Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Must See: Food Inc.

If you haven't seen the movie Food Inc. yet, do yourself a favor and rent it. It's a pretty amazing movie about the state of the food industry and for that matter the health of America. It's pretty amazing how fast food and the corn industry have transformed the way we eat and for that matter the options we have as consumers.

A few facts that stood out, 50 years ago we spent 9% on healthcare and I believe 26% on food. ( I can't recall the exact numbers off hand, but I think thats close) Today those numbers are exactly reversed! Coincidence?

You vote 3x a day with what you eat and how you spend your dollar.

How is it I can buy a hamburger for a dollar but not an organic apple? Subsidies and consumer demand.

We all know that wild salmon are considered a super food because of all the Omega 3 fatty acids. Grass fed beef has just as much.

To see change to the food system that has been given to us, vote with your money, support your local farmers market, support business's that practice good food habits. Did you know Chipolte uses only naturally raised chicken and pork, no chicken houses or antibiotics.

Watch the movie.

Monday, March 29, 2010

American Medical Association Statement

I spent this last weekend at a nutrition seminar, so I will put some of the highlights I took away from that in the next week or so.

Here was an I opening quote.

"The consumption of sugar and other relatively pure carbohydrates has become so great during recent years that it presents a serious obstacle to the improved nutrition of the general public."

This was from the American Medical Association. Guess what year it was from?...........1942. Yea, that long ago. Makes you wonder on how they lost it's focus.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Working the Extensors of the Hand & Wrist

Here are a few pics of my latest rehab tool. A friend of mine, Ben Town, an ATC who teaches out at Southern Maine University, recommended I start working on the extensors of my hand and wrist so that when I can get into more direct elbow rehab it will be speedier. So a ten gallon bucket and a whole lot of rice and I have a new rehab tool.

It actually makes great sense. If you look back at my post about osteoarthritis, you can see how a muscle imbalance may contribute to osteoarthritis. I spend most of my time doing flexion with my hands, wrist, elbow. My work consists of a lot of hands on manual therapy (Active Release Technique), my hobbies are lifting, bouldering (high intensity finger/hand/wrist flexion) mountain biking (high isometric flexion). My flexors get extreme work/abuse. My extensor do not get much work at all. Hello, muscle imbalance.

So with muscle imbalance leads to muscle tightness leads to alternate Range of Motion (ROM). What you do is plunge your hands into the rice, and open up your hands as wide as possible. It's pretty easy at first, but after about 30 seconds you really start to feel those muscles start to tire out. This will at least start to bring back a little bit more balance between your flexors/extensors of the hand.

Psoas and Calf Relationship

Often times the Psoas, when it gets tight, can lead to a number of body dysfunctions. It plays a huge role in the normal gait cycle. When the thigh is behind the body the foot and ankle are most dorsiflexed. This is the position where the hip flexors and calf are at the most stretched position. So in turn these muscles are under a stretch reflex. This position also allows for the leg to come through easiest. If dorsiflexion isn't achieved you will "trip" over your feet or are forced to slightly recruit the hip flexors to bring your knee higher. Without the dorsiflexion your psoas and other hip flexors will be under constant stretch reflex and as a result will get tighter and tighter. So the solution to this problem is not to strengthen the dorsiflexors, but to stretch the gastroc/soleus complex. Return the ease of range of motion to the calf and it will bring the tone down in the psoas muscle.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Training Zones

You often hear of training zones and heart rate for endurance athletes, max effort work and dynamic effort work in the weight room for strength athletes. High Intensity days, recovery work, maintenance ect... whats all this mean?

Chances are your not doing high intensity anaerobic threshold work or aerobic base work. You fall in the middle. It's what I refer to as comfortably uncomfortable. Your not pushing yourself hard enough to make improvement in your anaerobic threshold, but your not going easy enough to build up your aerobic base. We can talk about heart rate all you want, but it usually comes down to this. Anaerobic threshold work hurts, it hurts a lot. If you've never been a little nervous about a work out, because of the discomfort your about to push yourself through, you've never done anaerobic work. It usually only last a few minutes at a time. In the end you may only do 3-20 minutes of "total work", but it's total pain. If you've never been bored with your workouts, like this seems so easy, you've never done true aerobic base work. It may be spinning for three hours at a pace that seems "ridiculously slow."

