From the monthly archives: "May 2011"

Life happens…and sometimes its intricacies interfere with a well-intentioned exercise program.  The most oft-cited reason people give for neglecting to work out is “no time,” a situation we can all relate in one way or another.  This is precisely why I have a self-imposed rule I call WOAC–work out at all costs!

Get it?  Move your butt, no matter what.  Living by this principle allows me to work out anywhere, anytime: planes, trains, and hotel rooms, I always say.  Another advantage afforded by the WOAC philosophy is “no time is too short.”

Since I can stretch at home or the office, the important thing for me is to go to the gym to pump iron or skip rope.  Essentially it’s “go get in whatever you need that requires special space or equipment.”  Truth is, though, I really could do resistance exercise anywhere, so at the very least it’s my cardiovascular requirements that require specific equipment.

Here is why it matters: Like everyone, I find time to be a limiting factor when it comes to working out–I mean, there’s only 24 hours in a day (which is plenty if you have round the clock access to space or equipment–a home gym, for example).  So when I find that time is limited: WOAC!

The Memorial Day holiday today meant the gym at my apartment complex was closing by 4pm.  I wasn’t ready to go until 3:30 pm.  Now…far too many people would have said, “Screw it,” and picked up a pizza and beer and rationalized why Memorial Day is time for celebrating, and NOT working out.  But because I live by the WOAC principle, I knew that it was plenty of time to bang out a session.  Here is how I did it today:

Upon entering the gym, the counter clerk reminded me of the time.  I assured him I wouldn’t be the last person walking out the door. I went right up to the yoga/dance studio with it’s slippery, shiny hardwood floors and proceeded to skip rope–balls to the walls–for ten minutes.  I was winded by five, and dripping sweat at ten.  I needed a rest, so I took one minute to drink a cup of water and catch my breath. 

Next I did plank poses, abdominal crunches, reverse crunches and side planks for my core; then pounded out gluteal bridges and hip abductions for my butt and pelvic regions.  In total, the mat work took me five minutes.  Then I stretched my hips, legs and low back–three more minutes.  Finally, I took two minutes to stretch my arms and chest–areas that I am working on specifically in response to an injury.  Done.  And not the last person to leave, either.

You see, WOAC helps me to get my arse to the gym–moving, sweating, and feeling pumped–even in a short time period.  No excuses for me.  And I guarantee I will be sore tomorrow.  Twenty minutes is all I need–heck, even ten will do.  WOAC…a way of life for me.

Here’s a sure-fire multimillion dollar money-maker for anyone wanting to enter a growth industry in an area of high need.  Consider opening health food stores, fitness clubs, yoga studios, healthy foods restaurants, and mind or bodywork practices in the American South.  The southeastern region of the United States is ripe for the health and wellness industry, as it is currently labelled the Stroke Belt due to the high incidence of cerebro- and cardiovascular diseases.

The 11-state cluster of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia share risk factors that researchers believe are to blame for the increased chance of cardiovascular events and cognitive decline.  Risk factors have been hypothesized to include increased rates of hypertension, low socioeconomic status, high fat diet, cultural lifestyle, quality of health care facilities, smoking, and infections.

The term Stroke Belt was coined in 1965 in response to 50% higher stroke mortality rates in the southeastern U.S.  A new study, called The Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS), looked at 30,000 U.S. adults aged 45 or older from 2003-2007, following them for stroke and cognitive decline.  Participants included 56% from the Stroke Belt states and 44%  from the remaining states in the continental U.S., including the District of Columbia, which researchers collectively termed “non-Belt” states.

For their report on cognitive decline, the investigators included 23,913 REGARDS participants, made up only of African-Americans (38 percent) and European-Americans (62 percent) who reported no history of stroke at baseline and had normal cognitive status at the first assessment.  Researchers assessed brain function using the Six-item Screener (SIS)—a test of global cognitive function that includes item recall and temporal orientation.  Results showed Stroke Belt residents had a greater likelihood of cognitive impairment (18% higher) than non-Belt residents after adjusting for the influences of age, sex, race, and education level. The research team suggests that future studies should examine the impact of migration patterns, urban versus rural residence, socioeconomic factors, and educational quality on cognitive decline.

