Unless you are someone who keeps tabs on the fitness-tech world, most people are not familiar with all of the different options there are for a fitness tracker. Are there viable options beyond Fitbit, Apple, and Garmin? While trying to decide which features you most desire to compliment your type of activity, deciding which model to go with may be equally challenging.
I’ve compiled a list of the arguably better options that are currently available without too much hunting. I’ll provide a brief rundown of what each of the main features are, while giving you an idea of what you should look for depending on your desired outcome. I have also compiled a handy-dandy chart to show you what models have so you can do an easier side-by-side comparison.
Techradar.com, a popular tech blog, recently published their official top 10 list of the best fitness trackers of 2018. The tracker that claimed the number one spot was one I have never seen in person, and have barely heard anything about since its conception in 2015. “Moov Now” is the one fitness tracker that does not look like the others. While it doesn’t have a screen or track your heart rate, it has a whopping 6 month battery life and can track your steps, circuit training, swimming and even boxing with incredible accuracy. There are also guided workouts pre-programmed into the app with enough levels to challenge even higher level athletes, and the waterproof design allows you to accurately track your swimming which is something not found in most other fitness trackers.
Some reviews have mentioned that although the app to accompany this device is clean and easy to use, it lacks customization and training plans. The sleep tracking aspect is reportedly a little inaccurate, with the added bonus of a robotic voice and sounds to let you know it’s working (I thought we got rid of Speak-and-Spells?!) that also talks you through each guided workout.
Based on multiple reviews, trials, and tests, I have come up with the top 5 most accurate fitness trackers. Coming in at number one is the aforementioned Moov Now. It will accurately track your steps and movement for running, walking, swimming, and even boxing! No sleep tracker will be completely accurate, but this tracker does a fairly good job. Number two goes to the Fitbit Charge 2, which lacks some features of other chargers and will be replaced in October 2018 by the Fitbit Charge 3, but does track your steps with great accuracy. In third place we have the Garmin Vivofit 4, which automatically tracks your steps with good accuracy even when switching from a walk to a jog. It is important to note that this tracker is only intended for basic use, and lacks a lot of features found in other models, but its big claim to fame is the battery life: 365 days. Next in line at number four is also from Garmin, the Vivosmart 3. While its tracking is not as accurate for running, it performs very well at the gym. Holding fifth place is the Garmin Vivosport (I notice a pattern starting…). While it doesn’t track swimming, it does track running, walking, sleeping, cycling and a range of other activities with good accuracy and doesn’t drain its battery life.
The most commonly sought-after features in a fitness band are Heart Rate Monitoring (HR), GPS, Swimming, Climbing, waterproof, calorie tracking, screen, phone integration, and multi-sport/sport specific tracking. Typically, the more you are looking for, the more the price increases. The big differences between prices will usually be because of GPS and HR, as they require extra sensors and more complex technology.
How do they rank?
There are plenty of more fitness bands and trackers available, including smart watches that also have fitness tracking capabilities. This list excludes smart watches, and by no means covers the vast array of options available to you. These are the commonly sold and easily available models specific to the Kitchener-Waterloo Region.
A Cautionary Tale
As a math-lover and someone who likes to see hard data and facts, tracking fitness is something that makes sense to my brain. Setting numeric goals for number of steps, distance, calories burned, and watching how your fitness changes over time can be a very useful and rewarding system.
That being said, don’t over-invest yourself into those numbers. Without being careful, obsessively tracking any aspect of your life can lead to mental health issues, can become a restrictive lifestyle, and also lead you to ignore your body’s natural signals (such as your natural fluctuation of caloric needs, or a sore knee that you can’t “walk off”). Jessica Penner, a registered dietician, has written about counting calories specifically, stating that “there’s no evidence that counting calories helps people lose weight AND KEEP IT OFF. At best, it’s a short-term solution that might help people take weight off and educate them on the caloric density found in different foods. At worst, it sabotages your relationship with food, and is associated with binge eating, yoyo dieting, a higher BMI, and lowered health indicators.” Does this mean that counting calories is pointless? No. It is just a cautionary ‘be careful’. If you want to read more from Jessica and her belief in a joyful relationship with food, check her out at smartnutrition.ca
The main thing to remember with tracking your fitness is to avoid all-or-nothing thinking. Catherine Silver, a psychotherapist in NYC, said in an interview with HelloGiggles that “If the idea of not having [the fitness tracker] is causing any anxieties, that’s a huge indicator that it’s not a healthy relationship”.
She goes on to explain that some people rely on their tracker technology to tell you what your body needs, rather than listening to it yourself. Focusing on the inside out as opposed to outside in is very important, and failing to do so can lead to a lack of mindfulness and awareness of your body. “People start to follow what the app is telling them to do — either with their intake or the amount of exercise they are doing — rather than listening to and honoring what their body is telling them,” she said in the same interview.
