Friday, July 31, 2009

Weekend Quote

“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.”

Carl Jung

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Favorite Training Tool

I've used the Vibram Five Fingers for the last two years. They've held up really well under the regular wear and tear that I've put them through. It's a way of training barefoot, without worrying about slivers, animal excrement or glass. I use them for everything from deadlifts and squats to walking my dogs and short sprint workouts. You really do get a feel for the floor, regaining that connection with the earth. Running on an open grass field with these is so much fun. I do feel that the small muscles in my feet have gotten stronger since I first started training in them. If you do decide to purchase a pair, I would just suggest you ease into training with them. As with any new variant in your training you will get sore. So slow and steady is the slogan, but this is a great and fun tool to own.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Renegade Row

This is a renegade row. I was pretty surprised at how tough this little exercise was on my obliques. This really challenges your stability and teaches you to really brace your body. You can add a push up in between each row to make it even more challenging.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Running in Intervals-The Best Way to Lose Weight

I hope you enjoy this guest post as I am out in Park City, UT working with some bobsledders.

This article is written by Kat Sanders, who regularly blogs on the topic of how to become a radiology technician at her blog The Overwhelmed Student Blog. She welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:

I’ve always been on the bigger side – large bones, tall body, and long legs. And although it’s nice to be tall and be blessed with legs that don’t seem to end, the problem arises when you put on weight – you start to look like a fierce Amazon rather than a seductive woman. So as I grew older, although I remained active playing tennis five days a week, it became more of a problem to keep my weight down. Until the day I took to jogging, that is.

A friend invited me to the gym to keep her company every morning as she tried to lose all the weight she’d gained during her pregnancy. It took me just one day to discover that I found it claustrophobic and longed to get out into the fresh air. And since I liked the treadmill the best, I decided to take to jogging. And take to it I did, like a fish takes to water. I found myself looking forward to waking up every morning and hitting the track around the park, breathing in the fresh, clean air and feeling the light breeze on my face.

I soon found myself setting challenges, trying to see how fast I could run one day or how long I could run the next. In conversation with a student from the local college, I learned about interval training, the kind that gets your heart racing and ups your fitness and endurance levels. And so I began to sprint as fast as I could for one round, and then walk for half. I alternated between walking and running, waiting to almost catch my breath when walking and then taking off into a sprint again. My observations:

• I found that I could run faster and over a longer distance in a shorter period of time.
• In just 10 days, I found that I had lost more than 5 pounds.
• My abdomen, which was always a little flabby, was more flat now.
• My legs and thighs were stronger
• I had more stamina during my tennis games
• I could run for longer periods of time during the interval training

If running was good, interval training was better, and losing all that weight was the best feeling ever.
If you’re new to exercise, you do need to exercise caution before you take on a high intensity workout like interval training. Start by alternating between jogging and walking before you continue on to running after a couple of weeks when your body is stronger and fitter. And also remember that you need to give your body adequate time to rest and recuperate; so it’s best to workout at high intensities only twice or thrice a week.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Morning Motivation

This Victorian Cross was a strength move deemed impossible. I guess they thought wrong.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Cinnamon, I think we all have had are share of this spice at some point. Reading this past week, I came across the fact that in ancient times cinnamon was as prized as gold. Some historians actually credit the search for cinnamon for the discovery of the new world and exploration of the unknown. So it got me wondering what importance it had and more importantly, does it still have an important health connotation.

Cinnamon was mentioned as far back as the Old Testament, it was used in ancient Egyptian practices for embalming purposes. It has used to fight tooth decay, clear up urinary tract infection, sooth upset stomachs, (similar to ginger) and allows diabetics to use less insulin. It has shown tendencies to fight the common cold, sore throats and diarrhea.

Studies in Japan have shown cinnamon can kill certain fungi, bacteria, and other micro-organisms such as those that cause botulism and staph infection. There are being studies done on how it may improve memory and cognitive function, may suppress ulcers and lower blood cholesterol.

If diabetic, use in conjunction with your doctor as it will affect how much insulin you have to take. Cinnamon should not be used when breastfeeding or when your on antibiotics or blood thinners.

There you go, hope you know a little bit more about the wonderful spice cinnamon. Have any favorite ways to use cinnamon that you would like to share with the readers?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Inflammatory Soup part 2

It's a bold statement but all pain arises from inflammation and the inflammatory response (IR). According to the American Pain Foundation 75 million people are in chronic pain. Thats a whole lot of inflammation out there.

