Archive for May, 2012
Performers at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles stage popular life-size puppet shows about T. rex and Triceratops dinosaurs five days a week. Carrying their heavy costumes can result in strained muscles or injuries, so the museum decided to try a therapeutic exercise new to many in the United States called neuromuscular activation (Neurac for short).
Developed in Norway, the method uses Redcord equipment — a collection of red-colored cords, loops and slings — that allows the therapist to put patients in various supported positions. Exercises are pain-free because the cord-and-sling setup supports the patient’s body weight while working.
Museum officials sent their performers to Core Conditioning in Studio City, Calif., one of the first physical therapy facilities in the country to offer Redcord and Neurac, for some preventative work.
“They have a lot of performers who get injured as they’re moving around in costumes that weight 100 lbs. or more,” says Gabrielle Shrier, MPT, one of the owners of Core Conditioning. “We brought them in and evaluated them with Redcord. With the Redcord unit, you are able to evaluate the body in its movement, and tease out the areas that need treatment.”
Shrier recommended exercises for the performers, based on the Redcord evaluations, and injuries decreased significantly over the following months.
“In treatment, you’re able to off-load some of the body weight so that you can train the muscle to function at the level it can, then slowly add body weight to get the muscle strength back, “ she adds. “It takes away the compensatory pattern you develop when you’ve had an injury.”
Physical therapists at The Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Gulf Breeze, Fla. have been using the Redcord and Neurac treatment system since 2010.
“The majority of our patients get on it at some point in their treatment,” says Stephen LaPlante, PT, at The Andrews Institute. “We’ll use it on everyone from professional athletes to the elderly. We use it as an adjunct to other treatments, like manual techniques. If I’m moving a patient’s neck, for example, and they have pain every time, I can put them on Redcord and move them for greater range of motion without pain.”
LaPlante says once a patient is in the Redcord setup, the physical therapist may increase the muscle stimuli by tapping the cords while the patient is in a stabilized position.
“You give more feedback to the brain that way, telling the muscles to work here,” LaPlante says. “Within a week’s time, with many people, you can increase functionality. Some of the exercises will hit multiple body parts. The results speak for themselves.”
It’s not easy for new treatments to gain acceptance in any medical community, and Michael Leonardi, who runs the distributorship for Redcord in the United States, says while Record and the Neurac method have been widely used in more than 30 countries for decades, it’s just starting to gain a foothold in America.
According to Leonardi, the new treatment method is used in hospitals such as Beaumont Hospital in Detroit and the University of Michigan Hospital System in Ann Arbor, as well as at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center.
“Neurac has value in both the rehabilitation and fitness industries,” Leonardi says. “It’s a way for rehabilitation professionals to create wellness programs through functional exercise. It’s a continuum of care, and a great conduit between rehabilitation and fitness.”
At the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center, clinical manager Peter Toohey discovered Neurac and the use of Redcord equipment in 2007 through researching treatment options online and reading various medical journals.
“Most of our coaching staff is from foreign nations, so I’ve got to stay on top of what’s being used everywhere to see if there’s a performance component,” Toohey says. “Our center concentrates on a majority of the winter sports. I was doing some research on setting up uncontrolled environment tasks in the off-season, and Redcord’s been able to do that for me.”
Toohey does most of the training for the Center’s athletes and says the Neurac method is used for more than rehabilitation. For example, Toohey explains, if a short track speed skater, skier, or ice curler loses form during competition, he or she will slip, needing to stand up and get back into the fray.
“We can put them in the Redcord and train the body to compensate for that slipout,” says Toohey, explaining that athletes can be placed in positions in the slings that force them to find stability in an unstable environment. “We also use Redcord for rehabilitation, but my philosophy is we don’t let athletes get injured. There are athletes who push themselves and crash on tour, and we work on them with Redcord.”
He notes that while many physical therapists use Redcord and the Neurac method primarily for rehabilitation, he predicts the treatment will evolve into a strength and conditioning system as well.
