Sunday, January 17, 2016
Courtesy of Chris Morgan [see video below], Head Coach, Gator's Swim Club (2015 New England Senior Swimming Championship Team).
We work on speed, strength and stamina every workout at the Gator's Swim Club in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Like other competitive age-group swim teams, the Gator's augment those hard training sessions with a focus on proper technique, good balanced nutrition, and all kinds of “outside the box” dry-land training.
This year, our athletes began an innovative addition to our entire training regime that has resulted in some unprecedented drops in time:
Over a 3-month period, some of our representative swims include:
Henry Gaissert (17 years old)
• 100 freestyle: from 47.0 to 44.8 (44.1 relay split)
• 100 butterfly: from 52.4 to 49.8
Maddie Wallis (16 years old)
• 100 backstroke: from 57.1 to 54.9
• 200 backstroke: from 2:07.9 to 2:00.3
Johnny Prindle (17 years old)
• 100 freestyle: from 48.1 to a 45.9 relay split
• 200 freestyle: from 1:47.2 to 1:41.5
• 100 breaststroke: from 59.0 to 57.5
KAATSU the original BFR.
KAATSU is the secret advantage that Olympic and professional athletes from Japan, and increasingly in the U.S., Switzerland and Hungary, have been using to gain specific strength in order to improve speed and increase stamina.
Years ago, Olympic champion Misty Hyman from Stanford University did something vaguely similar. The 200m butterfly Olympic champion in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games placed several thick postage rubber bands around her arms and legs. She would at times swim as much as 8,000 meters with the bands at AFOX in Arizona under the guidance of its coach Bob Gillette as a high school student. Her unusual training method started in Arizona as a top age-grouper and continued at Stanford University under Richard Quick [where I served as an assistant coach].
But we learned from Dr. Yoshiaki Sato and our KAATSU Global colleagues that very specific pressures with carefully engineered pneumatic bands used in short durations is the key to significant improvements in speed, strength and stamina. We use the KAATSU Master and KAATSU Nano devices to identify two types of specific pressures (called Base SKU and Optimal SKU where SKU stands for Standard KAATSU Unit). These pressures are specific for each athlete that can vary from day to day and workout to workout. Those specific pressures, that vary from athlete to athlete, are how our athletes have maximized the benefits of KAATSU or "blood flow moderation training".
Invented in 1966 and perfected by 1973 by Dr. Sato of Tokyo, the KAATSU inventor was honored by the Japanese Olympic Committee in 1992. Word eventually leaked out from Japan about KAATSU beginning in the 1980s and throughout the 1990s, but it was mostly adopted without knowledge of the Base SKU and Optimal SKU by the bodybuilding community. These bodybuilders, looking to achieve muscle hypertrophy, never understood the importance of using pneumatic bands or identifying Base SKU or Optimal SKU. Eventually, the bodybuilding community referred to using knee wraps and other sorts of restrictive bands as occlusion training or tourniquet training. But acceptance of the thick postage rubber bands or knee warps never took off in amateur or professional sports in the West. So for years, American and European bodybuilders simply tied knee wraps and other bands around their arms to build bulk based on 2D photos they saw of the KAATSU bands.
In contrast to the specific KAATSU protocols to identify optimal pressures, bodybuilders tie their limbs using a pain scale from 1 to 10, with 7-8 being the recommended level of pain by various American researchers. This kind of simplified and frankly dangerous* means to occlude blood flow in the limbs was neither possible nor practical for age-group swimmers or older masters swimmers. In contrast to those focused on muscle hypertrophy, we wanted a proven, safe and effective means to help our athletes improve their speed, strength and stamina - not a means to get bulkier.
Since the Center for KAATSU Research at the Harvard Medical School was established in 2013, I first used KAATSU on myself** and learned the proper protocols and how to safely use the KAATSU equipment. With that knowledge and experience, the athletes of the Gator's Swim Club have been experimenting with KAATSU and our age-group swimmers, several who are national-caliber swimmers.