No doubt, a typical southern lifestyle is not conducive to great public health.  This doesn’t mean there are no healthy people in the south (sometimes I feel I have to say that).  What it does mean is that eating a diet high in fried foods, heavy drinking, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and unsafe sex will lead to increased illness and shortened lives.  For sure these behaviors happen all over the country, let alone the world.  But the southern U.S. is plagued with high poverty rates; and regional lifestyle differences–like certain foods and activities–could account for the differences in cerebro- and cardiovascular disease rates.

So back to my business idea: The southeastern U.S. is ready for some healthy-choice businesses just like the ones we have on every street corner in the North.  Now I don’t mean to be offensive to my brothers and sisters in the south–I’m not suggesting you ain’t with it.  It’s just that–as an industry–the wellness trade hasn’t yet exploded in the south like it has in the rest of the country.  The explosion and the movement will occur concurrently.

Trust me, if you are an entrepreneur and are looking for an exciting new venture–wellness in the South is it!  Showing people that there is a better way, and then giving them the resources, the choices to live it…well that’s what I find super-exciting!  C’mon, the next John Mackey is ready to arise.  Start in the U.S. south–in my estimation, it’s a goldmine!

Pain felt on the outer knee, especially in runners, can be due to iliotibial band frictions syndrome (ITBFS).  The iliotibial band (ITB) is the longest tendon in the body.  It is a conjoined tendon, which means it originates from two different muscles–the gluteus maximus (your butt) and the tensor fascia lata (front hip).  When tight, the ITB can snap across the knee joint, causing inflammation and ultimately pain.

Visiting a sports chiropractor is your best bet to relieving this painful knee condition.  In my Beverly Hills sports chiropractic office, I would treat your iliotibial band frictions syndrome with physiotherapy, myofascial release, chiropractic adjustments of the pelvis and knee, and eventually rehab exercises.

The best rehab exercises I know for fixing ITBFS are IT band stretches, and strengthening the inner thighs.  The adductors are the muscles of the inner thighs, and when weak, they are unable to counter the tight ITBs.  This imbalance is one factor leading to ITBFS.  To prevent outer knee pain, try the exercise I demonstrate in the video below.  All you’ll need are some simple yoga blocks, and squeeze away–guaranteed to remove knee pain and improve posture.  Please watch the video below to learn the best inner thigh strengthening exercises available.

Are you a porn star?  Tired of fearing the STD hand-off from one of your peers?  Well fret no more–the industry has now got doctors to help clear you up and keep it private too.  So says an official from the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), an organization heading up a new medical network to service the porn industry.

The Adult Production Health and Safety Services has been created to replace the now defunct Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation that closed earlier this month.  Known as the AIM clinic, the San Fernando Valley health clinic was a preferred medical provider for many performers in the multibillion-dollar porn industry, providing a discreet environment for frequent HIV and STD tests.

The AIM clinic was forced to close permanently earlier this month following a series of controversies.  After porn actor Derrick Burts was diagnosed HIV-positive there in December, state and local officials said the clinic failed to cooperate with their investigation into other possible infections. Burts said that instead of getting information from the clinic on how to get follow-up care, he was told to avoid media, change his phone number and leave town.  The clinic was also accused of medical privacy violations after patient information appeared on a website in the run-up to its closure.

The FSC, unfortunately, are not in a position to set up an actual clinic to replace AIM, so they’ve done the next best thing–create a network of doctors to take care of adult film actors icognito.  Doesn’t get much better than that.  Within a week, FSC Executive Director Diane Duke said, performers will be provided a list of labs and clinics where they can get testing and have their results fed into the industry database.

