Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Motivation: Mount St Mary's

This is a special video. It is from a good buddy of mine, TJ Burns. He is the head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the athletes in these videos at Mount St Mary's College in Maryland. Have an awesome week!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Soleus: Calf, Sacro-Illiac and Migraine Pain

I've always checked for bilateral soleus tightness when I see some low back pain in runners/desk workers.  Active,  then lots of sitting lifestyle.  When the soleus muscles get tight, they tend to put your center of gravity more on your toes which fires the back extensors more.

I was reading through some Travell and Simmons Trigger point book the other day and came across the trigger point referral pattern for the soleus. To my surprise, I saw that it actually referred pain to the TMJ.

I did some more reading on the soleus and found a few massage therapy articles where the soleus is known as the "second heart."  It's considered the bottom of the cardiovascular system, pumping blood from the lower extremities to the heart.

The soleus now becomes part of the vascular system.  When they are tight, along with the adductors, can put compression on the adductor hiatus and effect the neurovascular structures that run through that.

They relate tight soleus muscles to migraines.  Many people suffer from migraine pain.  In my experience, it's hit or miss with what I call typical chiropractic adjustments.  I find since I've been doing nerve entrapment release that my success has gone up, but not a ton.  I still feel like it's 50/50.  If working the soleus muscle provides one or two more success cases, that is some very, very valuable information.

So, if you or someone you are treating presents with TMJ or Migraine headaches, it is worth just a quick palpation of the soleus muscle.  It's a requirement for low back and SI joint pain.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Working Out Helps Fight Cancer

This a guest post by Liz Davies

Working Out Helps Fight Cancer

Cancer patients must undergo various treatments and surgeries that will most likely leave them with side effects like fatigue, insomnia and an altered mindset. Though this may seem terrible, there are ways that cancer patients can help themselves. One of those ways is to be physically active.

How working out helps fight cancer

Working out and physical activity is by no means a cure for cancer. However, it can greatly improve a cancer patient's health, both physically and mentally. Fitness has already been proven to help prevent cancer. Just as well, it can be a very helpful aid for conventional treatment.

Physical benefits

Treatments, surgeries and chemotherapy are great for killing cancer cells, but it can also leave a negative after-effect on the body. Along with side effects, cancer treatments can also kill healthy cells and tissues, leaving the body to work extra hard to recover. As a result, cancer patients often feel very tired, irritable and stressed. Insomnia is also a very common side effect, adding to cancer patients' overall irritability.

Working out keeps the body stimulated, helping to improve the internal functions, such as the respiratory system, circulatory system and immune system. When all of the cancer patient's internal functions are working properly, he or she should have an easier time coping with the treatments and therapy.

Mental benefits

Many cancer patients admit that they feel like they lost total control of their life when they were diagnosed with their condition. That is why many of them develop a negative outlook on their life. When people lose hope for themselves, they lose the ability to remain optimistic.

However, even having a negative outlook on life can inhibit the body's ability to stay healthy. Studies show that optimistic people are generally healthier and heal faster than negative people. While there are many theories as to why this is, most experts speculate that optimistic people have a chemical balance that produces a special hormone that helps the body stay healthy.

Working out also produces a special hormone, called endorphins, that helps to regulate all the other hormones necessary for being optimistic. This is especially important for female patients, since females are twice as likely to develop symptoms of depression.

Cancer patients need to work out

Every cancer expert recommends their patient to remain physically active. This is important for people with breast cancer, liver cancer and even rare forms of cancer like, pleural mesothelioma. It is a vital aspect of the recovery process. It can be hard to stay motivated to exercise. Patients must remind themselves of what is important in life, and use those thoughts as motivation. Once the patient sees and feels a difference in his health, he will be even more motivated to work out more often.

Liz Davies is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer especially interested in health and wellness. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives because she sees how cancer has devastated so many people in this world. Liz also likes running, playing lacrosse, reading and playing with her dog, April.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Awesome Avocado: Quite Possibly the World's Perfect Food

Move over Chiquita Banana, we have a new taker to your catchy title.  The mighty avocado!  This sucker is packed with goodness.  Let's explore. 