In short, have your numbers work for you - not the other way around. Tracking what and how you do is a great tool, but should not be used as a be-all-end-all. Enjoy your new tech and what it can do for you, and most importantly, have fun!
Do you have any questions about fitness trackers, how to best accomplish your fitness goals while using your new tech, or how to prevent injury? Which tracking feature do you rely on the most? Let us know by leaving a comment!
Wishing you all the best on your fitness goals,
Social Media Coordinator, Office Administrator
Strive Physiotherapy & Performance
Questions about achieving your fitness goals while injured? Call us at 519-895-2020, or use our online booking tool on www.strivept.ca to book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable physiotherapists.
Are you an athlete? Is your kid an athlete? Are you more of a weekend warrior just trying to stay healthy? Whatever your situation, it’s likely you’ve thought about injuries. Whether you’ve had an injury, know someone who’s had an injury, or just don’t want to ever get an injury, the thought of “injury” has certainly crossed your mind. With that, hopefully this comes to mind: Injury Prevention. This blog post will cover just that. You will learn about the perfect injury prevention program, and it may not be what you think it is.
Before we delve too much into the ‘ins-and-outs’ of injury prevention, it is important to understand who the injury prevention is for. How old is the person, and how old is the person? (That’s not a type-o).
Chronological Age vs. Biological Age vs. Training Age
Typically, these age definitions are more applicable to children/adolescents/teenagers (which will make sense shortly), but can apply somewhat to adults (which I will touch on later). For now, a clarification on each definition.
Chronological age: how many years and months old is Person A (let’s call him Mike). Mike was born in January 2006. Today is June 2018. Therefore, Mike is 12 years old. More specifically, Mike is 12 years and 5 months. Therefore, he will play Under-13 hockey. As many of us have seen, not all Under-13 hockey players are physically the same. Read on.
Biological age: this is far more complicated, and probably warrants its own blog post. In short, you need to calculate the maturity offset of the individual (i.e. predicted years from their peak height velocity). (Peak height velocity is the period of time in which a child experiences their fastest upward growth in their height – i.e. the time when they grow the fastest during their adolescent growth spurt). On average, this happens in females at age 11, and in males at age 13.
In adolescents, you can calculate this with anthropometric measurements (i.e. age, height, etc.). Calculating this in adults is much more complicated. If you are interested in reading more about this, check out Klemera & Doubal's article here, Mirwald and Baxter-Jones here, and Ford et al here.
Why does this matter? In very short, our chronological-aged Mike from earlier who hit his peak height velocity at age 10, may therefore require a different training regime than his buddy Maverick, who is still 2.3 years away from hitting his peak height velocity. This would apply even though Maverick was also born in January 2006 (12 years, 5 months old). If you want additional clarification, check this out.
Training age: refers to the total training time (experience) the person has in their sport (or in that aspect of training - i.e. weight lifting or agility training). Fairly straightforward definition; often overlooked in practice.
Why did I tell you this?
The primary reason I chose to outline these differences is because training age and biological age (even a prediction of whether or not the adolescent has hit their peak height velocity or not), can help determine a more appropriate training focus (more so than chronological age, especially in those aged 8-18 years). Consider 2 new made up children who are both 13 years old:
Of course, Charlie and Kenny are the extremes, but it hopefully illustrates my point that the training (read: Injury Prevention) programmes for these two individuals will probably be quite different, even though they both play Under-14 soccer (they could even be on the same team!)
In children/adolescents: evidence suggests that preadolescents (i.e. Kenny from above) benefit most from sprint training and plyometrics (high levels of neural activation). While adolescents (i.e. Charlie from above) benefit more from training types which target both neural and structural development (strength training and plyometrics).
In adults: it is important to consider training age when formulating an exercise program. If you are you going to target strength changes via weight lifting, how much experience does the person have with weight lifting? 15 years of good weight lifting form, practice, and consistency? Great, you can probably try most things. Never lifted a weight in their 35 year lifespan? Maybe start a little more basic and progress slowly.
Here’s a tough pill to swallow: injury prevention might not be entirely possible (based on current evidence, anyways). To my knowledge, the only true risk of injury is a previous injury (and maybe gender for a few types of injuries). The risk of reinjury is usually higher when you first return to the sport and it weans with time. That’s right, with time. Often, we don’t give ourselves enough time to heal, and that could be a big part of re-injury.
Additionally, many injuries may be considered ‘unavoidable’, or have nothing to do with the athlete/person’s inner strengths, (im)balances, and (in)abilities. For example, you could step in a pothole while running, another player could collide with you (accidentally or on purpose), or the puck/ball could hit you in the arm/foot/head.