For those that don’t know, the heterosexual porn industry attempts to keep close tabs on its actors, to prevent the spread of diseases like gonorrhea, chlamydia or HIV.  Recent HIV outbreaks in the straight porn industry have shocked those inside as well as the outside public–all the more reason to make sure an updated medical database and medical professionals are at hand to keep the industry safe.  The same safeguards are not in place in the gay porn industry.  It is believed that HIV outbreaks in the straight industry are started by infections incurred in crossover actors–that is, males working concurrently in both industries.  If you don’t get it, don’t ask–you never will.

The new database will tell users whether an actor is available to work or not, depending on whether they have any of the sexually transmitted infections the system tracks.  The system makes an exception for HIV-positive gay performers who still work in sex scenes while using condoms.  Further, the group is reaching out to medical providers with education to ensure sex performers aren’t treated with insensitivity and hostility for their work.

Listen, you may not like the porn industry, but safety there is safety for us all.  Porn stars need good medical care like we all do–maybe even more than the average blow…ehem, Joe.  So this is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.  Safe sex should be the norm–in life and in fantasy.  Good job, Free Speech Coalition.

A reader recently commented on a piece I wrote on vegetarianism and vitamin/protein deficiency.  She said I was wrong when I commented that people should “drop the vegetarian thing” if they wanted to improve their health.  She said she the vegetarians she knows are “extremely healthy,” as they eat eggs, cheese, and some even fish.  She essentially asked me if she’s missing the point, or is it just me that’s crazy (just kidding, Caroline).

By all means I stand by my original point: It is difficult for vegetarians to get sufficient protein.  Now I’m not saying there are no healthy vegetarians–that would be ludicrous; but I will say that many vegetarians I have met don’t appear as healthy-looking to me.  Does that mean they are not healthy?  No.  It’s just an observation.  However, saying that, I do look at people all day, almost every day–I am paid to evaluate health.  But can I prove my observations?  No.

What I am quite certain of is that vegetarians, like all people, need a proper intake of protein on a daily basis.  As far as I know, eating fish is not vegetarian, so we don’t have to discuss that any further.  But, yes, an ovo-lacto vegetarian should probably be okay, provided he or she is getting enough protein every day.

My reader was right when she pointed out that people who eat no meat, fish, eggs or dairy are called vegans.  These people need to get their protein from vegetable sources–beans, avocados, nuts, grains, and so on.  Everybody needs a minimum amount of protein every day (women 46 grams of protein per day, men 56 grams), therefore each meal should contain some.

Since we can all anecdotally speak of whom we know or what our personal experiences are, let it be stated that mine are just opinions.  But since opinions are like…well, you know…I’ve got one too, and I am not afraid to share it.

Yes, vegetarians are often skinny.  Big deal!  Skinny ain’t health.  In fact, for people that exercise, children and teens, and pregnant/lactating women, protein is needed big-time.  I wouldn’t recommend vegetarianism (sorry, veganism) to any of these groups unless it’s a part of a long-standing cultural practice.  For Americans that have picked up vegetarianism for their political beliefs (call it humanitarian, call it what you will), if you are in one of the groups mentioned above–well, I wouldn’t do it.

So my original article was in response to a woman that called me about her 17-year-old daughter who was having some cognitive difficulties.  She suspected vitamin deficiency, and was asking about vitamin testing.  HELLO!  Seventeen-year-old girl, mother concerned about vitamin deficiency?  I stand by my assessment and would say it again and again and again (oh…I guess I am now)–DROP THE VEGETARIANISM.  Give that girl a steak, send her to the gym, slap a little sense into the little princess–you are too young to be playing with your health that way.  The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada warn that poorly planned vegan diets can be deficient in vitamin B12, iron, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids.

We have canine teeth for a reason.  Duh!  We are meant to eat a variety of foods, meat included.  Yes, vegetarians can survive.  They are skinny (couldn’t have anything to do with that in a seventeen-year-old girl, now could it?).  But healthy?  Don’t know.  I certainly wouldn’t take the chance with my daughters.