In the weight room, your Max Effort work, whether it's 3 rep or 1 rep, is just that, 3 rep or 1 rep. If your doing a 3 rep deadlift ME work, you're not getting a 4th rep. Your dynamic effort work is fast, read that again, fast! Not a lot of weight, but perfect form explosively.

If your not making improvements on the road, on the bike or in the weight room, look at your training, are you spending most of your time being comfortably uncomfortable?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A glimpse into Apollo Ohno's Training

This is a great video on a little bit of the training Apollo and his teammates went through in preparation for the Olympics. I was lucky enough to meet him at the Closing Ceremonies.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Recovering from Surgery

So it's been four days since I went in for the elbow surgery. As you can see from the picture, I've developed a pretty good bruise from the procedure. Not really doing much but trying to keep my elbow elevated so that the swelling stays down. I was told that after the procedure I had full extension and 130 degrees of flexion. I can't wait to start being able to rehab it. I've heard it's pretty painful, but I just want my ROM and strength back. Anyone have any good advice on the rehabbing of the elbow?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beet Juice and Improved Training

Beet Juice has been making some headlines lately with the research paper I will link at the end. The study used 500ml of beet juice drunk for 6 consecutive days. After that period some testing was done. It found that the beet juice increased the stamina and let you exercise 16% more. This was a bigger adaptation then even training!

The research shows how the nitrate contained in beet juice leads to a reduction in oxygen uptake, making exercise less tiring. The researchers aren't sure of the exact chemical reaction that is taking place that causes the nitrate in the beet juice to boost stamina. They are suspecting it could be a result of the nitrate turning into nitric oxide in the body, reducing the oxygen cost of exercise. The group that drank the beet juice also had lower resting blood pressure.

This will be an interesting food to follow as more research is done. It could have big implications for cyclists, runners and also people looking to lower their blood pressure naturally. Here is the research article from Journal of Applied Physiology.

Monday, March 8, 2010


As you can see from this video, I have very, very limited range of motion in my right elbow, so much so I am getting surgery to remove some bone spurs and take out bone chips in the joint on Thursday. My elbow has never been fractured, (micro fracture possibly). But I had noticeable range of motion loss each year since I was about 23. Basically I've always chalked it up to a life of football, rugby, weight lifting, mountain biking, bobsled and more weight lifting! But I also have some diminished range in extension now on my left. Nothing even close to what my right may be, but in ten years I'm not interested in having surgery on it like I will on my right.

Warren Hammer recently wrote an article about osteoarthritis. The article states that the tendino-periosteal attachment of the muscles and ligaments is very susceptible to injury from trauma. These areas are called entheses. They are structurally flawed, richly innervated and metabolically active areas that are the "weakest links" and most reactive sites in the musculoskeletal system.

From the paper. "Enthesis organ is the term used to describe the insertion area since it is no longer considered just a tendon or ligament attaching to a bone. Most insertions have a fibrocartilaginous insertion (some are just fibrous). Rather than considering only its attachment to bone, all of the complex anatomy surrounding the tendon-ligament must be considered.
For example, the enthesis organ for the lateral epicondyle includes the tendon, collateral ligament, annular ligament, adjacent circumference of the radial head and humeral articular cartilage. These tissues are related and fuse with each other. The same is true throughout the body regarding enthuses insertions."

The inflammatory response is triggered at these sites. Genetic susceptibility plays a role along with microtrauma. So an important thing to do is to evaluate areas that are tight, weak or tender. Entheses areas that are tender should be evaluated for local and distal restrictions within the surrounding fascia. In the early stages of osteoarthritis, the joints may be painless with stiffness or minimal nodular areas that should benefit from joint adjustments, friction massage,, ART and fascial release methods. This should be applied to the muscles, collateral ligaments, fascia and tendinous insertions. Applying mechanical load to abnormal tissue sets up a whole cascade of healing. Reducing the continuous stress on our musculoskeletal system is definitely preventative.

