, , ,

IS YOGA BAD FOR THE BODY?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html

I came across this article in the New York Times recently titled “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body” and thought it was interesting since I am frequently asked by golfer’s and those looking for more mobility/flexibility about yoga.

My typical answer is, without properly assessing your movement ability, strengths and weaknesses, I won’t have a good answer for you.   Anyone, whether in good physical health or poor, should understand that movement can be helpful or harmful.  And I am not talking just about form or technique, I am talking about being aware of certain movement patterns.  An example being, people with lower back pain typically think that yoga and stretching the lower back are good things to do to relieve pain.  In actuality stretching the lower back may destabilize it more and cause increased pain.

Dont’ get me wrong, I am not saying yoga is wrong, but I am saying that not being aware of what is right or what is not right for you is bad.  What really made me agree with the article from the NY Times was this paragraph

“Not just students but celebrated teachers too, Black said, injure themselves in droves because most have underlying physical weaknesses or problems that make serious injury all but inevitable. Instead of doing yoga, “they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition,” he said, to strengthen weak parts of the body. “Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.”

I feel the same way about movement in general. Strength Classes, Pilates, Aerobics, etc can be great or can be detrimental.  The right movement for the right person can be great and a lifesaver, but the wrong movement for the right person can be terrible.  I said it before and I will say it again, Get an assessment to understand your movement needs whether your goal is to increase your general health and movement, or to increase golf or sport specific conditioning you can’t have a plan without assessing where you are.

,

Commitment Trouble?

I was thinking about yesterday’s blog on New Year’s Resolutions and how to keep the ball rolling, when on my breakfast break, I came across this awesome talk on TED.com on “The Battle Between your Present Self and Future Self”

You can freeze your credit cards in the fridge to stop yourself from using them, or “tie yourself to a mast” to prevent yourself from doing something you shouldn’t, or you could develop your self control.  Daniel Goldstien, the featured speaker, says developing self control is like developing your physical strength…You have to work at it!  Watch the video and work it out.

It’s a great talk to continue yuor motivation and thought process for you new year’s goals!

, , ,

TIPS FOR SITTING

5 Tips for Those who sit on the job was an article written by Karen Lobello for Yahoo. Karen was kind enough to contact me on 5 tips that I would give anyone that has to sit for most of the day for better posture and spine health so I suggested the following:

1. Sit at the edge of your chair; This promotes better posture and engagemnt of your core and trunk muscles.
2. Learn to Pack your neck; Neck Packing is a way to ensure good head/neck/spine posture as it prevents your head moving too far forward of the rest of your spine and body.
3. Brace your core; Bracing is engaging your abdomin. The easiest way to feel and learn how to brace is by coughing. When you cough, your midsection tightens up. Maintain that tension is great for helping stabilize the lower spine and encourages breathing by use of the diaphram.
4. Start Kneeling; By taking a 1/2 kneeling position, you stretch one of the most notorious muscles for lower back pain, the hip flexor. By taking a knee, tucking your hips under slightly and engaging your glutes, you will stretch the hip flexor and potentially provide relief for the lower back. I also encourage exercising from a 1/2 Kneeling position to challenge your balance and hip strength/stability.

5. Start Foam Rolling; Foam Rolling is a form of massage by which you apply pressure to tight spots in your muscles. By releasing tension from these areas, you will improve your muscle quality and circulation.

, , , , ,

QUALITY OF MUSCLE TISSUE

If you have worked with me, you have probably heard the “beef jerky” talk. Here’s the typical scenario:

Me: Hows it going today?
Client: Good but my _____ hurts (you can put in knee, neck, shoulder, back etc)
Me: Hows your water been?
Client: Well could be better…
Me: Have you been foam rolling
Client: No I didn’t have time so I got straight into my workouts

This is about where I stop, and ask:
Me: Do you know what beef jerky is?
Client: Well, yeah
Me: So what is it? How is it made?
Client: *Smiling and thinking where is he going with this* It meat that is dried out, dehydrated
Me: Exactly

You may have heard at some point in your life that you are made of 70-80% water, which is completely correct. OUr bodies use water for our circulatory system, digestive system, and even for movement. Most of your water should be stored in your muscle tissue, so when you need extra digest a big meal or to keep your circulatory system moving it’s there. When you dehydrate or don’t hydrate enough, your body pulls water from any storage (i.e. muscles) to use for whatever it needs so you don’t shut down or pass out.

Being dehydrated makes your muscles tight and less pliable. Then add movement to that and getting sore from a workout and lactic acid build up from repetitive movement…guess what. You get knots in your muscles. When you have knots in your muscles that pulls on your joints in different angles, then guess what things wear down and…YOU HURT!