But hey…for some people their politics is their religion.  Wouldn’t eat a slaughtered animal but no problem eating a plant violently pulled from the ground, removed from it’s life source.  Imagine that…taking the life of a living thing.  Or should plant life be minimized?  To the people that vehemently (and for some, violently) oppose meat eating, pick up a biology book and learn something about the life cycle–life must consume life–crazy thing that.

For those that want to be vegetarians, please…go ahead.  But when it comes to your kids’ health, make sure they do it the right way, that’s all.

Thank you Caroline for stimulating my thoughts…or rant…whichever.

So a couple posts ago, I showed you some excellent stretches for the muscles surrounding the knee joint that are essential for knee rehab.  Stretching the calf muscles–gastrocnemius and soleus–is a major part of this rehab, especially if the knees hurt.  Starting with the downward facing dog is a good, safe bet; but once some length is achieved in these muscles (and, if rehabbing, once stability sets in) you can then take the calf stretches to the next level.

In this video, I demonstrate what I find to be the best calf stretches one can do.  Very important to hit both calf muscles, and I find that the soleus is often over-looked.  When the soleus is left un-stretched, it can lead to things like soleus strain, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.

Watch the video to learn some easy and effective stretches you can do regularly at home.  Have fun.

Hamstring pulls, strains and tears can be debilitating, and they are a common injuries in professional American football.  A recent study showed that more than half the hamstring injuries in the National Football League (NFL) were caused in the preseason, and not surprisingly, positions requiring the most sprinting activity were also the most often injured.

A ten year review (1989-1998) of injury data were prospectively collected by athletic trainers for every NFL team and recorded in the NFL’s Injury Surveillance System.  Over the ten years, 1716 hamstring strains were reported with more than half (51.3%) of hamstring strains occurred during the 7-week preseason.  The most commonly injured positions were the defensive secondary, accounting for 23.1% of the injuries; the wide receivers, accounting for 20.8%; and special teams, constituting 13.0% of the injuries in the study.

This study has a few implications: First, professional athletes that require significant sprinting in their sports–baseball outfielders, track and field, soccer, etc–would be wise to adopt a preliminary warming-up period even before the preseason (typically training camp) starts.  Perhaps a structured regimen over a period of one week where physical activity is started slowly, and combined with light stretching (yoga?), chiropractic and massage to decrease the amount of ‘colder’ full-on workouts that might precede the preseason. 

Second, the athletes themselves might want to take a half page or so from the off-season training book of NFL Hall of Fame receiver, Jerry Rice.  Rice was well known for his strenuous workouts between seasons, which likely kept him in the great shape that led to his playing in 189 consecutive games.  Now his regimen might be a little much for the average NFL player, but no doubt his dedication to his body kept him injury free–along with regular chiropractic care–for 12 years!  In the NFL?  Wow!

Finally, for the non-athlete or the weekend warrior–this study should show the importance of warming up before a run, a friendly softball game, or any other activity that includes sprinting of any sort.  Hamstring injuries are not fun–and they can be stubborn healers.  Be smart and warm up right, and hopefully you’ll avoid the unpleasant experience of the strained hamstring.

*Symptoms of a pulled hamstring:

  • Sudden sharp pain at the back of the leg during exercise–most likely during sprinting or high velocity movement
  • Pain on stretching the muscle (bending forward with straight knees)
  • Pain on contracting the muscle against resistance
  • Swelling and bruising
  • If the rupture is severe a gap in the muscle may be felt

Got a call from an old friend the other day, said he tweaked his knee pretty badly.  He said he was trying to avoid surgery, but his doctor thought it might be necessary because he probably tore his meniscus.  I asked what tests and diagnostic imaging the doctor had done and he said, “None–I just showed her where the pain is.”

