Traditional approaches to core stability training utilize stable bases of support; however, little is known regarding the efficacy of unstable supports for core muscle activation. The authors of the current study sought to determine the surface electromyographic (sEMG) difference of torso musculature when comparing athletes under conditions of isometric bracing on a stable versus unstable surface. In general, it was shown that suspension based abdominal bracing noticeably improved anterior core muscles when compared to stable bracing however showed little different in lateral and posterior core musculature.
Eighteen “elite” level male athletes were recruited for inclusion in the study. Surface EMG was utilized to determine the rate of muscle contraction in the core stability muscles of the torso: rectus abdominus (RA), external obliques (EO), and erector spinae (ES).
The findings of the current study show clearly that there is a discrepancy between stable and unstable surface core activation. The use of an unstable surface such as a swiss ball or suspension system clearly demonstrated that anterior core musculature is more active then on a stable surface. Interestingly the authors noted that despite their predictions, unstable exercise failed to activate lateral and posterior musculature which could have implications for postural stabililty and training methodology. With the increase in popularity of suspension based training methods (such as TRX) this paper provides tangible validation as to the efficacy of these alternative training approaches.
> From: Atkins et al., J Strength Cond Res 29 (2015) 1609-1615. All rights reserved to National Strength and Conditioning Association.
The sun is now starting to shine and people are shaking off the winter blues and heading outside. This time of year people are starting to exercise more, shed that “winter weight” and are looking to feel better. But why is it that we feel so much better in the summer? There are many obvious answers: fresh air, warm feels good, less clothes, more things to do. But there are more (or more scientific reasons) than that… ones we both can take greater advantage of (even during the winter) and reasons for warning.
For years people have been told repeatedly for the need to use sun screen. They have been shown graphic pictures of melanoma skin cancer and warned of the possibility of death. There is a definite need in our current climate and lifestyle for the use of sun screen and covering up from the sun. Our society has for the majority become urban cave dwellers. As one time hunter/gather/growers we spent the majority of the time under the direct rays of the sun. Over the years this increased the pigment in the skin and not only creates a nice tan but acts as a natural sun screen (the mild scientific backing of a “base tan” before a vacation although the best effect takes years and generations). This is why tribes in Africa do not need sunscreen. We now have been seeking the solace of indoors and are becoming a paler society. The majority of the population spends 5 days a week mostly inside during all sunlight hours at school or work, and when at home we stay inside and play video games, exercise either on a machine or a video game and “hunt” for our food inside a grocery store or restaurant. This increases the risk of developing negative effects from the solar UV rays when we do get outside and thus increases the need for sunscreen and clothing cover ups.
One current area of concern today from inadequate sun exposure is Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is naturally made in the body when UVB rays are absorbed in the skin. It is important because it helps calcium get into bones, decreases risks of cancer, autoimmune disease, and infections. It does not take a lot of UV rays to provide a daily dose, only 10-15 minutes of sun expose in a short sleeve shirt and shorts (during late spring and summer) is sufficient. The lighter the skin the less time needed and the darker the skin the less effective conversion. This is not a recommendation to lay out all day sun tanning or going to a tanning bed. However, making a conscious effort to be outside with moderate sun screen application is recommended
Vitamin D can also be supplemented. A good dose is 1000-1500 IU/d daily. This is important for people how either have medical or personal reasons for not getting any sun exposure or during the early spring late fall and winter who live above latitudes above 37 degrees north (above Texas…see map).
Vitamin D is not extremely common in foods but some common sources with good levels of Vit. D are listed in the table below.
Selected food sources of vitamin D
Vitamin D (IU*)
Salmon, 3.5 ounces
Mackerel, 3.5 ounces
Tuna, canned, 3.5 ounces
Orange juice, fortified, 8 ounces
Milk, fortified, 8 ounces
Breakfast cereals, fortified, 1 serving
*IU = international units
Source: Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health
The link between sunlight exposure and depression can be linked to a decrease in the neurotransmitter Serotonin. The winter blues, officially known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is characterized by a decrease in energy level, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, weight gain, and carbohydrate cravings, among other things. These symptoms are worsened by a decrease in fresh air and exercise that accompany the colder weather.
I am not recommending that we should all increase or risk of cancer and go with no protection to strengthen our natural defenses. However there is cause to question the American Academy of Dermatology recommends a No-Sun policy. At the least you should avoid prolonged exposure during the hottest time of mid day, wear SPF 15 or more and a hat. Following those basic rules and getting out to enjoy the summer should leaving you feeling happy and healthy.
Holick, Michael F. Vitamin D:importance in the prevention of cancers, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston
Diehl JW, Chiu MW. Effects of ambient sunlight and photoprotection on vitamin D status.Dermatol Ther.2010 Jan;23(1):48-60.