Inflammation has three phases
1. Injury
2. Maintanace
3. Termination

Here is essentially a dumbed down version of the cascade that is taking place.

Injury>basophils,mast cells, plateletes release>serotonin, histamine, and nitric oxide> these bind to receptors and nerves and release> substance P and Calcitonin gene related pepteide.

clotting factors in blood release >inflammatory mediators> neurokinin a, bradykinin, kallidin, t-kinin>Increased blood flow>stimulate Arachidonic acid metabolism and get>prostaglandins and attract immune cells>neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages>release cytokines>more immune cells>white blood cells.

this is the initial cascade and results in an inflammatory soup of chemical mediatiors. prostaglandin, nitric oxide, tumor necorsis factor, interleukin 1 alpha, beta, interleukin 4,6,8, histamine and serotonin.

As you can see, there is a lot things going on in the body. Again this is a very simple version, there a many enzymes and other chemicals involved in inflammation. But what I'm trying to get at is that, it's complex, it's chemicals, it's going on in your body.

So with acute inflammation what can you do?

Supplement with Curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to combat tumor necrosis factor alpha. Fish oil, I've espoused on the benefits of fish oil in the past, but it has a direct effect on prostaglandins. Eat less grains. Grains have omega 6 fatty acids which increase your arachidonic acid. The more arachidonic acid you have in your body, the more prostaglandins you will have to be released. Boswellia. Boswellia works by blocking the lethal pro-inflammatory enzyme 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX). It also combats tumor necrosis factor alpha.

So there you go. With acute injury add these supplements and strategy to your diet and help keep the inflammation in check.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Inflammatory Soup

Have you ever been told such and such is inflammed? Ever hear, once the inflammation calms down, it will feel better? Of course...ever wonder what exactly is inflammation? Wonder no more.

Inflammation is your bodies self defense mechanism after some type of injury. It usually accompanies swelling, which allows many different cells to come to the area for "clean up" and repair of the damaged tissue. With injury the following are released in your body: prostaglandins, serotonin, protons, bradykinin, leukotrines, amines, nerve growth factor and cytokines. These are all very specific and only activate pain receptors in your body. A key fact here is that inflammation lowers your threshold for pain receptors and increases it's firing rate. This means that things that used to not cause you pain, will now cause you pain!

So now you can see that there is a chemical component to pain. Thats why diet and supplementation when an acute injury occurs is so important. In the next post we will get a little more specific on the cycle of the inflammatory soup and what diet/supplements we can use to combat this.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Relative Strength

There are many different strength qualities that an athlete can possess. Absolute strength is how much a person can lift maximally. Relative strength is how strong they are in relation to their body weight. Strength endurance, speed strength are a couple others.

Take two individuals, person A weighs 300 pounds, and person B weighs 150 pounds. Person A can deadlift 400 pounds. Person b can deadlift 300 pounds. Person A has greater absolute strength, but less relative strength then Person B.

The greatest example of relative strength I've come across are rock climbers. The ability to lift their body weight repeatedly and for such great time is a perfect example of this strength quality. Hope you enjoy the video of my friend Jessie Zinger climbing and demonstrating relative strength.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Plantar Fasciitis or Nerve Entrapment

If you have ever experienced the pain of plantar fasciitis, you know how a frustrating injury it can be. Every step becomes a small stabbing knife in the arch of the foot. Waking up in the morning and putting your weight on the feet can be such a daunting task that it makes you think of reasons to stay in bed.

True plantar fasciitis involves the inflammation of the plantar fascia. It's a thick structure that aids in the support of the foots arch, when it becomes inflamed there will be pain every time it tenses up.

Nerve involvement should always be considered as it may save you valuable time and frustration with conventional treatment protocols of rest, ice and NSAIDS. Two options should be considered. On the medial side, the tibial nerve can become entrapt about two centimeters posterior to the medial malleolus. Once past the flexor retinaculum the tibial nerve splits into the medial and lateral plantar nerves. This is the 2nd spot that can be entrapt. The medial plantar nerve can be entrapt where it runs deep to the abductor hallucis muscle.

A quick way for the clinician to check is to do the straight leg raise test and involve dorsiflexion and then eversion. If there is a nerve component to the fasciitis, this will usually create more discomfort in the arch. Test this on yourself, if this invokes a response, get some quality tissue work done on the stated areas. It is painful, but worth it.

