Wolff's Law Part 2

Note: I have a post related to this a long time ago, and the previous post was very brief so I would like to elaborate more this time.

Wolff's Law is a theory, developed by a German anatomist with the name of Julius Wolff (hence the name). The theory states that a healthy person's or animal's bone would adapt to the force it receives. In other words, the bigger the load that the bone receives, the bone will change/modify it's structure to adapt to the kind of load it is place under. This also applies if the load decreases. Your bones will too adapt to the environment and model the bone under the condition it is on.

An example of this are astronauts who are in zero-gravity for extended periods of time. Upon returning to earth, they will be extremely weak due to the conditioning of their bones and muscles to adapt the environment. Zero gravity exerts no load to the body, therefore the muscles and bones grow weaker.

On the other hand, martial artists condition themselves by repeatedly hitting objects. Many know it works but do not know why. It's just Wolff's Law. This does not happen overnight but possibly years or more depending on the intensity of the training. Muay Thai fighters took this very seriously and train their hands and legs, esspecially until they become deadly weapons. With rock solid bones that are impervious to pain, they are certainly opponents to be feared.

However an important factor to consider is if you hit an object that is harder than your bones, like a tree or a rock wall, you risk injury.

You don't want to end up like this guy.

An easy way to condition your bones is to hit boxing pads, that are hard enough. Do this a lot and you would definetly see an improvement. Another way, which I learned from Shaolin monks in China is that they suspend a phone directory, a thick one, on the wall, and punch on it. The book is soft, yet hard, and it makes a good buffer between your knuckles and the wall.

And none of this is easy. To train to such a degree is pure sweat and blood.

Ankle Sprain

I recently got a pretty bad ankle sprain. No, I didn't fight;) I was playing football and for a moment I thought I was in the World Cup and I jumped and I landed and 'snap' and that's how I got injured.

But back to the point, an ankle sprain is one of the most common injuries in sports be it martial arts, football, basketball and there are a few things we can do to help in case of an ankle sprain.

The most common is the RICE thing (not the rice we eat).

R - Rest
I - Ice
C - Compression
E - Elevation

Resting the injured ankle initially is only common sense. Reintroduce slight movement to the ankle after a day or two when it gets better to prevent loss of muscle strength.

Swelling can develop soon after depending on the severity of the injury. Applying ice to the injured area immediately can help reduce swelling and inflammation and to speed up recovery. Don't apply ice directly to the skin as it can cause 'frostbite'. You can use an ice pack or ice wrapped in a towel.

Compress the ankle with a bandage to decrease swelling. Bandaging also provides support and prevents too much movement to your ankle. Do not apply them too tightly however.

Elevate the ankle above your heart level to reduce the level of blood flow to the injured area.

You see, at the end of the day, what we want to do it to reduce swelling and inflammation because that's what cause most of the pain and slows down the healing process. We want to counteract the increased blood flow to the injured area and prevent build up of fluid.

I'm not going to talk about the mechanics of the ankle or how ruptured blood vessels cause swelling here. But straight to the point, RICE is the most common and no-frills treatment out there.

However, if you feel the injury is severe or if it doesn't show sign of healing in a few days, go see a doctor, chiropractor, podiatrist, orthopedic, get professional help.

How to survive a knife attack

A friend of mine recently got mugged and attacked by two guys. How the whole story goes I am not sure, but he received two stiches on the head and chipped a tooth. He was lucky. It could have gone a lot worse. If they are carrying knifes, he would not be receiving just two stiches.

Let us put ourselves in a situation: you are walking in a dark alley, alone. Suddenly a young dude carrying a knife jumps you and demands all your money. As far as you know, no one is around to help you. What do you do?

Even experienced martial artist would tell you that it's not worth it to fight an armed attacker. Even if at the end you won the fight there is only a very small chance you would escape from it unhurt. Your life is much more valuable than your belongings, and to provoke an attack is the last thing you want to do when standing of against an armed attacker. Your best survival tactic is to give them whatever they want, do not look them directly against the face, and don't speak loud. In other words, be passive.

However, sometimes things can get extremely ugly. When all they want is to hurt you, when a fight is inevitable you need to know how to fight against an armed attacker. There are two important factors that makes them have tremendous advantage over you. The first is their reach, with a knife they have a longer range of attack then you. The second is the fact that they are holding a weapon. You are already at a disadvantage due to fear. To fend of attackers with knifes, you are best with a weapon of your own. This can be very ordinary objects, such as a chair. I believe it would not be easy to cut a person who is flinging a chair with just a short kitchen knife. Or anything from an ordinary plank of wood lying on the ground, to the metal cover of a trash, a jacket wrapped around your hand can be used to protect yourself.

Your best chance of survival would still be to give in. However if things get bad and you have to protect yourself, do not hesitate to do it. Use all that you can, do all that you can, and hope for the best. And when that comes, do be prepared to leave with a few scars.

