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Performance Institute

UFC PI Ways To Promote Your Health & Well-Being At Home

The UFC Performance Institute Sports Medicine Team put together eight ways to be healthy at home. Check them out here:

As we find ourselves out of our normal daily routine and unsure of what the next few weeks and months will bring – it is normal to feel our stress and anxiety increasing with the fear of the unknown. Luckily, there are tools and techniques you can utilize in order to help feel like you’re back in control, back in your normal groove, and maybe even enjoy this time and what it can bring. Here are a few recommendations from our sports medicine staff:

Breathing Exercises

Proper breathing is essential to keep us alive and functioning well. However, many of us don’t breathe as efficiently as we could. When one is feeling stressed or anxious, we tend to shift from belly/diaphragmatic breathing (parasympathetic state), into chest/accessory breathing (sympathetic state). Diaphragmatic breathing puts your body into a state of “rest and digest”, which can aid in better sleep, increase relaxation, increase performance, and aid in a quicker recovery. Chest breathing can put you into a sympathetic, or “fight or flight” mode – which can increase cortisol and stress and in turn decrease your immune system making you more susceptible to illnesses.

Here is a simple technique that you can try at home:

Start by lying on the floor on your stomach, arms above your head supporting your forehead so you have room to breathe

Inhale through the nose for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, slowly exhale for 10 seconds, and hold your breath for 5 more seconds.This ratio of 1:1:2:1: is taken from a yoga technique of pranayama breathing. Increase the ratio as you get better at it, or try 1:2:3:1 ratio if you’d like a challenge.

As you inhale, push your belly into the floor, and push your breath down in the direction of your pelvic floor/toes so that you feel like you are “bearing down” at the end of your inhale. You may feel some movement/pressure in your sacral/pelvic area – this is good.

Your traps or chest shouldn’t move much, as we want the breath to move your diaphragm down to let your lower ribs expand and your lower lungs to fill up with more air to get in more oxygen.

It’s best to do this in a safe space, such as a quiet and calming area to you, so that you can really focus on your breath and clear your mind.

Physical Activity

Schedule your physical activity around similar times as to when you were training before the quarantine period to try and keep your normal routine.  While you may not be able to keep up with the volume of training that you’re used to, now can be a great opportunity to focus on taking care of yourself a bit more: 

Include remedial exercises as part of your warm-ups and cools downs. 

Take time to do some of the exercises you’ve been advised by your physical therapist to help with any injury maintenance exercises. 

Seek out an online stretching or yoga classes to help with your general mobility. 

Meditation

There are some wonderful apps that can guide you through some more breathing and meditation techniques. Headspace and Calm are both wonderful and popular apps that have free content that is perfect for beginners.

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Writing

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, writing/journaling can be an excellent tool to get all of your feelings down on paper and out of your head. Try to set a goal to do it either every night or every morning at the same time, depending on what works better for you, and commit to it every day as a non-negotiable. Even if it’s just writing down your workout for the day, your grocery list, or goals/to-do list for the next day. Writing things down on paper has a therapeutic effect and can help you feel more organized and less chaotic.  

Heather Linden, UFC Director of Physical Therapy-Performance Institute, works on UFC light heavyweight Thiago Santos at the UFC Performance Institute. (Photo by Chris Unger)
Heather Linden, UFC Director of Physical Therapy-Performance Institute, works on UFC light heavyweight Thiago Santos at the UFC Performance Institute. (Photo by Chris Unger)

Create a routine

As the rug of “normal life” has been temporarily pulled from underneath our feet, it is easy to find ourselves a little lost searching for things to fill up our days.  Now, while we’re not denying that UFC Fight Pass has some awesome and original new content that’s all too addictive, we recommend it’s best to pace ourselves out a bit and establish a schedule to build a routine around. 

Creating a routine is the best way to keep some control during these uncertain times in order to keep grounded and active in a way that is as close to our normal daily lives as possible. 

Focus on your behaviors surrounding sleep, social interactions, physical activity and nutrition - the latter of which have already been discussed by our S&C and Nutrition teams.  

Sleep

Fundamentally important to our health is our sleep and the routines we keep around it.  For the best outcomes, it is important to: 

Schedule to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day; but allow yourself that little extra at weekends (about an hour), if needed.

Avoid screens that emit blue light at least two hours before bed (e.g. smartphones and laptops).  If you do have to use them, consider adjusting the screen settings to reduce the blue-light emitted, or wear blue-light blocking glasses. 

Ensure your room is cool (65-68 degrees F), quiet or with white noise, and as dark as you can get it to help you optimize your sleeping environment. 

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Training while keeping social distance

Social distancing is one of the key effective methods for preventing the spread of the virus.  As you keep active during the self-isolation period, here are the suggestions that we offer to you during training. 

Please keep a distance of 6 feet (social distancing) between you and others, while you are training.

Train alone or ONLY with your family/friends you are quarantining with daily.

Although it is not advisable to train with different people outside of your household at this time, you could set up a training video call to help motivate you and your teammates and work out virtually together.

Personal Hygiene for training

Maintaining basic hand hygiene by frequently washing your hands with soap and water or cleaning them with alcohol rub is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a crucial way to reduce the spread of the virus. We suggest you: 

  • Wash your hands before and straight after training. 
  • Shower before and after training.
  • Wash/sanitize your training gear, bags, and clothes after each session. 
  • Sanitize work-out equipment before and after each use, and in between each individual if you are working out with a friend.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes throughout the day as much as possible.  
  • Proper hand washing (see the standard 11 steps of hand washing recommended by the WHO, should take up the same time as singing the “Happy birthday” song twice.

*Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an infectious disease that affects the respiratory system causing common symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, shortness of breath and a persistent dry cough. In order to look after your own health and those of others around you, it is essential to monitor your own symptoms. Please be responsible for your own health and report your symptoms early, following your local government advice where necessary. For more information, please direct yourself to the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html).