Something I have been adamant about for years has been foam rolling and hydration. Over the past few years working with various clients (golfers, martial artists, post rehab, general fitness), one thing stays constant people want to move better, feel better and look better. You don’t go to the gym to move shitty, feel shitty and look like shitty do you?

Mom I know you will read this so sorry for the language but this goes for you too 🙂

Let me put it to you this way, if you are tight you can’t move efficiently. If you can’t move efficiently but you do anyway, you get better at moving worse. If you continue to do that you get an injury, and that is not the goal of exercise.  The point of fitness is better health, not worse.

There’s a reason we go for the Filet Mignon over beef jerky…We don’t prefer to chew on leather if we don’t have to. That being said, hydrate, foam roll then move. In the short term you will feel better, in the long term will can move better and ultimately you will perform better.

, , ,

BALANCE FOR GOLFERS…

Over the years, I have assessed and worked with many golfer (from juniors, to recreational adults and even tour level pros) and it never ceases to amaze me how much golfers need to work on balance!

One of the biggest swing inconsistancies is found in lack of hip stability.  More often than not, golfers exhibit good stabiltiy in the lead leg, and poor stability in the trail leg.  Here are a couple of things I have used to help re-educate the hips and strength them in stabilization.

Enjoy!

Bridge

Great drill for strengthening your glutes and lateral hip stability

Half Kneeling Chops

Great for lateral hip stability and incorporating arm speed

Medicine Ball throws

Great for lateral hip stability, arm speed and reaction training

,

STRATEGIES FOR AGING WELL

As we age our bodies begin to breakdown.  We have to deal with injury and nagging aches and pains.  In the current issue of The Strength and Condition Journal (Oct.2010, Vol. 32, Num. 5) an article was published titled Strategies for Aging Well.  In this article a handful of studies were discussed and quoted in their findings of age related changes and the benefits of exercise.  Different types of training were discussed (Resistance Training and Power Training, Mobility and Balance Training will be used as examples here).

As we age some of the biggest issues we deal with are difficulty in movement (either due to lack of activity, previous injury, or disease), decreased balance, and lack of strength and speed.  The right kinds of exercise can help all of these things.  In the article Strategies for Aging Well, they discussed studies done on flexibility and balance training, resistance training and power training, and the benefits of each.

What they found were: In every study done, the subjects improved in whatever they were working on (balance, strength, power, flexibility).  The summary of the article reads as follows, “’The old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ is a key rule for maintaining physical independence as a person grows older’.  A comprehensive physical activity program for adults includes aerobic exercise, resistance training including power training, neuromuscular training, and flexibility exercise. Resistance training is associated with a long list of documented benefits, including increased muscle mass and strength, and enhancements in functional performance (particularly with power training), which is related to being able to maintain independence and protect quality of life… The exercise professional who is familiar with age-related changes and challenges that face adults is poised to assist them in aging well by helping them to improve their fitness…we can all take steps to age successfully.”

I enjoyed this article because it reinforced what I have been saying for the past few years to all of my clients, young, middle aged and older adult; it’s all about use it or lose it.  You can always get it back if you’ve lost it but it’s easier to keep it from an early age, rather than earn it later on in life.

Reference

  1. 1. Geithner, C,  PhD, Mckenney, D,  BS. Strategies for Aging Well. Strength and Conditioning Journal, Oct 2010, Vol. 3, Num. 5

ALCOHOL AND YOU!

Special Thanks to Robert Yang (www.robertyang.net) for allowing me to share his article…Enjoy

ALCOHOL: SHOULD YOU BE DRINKING IT?

To drink or not to drink that is the question?  Are you gaining body fat around your mid-section?  Do you wake up in the middle of the night or wake up feeling tired?  These are questions that you must ask yourself when it comes to alcohol consumption.  Many people are trying to be healthy by drinking 1-2 servings of alcohol a day.  Doctors are encouraging their patients to have a few glasses of wine with dinner.  Some physicians state that research has shown alcohol can improves one’s health and longevity. I on the other hand have a quite a different view.  Not only is alcohol detrimental to your health but it can actually decrease the longevity and quality of your life.  It is not just the issue of calories or carbohydrate intake from alcohol but its effect on body fat, hormones, sleep quality, and physical recovery and regeneration.

Many studies indicate that alcohol intake does not affect bodyweight, but there is a common flaw in all of these studies. The method of tracking weight gain or loss is measured in terms of Body Mass Index (BMI).