When more doesn't mean more

Some people I know have this misconception that the more they lift, the more they will grow, the stronger they become. The amounts of repetitions does not directly relate to the amount of growth or even strength. As science goes, strength is measure by the amount of weight that you are able to lift. As a comparison, if I could lift a 1kg weight for a 200 times doesn't mean I am stronger than another dude who manages to lift 200kg even thought the maths is the same (1x200 = 200x1). The latter is certainly more impressive, and for a good reason.

Strength training require lifting weights, what kind will depend on your current strength. Pick a weight which you are able to lift for 8-10 reps at a single set. Do about 3 sets, with a minute rest in between. You will become stronger. Picking an easy weight and lifting it countless times will do little to increase your strength. It could help with muscle endurance though, but that is for another time.

It is the same story with bulking up. You will need weights. Weights that should increase periodically throughout your training. This is because you will gain strength, and you'll have to increase your weights again, to match up with your strength. However do note that this is a rough explanation, as there are much more science and factors that are involved. Just imagine this as a graph, you may think it would be linear (straight), but things don't usually work that way.

Why not exercising can lead to growth

Seems funny when someone say that sometimes resting at home, or sleeping (not always) can lead to bigger muscles. But it is true. For people who have been training or done some research, they would know what I am talking about.

Let's start from basic, there are thoughts that humans grow in their sleep. That is partly true, because they do, but not only in their sleep. Human growth is controlled by a growth hormone. This hormone is active throughout the day, but peaks after the first hour of sleep. So if you are not getting enough sleep, your growth will be limited.

Body-builders also have what they call a 'rest-day' in which they don't train. For example, I've just worked my chest on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will be my rest-days. These two days I might work on my aerobics, and continue my chest workout on Thursday. This will allow my muscles to heal before my next session begins. It is very important to give your muscles time to heal, or you will do more damage then good. Over straining your muscles will not make them grow back stronger, but you risk injuries. Also, since your muscles are not in their performing state, you'll be lifting much less weights than you need to actually stimulate muscle growth.

Some may need longer rest days than other, some shorter. If you don't feel anything after a day's workout, you may have trained too lightly on the previous session. When you push yourself, by the next day you should have felt at least some tense sensation. It is then time to give your body the rest it deserves.

Note: I am not a professional trainer/body-builder/writer, some words/phrases I used could be misintepreted. This post is meant to be informative based, and not to be taken as a manual.

The core muscles

The core muscles consists of the three areas of your body, the abdominals, back and pelvic area. No matter in sports, martial arts or just general fitness, your core strength is vital.

In martial arts, the core strength is extremely important. Bruce Lee understands that, and makes core muscle exercise a major part of his training routine. In defends, the abdominals would act as a shell, protecting all the major organs from attacks. Your other core muscles would also work together, allowing you to avoid from any attacks, fast. Almost all kinds of movement would activate your core muscles, therefore it is extremely important to make core muscle training a part of your workout. When you execute a kick for example, it is not only your leg muscles that generates the strength. Your back, hip muscles and abdominals all play a part in the kick. An excellent core strength will allow a martial artist to move with great efficiency.

Here is a link I found from the Internet that shows a way you can evaluate your core muscle strength. If you are not able to complete the exercise, no worries, a little training and time will ensure a pass next time. Click here to test.

Image by GettyImages

How to motivate yourself

One of the greatest enemies in a training is to lose your motivation. As you all know by now, training is a long term commitment. For example, you may be very motivated to lose 20 pounds by the beginning of the year, but only to get lazy half-way through when you yet to see any concrete results.

Here are some of my personal favourite tips to keep yourself motivated in your workout:

Make a bet
Make a friendly bet with friend or family. Whoever drops 10 pounds first is the winner. For a more effective motivation make a bet with a rival or someone you particular don't like losing to.

Sign up for competition
Signing up for a competition would give you a deadline to reach a specific goal. The thought of competing with so many people looking could give you extra motivation to perform.

Join a community
Participating in a forum, club would make your workouts more interesting. You can also gain experience, ideas and activities that would increase your workouts.

Keep it interesting
Repetition of the same workout can be dull and boring. Change your weights, a change of exercise can keep your workouts interesting. Instead of doing regular push-ups, challenge yourself for a knuckle push-up. Even varying the speed of your sit-ups could keep you motivated for the workout session.

Get a workout partner
Besides having a companion, you can also learn through each other. Having someone to talk to can go a long way working out in the gym.

Visualize your goals
Look at the mirror, and visualize the perfect you. Do this everyday and work towards your goal.

Keep your progress
Keep track of your progress, write down how much weights you can lift, weights you've lost, body fat etc. When you start seeing results, you would be motivated to continue.

Challenge yourself
Instead of doing the same workout routine over and over again, challenge yourself to a task. You can challenge yourself to bench-press 250 pounds in two months, do 10 consecutive chin-ups in week.

There are many more other methods that could work for you, but most importantly as long as you have the will you will definitely reach your goal.

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