“There’ll be a day, within five years, that Redcord will be all over the country,” Toohey says. “People want more of a wholistic approach to health, and don’t want to just take pills for problems. With Neurac and Redcord, you’re using your body to fix your body.”
Dinah Eng is a freelance columnist in Los Angeles, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are protein supplements the best way to get ‘ripped’?
They are sold as a magic bullet for building up muscle, but are protein powders and bars a waste of your money?
Lunchtime for John Davis, a risk management executive at Colonial Asset Management, is often a run from Sydney’s Martin Place across the Harbour Bridge to Balls Head, near Waverton.
All up he covers a 14 kilometre City-to-Surf distance within an hour because he finds that the exercise clears his brain, making the afternoon in the office more productive.
Although he is “seriously sceptical” about the claims from companies that make protein supplements, he concedes that they do have a certain convenient factor for fuelling his fitness activities.
“I can’t sit all day at my desk eating after I have exercised, so I eat a sensible lunch then follow it with a protein bar or shake”, he said.
“I do see guys who take protein shakes two or three times a day, which I don’t see the benefit in. But I have seen the difference between snacking on protein and eating something like a chocolate bar, which gives you a sugar hit then a deflated feeling afterwards”.
Pam Stone, a naturopath for natural health company Blackmores, said protein supplements were one of the fastest growing sectors in the health market.
Last year, according to sales data collection agency AZTEC, Australians spent $80 million on sport food, an increase of 27.7 per cent on 2011.
Even so, fitness experts advise consumers to venture cautiously.
Dr Louise Burke, the head of sports nutrition at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), said that while protein supplements were an everlasting favourite in sports nutrition, many people were wasting their money in the types they chose and the way they took them.
“Everybody who goes to the gym these days thinks they need an ultra expensive super-scientific sounding protein supplement but it’s often unwarranted” Burke said.
“You can get great amounts and types of enough protein from regular food and this would save you money. High quality protein can be easily found in animal sources such as dairy products, eggs and meats.
“There is no doubt recovery after a weights or cardio session is improved if you consume good quality protein within an hour of working out. But the benefits top out at a dose of about 20-25 grams of protein.”
Protein supplements were more beneficial when used as convenience products, she said.
“They are practical and convenient in that you don’t have to refrigerate them and shakes are easy to take. But my advice is that if you are buying them, go for either a simply whey protein powder without any other fancy ingredients, or if refuelling is also important, choose a liquid meal supplement with carbohydrates as well as the protein.”
Nutritionist Joanna McMillan agreed, saying many male athletes overused protein supplements.
“There is a place for whey protein supplements immediately before or in the half hour window after strength training,” McMillan said.
“Otherwise they are completely overused by most men. They drink them at all times of day as if they will magically build muscle. It’s crazy.
“At the end of the day protein supplements are a processed food product and many of the ridiculous claims made on the ones with a whole load of extras added have no scientific backing. Often a glass of milk would be just as good.”
So what’s the science behind protein diets and muscle?
The AIS recommends consuming protein soon after exercise to provide building blocks that can take advantage of the increased rates of muscle protein synthesis for up to 24 hours after a workout. When carbohydrate is needed for refuelling, or additional energy for maximum weight gain, this protein can be combined into choices such as flavoured yoghurt and milk, fruit smoothies, liquid meal supplements such as Sustagen Sport, sandwiches, cereal and milk and sports bars. “
Marathon trainer Sean Williams, who trains runners at Sweat Sydney, said protein supplements were most popular among those wanting to bulk up.
“These supplements are very popular in bulking diets as they help your muscles grow,” Williams said.
“It is not the actual protein in these supplements, often coming from a food like whey, which will increase your weight. It is the total number of calories in the supplement. The problem is that the supplements are often loaded with piles of sugar.
“It is great to take protein mixed with carbs immediately after a run to aid in a fast recovery. But I recommend runners do it the natural way in the form of a fruit smoothie. If your diet is low in protein then some extra protein is not going to hurt and will probably help your metabolism.
But for runners who don’t want to increase muscle bulk or weight, he warned supplements may actually handicap performance, in much the same way a race horse is handicapped with extra weight.”