BMI is an individual’s body weight in kilograms divided by height in meters.  BMI is an individual’s body weight (kg) divided by height (m)².  The use of BMI does not take into account the body composition (lean muscle tissue versus body fat) of an individual.  For example, if a subject weighs 150 pounds but gains 5 pounds of fat and loses 5 pounds of muscle, their BMI is the same but their body composition is completely different. Not only has that person gained 5 pounds of fat around their midsection which does not appear pleasant but they have also decreased their metabolism by losing 5 pounds of muscle.  Remember you never want to lose muscle mass because it is your metabolic engine.  The consequence of the extra 5 pounds of belly fat is undesirable and is considered a risk factor for diabetes and obesity. Alcohol also has a significant effect on lipid oxidation (your body’s ability to burn fat).
A study by The New England Journal of Medicine has shown that adding alcohol to healthy person’s diet shows reduced Fat burning in a 24 hour period (1).  A decrease in lipid oxidation means that the body’s fat burning abilities has been reduced.  Therefore if you are consuming alcohol on a daily basis, you are reducing your body’s ability to burn body fat and your body becomes a fat storing machine.


Alcohol consumption has huge implications on the hormonal system of the body.  Dr. Barry Sears, author of the Zone Diet, says that food is just like a drug because each time we eat or drink; there is a hormonal response that occurs.  The hormonal response that occurs with alcohol consumption is a rapid rise in insulin from the pancreas to manage sky rocketing blood sugar levels.  As insulin brings blood sugar down, the body goes through a state of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  There are a number of physiological consequences that occur.  Hypoglycemia is an imminent threat to the body therefore a hormone called cortisol is released by the adrenal glands to deal with this low blood sugar.  Through the process of gluconeogenesis, cortisol breaks down glycogen (stored glucose) or muscle tissue to release glucose into the blood stream to normalize blood sugar.  If this is done repeatedly, the body senses this hyperglycemia to hypoglycemia as a stress to the body.  This will continually stress the adrenal glands which will cause dysregulation of several other hormones.

This scenario can also affect your quality of sleep. Most people do not associate their quality of sleep with alcohol consumption. Ask yourself this question: Do you drink alcohol in the evening and find yourself waking up in the middle of the night for no reason? If you answered yes, alcohol may be the reason why you are suddenly waking up. The reason for your sleep disruption is due to the hormonal response of insulin and cortisol. When you consume alcohol in the evening with dinner, the blood sugar level in your body goes into a state of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). As you go to sleep, the blood sugar drops dramatically to a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) state. Since hypoglycemia is a severe threat to the body, cortisol is secreted to normalize blood sugar. Unfortunately, cortisol is also a stimulating hormone which may cause a person to wake up in the middle of the night.

The hormonal response to alcohol is detrimental to the production of our natural release of a hormone called growth hormone. Research has shown that as little as 1 glass (8-10 ounces) of alcohol consumed in the evening can reduce the nocturnal release of growth hormone by 63% and as much as 81% with the consumption of 2 glasses of alcohol (2).  Growth hormone is known as the “hormone of youth” because it helps us retain muscle mass, decrease body fat, and increase longevity of life.  Athletes are known for taking exogenous sources of GH to improve recovery and performance. Each time that you consume alcohol in the evening, you are lowering your natural release of growth hormone and decreasing your ability to burn fat, increase muscle and recover from exercise.
Now that you have all this great information on the ill effects of alcohol, what do you do about it?

In a perfect world abstaining from alcohol would be the answer.  But I’m a practical guy and a practical nutritionist.

Here are some tips:

1.  Never consume alcohol on an empty stomach.

2.  Consume fat, protein and fiber with your alcohol to blunt the blood sugar peak.

3.  Drinking alcohol is a ritual for many people versus a need for alcohol. Try replacing a glass of red wine with a glass of sparkling water.

I had a client who decided he was going to give up alcohol cold turkey.  In a matter of a week he had lost 1 percent of his body fat without exercising or changing his nutrition.  As he started to feel better the client later admitted to me that he only drank out of habit.  A habit he no longer has.
Try it for a month and see what happens.  The worse thing that could happen is your hormones may normalize, you’ll feel well rested, and shed a few unwanted pounds!  Good luck.

Reference:
Suter PM, Schutz Y, Jéquier E. The effect of ethanol on fat storage in healthy subjects. N Engl J Med 1992;326:983-987.
Ekman AC, Vakkuri O, Ekman M, Leppaluoto J, Ruokonen A, Knip M. Ethanol decreases nocturnal plasma levels of thyrotropin and growth hormone but not those of thyroid hormones or prolactin in man. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996;2627-2632.

8 SECRETS TO SUCCESS…

What leads to success?

Check this 3 min video out