The Perfect Injury Prevention Program
After reading the last two paragraphs, you’re probably wondering how there could be a ‘perfect’ injury prevention program. Well, that’s just it, because there is no scientifically agreed upon, completely proven, 100% successful injury prevention program, the one I’m going to outline is as perfect as it gets :) .
Before we get into the next part of this blog post, it is important to note that everything in this blog post is for information purposes only. This blog post is not intended to be strict medical or exercise advice. Everyone is an individual, and therefore, individual variances do occur. It is important to consult your physiotherapist, doctor, or exercise scientist for the most applicable advice for you.
Injury Prevention Program - General Steps to Success:
Step 0: Make Sure You’re Not Already Injured
Step 1: Ensure Appropriate Mobility
Step 2: Build Basic Strength
Step 3: Start to Gain Power (Learn Plyometrics)
Step 4: Gain Real Power and Train Perturbations
Caveat: Where you start with the above Injury Prevention Program, how much you focus at each level, and how fast you progress will depend entirely on your previous experience, ability to safely perform exercises, and your individual variances. Hopefully some of the introductory discussion of this blog post will help you decide where approximately you sit (remember biological and training age). When in doubt, progress slowly, monitor your body’s responses, and enlist the help of a professional.
Why This is the Perfect Injury Prevention Program
The perfect injury prevention program is individualized. It’s based on an individual’s strengths/weaknesses, goals/ambitions, and sport/activity. Therefore, the injury prevention program outlined above is perfect because:
Further, it is highly likely that as you work on building a resilient body, you will be blending the steps together. In general, they are a progression. However, once you make good progress, it’s important to remember the value each step has on your overall abilities. Just because you can complete high-level plyometric training, it certainly doesn’t mean that you should stop trying to improve mobility/control, and strength.
When we’re talking about progress, you may be thinking how quickly can I move through these steps? When do I know how to take the next step? Can I get injured by progressing too quickly? Recently, researchers have come up with a great way to track your progress, and to help guide your training, thus reducing injury risk. The calculation they’ve used is called the acute to chronic workload ratio. In a nutshell, it’s used to measure the amount of exercise you’ve done over the past week compared to the past four weeks. If there’s a large difference, you’re at a potentially higher risk of injury. A lot of this research has been based on adults. There’s more that needs to be done for adolescents. This also warrants it’s own blog, so for further information about this ratio, check this out.
The Additional Steps to Make This Program More Perfect-er
Unfortunately, many injuries are unavoidable. That being said, building a resilient body helps prepare you for the variety of forces that could be placed upon it with sports/exercise. Slowly, and progressively work on your athleticism. Work hard. Rest hard. Get help when you need it.
At Strive Physiotherapy and Performance, we are committed to providing an in-depth assessment to ensure we can work together to find the best plan of action for each individual client. Call us at 519-895-2020, or use our online booking tool on www.strivept.ca to book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable physiotherapists.
Tyler Allen and Mike Major
Physiotherapists at Strive Physiotherapy & Performance
When you have an injury, decreasing the amount of pain you are experiencing is often at the forefront of your mind!
For physiotherapists, we are considering MANY factors in your recovery: your range of motion, the strength of your muscles, getting you back to work/your sport, and preventing future injuries. However, we recognize that uncontrolled pain can be a barrier to achieving these goals. Physiotherapists (and other health care practitioners you may have seen) can do many different techniques in order to reduce the pain that you experience with movement. Two different health care practitioners may do completely different treatment techniques, and both may have the same effectiveness in reducing pain with movement.
It is important to keep in mind that these techniques help you move more easily, which helps your injury heal. Your physiotherapist will walk you through exactly what type of movement will be the best to help your specific injury recover.
Before we get started, let’s review the basics.
What is pain?
In your body, you have receptors that tell your brain information about what is going on. There are receptors that collect information about temperature, stretch, and chemicals (among other things!), and send that information via nerves up to the brain to decide what all that information means.
Do you know where your pain receptors are?
...They don’t exist.
That is because pain is actually an OUTPUT. Your brain collects a massive amount of information and uses all the information at its disposal to create an output of a painful sensation if it decides there is a threat to your body. This is a good thing in a lot of cases - this sensation tells you something is wrong and to do something about it! It will help prevent the situation below:
If you get an ankle injury while you’re playing soccer, the pain the you get at the time of injury will prompt you to sit out of your soccer game, therefore preventing any further injury to your ankle.
As you progress through your recovery process, your brain also will use lots of seemingly unrelated information to create that output of pain. Have you had a super stressful day and are pulling your hair out? You may find that your pain is a little worse. Are you having a zen, calming, sunshine and rainbows day? You may find that your symptoms aren’t so bad. Check out the chart below for more things that can impact your pain level! The effect of each part of the pie is different for everybody.
