Thursday, January 21, 2010

Opinions from Other Professionals, and More Reason to Not Sit

Frequently my clients are receiving, or have received, advice and treatment from other health and fitness professionals about an issue also presented to me.  The other professional could be anyone from a pilates instructor to an orthopedic surgeon.  This is great- we all have different perspectives and the client gets a broad range of advice.

It is always a pleasure to hear "That's just what my doctor/chiropractor/physical therapist/personal trainer/yoga teacher said!"  Despite the differences in our education and roles, we often say the same thing.  It's nice to know that we're all in sync, and hopefully this motivates the client to follow our advice.  By no coincidence the proper form for lifting a barbell, holding common yoga poses, or sitting in a chair is quite similar.  After all, you are using the same body.

A yoga teacher may tell a student to "open your heart" in a pose, and a strength coach may say "make your chest big" while doing a lift.  Both are describing good posture.  Both are also making a suggestion about an emotional outlook, although different ones(but complementary, yin and yang.)  A physical therapist or I might say to keep the shoulders in line with the torso, not in front because that could over stretch the muscles of the upper back and impinge nerves in the shoulder.  The client ends up getting the same alignment recommendation in very different contexts.

Occasionally my opinion differs from another expert's.  The difference may be because of what the client has told us, goals we are given, or it could be an actual disagreement.  In those cases I try to show some humility and make sure that the client understands that what I say is just my opinion, albeit an opinion based on my training and experience in bodywork.  I explain my reasoning, and I always make sure to explain that my opinion is not medical advice.   Further, if there is ever a conflict between what I say and what a doctor or other more highly trained professional says, then the other's counsel takes precedence.

Still, when a client told me that he had been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis by a podiatrist and asked for my advice, after I gave him a long explanation and treatment plan for the the condition I had to smile a bit when he exclaimed "I should have come to you first!"  Even when I know less, because I may have more time to speak with the client I can end up looking smart.

Whether there is agreement, disagreement, or, most often, different areas of focus, we're all working toward improving your health.

The essential distillation of my fitness advice is Don't Sit Down.  This simple rule both guides selection of useful exercises, and reminds to get up and stretch frequently at work, keeping you functionally fit and flexible.  From the New York Times, the article Too Much Sitting Shortens Lives, Study Suggests gives another reason.

Think about being at the gym, and consider this quote from the article: “For many people, on a daily basis, they simply shift from one chair to another — from the chair in the car to the chair in the office to the chair in front of the television”  Don't add "the chair on the exercise machine" to the list.  Instead stand, jump, hang, or roll around to work out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Famed Strongman and Vegetarian is gone

A famed strongman died yesterday after being hit by a van.

At a Mighty 104, Gone While Still Going Strong
"Joe Rollino once lifted 475 pounds. He used neither his arms nor his legs but, reportedly, his teeth. With just one finger he raised up 635 pounds; with his back he moved 3,200. He bit down on quarters to bend them with his thumb."

Joe was also a professional boxer.  A more complete profile of this amazing man from his 103rd birthday.

Joe was a vegetarian his entire life.  So much for any suggestion that eating meat is needed to be either strong or tough.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

News on Shoes, Sun, and Fitness

Here are some recent articles on topics of interest at Positive Massage.  There's a common theme:  Less artificial and more natural is more healthful for us.

Vitamin D deficiency increasingly common 
Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, January 9, 2010
"Today, research suggests that vitamin D does much more than help build strong bones, and the findings come at a time when a high number of people are no longer getting enough of the nutrient, doctors say." "Aside from its well-known reputation for building and maintaining strong bones, vitamin D could be tied to cancer prevention and cardiovascular health... 'It helps boost your ability to fight infection, and it also reduces some destructive inflammation in your body, including inflammation with periodontal disease...'"

I'm fascinated by vitamin D because it seems to show such a strong confirmation that being outdoors is good for us.  The article mentions both supplements and sunshine, but of course I prefer the more natural sunlight method.  The subject is more extensively blogged in my post Vitamin D, Sunlight, and Health and is mentioned in a few other places in this blog.

The Vita Myth  Do supplements really do any good?
By Emily Anthes, Slate

"During the past few years, study after study has raised doubts about what, if any, good vitamins actually do a body. They could even pose some real medical risks."

Popping pills doesn't seem to be a good way to get healthy.  This article does mentions vitamin D as something which some(postmenopausal women) may need to supplement.  I guess that means I can stick with sunshine.

Running Shoes May Cause Damage to Knees, Hips and Ankles, New Study Suggests
Elsevier Health Sciences (2010, January 6). Running shoes may cause damage to knees, hips and ankles, new study suggests. ScienceDaily

It seems that in the quest to protect the feet, more stress is being put on the rest of the leg.  Although support, bracing, padding, etc may be needed to recover from trauma, long term they can cause weakening and dependency, and possibly increase the chance of future injury, and, as the study shows, just move a problem somewhere else.

Going barefoot or using footwear that closely emulates being barefoot is a hot topic in fitness right now.  To be fair though, there's nothing natural about a concrete sidewalk, so I think there's a lot more to learn about when shoes and what kind are appropriate.

I've heard the same thing(but not seen any research) about shoes for weightlifting.  I do regret springing for a fancy pair of sneaks last year.

Long-Term Physical Activity Has an Anti-Aging Effect  
American Heart Association (2009, December 2). Long-term physical activity has an anti-aging effect at the cellular level. ScienceDaily

Stay fit, live longer!  Bodies are made to move!