So basically getting your joints checked for proper alignment, getting some soft tissue work done to remove tender nodules to regain proper muscle length will go a long way in helping to prevent osteoarthritis

Friday, March 5, 2010

Proper Pulling

This is a great tutorial for proper rowing technique from Bill Hartman. Bill along with Mike Robertson own and operate the gym iFast in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was named one of the top gyms in America by Mens Health. My good friend Alex Sprague trains down there and say's they and the facility are top notch.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Axis of Rotation (lumbar spine)

Every joint has an axis of rotation that allows optimal loading of the joint. When things such as tight muscles, ligaments, adhesions, weakness (think stabilize) then when the joint moves there will be a change in the axis of rotation or motion creating abuse to the joint or surrounding structures. Lets take the lumbar spine for an example. If the joint capsule or interspinous ligaments or multifidi are tight then when you look at the joint move into flexion the axis or rotation changes from right in the center of disc to more anterior, this puts the disc at more risk. Think of a nut cracker. This is why sometimes repeated flexion can lead to degenerative disc disease. This can also happen when the psoas isn't strong enough to stabilize the anterior lumbar on forward bending. So if you have been struggling with some disc pain for awhile and pain with forward bending, it would be good to have a soft tissue treatment for the joint capsules, multifidi and interspinous ligaments of the lumbar spine. It will make bending forward so much more friendly.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What I learned from the Olympics

"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”

The above quote is the most famous quote about the Olympics and how it relates to life and success. Its hard to define success, because its mercurial, always changing. What you define success will be very different from what I or someone else for that matter will define it as.

If you go by medal count then the United sates will have had the greatest success with 39 medals. If you go just Gold medals then Canada is the most successful with 14. If you go by medals per population, then Norway is hands down the most successful by a long shot. Success could be being the first athlete to compete for your country at the Winter Olympics. I met the Ethiopian cross country ski team….all one of them. Together with his two brothers who acted as his coach and trainer they competed. He told me he wanted to let Ethiopian kids know that life has possibilities. They don't even have a word for skiing in the Ethiopian language. Is success breaking barriers to open new opportunities?

Is success competing at the games when you weren't given a chance to be there or is success winning a medal? Is success being the best at your craft and still walking away with no hardware to show, but you have the respect of your team, coaches and peers knowing you are the best at what you do? Is success not making the team, but staying positive and doing everything in your power to help out those that did?

The thin line of when it's time to give up and move on and persist and not quit is precariously narrow, but it has widened from my Olympic experience. I watched someone compete and do well, that was not even supposed to be there, while someone, if they had just pressed on would be in his shoes. Never, never, never give up. is no longer just a random quote from Winston Churchill, it is no longer just cliche. Is success just being there?

I watched some athletes crumble from the pressure only to bounce back the next week and medal. Winning the medal had nothing to do with why they will be considered a success.

I know individuals that put 18 years into a sport to try to help win a gold medal for their country. I know of countries that placed higher in their sport at the Olympic games then they had ever done in their life, watching them, you couldn't help but feel happy for the amazement and wondrous awe they were feeling after each competition, but if you looked at the time sheet you would not have given them mention.

So is it medals? Is it the number or the color. Is it the obstacles that were overcome. Is it living up to the high expectations bestowed on you? Is it being the first one to represent your country at the Olympic Games? Maybe its the story that comes along with why and how. Maybe its all of that combined and more.

I believe sports are there to inspire, yourself, or those around you or those people watching, whether it's one or one billion. In the end, I think that's what I define success as, did you find out something new about yourself, did you lift someone up to believe in something bigger or better, did you make the place you were at better for having come.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Gold Medal!

After 62 years, the Gold medal in 4 mans bobsled belongs to the United States team of Steve Holcumb, Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curt Tomasevicz. To do it they had to take down a legend in the German team of Andre Lange. Lange announced his retirement after the race and will be regarded if not the best then perhaps top 3 drivers of all time. Certainly the best in the last twenty years. The USA crew lead from the first run to the last, fulfilling the high expectations that were bestowed upon them. Sometimes in sport, the hardest thing to do is to win when you are "supposed" to. These guys worked incredibly hard all year, but for most of them, this was the culmination of years and years of work. Congrats guys. You guys did it.