I quickly learned how we could replicate 'race pain' without the need for a time-consuming test set by using the KAATSU equipment. By engorging the muscles in blood (instead of keeping blood out like the bodybuilders and their knee wraps), I studied how this revolutionary training technique could be utilized by competitive swimmers whether they are focused on their local high school championships and getting into college or others like Roy Burch and Mohamed Hussein who have their eyes on the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
We now use KAATSU in three fundamental ways:
1. In rehabilitation
2. For recovery
3. During training
We have used KAATSU to quickly resolve sore shoulders and the tweaks of overuse injuries from both our age-groupers and masters swimmers. We use the KAATSU Cycle modality that starts off with lower pressures and gradually builds up to higher pressures. These protocols are the same protocols that are used by Olympic gold medalists and members of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics USA team and professional soccer players.***
We use the KAATSU Cycle modality between races and between the preliminary and final events in a multi-day event (e.g., the 2015 Winter Junior National Championships in Atlanta, Georgia).
We do a variety of sets with KAATSU in order to improve technique, speed, strength and stamina. None of these sets last over 20 minutes, as per the standard KAATSU protocols. Some of the sets involve using arm bands and some of the sets involve using leg bands, including sets that exclusively focus on starts or turns.
These sets can range from 10 x 15m breakouts to 10 x 50 at a specific pressure.
Not only have our athletes and their parents accepted KAATSU and appreciate its benefits, but we also have some of our graduating seniors requesting the KAATSU machines accompany them to their new collegiate teams.
* Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. 2010 May; 20(3): 218-9: Low-load ischemic exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis
** In 2013, I competed in a local Tough Mudder obstacle race. I used the KAATSU Master to improve my fitness level, but on the day of the event, at mile #10, I slipped on a log, smashed my side, and broke 2 ribs. For 7 days immediately after the injury, I used the KAATSU Master and KAATSU Air Bands as prescribed for broken bones. By day 7, the pain and sensitivity of the broken ribs had vanished. Ten days after the first x-rays revealed the broken ribs, I took a second set of x-rays that showed a complete recovery. Since that time, I wanted the athletes who I work with to benefit from a clear and methodical use of KAATSU.
*** Get Stronger, Go Longer. KAATSU is Blowing Researchers' Minds (Military Times) and KAATSU Japanese Blood Flow Routine (Outside Magazine)
Copyright © 2014 - 2016 by KAATSU Global
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Copyright © 2015 by Christopher Morgan, 2008 Olympic Swim Coach
My coaching career has allowed me to chase my dreams and realize them; travel the world and learn new languages. Most importantly, and through a twist of fate, my travels inadvertently guided me to meet my best friend, my soul mate...my wife. I am fortunate and humbled by the athletes who I have worked with and the amazing mentors who have taught me invaluable lessons and bestowed upon me treasures of information and knowledge.
When I started coaching under the late Richard Quick at Stanford University in the 1990’s, I was nervous about making mistakes, yet comforted by Richard and his preacher-like aura.
Richard was a swimming genius and a magician of motivation. I remember someone once told me Richard “could make a rock swim…” I believe that to be true.
One thing that Richard was always keen about was new and innovative toys and tools that could help athletes get better. I am sure that some of that passion for new information was implanted in my 'swim coach' genetic code.
One of my more vivid memories of Richard and Stanford Swimming was when a young swimmer by the name of Misty Hyman came to join the legendary swimming family at Stanford University. One training tool that was traditionally associated with Misty was the monofin. However, some people might not have ever know that back during her training under Bob Gillett at AFOX in Arizona, and continued through a collaboration with Richard at Stanford, Misty would wear multiple large rubber bands around her thighs and upper arms.
Though it seemed strange, I was totally captivated by this unique way of restricting blood flow to the extremities while raising the heart rate through training. I did not think much about it...at least not for 15 years.
Jump ahead to 2013...
After a very successful coaching career in Switzerland, I returned to Stanford for a brief coaching opportunity in 2012 and then relocated to Boston in the spring to take on the assistant coaching position at Harvard University. My fortune continued while at Harvard, most importantly one day while sitting in my office and observing 2012 Olympian Alex Meyer dive into the pool for an early swim with Olympic coach Tim Murphy. On this particular day, someone else accompanied Alex and Tim and they seemed to be testing some kind of equipment. My curiosity had never waned and I was drawn to the pool deck where I met their guest, Steven Munatones.