The avocado is a fruit.  I used to think of it as a vegetable, I guess because it's green.  85% of its calories come from fat.  On average the avocado contains about 30 grams.  Don't freak out.  Fat is good for you.  Especially these kinds.  They are loaded with what are called phytosterols.  These are basically the best anti-inflammation nutrients you can ingest.  They are especially good for fighting the inflammation that comes from arthritis (osteo and rheumatoid)  You also have oleic acid.  Think olive oil.  These fats help absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.  Finally you got the polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs). These guys also fight inflammation.

Vitamin wise,  avocado's have all the B vitamins.  They have all the carotenoids.  More amazing, they have the oleic acid to fully absorb all the carotenoids.  Carotenoids are super important for eye health and inflammation. 

They have alpha linoleic acid, 160mg per on average.  (fish oil)  Avocados are a good source of Vitamin K (blood clotting), more potassium then a medium banana, folate, vitamin C and about 8 grams of fiber.  

I like to just cut in half, scoop out the seed, and spoon out the fleshy goodness directly. Nothing else needed.  This makes the avocado extremely portable.  What's better you can call it by it's cooler name.  Alligator Pear.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Motivation: Live in the Moment

My Monday Motivation segment was a little late, but the video has good advice. Live in the Moment. Never has this been more clear then this afternoon. While on a plane, bound for home, the man behind me had a heart attack and died. Life isn't a guarantee.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Travel Necessities

Traveling doesn't mean letting your health and fitness take a break. There are a few simple solutions that can help keep your health and goals on track.

Take a lacrosse ball and a jump stretch band. These are low cost, small and light.

The lacrosse ball can be used for all kinds of soft tissue work. The band can be used for stretching as well as used as resistance for a number of bodyweight type exercises.

Traveling usually involves more sitting and walking then you are used to, so spend a few extra minutes with the ball.

If you are traveling by plane, drink extra water. Airplanes will dehydrate you faster then running on muggy day. Don't believe me? Next time you step off a plane, see how easy it is to slug down a 16oz bottle of water.

Try this the next time you travel. Stay healthy.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Some Great Reads and Cool Studies

Joel Jamieson put up an awesome article on Repeated Sprint Ability. Goes through and explains the different energy systems. I can't get enough of this kind of information. If you work with any type of athlete that has to repeat an effort. This is a must read.

Think yourself stronger. Oh yea.... Cool article called Body Sense in Psychology Today.

Think Melatonin is just for sleep? Thing again. It's being researched to help with tissue regeneration and muscle recovery. Here is the Pubmed Abstract.

What I like about these three selected articles is that we are learning more about how the bodies systems work together each day. I believe were just starting to scratch the surface of this iceberg we call the brain/mind when it comes to training. Lastly, I have been hearing a lot of talk about Melatonin lately, kinda like I heard Vitamin D a few years ago, before it just blew up. Keep on the look out for more Melatonin in the news.

Self Screen for Low Back Pain

Non diffuse low back pain is the bane of many people/athletes.  Wouldn't it be great if there were some markers to predict if you may be at risk?  You, my friend, are in luck.  We do know a few things now about the importance of movement and endurance.  Here are a few ways to keep yourself out of the old bent over shuffle walk that low back pain produces.

Sorenson Test.  This is essentially an isometric back extension.  These are the number, under 176 sec. low back pain in a year.  Over 196 seconds you're good to go.  Test for 240sec

Stu McGill, the biggest name it seems in low back research, suggests a side plank for 75 sec.  If you hit it, nice.  Also, front plank 90 sec.

Stu has also found that those that lack hip extension, will have severe low back pain at some point.  So don't lose that motion.

This brings us to tissue quality and length.  Keep those hip flexors loose!  Psoas and Rectus Femoris are crucial.  Google Thompson Test if you want a visual on the test.

I have found that bilateral soleus muscle tightness goes hand and hand with low back pain.  When the calves are tight it pushes you on the toes when standing.  This switches all the errector spinae muscles on and they tighten up.  Over time they just create pressure and tension on the low back.

