Monthly Archives: March 2007

Low Back Health – the Right and Wrong Information

This is wrong:Lumbarextension 

When you do exercises that extend the spine, the vertebrae do NOT compress the discs as this picture suggests – quite the opposite.

Here is what really happens when you extend the spine:

Spinal_ext_4As the spine moves into lumbar extension as in arching the back, the axis of rotation shifts to the facet joint which increases disc space in both the front and the back of the disc.

What’s so good about this?

It relieves axial compression hence nerve impingement. As the muscles become stronger over time, permanent increases in the disc spaces are enjoyed and pain is greatly diminished or even eliminated.

So when your PT or MD says "Stay away from arching your back!" bend over backward to send them here!

I wonder…


I wonder why these folks say ‘wonder’ so much? Scroll over and open up a bigger image of this ad and see. I count three.

And who is the dude? A heart throb?! Aspirin for a throbbing heart? I’m baffled.

And by the by, their product doesn’t to a darn thing for your heart per se. Millions of people take aspirin because drug companies make it sound like aspirin is good for your heart – as if it wards off heart disease or makes your heart somehow healthier.

I’m not saying people who have already had a heart attack shouldn’t take aspirin nor am I saying that people who are at risk of having one shouldn’t take one.

I’m saying the marketing is stupid and misleading – unhealthy marketing. 

Aspirin has side effects too. It can irritate the stomach lining, cause heartburn, pain, nausea, vomiting, and, over time, more serious consequences such as internal bleeding, ulcers, and holes in the stomach or intestines. But will they tell you this?


Why tell the truth when a lie works better.

Shameful in my opinion.

It’s your muscles, not your heart!

I still have a hard time explaining this one to people. Fitness is a muscular issue not a heart issue. YES – your heart is a muscle – but it is also an involuntary organ. Your pecs are not. And the fibers are completely different.

Training a client today I had an epiphany (of sorts) – "What if I had a Jarvik heart? Could I become fit with IT in my chest?" Jarvik_heart

Why sure I could.

If I was out of shape (not unhealthy) and had one of these gizmo’s inside of me, as the weeks went by of my fitness program I’d become fitter and fitter.

But if cardio fitness is due to the heart becoming stronger and fitter, how is this possible as an artificial heart cannot become stronger.


Enter the mitochondria.


These little gadgets proliferate within the muscles as you become fitter. They are complex, energy producing organelles which are found in all eukaryotic cells in both plants and animals.

These little dudes are the site of "cellular respiration." Certain cells which requires large amounts of energy contain large numbers of mitochondria. So, the fitter and stronger you get, the more of these little gum drops you get.

And the more of these you getMuscle_anatomy (specifically the little myofibrils on the very end),

the more little gadgets you get.

The hearts got nothing to do with it.

When you drive your car long and hard, your engine doesn’t get stronger. It just wears out sooner.

Take it from Buzz Aldrin – (or was it Neil Armstrong?):

"I believe my heart has a finite number of heartbeats available to it. I’m not about to waste any of them doing exercise."

Except for strength training that is – 20 minutes, twice a week. Not many heartbeats wasted this way!

I’m addicted…

To my shower floss!


My dental health has skyrocketed since using it so sayeth my dentist.

Research indicates that dental health is related to internal organ diseases specifically pancreatic cancer. Is this true? I’m not qualified to speak on this issue so, read Dr. Eades interesting blog post on pancreatic cancer and dental health.

Either way, it sure makes your teeth feel great and improves your dental health.

Atkins wins again!

By now you have all probably read the news about a new diet study which showed (once again) the Atkins diet beating the pants off Dean Ornish, Barry Sears (Zone) and another less popular diet called the LEARN program.

In fact, the Atkins dieters lost 2-3 times the weight of the others.

Women assigned to the Atkins group lost an average of 10.4 pounds (4.7 kgs) compared to 5.7 pounds (2.5 kgs) for LEARN, 4.8 pounds (2.1 kgs) for Ornish and 3.5 pounds (1.6 kgs) for Zone.


Not only that, Atkins dieters showed greater improvements on several measures of cardiac health beating all the other diets. Atkins dieters had lower blood pressure and the highest increase in HDL or good cholesterol levels. Triglyceride levels also plummeted.

Dr. David Katz, director and co-founder of the Yale Prevention Research Center had this to say in response to the Atkins win:

"You lose weight if you have cholera, too."

Excuse me?

Uh, yes doctor, you’re absolutely right. But I got you beat. You lose even more when you die.

I shall call my new book "The Death Diet. Lose weight fast! No hunger pangs, cravings or mood swings. Guaranteed 100% success!"

And just think, experts like Dr. Katz tend to and care for our parents. Scary, huh?

How did this guy get to go to Yale? Better question: "Why does Yale allow him to roam the hallways?"

And there’s more.

"You can’t measure overall health by a few cardiac risk factors." Katz insists. Yet this is EXACTLY what most doctors do. In fact, there is a multi billion dollar industry surrounding but one – cholesterol.

Dr. Katz deepens his ditch: "Like other studies, the JAMA research showed Atkins dieters tended to begin regaining weight after six months." That’s because the subjects increased their carbohydrate intake 3 fold over the reccomended amount for the Atkins diet, and increased their calorie consumption meaning, they cheated at the 6 month mark. Just think how much more they would have lost had they not!

And, in case you all didn’t notice, they ALL gained weight (meaning, they all cheated) after 6 months! (See the above graph.) So what exactly is Dr. Katz’ point?!

Did he really go to Yale?

He vents: "Nothing in this study will change the nutritional recommendations I make to my patients."

Of course not doc. I mean, why bother yourself with the facts, right? You have your PhD already. You know. Learning is over. You know it all. What more is there to learn? (Oh – Dr. Katz is associated with the LEARN diet – I forgot.)

Think I’m being overly sarcastic? How about this:

"Given everything researchers know about food, the debate over the best types of nutrition should be over. People need fresh fruits and vegetables and should stay away from saturated fats and junk food." Dr. Katz confidently asserts.

Yep the debate is over alright. Interestingly enough, if you are on the Atkins diet, you are eating fresh fruits (sparingly) veggies (plentifully), and refraining from junk food. As far as saturated fat is concerned, our dear Dr. Katz needs to read more. It is clear from this statement that he doesn’t know what a saturated fat is. In case you are reading this doc, here ya go.

Jeff Volek, assistant professor of kinesiology who studies nutrition and exercise at the University of Connecticut at Storrs had this to say:

"It is now crystal clear there are a lot of benefits to restricting carbohydrates. Anyone involved in the scientific world who views these results as a surprise is out of touch. Dieters consistently get a better response on low-carbohydrate diets."

You bet.

My friends, eat your butter. Eat your meat. Shun beans and grains, finish your broccoli and have an ‘apple’ a day (notice how the proverb says AN apple?). Drink fresh water and strength train 2X a week.

There you have it.

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