Does pain sound really complex? It is! Because of the complicated nature of pain, there are lots of factors that could make your pain worse, but also lots of ways to improve your pain!
Here are 5 “tricks” that physiotherapists can use to help decrease the pain you have with movement - and I’m going to explain each one!
IASTM stands for Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization. You may have seen the physiotherapists at Strive Physiotherapy & Performance using this crazy looking tool:
This is a stainless steel tool which physiotherapists can use to GENTLY scrape the skin over areas that are painful. At Strive Physiotherapy & Performance, we use this treatment in a way that does not cause bruising or skin irritation. This provides a novel input into your nervous system that is not a danger to your body. It’s going to fire off more receptors in the area to send feedback to your brain. This helps to decrease the level of threat in your nervous system. More specifically, effects can include improving your brain’s awareness of where your body is in space, and reducing muscle tone. This is a very gentle treatment that can be used on many areas of the body (whether it’s a small or large area!).
There is a type of cupping that uses fire underneath the cups - but don’t worry, we don’t do this type of cupping!
The type of cupping done at Strive Physiotherapy & Performance is with a soft silicone cup. Check out the video below!
The cup is squeezed gently and then applied to the skin with a little bit of cream to create a gentle suction force. Then the cup is slid along the skin in the areas we are looking to reduce pain in - typically over muscles. By keeping the cup moving, it is less likely to create a bruise mark underneath the cup. While there are different sizes of cups for different areas of the body, this treatment will be more effective on more flat surfaces so that it doesn’t lose suction (ie. probably not your finger or over very bony areas!). Instead of a force being applied into the tissues (like in massage), this treatment provides a “suction” force. This can increase blood flow and stimulate your nervous system to decrease the pain of movement.
Moist heat is a treatment that can be helpful to warm muscles up, and help decrease the amount of pain in the area. It also helps to increase blood flow! This has a number of great effects including bring more oxygenated blood to muscles. Just like any of our other treatments, it also has an effect on your nervous system. It’s an input into your nervous system that is safe and comforting, which can reduce the output of pain. 10-15 minutes can do the job. The heat should always feel comfortable, and never so hot that it’s painful! Our hot packs at the clinic sit in a hot water tank - that’s how they stay toasty warm!
4) Compression bands
One way to help movement feel better for your joints is to wear a compression sleeve. While this works really well for some areas of your body, other areas may benefit from some compression too! We can use a compression band in order to provide a “hug” to your limb, and then move your limb. Again, this gives more information for your receptors to collect and send to your brain, therefore reducing the output of pain or the sensation of stretching/pulling you feel. Take a look at the video below!
One of the MOST IMPORTANT techniques that physiotherapists use to help movement feel better is just that : more movement! While you may find that “everything hurts”, usually we can find a movement that either doesn’t hurt, or hurts less the more you do it! Our bodies are very responsive to movement throughout our day. If we move too much, our brain may respond as if a threat is posed to our body. This level of threat can already be really high if you already have an injury, and therefore movements which normally feel good may be painful. However, if we don’t move at all, our body gets used to not moving, and you may be able to move even less! You often hear people say “just rest up and you’ll get better” - this usually isn’t true for most musculoskeletal injuries. “Relative rest” is the better way to rest. This means that you are perhaps taking a break from higher activity levels that are aggravating your symptoms, but keeping all the movement that doesn’t aggravate your symptoms, and also adding in some extra movements that are going to facilitate your recovery the best. Does this sound complicated? Don’t worry, this is what physiotherapists love to do! Physiotherapists will tell you what to do, what not to do (for now!), and what movements you will be working towards getting back to. And this can change over time! The movements you are working on this week may be super easy next week. Then you’re ready to progress to the next stage of exercise. A progressive exercise program over time will ensure you continue challenging your body to be able to do more.
While it can seem like some of the treatments physiotherapists or other health care practitioners use are “magic”, there should be scientific research or a biological mechanism through which the treatment works. It’s “magic” or “it just works” is not a good enough answer! Not clear on what a treatment you’re getting is doing? Just ask! The more you know, the better you can understand your recovery process.
These are just some of the many treatment options there are to reduce pain with movement. Your therapist may choose different treatments depending on the person, the injury, and the stage of your recovery. These treatments are also often TEMPORARY. They can create a “window of opportunity” to get you moving more easily, but if you don’t take advantage of that window, you may find that you’re back where you started. The most important lesson here is to get moving.
Do you have painful movement that won’t go away? Call us at 519-895-2020, or use our online booking tool on www.strivept.ca to book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable physiotherapists, and they will perform an assessment and create a treatment plan for you.
Physiotherapist at Strive Physiotherapy & Performance
Strive Physiotherapy & Performance
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