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The Simple Back Pain Reliever

The Simple Back Pain Reliever When you lift, carry, walk, or run, your shoulders and hips move while the lumbar spine stays stable.  Prolonged sitting, age, and deconditioning can create tight hips/shoulders and a lumbar spine that is unable to hold a stable position.   Much of the mechanical back pain we treat in physical therapy is related to this stability/mobility issue.  A simple exercise that can retrain the neural control necessary to restore this essential movement skill is the bird dog. The bird dog is commonly used in physical therapy and usually poorly performed in the fitness arena.  Three things to keep in mind.  You are moving your arms and legs, but the focus of the drill is keeping the…

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Puffed Up Mortality Rates

Puffed Up Mortality Rates The corona virus death data from other countries is scary.  My prediction is that smoking will be implicated in higher coronavirus mortality.  The lungs are adversely impacted by smoking.  The coronavirus is a respiratory illness that invades the lungs.  Just over 50% of Chinese men smoke and 30% of Italian men smoke.  In the USA, 18% of the men and 13% of the women smoke.  The CDC tells us that smoking is responsible for just over 480 thousand American deaths last year.  That comes to 1300 deaths a day.  Strong leaders, truly interested in improving public health, should take this opportunity to dramatically raise the tax on tobacco.  A pack of cigarettes should cost at least…

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In Times of Peace

In Times of Peace America is at war with the corona virus.  Our best defense is a vaccine, but that weapon is 12 to 18 months away.  At present, we are focused on “social distancing” to reduce the number of severely ill citizens we have to manage at any one time.  The hope is that less proximity will limit the transmission of the virus and reduce the stress on the health care system.  The duration of this strategy is uncertain and the trade-offs with other aspects of our communal wellbeing have become a concern.  To my friends from the now shuttered Fenton Fitness, I have a short message. Stay consistent. Exercise is the optimal booster of the immune system.  My…

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The Essential Exercise

The Essential Exercise “Walking is the best possible exercise.  Habituate yourself to walk very far.” -Thomas Jefferson If I can get fitness clients to walk three times a week and strength train twice a week for six weeks, the results are universally good.  Participants are often concerned that walking is not strenuous enough.  They do not see walking in Crossfit Youtube videos.  No one on the Biggest Loser just walks.  Walking does not leave them gasping for breath.  This is my response: Quality Lifespan The most recent survey reveals that Americans are living longer.  The secret to happy aging is keeping as much quality in this abundance of quantity.  Walking is the essential movement skill that we all need in…

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Pain Never Precedes Dysfunction

"Pain never precedes dysfunction."--Dr. Stanley Paris I recently found a manual from a physical therapy course I attended in 1985.  Dr. Stanley Paris was the instructor and I was lucky to have been in his class at the beginning of my career.  At 26 years of age, I wrote this quote on the front of the manual and it still stands as the best bit of wisdom I can pass along to fitness clients and physical therapy patients. Pain happens as the result of some underlying performance problem: postural flaws and sustained joint positions, respiratory restrictions,  muscle strength/endurance is depleted, joint mobility is insufficient,  joint mobility is excessive, movement coordination is poor,  deceleration skills are below acceleration capacity. Resolving pain…

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Essential Movements for Life

Essential Movements for Life Maintaining the ability to sit and stand is essential to living your life to the fullest and staying active. If you want to continue to live life the the fullest it's important that you can sit and stand with ease and control--whether it's sitting at the table, on the couch, toilet, etc. The minimum level of function we want out of our older adults (60+ years old) is to be able to sit/stand with perfect control to a box or seat 16" off the ground for 10 relatively easy repetitions. Bonus points would be getting down to (or slightly below) parallel. For most individuals under 6 feet tall, this equates to a 10-12 inch box, for…

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