“Listen, I’m not saying you don’t have a torn meniscus, because I wouldn’t know that without seeing you and doing some tests to make that evaluation; but by the way you’re describing it, it might not be,” I told him.

He asked if there were any stretches one could do to rehab a knee.  My response was that seeing a doctor that understands sports injuries was the probably the wisest thing to do, and preferably an orthopedist or West Hollywood sports chiropractor; but I told him I would cut a video showing some preliminary stretches that would be part of a knee rehab regimen.

I want to caution anybody watching this video that doing these stretches with a recent knee injury is not advised without the supervision of a doctor.  However, saying that, once inflammation has been controlled and any instability stabilized, stretching the muscles I show in the video should do wonders to open the knee joint up, preserving the knee.

Finally, these stretches are good for non-injured people too, so if you are looking for an excellent knee-opening regimen, try the stetches in the video; I guarantee with a little diligence, you’ll be truckin’ like an old pro.  There ya go, Pauli.

A reader asked my opinion on grief and how it affects health.  I though it would be a great topic for a blog post, so here goes:

Since we cannot separate the mind from the body, any charged (let alone hyper-charged) emotion that goes unresolved will affect the health.  Let’s look at the definition of grief: keen mental suffering or distress overaffliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.

Most people grieve when they feel they have lost something–a loved one, whether person or pet, a possession (like a house), or for some people even losing face.  The sense of loss is so deep it can consume the mind for weeks, months or years.  This mental anguish can be so intense that all experiences become bathed in the sorrow that the person has over the loss.


What’s important for people to connect with in these situations is that, in the whole of the universe, there is no gain or loss.  Let’s take the seeming loss of a loved one, for instance.  Einstein showed that mass and energy are equivalent (represented by the equation E=mc²).  Essentially, all matter and energy are interchangeable, which in practical terms for humans signifies that we, too, are simply energy.

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it is called the law of conservation of energy.  Energy can only change from one form to another.  A simple example: pour ice cubes into heating pot and they will change their state from solid to liquid (changing energy form); keep observing and the liquid water will turn to steam and evaporate.  Does this mean the particles making up the ice cubes is gone?  No, it has changed form from a solid to a liquid to gas (the steam), and will disperse throughout the room.  It could even be used to power an engine (energy in motion).


 

Why am I talking physics with regard to grief?  Because the same is true of living things.  We die, but our energy isn’t gone–it transforms.  Here is the beauty in this truth: it corresponds with nearly every spiritual teaching.  Whether you believe in heaven or Valhalla–there is no denying that the energy of the deceased person is not gone.  Even for the secularist, all one must remember is the law of conservation of energy: Energy cannot be created nor destroyed.  Think about that.  More to come.

This post is about perceptual ambiguity.  When encountering situations with multiple interpretations (uh,like everything), the mind filters information in such a way as to present what is comfortable.  Watch the video below to see this principle in action:

Interesting, yes?  Our brains do exactly that when interpreting life events as well–they filter information so as to make our perceptions fit the most recognizable (what we have seen before, what is understandable) and comfortable configurations.  In other words, we tend to see things the way WE are not always the way THEY are, which is complete, whole, and unfragmented.  So it is our brains that fragment, separate and disjoin.

Why do our brains do this?  What can we gather and learn from these types of illusions?  Just know that our sensory systems have expectations of how the world is supposed to be, yet they are illusions.  By looking for the whole–other interpretations become available, and doors open.

Lesson: Seek the whole in every situation.  Guaranteed to blow your mind.

What’s the leading cause of death among four to eight year olds?  Car crashes.  What did researchers at Yale University’s School of Medicine find that many children as young as 12 months were adept at doing?  Getting out of their car seat harnesses.  Bad, Jimmy, bad, bad…

More than 40% of children that can unbuckle their restraints do so while the car is moving, prompting parents to pull over, reprimand and then re-buckle the child, according to a recent study.