I was no stranger to Steven and his passion for swimming. I had read one of his books about Open Water Swimming while coaching some open water swimmers in Europe. I had also seen him at some meets and events many years prior. Coach Murphy and Steve were observing Alex swim a series of 50’s and I noticed some kind of bands wrapped around his upper arms as he trained. Alex was/is a true glutton for punishment, so when I saw his grimace after only a handful of 50’s at a moderate speed, I asked myself, 'What are these crazy arm bands?' I continued to watch as they switched to legs…OUFF, Alex maintained the same facial result.
I introduced myself to Steve and I think he immediately felt my enthusiasm for this interesting way of creating a 'race pain' without the need for a time-consuming test set. I asked many questions and requested Steve to come back and test the bands on me. He obliged and I was blown away. Steve and I talked about the rubber bands that I had seen Misty use so many years prior…he said the science was almost identical. He called these bands KAATSU the original BFR. He explained that the equipment and protocols and concepts were developed in Japan.
This was when KAATSU first entered my life and I will forever be indebted to this moment.
I followed this up by introducing the Head Women’s Coach at Harvard to this very interesting training tool. She believed in my philosophy and passion for 'outside of the box' training techniques and we steadily grew a relationship with Steve and some others who were practitioners of KAATSU. In order to safely and successfully implement the KAATSU Aqua Bands into our training, all parties agreed that the coaches should undertake some formal training in KAATSU and become KAATSU-certified. It was incredibly interesting, though I struggled with how exactly we would begin with the team.
Then, because of an injury, the how and why became crystal clear.
In early 2013 I had made a pack with myself to get fit. I needed and goal, so I set me eyes on a Tough Mudder obstacle race. It was a perfect event to get myself motivated to train and be ready. I even used the KAATSU Master to improve my fitness level. On the day of the event, at mile #10, I slipped on a log and smashed my side. The result was 2 broken ribs.
I continued to use the KAATSU Master and both arm and leg bands during my recovery. I was shocked at how fast the pain and sensitivity were diminished. I decided to see what was really happening. So 10 days after the x-rays revealed the broken ribs, I requested a second look. The doctor was in disbelief at how fast I had healed. This was all I needed to believe that KAATSU was the only reason for my quick recovery. I was TOTALLY IN and wanted the athletes that I work with to be able to benefit in any and all ways possible from a clear and methodical use of KAATSU.
I have never been so amazed at the results of anything in the sport of swimming as I am with a continued use of KAATSU Aqua Bands in everyday training. My athletes are not only healing pre-existing injuries, they are preventing injuries and making BIG time drops...this is HUGE!
Copyright © 2014 - 2015 by KAATSU Global
Friday, July 3, 2015
Courtesy of KAATSU Global, Huntington Beach, California.
In Arizona during the 1990's, two-time American High School Swimmer of the Year Misty Hyman started to put large rubber bands around her upper legs and upper arms under the guidance of her Hall of Fame coach Bob Gillette.
Gillette was innovative and came up with the idea of placing big, thick bands around Hyman's arms and legs in order to restrict the blood flow to her extremities.
After Hyman entered Stanford as America's most formidable high school star in 1997, she continued to use the rubber bands around her legs and arms during certain sets under the guidance of renowned Olympic coach Richard Quick.
A few of her teammates tried the bands around their legs, but Hyman remained a lone star in the revolutionary training modality.
Combined with her innate talents and hard work, her training regimen worked as Hyman graduated from Stanford University with 9 NCAA titles to her credit.
Most famously, Hyman put all those years of training to good use when she pulled off one of the greatest upsets in aquatic history when she defeated Susie O'Neill at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Defending Olympic champion Neill had not lost a 200-meter butterfly race in six years, but Hyman put it all together physically and mentally on swimming’s biggest stage in Sydney.
When Hyman retired in 2004, the close of her career spelled the end of those thick rubber bands.
But a young American coach, Christopher Morgan, was also on the pool deck helping Quick mold Olympic champions and NCAA record-holders at Stanford. He watched Hyman go from a high school star to Olympic champion. But he always wondered about those rubber bands. Why wasn't anyone using them? What exactly did the bands do physiologically? When the limbs are engorged in blood, what happens to the body?
Dial forward 18 years.
Hyman continues to be a role model for swimmers and people of all walks of life. Gillette currently serves as a USA Swimming Master Coach while Quick sadly passed away in 2009. Morgan found his own path to Olympics as coach of the Swiss team as well as a coach at Harvard University.