So how much protein does a person need?
According to the AIS, recreational endurance athletes who exercise four to five times a week for 30 minutes need 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight a day. So a 75 kilogram man would need to consume about 90 grams of protein a day. But the important message is not just how much you consume, but the way you consume it.
The best idea, the AIS said, was to consume some just after exercise, and to spread the rest out over meals and snacks during the day. This is different to our typical patterns where we eat enough over the day in total, but most of it is consumed in the evening meal.
Professor Ingo Froboese, from the Centre for Health at the German Sport University in Cologne, said that anyone consuming more than 0.8 and 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight could be damaging their metabolism, which can affect the kidneys.
“The best thing to do is to eat a balanced diet. Ordinary food will have enough protein in it,” Professor Froboese said.
Ray Klerck, a fitness writer for Men’s Health magazine, claims the best option is to buy cheaper no-name whey protein, add a banana and berries and a couple of egg whites.
“So many protein supplements have many additives, sugar and preservatives to add a point of difference,” Klerck says.
“You don’t need them. It’s important to eat 30 grams of protein before and after exercise – both cardio and weight training – as protein helps your muscles build size and strength and hormone changes after exercise mean after a workout is the time when the body can absorb the most protein.”
Estimated protein requirements (g/kg/day)
Sedentary men and women – 0.8-1.0
Elite male endurance athletes – 1.6
Moderate-intensity endurance athletes (exercising about four to five times a week for 45-60 min) – 1.2
Recreational endurance athletes (exercising four to five times a week for 30 min) - 0.8-1.0
Football, power sports – 1.4-1.7
Resistance athletes (early training) – 1.5-1.7
Resistance athletes (steady state) -1.0-1.2
(Female athletes – 15% lower than male athletes)
Source: Burke and Deakin, Clinical Sports NutritionFollow ExecutiveStyle on Twitter
By Corey Donohoo
Beaumont Centre Family YMCA
I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve had a friend, family member, or doctor mention to you how great exercise can be for your health. They may have told you how exercise can help decrease your risk for all sorts of diseases or recover from an injury or illness. One thing I would guess that they didn’t tell you is what type of exercise you should be doing, and how often you should do it.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is often the go-to organization for health and fitness professionals when it comes to these sorts of questions. I know what you are saying, “I’m not interested in sports, why should I listen to them?” The truth is they do lots of great research about exercise and related topics for all different types of people, not just athletes.
For instance, the ACSM has established recommendations for physical activity in healthy older adults (those 65 years and older). For aerobic activity, they recommend 30-60 minutes per day, 5 days per week. This includes exercises like walking, swimming, cycling, or other activities that increase your heart rate. Those who are able to work at a higher intensity may be able to cut their workouts shorter and do them less frequently (20-30 minutes; 3-4 days per week).
The benefits of aerobic exercise are well documented. Just like younger adults, older adults can greatly increase their cardiovascular endurance by sticking to the recommendations above.
Strength exercises are just as important when it comes to overall health. However, many people are timid when it comes to using weights. The ACSM recommends participating in strengthening activity as least twice each week. Between 8-10 exercises each done 10-15 times should do the trick as long as each major muscle group is incorporated. Machines and weights aren’t always necessary for building strength; the weight of your body can often be a great tool as well. If you are unsure about what exercises you should be doing or the proper technique, consult at a professional at a nearby fitness facility.
Adding strength training into your routine can not only help to build muscle strength, but also muscle endurance as well as increase bone density, which can combat osteoporosis.
The aspect of exercise that is occasionally neglected is flexibility. The recommendations are to perform stretching twice each week for each major muscle group. This is important for keeping a healthy range of motion throughout joints that will help to perform daily tasks.
Please remember that these are only the recommendations for a healthy older adult. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise plan. Keep moving!
Corey Donohoo has been the Health Well-being Director at the Beaumont Centre Family YMCA in Lexington for just over a year. His duties include working with older adults as well as health and well-being initiatives for those with chronic health concerns or those new to exercise. Corey is a 2010 graduate from the University of Kentucky with a degree in biology.