Try standing.  Now become aware of the back.  Now shift your weight to your heels.  Feel the back muscles just switch off.  Cool stuff.

Check hip internal rotation.  Don't lose it.  Goes with extension.  Loss predicts pain.  Keep your hips moving.  I've discussed this before.

Bottom line, work on the endurance and keep the hips moving.

Here is the paper discussing the Sorenson Test.

Friday, October 7, 2011

New Tests in the Works for Growth Hormone

I was reading an article the other day called Chemical Catcher.  Essentially a scientist by the name of Alessandra Luchini has developed a way to detect "biomarkers."  My understanding is the these biomarkers are a faint hint of a presence of a disease in our bodily fluid.   They are normally chewed up by our enzymes within minutes before any type of test can detect them.

If there were a way to detect these biomarkers, doctors could detect diseases much earlier.  This would offer much better outcomes for recovery.  Luchini, according to this article in Popular Science, developed a nanoparticle trap that works like a net.  So far she has been able to use this nanoparticle trap for early diagnosis of Lyme and Tuberculosis.

Amazing break throughs on the horizon.  What really caught my eye though, was a small sentence in the middle of the article.  "This test can also detect the presence of Human Growth Hormone in Urine."  Previously only GH could be detected in blood samples.  Many sports only do urine testing.    Look out sports world.  We may be on the cusp of a lot more athletes being busted.  Say, someone that goes from 19.78 to 19.26 in the 200m.  Just my own speculation though.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

BPA, Plastics and Your Health

You probably know by now that BPA free is a hot term and that it's better if your water bottle is BPA free.  Here is the rundown and some quick ways to check different things out.  Consider this your Plastic 101 crash course.

BPA stands for Bisphenol A.  This plastic has been shown to mimic female estrogen and can essentially disrupt your endocrine system.  BPA is used in plastic that is clear and shatterproof.  Think the old Nalgeen bottles that every college kid in America owned.

BPA is a xenoestrogen.  Foreign estrogen.  It disrupts your endocrine system.  This has been linked to certain cancers in women, lower testosterone levels in men, obesity, memory and mood problems and also fetal and infant brain development problems.  Not good stuff.

Most companies have switched over to exclusively BPA free, but there are still old products on the market. An easy way to tell if it contains BPA is look on the bottom of the plastic.  There will be a triangle.  If the number 3 or 7 is in the triangle and the bottle doesn't say BPA free, chances are it has BPA.

I recently checked my Culligan water system at the office and it contained the number 7.  I called Culligan and they promised that all future bottles would be BPA free.  This got me thinking on all the numbers that you see with plastic.  Here is the rundown on the recycling number symbols.

1.  PETE.  This is single use plastic.  Think water bottles.  Pretty safe, just don't reuse them.  Little chance of plastic leaching into the water.

2.  HDPE.  Milk jugs, laundry detergent.  Again little chance for leaching.

3.  PVC.  Don't every burn this plastic as it will release toxic fumes.

4.  LDPE.  Squeezable plastic and it's flexible.  Grocery bags.  Doesn't appear much food stuff is made from it.

5.  PP.  Straws and medicine bottles.  High melt point.

6.  PS.  Egg cartons, CD cases, disposable cups and plates.  This can leach into the food stuff.  Think Styrofoam.  So don't reuse that stuff.

7.  OTHER.  This is a bunch of plastics thrown together.  Hard plastic.  Shown that this will leach and disrupt some hormones potentially.  STAY AWAY.

So when looking for drinking water or storage, the numbers 2, 4, 5 are safe.  1 is for one time use only.  Don't reuse.  Never use number 7.

Plastic 101 now dismissed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Congrats to a New National Champion

Huge congratulations to Train Out Pain athlete Danielle Musto.  Over the weekend she won the 24 hour Mountain Bike National Championships out in Colorado.  She is now the proud owner of "The Stars and Bars" jersey that only USA National Champions can own.  Pretty Awesome!