Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thoughts

1. Having any knee pain associated with arthritis? According to a new study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, you might want to consider physical therapy before electing to undergo arthroscopic surgery.

The study evaluated 178 patients over a two-year span with mild to severe arthritis, half of which underwent surgery followed by treatment with physical and medical therapy, while the other half received physical therapy and medical care without first receiving surgery. After two years, the investigators found no difference between the two groups. In other words, physical therapy alone was equally as effective as was surgery + physical therapy for these patients in terms of pain levels, physical function and quality of life.

2. There is more to health and fitness than just what's on the outside. Exercising just what you can see in the mirror is only a small part of a becoming a total and complete individual. Always remember that true strength comes from within. As you strive to improve your form and function, don't forget that it's equally as important to challenge yourself personally. Learning how to better relax your mind and alleviate stress has been shown to help in decreasing physical pain and headaches, improve immune system function, and help to feel more energetic with better recovery from exercise. For some quick tips on how you can decrease stress with simple relaxation techniques, check out this link.

3. Speaking of improving your inner-peace and harmony, there's no better and more meaningful way to do this than to adopt a pet in need. Anyone that knows me knows just how much I love animals, and I couldn't imagine a day without my best friends.

Jessica Biel loves dogs...you should too

Even if you are unable to take an animal in need into your home, please give anything that you can in order to help with the supply of food, veterinary medicine and care for those that are still waiting for adoption.

4. Cassandra is funny. She's really smart too...have a look at the link to find out one reason why. Then stand up and stretch!

5. By the way, owning a pet may help to improve your physical activity and fitness as well as your overall mental health. You know, in case you were thinking about adopting a pet in need...

Jessica Alba loves dogs too. You love Jessica Alba. Do the math...

6. Today was the anniversary of 9/11. Please hug someone that you love, and never forget.


Be well everyone, and have a safe and healthy weekend.

-Jonathan

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Zen and the Art of Running

Q: I'd like to ask a question about your two posts on running - what do you think of the Chi Running technique?

A: That's an interesting question...mostly because I had never heard of ChiRunning before! I train people to perform better with improved technique and explosiveness, but I'm not exactly a world-class runner myself. If I had been meant to run, I would have been blessed with longer legs!

For those of you that have never heard of this technique before either, you can familiarize yourself with it by visiting the ChiRunning website or by reading this synopsis of the technique that I personally found to be very helpful in understanding what ChiRunning is all about.

Because I've never seen or tried this form of running before, I unfortunately can't give you a complete, informed opinion on it; however, there are a few things that stood out for me:

1. There's no such thing as "injury free." Of course, I realize that it is an exaggeration as part of a larger ad copy, but I think that it's still worth taking note of. A technique or kind of workout may reduce the likelihood of an injury occurring, or it might help in reducing the impact of an injury once it happens, but there is nothing that can guarantee that an injury won't happen...not even falling asleep! So if you're hoping that ChiRunning will be your answer to ending any pains, aches or difficulty with running...it might. But then again, it might not. In any case, I'd always be skeptical of such a claim.

2. Proponents of the method also claim that ChiRunning will improve your runs by teaching core muscle integration, enhanced running posture and forward lean, muscle relaxation and better breathing. These are all good things, if these claims are true . Again, I have never tried ChiRunning, so I can't tell you if this is actually accomplished by people that use the method. But these are all aspects of good running technique.

3.
Speaking of its proponents: in my web-searches for information on ChiRunning, I was able to find lots of interviews of its founder, Danny Dreyer, as well as his personal articles describing the method, but very few first-hand accounts of anyone other than coach Dreyer actually using this technique (other than the testimonials found on the website)! This doesn't necessarily mean that no one is really using ChiRunning (maybe I just didn't search the right places, after all), but I would be curious to hear accounts from "real" people vs. articles written by its "inventor" before ultimately casting my vote for or against it.

4. I don't know if ChiRunning lends itself well to sprint techniques, or if it's better suited for long-distance running (Danny Dreyer is an ultra-marathon runner, which also seems to be the focus of the technique: long, steady-state running). If not, I would say that for individuals that are using running as part of their overall weight-loss approach, it will therefore be limited (perhaps still valuable, but not always usable). Also, without using a complete hip extension or full running stride, there would be at least a potential for muscle imbalances including the hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors without additional training to correct for this possibility.

Having said all of that, I studied a number of martial arts in the past, including Tai Chi Chuan and Pa Kua Chang (which are both internal styles of Chinese Kung Fu). There are very few activities, in my experience, that compare to these forms of martial arts in terms of improving your balance, focus, movement and overall well-being. Personally, I would always be interested in learning more about a technique that claims to base its methods on Tai Chi. So if you feel that ChiRunning could help you in your fitness pursuits, give it a try and see for yourself!

-Jonathan

Sunday, September 7, 2008

This Week's FitCast

I've been a little behind with the blog this week, but the good news is that I did get a chance to sit in on this week's FitCast along with my friends Kevin Larrabee, Leigh Peele and Tony Gentilcore.

We discussed High-Frutcose Corn Syrup, Fish Oil, and new advances in ART treatments. Enjoy it!

-Jonathan