Reichrath J. Skin cancer prevention and UV-protection: how to avoid vitamin D-deficiency? Br J Dermatol. 2009 Nov;161 Suppl 3:54-60.
Holick MF. Vitamin D and sunlight: strategies for cancer prevention and other health benefits. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2008 Sep;3(5):1548-54. Epub 2008 Jun 11
Hypothermia (colder than normal body temperature) and frostbite can happen to anyone who is not properly protected from the cold.
Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature falls below 95 degrees F. The normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees F. In the early stages, this may cause memory loss, confusion and shivering. Eventually, a low body temperature may cause cardiac arrest and death.
Signs of hypothermia include slurred speech, reduced coordination, shivering and poor judgment. An infant may appear to be less active. The best way to prevent hypothermia is to protect the body from the cold.
Frostbite also can occur in the winter months. When exposed to cold, the body tissue freezes. This affects the body like a burn. The hands, feet, ears, cheeks and nose are the most commonly affected areas.
Signs of mild frostbite include yellow or gray patches on the skin. After the skin is warmed, it becomes red and flaky. In more severe cases, a blister or sore, swelling and pain may develop.
If you suspect mild frostbite, bring your child inside and remove wet clothing. Gently dry the affected area. Do not rub the area, as this may cause more damage. Warm the affected area by immersing it in warm water (104 to 108 degrees F) for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the color returns. Take the child to an emergency room if there is pain, blistering or swelling.
Deep frostbite, often affecting the feet and hands, can be very dangerous. It can lead to infection, severe pain and swelling, nerve and tissue damage, and amputation. Symptoms include cold, waxy and pale skin. When it thaws, the affected area turns blue or purple. Large blisters appear, followed by peeling or gangrene (dark, swollen tissue.) If you suspect severe frostbite, take your child to an emergency room at once.
Shoveling snow can be a functional way of clearing a path and an excellent chance to get some outdoor exercise during the cold winter season. On the other hand, it can be a potential health risk. Knowing a few crucial details can go a long way toward staying happy and healthy this snowy season.
1. Proper Body Position: Like most activities, the way in which you use your body can be either help or hurt.
Give your back a break and use your legs and hips to do the work.
Avoid twisting, turn entire body to dump the snow
Keep shovel handle in near stomach not way out to the side
2. Don’t Over Do It: Most have heard of someone having a heart attack while shoveling. This is a big concern but not the only one. Beware of muscle strains, tearing knee meniscus or ligaments, Shoulder injuries, and overheating (to name a few). Listen to your body.
Take it slow
Do not over load the shovel
If it is too much or too deep don’t be afraid to ask for help!
3. Dress Appropriately: Wearing layers can help to stay at the correct temperature. If you are sweating, shed a few items. If you do not dress warm enough than go back inside and either put more on or warm up for a bit.
4. Stay Hydrated…that means water: Even if you do not feel like you are sweating it is important to stay well hydrated. Doing so before and after shoveling will help.
5. Use the Correct Equipment: Using the correct tool for the job can make the job a lot easier. So can wearing the correct footwear. A boot with good traction (or a traction slip on) can make the job a lot safer and easier.
Frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness. Hand-washing requires only soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer — a cleanser that doesn’t require water.
Find out when and how to wash your hands properly.
When to wash your hands
As you touch people, surfaces and objects throughout the day, you accumulate germs on your hands. In turn, you can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Although it’s impossible to keep your hands germ-free, washing your hands frequently can help limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes.
Always wash your hands before:
Preparing food or eating
Treating wounds, giving medicine, or caring for a sick or injured person
Inserting or removing contact lenses
Always wash your hands after:
Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
Using the toilet or changing a diaper
Touching an animal or animal toys, leashes or waste
Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands
Treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person
Handling garbage, household or garden chemicals, or anything that could be contaminated — such as a cleaning cloth or soiled shoes
Shaking hands with others
In addition, wash your hands whenever they look dirty.
How to wash your hands
It’s generally best to wash your hands with soap and water. Follow these simple steps:
Wet your hands with running water — either warm or cold.
Apply liquid, bar or powder soap.
Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Remember to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel or air dryer.
If possible, use a towel or your elbow to turn off the faucet.
Keep in mind that antibacterial soap is no more effective at killing germs than is regular soap. Using antibacterial soap might even lead to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the product’s antimicrobial agents — making it harder to kill these germs in the future
How to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which don’t require water, are an acceptable alternative when soap and water aren’t available. If you use a hand sanitizer, make sure the product contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Then follow these simple steps:
Apply enough of the product to the palm of your hand to wet your hands completely.
Rub your hands together, covering all surfaces, until your hands are dry.
Antimicrobial wipes or towelettes are another effective option. Again, look for a product that contains a high percentage of alcohol. If your hands are visibly dirty, however, wash with soap and water.
