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Month: September 2014

What’s Important

I spent last Saturday night at a preseason game of NHL hockey. The Anaheim Ducks came to town to lose 3-1 against the San Jose Sharks. Whether it was a preseason game or the Stanley Cup Finals didn’t matter. The fact that I was at the game with my 7-year old son was the most important part of all. Sharing the experience and watching the night through his eyes was what mattered to me.

I remember when I was 8-years old going to my first Red Sox game with my dad. We sat way out in the bleachers and watched them play the Texas Rangers. I don’t remember who won or lost but I do remember the time spent with my dad.

These are the valuable things I treasure most in life; to experience the world with friends and loved ones. This is just another reminder to me when I wonder why I get up every morning and exercise. There have been many mornings where I wanted to stay in bed but I made the choice to get up anyway. I recall an interview with Jack LaLanne and the reporter asked him if there ever were any days when he didn’t want to exercise. His answer was, “Hell yes. I would much rather stay in bed with my beautiful wife than get up and exercise, but I know I have to.”

In order for me to be present and available for my friends and family I need to keep my body and mind in the best shape possible. So if we can change our perspective on the reason why we stay active then perhaps it won’t seem like a choice so much as just something we do.

I hope to create countless more memories like the one that was made last Saturday night. It is one of my life’s missions to share the world and all of it’s wonder with my family and friends. To accomplish this mission I must put health and well being as a top priority. If I do not then all bets are off. What are your priorities?

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Butterfly Effect

We just had an amazing few days of giant surf in Santa Cruz with tidal and weather conditions helping to make the waves near perfect. This morning as I recounted all the waves I caught and felt the soreness in my paddling muscles, I took time to reflect on how the waves came to be.

Two weeks ago a storm system developed deep below Australia and New Zealand off the coast of Antarctica. The storm had strong gale force winds that blew it’s energy into the ocean’s surface. The system squeezed under Australia and blossomed north toward the central Pacific. That wind energy which transformed into wave energy travelled 5,000 miles until it contacted something. Fortunately for us it was the shores of Monterey Bay.

I like to think about this because it reminds me how an action in one place can create an effect somewhere completely different. It’s that Butterfly Effect. A butterfly flaps it’s wings in China and causes a tornado to develop in Oklahoma. It is the same with our bodies. When we encounter joint or muscle pain in an area of the body it could be because of something happening (or not happening) somewhere else in the body.

Here’s a true example: I had a client who had been a top professional athlete, in fact National Champion at his sport. Before he came to see me he thought his sports career was over. His shoulder had developed so much pain and wear-n-tear that he was forced to undergo surgery to repair his rotator cuff. He came to see me after his surgery and physical therapy with the hope of getting back into the sport. We began training and conditioning as he began to compete again in his sport. It didn’t take long for the same symptoms to reoccur. He had followed his doctors advice as well as the physical therapist’s exercises but the pain was coming back.

So we began to look at his whole body and how he moved in his sport. We needed to understand that pain, although it does not feel good, is our best friend. Pain tells us something is wrong and that we need to stop and pay attention to what it is telling us. It took a little time but in the end what we discovered was that the problem was actually in his opposite foot and big toe. How can that be you ask?

The foot has 26 bones and 33 joints and is meant to be supple and absorbent at one moment and then be rigid and spring-like the next. The foot is the first part in a chain reaction that allows the joints above (and the muscles that react to their movement) to behave properly. When the foot is not aligned properly and the muscles which support the foot’s position are not doing what they should then compensation must occur. This compensation can lead to areas that are underworked and others which are overworked. It is usually the overworked areas that wear down and where injury is most likely to occur.

In this athlete’s case the overworked area of compensation was his rotator cuff. Once we understood how he was moving and what was missing it was just a matter of introducing the proper action. This allowed the correct muscles and joints to work in the most efficient way and decreased the demand on the rotator cuff. The change in how his shoulder felt was almost instantaneous. He is now ranked as one of top professionals in his sport and is looking to become National Champion next year.

So the next time your knee hurts you or your lower back begins to ache do not immediately blame the victim of the crime but get help in hunting down the real perpetrator. You might be surprised to find that it’s your tight hips or weak abdominals or even stranger, it could be a result of an ankle sprain that occurred years before.

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Determining Target Heart Rate

The question continues: What should my heart rate be when I am exercising? In general, you want to exercise when your heart rate is between 65-90% of your maximum heart rate in order to create physiological changes in your cardiovascular system and improve your fitness level.

Okay, that’s great but how do I know what my maximum heart rate is? That answer is not so simple and has been elusive for many decades. The most common and equally the most inaccurate way of determining this number is to subtract your age from 220. There are many problems with this equation and can underestimate your maximum heart rate by as much as 35 beats per minute. The theoretical maximum is based solely on your age and does not take into consideration your present fitness level, heart chamber size, or resting heart rate.

Then you can try the Karvonen Method which determines the training heart rate reserve by not only subtracting your age from 220 but also incorporating your resting heart rate. However number 220 is still used to determine the maximum beats/minute this equation so you might as well throw that one away.

A study by Dr. BM Nes from the Norwegian College of Science and Technology and colleagues, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports showed that researchers tested 3,000 men and women ages ranging from 19 to 89 and determined that the number 211 minus 64% of your age was the most accurate way of selecting your target zone.

This just goes to show you that none of us really know what the magic number is. The conclusion here is to go by the perceived exertion rate of how hard you feel you are exercising. On a scale of 1-10 where 1 is sitting watching a movie and 10 is running up Mount Everest, try and exercise around 6-8. Take your heart rate for for 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4 to give you your heart beats per minute. Most likely this will be your best bet at finding your target heart zone.

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Lose Time – Gain Weight

In the words of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, “Slow down you move too fast.” We used to measure time by days or weeks but now we measure it by the hour or minute. With technology comes speed and that applies to many aspects of our lives. This means we speed through many things that we should slow down for. Here are two suggestions on how to slow things down. Once you get the hang of it, I’m sure you’ll be able to identify other areas of your life that could use a pause button.

  1. Place your fork down on the table in between each bite. Why? This not only allows you to slow down to enjoy your meal but it allows your nervous system to connect to the messages your digestive system is sending. Often times we overeat because the brain gets the message well after your tummy is full. Try this one simple thing the next time you sit down to eat. Over time you will find that you don’t need to eat as much as you think you do.
  2. Chew each bite 15-20 times; just like Grandma used to tell us. By chewing your food sufficiently you enhance your body’s ability to utilize the nutrients you ingest. Less work is required from your stomach and intestines too because the food is broken down that much more.

If nothing else just remember to slow down when you sit down for your next meal. Enjoy each bite and give yourself enough time to do just that.

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