Perth fitness model Alice Round offers her workout tips for fat burning – and you won’t have to spend hours at the gym.
BODYBUILDING is no longer a male-dominated sport.
International Natural Bodybuilding Association state president Sam Attrill said just as many women as men were competing in the sport.
“It would certainly be 50 per cent, if not more towards the women,” she said.
“It’s certainly a growing sport. I think it has got to the point where a lot of people want to get fit and healthy now and the next step on would be to compete and to take your fitness on to the stage.
Ms Attrill said the popularity of competition categories that offered more mainstream looks, such as the sports model and figure categories, were responsible for the rise in female bodybuilders.
“A sports model basically has to look like she works out, with the difference being that she will carry a bit of body fat over her muscles you won’t see a lot of definition,” she said.
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“In figure, they will get extremely lean, quite muscular but shapely and they come on stage in high heels.”
University student Alice Round, 24, said she got into the sport after an injury forced her out of athletics.
“I’ve only just started this year,” she said. “It was just something different to do and it’s a good way of keeping in shape.”
Ms Round, who trains six days a week, recently took out the sports model category at the 2012 NABBA Southern Pacific Championships.
- An hour of weights five times a week
- 30 minutes of high intensity training (sprints, stair climbs) two to three times a week
- One day of rest each week
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAAY) – Fifty percent of firefighters who die while on duty, die from heart attack or stroke. According to Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, many of these deaths could be prevented if there was a proper fitness program in place. Unfortunately many fire stations cannot afford fitness equipment.
Michael Sublett, Fire Chief of Huntsville Fire and Rescue, said Huntsville fire stations have had to sacrifice when it comes to fitness gear.
“As everyone knows in the last few years the economy has been very tough. We’ve had to really look at our budgets, cut back in a lot of areas, and one of the areas that we weren’t able to purchase as much as we wanted was some new exercise equipment,” Sublett said.
Thanks to a grant provided by Firemans Fund Insurance Company firefighters at Huntsville Fire Station 2 will have the chance to get and stay fit. The station has received $7,000 to pay for an elliptical trainer, weights, and mats, all critical to keeping firefighters in their best shape. Station 2 applied for the grant through J. Smith Lanier Insurance which partners with Fireman’s Fund.
“This is of course a historic area of Huntsville, and we do have older homes in this area and it’s a growing area. This is a very important fire station,” said J. Smith Lanier Insurance Managing Director, Fredrick Lanier
The new equipment has just recently arrived at Station 2 and Firefighter Jason King says it is already making a big difference.
“I think that it will keep us, just in better shape everybody is enjoying it and all the shifts are using it.You’ve got to have a lot of stamina when it comes to a fire. The older equipment we had, it really didn’t incorporate what we needed to get a whole body workout. Now this equipment allows us to do that,” King said.
Huntsville Fire Station 2 is the third station in Alabama to be selected for a Fireman’s Fund grant this year.
The black, bold headline blared: “LOSE WEIGHT, BUILD MUSCLE.”
The advertisement, illustrated with a photo of a sexy, slim woman holding a football, goes on to claim that by placing a few drops of their product under your tongue, you can achieve rapid weight loss in all the right places.
The national ad ran in newspapers across the country, including in The Herald earlier this year.
However, this “new advanced” weight-loss formula is making fraudulent claims and is, in fact, illegal to sell for weight loss.
That’s the warning the Food and Drug Administration issued in January on “homeopathic” or over-the-counter forms of hCG, after a resurgence of the hormone started to gain popularity as the latest quick fix for Americans eager to drop pounds.
It’s interesting that hCG has become popular again after it first appeared on the diet scene more than 55 years ago. HCG was controversial then and still is today.
HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced by the placenta and found in the urine of pregnant women.
HCG has been approved for use to treat infertility in women, but off-label hCG has also been used as a weight-loss method.
HCG is basically taken two different ways. First, it can be bought over the counter or online in the form of lozenges, oral drops, sprays or pills.
