Do they have over-development of particular muscle groups? Obvious discrepancies in size; Arms; right compared to left dominance. Legs; right compared to left quadriceps/ hamstring ratios and gastrocnemious and soleus development discrepancies. Are they over-developed in either tibialis anterior? Feet; do they pronate? Supinate? Wear functional orthotics? Knees; How does their Q-Angle look? Their eyes; are they bloodshot, yellow, dull? Do they have puffiness or dark circles? Mouth; are they in ketosis? Can I smell it? Are they hydrated? Lips cracked, mouth parched, tongue consistency? Are there salt stains on their clothes after an event? Skin; what is the overall 'look',energy coming off of their face?

When you massage athletes like I do, you do not have to even speak their language if you are proficient in body work to 'listen to the tissues'. I had phenomenal teachers from all over the world instruct me in talking to the body. Each person's body should be listened to each individual time they are on your table. Our bodies are not static beings, they are ever changing, always needing different tuning. A dehydrated body feels like beef jerky slabs under the skin. Whereas a hydrated body feels more juicy.

One of the quadricep muscles, the most lateral one called the vastus lateralis might need deeper work in the center of the belly one day, and less at the distal end. Recently, my X-terra runner Kim ran a 50-mile rough terrain course with rocky creek beds and lots of vertical climbing; that same muscle might need more work higher up at the proximal end. I palpated her leg and felt the more contracted areas. I would listen to what she needed by touching the fibers. Were they taut? Swollen? Had I observed that she walked in 'stiff legged'? Was her knee hurting because her pelvis was rotated anteriorly? Was her knee tracking 'off', beginning from her back and causing all the hip flexor and quadriceps muscles to 'pull' everything 'up'? Hmmmm?

On the Pro-Tour we would sometimes have to pull up next to a rider in the peloton who was bonking, while they held onto the car. One soigneur would drive and the other would assess the rider. I remember so many times hanging out of my team car window, pinching the jaw of my rider to open his mouth and squeeze liquid glucose polymer in. I would even rub his throat to initiate swallowing, and when I could see his eyes 'turn on the fire' again, Id know the glucose stores were up....I could read it.

We had to read when to do glucose IV's and when to push the calories in the Grand Tours. We could feel our riders body fat dropping from January training camp to the Tour de France in July from 7% down to 4% or 3%. By the Tour, they would be exhausted from eating, because the demands were so great.

There are so many variables involved in each athlete's training and competition. I find that in my private massage practice the same variables exist in our lives, whether we are athletes or not. We must all be observed and listened to. Not only looked at, and touched, but heard with our hearts. Reading the bodies of professional athletes has helped me to better care for my clientele. After all, we are all champions at something!