Fast Twitch vs Slow Twitch

So you have probably all heard of fast twitch muscles and slow twitch muscles. They have different qualities and as such should be trained that way. If your a great marathoner/triathlete, your probably a slow twitch machine, if you could dunk a basketball and your 5'8" your probably a fast twitch freak. But most of us are somewhere in between, so a quick easy test is as follows.

Test your 1RM max in any type of movement you like. Wait 10 minutes and take 85% of that and see how many reps you can do of that weight.

0-4 reps = fast twitch
5 reps =intermediate
5+ reps =slow twitch

This gives a pretty good indicator of what fiber make up you are for that type of movement. Try it out and let me know what you discover!

Friday, July 10, 2009

MRI's, Low Back Pain and Thoughts

Ever have back pain? Studies say that 80% of us will have experienced it before your time on this earth is through. Want to know something else? People with healthy backs that have never had low back pain, probably have something wrong with theirs, it's just not symptomatic. In a landmark study in the early 90's, healthy people with out low back pain were given MRI's and the results were shocking. 50-60% had some time of disc bulge or herniation, and 30% had a disc herniation. Again, these people were pain free! The MRI's were shown to doctors and more then 2/3 said the people should have been in a lot of pain.

What does this mean? It means cause doesn't equal symptoms and sometimes symptoms don't equal cause. Just because you have herniation doesn't mean you have pain. So therefore just because you have low back pain, sciatica and your told to get an MRI and it shows, low and behold, you have a disc herniation, DOES NOT mean that is the source.

So when your told to get an MRI, ask these questions. What is it for exactly? They should give a specific reason. "Get a better idea of what's going" does not qualify.

If it shows what your looking for, then what? Ask what are the options. If the options are the same wether you know the answer or not, then what's the point?

If I don't get the MRI what are my options?

One important one to ask yourself is if the MRI shows I have a disc herniation and they want to do surgery is that what I want to do. If you answered no, then a MRI probably isn't right for you.

Remember, MRI's are expensive, (I spent close to 1400 bucks for an elbow MRI this spring, and yes I had insurance!) if your not willing to go under the knife, your should probably save your money and pursue non invasive treatments to there full.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Quote of the Week

Living on the edge wasn't about danger, he realized. It was about curiosity; audacious curiosity, like the kind Lance had when he was chalked off for good and still decided to see if he could build a wasted body into a world-beater. The way Kerouac did, when he set off on the road and then wrote about it in a mad, carefree burst he never thought would see the light of print. Looking at it that way, Jenn and Billy could trace a direct line of descent from a Beatnik writer to a champion cyclist to a pair of Pabst Blue Ribbon-chugging Virginia Beach lifeguards. They were expected to accomplish nothing, so they could try anything. Audacity beckoned.

Excerpt from the book "Born to Run"

Turkish Get Up Challenge in Grand Rapids

The 4th of July and I felt like doing something I hadn't ever done before. Sometimes you need to do something different in your workout to keep things interesting.

One of my favorite exercises is the Turkish get up. It works a lot of things, but number one it teaches body tension. How to make your body "stiff" to lift a load overhead. It's tremendous for athletes.

So I wanted to see how long it would take me to do 50 reps. It took me 22 minutes. It left me huffing and puffing and in a pool of sweat! It's also a great conditioning tool. I used a 20K dumbell. Have fun and see what you can do.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Neck Extension w/Jump Stretch Band

An easy way to add neck extension exercises into your regiment is to hook a medium jump stretch band around two j-hooks in your squat rack and knock off a set while resting between another exercise. This is one example of an exercise that will strengthen the neck musculature (active function) so that the passive structures (nuchal ligament) can function optimally.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Track Town USA

The past week I was able to a little traveling and one of the spots I hit was Eugene, OR. Eugene has been nicknamed track town USA. There historic track Hayward Field was the sight of some incredible performances and amazing athletes. It's where Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight started a little company called Nike. This past week was the sight of the US National Championships in Track and Field. It's an amazing place.

One of my favorite athletes was the late Steve Prefontaine. Pre as he was called, left some memorable quotes. Here are a few I've always enjoyed.

"To give anything less then your best is to sacrifice the gift."

"A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more. "

"I run to see who has the most guts."

"Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it. "