While at Harvard, Morgan met with a representative of an innovative Japanese doctor who had independently developed blood flow moderation exercise in the 1960s. “Dr. Sato created KAATSU which means ‘additional pressure’. It has been used by hundreds of thousands of Japanese for sports performance, fitness, and rehabilitation over the last several decades. When I first saw Dr. Sato’s sophisticated pneumatic KAATSU bands with sensors inside, it reminded me of Misty’s rubber bands. It was déjà vu in the pool with a highly sophisticated Japanese technological twist.”
Dr. Peter Lansbury, a former Princeton swimmer and currently a professor of neurology at the Harvard Medical School has been using KAATSU bands for several months. He explains, “Dr. Sato discovered the effects of blood flow moderation exercise that he calls KAATSU. He has shown remarkable results with Japanese Olympic medalists and pro athletes and is now working with the Chinese Olympic Committee. Fortunately, he also shared his knowledge with our colleagues here at the Harvard Medical School. But Chris has really run with KAATSU’s applications with his age-group swimmers at Northshore YMCA.”
Morgan describes his pioneering KAATSU training on dryland and KAATSU Aqua in the pool with three young swimmers on his team.
"Carson Christuk is a 16-year-old breaststroker. He has been using KAATSU Aqua 3 times per week after breaking his wrist and dislocating his kneecap during 2013. He says KAATSU has helped reduce and occasionally eliminate the lingering pain of his injuries. But it is the improvement in his best times that have been most satisfying. He was a 2:14 200 breaststroker in September 2013 and then dropped his time to 2:11 with a taper in December. After starting KAATSU Aqua in January, he pulled a 2:09 in February and then ripped off a 2:03 in April at the YMCA National Championships.
Jake Bennett is an 18-year-old freestyler. He had a bad rotator cuff injury since the summer of 2013. It would flare up under high stress or due to high volume. Initially, he used KAATSU every day for 2 weeks to see any improvement. During the first week, he only used the KAATSU Aqua bands on his legs, but then he started up with his arms on week 2. After 2 weeks, his pain was almost gone for the first time in 3 months. Like Carson, his performances skyrocketed. He was a 1:44.9 200 freestyler in September 2013 and did a 1:46.5 in October while he was in pain. But after starting KAATSU in November, he dropped to 1:44.5 in December and just did a 1:41.2 swimming pain free at the high school state championships.”
Morgan has also used KAATSU with four of his disabled swimmers including 3 Para-National Team swimmers and 1 world record holder. “The Japanese use KAATSU Aqua bands with individuals who are missing limbs or who have had strokes. We place the KAATSU bands on both limbs of our disabled athletes while we carefully identify and monitor the pressure. While it may look like simple bands on the arms and legs, there is a specific protocol that Dr. Sato developed. Like the American Olympic skiers and jumpers who use KAATSU, and the professional athletes in Japan, we look for a certain physiological state and then we work with our swimmers over intense, short periods with some pretty remarkable results."
Dr. Jim Stray-Gundersen oversees KAATSU training with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association athletes where all the skiers and snowboarders incorporate KAATSU into their training regimen. The Sports Science Advisor explains how he has applied KAATSU at the Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah. “When we have injured athletes, they can do both KAATSU and Alter-G in order to maintain their strength and aerobic conditioning as they recover. We are also starting to incorporate KAATSU training into the regime of our uninjured athletes. KAATSU allows safe (very light weights), maximal workouts to failure in short periods of time (about 15 minutes), with positive results coming in as little as 10 sessions."
What Bob Gillette and Misty Hyman were working on in the 1990’s may have been more profound that they may have initially realized.
“When the KAATSU bands are applied correctly with the optimal pressure which is different for everyone [using the KAATSU Nano unit shown below], the arterial in-flow to the limbs is restricted and the deep venous out-flow is impeded,” explains Dr. Stray-Gundersen.
“As the athlete moves, whether it is swimming or doing dry-land exercise, the capillary-venous space becomes distended and congested in the muscle distal to the KAATSU bands. Muscle contraction under these conditions of impeded blood flow and congested vascular space uses up intracellular phosphates energy stores and oxygen at a rate greater than the circulation can replenish them.