This is the method that the FDA has warned is making fraudulent claims about rapid weight-loss benefits, said Tamara N. Ward from the FDA Office of Public Affairs in Maryland.
There have also been reports of people suffering side effects from using the weight-loss supplement.
One Everett woman said she had horrible hemorrhoids and suffered mass hair loss three months after finishing the regimen of oral hCG drops — which cost her about $80 a bottle — coupled with a 500-calorie diet.
Her naturopathic doctor advised her never to do the diet again and told her he had other patients who had suffered lasting side effects, including one woman who now must take thyroid medication for the rest of her life.
“I would call the hCG diet dangerous,” said the 44-year-old woman, who asked that her name not be used because she is a business owner in town.
Personal trainer Catherine Bongiorno, who owns Lift to Lose Fitness in Mukilteo, said hCG as a diet supplement is risky because “you don’t really know what you are taking in from that hCG potion in a bottle.”
Though not a fan of hCG, Bongiorno said she feels her clients are safer if the hCG is prescribed by a doctor.
That is the second way to use hCG: Inject it into your body under the care of a doctor.
This method is legal if the hCG is prescribed as “off label” for weight loss.
This protocol to treat obesity with hCG injections was developed by English physician A.T.W. Simeons in the 1950s. His protocol called for hCG injections coupled with an extreme diet of 500 calories a day.
Simeons’ diet protocol produced skeptics and advocates, according to Masa Sasagawa, a naturopathic doctor at Bastyr University in Seattle, known as a forerunner in natural medicines.
Sasagawa wrote a clinician’s consultation guide on the hCG topic. The opinions he expressed in the guide are his alone and do not represent those of Bastyr University.
In the guide, Sasagawa wrote that some researchers said Simeons’ near-starvation diet was the real reason behind people’s weight loss.
However, Sasagawa wrote, some advocates still believe “that the hCG causes the body to preferentially metabolize fat, rather than muscle and bone during hypocaloric conditions.”
In other words, some believe hCG helps a person lose fat instead of muscle. Advocates also believe hCG injections leave a person not hungry and with a sense of well-being.
One such hCG believer is Everett resident Lynn Pendergrass.
Pendergrass, mother of an 8-year-old boy, started hCG injections May 15.
This will be her second time injecting herself with hCG. She went on the regimen last summer, lost 20 pounds and maintained a 15-pound weight loss. Now she wants to go for more.
“OMG! OMG this is working!” Pendergrass recalled thinking after her first successful hCG treatment. “When you are trying to lose weight, you are sometimes just grabbing at straws and trying anything, and then those traditional methods don’t work and, even though this is controversial and there are lots of opinions out there about it, I figure, hey, it’s working for me.”
Pendergrass said she also gained lean muscle mass while losing fat mass.
She said she’s eating more than 500 calories a day, though her doctor has put her on a restricted diet of lean proteins and low carbs.
Pendergrass said her doctor is conscientious, took lots of tests and took into account her medical history.
Pendergrass’ doctor is Beth McQuinn, a graduate of Bastyr University who worked in Seattle as a naturopathic physician at SlimXpress hCG weight-loss clinic.
In March 2010, McQuinn began her own private clinic on Hoyt Avenue in Everett, and she continues to offer the hCG diet.
McQuinn said she takes a holistic approach to administering the hCG diets, taking her patients’ full health history into account along with performing physical exams and monitoring every two weeks once the patient is on the diet.
McQuinn’s diets are not 500 calories, but are based on the average amount of calories each specific patient burns in a day, she said.
The key is small frequent meals and low carbs with an emphasis on lean proteins.
“It is so your body is kick-starting your metabolism, saying, ‘Oh, well, I’m not being starved, and I have fat stores available,’ and hCG fills in the blanks,” McQuinn said.
McQuinn said business has been pretty steady.
Through testing, McQuinn said, she knows patients are burning off fat and not muscle. Patients can maintain the weight loss if they remain on the diet and don’t revert to pizza and beer.