The study was based on 500 surveys distributed at pediatric offices in Connecticut and will be presented on Sunday to the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Denver.

The idea for the study came after researchers treated patients from accidents caused by the unbuckling and parents, distracted by their children, looking away from the road.  Ooh…

Researchers believe that better engineered seat belts or alarms might be the answer.

I have first hand knowledge of this happening, as my youngest daughter at two and a half is a regular Houdini. But I really didn’t realize how common the problem is.  My daughter also likes to roll down the windows–gotta lock those suckers, but sometimes she gets me.

All I can say is just be careful, parents.  I sure hope engineers get on this problem fast.  I hate to hear of children injured simply because they were wiggly worms.  Maybe handcuffs and a tank of water will do.  Fingers crossed.

*Here’s something I found through a quick search called the Hug-it Harness.  Can’t vouch for it, other than it looks good.  If any of my readers (especially in the U.K.) use this device, I’d love to know what you think.

Check it out: Higher energy states may lead to quicker aging.  No, no, no…not vibrancy–higher energy as in cost, energy expenditure.

A recent study showed that energy expenditure, measured in a metabolic chamber over 24 hours and during rest, predicted natural mortality.  Researchers looked at 652 non-diabetic, healthy Pima Indian volunteers.  Total energy expenditure was tracked between 1985 and 2006 with a mean follow-up time of 11.1 years, while resting metabolic rate (RMR) was evaluated between 1982 and 2006 with a mean follow-up time of 15.4 years.  During the study period, 27 study participants died of natural causes.

The results were that as energy expenditure increased, so did the risk for natural mortality.  Hmmm…

According to Reiner Jumpertz, M.D., lead author of the study, “We found that a higher endogenous metabolic rate, that is, how much energy the body uses for normal body functions, is a risk factor for earlier mortality.  This increased metabolic rate may lead to earlier organ damage (in effect accelerated aging) possibly by accumulation of toxic substances produced with the increase in energy turnover.”

Before you get all worked up, the data did not apply to exercise-related energy expenditure.  Said Jumpertz, “This activity (exercise) clearly has beneficial effects on human health.”

Here’s the best way to look at this: Energy expenditure increases during fight or flight responses–or during times of stress.  Further, the body will also increase metabolism when it has lots of food to breakdown (another form of stress).  When the energy needs of the body go up during these times of stress–so does natural aging.

The ideal situation is to get your body to the lowest energy state possible.  This means eating smaller meals, getting physically fit, and reducing musculoskeletal stress by bringing your body back into proper function (through things like chiropractic care, massage, and functional rehabilitation).  Fail to do these things and you will increase the rate at which you age.  These results may be preliminary, but I think they’re telling.  May as well start now, before time passes you by.

This is a post about anti-inflammatories/pain killers and ice.  You want to know which is better, then read on:

It’s not uncommon for patients coming into my Los Angeles chiropractic clinic to ask me whether they should use anti-inflammatories or not.  First I start with the usual, “I’m not a medical doctor, so blah, blah, blah, blah…,” and then I say, “Let me explain the difference.”

An anti-inflammatory (Motrin, Advil) works by dispersing throughout your body–you ingest it, it goes into your bloodstream, and is carried to every nook and cranny of your body indiscriminately.  What this means is that some goes here, some goes there, but overall it does the trick for reducing some types or degrees of inflammation.

Ice, on the other hand, is like a blast of cold–cryotherapy it’s called–going right to the source.

Anti-inflammatories are good for:

  • fever
  • tooth aches
  • um…um…um………can’t really think of anything else

Ice is outstanding for many musculoskeletal inflammations including:

And the list could go on, but you get the point.

I cracked a tooth in 2008 and don’t know what I would have done without Motrin (couldn’t rightly ice my tooth).  And I had the flu last Christmas–once again, Tylenol was a savior.

So what’s better?  Well it depends.  But for musculoskeletal injuries and inflammations…my money’s on ice.

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