Metabolic waste products accumulate and homeostasis in the muscle is lost.”
As the athlete continue to exercise with the KAATSU bands, the intensity of effort rapidly increases. The discomfort they feel at the end of a race is quickly achieved during practice.
“Consequently, as the tissue becomes more hypoxic and energy stores depleted, anaerobic glycolysis attempts to compensate by increasing its rate, which produces some ATP, but also produces a marked disturbance in muscle homeostasis that ultimately leads to muscle failure, or in other words, not being able to continue the exercises,” says Dr. Stray-Gundersen.
The effects that have been seen in combative sports (boxing, wrestling, judo), baseball, rugby, and numerous winter sports in Japan and China are now beginning to be understood by Morgan and others in the aquatic world.
Dr. Stray-Gundersen describes his perspective. “We think, but have yet to prove, that there is a local effect and a systemic effect from KAATSU training. When blood flow is restricted and muscle is asked to exercise with a restricted, engorged circulation, homeostasis is lost in the exercising tissues below the KAATSU belt. The development of hypoxia, acidosis and various other metabolites outside their normal concentrations, stimulates a positive adaptive response in the local muscle and vasculature. Increasing concentrations of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors (VEGF), which has been shown experimentally, is an example of the "local" effect.
In addition, we think there is an important systemic response, where the loss of homeostasis is communicated to the brain (KAATSU practitioners are aware of the discomfort in their muscles) and the brain responds by increasing breathing and heart rate, as well as initiating an "anabolic" cascade. The release of growth hormone from the pituitary, which has been shown experimentally, is an example of this "systemic" response. This has the effect of causing muscle both distal to the KAATSU belts and proximal to the belts to adapt and get stronger.
In essence, KAATSU presents a very effective and highly efficient mechanism that coaches and trainers can implement with their athletes to get increasing circulating levels of growth hormone and VEGF, that is otherwise difficult and very taxing to do."
Essentially back in the 1990s, Hyman had a secret weapon in her training regimen that was far ahead of her time. While her strength off the walls, technique, stamina, and mental outlook all came together at the Sydney Olympics, Hyman had been uniquely developing her vascular system over the years.
At the same time half a world away, KAATSU began gaining a foothold among athletes in Japan. Based on his own research and patented concepts and equipment, Dr. Sato began conducting medical and scientific research with the University of Tokyo Hospital and other researchers and physicians in Japan. With a rapidly aging population, KAATSU started to gain adherents throughout Japanese society. KAATSU was even used with comatose patients and those with neurological diseases.
For every Japanese Olympic medalist who used KAATSU, there were many more individuals – from teenagers to their great-grandparents – who integrated the KAATSU in their fitness and rehabilitation programs. Last year, KAATSU has begun used by Chinese and American professional and Olympic athletes in various sports.
Its first use in the aquatics world in the U.S. was by Vanguard Aquatics in Huntington Beach, California. Coaches Uros Dzelebdzic and Sasa Branisavljevic have quickly developed one of the best age-group water polo programs in the country. They continue to refine KAATSU’s use with their age group and high school players.
Dzelebdzic summarized his first test, “KAATSU appears to be an effective short-term training method that improves performance significantly more than traditional high intensity training. Athletes who used KAATSU had almost a 4% increase in speed compared with athletes who did not use KAATSU.”
But like Gillette, Dzelebdzic may only be scratching the surface of KAATSU.
"Together with Dr. Sato, we established the Center for KAATSU Research at Harvard Medical School and the KAATSU Research Foundation,” says Professor Lansbury. “We base our research on the specific protocols for safe use that Dr. Sato discovered, researched, and confirmed over the past 40 years. Each athlete uses different KAATSU pressures that are appropriate to them; the coach confirms this pressure before workout which can differ from day to day.
KAATSU can be used widely in various realms, from corporate wellness to the NFL. Besides exploring different medical and therapeutic possibilities of KAATSU, the sports performance possibilities for this technology are obvious based on the research and practical applications at all levels of Japanese sports and medicine.”
KAATSU Aqua will be introduced at the 2014 American Swimming Coaches Association World Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida this week. For more information, visit www.kaatsu-global.com.
Copyright © 2014 - 2015 by KAATSU Global