“The hCG, it does essentially reset a metabolism,” McQuinn said.
Personal trainer Bongiorno said it saddens her the lengths people will go to lose weight.
Bongiorno said she promotes clean living over a diet mentality. She said she advises clients against hCG and points them to websites that cite its dangers.
And as for those who might be on a 500-calorie diet as part of an hCG regimen, Bongiono said she’s hesitant to work with them because of her concern for their health.
“It’s just a placebo effect,” Bongiorno said. “People believe in the drops or the shot, and really it’s just the low-cal diet that makes you lose the weight.”
McQuinn agreed that everybody can have a placebo effect as well, and that a lifestyle change has to be made regardless of whether hCG is injected or not.
“Habits are needing to be changed, and that’s why we have a holistic approach covering all the health points and balancing everything,” McQuinn said.
In his consultant’s guide for patients on the hCG weight-loss program, Sasagawa wrote that since the 1960s, there have been clinical trials to try to determine whether hCG could be used for weight loss.
As a result of one of those trials, a group of Dutch researchers “concluded that hCG was no better than a placebo on four main outcome measures: total weight loss, fat loss, reduction of hunger pain and general feeling of well being.”
That was 15 years ago.
Currently, there are more than 300 hCG clinical trials under way, with researchers looking for other ways hCG might help women in the areas of breast cancer, stroke, infertility, and postpartum or endometrial disorders.
No hCG clinical trials going on today are related to weight loss, Sasagawa said “because a strong conclusion was drawn by the Dutch researchers.”
“Overstating the beneficial effects of hCG is premature at the present time,” Sasagawa wrote.
Lift to Lose Fitness in Mukilteo, 304 Lincoln Ave., Mukilteo; 425-791-4488; email Catherine Bongiorno at email@example.com; www.lifttolose.com
McQuinn Naturopathic, 2808 Hoyt Ave. Ste. 201, Everett; 425-905-2487; DrMcQuinn@gmail.com; www.mcquinnnaturopathic.com.
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; firstname.lastname@example.org.
A team of students at Northeastern University in Boston has combined medical and Web-based technologies to create an intelligent T-shirt that can dynamically track a person’s workout.
Squid is comprised of a wearable compression shirt that integrates with a smartphone application and a Web database to monitor the levels of activation of a person’s muscles while engaged in resistance training, according to the university (watch a video below).
The name squid comes from the EMG (electromyography) tentacles that are sewn into the shirt and stretch from the shirt and attach to a person’s chest to measure muscle usage. The shirt also has a heart-rate monitor to provide a more holistic view of activity level.
To collect information during a person’s workout, the shirt plugs into a small electronics box that powers, filters, and amplifies the signals from the sensors. The data is then sent wirelessly via a standard Bluetooth connection to a smartphone, where the Squid application records and visualizes the data in real-time, said Mark Sivak, a faculty member in the Creative Industries program and an advisor on the project, in an email. The application is currently compatible with Android-based smartphones. An app for Apple’s iOS platform is being developed.
At the end of the workout, the data is sent to the Web-based database that provides part of the backend for a Squid Website. To access that data, people have Squid accounts where they can sign in and review their fitness data, tracking their progress over a series of workouts. This can help them choose new workouts or goals for the future, Sivak said, adding that the team is targeting two main groups with the solution — collegiate sports teams and “tech-savvy, fitness-loving consumers.”
To better reach the former target audience, the Squid team has designed a coach/curator interface as part of the solution’s Website manager so workouts can be developed, managed, and pushed out to a team or group. For the latter, Sivak said the team envisions Squid being attractive to people who have bought something like the Nike+ Fuelband, a combination watch and activity monitor that keeps track of a person’s everyday physical activity.
The team has completed a prototype of Squid and filed a provisional patent for the invention last December. It is now working on a second version of the prototype.
Mechanical Engineering Interactive Media Students at Northeastern designed and developed Squid as a Capstone Project. The Biomedical Mechatronics Laboratory at NU and the NU Clinical Exercise Physiology Lab sponsored the project.