Kids need clean hands, too
Help children stay healthy by encouraging them to wash their hands properly and frequently. Wash your hands with your child to show him or her how it’s done. To prevent rushing, suggest washing hands for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. If your child can’t reach the sink on his or her own, keep a step stool handy.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are OK for children and adolescents, especially when soap and water aren’t available. However, be sure to supervise young children using alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Remind your child to make sure the sanitizer completely dries before he or she touches anything. Store the container safely away after use.
Hand hygiene is especially important for children in child care settings. Young children cared for in groups outside the home are at greater risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases, which can easily spread to family members and other contacts.
Be sure your child care provider promotes frequent hand-washing or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Ask whether the children are required to wash their hands several times a day — not just before meals. Note, too, whether diapering areas are cleaned after each use and whether eating and diapering areas are well-separated.
A simple way to stay healthy
Hand-washing doesn’t take much time or effort, but it offers great rewards in terms of preventing illness. Adopting this simple habit can play a major role in protecting your health.
In my household Halloween is the biggest non-religious holiday of the year. We all love fall, pumpkins, the lights and freights, and of course feverously trying to finish the homemade costumes in the last few days (no store bought ones allowed here!). However, with all of this fun comes the problem of all the candy.
We do not allow our kids to eat Candy or other junk food (they are 3 and 4 what do they really NEED it for). After some arguing my wife convinced me to let them go trick or treating (I felt they were too young especially since they do not eat the candy and she felt I was ruing their childhood). So, like a large growing group of parents, we decided to do a form of the “Switch Witch.”
Don’t know what the Switch Witch is? (Also sometimes called the Halloween Fairy, Great Pumpkin, or Candy Fairy.) This is a great way to join in the festivities of Halloween without the mass sugar load. As you might guess the kids can trade in their candy in exchange for a gift. This was an excellent option in our house. The kids were very excited to get that new movie (Hotel Transylvania) instead of the candy they did not want.
The switching of candy can be done in many ways. Some leave it in a Halloween bowl or witch’s caldron and the fairy exchanges it at night. Others allow the kids to pick the item. If you allow your kids to eat the candy, they can choose a few pieces they like the most and trade the rest, with the more candy traded the better the gift.
The traded candy can then be given away, repurposed in many a Pinterest project, or you and the kids can do experiments on it. Experimenting on candy may seem strange but believe me it can be a lot of fun and the kids love it (and learn). There a few sources for the experiments below:
Chiropractors, More Than Just Back Doctors
Part 1- The “TMJ”
Did you know that Chiropractors can be the best course of treatment for treatment other the spine? Many people are facing jaw pain, clicking, and possibly limited mouth opening.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located one fingertip-width in front of the auditory meatus, the external opening for the ear. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a common condition arising from one or more of numerous factors, including but not limited to tooth position (orthodontic), muscular tone and harmony, trigger point referrals, cranial compression, damaged or misaligned articular disc, or other intracapsular disorders, such as arthritis or infection and injury by blow. There are many other suspected contributing factors, such as emotional well-being and stress, mineral and hormonal imbalances, nutritional factors, allergies and chemical exposures. Continue reading “Chiropractors… More Than Just Back Doctors: Part 1 – The “TMJ””→
The Yankees’ Lou Gehrig was helped off the field after being struck in the head by a fastball from pitcher Ray White of the Norfolk Tars in a June 1934 exhibition game. The ball caught Gehrig above the right eye, knocking him unconscious.
In the 71 years since the Yankees slugger Lou Gehrig declared himself “the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” despite dying from a disease that would soon bear his name, he has stood as America’s leading icon of athletic valor struck down by random, inexplicable fate.
There is usually a great deal of difference between the backpack that your child and your doctor would pick out. Don’t just choose the backpack that is the “coolest” it may also be the worst. Make sure that the backpack has the option for two shoulder carrying and that the straps are wide enough not to cut into the shoulders, has moderate padding in the back, and fits the child…that’s right not all packs fit all. Continue reading “Back (Pack) to School: Choose the Right Backpack”→
Mobile technological devices, such as digital personal assistants (PDAs) and smartphones have made our lives more convenient. We can now send e-mails, access the Internet, manage our schedules, and use spreadsheets and other office software from our phones. While this makes it easier to accomplish tasks without being tethered to an office, it has also increased the amount of time we spend using these devices, which is not without risks.
Before these advances in technology, our bodies moved as we used the phone and the computer, we walked to the fax machine, and we flipped through our calendars. Now we slump over a small screen with little change in our position. Our bodies are made to move—not to maintain the same posture for long periods of time. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice these modern conveniences for your health, but you should be aware of the risks and what you can do to minimize them. Continue reading “More technology can mean more pain: Using your devices the right way.”→